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Excavation In Unnao On The Basis Of A Sadhu’s ‘Golden’ Dreams: Where Are We Heading?

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By Usha Rani Das:

3rd February, 1962: Millions of Indians chanted prayers and lit sacrificing pyres as ‘doomsday period’ (as predicted by Hindu astrologers) began. It was predicted that six planets, the Earth, the Sun and the moon aligned in one line to bring war of destruction on the world- that the earth would be “bathed in the blood of thousands of kings.”  This does not end here. It is believed that it was only after wasting tons of butter and around 35 crore rupees that the war was averted. If that time, the lack of scientific advancement was an excuse for such superstitions, then what excuse are people going to give for the ASI excavation in Unnao on the basis of a sadhu’s dream, in this 21st century!

Unnao

Yes, you heard it correct. The Center has directed the Archaeological Survey of India and the Geological Survey of India to survey and excavate the area near the 180-year old Shiva temple of Raja Ram Baux Singh’s fort on the basis of a sadhu’s golden dreams. Seer Shobhan Sarkar sent a letter to the Union minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Industry, Charandas Mahant, stating that the Raja came to his dreams and told him about the 1000 tons of gold buried under the ground in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. The area was surveyed by GPS first. The ASI and GSI have found something which is not earth. And hence, to satisfy their curiosity they started their historical excavation. They are least interested in gold. A century old earthen pot has much more worth to them than gold. Amidst tight security, jam-packed curious onlookers, food-stalls, chanting of prayers; the excavation started on 18th October, 2013, costing the government lots of money.

Living in an era of reason over religion, we will be wrong in not carrying out the excavation after ASI and GSI found something which is not earth. We must always look for the truth. Dismissing the matter on the basis of superstition will be nothing but avoiding the truth. No! I am definitely not saying that the sadhu’s dream is true. Surely, the seer’s dream is nothing but dubious claims. The fact that ‘something’ which is not earth is there and the question as to the real reason the seer came to know about it which he is hiding behind the disguise of religion fueled my curiosity. Hence, I would like to go with former President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam who has backed the excavation on the basis of ASI’s reason and science. I do want to see the end of it.

Such a news coming up before the election of 2014 and with the air filled with political war of words, one is sure to get political views about such incidents. Some say it is politically biased, that it is a Congress plan to distract attention from Modi’s Kanpur rally. Modi said “bring back black money instead of chasing pipe dreams.” But just because another work is in process or is more important and plausible, does not justify stopping another work based on the benefit of doubt.

As to the question of media coverage and hype, media is doing their work covering each and every happening all around the world. It is not that media is not showcasing other relevant news like Radia investigation etc. just to forecast a sadhu’s dreams of gold. But media is just stating facts now. It should criticize the Government for even considering the letter. By giving the directives for a go ahead on the basis of dreams, we are only encouraging superstition in the country. We should not even consider giving such dubious claims a second thought unless and until such events are backed by iron- clad facts, history and reason. The government was wrong in giving in to such superstition. Sadly, the media’s role in reprimanding the shameful act is negligible.

But when encountering such matters of right and wrong, one must confront both sides of the motion. We must not avoid the consequences which we have to face if the dreams do prove right. These ‘Godmen’ will gain immense power over common people. More and more devotees will follow up. Religion will win over reason. These can only be avoided by reason and the truth. Instead of merely stating the facts, the media should investigate the matter as to how the seer came to know about it. Media must be the Sherlock Holmes in this faith over reason case. For it is in their power only to enlighten the world about the reason and discard superstition. Otherwise it will only be a repetition of “Ganesha Milk Miracle” of 1995. Media hyped the news but failed to state the scientific reason behind it. If the media’s current standpoint is justified or not can only be concluded after the outcome of the excavation, whether it just states facts or investigates the truth.

In spite of many possible negative outcomes, one must endure this excavation till the end for it is only then can we know the truth and can draw the conclusion over the Gold Rush of India. Until and unless we endeavor for the truth, there is no difference between us and the ‘Godmen’ who voluntarily ignore the truth.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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