Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ramanand Sagar and the sensex boom

Most of us who were born in the eighties knew that Ramanand Sagar wrote and directed Ramayan. Valmiki? Who is he? Had it not been for Ramanand Sagar, most of us would be of the opinion that Ramayan was the name of a street-side sweet shop.

In addition to having blurred the distinction between history and mythology, this man was also, in a huge way, responsible for the rise of Hindu Nationalism and subsequently, the concept of Hindutva in modern India.

In January 1987, the Indian government began broadcasting a Hindu epic in serial form, the Ramayan, to nationwide audiences on a regular basis. This violated a decades-old taboo on religious partisanship, and Hindu nationalists made the most of th e opportunity.

The rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party, a right of centre party from the shadows of the rabidly right wing RSS/VHP parivar that harped on the golden age of hinduism potrayed in these ramanand sagar serials had a two pronged effect on the public - it gave the audience a false image of the putative glory of the past and instilling a feeling of current inadequacy and poverty, and to the politicians, it, for perhaps the first time, gave the right wing a launchpad to the throne.

Thanks to Ramanad Sagar, it happened in 2005. Might've taken a little longer otherwise. Or perhaps not come at all.

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