Needless remarks by Swaraj, Sadhvi prove to be a distraction

  • Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 09, 2014 23:26 IST

The concept of leaving well alone seems alien to many in the ruling dispensation. The latest to set off a bit of a storm is none other than external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, who has asked that the Bhagavad Gita be declared the national scripture.

Now the very idea of a national scripture in a multi-cultural, multi-religious country like India seems absurd but we presume the honourable minister will enlighten us on why she thought that this is a necessary move. She has even gone as far as to say that patients requiring psychiatric treatment may be prescribed reading passages from the Gita.

While this may be unsettling to practising psychiatrists and counsellors, it is also a disservice to many people suffering from psychological problems which most definitely cannot be treated by quickly skimming through the Gita.

The external affairs minister surely has better things to do with her time than come up with these off-the-wall statements. While most Indians of all faiths greatly value their scriptures, they are not likely to consider them as an antidote to serious mental problems. At best, they could soothe one’s mind and impart wisdom.

This is of a piece with the statements of various luminaries quoting ancient myths and legends as proof that advanced science and medicine existed in ancient India. India does have a great tradition of indigenous medicine but the kind of acumen attributed to our sages is beyond imagination. While many might like to think so, it is unlikely in the extreme that India had helicopters and nuclear weapons in ancient times. If so, we should by now have conquered the solar system at the very least.

But, while such beliefs may be forgiven in the illiterate and superstitious, it is disturbing when public persons also spout this non-wisdom. Now Ms Swaraj may be trying to play to the gallery with this remark, she may be trying to convince her party’s mentor organisation, the RSS, that she is on the same page with it, but the result has been that she has created a needless controversy when the government is trying to battle its way out of the mess created by another minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti.

These sorts of remarks have the propensity to derail the real business of the day, that is to get the economy back on track and deal with internal and external threats among other things. The Sadhvi’s ugly remarks held up Parliament for some days. Now, many have jumped into the fray contesting Ms Swaraj’s suggestion. Another almighty kerfuffle will ensue and in the end, we will all have gained nothing that will improve our quality of our life one bit.

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