Thoughts on the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya dispute

Today, the supreme court awarded the land on which Babri Masjid once stood to the Hindu parties in the dispute - essentially to the VHP - the key player in the destruction of the ancient Mosque. With his characteristic eloquence Narendra Modi referred to the verdict as "a new dawn for us". He told his audience what "the entire country" felt in his speech, which is presumably knowledge based on very extensive surveillance. He is such a grand leader that he also told us about the "the whole world". No doubt he will soon tell us how other life forms on other planets also believe in the glorious greatness of the great leader of this great land.

Returning to the SC decision, it seems certain that historians will look back at it as a new low in the subservience of the judiciary to the Modi government, and the erosion of logic, reason and the rule of law in India. Most secular commentators have been guarded in criticising the judiciary, as though saying out loud that it too has been saffronised may be a self-fulfilling prophecy... In fact, saffronisation has become so mundane now that you hardly ever find the word used any more. Of course the judiciary is a complex beast which cannot be tarred with a single brush. There will be good judgements in the future no doubt, and some within the judiciary will continue to uphold the constitution and the values of justice and fairness, probably at considerable personal cost. But these moments and these individuals will become fewer and further between.

One of the more foolish things that some are arguing is that there is a silver lining to this judgement, namely that there is now no political capital left for the BJP and the forces of Hindutva in the Ayodhya dispute. Things don't really work like that - not in India, nor elsewhere. The settling of this civil case in favour of the Hindutva brigade will not even mark a pause in the march of these forces. On the contrary, history suggests that they will move on with greater confidence to the next step in their project of replacing secular, democratic India with the authoritarian religio-nationalist version they so fantasise about. These are fantasies which nothing can satisfy.