Liberals are still raw about PM Modi laying the foundation of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya. And now a group of Hindus has filed a suit over Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura. While their suit has been dismissed, this is not likely to be the last time we hear of this.
You can almost hear the liberals sneering : Ram and Krishna are mythological figures. How can they have a birthplace?
Over the years, you must have heard some or other version of this question, with the usual display of arrogance. You know, like this.
Well, next time you hear this question, tell your liberal friend to step out of their cave and into modern civilization. The concept of property and ownership in the sophisticated modern world will blow their mind.
Let me explain. Suppose, by some miracle, a fictional caveman called Hartosh is transported to our modern world. Actually, I am going to call this caveman ‘Binod’ from now on. So this Binod steps into a train but doesn’t have a ticket.
The ticket checker explains to Binod that traveling without a ticket is stealing.
“But,” Binod demands, “How is it stealing? Who am I stealing from?”
“You’re stealing from the Indian Railways.”
“Who is this person called Indian Railways?”
Binod’s confusion is understandable. In the Paleolithic Age, from where Binod has come, there is no concept of a modern corporation. Binod thinks that you have to be an actual person to own something. This worked fine in Binod’s primitive world, where each hunter gatherer owned the prey he had killed that day or the fruits he had gathered for food.
But the modern world is more sophisticated than that. In order to run the modern world, we have conceived of all sorts of entities that are not real people, but act legally as if they were. There are corporations, governments, universities and non-profits all around us. They aren’t real people. But they can own property, they can pay taxes, they can sue other people or other entities and be held legally liable in courts! In fact, a famous US Supreme Court decision (Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission, 2010) found that such entities are even entitled to free speech. How can an entity have speech rights when they do not even have a body, a mouth or a tongue?
This must all be very confusing to Binod. But, for the rest of us, it’s really commonplace. All around we see entities like Google, Facebook, IBM, Amazon, Govt of India, State of Karnataka, United States Govt, United Nations, IIT Delhi, Greenpeace : none of these is an actual person, but legally acts like it is!
That’s the modern world. We exchange pieces of near worthless looking paper for actual food and drink. It’s called money. Again, money is an idea. We have learned to act as if it has value. In fact, most money in the world today isn’t even printed on paper. It exists in digital form. The idea of the idea of money makes the world go around!
In the modern world, not only can entities own property, the “property” they own need not have any physical existence at all! In Binod’s time, only food or stone tools were property. Today, we have intellectual property. These days, data is a bold new form of property. Imagine that : your personal information, your birthday, your taste in food and entertainment and travel is also property. They are calling data the new oil. You can’t touch it. You can’t feel it. But it’s real. A corporation can sue another corporation over breach of intellectual property…
Imagine that, Binod! An entity sues another entity for stealing an entity. And it somehow all makes sense. Just because your primitive brain cannot process it does not mean it isn’t there.
So there is your answer. You don’t need Ram or Krishna to be real people in order to have a “birthplace.” The concept, the belief is enough. You then might have to go through the usual hoops of getting this concept the recognition of a “legal person” and assert the rights thereof in a court of law. Like registering a corporation.
You may win or lose your case in the court. That’s an altogether different matter. But the question of physical existence is completely irrelevant and would not come up at any stage of this legal process whatsoever. No, you can’t dismiss the case by saying that the complainant is not an actual human being. If that was possible, ticketless travel would be allowed because Indian Railways is not an actual human being. If that was possible, no corporation, no government, no university, no non-profit would ever be able to file a case or be held liable in a court again.
Get it, Binod? Welcome to 2020. Try to wrap your mind around it. It’s easy if you try.
I believe most Indian liberals understand the concept of government or corporations or money or intellectual property. But due to their hatred against Hinduism, they suddenly pretend not to understand when it comes to Ram Janmabhoomi or Krishna Janmabhoomi. Asking how Ram or Krishna can have a birthplace is like asking how a dollar bill can have value when you can’t even eat it? Or why we should trust the Reserve Bank when it is not even a real person.
In their haste to accuse Hindus of being superstitious and foolish, they end up arguing like a caveman from the Paleolithic Age. Ironic, isn’t it?