Can the establishment succeed in imposing reforms in religious institutions? Is it in keeping with the secular nature of the establishment? Is it ethical to single out a particular religion for such reforms? Is there a mandate for it? Is it one of the priorities of the administration especially when the solemn promises made during the run-up to the polls are so many that one full term of 5 years is not enough for implementation?
The atheist Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Muthuvel Karunanidhi will have no answer to these questions when he has ordered, within days of his taking over the reins of the administration in the conservative state of Tamil Nadu, that the priesthood in all the 36,000-odd temples of the state will be open to â€œqualifiedâ€ people of all castes.
On the face of it, the order appears to be noble in its professed intentions in removing social inequities, especially in the majority community that is hopelessly divided on castelines. It is also quite logical to think that such a move would help fostering unity and social upliftment of the castes oppressed for centuries. It can also be argued that the caste system, scourge of Hindu society, may also go away in one stroke, if not in stages.