Alliance France (March 2006)
In pursuance of the objectives of the Institute, it organized a series of courses of different durations oriented towards the academic community including the Department of Gandhian Studies in Universities, workers among unorganized labour, workers of voluntary/grass root organizations, women, youth, students and other similar groups. The following are some of the important courses/activities.
These are some of the courses that the Institute organises periodically. There are many more in similar vein for people from different walks of life. More are being added to meet the needs and aspirations of diverse groups.
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Devavrat N. Pathak (Late) was formerly associated with Peace Research Centre, Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad
Ravindra Varma (Late) was the founder Chairman of the Institute of Gandhian Studies, Chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapith and Chairman, Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi
Rahul Bajaj is Chairman of Bajaj Auto Limited, Pune and heads the Bajaj Group of companies.
K. D. Gangrade, formerly Pro-Vice Chancellor and Professor of Social Work, University of Delhi.
Subhash Mehta is an Advocate based in Mumbai.
M. R. Rajagopalan is Secretary, Gandhigram Trust, Gandhigram,
Dindigul, Tamil Nadu.
Ranjit Chaudhuri, formerly Dean of Studies, Institute of Gandhian Studies, Wardha.
Grazina Miniotate is Senior Research Fellow, Lithuanian Institute of Philosophy, Culture and Art, Saltoniskiu 58, Vilnius 2006, Lithuania.
Hiroichi Yamaguchi is Professor, Faculty of International Studies, 1100 Namegaya, Chigasaki, 253, Bunkyo University, Japan.
E. P. Menon, formerly Director and Faculty Member of Friends World College, Bangalore, is Executive Trustee of India Development Foundation, Bangalore.
Ramjee Singh, formerly Vice Chancellor, Jain Vishwa Bharathi Institute-Deemed University, Ladnun, Rajasthan.
M. William Baskaran is Reader, Department of Gandhian Thought and Peace Science, Gandhigram Rural Institute – Deemed University, Gandhigram, Tamil Nadu.
Satyabrata Chowdhury, formerly Principal, Bangabasi College, Calcutta.
M. B. Nisal is Secretary, Ashram Pratisthan, Sewagram, Wardha.
Siby K. Joseph is Dean of Studies and Research, Institute of Gandhian Studies, Wardha.
Siby K. Joseph
With the multiplication and escalation of conflicts at various levels, the need for conflict resolution has become urgent than ever before. There has been a growing realization among governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations that more resources and time need to be set apart for managing conflicts and that the work for peace has to take place by harnessing the cooperation of several agencies at different levels. Governments, by virtue of their rigid structure, very often fail to address adequately questions relating to conflicts of a delicate and complex nature. Also agencies and resources available with governments have been found inadequate in this respect. The latest tendency is to search for other tracks of conflict resolution and also to tap resources to compliment governmental effort.
Towards Multi-Track Approach
The movement from ‘track- one diplomacy’ 1 to ‘track –two diplomacy’2 resulted in the emergence of a large number of actors in conflict resolution and peace building process. John McDonald and Louis Diamond have identified nine actor categories or tracks in conflict resolution: official diplomacy, education, research and training, business, funding, media and communication, religion , NGOs and advocacy groups and private citizens 3. In addition to these group of actors, the Carnegie Commission recognized the role of the UN and regional organizations in peace building process 4 . Barnett Rubin and Susana Campbell in a study for the Center for Preventive Action pointed out that “the multiplicity and variety of actors involved in generating conflicts requires a similar multiplicity of international partners to resolve them” 5. Multidimensional nature of conflicts has also been partly responsible for giving rise to the concept of a multi-track approach in conflict resolution.
According to Diamond and McDonald Multi-track diplomacy is “a conceptual framework designed … to reflect the variety of activities that contribute to international peacemaking”. They point out that track two diplomacy is designed (1) to reduce or resolve conflict between groups or nations by improving communications, understanding and relationships; (2) to lower tension, anger, fear or misunderstanding by humanizing the “face of the enemy” and giving people direct personal experience of one another; (3) to affect the thinking and action of track-one (i.e. official diplomacy) by exploring diplomacy options without prejudice, thereby preparing the ground for more formal negotiations or for re-framing policies 6. The successful resolution of conflict mainly depends on track-two diplomacy complimenting track-one diplomacy. Thus a combined effort of track-one and track-two becomes imperative in the process of conflict resolution.
NGOs and International Agencies
Over the years there has been a tremendous increase in the number of NGOs 7, so also the variety of their activities and their geographical spread. Because most of the NGOs are involved in works relating to development, relief and advocacy, which are of direct and visible benefit to the people, they have achieved a high degree of goodwill. In addition, many of the NGOs have skilled personnel who can intervene in conflict situations creatively in order to bring resolution. This fact has been recognized by the United Nations as well as international funding agencies like the World Bank, who now bank upon the resources of NGOs for conflict resolution, particularly in areas like early warning, third party intervention, reconciliation and peace building. The UN General Assembly recognized the role of NGOs and called upon the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) to work with NGOs interested in communicating information about the United Nations 8 . In continuation of the General Assembly resolution, the NGOs and Institutional Relations Section was established within DPI to provide information and other liaison services to the growing number of NGOs accredited to the United Nations. In 1968, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) formalized its consultative relationship with NGOs 9 . However, it is to be noted that NGOs were not given any formal status in the General Assembly or other powerful bodies like the Security Council.
Now NGOs have become key partners in development assistance especially to less developed countries from international agencies like the UN, the European Union and the World Bank. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Secretary General of the UN affirmed that NGOs “are an indispensable part of the legitimacy without which no international activity can be meaningful.”10.
The Role of NGOs
NGOs constitute an essential part of civil society 11 and they have the potential to play key roles in resolving conflicts and restoring civil society. NGOs involvement in conflict resolution introduces a citizen element into it. NGOs can support to form well knit local infrastructures or peace constituencies12 comprising of people from different sectors of civil society whose aim is to attain sustainable peace and whose activities are based on long term commitment. NGOs should invest more resources for capacity building activities at different levels. It involves the training of own staff, identifying indigenous partners, local leaders and so on. NGOs can act as mediators to bring consensus among different conflicting groups with the help of local peace constituencies.
Pamela Aall 13 suggests a number of roles that NGOs can play in the peace making process. NGOs should pursue their traditional relief and rehabilitation activities with a long-term perspective. “The initial emergency relief response should be linked to a set of activities that leads to the transformation of those conflicts in a way that promotes sustained and comprehensive reconciliation among the warring parties” 14. Aall cautions us against the dangers of using external resources in relief and rehabilitation activities. Excessive use of external resources can foster dependence and passivity. It can also become a new object of contention, inadvertently fueling the conflict. NGOs should mobilize local resources which empower the people and enroll new participants into their activities, especially women who have often been kept passive in the peace process. NGOs should continue to monitor human rights abuses. They should undertake new task of providing early warning of potentially violent conflicts and should pursue conflict resolution activities. Aall warns that these roles must be kept separate both for the safety of NGO workers, and in order to be effective15.
To work effectively in a conflict situation, NGOs should preserve their own identities and neutrality, and should appear to be impartial. Unofficial status of NGOs provides more access to conflicting parties, which helps in the process of negotiation. The long-term commitment of NGOs is a crucial factor in establishing trust among the people and to attend to the goal of long lasting peace. Pamela Aall prescribes four conditions for NGOs more directly engaging in conflict resolution activities : (1) the NGO must be very familiar with the country, issues, and participants in the conflict (2) the NGO should have indigenous partners (3) NGO staff must be well grounded in conflict resolution skills and knowledge and (4) NGO workers must understand and accept the personal risk they run in attempting to intervene directly in the conflict 16 .
State is often seen as one of the parties in a large number of conflicts. Therefore, it is important for NGOs to maintain their independence without loosing trust of the conflicting parties including the state. NGOs should work in co-operation and co-ordination with each other to reduce duplication in their activities. In this process NGOs should not loose their individual identities. Coordination and networking of NGOs is a key factor in lobbying and advocacy at a higher level. NGOs should not limit their scope of work to mere conflict resolution , but expand to address the root causes of conflict and enhance the process of peace building. In sum, the role of the NGOs in conflict resolution is based on their presence at the ground level as actors with a reservoir of good will, generated through years of development and rehabilitation work. Apart from creating a congenial atmosphere for negotiations, where the prospects for such negotiations are not visible at the level of the conflicting actors, the NGOs can play a key role in many intractable conflicts. Peace building is now seen as a part of sustaining agreements reached. No organization is perhaps more equipped than the NGOs in undertaking this task. However, in order to play a more effective role in conflict management, the NGOs may have to reorient themselves with the requisite attitudes and skills, which of course should be seen as an additional element of their development work.
Notes and References
1. According to McDonald track-one diplomacy is a term used to describe official government to government negotiation among instructed representatives of sovereign states.
2. Track-two diplomacy is a term coined by Joseph Montville in 1982 to refer to methods of diplomacy that were outside the formal governmental system.
3. Simona Sharoni, “Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking from the Bottom Up: The Roles of Social Movements and People’s Diplomacy”, in Dossier IUPIP International Course, Rovereto, October 2000.
4. Paul Van Tongeren “ Exploring the Local Capacity for Peace: The Role of NGOs” in Dossier IUPIP International Course , Rovereto, October 2000.
6. Simona Sharoni , op. cit.
7. There are more than twenty thousand international non-governmental organizations registered with the Union of International Associations.
8. General Assembly Resolution 13, February 13, 1946
9. ECOSOC Resolution 1296, May 23, 1968.
10. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, “Democracy, A Newly-Recognized Imperative,” in Global Governance, Vol. 1, No.1 , Winter,1995, p.10.
11. “ Civil Society concept entered political philosophy and social theory as a way of describing the capacity of self-organization on the part of a political community or the capacity of a society to organize itself without being organized by the state. It consists of plethora of private non-profit sector including non-governmental organizations that have emerged in all parts of the globe to provide citizens opportunities to exercise individual initiative in the private spirit for public purposes” For details refer, M.S. John, “Civil Society” Unpublished Paper presented at the Refresher Course on Political Science, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, 1999.
12. Paul Van Tongeren, op cit.
13. Pamella Aall, “Non-governmental Organizations and Peacemaking”in Managing Global Chaos, eds, Chester Crocker, Fen Hampson and Pamella Aall, Washington D.C. 1996 pp. 433-444.
14. ibid., p. 434
Horowitz argues, all conflict based on ascriptive group identities – race, language, religion, tribe or caste- can be called ethnic. In this umbrella usage, ethnic conflict range from 1) The Protestant-Catholic conflict in Northern Ireland and Hindu-Muslim conflict in India to 2) black-white conflict in the United States and South Africa, 3) Tamil-Sinhala conflict in Sri Lanka, and 4) Shia-Sunni dispute in Pakistan.
The form ethnic conflict takes-religious, linguistic, racial, tribal- does not seem to alter its intensity, longevity, passion or relative intractability. Their emphasis is on the ascriptive and cultural core of the conflict, imagined or real, and can be distinguished from the largely non-ascriptive and economic core of class conflict. Ethnic conflict may have an economic basis, but that is not its defining feature. Irrespective of internal class differentiation, race, language, sect or religion, we can define the politics of ethnic group. So communal and ethnic mean the same.
Despite ethnic diversity, some places- regions, nations, towns or villages-manage to remain peaceful whereas others experience enduring patterns of violence. Similarly, some societies, after maintaining a veritable record of ethnic peace, explode in ways that surprise the observers and very often the scholars as well. Variations across time and space constitute an unresolved puzzle in the field of ethnicity and nationalism.
Until we study ethnic peace, we will not be able to have a good theory of ethnic conflict. Despite rising violence, many communities in the world still manage their interethnic tensions without taking violent steps.
The data shows that, the share of villages in communal rioting is remarkably small. Between 1950 and 1995, rural India, where two-thirds of Indians still live, accounted for less than 4 percent of the deaths in communal violence. Hindu -Muslim violence is primarily an urban phenomenon. Second, within urban India too, Hindu-Muslim riots are highly locally concentrated. Eight cities – Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Aligarh, Hyderabad, Meerut, Baroda, Kolkata and Delhi – account for a disproportionate share of communal violence in the country – a little more than 49 percent of all urban deaths (and 45.5 percent of all deaths) are due to Hindu-Muslim violence.
India’s most Riot – prone Cities (1950-1995)
|Cities Deaths (1950-95)|
| These cities experienced a minimum of 50 deaths
in 10 riots over a period 5 years.
As a group, however, these eight cities represent a mere 18 percent of India’s urban population (and about 5 percent of the country’s population, both urban and rural) – 82 percent of the urban population (95 percent of the total population) has not been “riot-prone “
Now let us distinguish between ethnic identity, ethnic conflict and ethnic violence. In any ethnically plural society that allows free expression of political demands, some ethnic conflict is more or less inevitable. Indeed, such conflict may be inherent in all pluralistic political system, authoritarian or democratic. Compared to authoritarian systems, a democratic polity is simply more likely to witness an open expression of such conflicts. The former may lock disaffected ethnic groups into long periods of political silence, giving the appearance of a well governed society, but a coercive containment of such conflict also runs the risk, though not the certainty of an eventual outburst of a pent-up frustration when an authoratarian system begins to liberalise or lose its legitimacy. Contrariwise, ethnic conflicts are a regular feature of ethnically plural democracies if different ethnic groups exist and the freedom to organise themselves is available.
The real issue is whether the ethnic conflict is violent or is waged using the institutionalised channels of the polity as non-violent mobilisation. If ethnic protest takes an institutionlized form in parliaments, assemblies, in bureaucracies, or on the street, it is conflict all right, but not violent. Such conflict must be distinguished from a situation in which protest takes violent forms, rioting breaks out on the street and in the neighbourhoods, and in its most extreme form, pogroms are initiated against some ethnic groups with full connivance of state authorities. Given how different these outcomes are, explanations of institutionalized conflict may not be the same as those for ethnic violence and rioting. Further explanations of rioting may also be different from those for pogroms and civil wars. Ethnic peace should for all practical purposes, be conceptualised as an institutionalized channeling and resolution of ethnic conflicts. The world might well be a happier place if we could eliminate ethnic and national conflicts from our midst, but a post-ethnic, post-national era does not seem to be in the offing. At least our short to medium-run expectations should be better aligned with our realities.
A roughly similar point can be made about the relationship between ethnic identity and ethnic violence. Ethnic identities by themselves do not produce violence, they may co-exist with peace. It is sometimes argued that if ethnic identities could only give way to economic identities, conflicts would be less violent and “civilised”. Indeed, “modernisation” in 1950s and 1960s was widely expected to lead to class and occupational differences between human beings, overriding ethnic differences that were deemed relics of a bygone era. Why should economic conflicts be less violent than ethnic conflicts ? The underlying intuition is simply that identities tend to be indivisible, whereas a fight over resources is amenable to flexible sharing. If a deal can be struck, splitting shares into a 60-40 or 65-35 arrangement, a peaceful resolution of a conflict is possible. Such bargaining, it is argued, is not possible with respect to ethnicity. With the clear exception of those born of intermarriages, Christians cannot be turned into half-jews and a white person cannot be made half-black. The degree of freedom being so much lower, clashes based on ethnic identities resist compromise, arouse passion instead of reason, and generate violence.
Is there a way out? Lijphart argues that, in order to be successful and preempt ethnic conflict, democracy in a plural society requires elite compromise. A plural society is defined as one in which the various ethnic groups are segmented and have little criss-crossing. Elite compromise can best be assured by a political system that works on intergroup consensus, not intergroup competition. A consensual democracy of this kind can be called consociational. It has features, such as, a grand coalition of ethnic leaders in government, a mutual veto given to each group proportionately in decision-making, positions, and segmental autonomy with respect to matters such as education, language and personal laws. The examples are Austria, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland.
To summarise, conflict is not necessarily violent. It can take an institutionalised form if ethnic demands for higher political representation, affirmative action, or personal laws are pursued in assemblies, elections, bureaucratic corridors, and non-violent movements and protests.
Civil society intervenes at the point where conflict turns into violence. Civil links, if they exist between ethnic groups also resolve the unanswered puzzle of instrumentalism, namely, why, even though political elites may try to use ethnicity for political purposes and wish to cleave societies along ethnic lines, they are unable to do so everywhere. In fact, they may not find such efforts sensible at all, and may instead put together winning coalitions in non-ethnic ways.
The concept of civil society, though highly popular and much revered in recent years, remains intensely contested. Accordingly, to the conventional notions prevalent in the social sciences, “Civil society” refers to the space in a given society that exists between the family level and the state level. According to Gellner, civil society is not only modern but also based on strictly voluntary, not ethnic or religious associations between the family and the state.
Informal associations or activities help in forming civil society. The sites of civic interactions range from generally predictable to highly particular and culturally specific. The predictable sites are neighbourhood or village commons, the playground, the halls for entertainment and community functions. Group interaction is not confined to them, however, and may also mark some culturally specific sites, the festival venues where people not only participate in a religious activity but also build connections for secular purposes such as politics, the sidewalks where those returning from work habitually walk together and talk, not simply about the weather but also about organizational structures in the workplace, markets, films, festivals, and politics. The village river or pond is the place where women not only wash clothes and exchange views about families but also discuss school teachers, landlords and village politics. The milk collection centres where men and women pour milk each morning are sites where people talk about children, relatives, local government, cultural trends and national politics.
What is crucial to the notion of civil society is that families and individuals connect with others beyond their homes and talk about matters of public relevance without the interference or sponsorship of the state. Whether such engagement takes place in association or in the traditional sites of social get-togetherness depends on the degree of urbanization and economic development. Cities tend to have formal associations, but villages do with informal sites and meetings. In villages in our country-India-less that 4 percent of all deaths and roughly 10 percent of all Hindu-Muslim riots took place during 1950-1995. Peace was maintained not because of associations but because of everyday civil engagement between Hindus and Muslims. In cities, however, such everyday engagement was not enough, and associations were required.
When villages become towns, towns turn into cities, and cities are transformed into metropolises, people begin to travel long distances for work, face to face contact is typically not possible beyond neighbourhoods, and associations become necessary not only for civil peace but also for many economic, social and political aims and interactions. We should not look for associations, where the need for them is not pressing or where access to them is difficult for some groups. We should, instead, look at the alternative civil sites that perform the same role as the more standard civil organisations do. One more observation is that inter-ethnic or inter-communal engagement makes for peace, not intra-ethnic or intra-communal. Inter-communal engagement leads to the formation of what might be called an institutionalised peace system. Engagement, if all intra-communal, is often associated with institutionalised riot system.
On the whole, two links can be specified between civic life and ethnic conflict. Firstly, prior and sustained contact between members of different communities allows communication between them to moderate tensions and preempt violence; when tensions arise owing to an exogenous shock, say a riot in the nearby city, distant violence repeated in press or shown on T.V., rumours planted by politicians or groups in the city, a provocative act of communal mischief by police or some youths. In cities of thick interaction between different communities, peace committees at time of tensions emerge from below in various neighbourhoods. The local administration does not have to impose such committees on the entire city from above. The former is a better peace protector than the latter.
Secondly, in cities those have associational integration as well as everyday integration; the foundations of peace become stronger. Without a nexus between politicians and criminals, big riots and killings are highly improbable.
Civil links across communities have a remarkable local or regional variation. They differ from place to place depending on how different communities are distributed in local business, middle-class occupations, parties, and labour markets. The result is, when the same organisation is able to create tensions and violence in one city or region, it is unable to do so in another city or region, when civic engagement crosses communal lines.
One might wish to ask whether these points are India-specific or can be applied elsewhere also. Ethnic violence tends to be highly locally or regionally concentrated. A countrywide breakdown of the ethnic relations is rare. We tend to form exaggerated impressions of the destructive power of ethnicity because violence is what attracts popular attention, especially the attention of media. The quiet continuation of routine life may be important for research but it is not “news”; and hence is unimportant for the media. In contrast, large riots or major acts of violence make “good copy” and are widely repeated. In the process, we end up getting the impression that ethnic violence is normal and ethnic peace is rare in the world, whereas the reality is the other way round.
If we systematically investigate the links between civil society and ethnic conflict, we can achieve better understanding of violence in general as well as of its local or regional variation.
1. Analysis of Conflict
Feelings of injustice or deprivation give rise to conflict. These feelings may have some real basis or it may be only because of some false or imaginary ideas. Some times false ego gives rise to conflict. Conflicts are also created or imposed upon by interested persons or groups for some ulterior motive to make some gain out of it. In a democratic country political conflicts will always be there and these are not discouraging if they do not result in violence or go against the interest of the people. In a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural country like India there is always a challenge on ethnic, communal or cultural issues creating conflicts. The contradiction between the privileged and deprived sections of the people, educated and illiterate people, people of higher caste and lower caste within the same religion, social discrimination between men and women, trend of political subjugation of a small section of the population are the major sources of origin of conflict. In inter-country relations economic, political or military domination of strong countries over weak countries often result in conflicts.
2. Conflict and Violence
When conflicts are not reduced or settled through negotiations or other constitutional means, it gives rise to violence. Violence is taken as a short cut method for resolution of conflicts. Suppressed sense of deprivation or injustice finds vent through violence and in extreme cases it leads to terrorism. The terrorist attacks on World Trade Centre in New York and Pentagon in Washington on 11th September 2001 have created a sense of concern all over the world regarding terrorism but not for the root cause of conflicts or their resolution. For decades and centuries powerful governments in the world indulged, promoted and even exported terrorism in other countries for their narrow economic or political interest. Weaker countries have to surrender or tolerate all such injustices. There is doubt how far the aggression on Afghanistan in retaliation of terrorist attack is justified.
Root cause of such violence is hatred against an individual or group of people or society or country. Hatred is inherent in human character which is kept subdued by rationality and wisdom. When this rationality and wisdom disappear in the name of religions or ethnic superiority or strong sense of injustice or deprivation, conflicts develop and violence sets in. Every sensible man understands that war against Afghanistan causing large scale devastation of the country can not put an end to terrorism. Lord Buddha said more than 2500 years ago that enmity can not be put to an end by enmity. Only by amity and equanimity peace can be achieved. So terrorism can not be eliminated by counter-terrorism. Sensible people of USA demostrated against such retaliatory violence and proclaimed that eye against eye was not the solution as this would only result in a world full of blind people. In the country of Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, we can well understand that violence can not be put to an end by counter-violence.
3. Conflict Resolution and Religion
If we look back to progress of human civilisation, we find that at the initial stage for centuries man had to fight continuously with the fierce beasts in the jungle and also with natural disasters, for their survival. They had always to keep themselves alert against all those hostile elements of the surroundings and circumstances. As a result man became aggressive, self-centred, ferocious to save him. Gradually, when they learnt to live in groups it became easier to fight against beasts collectively but due to conflict of interest there were often fight between groups. Man did not hesitate to kill animals and also men of other groups. Thus violence and hatred became inherent in human character. With the advent of religions, good sense developed and man learnt to worship God or some Super Power for their benefit and also learnt to love others. According to Persian cult Jorothrusta appeared about 3700 years ago and preached for love and peace. The most powerful exponent for peace Gautam Buddha was born in India more than 2500 years ago. Millions of people of many countries were inspired with the preachings of Buddha that non-violence and peace is the most valuable asset of human civilisation. Jesus Christ sacrificed his life for the cause of love, justice and peace. An important preaching of Bible is “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” Hazarat Mohammed, founder of Islam religion, also preached for justice, peace and love. Though thousands of people were killed in crusade or fight mainly between Mohamedans and Christians, it can not be denied that religion played a positive role in removing sense of hatred and violence in human culture and developed a sense of moral values and love for others. Religious temper of giving much emphasis on God or Supernaturalism is gradually losing its strength. In modern times, ‘Humanism’ emphasising social justice, human values, service to mankind and love for all human beings and with rational approach to all natural phenomena is gradually replacing the dogmatic religious culture. This also denounces hatred and violence. All these religions play a vital role in developing ethical values in the society and sense of natural justice. Resolution of conflict becomes easier when a sense of natural justice prevails in the society.
4. Role of Education
Resolution of conflict without resorting to violence is the essential condition for establishing peace in the society. Peace is an attitude towards life which strengthens social cohesion and makes life worth living. Education can play a positive role in this direction. It can develop a culture of amity and peace with love for others, mutual respect for each other and better understanding for others’ feelings. Creation and not destruction should dominate human actions. Education prepare mind with universal love and tolerance irrespective of differences in religion, caste, ethnicity, language and culture. A culture of peace should be introduced through education at all levels starting from preliminary level. It has to be impressed in their mind from early childhood that it is peace and not violence that helps human civilisation to survive and progress. Violent activities often have some immediate thrill which draws people’s attraction. It is a fact that a few extremely brutal persons have earned their place in history through their barbarous activities. But in all cases there might be some immediate temporary victory or gain but ultimately they all had to lose otherwise human civilisation would not have survived. It is to be understood that ultimate victory is always that of peaceful constructive and developing activities. We have to realise that non-violence or peaceful methods have a bigger strength than that of violence. Non-violence is a power which can be enjoyed equally by all, rich and poor, as well as strong and weak. Through education qualities like fearlessness, self-control, tolerance, humility should be cultivated which will help in developing proper attitude towards life and a healthy culture of peace. We have to examine our existing curriculum and textbooks to identify if there is any such components in them which promote a culture of violence and hatred for differences in religion, ethnicity, culture, sex and other prejudices. Often in study materials they give too much emphasis on violent activities and war heroes. But it must be made clear that victory begets conflict or enmity and the defeated party always have dormant tendency to retaliate. This retaliation and counter-retaliation leads to total destruction. Peace content must get an appropriate position in our education process. Lives and ideals of great men who, preached for love and peace, should get due importance in our study materials. Religion controlled the human thoughts and action to a great extent in the ancient world, and even today, after so much scientific and technological development, influence of religion in human activities can not be ignored or underestimated. Often ignorance of other’s religion gives rise to conflict out of misconception. But no religion preaches for hatred. Basic tenets of all religions should be taught to the students. Also, too much emphasis on materialistic aspect and consumerism makes man self-centered and narrow minded. Some aspects of spiritualism in appropriate form should be included in the curriculum, which may induce some magnanimity in the character. Proper humanistic education taking care of developing scientific skill, accumulation to knowledge and promoting humane faculties will create a society where conflicts may be resolved amicably with justice.
In a human society, conflicts will always be there between individuals, between groups, between nations because of differences of opinion, clash of interest, establishment of superiority and various other factors. There is theory of thesis and anti-thesis. Conflicts help in material and intellectual advancement. Economic deprivation and social subjugation are the basic causes of conflicts in human society. In the study of history of human civilisation, it is found that there was a continuous trend of torturing the weak by more powerful individuals or groups, exploitation of the poor by the rich and landed people, hatred of the upper caste people on the lower caste people, neglect of the illiterate people by the educated people, socially over powering women by men and such other injustices. Such social injustices are constant source of discontent, giving rise to conflicts. Instead of solving those conflicts, they were always suppressed. In progress of civilisation and development of humanistic attitude, people are now gradually getting more and more concerned with Human Rights that demand social justice to all sections of the society. Every human being must be provided with their basic needs for food, shelter, clothings, access to education and health care and freedom. Extreme poverty and illiteracy among the major section of the population is the greatest tragedy for India. It is shame that a small section of our population including public servants and political leaders are living such a luxurious and expensive life which is in sharp contrast with the common people. Naturally this wide discrimination is a constant source of discontent and conflicts. Also in the global context there is sharp contrast between the rich and poor countries. A reasonable economic order through equitable distribution of wealth, among different nations and more particularly among the people of the same country, is very much needed to avoid conflicts and clashes. This is the biggest challenge faced by the human society. Keeping aside these basic facts, only slogan for ‘peace’ can not change the society. In education, along with spreading ideas of universal love and tolerance and importance of maintenance of peace for sustaining human development, there should be sufficient provision to make the students conscious about denouncing such extreme inequality in distribution of wealth. A mindset will be prepared that will help in developing a society where equitable distribution of wealth will be given due emphasis. Proper concept of human welfare should be cultivated through education. A humanistic education, covering various aspects responsible for creating social discontents giving rise to conflicts and emphasising on maintaining peace in resolution of conflicts, will create a society worth living.
Swami Vivekanand had predicted in 1898 “India will have to play the role of a Friend, Guide and Philosopher to the World”. So also Mahatma Gandhi had visualised India to take up a role towards a world, free from hatred and war. But unfortunately Indo-Pak conflict even after half a century has developed into the greatest potentiality of nuclear holocaust. During the last Kargil conflict, the Pakstani army was almost prepared to strike India with nuclear devices if the Indian army dared to cross the borders. Even now we have reports that Pakistan is strengthening its nuclear capabilities through many clandestine methods. So also Indian Defence Minister openly vows to annihilate Pakistan, if it dares to attack India. The most unfortunate thing, what to speak of the politicians, even the mind set of the so called intelligentsia and to a great extent of the youth has been undergoing a war-psychosis with anti-India or anti-Pak hatred due to political communalisation, ushering in Jihad or Dharma-Yuddha. A new aggressive political culture is being adopted instead of opening a door for dialogue. War seems to be the only solution. Thanks to the continuing cross border terrorist overtures from the fundamentalists from Pakistan and the role played by state sponsored media, the mind of the common people in India has been more anti-Pakistan and consequently more anti-Muslim. The situation in the sub-continent is of total turmoil and perennial tension. Domestically the danger of communal riots to win votes in elections cannot be brushed aside as it does pay its dividends. The clouds of mutual fear and distrust have darkened the horizons both in India and Pakistan. The political communal militants in both the countries are bent upon destroying the efforts for harmony between the Hindus and Muslims as well as between India and Pakistan. President Musharaf, inspite of his obvert advocacy for peace, cannot declare Kashmir as a problem non-grata for Pakistan nor no Indian Prime Minister is in a position to surrender Kashmir to Pakistan. This total incompatibility of claims over Kashmir has been so much hardened that resolution of conflict seems beyond the grasp.
Under this complete and complicated situation and compulsions, any resolution of conflict seems to be unthinkable and impossible. But this does not mean that it will be so far ever. We should not think that in this imbroglio there are two parties, that is, India and Pakistan. It is not an isolated world. Both the countries are under severe strain and considerable pressure from their friends and neighbours and international powers. They will certainly do what they can to avert a confrontation between India and Pakistan. Secondly, saner elements in both the countries will try their best to persuade the rulers to avoid war. Then, there are anti-war forces, and NGOs, who will try their best to stop war. The cost of war is so much high that it is simply unbearable for both these countries. As Pakistan has support from U.S.A. and some Muslim countries, so India too has same powerful Islamic countries as friends like P.L.O., Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Indonesia which would restrain both the countries. Even Russia will not encourage India to go to war. Even China will not openly displease India by openly siding with Pakistan. This also is known to Pakistan.
But all these and any more arguments against the possibility of Indo-Pak war may not hold good for establishing a tension-free or conflict-free relations between India and Pakistan. We have to prepare the background for unity between India and Pakistan.
The most crucial problem for good relations between the two countries is to improve the Hindu-Muslim communal relations, in India because India constitutes the second largest population of Muslims in the World. Beside, no where in the World there is such a mixed population of Hindus, Muslims and other religious groups than in India. Hence to search for a behavioural dynamics and a balanced social ethics is our greatest problem. To think that we can substitute the religious cultural model with citizen-nation model is more artificial and unrealistic, because we are deeply religion oriented people. The second method to dissolve the antagonism between the two communities, the Indian experiment of “democratic pluralism” and decentralisation of powers, under common institutions like the local grass-root democracies called the Panchayati Raj in the educational and other fields. Thirdly, there should be an effort to prepare both the communities to review the rigid distinctive features of their respective identities and accept changes to bring them into a synthetic frame. Secular character of the state and education with a guarantee for non-discrimination will be a must for ensuring and generating a common outlook, shared ethical values, common cultural patterns, and secular character of state administration are likely to improve Hindu-Muslim relations. However, care should be taken that pluralist norms should be respected and there should not be any suppression of smaller or minority entities under dominant and the majority, in the name of bringing them into the main stream. Variety should not be suppressed in the name of uniformity. The lack of trust undermines all efforts towards harmonious community relations. Hence the Hindus should not suffer from self righteousness and Muslims should not be treated as alien or suspects. On the other hand the Muslims should review the features of their identity so as to achieve maximum accommodation and adjustment. There should be an open dialogue between Hindus and Muslims on the controversial problems like common civil code, polygamy, control of population rise, use of urdu, visit to Mecca, etc. with free mind. Differences of opinion should be respected and a permanent free forum be framed to find out conciliatory positions acceptable to both. Such organisations like the South Asian Fraternity, the Association of Asian People etc. be requested to co-ordinate their activities towards informal contacts, fraternity camps, tours, exchange programmes, sports, cultural festivals in both the countries. Since there is common history and common geography, common art, music and culture, there will be less difficulty in forging a unity of mind and emotions between the people on both sides. We should also encourage inter-communal or inter-country marriages. In short, all sorts of modes be explored to encourage interaction, contact, and living before we can conceive of an amity and rapprochement on the national levels of both the countries. This does not mean that we should not attempt reconciliation at the apex level but unless we work on the ground level, our success above will be limited.
Some Models for Indo-Pak Conflict Resolution
There are ways to approach reconciliation between India and Pakistan:-
Firstly, we can approach the two governments to start meaningful dialogue, first on the non-official or non-formal level if there is inhibition to go on the formal level. This should be without any condition. Talks on second level diplomatic channels have already been going on. I think that the Ex-Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, and perhaps V.P. Singh can take the initiative in this direction. If not, some impartial respectable foreign personalities like Nelson Mandela, Arch Bishop Tutu, Aung Sui the Dalai Lama or any other, be involved in bringing the two Prime Ministers on the talking table as the Norwegian peace negotiation team have done in the case of Sri Lankan Imbroglio. We can make a more comprehensive list of such personalities including that from the U.N.O. and Nobel Peace laureates or peace personalities.
2. Proposal for Indo-Pak Conflict Mediation We should try to explore the possibility of an impartial mediation or arbitration, before we talk to the Government leaders. We should prepare the background through people’s education, through publishing feature articles, letter to the editors. etc. by respectable persons and journalists so that we can know the reaction of the people and also avail of their suggestions. I know that mediation is difficult, but in view of heavy public expenditure involved in defence budgets, we can persuade the people to our side. We have already fought three wars and the last Kargil proved inconclusive. Now, both India and Pakistan, have acquired nuclear weapons. Hence any war will be suicidal for both the countries. True, there are difficulties in choosing impartial mediators, but if we try we can find some people who will be both impartial and just. The world is not devoid of such people. If we cannot agree to mediation, it means either our case is weak or the whole world is our enemy. Let India float a few names. If Pakistan agrees to it, it is alright; if not, let Pakistan come forward with its own proposal. I am sure that we can find some sensible and impartial persons for this work. During partition we had agreed to Radcliff award when passions had risen high. Mediation is neither against our self-respect nor against self-interest, especially whenever bilateral dialogue is not being agreed upon from our side. If we put conditions we can take up them while discussing the thorny problems. Such hardened attitude towards any dialogue puts ourselves on the dock in the eyes of international opinion and we unnecessarily loose other’s goodwill. On the other hand, we should be always ready for dialogue to earn the goodwill of the international community.
3. People to People Relations
Prior to any formal rapprochement on the government level, we should try to establish people to people relationship through larger exchange programme, free visits, friendship camps, inter-country conferences in music, art, literature, development and other problems. This will normalise our relations and will go a long way in reducing tensions. We should remember that though politically, we are two countries or two nation states, but we have a long common history, common tradition, common art, music etc. We have almost the same heritage. Hence, this will be a most welcome and useful proposal towards normalisation of relations between the two relations. We have almost the same food habits, same dress and same view of life. There might be many more devices to boost up social and cultural contacts between the people. We can co-ordinate and co-operate with each other in trade and commerce, scientific and literary ventures. Both countries have strong bias for agriculture and religion in life. We share almost the same set of moral and spiritual values. Hence such camps arranged by South Asian Fraternity have been a great success. True, there are some differences, but there are also many kinds of differences in our own country. We have extreme diversities. We have differences in our languages, dress, food habits, etc., but these differences do not come in the way of unity. It means that there is unity in diversity. This is our culture. Hence, we can reconcile with whatever differences we have.
4. Loose Political Models
With such bitterness, it is difficult to establish a political unification at once. This is also not desirable. India is a big country, so is Pakistan. Bigness comes in our way of efficient administration. Decentralisation of administration is a prudent policy. There is more scope for corruption, misuse of powers, criminalisation in big political structure. “Small is beautiful”, says Schumacher. Centralisation of power has violence ingrained in it. Hence today, decentralisation has become a political creed. In India, we insist on grass-root democracy of the Panchayats. Therefore, we should have craze for unified unit of India and Pakistan. A loose political model of federation or confederation should be attempted where we have both autonomy and security. Ram Manohar Lohia and Jaya Praksh Narayn have advocated such a loose federation between the two countries with maximum powers to the units and minimum to the centre. In Eastern Europe, there is a union of about 20 countries with Common Market, Common Parliament, Common Currency and Common Visa. In this way, identity of each unit is preserved and when they unite together, they acquire greater strength. If India and Pakistan unite, even loosely, on this pattern, there will be a much less strain on army and economy. At, political level, we will have greater bargaining power with super powers and a possibility for becoming a permanent member of the Security Council. We can defend our boarders better and we can gear-up our economy more efficiently. One World is a far cry at present, but loose federation between India and Pakistan will certainly pave the wave for World Government and World Peace. The communal tension in both countries will also subside. Even vexatious problem of Kashmir might be solved. Vinoba in his most original way has projected a solution for establishing a political triangle, with Afghanistan “A”, Burma “B” and Ceylon “C” called A B C as a triangle. We know that all countries within this geographical triangle have become victims of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and ill health, but their worst malady is internal and fraternal strife leading to occasional wars and foreign exploitation and intervention. We have a similar political framework, called the SAARC, though it has not been very effective. But such models in Atomic age are going to have more survival value. Socrates had said “I am neither an Athenian nor a Greek but the citizen of the World”. Our scripture also proclaims that the whole world is one family – Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam. We need a world citizenship and world without frontier. Nationalism today has become an outdated ideology. It has generated enough hatred and has resulted in thousands of wars. Even today humanity is in danger due to narrow nationalism. Let India and Pakistan lead the World towards World Government and World Citizenship.
(Special Reference to the UNO and Regional Organisations in Peace-making, Peace-building and Peace-keeping)
E. P. Menon
Conflict is part of nature, part of life. Everything has two sides – the positive and the negative, plus and minus. In many ways one influences the other. Rather, without recognition of the negative, value of the positive cannot be adequately measured. Often pain follows pleasure and tears follow laughter. Because we are aware of the darkness, the meaning and joy of brightness is immense. This is the basic law of life.
Therefore, conflict need not be always considered as a negative or dreadful entity. In dialectical relationship, conflict of ideas, conflict of interests and conflict of objectives will produce results in such a way that they may not be and need not be fully satisfactory to all contending parties. Depending on the nature of interest, solution to the problem is bound to assume certain specific characteristics relevant to a given context.
Considering all these factors, it can be summarised that the most important part of the ‘conflict-resolution’ process is the sincere attempt to get a clear understanding of the causes for the conflict from both sides. In the expediency of the situation or due to the commitment to a pre-determined destination, quite often the contending parties tend to ignore the small issues on the periphery, though they are closely related to the core of contention. In such situation it is extremely difficult to reach a proper understanding and positive solution.
Clash of interest is the root cause of all conflicts and wars in human society. Most dominant of all conflicting interests among human beings are the material ones and the emotional ones. “Life sustains on life”, said the ancient sages from their own intense experiences and closest observations of the games of nature. For a piece of food, for a piece of land on which shelter had to be constructed, there have been fights. For the sake of possessing or protecting the female partner in sex, the male members used to fight each other. Slowly, when group and community consciousness developed and small societies formed, the struggle and fight began to assume larger dimensions. Consequently, loss and suffering for individual members as well as groups and clans also assumed larger proportions.
At the same time, it can be assumed, good sense, parallel sense of justice and fair-play also developed among the individuals as well as the conflicting groups. Mutual effort in understanding the causes played a constructive role, while earnest desire to avoid tensions played a civilizational role in the scheme of things as humanity evolved from the earliest “might is right” stage to the most modern knowledge-centered global collective-survival stage. At all the various steps in the process, positive and negative values and aspirations did make their share of contribution to the larger objective of conflict-resolution.
However, the kind of structural re-organisation of life-sustaining properties which should have taken place simultaneously, did not take place due to the greedy and acquisitive nature of humans. Therefore, local conflicts, regional conflicts, national conflicts and international conflicts occurred frequently, changing the course of history, geographical boundaries and cultural dimensions. Thus, by the time humanity bade farewell to the twentieth century, it had experienced two terrible global wars in which most sophisticated weapons of mass destruction were also brought to play resulting unparalleled pain and destruction. Describing the twentieth century predicament a famous Indian scientist, C.V. Raman, had lamented: “Take the pages of European history, every page is soaked and coloured by human blood.”
Against the above background, now the sincere urge for finding out peaceful settlement of problems has become a universal reality. Otherwise, history has taught us that violence has become so violent that it destroys its own purpose. In other words, sincere search for peaceful and constructive resolution of conflicts has become an inevitable necessity for humankind, thanks to the experiences of the last century. To achieve the desired result two essential pre-requisites must be given top priority in and by all societies across the world. They are : (1) Conscious, deliberate efforts at all levels to create social equality among all sections of people; (2) Creation of alternate economic philosophy and structure which would ensure full and equitable material justice to all the six-and-odd billions of inhabitants on earth. Undoubtedly, this is the most Herculean task confronting the world today.
It is in this context that one should study and understand the greatest contributions made by Karl Marx and M. K. Gandhi. Instantly I am aware of the fact that there can be many eye-brows raising in astonishment: “How dare you put these two in the same basket?” Yes, they are two sides of the same coin. They were totally committed to one single ultimate core objective: Welfare and Happiness of All Humans on Earth.
Both of them sought to analyze the causes for conflicts and then find ways and means to handle them in order to reach an amicable settlement. However, due to historical factors, cultural influences and personal predicaments, their studies, approaches and conclusions took different dimensions. Marx, like a true and dedicated scientist, considered the whole of humanity as his laboratory and thoroughly studied all the complexities of relationships, ideas and philosophies that influenced human lives and the forces that operated and determined human behaviours and actions, ever since civilizations took shape. When he found that material factors and interests were the primary determinants of all human actions and relationships, realistically he could draw certain conclusions about the enormous amount of violence that had been used by certain sections of people over the vast majority of humans. Thus developed two distinct classes – the “exploiters” and the “exploited”. In order to justify their socio-economic philosophies and actions, the exploiting class had conveniently ‘invented’ and systematically ‘sustained’ several rules and regulations, instruments and structures, which would always work against the interest of the majority and which would manufacture such concepts and ideas in order to stifle the conscience of millions down the ages. Result was concepts like ‘god’, ‘fate’, ‘salvation’, ‘sin’, ‘sanctity’ etc. which played havoc in all normal and natural relationships of human beings. At all stages of the so-called ‘civilizational advance’ humans are supposed to have reached by now, the role, character and structure of violence have only increased. In other words, power of the latent violence, the inherent violence, is so subtle that it has become part and parcel of all human relations and activities.
It was precisely for the above reason that Marx predicted the “inevitability of violence” in the process of social action and transformation that would eventually lead to the realisation of a “classless and just society”. This conclusion of Marx has been misunderstood and misinterpreted by several people in several ways, based on their own inner light, sincerity of purpose, subjective observations and external experiences.
On the other hand, Gandhi does not believe in the “inevitability of violence” in the process of social transformation. His total rejection of violence as an ‘instrument for change’ and his full commitment to the process of non-violence emerge from a purely personal desire, motivated by his ‘call of conscience’, conditioned by the highest level of humanitarian understanding combined with his unflinching faith in the concept of a ‘supreme power’. Gandhi insists that through direct dialogue, based on emotional commitment to ‘that which is good in the opponent too’, and with the application of the theory of ‘non-violent non-cooperation’, if necessary, the desired personal and social objective can be achieved. This is a participatory civilizational approach.
Now the future of humanity calls for a commitment to the confluence of these two approaches, which should be made free from various prejudices and pre-conditioned notions. Then resolution of conflicts would assume more positive and qualitative characteristics. Reason and emotion would thus play a more co-operative role pushing humans further up on the ladder of civilization. However, there are some practical pre-requisites without which the efforts can not bear fruit. They should be looked into from a purely materialistic and humanistic angle.
To begin with, four simple questions should be asked and impartial answers sought. Who owns this earth? Who controls this earth? Who decides about this earth? And who enjoys this earth? One of the latest UN calculations has concluded that the top 20% of humans in this world have 82.7% of the total wealth of the world at their disposal, while the bottom 20% of humans have only 1.7% of the world’s wealth at their command. The remaining 60% of people at the middle level enjoy 15.6%. As long as this economic equation is deliberately maintained in this world, can we ever expect any ‘peaceful solution’ to most of the problems confronting humanity? The answer is a simple no. It is in this context that we should study the role of UNO and explore the possibility of building and sustaining a peaceful world.
The bitter experiences and enormous losses suffered by nations in the First World War gave birth to a collective global entity called ‘League of Nations’, in order to prevent such future conflicts as well as to create and maintain better relationships among nations. But it collapsed soon because of the uncompromising positions adopted by conflicting parties and lack of organisational strength which could intervene effectively and impartially. Two decades later when the world experienced the second world war, it was impossible for any nation or thinking person to remain indifferent to the compelling need of a thorough mechanism which should be able to prevent future wars, create conditions to reduce conflicts and play the role of peace-keeper as well. The consequent product is the UNO.
During the last 56 years of its existence the UN has played significant roles at various levels and regions. More than the political wings of the UN, its social, cultural and educational wings have done tremendous work and produced results. However, as long as intense nationalism and uncompromising allegiance to national sovereignty still play dominant role in international relations, the UN will not be effective enough in its peace-keeping obligations. Also in the absence of any sort of ‘UN Peace Army’ which could effectively intervene between two fighting parties to create peace and maintain it, nations will use their own arbitrary ‘rights’ and ‘claims’ to wage war. The 1991 Iraq-Kuwait war and US-Iraq war are concrete examples. As violent conflicts are going to be on the increase in the 21st century, especially since the ‘N-club’ is alarmingly expanding its membership, the UN Charter will need amendment to give itself more power of intervention.
Regional non-military alliances and organisations like the NAM, OAU, ASEAN, SAARC, and EU are extremely important and useful in the emerging global scenario for peace-building and peace-keeping. These organisations are already playing several positive and constructive roles in economic, social, cultural, educational, and diplomatic relations, thus automatically reducing the burden on UN in the long run. More such regional groupings could be created with specific agenda and objective in the common interest of the constituent nations. This process will help to reduce the terrible social and economic injustices on the people of developing countries.
Only such concrete co-operative developmental efforts and comprehensive planning for building from below can take the world forward to better peaceful atmosphere. Simultaneously, causes for conflicts will be reduced, methods for resolutions will improve in quality. This means clearer understanding of issues and greater participation of people in a non-violent and democratic manner. Recognition, respect, reciprocity and dialogue become the key words to the entire exercise and desired result.
In the following passages I would like to analyze the cause and nature of the three major conflicts in the post World War II era, namely the conflicts between the two Koreas, Arabs and Israel, and India and Pakistan and by doing so,to consider the possible role of Gandhian thinking today.
The reason why I look at them as the major conflicts is that, these have been the world’s trouble spots for the last half a century, have incurred a tremendous waste of resources and human lives, have been mixed up with the Cold War, and are still incapable of an immediate solution.
1. Divided Korea
Let me first take up the Korean Peninsula.
The Peninsula was divided at the 38th Parallel after the Soviet Union was brought into the war against Japan in August 1945. It was with a purpose of facilitating Japan’s surrender, in the sense that the Japanese south of the line would surrender to the American forces and that north of the line would do so to the Soviet Army. Very soon, however, both America and the Soviets, brought in an exiled leader of their liking as the head of the government, they established on their side of the line
Was there any way by which the line might not have been drawn dividing the Peninsula in this way? The division could have been avoided if the Japanese had surrendered, namely accepted the Potsdam Declaration issued on July 26 of that year, a little early, say one week, as the Soviets would have had no pretext of declaring war on Japan under the circumstances. If the margin had been two weeks, instead of one, the two Atomic bombs would not have been dropped, and Japan would have taken the signal credit for a post war world without any experience of nuclear weapons. It could have been a very different world then, with no horrible accumulation of nuclear weapons, and no deterrence theory.
As a matter of fact, however, the division of the Peninsula took place, and this led to the Korean War, as the war was an attempt to unite both portions by military means. In subsequent developments marked by US military presence in Korea and Japan, exclusion of the People’s Republic of China from the United Nations, and America’s Vietnam War, Japan and South Korea normalized relations in 1965. Opposition was mounting in both the countries, as it recognized South Korea as the only lawful government in the Peninsula, thus permanently isolating North Korea, and also it stipulated that Japan would ensure the flow of substantial amount of ODA as well as private fund to South Korea, thus relieving Japan of paying reparation or compensation for what it had done to the Koreans during the colonial period.
Subsequent isolation of the North, economic development and, later, democratization in the South are well known. What should be stressed here is the Cold War-like situation still persists in the Peninsula at the moment, with the US stationing an infantry division in the South, a marine expeditionary force and a sizable naval force in Japan, while Japanese political establishment is keen on sending her Self Defence Forces abroad.
With the above picture of the Peninsula in view, it was epoch-making that the Prime Minister of Japan made a two-day visit to the North to meet Kim Jon-Il, the Party General Secretary. If the kidnapping of Japanese nationals by the North had not been committed, the North would have made a number of demands to the Japanese government, for compensation, and for helping them out of the present economic crises. These would probably have made a wake-up call for the Japanese who are not yet fully convinced of the validity of demands for compensation by Asians.
That way the North missed a chance not only for themselves but for many of their fellow Asians. There is no wonder then that the diplomatic solution between Japan and North Korea has taken the pattern of Japan-South Korea solution of 1965, though it should be apparent that that is a pattern which is incapable of incorporating the voices of people who have suffered for compensation, as the Japanese government is sure to say, as in the case of the South, that the issues have been solved by the settlement.
On top of it came a one more visit to the Yasukuni War Shrine by the Prime Minister, in the face of a strong protest both from inside the country and from China and both Koreas. This is his third and he openly said after the visit that he will do so once every year. Probably he has his conservative constituents in mind. What is particularly intriguing is that among the three million soldiers who are enshrined there, there are fourteen who were convicted at the Tokyo International Tribunal shortly after Japan’s defeat.
Seven of the fourteen were executed, including the General who was Prime Minister when Japan declared war on US and Britain, and another one who was C-in-C in China when the Nanking massacres took place. The Shrine is distributing a booklet which openly says that the Tribunal was a farce and the defendants were not really guilty. The assumption is that the war was one of liberating Asia from the European or American colonial yokes. This is indeed the gist of the junior high school history text book which was the topic of so much bitter criticism and debate in 2001.
Japan, as it stands now, is thus not quite capable of being trusted by the Asians, particularly the near-by peoples. She is not contributing to confidence building in East Asia. Under the circumstances it is unthinkable for her to discuss the crisis over the possible US attack on Iraq with her neighbours in the region. On this issue Japan is simply saying that Iraq should comply more fully with the US inspection, implying that if Iraq does not, the US will be justified to attack it unilaterally or otherwise. As a matter of fact the US is the only country Japan calls an ‘ally’.
Let us quickly look at South Korea. It is in a transition, from the outgoing President Kim, a seasoned politician, who used to call himself a Gandhian when his country was growling under the strong and brutal hand of the military dictatorship, to the incoming much younger Rho, a self-made man, human rights activist, elected mainly on the votes of the younger generations. Kim expressed sorrow at his last conference with foreign correspondents stating that the Shrine stood as a stumbling block on the way toward better relations with Japan. On the other hand Rho will continue Kim’s ‘Sunshine policy’ toward the North. Japan and South Korea co-hosted the World Cup in 2002, which helped to orient the attention of the young Japanese to the Peninsula, particularly the South. But this is not enough. The Japanese will have to go several steps forward to meet the Korean mind.
The North, meanwhile, seems to be getting out of hand. Here we cannot afford to make a mistake, as, according to a Thai political scientist who writes in Nation that it may be the US who has violated the items agreed upon by both in 1994. Even so, the North should put its explanation before the world. Otherwise the present seemingly harsh and war-like utterances would only benefit, among others, the essentially conservative political establishment in Japan, and by so doing, help destroy whatever little chances present to build confidence in East Asia.
2. Middle East
There is right now an impending threat of a war, a US or a US-led war against Iraq. As was the case in the Gulf War, it will in all likelihood reinforce the Israeli position against the Arabs, especially when the Israelis have voted to power again the same elements who are largely responsible for the present tensions between the Palestinians and Israel. Let us take a look at some of the forces arrayed against those who want war.
As a Japanese I have been impressed by the behaviour of Turkey. As is well known Turkey is a NATO member and there are US bases in the country. Nevertheless, she invited the Foreign Ministers of five neighouring countries to Istanbul to discuss ways and means to avert a war crisis, including Syria, currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. This was after her Prime Minister, who came to the office only recently, made a round of these countries for prior consultation.
If we turn to Europe, we notice here also that a crisis of this magnitude does unfold hitherto latent factors. Noam Chomsky calls the British Prime Minister as the US Ambassador to the world, who is at some conferences addressed as ‘Mr. Vice-President’, together with seven other countries, declared that they will support US. More recently ten countries in the former Eastern Europe, constituting the ‘Vilnius Group’, slated to be new members of NATO, also signed a letter to the same effect.
France and Germany, however, the axis of the European reconstruction and reconciliation, Donald Rumsfeld’s ‘old Europe’, have not yielded their ground of opposing the war. It is reported that the French President have said that war is an admission of failure of diplomacy. They may have their own reasons for doing so, but that does not matter. While calling our attention to the analogy between this war and the Vietnam War when the US had to fight it alone, as far as Europe was concerned, the Director of the Foundation for Strategic Research, Paris, said that even if opposing the war would mean France would be excluded from the post-Saddam process, that would also open other doors in the Middle East.
Is Japan capable of opposing the war? While it is clearly evident that the US is violating the UN Charter which says that a member nation should refrain from ‘the threat or use of force’, and ‘the inherent right of self-defense’ may be exercised only when that nation is attacked? Clearly Japan is not, as I said before. Her Ministers are even in touch with their US counterparts to discuss how to proceed with the post-war reconstruction. These are outstanding attitudes among Asian nations, and I am tempted to agree with Zbigniew Brzezinski when he writes that Japan has neither Germany’s France nor Poland in Asia (The Grand Chessboard, 1997), although I take liberty to differ when he continues to write that Japan therefore has no choice but to lean heavily against the US.
Indeed there is every likelihood that her Asian neighbours would look at Japan not simply unrepentant, as is shown by the War Shrine visits, history textbooks or extreme reluctance to pay compensation, but war-like even now. True, it is unlikely Japan would help the war effort by sending combat forces. That is still some way beyond. But already several warships have been deployed in the Indian Ocean in the name of helping the US and others to fight terrorism. If we would have to bear some of the war expenditure, as we had after the Gulf War, while Germany would say no to any such US proposal this time, Japan’s reputation as a peace-loving nation would be further tarnished. There is, however, an encouraging opinion survey which shows only 23% of the Japanese support a war against Iraq, while an overwhelming 68% are against the war.
I look at the crisis as a clash of civilizations. There is no inevitable link between terrorism and Islam, either. But the whole Middle East is teeming with socio-economic disparities, political deprivation, endless Palestine-Israeli conflict and the US support to Israel and to some dictatorial regimes. The war would certainly be expected to make the call of jihad more attractive. As the Christian Science Monitor writes, ‘The masses in the Islamic world don’t have parties, don’t have parliaments, and they feel besieged in their own countries. Many of them can’t change their leaders–and yet they see that the US is supporting those regimes’ (November 5, 2002).
This is what Colin Powell completely ignored when he tried to establish the Iraqi regime’s guilt before the Security Council. The US may say that it is not only dangerous but also undemocratic and brutal one. But first, the US is not credited for having upheld democracy everywhere, particularly after the Cold War set in. Rather the US is known to have supported undemocratic regimes in many parts of the world in the name of fighting communism, and even to have toppled some democratically elected governments, in Guatemala, Chile and elsewhere. Can we take its claim to establish a democratic one in Iraq at its face value? Everywhere democratization has been realized by the people’s movement and at a cost.
Second, there are enough materials and testimonies on the basis of which we may doubt the credibility of Powell speech. Scott Ritter says he proved nothing (his interviews in some Japanese newspapers. See also War on Iraq, by W.R.Pitt with Scott Ritter, 2002). But suppose Powell is right, does it mean that America may lead a war against Iraq; before it is attacked and apparently without any immediate threat? It is not in tune with the whole idea of the UN Charter.
The day after Powell spoke, President Bush said that they would take action ‘to defend ourselves, and to disarm the Iraqi regime’. It is out of question to talk of defense in the absence of an immediate threat. As for disarming, even if Iraq is found to possess some weapons of mass destruction, the UN inspectors may be trusted to locate them in due course and to destroy them. The US has put itself above the UN, and does not hesitate to call it useless when it does not comply with her wishes. When Bush says time is running out he is threatening the UN. Further, the US is known to have helped Iraq with materials for chemical and biological warfare during the Iran-Iraq War. In this sense Iraq is for US a Frankenstein’s monster, and so is Al-Qaeda, which it helped to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan.
Third, is there then a hidden motive behind the US mobilization? Shekhar Gupta writes in Indian Express that the US aim is taking Baghdad so that it may be turned into a foothold for launching a campaign against political Islam(or militant Islam). This will bring us back to what I said a bit earlier about the discontent in the Middle East. The above-mentioned article sounds, unfortunately, that it would be of little use to try to say anything against the war in the face of such a long term strategy.
A Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit is almost round the corner. Hopefully it will play a role in trying to avert a war. At present South Africa, the incumbent Chair, is vigourously putting the voice of the member countries across the UN. It shows that, contrary to some popular notion, the NAM is not dead. The African Union, which has replaced the OAU, has also expressed its opposition to a war.
The next Chair will be Malaysia, and here also lies hope because nowadays ASEAN, of which Malaysia is an important member, is sending out startlingly clear messages. The communiqué of its Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, held at Brunei in July 2002, for example, has called upon the two Koreas, Israel and the Palestinians, and India and Pakistan, respectively, to talk to each other to solve the existing problems in a peaceful manner. Clearly ASEAN is one step ahead.
Then what is the SAARC doing? It is clear that all the member nations of SAARC will surely be affected in case of a war, but no action is being taken about it. Not even a meeting is held which is overdue by now. By so doing SAARC is losing an opportunity to voice its anxieties through one of its members which is currently occupying the seat of a non-permanent member of the Security Council, namely Pakistan.
3. Indo-Pakistan Conflict
Here I would first like to discuss the nuclearization of the two countries which has enhanced the mutual suspicion and animosity even more. Why did they come to possess such dangerous weapons, to begin with? It seems that after all their national pride has been enhanced, and in their view they have become more reckonable on the stage of world politics. This is the only point where India and Pakistan meet. But it may be said that India during the Prime Ministership of Jawaharlal Nehru, at least up to the Indo-China War of October, 1962, with relatively a small-sized army, was more reckonable than after Pokharan.
Moreover, the nuclearization has led India and Pakistan to distance themselves from other members of NAM at its latest Johannesburg summit, causing a virtual split on a very vital issue. This is natural as the nuclear weapons are closely linked to the deterrence theory which is definitely a product of the Cold War and NAM is an antithesis of it. India and Pakistan have also weakened the support to the anti-nuclear New Agenda group of countries at the UN. When their proposal for immediate abolition of all the nuclear weapons was put to vote on the floor of the UN, it was opposed by both India and Pakistan, as well as the US, Britain, France and Israel. Incidentally the group does not include a single Asian country unless you call Egypt that way. Normally (!) one would be tempted to see India in a group like this. Is such a feeling a hang-over from the Nehru era?
Japan has often requested India and Pakistan to sign the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) and the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty). As far as I know, they have retorted by saying that Japan is under the US nuclear umbrella. It means that the nuclearization of India and Pakistan has raised a question of tension easing, disarmament and denuclearization not only in the subcontinent, but also across the whole of Asia. As far as Japan is concerned, it would be only after she has contributed to the easing of tension in her own East Asia, that her arguments can be convincing to India and Pakistan. The validity of the Japan-US Security Treaty must be called into question on this reason as well.
Then I will discuss Kashmir. It is indeed noteworthy that free elections have been held there in September to October 2002, in spite of the persistent cross-border terrorism, and the new Chief Minister has been sworn in on November 2. Forty two percent of the voting rate would have been the most one would have hoped for under the circumstances. The Kashmir problem should be resolved as soon as possible, as keeping a large army on both sides of the LoC has incurred an unbearably heavy burden on the two countries. Surely the heavy expenditure on the military, including the weapons of mass destruction, should have long been diverted to the alleviation of poverty. According to a FAO report released in October, 2002, the number of undernourished population in India increased from 2156 lakhs to 2333 lakhs over the past decade, while China decreased its figure by one third. The New York Times reported on December 2, 2002, that about 350 million Indians go to bed hungry.
The recent elections must be looked at as an opportunity for solving the issue. The thread must be picked up where it was last seen, namely the inconclusive conversation between the two Prime Ministers at Simla in 1972, which means that the LoC should be earnestly considered as the boundary between the two countries. The crucial question is how to sell the idea to the general public across the LoC, but once this is done the rest will follow.
May I now come to Gujarat. The most important sequence of events in India during the past decade, especially after the present Union government came to power, is what happened in Gujarat since February 27, 2002. It shows the present stage that the Hindu-Muslim relations since the days of Sayyid Ahmed Khan of more than a century ago have reached. It shows where religious fundamentalism can lead. In Gandhi’s own State it is difficult to hear his name. All one hears is the name of Sardar Patel.
The percentage swing was only 4 or 5%, but there was a decisive shift in ‘the violence-wrecked central Gujarat’. Another characteristic feature was that the victory owed much to the ’muscle power’ of the OBCs (other backward classes) who voted en masse for the BJP. Is this the shape of things to come in India, at the time of every important election? One is reminded of the Direct Action in the pre-partition days. The division along the communal lines is a very crude clash of civilizations, such that would suit the Al-Qaeda mentality.
It is said that all this stems from the conflict between Mandal and Mandir, namely, in the face of Mandalization the Mandir issue has been raised with the Rath Yatra as the cornerstone. However, the integration of the OBCs into the process of Mandir in Gujarat would suggest that Mandal and Mandir are not necessarily antithetic to each other. The Mandal report does not uphold the position of the elite OBCs. Rather it stresses the crucial importance of land reform. Once it is put into practice, there would be complete separation of Mandal and Mandir. A way to overcome the communal division would then be opened. Kuldip Nayar wrote in The Indian Express that the gains of the economic growth in India had percolated only to 10 to 15% of the population. Such a state of affairs has been a fertile ground for fundamentalism. A new outlook for development, linked to mass literacy, mass nutrition, mass employment, mass health, environmental preservation and an emphasis on agriculture is called for. It is here that we turn to Gandhi for some light.
Epilogue:What to learn from Gandhi
Supriya Roy Chowdhury writes in The Hindu that ethical politics has disappeared, Gandhi’s assassination, and that by a Hindu, is not there any more in the textbooks, he was excluded from the national memory, and this is how he is being assassinated. In spite of this, however, it is still true that at least some people engaged in works such as education, particularly mass literacy, health, environment, empowerment of the weaker sections and women, peace and abolition of nuclear weapons, composite culture, must have given some thought to how Gandhi would have thought of their problems. There is his influence in the social sciences as well. I have come to study these aspects of Gandhian thought, namely how his words and deeds may be adapted to today’s world.