Communal Harmony & Nation Building
- Dr. Satya Pal Singh
Let us all be proud of our beloved nation. We all have to collectively strive to make India vibrant, strong and supreme. However, is it necessary to talk about nation-building in this age of liberalization and globalization? What are the foundations – the pillars of a nation-building? Is Communal/social or religious harmony the most important requisite for the progress of a nation? If yes, then what are the fundamental measures to foster and maintain this communal harmony? I will be briefly discussing all these issues in my presentation.
The British never called our country a nation. They always referred to it as the Indian sub-continent. They knew that once it becomes a nation – like in the past, with one culture, one language, one emotional integration – they would not be able to rule it. Hence, all their efforts were focused to disintegrate this country on the lines of race, religion, caste, language and province. ‘Divide & rule’ became their ruling mantra. The British were very proud of their nation but tried their best intellectually and educationally to weaken the same patriotic attachment in our people by painting our culture, history, literature as trash and our forefathers as uncivilized.
Loving and nurturing our motherland – our nation is as essential as loving and worshipping our own mother. Every nation has its defined parameters in terms of political borders, its language, its culture, its history, its people. They have emotional integration as land and its history belongs to its forefathers. A bigger unit than a nation is neither sustainable nor desirable.
We won our independence after paying a huge price and unprecedented sacrifices in the hope that we, as a nation, will be politically, socially and emotionally integrated. But, unfortunately in the last 60 years we have been witnessing and encountering the secessionist and dissipative tendencies, movements and insurgencies through the length and breadth of this country. From Jammu & Kashmir to Kerala, the north-east to Gujarat – we have been facing communal riots, insurgency, naxalism and now terrorism.
In the post – independent era, we have made so many strides in the fields of science, technology and engineering that India is already the second largest reservoir of skilled manpower in the world. It produces nearly 3 lakh engineering graduates, 15000 law graduates, 2 million English-speaking graduates and about 9000 Ph.Ds. every year. We have been able to launch our own ‘Chandrayan ’ to carry the Indian flag to the moon.
On the other hand, the cancer of Communalism is developing within the nation. Its spread is serious. Even the police force – the internal sentinels of the nation have been occasionally accused of communal bias. And now, after the arrest of Col. Purohit in Malegaon bomb blast, the name of our army is also being tarnished. The lack of citizen – consciousness has bred lawlessness and corruption. The cancer of corruption has made our international borders porous and all our institutions including education and judiciary very fragile.
The reasons for this communal disharmony are not far to be deciphered. Our policy planners, our nation-builders had thought that the two-nation theory will automatically die – down after the partition of the nation on communal lines. But it was not so. Even our Constitution had to give space to these feelings in the name of majority and minority, Castes and tribes. Our thinking, our polity, our administration till today continue to work mostly on communal and caste lines. Then how can we have Communal harmony in this country ?
Our policy makers and intellectuals have to admit that all our policies, efforts and programmes starting from the National Integration Council and National Foundation for Communal Harmony at the Government of India level to the Peace Committees at the district level have not given the desired results. It is not only the increased number of incidents of communal tension and riots but the more serious misunderstandings, mutual distrust and ill-will among the different communities especially between the Hindus and Muslims. And it has adversely and colossally affected our nation-building efforts.
Pillars of nation building
According to me there are 6 pillars on which Nation-building can be erected and sustained.
1. Education and Experiments –
through Education; Science, Technology, Engineering.
A good education is the foundation of a successful human life, education is the harbinger of social progress and education provides the building-blocks of a great nation. There must be a free, Compulsory and quality education for all.
A true education must inculcate/educate the following among its students.
3. Control of mind
2. Safety & Security –
Through rule of law and its strict enforcement.
Protection of weak, ensuring safety & Security of society and nation through well trained, efficient empathetic, competent police & military personnel.
3. Prosperity – (Economic Development & Absence of Complacency) –
Through generation of sufficient power, creating infrastructure through trained efficient, honest, healthy labour force, Human Resource Development and through advanced agriculture, business, trade, manufacturing industries.
4. Health & Clean Environment of the Society - A healthy population is a happy population and that leads to a healthy nation.
5. Entertainment – Let us have the Development of arts,crafts,music,dance,drama – all varieties of fine arts and creativity. However, we have to remember that economic development leads to a better life – luxurious life – involving arts & music. Excess of it leads to luxury, lethargy & laziness; inertia and inactivity. If it is allowed to develop, to set in, it follows with the beginning of downfall. The wells and springs of creativity get dried up. Many great cultures of the world like Roman & Greek slipped into oblivion because of excessive emphasis on pleasure, rather than on happiness. When the culture of pleasure becomes an intended way of life of elites, it infects the other sections of society. Earning of wealth to buy more & more pleasure – wine, woman, drug, alcohol starts debasing the character of a nation.
6. Harmony & Hope :
Social Harmony is the bedrock of democracy. It is the essence of prosperity and the harbinger of justice. Without harmony among the different sections of society, neither knowledge proceeds further nor the economic prosperity. Justice & protection is denied to unprivileged people. Pressure groups of caste and creed denominations overpower the Rule of law. In a strained and disturbed environment music and fine-arts are smoldered or they make wings to fly to safer and protected zones.
People Confident and hopeful for future move to better prospects and peaceful & progressive life ahead.
Present Communal Scenario :
The present day India is getting increasingly susceptible to an environment of social tension, insecurity and violence. After the Mumbai terror attack of 26th November, 2008 the concern for a safer society is getting more and more intense from individual to family and from society to entire nation. With increasing development in infrastructure and information technology and modernism the reality of a safer society is becoming a utopian and illusory idea. The craving for safety and security has again focused the attention to find out alternative approaches to development and nation-building. Our fragmented and only police approach is perhaps mainly responsible for this predicament. A holistic strategy which could bind an individual to the community and a citizen to the country is missing. We have yet to understand the essence of communal harmony.
Communal harmony does not only mean an absence of communal tensions, strifes and riots. It is something deeper, something emotional. Communal harmony implies mutual understanding, peaceful co-existence, cooperation and coordination among all the constituents of a community. Harmony means proper conformity of the parts to one another and to the whole.
Our country is passing through turbulent times and faced with numerous challenges – communalism being the most serious one. Because the terrorism of today is its extreme extension and one of its tragic byproducts. Its virus, getting stronger with age, is eating the very vitals of a community life and pulling the strings of national development backwards. The communal situation in the country during the recent past has shown signs of serious strain. An indication to this is the increasing volume of violence and communal strifes and quite frequent terrorist strikes in big vibrant cities, resulting in colossal loss to life and property. Communal violence has not remained confined to specific areas which were either known as sensitive or hyper sensitive but has affected almost all parts of the country. The cities as well as rural areas are both experiencing, and are being tormented by communal disturbances.
Harmony is natural, disharmony is man-made. There is cosmic harmony in the universe and organic harmony in a living body. When this harmony gets disturbed in a body, it becomes sick and when natural or ecological harmony is broken, it leads to disasters.
Cost of social disharmony or communal conflicts is enormous – in social, economical or political terms.
Roots of Communal Harmony :-
The first lesson for maintaining or sustaining harmony is to follow the natural laws.
1. Diversity is the beauty of nature, equality is unnatural. Food is nice if it has different tastes. A garden is beautiful if it has different variety of trees and flowers. A mela or fair is attractive if it has different shops, colours, items, dresses or entertainment.
Nature loves diversity and differences. Even twins in a family differ in a hundred ways and no two peas are alike.
2. Humanity started from one origin – whether Adam Eve or Manu or Brahma. It started from one place whether Tibet, Africa or Australia. Man has only one race – the difference in colours and facial features are the result of later habitats and endured climatic difference. All human beings have exactly the same number of organs and same colour of blood. Archaeologists and sociologists have become the specialists of only one aspect of human tree. Some have studied the similarities and differences of leaves, branches and fruits. Unfortunately, due to our false racial prejudices and arrogance and lack of courage to accept our limitations and follow the truth irrespective of its source, we have yet to comprehend the fountain head of religions, the origin of language and the source of human beginning.
3. Man had only one language in the beginning. Many established linguistics have opined that all languages started from one source. How come, most of them believe that language evolved after long experience and knowledge, human beings acquired after observing nature. They forget, even in this technological age, that knowledge comes from language and not vice versa. Language is composed of words and words, as we know and hear through T.V., radio, telephones etc., are eternal. Original language is eternal and only one.
4. Requirements of man, irrespective of caste, creed, country are the same like
hunger, sleep, fear, sex. It is also innate to human nature to know what is good for him/her as following good creates happiness, enthusiasm and bliss in one’s heart. Similarly, fear, shame and diffidence take over while trying to pursue a wrong path.
If we believe in spirituality or in the existence of soul in every living being, then the basic attributes of all innumerable but definite souls are the same. Starting from birth to death, all human beings exhibit the same instincts and behave in the same way.
5. Strength is in unity. My hand is very powerful but till it is part of the whole (body). Her eyes are captivating but for how long ? Till they are the parts of her body … Anyone is powerful till he/she belongs to community and community has only one religion called communitariansm. A nation is strong as long as its citizens speak in one voice and are willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of her honour.
6. In last hundreds or thousands of years of cultural history of world, no one in any religion has come out with anything new which was not known earlier. Man’s basic religion, the code of righteousness is from the very inception of man on this planet. If not – there may be only two reasons for it. (i) God has been kind to some and unkind and unjust to others – unfair and partisan in His dealing, (ii) God was not mature enough – gaining experience and knowledge as human beings do.
7. We have one origin, one race, one language, one religion, endowed with the same basic instincts and potentials. All essential things for life are God (in nature) given which we cannot divide, we cannot stamp them like Hindu vegetables, Muslim fruits, Christian water or Jewish air. Then fighting for non-essential , artificial and cosmetic appearances and rituals is not only suffocating and sinful but sinisterous and self defeating in the harmonious way to peace and progress.
8. In the field of religion, as in domain of science, what we do not see is the truth and reality and what we see is untruth and unreal. The rituals are not the reality or truth of a religion. The righteousness – the qualities of truth, honesty, humility and forgiveness etc. are not measurable or seen.
9. The unassailable test of judging the truth is what appeals to my conscience, what is dear to my inner being, what my soul approves of ? Let us come out of the borrowed knowledge, let us get rid of prison- houses of teachers, leaders and scriptures , let us get de-conditioned to our circumstances in which we were born, think and move.
10. We all are born blank with a Tabula Rasa (blank tablet having no innate ideas ) as the experiments of John Locke and Russian Pavlov had proved. A Hindu is born to Hindu parents, a Muslim or Christian is born to Muslim or Christian parents. If one who calls himself a Hindu were born to Muslim or Christian family, his attitudes towards Islam and Christianity would have been different. One who is a Hindu today could have been a Muslim or a Christian and a Muslim or Christian could have been a Hindu.
11. Man is a social being. He is so dependent on others that on his own he/she just cannot survive. Whether food, clothing, education, dwelling, for every thing we depend on others. People professing different religions-many Hindu and Muslim leaders and functionaries get educated in Christian Missionary Schools or treated by doctors professing different religions. We invite professionals irrespective of their religions.
12. Inevitability of Consequences
Let us always remember in our hearts the fundamental law of nature echoed by Newton’s law of motion. Every action has its opposite and equal reaction. Indestructiveness & Conservation of energy it has only transformation. Every action creates energy….. Even words are beyond decay & destruction and remain permanent in space. Irrespective of the religion we believe in we have to face the consequences of our actions. They can’t be forgiven or forgotten. Let us do good to others to get good in return.
All religions advise good Behavior to others
‘ As you sow, so as you reap ’
Code for Communal Harmony for Nation Building
Everyone wants to live in peace and prefers progress and happiness in life. Communal harmony is the prerequisite for any community or country’s march to harmonious development –physical ,social and environmental. The following code of conduct, I am sure will lead our nation (or any nation), to a peaceful and progressive co-existence.
Our secular education has failed and failed miserably in inculcating the life values in its pupils, the feelings of fraternity, harmony and patriotism among its citizens. Education of today has taught us the competitive-drive of Darvin but not the cooperation’. It has taught us various subjects but not the human values’ it has taught us the geography and demography of the country but not the virtues of citizenship.
A child is born in a family like a blank slate, gets conditioned to the family circumstances, the actions and behaviours of parents and elders in the family. Let us teach our child that he/she could have been born to another family practicing another religion. It is a matter of chance or faith and not of logic . But to progress in one’s life one has to give precedence to reasoning rather than faith. The ideal thing is that what satisfies the curiosity of mind should be pursued.
(a) Our schools and colleges must have religions (all major ones) as part of our curriculum. We teach Physics, Chemistry, Maths, History, Sociology, Economics, Commerce etc. but our educational institutions are badly lacking in imparting a lesson is the Science or Art of Management of Life.
As mentioned earlier all the religions of the world have some truth in their tenets and some benefits of their rites and rituals. Let us sift out the essentials from non-essentials and feed the younger generation with those vital grains, instructing them that the husks are useful only for preserving and storing the grains in, and not for eating and assimilating. Let us agree on the most basic things - the commonality of all faiths – for which no one have any objections.
Let us adopt a code of conduct like our Common Minimum programme in coalition politics. All religions and faiths believe in the following:
1. Believe in God ( Supreme Spirit ) and individuals souls.
All started from one single source of same parents ( Manu, Noah, Adam or Eve. ) A deluge occurred and very few survived.
2. Love thy neighbours.
3. Do to others, what you expect from others.
4. Speak truth, purge lies & punish liars.
(b) Admission forms should not have columns for caste or creed. Consciousness of one’s or others’ caste or creed creates sense of false superiority or inferiority and discourages the spirit of belongingness . Some teachers also get infected by this divisive virus. Parents’ profession/occupation can be mentioned to take care of all sections of society.
(c) Our schools and colleges must teach – as a part of curriculum – about the life history,, sacrifices and achievements of all our national heroes. In the present set up we have almost forgotten hundreds and thousands of our revolutionaries who gave up their lives or suffered the rigorous imprisonments. Any nation which does not honour or worship her heroes cannot protect its integrity. Let us teach our children/students the lessons and virtues of patriotism.
2. Community Building :-
A Communitarian Movement should be started in the right earnest. Every section of the society (whole society, not a particular caste, class, creed or community ) from children to senior citizens must be involved in community building. Children should have Sports Clubs , healthy competitions , value education sessions and reading classes. Women should learn to mould every human being into good children and good citizens. They should also possess skills in basic health sciences of food and nutrition. Likewise senior citizens should utilize their spare time in narrating their life experiences to build up community welfare. Every community should have a public library, health clubs, activity clubs ,sports club, community prayer hall. Every festival of every religion should be commonly celebrated. On festival day, the history and significance of its celebration should be explained. Almost each and every festival of every community (religion) has some worthy lesson- intimately or intrinsically connected to the way of life, which has to be learnt. However , no practice which contravenes the rules of morality or violates the rights of other living beings should be encouraged. Animal sacrifice for the sake of mere sensual pleasure/ personal advancement and aggrandizement should be banned.
The Code of righteousness – truth, non-violence, courteousness, forgiveness, search and enhancement of knowledge, to abstain from stealing/ felonious act should be encouraged and enforced.
2. At Government levels (i) Recruitment in Govt. services should be without any discrimination of caste and creed. Disadvantaged groups should be encouraged and advanced through specific coaching and through training camps (and other measures ) to join Govt. services.
(ii) Govt. department should not organize or celebrate any festival of
any community or religious group but its officials should join the celebration at community level.
(iii) Govt. should not select/appoint for its various committees, boards , awards, sports teams etc. on the basis of religion. Merit and welfare of society should be the sole criteria.
(iv) Govt. should not discriminate any religious group by subsidizing any religious activity. It breeds animosity and reactions.
(v) No decision of judiciary should be counterminded by bringing any amendment to any Act or Country’s constitution.
Court’s decision should be enforced by the executive even if it displeases any particular religious group.
(vi) In case of communal riots only victims of inter communal groups
should be compensated. The families of accused who are the accused or victims of Police action should not at all be compensated. Such actions on the part of administration may help a particular family but against the tenets of communal harmony.
(vii) Uniform Social and Personal Laws :-
Law means duty, law means dharma. Dharma means a system which sustains the world. It stands for the moral, spiritual, social laws and norms sustaining the society. There must be some set of laws, norms and rules for all sections of society as different codes create ill-will among communities and are prejudicial mainly to the interests of women. Treating men and women of one community differently and legally discriminating communities in the name of personal life goes against the core of communal harmony.
Summing up I would like to quote Rabindra Nath Tagore who captured this idea remarkably well. He said -
“ The best expression of man, therefore, is that which does not exclusively represent an insolated mind, but can be accepted by the minds of all times. To set up creeds and practices to which the universal mind cannot respond is what we call barbarism”.
Also, I would like to quote what Lord Krishna had said to Arjun after explaining to him the gist of knowledge and life –
“ Vimrsayai tad assesena yathecchasi tatha Kuru ” Reflect over what I have said fully and then do what you wish ”.
Bertrand Russel has echoed the same feelings by saying “ Civilization only begins when man says ‘ I believe, but I may be wrong ’. It ends when man says I know the truth, I know what you ought to do, and it is my mission and duty to see that you do it ”.
Aum! Amen! Amin!