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Oct 30, 2014

Communal Harmony

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By Dr. B. M. Hegde, India [ Published Date: May 30, 2006 ]

Dr. B. M. Hegde MD, FRCP, FRCPE, FRCPG, FRCPI, FACC, FAMS, is presently the Chairman of State Health Society, Govt. of Bihar, India, Visiting Prof. Cardiology at The Middlesex Hospital Medical School - University of London, Affiliate Prof. of Human Health - Northern Colorado University, Visiting Prof. Indian Institute of Advanced Studies - Shimla,  Retd.  Vice Chancellor, MAHE University - Manipal. Prof Hedge regularly gives talks on AIR, Doordarshan, BBC and Zee TV, London. 

"They gave each other a smile, with a future in it."-- Ring Lardner.

Communal disharmony in the society is a social disease. This needs to be probed into very deeply to look for the aetiologic factors and then we, as a society, should strive to have the best management strategy possible with radical surgery when needed. Quick fix methods like draconian laws would only be counter productive in the long run, to say the least. Hatred begets hatred and does not cure the malady. Love might do that. Health is defined as physical, mental, social, spiritual and communal well being. Disease is not just the absence of physical disability. In that sense communal disharmony is a disease which originates in the minds of the perpetrators and their henchmen. Most of the time the "organizers" of the crime have some vested interest in the happenings.

More I get to know the working of our society the more I get disillusioned with the powers-that-be and their stooges whose only motto seems to be self aggrandizement and perpetuating their hegemony over the gullible masses. Recently I had yet another taste of this soup. The well meaning Udupi District Superintendent of Police requested me to be a delegate for the "so called" communal harmony meet to be held in the Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore. In one of my weak moments I agreed more to please this good gentleman. With great personal inconvenience and spending my hard earned money I reached the venue only to be sent from pillar to post to get to the hall. There was hardly any one even to give proper direction, leave alone a welcome smile. Later I realized my mistake. People who usually go to the Vidhana Soudha are past masters in the wheeling dealing trade and should know their way through the maze without trouble. Consequently, the government must have thought of not wasting their time and money on any hospitality there.

The hall was packed with politicians of all hues and colour and there were a few "thinkers" of Bangalore, in addition. The media, of course, was there in good numbers as the VVIPs were all there. For the first ninety minutes the talks by all the big wigs were about some new law that the Union Home Ministry intends to enact to "contain" communal violence. Apart from the usual political ministerial discourses, the other talks were mainly from lawyers from various parts of four Southern States who were arguing about the minutiae of the sub clauses and their appropriateness et cetera. No one ever touched even the fringe of the real problem-communal harmony. One leading politician was pontificating on the need to keep the various communities together. The irony was that this very gentleman survives on keeping the communities apart for his elections and power!

For someone who knows these charlatans very well the contents of their speeches were nauseating. It reminded me of an imaginary meeting of the TB germs holding a meeting among them to try and find out as to how they could do good to human beings by eradicating TB from society! Politicians live on dividing society for power and how on earth could they honestly strive for communal harmony? No politician in India could afford to sincerely eradicate communal disharmony as that is his/her rice bowl. The "rice bowl bias" is the one that sustains all materialistic thinking. Altruism is the first casualty in politics. One only has to read the book Animal Farm by George Orwell (Eric Blaire) to know the political tricks that the politicians play to keep themselves in power in the so-called demo (no) cracy. It is nothing new to India, it is universal and ubiquitous. "Man," wrote Shakespeare, "whether in palace or pad, castle or cottage, is governed by the same emotions and passions."

Short History in India:

Muslims and the followers of the Sanathana Dharma lived like brothers and sisters in India from the very beginning of this development up until the Meerut riot in 1857 AD. Thanks to a physician from Edinburgh in the service of the company, whose hobby was laying telegraph lines, the East India Company was lucky to get the news of the riot in time at their headquarters in Calcutta to quell the mutiny with their guns against the sword wielding one thousand Indian soldiers. The crafty British then realized, for the first time, that the two major communities in India lived like brothers. Of the 1000 soldiers there were 420 Muslims when the population of UP was just 1% Muslim. This was a rude shock to the East India Company bosses. They engineered methods to keep the two communities at loggerheads by brainwashing prominent Muslim leaders at that time by all illegal methods and by offering them lots of perks. The British did the same to the other community leaders also. From this humble beginning the communal disharmony bug grew in strength and multiplied to ultimately divide Mother India into two parts which later became three, thanks to the British again who saw that they handed over power only to divided India so that the people of the sub-continent could fight and get themselves destroyed. In addition the British could have a steady market for their arms factories also.

The one great soul that worried about this was dead and gone and it was free for the rest to perpetuate the British legacy of "divide and rule." Most of our post independence rulers were British trained and they could easily understand the tricks of the trade to keep themselves in power. Come elections, one could hear the sermons from the pulpit from every one of those crafty politicians about communal harmony etc. Immediately after that they take communal statistics to decide the candidates for each constituency based not only on religion and caste but even on the sub-castes. Politicians live on communal disharmony and the resultant hatred and they were the ones talking about communal harmony in Bangalore the other day. They talk about poverty alleviation but try hard to keep the poor poorer to be able to create some new slogan for the next election. If every one became rich and powerful who would vote for the cheats?

Management Strategies:

Society should take the responsibility of keeping communal harmony. No outside agency, even the government, will be able to help. Self help is the best help. Having understood the pathology of communal disharmony we have to put our heads together to plan a long term strategy. Let us look beyond our nose tip and have the courage to put our noses on the grinding stone. Progress comes only from those that look beyond their nose tip. Our primary aim should be to teach our children the beauty of universal brotherhood and on our part we should try and widen our horizon to treat all mankind as one large family-citizens of this world. Child’s education starts at home long before the child even goes to school. Children learn not by our preaching but our example. All parents should be living examples of all that is good in society for the children to get converted early in life to be altruistic in their outlook. Schools should continue this tradition. We will then have brought up a whole new generation that would abhor communal, or for that any, violence in any form.

To begin with, each locality should have a "family group" of well meaning individuals of all religions, castes and communities to look after the needs of that particular locality. Any sign of misunderstanding should be examined honestly to come up with a suitable solution in the locality itself, nipping any fissiparous tendency in the bud. These local altruistic bodies should keep politicians of all hues at a respectable distance. Religion being a personal matter every locality committees should help each religion to exist in peace and everyone should partake in all religious activities, especially of the other communities. Sanathana Dharma swears by one world one family motto. Islam vows to respect other religions and Christianity believes in loving every one. No religion hates another religion. No religion propagates crime in any form. All religions are there for the good of humanity at large. Naturally, there will be fanatics in every religion. They will be weakened if the well meaning people in society help to make people live in peace, camaraderie and mutual respect. One should learn not to weep at human action, laugh at it or hate it, but everyone should try to understand human action.

Media these days also abets violence by highlighting the same. We hardly get to see or read about any good deed while there are millions of people engaged in doing good to others. What the media reports, for survival of course, is only sensationalism. Let us also try and make the media understand its obligation to society. There is a new web site www.happynews.com  that reports only good news in society. May their tribe increase and the other people will take a lesson from them. If all of us ignore politicians the latter will also understand their duty to society. The reason why people run after power is to get some bread crumbs thrown at them. If all of us are honest and want to live on our abilities and honesty we do not need political support at all. The future is for non-governmental efforts to keep the common man happy. Authenticity should be respected and not money and power in society as it is today.

We have gone back thousand years to the time when in Greece of Socrates’  justice was injustice and justice was the convenience of the powerful. This obtains in India today. Let society stand up against this and make justice as true justice. This is possible by our raising a new generation on truth, love, compassion, and hard work with honesty. Let merit get its due which it does not today. Suppression, oppression and denial breed criminals of every type. Until and unless the last man gets his three square meals a day and has a roof on his top, this world will not be tranquil. Let the haves understand this and help bridge the gap between  themselves and the have-nots. Communal disharmony is like any other disease and arises out of these social maladies of inequality and injustice. Newer laws and political tricks will not be able to eradicate this cancer in society.

Just as every disease, from common cold to cancer, is born in the human mind, criminality is also born there. Crime grows in society after having been born in human mind. Let us try and make human mind tranquil which in turn makes universal consciousness (society’s mind) tranquil. Yoga is one such non-religious activity that could help do this in society. It is time to THINK for the future good of humans lest humankind should soon become extinct like the dinosaurs. We need the other wings of society like the police, the judiciary as also the rulers when we are in trouble despite all our preventive measures. But let us not trust them to keep us healthy and happy. I have evolved a formula for society. If any one wants good health he/she should avoid hospitals and doctors, if one wants his/her honour preserved he/she should avoid the police and if one wants justice, judiciary should be kept at a distance. BUT when one is ill he needs hospitals and doctors, if one is hurt by others police might help and if injustice is done judiciary could help. Similarly to keep communal harmony let us keep all these institutions at a respectable distance. They would have a secondary role to play in the unlikely event of communal harmony being disturbed in an otherwise tranquil society. Let us remember what Gandhi Ji wrote: "the philosophy of an eye for an eye would leave all of us blind eventually."

"The bravest things are the tenderest. The loving are the daring."-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

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Vinod D'souza, India :
Today Unity of All Religions is the need of the hour in India,We can only Progress if we remember we are Indians first and Religion is Secondary.Then we will be SuperPower and Financial Power.

Thanks & Regards,

Vinod D'souza.
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