Peace, though eternally elusive, has been the focus of intense attention throughout the ages, but more so in recent times after the end of the Second World War. Unfortunately, the peace dividend that was expected did not materialize and instead we had prolonged cold war till 1945, the world has seen a large number of conflicts within and between countries, and South Asia is no exception.
India has had one conflict with China and four with Pakistan during this period, plus a disastrous intervention in Sri Lanka. The shadow of international terrorism, at one stage largely initiated in Pakistan, has assumed menacing proportions and is, in fact, threatening that country itself. The situation in Afghanistan with the imminent withdrawal of US troops is still uncertain, despite brave attempts to build a democratic system capable of withstanding the fundamentalist Taliban. Sri Lanka saw a bloody civil war resulting in huge casualties, particularly to the minority Tamil population. In Bangladesh also, there has been a great deal of tension, while in Nepal, although the ancien regime was toppled, the country is still far from emerging as a stable and viable democracy. Even tiny Maldives has had its share of internal conflict and confusion.
We thus find that South Asia is in turmoil, which makes peace and conflict resolution studies all the more relevant and significant. The present volume edited by Priyankar Upadhyaya and Samrat Schmiem Kumar brings together a dozen academic papers on this theme from a wide spectrum of scholars in India and abroad. It deals with many facets of the unrest in South Asia, and lays out alternative scenarios for a movement towards peace and conflict resolution in this region. I warmly commend the editors, and am sure this book will be of considerable value to students of peace and reconciliation studies around the world.
IN recent decades, peace and conflict studies have begun to take roots as a significant interdisciplinary site of teaching and research. It has proliferated globally in its various rubric ranging from peace research, peace studies, conflict resolution, conflict management and conflict transformation among others. In South Asia too, the academic programmes that teach and research on peace are rapidly gaining a foothold. Increasing number of universities and colleges in the region have set up independent departments and Centres dedicated to peace studies. It is a befitting recognition to the perennially growing template enriched by scholars and philosophers across cultures.
However, the fledgling field of peace and conflict studies is beset with a range of contestations and criticisms. There are issues about its overwhelming and often schematized research agenda, the domination of positivists and heavily quantified methodology, uncritical stance towards terminology and the disconnection between research and action. One of the lingering challenges of teaching or researching peace and conflict in South Asia has been the enduring shadow of western perspectives, which tend to relegate indigenous discourses and frameworks. In fact, most of the pedagogic approaches in the region have imitated, evolved and intersected around western perspectives often reflecting their conceptual trajectories as well as faultlines (Upadhyaya 2013). There are, of course, some notable countercurrents and alternative perspectives in South Asian scholarship, which have critiqued the western-inspired notions of peace, often with a post-colonial bent.
While religious differences are readily seen as a cause or pretext for violence, we are yet to recognize religion as a potent force in peaceful resolution of conflicts. The peace and conflict resolution studies have lately shown greater inclination to do so. The growing recognition of religion and faith-based actors in peacework has been a much-needed course correction. Not long ago, scholars regarded religion either as an instigator of conflict or ignored it altogether. The positivist and secular sway would not like to admit religion-based ideas and actors within conflict resolution framework (Bercovitch and Orellana 2009).
Undoubtedly, the religious communities have a pervasive appeal. They are trusted institutions with vast human resource network, which could readily inspire peace and understanding within and across their communities. They can provide social cohesion and spiritual support to alleviate the pain and suffering ushering in forgiveness and reconciliation. Thus, if religion plays a part in conflict, it may also become a part of its resolution. No wonder the pedagogies of religious pluralism and spirituality are now assuming greater attention in peace studies discourses (Kazanjian and Laurence 2000, Lin and Brantmeier 2010).
While the post-9/11 transferences marked a surge of violence motivated by religious claims, it also witnessed a corresponding increase in peace work inspired by the religious actors. Increasing number of religious communities are able to harness their resources for building peace, often challenging structures of direct and indirect violence. In many instances, religious actors have engaged in mediation and trauma healing and providing valuable humanitarian and relief services in war-torn areas (Abu Nimer and Orellana 2005). New and creative forms of interfaith dialogue are being practised to promote communal peacebuilding (USIP 2000, Smock 2002).
This chapter outlines the long quest for peace and justice in Pakistan. It builds on the successful Lawyers' Movement launched in March 2007. This civil resistance successfully reinstated, in March 2009, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who had been forcibly removed from office by General Parvez Musharraf in 2007. The movement was a remarkable instance of peaceful civil resistance against an entrenched military regime. The lawyers gave astonishing support to Chief Justice Chaudhry, who used the law to promote justice, in the years during Musharraf's military dictatorship. This ‘Black Revolution’ engaged people across gender, racial, ethnic and ideological affiliations throughout the country. The movement lasted two years, eventually achieving its goal of re-instating Chaudhry as Chief Justice and bringing down the dictatorship. It does however leave unanswered questions on whether these types of movements always promote peace and democracy in a society when they are heavily laden with their own professional interests.
Violence has been one of the basic expressions of Pakistan's politics since its emergence amidst a bloody sub-continental partition. Its protracted conflicts with India, along with the surge of Islamic fundamentalism and sectarian conflicts, served as fuel for violent insurgent elements. The democratic impulse remained overshadowed by the important role of the military in governance. Pakistan’s multifaceted involvement in Afghanistan’s upheavals and its uneasy nexus with the American alliance, first as the ‘frontline’ state against Soviet occupation, and more recently against Taliban forces, has only exacerbated the level of coercion and violence in its polity. There was indeed limited scope of non-violent resistance amidst such violent upheavals and political instability.
This chapter seeks to focus on one of the action areas of culture of peace – fostering a culture of peace through education, and in doing so it engages with Gandhian thought and practice. It seeks to answer the following critical questions: How do we build a ‘Culture of Peace’ through education for peace? What is the state of affairs of mainstream school education in India? Is the school education in India geared towards building a culture of peace? Do Gandhian ideas and perspectives on education find a place in the Indian education system? How can Gandhian perspectives on education contribute to the building of a culture of peace?
The All-pervading ‘Culture of Violence’
The world has already been witness to two World Wars. The present generation has also seen the horrors of 9/11 from close quarters. The United Nations was founded on 24 October, 1945 with the sole aim of preventing another world war and this was clearly delineated in the Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations, which stated, ‘We the peoples of United Nations (are) determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind’. In spite of this clear determination shown at the time of establishing the United Nations, there have been numerous small and big violent wars resulting in huge losses of life and property and insurmountable misery. Besides, we have also witnessed and continue to see around us, different kinds of violent conflicts– inter-state, intra-state, ideological, ethnic and communal, factional, conflicts over resources etc. at various levels – inter-personal, group and community level, social, national and international.
This chapter reviews key ideas and approaches within the field of peace research, from theories of conflict and its causes such as Johan Galtung's conflict triangle and Edward Azar's protracted social conflict, to models of conflict resolution such as John Paul Lederach's conflict transformation theory. Taking stock of major debates in peace research, the chapter also describes the development of a peacebuilding template which has accompanied increasing international and multilateral involvement in conflict resolution worldwide. Consisting of standardized procedures and remedies for post-conflict reconstruction, the peacebuilding template or ‘toolbox’ is built on the premise that conflict-prone societies must be fundamentally re-engineered so as to prevent their relapse into conflict. The chapter discusses debates on the ‘new interventionism’ and its basis in western liberal thinking, which typically advocates institutional reforms to promote ‘good governance’ as a key approach to peacebuilding. Critiques of the ‘Liberal Peace’ paradigm generally fall into one of two broad categories: targeting either problems of inefficiency and strategic deficits, or more fundamental problems with the ideological foundations of ‘liberal peacebuilding’. The peacebuilding efforts of the 1990s were commonly designed to produce measurable gains, favouring efficiency, while contemporary debates on peacebuilding focused on systemic issues such as how to achieve greater coherence and improve output. Scholars of peacebuilding later started to question ‘liberal peacebuilding’ more explicitly, examining the role of liberalization in fuelling conflict, the inherent problems of interventionism and the militarization of peacebuilding.
This chapter is concerned with the ways in which different communities react to social tensions. These tensions arise because of one or a multiplicity of reasons, thus yielding conflict, manifest and/or latent. Tension may prevail after an instance of open conflict – an episode of violence and enmity – has subsided for the time being, but it can always surface with greater intensity, causing immeasurable loss to material as well as nonmaterial aspects of culture.
The point I wish to put forth is that sometimes administrative and political institutions do not respond to social tensions. On the contrary, they look through them, neither denying their existence nor accepting their prevalence. Against such a backdrop, the communities are left with no other alternative except to devise their own solutions to social tensions, whether they are between different sections of the same community or between different communities. Perhaps the administrative and political institutions tacitly believe that the tensions would subside on their own – on the contrary, they think, any external intervention would further exacerbate the tensions; thus, the administrative and political institutions adopt an instance of what is famously called the ‘conspiracy of silence’, or to put this idea in other words, ‘give nature a chance to heal’, or ‘do nothing, nothing will be done, and the problems will be solved (or pushed to a state of insignificance) on their own’.
The armed conflict in Sri Lanka arose as a manifestation of tensions between the two main ethnic groups in the country, i.e. the Sinhalese and the Tamils with its roots dating back to the British Colonial rule. Communal Representation which was an offshoot of the ‘divide and rule policy’ employed by the British Empire in administering colonies created diminutive cracks in the otherwise harmonious Sri Lankan society. The ‘Sinhala only Act’ deepened the crevices. The approximate cause of armed conflict came about in July 1983 when militants belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (hereafter LTTE, which was one among many Tamil militant groups organized for creating a separate state for the Tamil nation in the North and East of the country) conducted an organized ambush on the Sri Lanka Army killing 13 soldiers. The events that ensued in the days thereafter are etched in the annals of modern Sri Lankan history as one of the bloodiest months the land has ever seen. Popularly known as ‘Black July’ this event is generally regarded as the commencement of full-scale hostilities between the Government of Sri Lanka (hereafter GoSL) and the LTTE.
After nearly three decades of war, the armed conflict that ravaged the economy, polity, society and culture in Sri Lanka finally came to an end on 18 May 2009 as the security forces of the Government of Sri Lanka succeeded in comprehensively defeating the LTTE which was renowned as one of the most powerful and ruthless secessionist groups. Almost the entire top leadership of the LTTE was decimated in the final phase of the military operation. The number of fatalities in the last phase of the battle is yet unknown. The Secretary, to the Ministry of Defence, has recently stated that casualties in the last phase of the war may be in the vicinity of 7000 people. Other estimates project higher numbers ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 people. It displaced internally about 275,000 people.
South Asian discourses on peace can draw much from Gandhian visions. His comprehensive approach to peace reflected in his oft-cited statement, ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed’, reveals a unique synergy between peace and sustainable development. Peace for Gandhi was not just the absence of war or violence, but also a pathway to expand human potential without hurting others in the community or in the larger ecosystem. No wonder Gandhi continues to influence the global thought process despite political and cultural transformations. Numerous thinkers and activists across the world swear by Gandhi's philosophy, and no global dialogue on peace can progress without reference to his ideas. Amidst the current global crises marked by a rising scale of violence, a worsening ecological crisis, terrorism and discriminatory patterns of globalization, Gandhian expressions on peace and sustainability assume critical salience.
Gandhi envisioned a holistic yet critical vision of peace that rejected violence in its entirety. He not only abhorred wars and killing under any guise, but also addressed the insidious ramifications of ‘structural violence’, embedded in structures and cultures. His disavowal of violence amidst the gravest of provocations makes him the most inveterate proponent of nonviolent methods to achieved peace. He firmly believed that positive peace could be brought about only by peaceful means and never by non-peaceful means (Galtung 1996). He believed that the modern state based on force is incapable of dealing with the forces of disorder, whether external or internal. Gandhi’s vision has inspired multiple streams of pedagogy and new thinking around such areas as sustainable development, human security and structural violence.
Three Generations of Peace Studies in South Asia
Peace Studies in South Asia as a discipline continues to be dominated by Security Studies where peace is considered as only an outcome of the balance of power between the parties involved in conflicts. Every such outcome for obvious reasons is contingent, because the balance that is achieved may be disturbed or even set aside once any of the parties has its reasons to do so. A party might in such cases think that it gains by being engaged in conflict or even simply allowing it to continue, instead of working for peace. Peace thus conceived as a strategic balance of power is precarious and constantly threatened by the spectre of conflict and war. A large part of the established academia in South Asia continues to be influenced by studies of this genre.
Since the beginning of the new millennium, a new generation of studies conducted mostly in the conflict areas of South Asia – particularly in India – seems to have marked a paradigmatic shift in the understanding of Peace Studies (Samaddar 2004, Das 2005, Banerjee 2008, Singh 2009). Peace, according to this new paradigm, is sought to be understood independently of its opposite, i.e. conflict – not so much as absence or deferral of conflict by obtaining an albeit contingent balance of power, but its preemption and in cases where complete preemption is not possible, at least their resolution – both preemption and resolution in a way that simultaneously establish such universal principles as rights, justice and democracy. The parties involved in the conflict may not necessarily develop a stake in the resolution of conflicts that at the same time also establishes such universal principles.
India is a vast country with multitude perspectives, peoples and ways of life. It is probably the most culturally, ethnically and religiously diverse country in the world. Some of the most prominent philosophies and notions of peace, including non-violence, co-existence, unity and compassion, have emerged from the Indian sub-continent. At the same time, India is also characterized as a state with state and non-state-led violence, political corruption, social injustice and communal divisions. The freedom it gained from the British Raj in 1947 led to mass-violence among its communities, a historical memory that still haunts relations among the South Asian states. India is a country of dissimilarity and contrasts. Peace itself is understood from many perspectives such as plural, relational and sometimes even contradictory. Portraying peace work in the Indian context through a singular lens is, in fact, an impossible task.
This chapter aims at presenting a plurality of philosophies and practices of non-violence and peace works in India. Mohandas K. Gandhi, Vandana Shiva, Mata Amritanandamayi and social movements such as Chipko and Narmada Bachao, represent different understandings of peace, non-violence and peace works. We have chosen to focus on these peace contributors as their efforts and determination led to societal transformations and have inspired many in both India and abroad. Although their messages of peace are comparable, as individuals and social movements, they represent peace work in different historical periods and socio-cultural settings. What all peace workers have in common is that they propagate civil resistance, nonviolence and compassion as powerful tools for personal, social and political transformation. Most of them actively resist(ed) subjugation, by external rulers or the global market economy, both of which are viewed as obstacles for local self-governance and sustainable livelihoods.
The environmental issues are generally treated as ‘Non-Traditional Security’ (NTS) threats as they do not appear to be a direct driver of conflict. However, the conflict inducing portents of environmental degradation has lately assumed critical salience in Peace and Conflict Studies. In this chapter the issue of environmental security and its portents arising out of conflict are analysed in the context of Bangladesh. The chapter discusses the various dimensions of conflict generated by environmental insecurity. It examines the practical ramifications generated by the environmental security threats to Bangladesh and its repercussions in triggering conflicts and violence. We know that the rise of the sea level, unmanaged floods, drought and climate-induced disasters resulted in resource scarcity thereby leading to competition, which in turn, appears to have caused security complexity and conflicts. This chapter endeavours to address this complex situation of environmental insecurity and conflict in Bangladesh with some policy recommendations to manage the conflict and promote environmental peacebuilding and ecological sustainability.
Two decades ago, Robert D. Kaplan cautioned that ‘the political and strategic impact of surging populations, spreading disease, deforestation and soil erosion, water depletion, air pollution, and, possibly rising sea levels in critical, overcrowded regions like the Nile Delta and Bangladesh will prompt mass migrations and incite group conflict’ (Kaplan 1994). In addition to traditional security threats, the world community after the Cold War has confronted with new types of problems such as human rights violation, economic crisis, environmental degradation, resource depletion, drug trafficking, epidemics, crimes and social injustices (Baldwin 1997).
In the final two decades of the last millennia, there has been substantial increase in political violence (UCDP 2012). Such violence is mostly the product of intra-state rather than inter-state conflicts. This has meant that wars are no longer fought in the traditional sense of the term between states but often within the state and its own people. In this context, a cataclysmic development for women has been the inevitability of war happening in and around their homes. Acts of violence, however, may not always target the civilian populations, but women and children often get trapped in them. For want of ‘security’ from being ‘recruited’ or for the necessity of earning bread, men disappear to distant lands. Women, children, the aged and the infirm are thus exposed to violence from the state as well as from the insurgents or the non-state actors. The routine narrative is that of the silent suffering women are victimized in various ways. This to an extent is true. However, there is another side of the picture too: the agency hood of women. Women become actors in the theatre of war and also in peace.
This chapter aims at not only analysing the impact that war made on the lives of women in the recent violent conflict in Nepal, but also to emphasize on the complexity and multiplicity of women's role in war as well as in peace.
Peace and conflict studies are proliferating across disciplines in growing number of institutions and locations in South Asia, like elsewhere in the world. New interdisciplinary centres and departments have emerged which teach and research peace and conflict studies in its varied rubrics. This is in addition to the rising numbers of research institutes and think tanks dedicated to conflict analysis and peacebuilding. The subject matter of peace and conflict traditionally a preserve of international relations is drawing ever more on other disciplines like political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology, philosophy, religious and cultural studies and many others. Its scope is further widened by the inclusion of human security and non-traditional security concerns in the peacebuilding agenda. This is indeed a welcome development. The complex matrix of peace and conflict issues especially in South Asia certainly warrants deeper probe on a much wider template.
However, the budding field of peace and conflict resolution in South Asia is facing a crisis of relevance. Like in other areas of social sciences, it is caused by the unbridled sway of western pedagogies. With the exception of an uncritical delineation of Gandhian vision, there are not many indigenous approaches and critical insights, which inform the curriculum or methodology in this area. Notwithstanding a few counter currents posed by post-colonial and critical peace scholarship, the existing field of peace and conflict resolution is taught and disseminated in the region around western perspectives. This is not as much due to the paucity of knowledge and research on the subject, but more to the fact that the epistemological constitution of the disciplinary parameters that hardly allows voices from the marginalized southern hemisphere. The positivist and secular sway in the realm of conflict resolution, for instance, would not reckon with religion-based ideas and actors. The South Asian academic institutions too lag behind their northern counterparts in drawing indigenous pedagogies and analytical tools. All this has led to a significant epistemological and discursive deficit inpedagogies and research framework of peace and conflict in South Asia.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.