[op-ed snap] A peace movement is needed

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Security situation in India and how to favor Peace over War


NEWS

CONTEXT

India and Pakistan must re-imagine the border as a fold of peace instead of as a threshold of hostilities.

Changing Meaning and perception of war and peace

  • Our sense of peace is desperately in need of myths and storytellers.
  • as we watch the Pulwama event and after, we sense peace has lost autonomy as a narrative.
  • Peace has been reduced to the lull between two acts of violence, an uneasy interlude.
  • Our sense of war reads peace passively as a cessation of hostilities. Peace is more holistic and comprehensive in a way our current narratives do not capture.
  • While war is anchored on the parochialism of concepts like border, security and nation state, peace has to dig deep into the unconscious of theology, philosophy and civilisation to literally create an alternative world view. India desperately needs a peace movement.

Loss of Gandhian Legacy

  • There is an irony to the Gandhian movement in India.
  • Satyagraha as an imagination has inspired exemplars abroad, including Václav Havel, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Merton and Desmond Tutu, but it has lost its passion and vigour in India.
  • Today the Gandhian movement has died out, while Gandhians still play a role in other battles of resistance, such as the Narmada,
  • Our ashrams are no longer pilgrimages of the imagination.
  • They need to be revived to counter the think tanks of war and a middle class which craves the machismo of militarism.

The relevance of Gandhian Ideas

  • What makes the dyingness of Gandhian ideas even more poignant is that violence and war have become technologically and strategically inventive, creating an acceptable normalcy around genocidal deaths.
  • As Gandhi pointed out, to be inventive, peace has to be both cognitive and ethical. It has to go beyond moral rhetoric and create experimental possibilities of peace, and it has to transform ethics into a political act that transforms the dullness of current democracy.
  • Second, peace has to be seen as a craft, a lived world of meaning, not as a technocratic exercise.
  • For example, food has become a source of violence both as production and consumption. One has to rethink the logic of food as part of the testament of peace. The start-ups for peace have to be more imaginative than the usual start-ups of technology.

Relevance In India Pakistan Peace process

  • Civil society must take a leaf out of Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s book and create a new vision of the soldiers of peace, the Khudai Khidmatgars.
  • Imagine peace groups working on both sides of the India-Pakistan border in a dialogue of peace.
  • Today we see people on the border as vulnerable. One needs to give them some sense of agency in creating counter-currents to war. Finally, one needs civilisational ideas on war, where a dialogue of religion creates an antidote to war.

Relevance For the survival of the nation

  • Waiting for peace is almost the everyday burden of women in war zones.
  • Normalcy is such a rare phenomenon in frontier areas where war and insurgency have become endemic.
  • Recently there was a demonstration of Naga students in Delhi. The group did not ask for rights or critique the brutality of the state. All they said was that they were tired of war, tired of waiting for peace. All they wanted was peace in their lifetime, which Indian democracy is duty bound to give.

Way Forward

  • India as a civilisation, a nation state and a democracy has a major resource to fall back on in the wisdom of our cultures and civilisations.
  • It is time India goes beyond the grammar of surgical strikes and reaches for its cultures of peace, pilgrimage and understanding.
Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism
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