“A non- violent system of government is clearly an impossibility as long as the wide gulf between the rich and the hungry million persist… A violent and bloody revolution is a certainty one day unless there is voluntary abdication of riches and power that riches give and sharing them for the common good”-
This excerpt from Dr. Anand Kumar’s speech,President of Society of Communal Harmony in Delhi, allows a glimpse into his oration given in context of the 7th annual Mathai Zachariah Memorial lecture on 7th of December at India Peace Centre. The topic given was “Cultivating Culture of Peace in Diversity”. Kumar focussed the increasing Relevance of Gandhian Way of Nation Building in the 21st Century in particular. The program was attended by member of civil society, thinkers as well as educationalists.
According to Kumar, Gandhi’s way aims at building a humane society based on truth and non- violence. Furthermore, he addressed the urgent need for India to get out of post- colonial- cause illusions of competitive politics, therefore going back to the roots and aiming for promoting a peaceful co- existence for people from diverse castes, classes, genders, languages, religions and regions. The orator introduces seven deficits and seven sins, that are causing a growing anxiety in Indians. (e.g. wealth without work, pleasure without conscience etc.) Following Kumar’s opinion, those seven sins are contributing towards dilution of ‘we- feeling’ and promotion of ‘othering’ and are finally leading to a road of nowhere. He takes an excursion into history, resuming the damages caused by british colonisation, as well as damages that still could not have been cured until now. Criticizing structural deficits in infrastructure, the increasing chasm between rich and poor, lacking of sanitary public spaces etc.,which is making Indians unsatisfied according to the HDI. He emphasises that the current political system declines representation and that this way of leading a country does not show a future that would seemingly improve those issues, therefore Indians personal satisfaction.
He offers solutions, e.g. the decentralization of production, referring to Gandhi, in order to improve village sanitation and general poorness. An important point in his speech, is also education, especially adult education, that he undlines with “adult education means true education”. Following Anand Kumar, Women’s issues should also be granted special attention,
He summarizes that finding a way of cultivating peace in a enormous diversity is not easy to meet. But the Gandhian approach offers a relatively sustainable approach in the Gandhian legacy. It deserves an updated engagement as it may take us beyond the limits of state-centric and market mediated processes of building peace in an egalitarian democratic setting.
Other than Anand Kumar, Supantha Bhattacharya, an educationist and Apneet Bedi, could enlighten the audience with their views and ideas.
The function was conducted by well known thinker Dr. Tejinder Singh Rawal and Kasta Dip, Director of India Peace Centre.
All in all, the audience profited enormously by the various ideas of how to enable a peaceful society in diversity.