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Conflict resolution stands mid-way between conflict management and conflict transformation in international politics. Mahatma Gandhi regards nonviolence as the main approach to resolution of nearly every type of conflict among nations, races and human beings. He observes in Harijan in 1938: German persecution of the Jews seems to have no parallel in history. The tyrants of old never went so mad as Hitler seems to have gone. And he is doing it with religious zeal. For he is propounding a new religion of exclusive and militant nationalism in the name of which many inhumanity becomes an act of humanity to be rewarded here and hereafter. The crime of an obviously mad but intrepid youth is being visited upon his whole race with unbelievable ferocity. If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified. But I do not believe in any war. A discussion of the pros and cons of such a war is therefore outside my horizon or province. But if there can be no war against Germany, even for such a crime as is being committed against the Jews, surely there can be no alliance with Germany. How can there be alliance between a nation which claims to stand for justice and democracy and one which is the declared enemy of both? Or is England drifting towards armed dictatorship and all it means? Germany is showing to the world how efficiently violence can be worked when it is not hampered by any hypocrisy or weakness masquerading as humanitarianism. It is also showing how hideous, terrible and terrifying it looks in its nakedness.
Can the Jews resist this organized and shameless persecution? Is there a way to preserve their self-respect, and not to feel helpless, neglected and forlorn? I submit there is no person who has faith in a living God need feel helpless or forlorn. Jehovah of the Jews is a God more personal than the God of the Christians, the Musalmans or the Hindus, though, as a matter of fact in essence, He is common to all …one without a second [one] and beyond description. But as the Jews attribute personality to God and believe that He rules every action of theirs, they ought not to feel helpless. If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this, I should not wait for the [other] fellow[s] Jews to join [you] me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy which no number of resolutions of sympathy passed in the world outside Germany can. Indeed, even if Britain, France and America were to declare hostilities against Germany, they can bring no inner joy, no inner strength. The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the god fearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep. It is hardly necessary for me to point out that it is easier for the Jews than for the Czechs to follow my prescription. And they have in the Indian satyagraha campaign in South Africa an exact parallel. There the Indians occupied precisely the same place that the Jews occupy in Germany. The persecution had also a religious tinge. President Kruger used to say that the white
Christians were the chosen of God and Indians were inferior beings created to serve the whites. A fundamental clause in the Transvaal constitution was that there should be no equality between the whites and coloured races including Asiatics. There too the Indians were consigned to ghettos described as locations. The other disabilities were almost of the same type as those of the Jews in Germany. The Indians, a mere handful, resorted to satyagraha without any backing from the world outside or the Indian Government. Indeed the British officials tried to dissuade the satyagrahis (soldiers of non-violence) from their contemplated step. World opinion and the Indian Government came to their aid after eight years of fighting. And that too was by way of diplomatic pressure not of a threat of war. But the Jews of Germany can offer satyagraha under infinitely better auspices than Indians of South Africa. The Jews are a compact, homogeneous community in Germany. They are far more gifted than the Indians of South Africa. And they have organized world opinion behind them. I am convinced that if someone with courage and vision can arise among them to lead them in nonviolent action, the winter of their despair can in the twinkling of an eye be turned into the summer of hope.1 Nonviolence is, indeed, emerging as a religion in this age of technology because there is no other way to protect homo sapiens from ultimate realities of modern conflicts. These conflicts are from within and without both.2 Ours is an era replete with human comforts, luxuries and mass consumerist cultural milieu. These trends are also germinating into fertile conflictual fields sowed with seeds of perennial massive warfare, professional terrorism, nuclear blackmailing and global super monitoring. Effective democratic values and ideological conflicts are being sidelined for good. The in thing is globalisation of the order of George Orwell’s 1984. But for apex human activity and profession of politics, everything else is on its way to utmost professionalisation and technical and managerial training for technological excellence. Despite state-of-the-art professional fashioning of every human activity, two major areas, namely, politics and nonviolence, still need global attention anent training and disciplining. Otherwise cities are least likely to have rest from their evils of promiscuity, social insecurities and recurring emotional breakdowns. This is required even for recent econological adjustments and research.
Nonviolence is a way of life while politics is an act of bringing order to human existence. Former is present in our daily routine though it is seldom noticed for it comes to us inherently and naturally. We tend to notice merely exceptions of violence, conflicts and tensions. Our continued and primary attention to exceptions of perversion in politics also applies to us similarly. It is because of our tendency of noticing only the uncommon. Modern media is also covering mainly those happenings as “news” which are exceptionally perverse, violent, negative and superhuman. Abnormalcy thy name is news! It sells in the form of advertisements and other media activities. Perversion is being read, seen, heard and even consumed by most of us nearly all the while. Humanity is becoming ignorant of what is normal.
Normal life style and politics is away from gross perversion and nearer to religion or universal values of common ethics. While the modern and secular democratic trend is leading this spaceship earth astray from fundamental values of daily human life. This is being done in the name of keeping politics clean from personal religious faiths. That is how politics – the main spirit behind all activity – moves into scientific realms of objectivity and truth today! Fanaticism is not religion. Religion is also not fanaticism, prejudice and bigotry. The highest form of self-realisation needs similar religious type of discipline, training and scientific outlook in every religion. Even spiritual self-realisation is not entirely different from political statesmanship and professionalism.3 Religion must, therefore, be given its due place as a source of fundamental common human values. These values need to be systematically absorbed and applied in every sphere of modern life. This is possible through a mathematical and scientific practical course of step-by-step individuals transformation on a local, national, international and global plane. This has to be tried and researched in a practical way. This is the road to Mahatma Gandhi’s practical-idealism. Despite embracing quite a few ideas of “no-tax campaign” or noncooperation of David Thoreau, John Ruskin’s “individual’s good in good of all”, “barber’s work is as valuable as that of a lawyer” and “eat thy bread by the sweat of thy brow” and Leo Tolstoy’s “extreme nonviolence”, Gandhi added dynamic uniqueness to all these propositions through his own experience and application. His practical route to conflict-resolution and transformation, therefore, resides in a very unique Gandhian action programme through:
i) ii) iii) iv) v) Nonviolence Satyagraha Sarvodaya Education Discipline
This is Gandhi’s vibrant pentagon. No terrorist can even try dismantling it once it is applied in a proper practical perspective. Here, some relevant quotations of / for Gandhi may be of interest for us: My honour is the only thing worth preserving.4 Standing on the brink of social disaster in our western world, it would be rather glorious thing if we could humble our pride sufficiently to appropriate from the east what we need most desperately in the west, a strong enough faith in the efficacy of ethical forces to achieve social justice without wading through blood to get.5 It is a blasphemy to say that nonviolence can only be practiced by individuals and never by nations which are composed of individuals.6 Gandhi’s nonviolence is a dynamic concept inasmuch as its theory and practice went on growing and evolving as long as he lived. That is why his ideas are often considered to be mutually contradictory. What Gandhi says here is that he and his perceptions are always developing across diverse experiences. For him, in Hind Swaraj, whenever there appears a contradiction in his writings and even otherwise, the later context or view must be given precedence over the earlier ones.7 Continuity and change are the two systemic features of nonviolence. It grows with human tryst with challenges, trials and conflicts. This Gandhian nonviolence is a positive concept for it is the nonviolence of the brave that is being aspired for. Nonviolence of a coward has no room in the Gandhian order of things. Gandhi prefers violence of the brave instead of nonviolence of a coward.8 This concept or precept of nonviolence is put into practice through individual and corporate satyagraha. That goes for endless quest for truth alive and not static. Humility and requestful attitude is the cornerstone of this strategy for peace and harmony. There are several stages and levels of satyagraha. A number of prerequisites are also there. A satyagrahi is known as a nonviolent soldier. He has to be trained as such. This training includes education and discipline. Only a select lot of determined individuals with unflinching faith in the power of nonviolence can be a part of such a nonviolent army of satyagrahis. Nonviolence cannot succeed without this faith and universal belief in the efficacy of nonviolence or ahimsa. What are these discipline, training and education in the Gandhian mould? These are fundamental principles of Patanjali’s Yogapradeep known as Pancha Yama. Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahamcharya and Aparigrah are Pancha Yamas.
Ahimsa is compassion for all living beings. Satya is truthfulness. Asteya means not to steal. Brahamcharya is control of senses. Brahamcharya is used mostly in the sense of abstinence, particularly in relationship to sexual activity. Brahamcharya does not necessarily imply celibacy. Rather, it means responsible behavior with respect to our goal of moving toward the truth. Aparigraha is not even to aspire to acquire and hoard wealth and mundane things of this world such as comforts etcetera. Aparigraha means to possess only what is necessary, and not to take advantage of a situation or act greedy. Aparigraha also implies letting go of our attachments to things and persons. There is a process of soldier like training of satyagrahis for attaining the ultimate goal of Sarvodaya or good of all. This is not a Bethamite principle of “the greatest happiness of the greatest number”. Gandhian nonviolence has to be practiced. Reading alone would not do. Even otherwise, from a scientific perspective, a real researcher is one who goes into the field and tests the practicability of an idea already proven in a particular situation.
Long established methods of conflict management, conflict resolution and conflict transformation are mostly arising from a present day context of a sheer helplessness in view of numerous national, regional, international and global conflicts and challenges to peace and “prosperity”. The Gandhian nonviolence, on the other hand, is such an area of managing, resolving and transforming diverse types of conflicts that it starts not from helplessness but from courage of conviction and essential belief in the caressing power of nonviolence. Nonviolence cannot be discussed on and on. It needs i) courageous negotiators, ii) soldiers without weapons iii) unflinching faith in ahimsa iv) self-confidence with patience and perseverance and v) certainly not the bullish audaciousness. Such nonviolence is replete with great potential to deal with a number of modern day dangerous conflictual human concerns. Nonviolence empowered with the tools of satyagraha has succeeded, among others, in gaining political independence both for India and Pakistan form our dear British counterparts upon whom “Sun never set”! Indeed, the initial hitch is that of taking a meaningful initiative and lead. The essence of the matter here is what Gandhi said immediately after his Dandi March on 05 April 1930:
The usual conflict resolution is a well established process of resolving a dispute or a conflict by providing each side's needs, and adequately addressing their interests so that they are satisfied with the outcome. Conflict resolution aims to end conflicts before they start or lead to physical fighting. Resolution methods can include conciliation, mediation, arbitration or litigation. Sometimes disputes and conflicts may simply be avoided without actually resolving them. At times, it may even be desirable that the concerned parties may disagree. However, one thing is clear. It is that a conflict is a state of opposition between two parties. There are different types of conflicts. This list can never be fully exhaustive. Broadly speaking, about eleven types of conflicts are recognized: i) intra-personal conflict, ii) interpersonal conflict, iii) group conflict, iv) organizational conflict, v) community conflict, vi) intra-state conflict, vii) inter-state conflict, viii) international conflict, ix) global conflicts, x) regional conflicts, xi) “communal” or conflicts between different religions, xii) racial conflicts. For resolving these conflicts, several diplomatic tracks are also already there. As regards quite a few apparent and friendly conflicts between United States (US) and India, Track 6 diplomacy is also proving to be highly fruitful for evolving short-term and long-term relationship of mutuality and growing commitment and faith.9 All these methods of conflict resolution are also highly dynamic. These are being applied widely for several years now. The present day conflict resolution methods are, however, not really so nonviolent for they arise from an intense interest based orientation of cooperation and ever more cooperation out of a mutual assured fear among nations and individuals alike. Nonviolence of the Gandhian order, on the other hand, does not suffer from such a, as it were, cliché. Therefore, what is the harm if this approach is also developed alongside other prevalent ways of conflict resolution? Nonviolence is also highly free from any religious bias in nature inasmuch as it is presently coming from a secular mind of Gandhi who is regarded as an undisputed leader not only the downtrodden but also of the saner minds in the world. The need is to make experiments with an open mind and objective scientific outlook. Gandhi had this faith in social and political experimentation. A positively practical attitude to evolution of ever new avenues and vistas of knowledge must never be put aside. There are quite a few masterly works by Gandhi and his commentators anent his views on conflict resolution, discipline, life style, political, military and economic decentralisation, stateless society, development, peace and a federation of nations leading to security, i.e., social, military, political, legal, economic and ecological etcetera. A two volumes study by M. K. Gandhi, Nonviolence in Peace and War; Gopinath Dhawan’s
The Political Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi; H. J. N. Horsburg’s Nonviolence and Aggression: A Study of Gandhi’s Moral Equivalent of War; S. C. Gangal’s Gandhian Thought and Techniques in the Modern World; Joan Bondurant’s Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict; Johan Galtung’s “A Gandhian Theory of Conflict”, in David Selbourne (Ed.), In Theory and Practice: Essays on the Politics of Jayaprakash Narayan and Gene Sharp’s Gandhi as Political Strategist: With Essays on Ethics and Politics are a few noted and well known works throwing ample light on Gandhi’s concept of conflict, security and peace.10 These studies, among others, point understandably to a Gandhian security and peace strategy comprising three concentric and systemic spheres or circles leading to a securer world. Human relations are not hierarchical, horizontal, vertical and pyramidal. They are spherical and ocean like. It is perennial process. Each thought and act interacts from within and without. This is an endless mutually interwoven melting of one into another. Moving to and from one to another. Inner energies must be provided creative outlet not only for all purposes but also for defence policy, security network and foreign policy etc. What Gandhi suggests here is an inherent formula for foreign relations among nations and communities:
Gandhi’s Conflict Reduction Security Buffer
These spheres, in an international perspective, represent: A country’s immediate neighbours as immediate sphere.
Other poor, less developed, underdeveloped, developing and smaller countries like India are in the mid sphere. Bigger, more developed, developed, militarily and otherwise very powerful great powers or superpower countries constituting the outer sphere. As Gandhi says, in this global conflict reduction security buffer design, there will be: …ever widening, never ascending circles. Life will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom. But it will be an oceanic circle whose centre will be the individual always ready to perish for the village, the later for the circle of villages, till the last … becomes one life composed of individuals, never aggressive in their arrogance but ever humble, sharing the majesty of the oceanic circle of which they are integral parts. Therefore, the outermost circumference will not wield the power to crush the inner circle but will give strength to all within and derive its own strength from it… No one… [will] be the first and none the last.11 Utmost priority, apparently, is to be given to good understanding and relations with immediate neighbours like Pakistan and others. A holistic security climate has to be expanded from the inner most circle of neighbours and beyond. That is how three broad conflict reduction security buffer spheres may be created through very friendly relations based on utter mutual faith and nonviolence. In the absence of a general belief in the power of nonviolence and love, i.e., truth, this pattern must still be strengthened despite continuing armaments race and “overkill” capacities of WMDs or nuclear, biological and chemical (NBCs) weapons. These weapons cannot provide us security inasmuch as they are there for mutual massive destruction and spreading terror. These weapons do not defend us. They are meant to kill during wars and terrorise during peacetime. About thirty countries already possess these WMDs. Anti-tank nuclear bullets are also in use. Nearly 100, 000 nuclear bombs are also there among these states. United States and Russia alone share more than half of this arsenal.12 Only less than an iota of present-day stockpiles of armaments was there in Gandhi’s time. Practical-idealism of Gandhi emerges even more clearly when he says in this context: It [nonviolence] is of universal applicability. Nevertheless, perfect nonviolence, like Absolute Truth, must forever remain beyond our reach.13 Perfect nonviolence is impossible so long as we exist physically, for we would want some space at least to
occupy. Perfect nonviolence whilst you are inhabiting the body is only a theory like Euclid’s point or straight line, but we have to endeavour every moment of our lives.14 This impossibility of “perfect nonviolence” does not prevent an initiative in this direction. As long as there is absence of general, fundamental, practical and political belief in the efficacy of nonviolence as a way of life, till then at least a Nonviolent National Defence Army, Navy and Air Force can be evolved on Gandhian lines of nonviolent spirit and nonviolence of the brave. This nonviolent national defence system can work alongside existing defence forces in every country.
What more is needed today concerns not so much the conflict resolution outlook for Gandhi. It is the conflict reduction, conflict prevention, nonviolent perception and action, and Gandhian nonviolent foreign and defence policy orientation among nations is required more than anything else. An action programme on a global scale can also be developed:
Gandhian Conflict Reduction Comprehensive Security Action Plan
1. Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and other related forces may be there in the absence of a general belief in the power of nonviolence. 2. Conflict Reduction Comprehensive Security will be the most fruitful phenomenon when citizens and nations of the world do not have to bother about it as their top most priority. 3. Security without weapons is necessary as an ultimate aim. It is inherent in human nature. An increasing sense of insecurity goes with weapons. Real security is when one does not even have to think of armaments. That means a very positive and healthy security environ. 4. Concentric spheres of conflict reduction and security must be grasped properly for creating a comprehensive security environ globally step by step. 5. Development, Environment protection, Employment for all, Balanced population, Eat thy bread by the sweat of thy brow, Universal disarmament, Unilateral disarmament, doing away with nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. 6. Security must not become a fetish of an age or era. 7. Nonviolence is possible only in a gallant and brave world of citizens.
8. Cowards cannot be nonviolent. 9. Violence is preferred vis-à-vis nonviolence of a coward. 10. Highly decentralised pattern of economy will be less prone to instantaneous and long-term conflicts. 11. Highly decentralised political setup helps wider participation alongwith lesser abuse of political power. 12. Nonviolent Brigades must also be developed and trained in panch yama. 13. All armed forces and Nonviolent Brigades must be given training in panch yama discipline. 14. Comprehensive Conflict Reduction policy must be visionary based on experiences of history, present-day situation and prospective possibilities and every potential visualisation. 15. The most powerful country in the world must be an important aspect of a defence policy formulation. 16. Collaborations with foreign mercenaries must be avoided to the greatest possible extent. 17. Exports from foreign countries must be made only in such areas where there is no other alternative in the interest of citizens of a country. 18. Mechanisation and modern technology is to be adopted in areas where it is necessary for national self-reliance and not otherwise. 19. Open borders with immediate neighbours must be preferred. 20. Free people to people contact must be given priority.
Several thousand people are being massacred daily in the world today. This is quite a war like situation on a larger plane. This is no small matter when it relates to precious human lives of so many global citizens. Every human life is as precious as the life of all other individuals. It is not only weapons, wars and terrorists but also diplomatic instruments of peace are also singing the ‘cacophony’ of violence. That is why T. Schelling says: The power to hurt is nothing new in warfare, but… modern technology… enhances the importance of war and threats
of war as techniques of influence, not of destruction; of coercion and deterrence, not of conquest and defence; of bargaining and intimation… War no longer looks like just a contest of strength. War and the brink of war are more a contest of nerve and risk taking, of pain and endurance… The threat of war has always been somewhat underneath international diplomacy... Military strategy can no longer be thought of ... as the science of military victory. It is now equally, if not more, the art of coercion, of intimidation and deterrence... Military strategy ... has become the diplomacy of violence.15 This “diplomacy of violence” is not the only concern of conflict reduction in this age of globalisation and emerging “global village”. Other major dimensions are there in varied areas of rising human needs and expectations such as: (i) threats to political stability of different regimes, (ii) operational aspects of democracy, (iii) widespread terrorism for avowed self-determination, (iv) ethnic crises, (v) economic exploitation and determinism, (vi) political and economic violence, (vii) expanding frontiers of security and threat perception of modern states, (viii) widespread economic deprivations, (ix) dangerous fallout of modern technology, (x) population imbalances, (xi) widening gamut of corruption in higher echelons of economic and political power, and (xii) poverty, (xiii) unemployment and (xvi) proliferation of armaments etcetera. Conflict resolution must be given a sustained release booster of nonviolence through a systemic understanding of conflict reduction, foreign policy, defence policy and econological aspects. Otherwise, Platonic dwellers of the cave will not be able to come out unto the open skies.
Harijan, 26 November 1938 (emphasis added). United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, UNESCO's Office of Public Information, Paris, 2000. 3 It is because both have to pave the way for self-government. 4 Ronald J. Terchek, Gandhi: Struggling for Autonomy, Vistaar, New Delhi, 1998, n. 3, p. 214. 5 Reinhold Niebuhr, “What Chance has Gandhi ?”, Christian Century, 1931, p. 1276. 6 For Pacifists, Navajivan, Ahmedabad, 1949, p. 89. 7 Hind Swaraj, Navajivan, Ahmedabad, 1948, preliminary pages just before “Contents”. 8 Nonviolence in Peace and War, Volume – I, Navajivan, 1948, pp. 303, 451; See also Young India, 12.08.1926, p. 201. 9 There are currently nine tracks of diplomacy recognised more widely: i) government to government, ii) unofficial policy oriented non-governmental exchanges, iii) businessman to businessman, iv) citizen to citizen exchange programmes of all kinds, v) media to media based efforts and exchanges, vi) religion, vii) activism, viii) research, ix) training, and education. 10 M. K. Gandhi, Nonviolence in Peace and War, Volume – I, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, Third Edition, 1948; M. K. Gandhi, Nonviolence in Peace and War, Volume – II, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, First Edition, 1949; Gopinath Dhawan’s The Political Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1957; H. J. N. Horsburg’s Nonviolence and Aggression: A Study of Gandhi’s Moral Equivalent of War, OUP, London, 1968; S. C. Gangal’s Gandhian Thought and Techniques in the Modern World, Criterion Publications, 1988; Joan Bondurant’s Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict, Princeton, 1958; Johan Galtung’s “A Gandhian Theory of Conflict”, in David Selbourne (Ed.), In Theory and Practice: Essays on the Politics of Jayaprakash Narayan, OUP, New Delhi, 1985 and Gene Sharp’s Gandhi as Political Strategist: With Essays on Ethics and Politics, Boston, 1979. 11 Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase, Ahmedabad, Navajivan Publishing House, 1958, Volume – II, pp. 580 – 581. 12 E.J. Hogendoorn, A Chemical Weapons Atlas, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September/October 1997 Vol. 53, No. 5. 13 Harijan, 05 September 1936, p. 236. 14 Harijan, 21 July 1940, p. 211. 15 T. Schelling, “The Diplomacy of Violence”, in R. Art and R. Jervis (Eds), International Politics, fourth edition, Harper Collins, New York, 1996, pp. 168 – 182.