In a diverse civilizational society, it is inevitable that one would find multiple perspectives on the concept of nationhood. To expect uniformity, would be to kill the source of sustainability: that is diversity. The real tension begins when we start measuring and monitoring the boundary of the diversity. How much latitude different groups should have to coexist within the physical boundary of the country without necessarily sharing all the constituent building blocks becomes problematic.
When conventional panchayati raj model of village governance was not applied in Nagaland, something useful was gained. Another way of governance was tried and one could say, allowed and encouraged to grow. Many other cultures and sub cultures have traditions which vary from region to region. A Tamil Muslim, Christian and Hindu family may have more in common in terms of rituals and practices than any one of them compared to a western UP family or a Punjabi family. For example, the marriage between a maternal uncle and niece is preferred in many south Indian communities regardless of religious belief. This would be unthinkable in north India. When media and many popular leaders see India through northern or central Indian perspective, they lose sight of tremendous cultural diversity as well as homogeneity that binds different parts of our country. None of these beliefs or rituals have come in the way of manifesting their commitment to the constitution of the country.
Jammu and Kashmir is one of the very few states which have the healthiest children devoid of malnutrition. Many other much more developed states have almost half the children malnourished.
Children health cannot be ignored easily. At the same time, when these children grow up in J&K or northeast, the opportunities for them to set up their own enterprises or pursue other vocations are extremely limited. This creates a crisis. There is no doubt that some of the neibouring countries have tried to exploit the disaffection or discontent among the youth for very divisive purpose. In fact, the freedom and autonomy that Indian constitution provides to its citizens is far more than probably any other democracy. And yet, we have a very serious problem at hand.
There is a need for massive investment in education, entrepreneurship, eco-tourism, decentralized governance and elimination of corruption. Several grassroots innovators awarded by national Innovation Foundation with the help of Honey Bee Network volunteers show the creative potential that exists in these regions. Jahangir developed a modified spray paintbrush, Mohammad Shafi Ahanger designed a iron cutter with several novel features, Mohd Mir had developed a singing lantern, and twin brothers from Anantnag district viz., Refaz Ahmad Wani and Ishfaq Ahmad Wani built a small innovation museum at their home. These are just a few innovators who demonstrate that dissent and defiance can perhaps be moulded towards what I call as ‘innovation Insurgent’. Should we use the anger of youth as a resource. Should we not channelize it in positive and reconstructive direction? If there is any one country in the world which can do it, it is India. Let the youth see the encouragement India gives to creative ideas and compare it with the apathy of neighboring regions. At one time, it used to be said that let youth visit POK, then they don’t need to be convinced about the merit of Indian society. Things have changed in the recent times. May be the situation can be reversed.
It is well known that leakage index in some of the less economically developed regions is very high. The peace cannot be brokered through corrupt channels. The zero tolerance for corruption could easily be the first step for gaining confidence of the youth. Many times, questions have been asked as to why different standards are used while dealing with law and order problems in different parts of the country. Billions of rupees worth of public and private property was destroyed during agitations in Haryana and Rajasthan and some other parts of the country. The state showed unusual patience and tolerance of dissent. May be we need to tire the protesters till they sit across the table for talks. There is no alternative to a peaceful, non-violent Gandhian approach for resolving conflicts. Many countries are flexing their muscles to precipitate tensions globally. For the armament industry, there couldn’t be a better news. The economic growth will pick up in the countries that sell weapons of mass or localized destruction. We need to be careful, lest we are sucked into an avoidable conflict derailing our developmental plans. The interest of super powers in inciting violent solutions in different parts of the world are completely at variance with our panchsheel philosophy.
I hope a major mission on dialogue with disaffected and sometimes unruly citizens of our country will begin in the right earnest. All hotspots of social violence need to be tackled through mediation and talks by the people who are trusted by both sides. In a large country like ours, it is not difficult to eschew extremism and put full trust in conflict resolution through mediation and moderation. India deserves peace. India needs inclusive development. We need innovative mediating platforms to be given a chance. Bullets seldom can buy lasting peace.