State-condoned violence has become a common feature in south Asian countries
In India, which developed as a secular democratic country, there have been several incidents of engineered riots and violent mobs killing people of minority communities
The global community is rightly outraged at the killings of over 500 peacefully protesting people by the Military junta in Myanmar. Not long ago, the Rohingyas were forced to flee by the violent mobs. People are again running away from their homeland and are trying to take shelter in India and Bangladesh. That this is happening in a country inhabited by the Buddhists is totally beyond comprehension, because Buddhists confess, preach and are supposed to practice non-violence.
We are more concerned about Myanmar because it is our neighbour and the migration of its population to our country and other south Asian countries poses several problems. Migrants are forced to live in subhuman conditions in the refugee camps. There is always a reaction of the local people against the influx of ‘foreigners’. Such reaction is exploited by some conservative groups for their vested political and economic interests.
It is not just in Myanmar but all of the South Asia that we are witnessing culture of violence growing. Violence is being committed in the name of religion, caste, ethnicity, gender etc. The situation gets worse when the State is overtly or covertly supportive of such acts. Lies are spread against particular communities, castes, ethnic groups who are demonized. Their killings are either condoned or justified in the name of some cooked up historical events.
We have witnessed violence and denial of rights to women in Afghanistan on the pretext self-proclaimed values of religious scriptures. In Pakistan, the blasphemy law has been used to punish those whom the perpetrators of violence think to be enemies of Islam. In some parts, honour killing is rampant and so is violence against minorities. Such forces are so powerful that they dictate terms to the government even if it wants to take some positive measures.
We have seen extreme violence in Sri Lanka in the name of ethnicity. Tension still persists. Nepal too has been a centre of violence for other reasons. In Bangladesh also we are witnessing fundamentalists taking to streets.
India, which developed as a secular democratic country, is moving in that direction. Laws like CAA and ‘love jihad’ are passed to prevent mixing of people and create a monolithic society. There have been several incidents of engineered riots and violent mobs killing people of minority communities. The minorities are disgraced and blamed for all the ills of society including spread of COVID-19 as we witnessed when propaganda was unleashed against Tablighis for spreading COVID-19. Christian Nuns were recently detrained after being blamed for religious conversions by some unscrupulous groups. Any one differing with them is termed as anti-national and violence against them is justified openly even by Ministers in the Union government.
Police Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh was murdered by gangs but the killers, instead of being punished, were eulogised and rewarded. Such groups indulge in violent acts against their own community and intimidate them to keep shut.
Such violent acts have not remained limited to the people from minorities but even other marginalized sections of society. There has been a surge in violence against Dalits in the last few years.
Pushing people into hunger and deprivation as we saw when lakhs of workers had to walk for hundreds of kilometres on foot to reach home after sudden lockdown one year back which left them without food, job, means of livelihood or place of stay is another form of violence. Ironically not a word has been uttered in their sympathy by the Prime Minister or any of the higher ups in the government even after one year. This behaviour is expected only from political salesmen and not statesmen.
There is worldwide experience in history that people with mediocre intelligence and narcissist grandiose personality who are propped up by the corporates stoop low to keep themselves in power. In such situations, democratic ethos of the people are crushed. We are seeing this in the form of anti-farmer laws, changes in labour laws and even education policy in our country during the times of COVID crisis when we need to build a more humane society.
Such situations have been seen globally. In Rwanda, violence between Tutsi and Hutu tribes killed lakhs of innocent people in the name of ethnicity. There are reports that in some cases even married couples killed their spouse after being swayed away by such slogans.
This is also true of the Nazi government which banned marriages between Christians and Jews.
Violence may also not remain limited to some area or country. The internal strife may be used to indulge in external aggression. In such situations there is always a danger of large scale war which further kills many more besides affecting economic development and further marginalizing the already deprived. Such deprivation may again be a cause of violence.
So the violence becomes an unending phenomenon and a serious humanitarian crisis. With the nuclear weapons, any further escalation could be catastrophic. It has to be stopped, the earlier the better!
In the ‘Notes on Cultures of Violence, Cultures of Caring and Peace, and the Fulfilment of Basic Human Needs’, Ervin Staub from University of Massachusetts at Amherst has outlined what is required for individuals, groups, and nations to not act violently, but instead to care about and promote others’ welfare. What are the cultural, social, and psychological requirements for a peaceful world that nourishes the human spirit and helps individuals develop their personal and human potentials? Influences that generate violence have to be put to end. Cultural and societal conditions that frustrate basic psychological needs make violence more likely, whereas conditions that help fulfil these needs in constructive ways contribute to the development of peaceful relations and fully human lives.
Views are personal