MasterwebNews 13/2/16 - EU Model For Sub-Continent

[ Masterweb Reports ] - Dr Kusum Gopal has served as a Chief Technical Advisor to various UN agencies. Her gender-sensitive ethnographic expertise covers a diverse subject matters: Education, Social Development, Civic and Informal Legal understandings, Children’s welfare, Reproductive Health, Refugee Rehabilitation, Relief work, Reconstruction and Conflict Resolution, Public Health (HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Cholera), Domestic Violence, Religious Strife, Human Rights, Environmental protection and, related concerns. Civil rights activist Dr Salah AL-Bander interviewed her for the Kashmir Observer recently.  


Q: The World Knows About Mahatma Gandhi And His Mission For A Peaceful World. How Best Can Gandhism Are Applied In These Very Turbulent Times. Please Elaborate


A: The essential philosophy of Gandhism is about individual and collective morality by Satyagraha or soul force, establishing the truth, granting the rights of self-dignity and self-determination to a people and their industry against brutal injustice, putting an end to the two hundred years of colonial exploitation through ahimsa or non-violence. By walking through the villages, dressed in a loin cloth, he more than anyone else, ignited ordinary men and women to participate against colonialism, democratising and widening the struggle for freedom. He also believed that suffering was to be endured, for “a complete renunciation of violence of the heart and, consequent active exercise of the force generated by the great renunciation”--that individuals who neither submit passively nor retaliate to violence find in themselves a new sense of strength, dignity, and courage.  There was an ethical code for each satyagrahi to follow and, that meant not just wearing the khadi or spun cotton but an implicit adherence to specific strictures. What is often not acknowledged is that moral valuations have tremendous popular appeal because they are grounded in the cultural and, in both the oral textual belief systems such as the Upanishads, if I may add ethnographic traditions of the Indian subcontinent. In the regions bordering Afghanistan, for example, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan came to be known as the Frontier Gandhi, for his adoption of Gandhian principles  More recently,  Nelson Mandela and, now Baba Anna Hazare, a retired army driver have advocated Gandhism and won national support against the fight against corruption and social injustices. And, we have President Obama who is an ardent admirer of Gandhi.


Different historical and social contexts of conflicts and wars result in different expressions. Nevertheless, recognising the critical significance of soul-force as the embodiment of feelings, of  deep emotions of the people from the both sides is an entry point towards any form of conflict resolution: both warring parties acknowledging that conflict whatever its dimension also represents the angst as indeed, anger  as also an  opportunity for dialogues , if not immediate reconciliation. There are painful truths that need to be accepted but what we need to emphasise is the similarities and, mutual interdependence - common grounds rather than differences within a culture of trust and respect.


Q: Can Gandhism Be Applied In The Context Of Arab- Israeli Conflicts?


A: Only Mahatma Gandhi could answer this important question. Satyagraha has been drawn from  the philosophical traditions in the Subcontinent – in the sense that we had Satyagrahas before – following the first Partition of Bengal – when the British divided it as an act of cauterization to crush the agitation against colonial rule, the Swadeshi movement  for example. A Satyagragha to take root in the Arab- Israeli context  will need to draw upon mutually understood terms of reference and people on both sides willing to participate jointly in these efforts can succeed.  This is also such a sacred region as it is the birthplace of three great world religions and so many accompanying forms of expression. And, to most peoples all over the world, peace here would resonate in creating prosperity in their lands.

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