Bangalore, November 2006
Peaceful non-violent pressure and resistance can go hand in hand with negotiation and dialogue
India has been described by the Nobel prize winning writer V.S.Naipaul as the land with a million mutinies. In a poor country with a population of more than 1 billion people it is natural to expect many conflicts, some small and a few that are very serious.
About 300 million Indians earn less than one euro a day. They live a hand to mouth existence. At the same time the new technological sectors (like information technology) are booming, and hundreds of thousands of middle class men and women are finding well paid jobs. Development is increasing the gap between the rich and the poor.
Conflicts range from inter-religious one’s where thousands of people can get killed, to farmers movements protesting against conditions where every day some farmers commit suicide, to the displacement of tribal communities when a dam is being built or a big factory built on their lands. On the environmental front the dramatic lowering of the water table is causing enormous hardship to the poor, and there are many water conflicts that have risen all over the country.
At the same time India has a long history of non-violent social transformation from the Buddha to Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi believed that there was enough for everyone’s needs but not enough for even one man’s greed. The challenge for India, and the world, is to develop sustainable development patterns that do not create social injustice and environmental degradation. Peace should be the name for sustainable development.
Irenes and Pipal Tree propose an approach of non-violent pressure groups and lobbies (and peaceful confrontation where necessary) that always keeps open the doors for negotiation and dialogue. Such an approach that considers everybody a stakeholder in the well being of society may more successfully address the problems of the poor than one that polarizes along sharply rigid lines, where the reaction may be strong and the poor are the sufferers in the long run. Peaceful non-violent pressure and resistance can go hand in hand with negotiation and dialogue.
Irenees and Pipal Tree hope to bring civil society, political and religious leaders, bureaucrats, businessmen and the media into the advocacy/mediation programme we have described below.