Words like conflict management, conflict resolution, conflict transformation are in vogue and a plethora of conflict pundits have come up. Since the conflict came to the fore along with the dawn of democracy, one is compelled to wonder whether it is a genuine or aberrant phenomenon in democracy. Why did the conflict manifest in such a violent form where the differences in opinion are accepted, divergent values and interests are accommodated and voices are raised through peaceful means? People have fingered the ulterior motives of the protagonists of the so-called people’s war. Howsoever sacrosanct their motives may be, their way of extending the agenda, through abduction, murder and violence, is never justified. For long, our society was run by religious codes of conduct. Later, the aristocrats and their feudal allies took advantage of the shortcomings in the religious provisions for retaining and exercising power. The caste system and the work differentiation was the most convenient instrument for the autocratic rulers to have the commoners penned up. This system is still in place. Hundreds of lives are still burnt alive in the name of dowry and thousands of female lives are killed even before birth.
An equally sensitive and juxtaposed problem is that of ethnic communities and the oppression on their socio-cultural practices. Most of the ethnic minorities and indigenous people have felt that they are denied their basic rights. A significant number of people have showed their affinity to the Maoists for this very cause. As ethnic sentiment is linked with the existential identity of the people, denial of the respect for their identity, in terms of language or others, easily leads to a colossal conflict situation. As authoritative allocation of the varied interests is accomplished and status quo is altered with the political apparatus, political change is a sine qua non. But without social movement and social change that will be ineffective and meaningless. Unless and until the label of “upper and lower” owing to birth remains, the problem will be there as much as it is now. If we do not establish a system, both political and social, where deeds and merits determine the social status rather than birth, we will remain a backward society and the latent fire of conflict will always be there.
Without addressing the grievances and the pains based on gender, no development or other schemes will bear any fruit, let alone the complete transformation of the society. The nationality can be kept intact through incessant cohesion among different peoples by giving recognition and reverence to diversified identity rather than through forced homogenisation. And all this calls for more than a political change, an overall social change. However, the problem lies in our highly bigoted social structure and blindfolded social values, as much as in the imperfect political structure. What is the harm if we become a secular state? What if we give up the mindset of judging a human being through gender? What if we make progressive steps through the affirmative action, the system of positive discrimination, for the ones who have been discriminated negatively for ages? Our Constitution has envisaged right to equality, cultural and educational right, right to religion and right against exploitation. But, unless special and focused attention is paid to remove the maladies through some progressive steps using the state machinery, just depicting the rights in the Constitution alone will not work miracles. It is high time we advanced to a new height through a social change.