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Taking Stock
Mould the sword into a plough
By Rizwan Ullah

Rizwan UllahIn the lawns of UN Plaza stands a big statue on a pedestal which is figurative precept, a stonewalled philosophy, a friendly but strong advice, an incentive for hard work, all in one and at the same time and place. It must have been visited by countless visitors. Many would have appreciated the artistic skill that went into its making and the craftsmanship. But it is hard to guess how many would have appreciated the multi-sided suggestive effect of the masterpiece.

A man of robust body and strong muscles has reversed the sword with its pointed tip on the ground and holding it firmly hammering on the hilt and thus bending it into a curve like shape similar to that of a plough an its tip is like a ploughshare which breaks the ground to make furrows and sowing the seeds. The symbolicism of this figure has been haunting my imagination since I saw it about two decades ago. Perhaps it was presented by the earstwhile Soviet Union and coming as it was after end of the Second World War, it was indicative of the Soviet pretensions to have no more wars and devote their energies to peaceful avocations. However, how far they treaded on the path of peace is another story. Perhaps their interpretation was that we want peace on our land so that it could be brought under the plough and the sword was to be used on other lands preferably in close neighbourhoods.

However, what I mean to say is that the theme of the statue ‘Mould the Sword into a Plough’ is more relevant in our case, in our India, in our neighbourhood and in our Asia, especially in the present circumstances when our soil is ploughed by bayonets, sown with bullets and mines instead of seeds of grains, irrigated by blood and the air heavy with the gunpowder stink. While we are sowing the sorts of seeds what sort of crops we will reap and our future generations will be reaping is not hard to conjecture.

We don’t have a piece of sculpture like the one mentioned above but we have innumerable carvings which should have been carved on gold instead of stone. They are the thoughts, precepts and philosophies expressed and expounded by great sages. We happen to be their inheritors. We should extract the nectar of wisdom and carry the pailfuls in as many yatras as possible instead of the sham rath yatras to befool the naive and the illiterate, the people who know best how to hold a plough, how to break the ground, sow the seeds and harvest a rich crop. Misleading them is no justice to them, to the country or to ones ownself, for they themselves and their progeny will not be safe from the effects of the poisonous crop they would be producing.

Those who claim to rule the destiny of the world (not for the first time though in the recorded history of the world) and others in symphony with them are showing a great interest in the need for peace in our part of the world only because it must be in their interest and not because their sleep in disturbed over our losses of men and material. The day they do not feel the need for that peace they will not come to us with their bountiful advices. So the Time is ripe for us to make use of others need for peace on our land and contribute our mite to an effort which might be helped by other interested people. At some other time we may be working arduously for peace but others might be throwing spanners in our efforts. In fact it is for others’ doings that we the same people stand divided and behave as if we are different. The conflict with our neighbours is, in fact, conflict within the same self that is why any solutions seem to be out of the reach.

However, experiments with self discipline must continue. It is a step by step approach. The first step may be a declaration by us and our neighbours that we will not fire a bullet on each other for ten years even in case of a provocation. NGO’s and peace activists should come forward to materialize this one point declaration. Initially it may be very hard to pursue, to get an agreement and still harder to act upon but slowly and gradually it may build a sort of self-confidence.

In its wave some other actions must follow naturally. Those having abnegated the trigger pulling will certainly try to put on leash those who transgress into other territories from their side only to create trouble. A psychological factor may work as a damper on the trigger-happy forces within – the war groups and the encounterists. Without an actual war we have reached the brink which is very dangerous indeed. Our people in border areas have already suffered heavy losses. Hundreds of thousands of them have left their villages. Farmers are helplessly looking at their ripe rabi crops which they can not harvest as the fields are mined. Their labour of the whole season and investment in farming is going to waste and it is a situation which may repeat without anyone liking or inviting it. Under the circumstances a single retracing step is worth trying. 

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