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Published in the 1-15 Aug 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition


How to prevent riots

The political and social situation in the country is stabilizing to a level that the political class must apply its mind to fundamental issues, that in turbulent times, are not analysed in depth. I submit that one such issue is how to prevent communal riots. Once a major riot breaks out, the country suffers a huge loss in lives, economic disruption, social instability and loss of image world wide. Except for the left parties, all others, including the socialists, have dirtied their hands in communal violence. I do not think a riot is possible without the actual instigation of a leading politician. How do we prevent a politician from encashing a vote bank, through a communal riot? Can the Supreme Court, the Election Commission or even an alert media play a preventive role ? What is the role of the education system or of our religious leaders ? Do economic factors facilitate a riot ? Sardar Patel had visualised the IAS and the IPS as a bulwark against such a major breakdown. Yet in Gujarat this steel frame failed completely. Finally what role can the average citizen play, for after all he loses the most in such a riot ? 
I urge a public debate. Let us not point fingers at each other. An honest introspection is the need of the hour. India's emergence as a world power is substantially related to its capacity to prevent a Gujarat type collapse in future.

J. S. Bandukwala, Vadodra

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