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Published in the 1-15 Apr 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

National Integration Council 

By Ram Puniyani, Mumbai <bmrrpia@cc.iitb.ac.in>

The Milli Gazette Online 

The constitution of National Integration council has come as a big respite. One recalls that this crucial body was not constituted by the BJP led NDA coalition. Apparently it was in pursuance of BJP agenda of Hindu nation that this was not thought of at all. Having said that it is imperative to point out that this council, must urgently take up issues related to National integration which are long over due.

  1. We have witnessed that the communal violence has been assuming more menacing proportions during last fifteen years; starting from Mumbai riots of 92-93 and as seen in carnage of Gujarat (2002). During these years we have also witnessed the serious violation of the administrative and bureaucratic norms, which have strengthened the communal forces. We have also witnessed the serious attempt to obstruct the process of justice, and apathy towards rehabilitation of riot victims. The matters have gone to the extent that the victims of carnage are not able to return to their original places and are also being pressurized to withdraw the cases against the perpetrators of crimes. Accompanying this has been a communalization of social thinking and demonization of minorities.

  2. The situation requires an all-around attempt to address the underlying issues involved. It relates to training of the bureaucracy and police, it also calls for reviewing as to how and why large sections of these services collapse. We need to understand as to why a section of state machinery fails to do what is expected of them and instead start siding with the perpetrators of crime. There is a need for incorporating the value of freedom struggle, national integration and communal harmony in their training manual and then to back it up with regular follow up workshops and updates on these issues. It also requires the control and monitoring mechanisms to combat the biases prevalent in large section of state apparatus. A social audit of the decisions affecting the values of harmony is called for.

  3. The social mind set has been communalized to a great extent. This will need the efforts to promote the cultural mechanisms at the levels of communities, social associations and other conduits to percolate the message of national integration. Already this government seems to have initiated the move to rectify the distortions in the text books. That being commendable is not enough. The other general literature, published by the Government agencies also needs a revamp. The state level books also need to be looked at to remove biases against weaker sections of society.

  4. A section of media has played very negative role during the communal riots. The working journalists and students of journalism need to be addressed through their curriculum and through exposure to syncretic traditions and values of communal harmony. As the total review of curriculum is needed special attention needs to be paid to students of teachers training colleges and social work colleges.

  5. While we give a deeper look to some of these suggestions to be implemented, we need to have seminars and workshops on this theme at all the training institutes geared to train our officials at various levels.

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