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

Book Review
A pragmatic approach to Hindu-Muslim conflict resolution

Reviewed by Jamilur-Rahman

Book: Hindu-Muslim Sath-Sath kaise Rahein [Urdu - Hindu-Muslim Living Together How?]
Publisher: Inter-community Peace Initiative 20,Jaswant Apartments, Okhla Jamia Nagar, New Delhi-25
Pages: 65. 
Price: Rs 30/Euro 3

With Sangh Parivar’s offshoot Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gaining political ascendancy and taking the mantles of the Indian state apparatus into its control, the campaign of calumny and hatred against religious minorities in the country has intensified. "Hate" and "Revenge" have become the potential weapons into the hands of the Hindutva protagonists to humiliate, harass and mow down Muslims and Christians in particular at every given opportunity.

Complaints are against Medieval rulers only, no matter ancient rulers were just or not. Traditional sense of living together is being increasingly bartered for false xenophobia. For the sake of political power at any cost, democratic institutions and constitutional norms are being sabotaged. "Communalise everything" seems to be the only motto which the hate-mongers are pursuing at with a frenetic pace. "Memories and the burdens of the past have harmed too much. So they must be completely wiped off from the pages of Indian history," communalists say. 
However, on the contrary Hindutva theory is damaging the very foundation stones of progressive India. The historic sense of living together traditionally - ‘unity in diversity’- seems to have fallen on bad times.

But even these tough times need not be a cause of worry for every sensible citizen except the communalists. There is always a glimmer of hope and the proverbial silver lining even in the dark tunnel of ignorance and hate. 

A prolific writer and human rights activist Prof Iqbal Ahmad Ansari in his booklet Hindu-Muslim saath saath kaise rahein? calls on every sensible countryman to come forward, sit together, talk and think together, act together and form Conciliation Groups for conflict resolution. 

For this purpose Inter-Community Peace Initiative came into being on 20 January 2001 to strive to maintain superiority of the law of the land. It also felt the need for bringing about administrative and judicial reforms, and take initiative in inter-community dialogue to resolve problems at social and political levels. 

His suggestion to set up a permanent commission on community relations duly enacted by the Parliament for the establishment of peace and harmony in the country is highly praiseworthy. Justice Venkatachaliah, who headed the Constitution Review Commission, has recommended to establish such a commission. 

Prof Iqbal has highlighted twelve major issues, which are causes of perennial conflicts and disputes between the two major communities of India and suggestions to remove discomforts. These amicable and practical solutions that MV Kamath also comments on his initiative, are in fact most honest attempts ever made on the Hindu-Muslim question and therefore an excellent effort to understand the Hindu mind without glossing over his findings. The book Hindu-Muslim sath-sath kaise Rahein, also published simultaneously in English as Hindu-Muslim Living Together How? [Rs 60/Euro6], is the collection of Prof Iqbal’s articles, letters, notes, written and published in various English and Urdu newspapers and to important persons. Both books speak for Prof Iqbal’s soul that states and bears the notion of peaceful co-existence for both communities.

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