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Making peace not war a universal response

Published: Nov. 29, 2023
Updated: Jan. 30, 2024

AS brutality in Gaza reaches a crescendo, a cry for peace goes out in street protests across the world. Ordinary people are raising their voices against aggression and violence. What brings them out? There seems to be an outpouring of disgust with the war machines that run the world.

Our cover story this month asks the question whether non-violence can be a natural human response as opposed to war and conflict which are planned and staged and are therefore social and political constructs.

Rajni Bakshi, whose Ahimsa Musings column appears in Civil Society every month, has done the cover. She cites examples of people in conflict zones who, despite the loss of loved ones, choose forgiveness and peace over retaliation. But ours is a world hardwired for violence. Voices of peace get drowned out. Yet, there is hope because research suggests that non-violence is a natural human response and people can be trained for peace in the way they are conditioned for war.

What do we know about Indian villages? Very little, actually, though 70 percent of the population continues to live in them. Surinder S. Jodhka debunks many myths about rural India, particularly the view that villages are static and backward as compared to cities. Prof. Jodhka’s book, The Indian Village: Rural Lives in the 21st Century, happened to land with us and we tracked him down for an interview. An unassuming scholar and teacher, Prof. Jodhka has done his research, travelling extensively in rural India. The urban-rural binary, he says, doesn’t do justice to the Indian village which is as much part of a changing world as the Indian city. Villages deserve to be better understood for their potential and their quest to prosper sustainably.

Farming abounds with stories. We find them all the time waiting to be written. We have in this issue the revival of wild oranges by who else but the Friends of Local Mangoes! India’s fabulous biodiversity is a valuable asset. Farmers understand this all too well, but would benefit much more if policymakers were to be more aware and farsighted. It all begins, as Prof. Jodhka points out in his book, by changing the way the village is perceived.

We have been covering art by people with disabilities over the years. While doing so we have seen talent flower and find recognition. The Family of the Disabled holds an exhibition, Beyond Limits, every year to showcase the work of such artists and make them known so that they find buyers. We feature the exhibition and the artists once again.     


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