Editor’s Note: It is ironic that 70 years after India became an independent country and a democracy, invoking aazadi evokes bitter conflicts. Whether at school or in the middle of the conflict in the Kashmir valley – both calls aazadi and defying this call as anti-national awakens strong passions.
In comparison, Swaraj was almost never raised in public discourse. It almost seems like a historical artifact, a fragment of memories of the struggle against freedom. This is the second part of a series entitled Swaraj and 70 years that seeks to examine this dichotomy more closely.
When communal violence went through Mumbai in December 1992 and January 1993 Sushboha Barve led groups of citizens from the plucked areas to try to restore peace.
Subsequently, he worked with the Mohalla committees through which Mumbai police representatives continue to work with members of the Hindu and Muslim communities to build bridges and to avoid conflicts.
Barve, 68, Ashoka is a researcher and founder of the Center for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) in New Delhi, to build an academic foundation for the methods he has developed through his extensive work in conflict zones.
For the past 20 years, through the CoR, Barve has a broad base for peace and justice in the Kashmir valley. It also opened the way for Dialogues III in peace and stability between India and Pakistan.
Last year Barve was part of the Citizens’ Committee, led by BJP chief Yashwant Sinha, who visited the Kashmir valley and made recommendations to the government on how to tackle the crisis.
Firstpost spoke Sushobha the situation in Kashmir, the recent lynching burst of the crowd and the significance of Swaraj in India today. Edited extracts follow:
Over the years it has become India’s pride and independence. The fact is that, despite many turbulent times, we survived, unlike other countries that have lost their independence in a similar period.
But I must admit that sometimes I fear our Swaraj, it remains as it was in the future.
There are limitations and divisions arisen and should not be overly complacent based on the past. We have many areas of the country where young people have not had the experience of feeling the pride of India like we did.
Because they have grown up in conflict and poverty, they have not found good role models for political leaders and other social leaders they could find.
Can we define the particular parts of India, which are most affected by this?
Certainly, the border areas. Assam is a mold box. It began in the 1970s with the union of Assam students addressing the issue of foreigners who had broad public support in Assam. It was largely nonviolent.
Some sort of agreement was signed, but it did not make it true, with respect to the Assamese, the response to foreign matter. Therefore, there was the public perception that it always started wrong and violent phase – vs migrants and Bengali Assamese tribes.