Peace and inclusive development


Dr. Gail Omvedt

Peace in the world has two main terrains. Peace at the level of the nation and at the level of the world. Both affect each other depending upon the nature of the disturbance to the peace which is created on these terrains. Peace had been the constant feature for millions of years of existence of the human society. Before the emergence of rudimentary states and that of women's subordination there did not exist anything like the standing army or anything representing organised violence. Following women's subordinaton there came into existence caste, class, race, community based exploitation along with the gender exploitation. These forms of exploitative relations consolidated the state as an instrument of the organised violence. Exploitative relations and the state as an instrument of organised violence are therefore, two main sources which violate the peaceful nature of human society.

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Exploitative society and its state also prevent the inclusive development of humans because these kinds of societies cannot but exclude majority of the humans from the process of development by exploiting them and accumulating products of their labour in the hands of a few individuals. They not only do this exclusion but also expropriate natural resources and pollute them. They destroy healthy exchange of matter between humans and nature disturbing ecological balance at world level. This gives rise to the violation of peaceful relations between humans and humans as well as between humans and nature.

We can enumerate the main issues related to the violation of the basic peaceful nature of the human society:

1) estranging majority of the humans from the collective control of the renewable and nonrenewable natural resources of mother earth.
2) estranging direct creators of useful things from the use of those things.
3) expropriating creators of useful things from the instruments of production, means of production and conditions of production.
4) destroying the culture of healthy coexistence of humans and nature and transforming all the natural resources in to the commodities or conditions of production for accumulation of capital.
5) making war as an instrument of creating market for selling weapons of destruction and mass killings of humans and the growth of the war industries.
6) poisoning the soil, water, forests, oceans, air, bodies of humans and all other living beings with various forms of pollutants.
7) inventing new forms of exploitative relations and continuing old forms of exploitations in the modern forms.
8) destroying the cultural forms based on collectivity, equalitarian principles, healthy co- existence with nature, right to do critique and Democratic values. Establishing the culture based on violence, hierarchy, domination, wars, racism, casteism, gender discrimination etc. Making culture of violence dominant in everyday life.
9) nation-state becoming main vehicle of identity which decides "we and the other" and "the other" always is the potential "enemy". Within the nation state regions play the same role. One can see the same happening around caste, religion, community, race etc.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar sharply points out the contradiction between "equality in the spheres of judiciary, democratic rights, electoral rights, law etc." and "inequality in the economic, social and cultural spheres". There cannot be any kind of lasting peace in a society which has such contradictions, he says.

Mahatma Phule considers formation of people in "ekmay lok" i.e. "homogeneous people" a precondition for the formation of the nation. He envisages that this could be achieved despite different cultural, religious etc. characters of various groups of people. For both, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Jotiba Phule, annihilation of castes is a basic precondition for achieving lasting peace in the Indian socioeconomic formation. The nature of caste exploitation is based on "graded hierarchy" which brings about "division of labourers" which creates a constant war like situation. Peace becomes impossible in such a situation. This graded hierarchy is not only based on caste but it is firmly related to the caste-gender related exploitation of women. Power of sexual exploitation of lower caste women given to the so-called twice born caste men is the most inhuman aspect of caste exploitation.

In India, caste exploitative relations have remained intact even after exploited castes people changed their religion and accepted religions which do not practice caste exploitation or agree with the caste ideology. This has happened to the people who joined the religions like Christianity, Islam or Buddhism. In this background, it becomes a very serious problem which should be solved by going beyond the religious boundaries. Democracy in India cannot be realised in practice without annihilation of castes. Without this change it would be a situation of protracted low profile war killing and injuring thousands of people and mutilating and raping thousands of women. This will always be covered by thin carpet of a false peace.

This situation could be only changed through a process of transformation going towards casteless, genderless, class-less society eliminating racism, communalism and religious fundamentalism and creation of a prosperous and ecologically balanced society without the state proper. This process will require an alternative developmental paradigm which includes direct producers as its prime movers. This, in other words could be called as inclusive development. When this goes on becoming the dream of all or the overwhelming majority of humanity it would become a process of equitable and all inclusive development. When this becomes a continuous social process, peace will go on prevailing. War or warlike situation will wither away.

But one should remember that wars will continue until the point the state standing on the top of society remains intact. The state and standing army along with other armed forces are the breeding ground of the wars and killers of the peace. That is why it is not enough to start the process of social transformation and creation of healthy forces of production. This transformation should include an abolition of organised violence.

The process of transformation in social relations of production and productive forces, cultural transformation, transformation in the field of art and literature, transformation of relations between humans and nature etc cannot take place at the same time all over the world. There is going to be uneven and combined development of these processes. Ending of the wars in different forms will also follow the same path. It is a long-drawn process. Central thread of this process is to go towards a liberated humanity and its healthy relationship with nature. But humans are also part of the nature and duality existing between these two aspects tends to turn in to a contradiction. Reestablishing the homogeneous, non-contradictory existence of these two is a long drawn process. But it is an inevitable process to establish lasting peace. "War" with nature also is a breeding ground of war between human beings.

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 Production based on non-renewable fossil materials in nature is war with nature, resulting in destruction of nature and its health before the process of destruction is complete. Control over these resources which go on depleting them, gives rise to the war between humans. Any form or mode of production creating monopoly over even the renewable natural resources also gives rise to destruction of renewable materials and war between humans. Only decentralized production based on renewable material collectively conducted by humans can create a peaceful way of life between humans and nature. A basis for lasting peace.



Dr. Gail Omvedt is an American-born Indian scholar, sociologist and human rights activist. She is a prolific writer and has published numerous invaluable books and research papers on the anti-caste movement, Dalit-Bahujan politics, and women's struggles in India. She has been involved in Dalit-Bahujan and anti-caste movements, environmental, farmers and women's movements, and has worked closely with rural women.

(Also Thanks, Dr.Bharat Patankar, Anti-Caste Activist and Thinker)

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