Communal discord is at the root of widely prevailing unrest in the country. There is hardly a day when front page references to communal clashes are missing from our papers. India is a land of many communities and most of them at this critical juncture of the history of our country are being led by extremists who believe in the creed of violence and bloodshed, arson, and robbery. It may be Meerut one day, Amritsar on another day, and Ahmedabad on a third day. And if the situation is brought under control at these places, the ugly monster of communalism is sure to raise its head somewhere else, say at Baroda. The whole atmosphere of the country is so vitiated that sincere and peace-loving citizens have started feeling desperate and insecure. If communal relationships in Punjab and J&K are not checked from deteriorating and if Pakistan persists with its mischiefs, it may even jeopardize the sovereignty of the country. Communal harmony implies the co-existence of all communities in an atmosphere of peace and amity. It means that all communities should get equal opportunities for development and all of them should share each other’s growth. It is the first essential condition for the progress of the country.
It should be absolutely clear to one and all that there can be no social, political, and economic development in the country in the absence of communal harmony. When communal discord breaks out at any place, life and property are the first casualties. And the protection of life and property is the first and foremost duty of the government. The government is created with the sole purpose of safeguarding the individual’s life and his belongings. So the total attention of the government is diverted to this problem and all other constructive programs are suspended. Besides, all creative thinking requires peace and security. An artist cannot create, a musician cannot compose, an architect cannot build, a scientist cannot invent if a house is on fire downstreet and some innocent men, women, and children are being butchered in another corner of the city. When communal strife is rampant, all civilized activity has to take the back seat. The animal in man takes the lead and his human instincts are completely suppressed.
It is ironic that although we cry ourselves hoarse in advocating the concepts of internal peace and one-world government, we are unable to eliminate communalism. The lethality of nuclear arms designed in recent times emphasizes in no mistake terms that if mankind is to survive, we will have to think in terms of international organizations to take care of international disputes. It would be foolish to think of any Utopian state in which disputes will not exist. But means can definitely be evolved to settle them amicably. However, all concepts of international peace and friendship look ridiculous if there is no communal harmony within the country. If two communities cannot co-exist, how can two nations?
Before it should be possible to think of any workable solution to this grave problem, it is desirable to analyze the situation and define the forces responsible for creating and aggravating it. A large number of people tend to think that only what they believe is true, what they do is right, what they stand for is noble, and all else is fraud or trash. They overlook the fact that human beings can have a genuine difference of opinion. There are charges and counter-charges which vitiate the atmosphere. Our politicians and religious heads exploit this situation and instead of preaching tolerance and restraint instigate their followers. Defying all moral and ethical considerations, they keep on playing with the lives of ignorant masses so that they can remain in the limelight. The press also plays a significant role in widening gulfs. Peace does not make saleable news, war does. So irresponsible newsmen blow up the most trivial incidents to enormous dimensions. Whatever may have been the cause of the disturbance, they give it a communal coloring. It suits foreign governments also to create insecurity in some regions in order to keep intact their supremacy. It is these governments that supply funds and explosives to the extremists.
We cannot deny the seriousness of the problem. But it would be foolish to expect the government alone to cope with it. Maximum responsibility lies with religious and communal heads. They may not be able to cultivate in their followers ardent love of their fellow beings. But they should definitely try to teach them tolerance. The need of the day is not love but tolerance. Gandhiji used to say that we should never pray that others get the same light as we do. May God gives us the light we need; may they get the light they need! Our leaders should refuse to play in the hands of foreign forces, instead, they should relentlessly expose such forces to render them ineffective. Terrorists, instigated by vested foreign interests, are playing havoc with communal harmony. The government should suppress the menace of terrorism before it has caused irreparable damage to national security. It should also follow a strictly secular policy and impartially offer channels of growth to each community. In addition, our educational institutions should inculcate the right attitudes in our young men and women so that they are able to give a right lead to the nation. The concerted efforts of all should be able to control the problem.