2018 – Case Study – 5

India is a land of diversities clubbed with disparities. Often the disparities take the communal color to flare up the differences between the communities based on lines of religion, culture, language, caste etc. The differences threaten the peace by creating animosity between the people of different groups.
Also a cycle can be observed in the events of these communal tensions. Often during elections, religious festivals the animosity plays out at a large scale in the form of communal hatred and communal violence. Based on the nature of threats a map of communally sensitive regions can be developed. A greater emphasis would be required in these regions towards maintaining communal peace and harmony.
The strategies for maintaining peace and stability in the communally sensitive districts can be categorised under three broad heads
Normal Situation
The communal flare ups are often results of vested interest manipulating the incidents to develop a post truth narrative to fuel animosity between the communities. Politics and religion are deeply intertwined in India. As a result the communal tensions often become tool for political vendetta.
In the normal situation the district administration must

  • Make efforts to build platform for engagement between different communities. This enhanced people to people contact will aid in development of feeling of oneness and boosts national integration.
  • The lack of awareness about others culture or way of living leads to volatile situations turning into worst case scenarios. An awareness movement to sensitise people about the practice, beliefs of other community will result in effective defence against the building up of communal tensions.
  • The governance machinery which forms the face and interface of governance must achieve and demonstrate impartiality, non-partisianism to build up a strong deterrence mechanism against vested interests manipulating the incidents for personal interests which puts a cost of burden on the society.
  • Strengthening of intelligence mechanisms so that the administration could have tangible intelligence sources to act upon and prevent the communal tensions.
  • Arranging regular interactions between leaders of different communities to ensure that the message of oneness is penetrated from top to the bottom levels of the society through their leaders.

The better the preparations during the normal circumstances better equipped would be the administration to handle the crisis during the communal tensions.
During communal tensions
The entire administrative setup would be put to test during the communal tensions. The administration must stand up to this challenge to ensure the return of normalcy as soon as possible.

  • Augmenting the administrative capacity to effectively devise a strategy to counter the communal tensions.
  • Undertaking the risk analysis and identifying the hot spots from where the tensions are emanating.
  • Undertaking necessary steps to restrict the propagation of fake news and false propaganda.
  • Those violating law and acting as a menace to the society must be met with iron hand.
  • Establishing help lines for aiding the people in distress.
  • Organising harmony meets as a confidence building measure.
  • Employing emotional intelligence to diffuse the communal tensions through peace messages in media.

Lapses on part of administration will lead to great harm to the society. Swift reaction by the administration can be great asset in controlling communal flares.
Introspection
Once the communal tension resides the administration must start the introspection of the process

  • Identifying the reasons for the flare up and devising a roadmap for preventing such incidents in future.
  • Take the fight against the communal elements who deteriorated the situation to a logical head by making them accountable through rule of law in courts.
  • Analysing lapses if any on part of administration in managing the communal tensions.
  • Spreading of peace messages to sensitise people to not fall prey to communal agendas.

Communal violence is a biggest threat to the unity and integrity of the country. Ability of the administration to prevent communal tensions is also a litmus test for the efficacy of governance. It is a test which an administration cannot afford to fail.

Question for UPSC Mains:
India is home to many diverse cultures and religions which are largely tolerant of each-other unless some external force enumerates the differences with an intention to disrupt peace. It has been seen that vested political interests have been at the base of many communal riots in different parts of the country. Innocent civilians fall prey to the malicious covert hate campaigns run by parties to bring bad name to the party in power. As the local administrators bureaucrats have the foremost responsibility to ensure peace and harmony in their area. Assuming yourself to be a civil servant in a communally sensitive district, discuss various steps that you would take to communal flare-ups.

Published: April 2, 2018 | Modified:April 2, 2018

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