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Ms Poonam Barua (India)

4 Civil society and conflict resolution

Khorakiwala | Khaled Ahmed | Poonam Barua | Haroon Ahmed | Navnita Chedha Behera | Kaiser Bengali Rainer Adams | DISCUSSION | SESSION CONTENTS | HOME


My humble submission is to consolidate messages and pack them so they are acceptable to the current mental set.

The respective governments… know very well that they can’t go through the arms race perpetually.

Ever since the last decade of this century had forced a major perceptual change, it has amply demonstrated that no amount of weapons or military might could halt the already deteriorating social situation from getting worse.

The myth of contrived security has been broken yet the mindset created by military industrial complex lingers on.

There are lessons to be learnt from the two armed conflicts between India and Pakistan . Instead, we distort history and worse of all, we believe in it.

We cannot afford arms race, still the demands of the so-called defence need continues. The emergence of Bangladesh should have taught us the basic lessons in the track of democracy, justice and human rights. We have repressed them three and I dare say successfully.

To my mind, there is one objective which should be pursued and that is to convey to the people a few relevant messages which relate to their needs and demands.

Sermons are known to be endured; knowledge, changed attitude and call to reason does not arouse more people but arousing emotion works.

Dr. Haroon Ahmed’s topic was "Parallel Contacts" with special emphasis on the mental set of the people of these countries i.e. India and Pakistan. He began by defining a "mentally fit" person. In terms of psychiatry, he/she is one who can take care of himself, his family members and above all, abide and participate in civic and civil responsibilities. So in support of the efficacy of such discussions he said that "such activity does not only help the development of civil society but proves to promote the mental health of the participants because the sense of collective-ness, belonging-ness reduces alienation."

Dr. Ahmed was of the view that both countries cannot engage in the arms race perpetually and it was time that public opinion was built to help the inert governments on both sides to take a bold initiative. He also spoke about the mental set of the people of both the countries who perceive each other as enemies. This mindset created by the on going arms conflict between the countries makes people on both sides insensitive and inhumane. "People under this mindset are contemptuous of democracy, insensitive to human rights and have their own brand of justice."

As to how to alter the negative thinking of the people he proposed that a few relevant messages need to be conveyed to the people in an effective and attractive manner. "The formula is concentrate knowledge, generate emotion for behavioural change." In order to achieve this objective and bring about real change, he advocated a greater use of the science of advertising, electronic media and modern methods of communication. In this regard, he proposed that inter reaction between "people who matter" can be brought about by two ways. Firstly, that people should explore more avenues of people to people exchange through exchanges between professional groups, cultural troupes etc. And, secondly, by arranging melas and moots that give an opportunity to the common citizens of both the countries to understand each other better. "Seminars may not touch the common man but melas and thelas do."

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