Letter to Planning Commission

Thursday, June 02, 2011


Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia


Planning Commision of India

Yojna Bhava

New Delhi

Subject :A Suggestion for Nonviolent Dialogue

I want to highlight the value of a nonviolent dialogue. Whether in Assam or Kashmir, Ahimsa (Non-Violence) should always be the guiding force. More importantly because when people begin to articulate their issues or problems, the first step is often non-violent. Even in Sri Lanka, things began nonviolently before they turned violent. Kashmir and Assam struggles also began nonviolently.

People around the country are demanding attention to be paid to their issues. It is almost like a child crying so that the mother’s attention will be drawn. The mother does not need to be aggressive and be violent with the child, which in turn would make the child feel he has a violent mother. But that is the culture I find all over the globe. People are not resorting to non-violent dialogue to start with.

I would like to propose this to the Government of India to recognize the pattern—that all these struggles began nonviolently but because there was no one to talk they turned violent. And then when the struggle became violent, the government started using police and military. Once the government starts using the military it becomes a never-ending process from which cannot be reversed. We see this happening in Kashmir and in the North-east and also in areas where you have the Naxal problem. The government is yet to setup systems of working with people , experienced in non-violent actions and conflict resolution.

We propose to come up and form a small national level non-violence committee to address local issues , that could turn violent. This committee should have scholars and practitioners of Non-Violence. This process will not only introduce a new paradigm to conflict resolution but also bring about a shift from military security to human security.

We need to recognize that human struggles are about justice. It is not enough just to amplify a notice to law and order. One can exclaim that law and order is in place but lawlessness is the lack of systemic governance and more importantly lack of peace based dialogue.  The need of the hour is to build up a system, where the promised is deliver and alternatively a response process is in place.

Interestingly, the aspirations of the Indian people are very limited. They only demand drinking water, school buildings, a health system, and a public distribution system. In a country where the demands are so low and all people are demanding is living requisites—like removing a liquor shop from their village or providing a hand pump to get enough drinking water. These are not the aspirations you can deal with by force .

People are willing to contribute their labour. Which means that the strength of society can be a large part of solving problems. If you ask people to work on a road project, they will—even without asking for money, because more than money they need better living conditions to start with.

If there is the possibility of a dialogue process to solve problems, especially problems between people and the state, then all will contribute their energies, resources and labour. What is missing is a unconventional thought within the system.

With regards

Rajagopal PV


  • Ms.Saeeda Ahmadi, Member, Planning Commission of India
  • Mr.Narendra Jadhav, Member, Planning Commission of India

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