Saturday, September 25, 2010

Why civilisations clash in India

Log toot jate jain ek ghar banane mein, tum taras khate nahin bastiyan jalane mein. This couplet, written by the famous Urdu poet Bashir Badr after his house was burnt in a communal riot in Meerut in 1987, reflects the sentiments of a large number of Indians who have suffered communal prejudice in one form or the other. Communal riots have become a part of Indian psyche; we live with it, albeit with a feeling of pain and remorse.

Decoding Intolerance: Riots
and the Emergence of
Terrorism in India;
Prateep K. Lahiri
Roli; Rs 395
The Allahabad High Court’s judgment on the 60-year-old Ayodhya issue on September 24, 2010 may trigger another round of communal frenzy if we do not bury the past. Why is it that six decades since Independence, the country still suffers from communal riots and we are not able to do much about it? Why has the problem of communal riots not been resolved with the passing of the years? People are killed, women are raped, children are burnt alive, houses are set ablaze, and the country witnesses all this with a sense of loss.

As such, it is important that this recurring and entrenched problem has attracted the attentions of P K Lahiri, who has had a distinguished career in the civil service as an Indian Administrative Service officer spanning 36 years. Lahiri, who served as secretary in the ministries of mines and finance, had earned a reputation for being upright, fearless and honest. Lahiri has several encounters with communal riots during his career, and his experiences and sharp sense of social responsibility in dealing with this problem have probably prompted him to explore the subject. He does so with both objectivity and a personal touch that lend greater credence to his arguments. Thus, Decoding Intolerance: Riots and the Emergence of Terrorism in India is a very different kind of book that provides a hands-on analysis of a social reality that India and Indians need to understand and face.

Full report here Business Standard

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