Communal harmony – UPSC Prelims

Can sentiments of a particular community be ever allowed to be hurt under the guise of freedom of speech and expression ? How to maintain the delicate balance between the two? Give real life examples to support your case. (200 Words)
Freedom of speech and expression inherently implies freedom to criticise .This freedom has to be differentiated from the right to propagate hate through incitement to violence and hatred. It is a tool to question, mock and deconstruct dominant narratives build around authority, religion, customs and traditions. The degree to which sensibilities of any community are liable to be hurt is very subjectively determined. Any attempt to accommodate all the sensibilities will necessarily erode the very premise of freedom of speech and expression, that is unbiased right to criticise without fear. Universal values of tolerance can’t be expected in a diverse global society. But particularistic treatment to issues have the danger of ending up as justification for regressive social and traditional biases and practises. The balance between the two has to incorporate a spirit of tolerance. Freedom can’t be selective and partial. One has to accept it in its various manifestations. The freedom to profess, practise and propagate religion itself implies the right to trivialise its sanctity.
we have the examples of Salman Rushdie being hounded for his supposed Blasphemous writings on Islam. However, many responsible people have defended his right to say what he has without agreeing to his point of view. Again, Noam Chomsky has been critical of almost everything American. Still, not only he lives securely in America, he enjoys all the rights that are available to any other American. In a pluralistic global society, and especially in a liberal society as in the west, it is perhaps too paradoxical to defend any attack on freedom of speech and expression on the grounds of freedom not to get insulted
Despite being a largely peaceful country, India now and then witnesses communal tensions. With examples, examine what factors breed harmony between different communities divided on the lines of religion and castes? As an administrator, how will you help different  communities to live in peace and harmony? (200 Words)
Maintaining peace and harmony in a multi-religious and multi-lingual society like India becomes an important administrative responsibility. The factors that breed harmony lie both in history as well as have to be part of conscious government strategy  to maintain tranquility and an atmosphere of tolerance.
  1. Nationalism – as feeling of adherence to nation’s ideals helps citizens rise over differences. Recounting a common glorious past, rich history of syncretic traditions and tolerance that has withstood all attempts to divide the society can be highlighted. Eg. the famed Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb in UP
  2. Humanity, respect for human life and liberty has been the defining feature of the  modern State. In riot cases also, people have often sheltered the persecuted class from the   perpetrators. Such acts of benevolence should be highlighted
  3. An ideal Constitution that houses equality and abhors discrimination in any form, intends to promote the interest of vulnerable sections. Successive governments  have instituted schemes for minorities so that they can be mainstreamed from the fringes.
  4. An impartial administration, above all, which all sections especially minorities can bank upon is a must. Faith in justice delivery system can prevent disgruntled sections from taking law unto their hands and prevent any politicisation of issues that have in past escalated quickly.
A Muslim-girl winning the Bhagvad Geeta competition in Mumbai are some of the heartening events that exhibit that humanity is the ultimate religion As an administrator, I will:
  1. Promote a permanent inter-faith dialogue where the current issues plaguing the society can be discussed
  2. Ensure the government schemes bring about equitable development, without discrimination in education, health and other social sectors
  3. Enhancing involvement of other communities in festivals of another community could benefit the cause of a secular society
  4. During crisis situation, prevent the escalation, involve religious elders for quick resolution of any dispute, bringing disputing factions to the table
  5. Arrange for security of sensitive buildings like temples, mosques, churches, etc that may be prone to miscreants
  6. Display my impartiality to gain the confidence of citizens
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind” – Mahatma Gandhiji.
Do you think the meaning and message of this famous quote by Gandhiji is relevant today? Comment. (150 Words)
Gandhiji’s famous quote cited in the question is one of the foundational guiding principles, which holds its relevance to time eternal. Though the context, space and time may vary, but the underline meaning remains the same, which can be applied in different ways but centred on a single theme Non-violence.
Gandhi’s advocacy for Non-violence and his belief of ultimate prevalence of truth, are two dominating force behind the idea. His belief of not to hate the criminal, but the crime, liberated India from the mighty colonial power, has the potential to deal with several enemies, the Humanity presently is faced with.
The large looming gloomy clouds of climate change, terrorism, poverty and many such similar problems can be dealt with different approach guided by the quote. For example to deal with the climate change, we need to fight with the source of climate change, change our living habit, have a balance between materialism and spirituality and above all live with the nature in harmony. Thus the fight is with the problem.
Similarly instead of fighting with terrorists, we need to fight with the very origin of terrorism which is poverty, twisted interpretation of religion and negligence. Though a situation may arise where lives of many people is at stake, like in terrorists’ hostage case and be dealt with use of force, but beside such exceptional situation, the quote is time tested instrument of action.
Gandhiji was merchant by caste, Barrister by profession, statesmen by action and philosopher by virtue. His statement “An eye for an eye only ends up making whole world blind” is still very relevant today. The statement points to destructive attitude of answering violence by violence and argument by argument without considering mediation and peace talk.
In current geo-political scenario of nuclear weapon era when every nation is in race to acquire nuclear weapon to flex muscle rather than focussing in nation’s poverty and political misery shows clear-cut application of this statement where none of the nation is going to use nuclear weapon but just for their ego and nuclear deterrence policy they want to possess.
Similarly in social scenario, rising number of crimes, violence, terrorist attack illustrates same philosophy where in 2 parties, shia-sunni, religious extremists fights each other an unending and inconclusive war.
In Economic scenario, companies these days take path of destructive competitions like buying customers, buying all other companies, providing free services and it becomes economic war between firms to shame and malign each other’s reputation.
These is clear from Ola cab bought Taxi for sure, while Sukhoi hired bloggers to shame Dassault Rafale in internet so that India will not buy it.
Hence, this statement is very much relevant today in all spheres of governance and business too
The true measure of a democracy is the way it treats its minorities. Why do you think so? Analyse the statement in the context of recent attacks on Churches across the country. (200 Words)
Democracy is a political philosophy which has a same strength and weakness. That weakness and strength is: Democracy does what majority of people want. It seems strength of democracy but at the same time, it ignores the rights and voice of minorities and thereby it is Weakness.
True measure of success and implementation of democracy is when Minorities find solace and social acceptance from majority. Not only constitutionally, legally and in
writings but also in spirit of people‘s action. Recent mishap of Churches in Delhi attacked and vandalised by unknown miscreants raises the right question that “why it took attacks on 5 churches in 2 month and a peaceful march to draw investigative actions?” Should it be considered as discrimination toward minorities?
Success and absolute beauty of India is when it celebrates its diversity and not takes it as a burden. Hence, minorities protection and spreading message of brotherhood and fraternity is utmost important. Acts of attack and discrimination of minorities should be taken seriously. For ex. North Eastern states are discriminated and stereotyped on certain occasion this should be addressed.
But before one jumps into conclusion of colouring the incident with communal colours it is important to note that impartial probe is what is required in this case, because it may be case of theft or act of getting political mileage by certain political party just before Delhi Election.
Democracy is the government of people. Each individual has equal right over the power. But, in reality majority rules as “one person = one vote”. Hence, minority interest should be protected with affirmative actions. Democratic success is measured how secured minorities feel in a rule that is inherently dominated by majorities.

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