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'India alone cannot walk the path of peace'
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Stephen R. Covey, author of the hugely popular bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People wrote his final and probably most insightful (though somewhat overlooked) book shortly before he died&...
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While internationally India talks and acts peace in accordance with its traditions and history, it is ironic that its citizens often do not extend each other the same courtesy. The use of violence to resolve an issue is never too distant from most spheres of everyday life.
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What starts as intermittent exchange of fire can sometimes escalate to a full-blown war with far-reaching consequences. Over the past one week, these fears were ignited when estranged neighbours Pakistan and Afghanistan resorted to brinkmanship, flexed their military muscle and fired artillery at the Torkham border, leading to many casualties.
Taking their "development partnership" to the next level, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the Salma Dam during an impressive ceremony in western Herat province on 4 June. Though the dam has been the target of many terrorist attacks over the years, the people of Afghanistan have been have been overwhelmingly supportive of the project.
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The annual commemorative festival, or urs, of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Gharib Nawaz (1141 AD-1236 AD), the emancipator of the poor, the founder of the Chishti order of Sufism in South Asia takes place in Ajmer, India. Every year hundreds of devotees from around the world throng to this Sufi gathering. The festival starts with traditional religious supplications and recitation of the Quran, followed by renditions of qawwali, the devotional Sufi music that has flourished and thrived in South Asia through the ages.
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In these troubled times, with the attacks in Paris, Lebanon, Pathankot and beyond creating a climate of fear, I feel the collective and justified hatred towards religious terrorism. But when this hatred spills over to every human being practising Islam, I fear for my friend. And that's when I think, "Shit, my best friend is a Muslim."
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I have conversed with a bar dancer on an airplane, exchanged a Happy Sabbath greeting with a religious man in Jerusalem, listened to a preacher speak about the different archangels, conversed with a chaiwalla by the Ganges about the sacred rivers of India, shared a laugh with a monk and climbed mountains with adventurers. Strangers have revealed their story and I've shared mine. I have been welcome joyously every time I put aside my limited understanding of the world and embraced the uniquely different.
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If a man who has not known inner peace is forced to live peacefully, he will either murder or kill himself. Even that will provide some excitement. Excitement is a great nourishment, but... the wrong kind of excitement is poison. And up to now humanity has been dominated by the wrong kind of excitement.
There are three levels of peace, the first one being in the larger world environment and relates to harmony between nations, peoples, world regions, ethnic groups, etc. The second level of peace concerns harmony in our immediate environment comprising family, friends, neighbourhood and workplace. The third level is more personal and individualistic -- inner peace. We cannot underestimate the importance of this level.
For the past 25 years, the Ig Nobel Prize, organised by the magazine, Annals of Improbable Research, has been honouring many seemingly silly scientific achievements.
Like millions of Indians, I believed in the myth that nuclear weapons are necessary for national security when our government, headed by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, made India a nuclear-weapons nation in May 1998. Indeed, I was working closely with him in the prime minister's office those days. I have since become a convert to the cause of a nuclear weapons-free world. I now believe that India's moral strength and stature as a campaigner for world peace, and especially for global nuclear disarmament, was diminished after it started to build its own nuclear arsenal.
Partition created blurred lines, but people living on either side of those blurred lines must not forget that they have more similarities than differences. The callous, cold indifference tolerated by the subaltern in both the nations is the same.