Nurturing Emotional Bridge-Building through Nonviolent Communication Literacy for Global Peace: Natwar Thakkar

Shri Natwar Thakkar is one of the pioneers of the Gandhian movement in the North-East India. He has been working in Nagaland to promote Gandhian constructive work since 1955. The Nagaland Gandhi Ashram which he set up has been a vibrant centre of Gandhian activities in the region. His efforts have also been to promote emotional bridge-building between the people of the region and the rest of the country. In this dialogue he shares his views on the essence of Gandhian nonviolent communication for emotional bridge building and enhancement of relationship. He says this is crucial for promotion of a culture of peace and nonviolence.

This dialogue was conducted by Dr Vedabhyas Kundu, Programme Officer of Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, New Delhi.

Vedabhyas Kundu: Every day as we turn our newspapers, television channel or browse the Internet, we find horrific stories of people killing each other, conflicts and different forms of violence debasing our society. Mostly conflicts start when we think ourselves to be superior and develop feelings of contempt towards our fellow human beings. The former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 2001 had said, “We have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire. …. New threats make no distinction between races, nations or regions. A new insecurity has entered every mind, regardless of wealth or status….In the early beginnings of the 21st century – a century already violently disabused of any hopes that progress towards global peace and prosperity is inevitable — this new reality can no longer be ignored. It must be confronted….The 20th century was perhaps the deadliest in human history, devastated by innumerable conflicts, untold suffering, and unimaginable crimes. Time after time, a group or a nation inflicted extreme violence on another, often driven by irrational hatred and suspicion, or unbounded arrogance and thirst for power and resources…

Also Samuel Huntington (1997) in his book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order says, “People are always tempted to divide people into us and them, the in-group and the other, our civilization and those barbarians.” In the backdrop of deep fissures engineered by people themselves and the environment of intolerance, racism and xenophobia, the challenge today is to work assiduously to plug these fissures and make sincere attempts to stop the culture of intolerance and hatred. As Kofi Anan had stated further in his speech, “Peace must be made real and tangible in the daily existence of every individual in need. Peace must be sought, above all, because it is the condition for every member of the human family to live a life of dignity and security.” The 1980 Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel in his acceptance speech had also stressed that to build a society in which peace is the foundation of life ‘we must reach out our hands, fraternally, without hatred and rancour, for reconciliation and peace, with unfaltering determination in the defense of truth and justice. We know we cannot plant seeds with closed fists’.

Gandhism is a body of ideas that describes the inspiration, vision and the life work of Mohandas Gandhi. It is particularly associated with his contributions to the idea of nonviolent resistance, sometimes also called civil resistance. The two pillars of Gandhism are truth and non-violence.