Action - 4 February 2019

en - Non violence: A matter of Choice

Sr Veena Jacob RA
Assumption sisters are working with migrants in Patna slums. The slum dwellers come from the draught and flooded affected villages of Bihar and Jharkhand. These people are mostly landless and are agriculture labourers. They are illiterate and unskilled belongs to Dalit(Low caste) community. Number of them does not have legal papers as citizens to get the government entitlement of government welfare programs.
When migrants come to the city they live near the waste dumping ground, canal and railway sides with makeshift houses. The atmosphere in the slum is very violent. We are working with women for their empowerment and development of their children in this slum for the last eight years.
Stalin nagar is a slum for the last 50 years and more. Due to our interventions many families got their Ration Card which entitles them to get government food security for the people below the poverty line. They are supposed to get subsided food (wheat/rice/ sugar) Kerosene (fuel) every month according to the number family members from the Ration shop.
The owner of the Ration shop is a powerful man of this area. He and his workers refused to distribute ration to the Stalin nagar slum people who have right to get the ration. Due to corruption in the distribution system the ration never reached the poor. Ration was sold out before it reaches the ration shop. Poor people were frightened to demand their ration. Anyone who challenges the owner of the ration shop was beaten up, their women and children were raped or their huts burned down. The law and order of the state is very poor hence no action was taken against them.
Sisters trained around 30 self help group women who are illiterate from Stalin nagar slum to demand their ration from the ration shop. They went and stood in front of the ration shop owner with empty bags in protest till he gave them ration. Now they get their regular ration every month.
The method used by women is Satyagraha.One of Gandhiji’s teachings is Satyagraha. Satya means ‘truth’ and agraha means ‘firmness’. Satyagraha is the vindication of truth not by infliction of suffering on the opponent but on one’s self.” This principle reverses the ‘eye-for-an-eye’ policy which, Gandhi says is blind and destructive. It returns good for evil until the evildoer tires of evil.
A big example where non-violence was easily applicable, Muzaffarnagar riots in Bihar. A Muslim youngster teased a Hindu Jaat girl. This issue could have been resolved by filing an FIR against the youngster and getting him penalized. Instead he was murdered and one thing led to another and even leading into inter-communal violence. Over 1000 people died, 2500 injured and around 50,000 displaced. Violence is no more an isolated happening but a frequent reality.
When there is non-violence, there is peace. Where violence erupts, there starts chaos. We say "peace on earth". How is it possible ? It is only through non-violence. Our history insists non-violence only. We want amicable solution for every issue. Violence will lead to destruction. Non-violence leads to construction. Both nonviolence and peace are not outdated.
We are living today in an era where social, cultural and political spheres are void of spirituality. But Gandhi’s non-violence still offers us an ideal that may uphold. Gandhi remains the prophetic voice of the 21st century and his non-violence urges us to continue struggling on behalf of what we view as right and just. At a time when humankind is confronted with clashes of national interest, religious fundamentalism and ethnic and racial prejudices, non-violence can be a well-trusted means of laying the groundwork of a new Cosmo politics. Gandhi said, “There is no hope for the aching world except through the narrow and straight path of non-violence.” If we want to reap the harvest of dialogical coexistence in the future, we will have to sow seeds of non-violence.