What to do about Hindu Muslim Conflicts?

By Vasant G. Gandhi



(Bihar Times) Either one group kills the other, or one group moves out of the country, or both groups prosper together.  First option is impossible to achieve, second option is impractical, and the third requires commitment from both communities.  What we have been experiencing, for quite sometime, from north to south and east to west, is that a growing number of people, on both sides, is trying to accomplish the first option, at the cost of innocent lives, and a few are attempting the third alternative.  As a result, we have seen bloodshed, blown up body parts, broken properties, and bulged eyes of humans who have been weeping and wondering how to go on without the dead loved ones.
Will one community be able to eradicate the other?

Never.  Look at history.  Adolf Hitler and his army in Germany could not kill all the Jews.  Once both tribes lived peacefully in central Africa, and then in 1994 the Hutu tribe attempted to eliminate Tutsi tribe in Rwanda and failed.  The militias from Hutu majority killed Tutsi minority and moderate Hutus; in nearly 100 days of killing, what came to known as Rwandan Genocide, as many as 10 Lakhs humans were slaughtered.  The ethnic conflict between the Serbs and Croats and Muslims, what came to known as the Bosnian War, from 1992 to 1995, in former Yugoslavia, killed nearly 1 Lakh people, and no one group disappeared.    The ethnic and tribal conflict in Darfur region of Sudan has been going on since 2003 and has claimed nearly 4 Lakhs lives.  In primeval period, long before modern day communal conflicts, one tribe believed that the other tribes were its prey and should be captured, conquered, or killed.  But it did not succeed. 

Eradicating humans is like eradicating mosquitoes.  A swamp, for example, can never be made free of mosquitoes.  No matter how often you spray the chemicals or use other remedies to kill them, they keep on growing and multiplying.  Like mosquitoes humans, too, populate and cannot be eradicated.
Who do you blame for conflicts?

I believe our nation’s bad economic conditions have a lot to do with communal wars rather than the reasons we commonly hear like Hindus and Musalmans hate each other, they distrust each other, dislike each other, detest each other’s lifestyles, abhor each other’s religion, despise each other’s values, and so and on.

Our nation’s public as well as private institutions have failed to keep up with the essential things that our ever-rising population needs to survive.  They have failed to come up with enough food to feed the hungry, enough affordable clinics to treat the sick and disabled, enough homes to live in, enough schools and colleges to teach the kids, enough work to employ workers, enough means of production for people to produce goods, and enough resources to help the victims of disasters.  So it is no wonder that every now and then our country turns into a crucible of conflicts.

What are the harmful effects of conflicts?

One of the most harmful effects of communal violence is the anxiety level seen on faces of parents and children.  Parents worry if their children are safe and sound when they are away from home.  Likewise children when they are in schools worry about the safety of their parents.  Worries become reality when one hears about or eyewitnesses the scene of parents’ heart piercing cries near their injured or dead child, in some cases only child.  Equally heart breaking is a story of a child’s tears near the injured or dead parent or parents who got caught in the cross fires between Hindus and Musalmans.  And this is the tragedy of communal violence. 

Once the carnage is over it is hard to imagine how could the survivors of senseless killing continue with their lives.  They could never be adequately condoled, consoled, comforted, or compensated.  The holes in their hearts and wallets will remain unfilled.  And this is the tragedy of communal violence.

If one has to live in a nation that is embroiled in communal wars, one will constantly live in fear and insecurity.  Such environment may encourage people to get involved in planning the deaths and destruction of foes in order to protect the family causing the nation to drift into a period of no order and no stability.  And this is the tragedy of communal violence.

The communal wars cost money.  Somebody is going to have to pay for bombs, for medical services to treat those who are injured, for funerals of those who are dead, and for rebuilding of destroyed or damaged properties.  Not only human insanity kills or injures lives but wastes money and reduces rupees from purses of both people and governments – city, state, and central.  As such we are poor and communal clashes make us poorer.  And this is the tragedy of communal violence. 

The war – communal or racial or religious or civil – between men of the same nation is likely to be more costly, bloody and longer than wars between nations.    When we have a war within us how can we get ahead in life?  How can we gain happiness by killing citizens of our own country?  And this is the tragedy of communal violence.

When children see that grown-ups are involved in hating and killing members of the other community, they, too, will learn to harbor animosity and will carry on what their elders have been doing.  Which generation will come to a sense and end the communal wars?  And this is the tragedy of communal violence.

How to curb conflicts?

Some say Hindus and Musalmans should learn to live together, but this implies that they should tolerate each other, share things that support human lives, share poverty, share misery, share blames, set aside seats in schools and colleges for children of each community, set aside government-jobs for adults of each community, and so on. 

I say grow together. Economically.  Make the national economic cake bigger so everyone can have as much as one wants.  It is hard to imagine peace within our nation if we continue to ignore unthinkable, unbelievable, and unspeakable human sufferings.  Therefore, let the hands of both communities guard streets and peoples and properties, start anew shops and factories, replace useless policies, politicians and power-holders, remove outdated laws, and abandon socialism that has caused scarcity of everything: jobs, facilities, goods, and services.  After all peace and profit are desirable over the loot and loss.  Financially secured and physically safe Hindus and Musalmans will have no incentive to loot; they have nothing to gain from killing and a great deal to lose.

So it is not the eradication of enemies but protecting each other and producing together goods and services in a free market economy that is likely to safeguard individual rights and help us and our children and grandchildren live in peace, prosperity, harmony, and safety.  We the people must arise, awake, and stop not until we solve our economic problems, otherwise we shall never have a peaceful paradise.



Could not have agreed more with the sentiments. A healthy dose of doubt in matters of religion is necessary for peaceful coexistance. We might notice the ones who are more assured about their belief act most violent in name of religion. Always remember nobody really has defintive answer on religious matters. As long as this respectful doubt is there no one can convince anyone to harm others in name of the faith. I mean how do you take sword in name of a tenet when you aren't sure that that tenet is completely right in first place.



I agree with Gandhiji that ethnic cleansing has never been a solution to the menace of communal discord and it can never be. History and common sense should always prevail that one cannot just drive the other community out. It is just not feasible. The only practical and rational solution to this conflict is PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE. It is not an alternative among many others, but the only option. Towards this end, I feel that Anil has captured the essence and soul of communal harmony in a very succinct way.

It is a minimum requirement that our so called religious leaders stop misguiding people by incorrectly teaching them that if you do not follow their religion, you are definitely HELL bound in afterlife. I am a Hindu by birth and practice, but I had the pleasure of bowing in several mosques, kneeling in umpteen churches, and praying in at least two synagogues spread among four continents. During a Bible class in a particular church (in USA), I was taught that (1) being Christian means being Republican, (2) being Christian means being straight, (3) being Christian means being anti-abortion, among many other notable teachings not related to religion by any stretch of imagination. (As you might known Christianity has many sects: Catholic, Protestants, Methodist, Orthodox, Mormon,...) During a particular Bible class (again in USA), I was taught that all those who do not believe in their SECT will definitely go to HELL after death. This is height of religious intolerance. This must be stopped for religious harmony.

Secondly, I strongly feel that the institutions of religion and politics be made separate and totally independent of each other. It is only when people start mixing religion with politics that communal flares start rising up. There should be absolutely no interference between these two institutions. One politician or one political party should not be allowed speak on the behalf of the entire religion. Our religious and political leaders should not teach us anything otherwise.

Religious brainwashing is another serious issue. I believe that it is in you to be good citizens. Our religious advisers should not lead us to anything less than a perfect citizen. A great Lebanese-American artist, poet, writer, philosopher and theologian, Khalil Gibran captures the essence of religion beautifully:

Vain are the beliefs and teachings that make man miserable, and false is the goodness that leads him into sorrow and despair, for it is man's purpose to be happy on this earth and lead the way to felicity and preach its gospel wherever he goes. He who does not see the kingdom of heaven in this life will never see it in the coming life. We came not into this life by exile, but we came as innocent creatures of God, to learn how to worship the holy and eternal spirit and seek the hidden secrets within ourselves from the beauty of life.



We don’t think there is a big conflict between Hindu & Muslim. A group of people’s views is not views of all. However, there is need to improve the relation. It can only be possible if the majority (Hindu) tries to provide justice to the minority (Muslims and others). They are victim of injustice from Hindus, at both government and private levels.

Minority are children of majority. If Hindus are actually serious, they must come forward to give justice to them at any cost. The Indian government has greater roll to play in it by urging Hindus, using communication facilities, to provide them the due justice. If any law & order-maintaining agency does injustice to minorities, Hindus should come forward to help them and report the matter to government through Media, etc.

Be good with them, they will be better with you..

Gudri Shah



First and foremost things is that all abrahmic religion should stop preaching the canard that if you are not Christian?jew/Muslim then you are going to hell. It might come of harsh but that's what precisely they perpetrate. Once you preach this there is not much you can do to bridge the gap. In my view this is the cornerstone of all the differences.
It's high time now that preaching of sarv-dharm-sambhaw starts by non-hindu religions too. I have seen dharma Gurus preaching this in talk shows for public consumption but visit Church or Mosque the tone changes. You are hell-bound if you are not one of them. Time has come to bring consistency in what they say in talk shows and what they say behind public glare of camera. All that we are seeing is reactionary actions all emanating from this major conflict.

Anil Kumar