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Hegemony of Violence Analysed


Satyabrat Sinha

ARMED CONFLICTS IN SOUTH ASIA 2012: UNEASY STASIS AND FRAGILE PEACE
Edited by D. Suba Chandran and P.R. Chari
Routledge, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 236, Rs. 695.00

VOLUME XXXVII NUMBER 10 October 2013

It is generally accepted that peace is a natural condition while war is an aberration. Peace is defined as ‘not violence’. Johan Galtung has defined violence in two categories, direct violence and indirect violence. Direct or overt violence is the visible act of violence when a policeman hits at a protester, when two people are involved in a physical fight. Indirect violence may not be visible and is masked in the way society is organized, through economic inequalities, caste and racial discrimination in which the development potential of an individual is denied. Indirect violence is further of two types, structural violence and cultural violence. Structural violence is that which limits, prohibits an individual from achieving their potential. Malnutrition, injustice, discrimination, lack of access to education and economic opportunity are examples of structural violence.   Peace is, therefore, defined by the insights drawn from an understanding of violence. One definition of peace, drawing from direct violence is that peace is the absence of violence or war, has been termed Negative Peace. Positive Peace is defined as not only the absence of violence or war but also the presence of justice, equality and opportunity. There have been instances when societies were not violent or at war but due to indirect violence of either the structural or cultural sorts, societies were denying the rights of individuals from realizing their potential—the apartheid regime in South Africa and caste discrimination in India are two such examples. Conflict is an ambiguous term which is used to characterize situations in different social settings from inner emotional turmoil, psychological processes of individuals to relationships within and between groups, states or cultures. But conflict usually has a negative connotation and is the opposite of cooperation, harmony, accord or peace. Conflict is also associated with violence and many also use it to mean interchangeably and is seen as destructive, undesirable and a social aberration to be avoided, contained or eliminated.   From the Peace Studies/Conflict Resolution perspective, this is a rather narrow, one dimensional account of conflict and also unhelpful. It does not allow us to distinguish between different levels of conflicts, its various forms or the many causes involved. Conflict is a multi-dimensional social phenomenon and it is an integral feature of human existence. Conflict is also essential to history, social change and transformation; an example would be the banner of revolt unfurled by the Indian National Congress demanding ...


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