Promoting Communal Harmony
In our country people belonging to various religions live in harmony, but there are occasions when the communal fabric gets disturbed, often on trivial issues. It is the responsibility of all sections of society to ensure peace and brotherhood so that all round development of the country takes places rapidly.
The police have a great role to play in promotion of communal harmony and national integration. They come in contact with the general public in the process of performing their duties far more frequently then most other bodies of civil servants of the Government. In such a situation, interaction with vision, understanding, tact, compassion and humour by the police will not only raise the public esteem of the police but will also lead to a healthy police-public relationship, and secure the desired measures of public involvement and cooperation in promotion of communal harmony.
Keeping this in mind, the National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH) has been organizing seminars with the aim of effective sensitization of the police officers so that they become the torchbearers of communal harmony and national integration in their day to day functioning. The first such seminar was held at Haryana Police Academy, Madhuban, in August 2007 and the second one in Mumbai in October 2007. The Foundation, which is working silently for promotion of communal harmony, has also supplied reading materials on the role of police in promotion of communal harmony and national integration, constitutional and statutory provisions relating to communal harmony. These seminars have been quite successful in spreading the message of communal harmony and national integration amongst the police officers.
The Foundation is an autonomous organization registered as a society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. It functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Union Home Minister is the Chairman of the Governing Council. The principal objectives of the Foundation is to foster communal harmony, fraternity and national integration in general, and facilitate physical and psychological rehabilitation of the child victims of caste, communal, ethnic or terrorist violence, in particular. The NFCH undertakes and assists state governments, local administration, non-governmental organizations, universities, colleges and schools, social activists, scholars, researchers and students in undertaking activities and programmes aimed at promoting harmony at local, state and national levels.
Though there have been some incidents of communal violence in certain States, there has been no major communal riot in any part of the country in 2007. Proactive role of the Central and State Governments prevented escalation of communal violence at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh and Indore in Madhya Pradesh last year. All states are advised to keep a close watch on the situation with communal overtones and take early steps to prevent any flare up. Over the last five years the incidents of communal violence have gradually come down. The decline is attributed to the Centre closely monitoring the situation and keeping a strict vigil on the activities of individuals and organizations to ensure that the situation remains under control. The activities of all organizations having a bearing on maintenance of communal harmony in the country are under constant watch of the law enforcing agencies.
The Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill 2005 has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill has been referred to the Department Related Standing Committee of Home Affairs. The report of the Standing Committee, on the basis of suggestions made by several individuals and organizations with regard to the Bill, has been received. The report and various suggestions received are being examined in the Ministry in consultation with the Ministry of Law and Justice and others for further necessary action.
The Good Samaritan
Playing the role of a Good Samaritan, the NFCH provides financial assistance to children who are orphaned or become destitute in caste, communal, ethic and terrorists violence for their care and education. Assistance is provided at the rate of Rs.9,600 per annum per child in ‘A’ and ‘B’ class cities and Rs.9,000 per annum per child at other places without any restriction on the number of children in a family. Additional assistance at the rate of Rs.1,800 per annum per child is extended for undergoing vocational training. Children in the age group of 0-18 years (extended to 21 years in appropriate cases) whose families are below poverty line (Rs.31,600 in urban areas and Rs.22,400 in rural areas per family per annum) are eligible under the assistance provided they pursue their study after the age of five. Assistance is sanctioned for 12 months at a time coinciding with the academic session of the child and is renewed on year-to-year basis. The Foundation aims at providing assistance to every single eligible child victim of violence so that such children, after receiving proper education become responsible and productive citizens. The Foundation has stepped up its liaison with State Governments for ensuring assistance to every eligible child, both in the categories of fresh cases and renewal cases. The NFCH has to necessarily depend on States and particularly District administrations for identification of orphaned or destitute children and for submission of their applications along with necessary documents. Every year awards are given by the Foundation to individual and an institution for their outstanding contribution to the cause of communal harmony and national integration. Instituted in 1997, the award has acquired an aura of its own. The Foundation is striving for greater publicity for the awards so as to ensure that cases of as many deserving cases as possible are placed before the jury for selection.
Aimed at creating awareness about communal harmony and national integration, the Foundation extends assistance to state administrations and non-governmental organizations for holding debates, seminars, workshop, painting, poster, slogan or essay writing competition, musical and cultural programmes, kavi sammelans and mushairas. The Foundation is striving to encourage and support as many organizations as possible to take up, on a significant scale activities related to promotion of communal harmony and national integration. The Foundation extends financial assistance to state/union territory administrations for organizing inter-community ‘milans’ (get together) on important festivals like Eid, Deepawali and Christmas subject to certain monetary ceiling. ‘Sadbhavana clubs’ have been established in educational institutions to sensitize students and motivate them to work for promoting communal harmony and national integration. The clubs aim at inculcating social values like fraternity, love and peace among the young generation. They strengthen bonds of unity and affinity and promote belief in the principles of non-violence in the society. The Foundation associates itself with important inter-community festivals like “Phool-Walon-Ki-Sair” in Delhi, and “Nauchandi” festival in Meerut and “Deva Mela” in Barabanki, both in Uttar Pradesh, to promote better understanding among various communities.
Communal Harmony Campaign
Since its inception in 1992, the Foundation has been taking active part in communal harmony campaign and has extended financial assistance of over Rs.16 crore for rehabilitation of 8,849 children up to December 31, 2006. It also assists non-governmental organizations under the project “Cooperation” and grants fellowships for undertaking research in field situation in the communally sensitive districts.
The Union Home Ministry on its part gives “Kabir Puraskar” national award to those promoting communal harmony by showing physical and moral courage while saving the lives and property of members of another community during communal riots, caste conflicts or ethnic clashes. While “Sankalp Divas” is observed on October 31 every year, “Qaumi Ekta Week” is observed from November 19 to 25.
The Home Ministry also encourages voluntary organizations to undertake activities for the cause of national integration and communal harmony through cultural shows, essay and painting competitions, inter-regional camps and exhibitions.
It is the cumulative result of all these efforts that a sense of communal harmony prevails in the country by and large as is reflected in the Home Ministry statistics.