Historically in the 17th century Jean Jacques Rousseau and John Locke believed that war was unnecessary and hence they crafted the social contract theory which called for peaceful co existence of all human beings under institutionalised socio political and economic order. A point worth noting here is that there are two connotations of Peace-Positive and Negative. Negative simply means absence of violence and positive means a just social order. Johan Galtung focussed on positive peace and stressed upon the need to have a just social order in place. Justice is an important cog of peace or so believed Galtung.
Foreign policies of all nation states are politically and strategically Peace centric in nature. The legacy of India’s foreign policy is built on the ethos of peace. Peace is pure linguistic parameters means absence of war. Peace comprises of respite from war, freedom from violence and terror, and now in the digital era also suppressions of thought. Maintaining peaceful and friendly relations with its neighbours was a very crucial element of the Panchsheel (Five principles of peaceful co-existence) agreement that sought to strengthen the ties between India and the Dragon. Panchsheel essentially included five basic principles which guided India’s foreign policy makers in determining the extent of socio political, economic and strategic relations with the rest of the world. Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Mutual non-aggression, Mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, Equality and cooperation for mutual benefit and Peaceful co-existence were the five tenets of India’s diplomacy and foreign policy.
Peacemaking and conflict resolution are synonymous terms that have been the central theme of international Relations and Peace studies. The fulcrum of peace and conflict studies has shifted inexorably towards conflict resolution and transformation across the globe. The United Nations Peace Keeping missions and its success stories are a testimony to the fact that the global social order however anarchic it may be wants peace. Welfare of all individuals and economic development post 1947, when India was partitioned and gained independence from the British rule became the core component of drafting of the new Indian constitution.
In spite of having strained relations with Pakistan, India has been trying endlessly to rebuild its relationship with its traditional adversary with confidence building measures, cultural exchanges, diplomatic meetings, political bilateral negotiations etc. The No first use of Nuclear weapons is a classic example of how much peace is valued by the Indian establishment. Johan Galtung’s positive peace calls for a strong judicial system to implement executive decisions for maintaining the peace fabric of our society. Karl Deutsch defined such a society as one in which there are “dependable expectations of peaceful change” for the foreseeable future. Today, in the era of globalisation, power struggle, peace has almost become a utopian ideology. In the mad race to gain access to the corridors of power almost all nations are fighting internal and external wars. This breaks the whole chain of peaceful co existence policy which seems to be followed only on paper and not in principle.
The problem in geopolitics is that as long as the struggle for power and the need to build nuclear weapons in the name of self defence continues, peace cannot be established. Modernisation of defence forces, increasing defence budgets across the globe clearly indicates how the psychological war is actually going on endlessly. It is ultimately the media, the fourth estate that highlights such PSYOPS (Psychological Operations). Yet again we are totally dependent on the media to tell us what is happening around the globe and with no control on the info attack that goes on, peace goes for a toss.
As long as nations stick to constructive ideology of nation building, peace can give us a stable world order. But territorial disputes, disputes over water, child rights violation, human rights violation, gender discrimination and violence against women, violation of Geneva convention , ethnic, religious confrontations continue, peace cannot be established. The way forward is diplomatic engagements i. e the task of negotiating with troublemakers to reach a safe point of adjustment. With each nation building up weapons and accelerating its defence modernisation processes, the fear of disruption of peace is inevitable. It is diplomacy that will take us forward. It is important in the upkeep of peace.
Machiavelli, Richelieu, Guicciardini, Kissinger and several others were strong advocates of diplomacy. Machiavelli believed that ‘diplomacy was a tool of deception to grant more power to the state’. In either case diplomacy is an important cog of peace building. Nation States need diplomacy to manoeuvre their way in the geopolitical order without compromising on their territorial integrity, sovereignty and national identity. This perception however is marred with uncertainty. Peace is not just absence of war. We need to explore the many dimensions of diplomacy and conflict if we need to understand peace. Clash of interest between nations, individuals are bound to arise and when one Bouazizi sets himself ablaze the entire world witnesses a revolution. Hence diplomacy should also cover the checks to be made on the information attack by commercial media houses in their mad race to get the number one slot during primetime.
Structural injustices need to be done away with. This may take many years but eventually some order can be attained. If the K question in India Pakistan relations reaches a point of adjustment through international pressure probably Uri’s won’t happen again. But no one can bell any cat or dragon in this new global political order. Diplomatic alliances can bring the world together but as long as internal disturbances continue to paralyse nation states from within peace cannot be established. Hence another aspect of diplomacy should be to mitigate internal conflicts and focus on larger goals such as economic growth etc. The journey from underdeveloped to the developing to the developed can only be achieved through diplomacy.
*Vishakha Amitabh Hoskote, MA, MPHIL ( International Relations, Political Science and Development Communication)