How Do We Stop Our City from Burning?

December 11, 2014

Over the past few weeks the southern coastal belt of Karnataka has been fuelling along harrowing temperature with the re-emergence of the old ghost of communal disharmony. The region has turned intense and volatile, as the layman feels insecure, cops are left patrolling with sleepless nights, journalists are sprinting place to place with cameras on and politicians are busy making vote-grabbing statements. To make matters worse, the eveningers (evening media outlets) publish filth and garbage with false and misleading contents, amplifying the knife-edge mood.

The most disgusting part in the unfolding of the events was the utter irresponsible and menacing remarks made by seasoned politicians, adding salt to the wound. Amidst all the dirt and stain wagging the city’s limelight, the city Police have emerged as the ultimate winner under crisis. Although a few political feudalist and real estate dons have criticised the department for their failure, it should be noted that Police have been exceptionally successful in controlling the boiling point situation. They have played effective role in curbing the violence from escalating further.

As someone growing up in these regions, communal tensions have been a routine norm ever since the frightful events unleashed in Bombay in the early nineties. Since then, whenever an inter-religious spark hit the headlines thousands of miles away, it would immediately impact Dakshina Kannada creating a hostile environment. But contrary to that, when a humane or constructive work had been accomplished in the neighbouring region few hours away nothing of that sort was remotely emulated.

After completing our matriculation, as we moved to pre-university education, those who didn’t pass through the board exams decided to recede from education once for all. A successful life is assembled out of the decisions and choices an individual makes for himself, and the principle does apply to a society. But unlike an individual, most societies and communities are blessed with leadership hierarchies, and while witnessing such mass high school dropouts, it’s hard to comprehend that their leaders cannot hear the alarm bells ringing.

In recent times, with advent of consumer based market, likewise to other service related products; faith has taken shape of a marketing tool. Individuals have replaced spirituality into organised religion and are bent upon flaunting it on their sleeves. People have inherited hypocrisy, as they shamelessly display their faith with vanity, symbolising their motive more as a political statement than inner conscience. This type of overt religious exhibition is a modern day urban middle class phenomena, one that gets its daily life sutras from social network and 24/7 noise making electronic media.

Is there a solution for communal tensions?

There is no one solution for communal tensions, as it arises due to numerous differences between communities. Culture, religion and language stand major obstacles in process of getting two communities to unite. Dakshina Kannada's problems are deeply rooted in its history. A large portion of the current inhabitants in the region are made up of migrants from across the country. The adherents of three predominant faiths Hinduism, Islam and Christianity speak three different languages, added to that there are enormous discrepancies in food habits, customs, rituals and social outlook. People are lured in the name of religion and culture. The orthodox clergies and extremist political leaders use common man as political football in their quest for glory. Mutual respect, Coexistence and healthy inter-mingling of genders can only save the region from going blaze in few years’ time.

For the last few decades, Dakshina Kannada has progressed steadily, real estate prices have skyrocketed, businesses have grown, multi-storeyed building and malls have cropped up, but all this wealth has also made people of the region highly self-Indulgent. The scale of social and rights activism across the region is negligible, as a consequence social crimes have proceeded with impunity and activities of the crime lord’s remain unquestioned and unchallenged.

Rational education and community outreach programmes with government and NGO’s(Non-Government Organisation) initiation could light a few candles in this dark episode haunting the region. The children of these regions lack cultural assimilation, and the youth belonging to different faiths decline to see eye to eye. There is no willing exertion to escort these misguidedyouth on a single platform to bring social cohesion. Debates, discussions, knowledge sharing are barely encouraged and commonalities between religious and cultural practices have never been discussed. There is a compelling need to find a breakthrough, and it begins when men and women from various communities sit together and start a conversation.

Is the role of woman sidelined?

Nevertheless, such initiatives would take some time to deliver.Unfortunately, the community leaders remain stubborn, and hold their people from intermingling or socialising with rest of the world in public life. The role of women in enlightening torn societies, is never understood. They are reckoned to be household properties, confined to kitchen, and authorised to respect and worship their male folks. The religious patriarchs and clergies need to bear in mind that educating a woman would yield in educating the entire family.

There is no constructive medium to convince this male dominated community leadership to persuade them to push liberation and empowerment of women. Most of its leadership is made up of ultra-conservative, less educated clergy class obstinate to grant women their due rights, move freely, educate, work, earn, interact and emancipate, factors that would succeed in promoting regional and national integration, making the world a better place to live.



Chris D'Souza Archives:


By Chris Emmanuel D'Souza
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Comment on this article

  • naveen kulshekar, mangalore

    Mon, Dec 15 2014

    Forget about eating beef or anything, you can save Mangalore from burni by showing humanity! There is no humanity among ourselves, I may be christian, hindu ,Muslim or any other religion, if I am not showing any concern to my fellow men then what is the use of the faith which I follow? In Mangalore I think there is a lack of humanism.

  • John DSouza, Mangaluru

    Mon, Dec 15 2014

    Almighty God has created minds, hearts, bodies and the appearance in difference, with good and bad, visible and invisible things.
    The heat is up right from the initial stage of mankind and hence the burn is obvious and natural. Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, King David and his brothers are great examples for us to conclude.
    Being we are from dirty sperms, the part of dust, what great option do we have to bargain and fight, except surrendering to the will of God?
    How one can we survive in this life without eating by hurting, damaging and destroying the living, directly or indirectly?
    When God expects us to live in tolerance, cooperation and peace, the greed, selfishness and worldly (momentary) pleasures force us to compare, compete, struggle, stress and depress.
    Instead of reducing the gap of difference between have and have not, it has widened drastically.
    Prayers, faith, hope, trust, truth, love and peace only can avoid the burn by eliminating and reducing the heat, being the existence of it (the heat) cannot be denied or ignored.

  • Master, mangalore

    Sun, Dec 14 2014

    The problem arise when you want impose your belief and idea on others...e.g beef or liquor ..etc
    @ Chris D'Souza...In pakistan liquor is not prohibited for non muslims...
    In several gulf countries pork and liquor are available at separate facilities
    Better check your facts before you comment....

  • Chris Dsouza, Mangalore

    Sat, Dec 13 2014

    Beef Consumption is purely a personal choice. But, Illegal sale and Cow theft is wrong. And it is up-to the concerned community to advice their people from carrying out such Anti-Social Activities.

    In a democratic and a plural society, Individual has the right to choose his taste, wear, education, work, Faith etc.

    In many Islamic countries, from Pakistan to Egypt, sale and consumption of Pork and Liquor is forbidden and dealt with capital punishment. Individuals are left with no choice. Even in India, in some Muslim Majority areas sale of Liquor and Pork are restricted. This.This is bad and absolutely Reverse-Fascism. You cannot blame others, when your house is not in order. Therefore, Peace cannot be achieved if one of the community is stubborn to compromise.

  • N.M, Mangalore

    Sat, Dec 13 2014

    I do not agree with Krishna Bhatt, Just because people follow different food habits it doesn't mean that people who are from a numerically smaller community should be forced to give up their right to eat Beef. This is sheer fascism.

    If no cattle is available then let the government arrange to import beef from abroad for those who eat meat.

    If People like Bhatt start forcing their beliefs on someone else then tomorrow who knows things might just boomerang when the scenario changes.

    While i support the fact that cattle thieves need to be arrested and must face law of the land.At the same time a few set of people who do not subscribe to eating non-veg food have no rights to ask some one else to give up their food habits.

    This is not a theocratic state, its a nation where every individual has the right to live life in his/her own way.

  • Suleman Byari, Udupi

    Fri, Dec 12 2014

    As the article stipulated the condition worsened since early 90's. It is the fact that a particular community (muslims here) are targeted, sidelined, tortured, looted, marginalized, humiliated with the help of administrative support. It is the faith and belief of every muslim to strive and struggle against evil. And I believe unless until inclusive mentality is not developed by the majority, such back clash will remain by muslims.

  • Don, Mangalore

    Fri, Dec 12 2014

    In India lawlessness is a major issue. To have Peace, there should be Law and order and to have Law and order, the laws should be just and every citizen should be treated fairly.

    Secondly, all disputes must be resolved in a timely manner. The Police, Judiciary and Correctional Services needs to be revamped.

    Third, Communal tension has been ongoing for centuries and coupled with mistrust and hatred the pot has been kept boiling with no resolution in sight.

    Fourth, all Indians should have discipline and learn to follow basic rules. For example when the bus comes to the stop all people should get into the bus in a single file, no pushing and shoving. Look how aggressive we all are on the road, how many people follow rules? Is it not a fact that “Might is Right”

    To solve the above all Indians should teach their children to love and have mutual respect. Education is a must and religious leaders should stop inciting their people and take out the hateful texts from their beliefs systems and replace them with peaceful teaching.

    I know all of the above is far fetched and so we are all pretty much back to square one.

  • Wilfred Rego , Siddakatte / Oman

    Fri, Dec 12 2014

    I agree Mr Kurt Waschnig that main cause for the communal violence in DK is poverty.Also you can see the disparity growing. There are thousands of youth from all section of faith are unemployed.Some of the electronic media are spreading flash news causing confusion and fear among the people. Also mobile phones are being used to spread the rumour within the second and affecting the peace and normal life in neighbourhood.First start the peace meeting at local level.We have to discourage the political outfits and their affiliations and build the inter religious forum at locally.

  • ad, Mangloor

    Fri, Dec 12 2014

    The main cause of communalism is the differences based on the so called religions. India is a secular country by name only but deep down India is divided by opposing religious beliefs and intolerances. Political honchos build on this divide to earn votes and to come to power. by creating trouble. Politics in india is the continuation of the British Raj DIVIDE AND RULE policy. Indians drove the british away but still continuing their practices. Its a shame. India will never progress by this religious bigotry .

  • Ronnie, M'lore

    Thu, Dec 11 2014

    Public demonstration/rallies which are of religious in nature are not really religious ones. They are politically motivated. Quite a few people who participate in these rallies are either misguided or join for some short term gain at the cost of long term disaster waiting to happen!

  • Kurt Waschnig, Oldenburg, Germany

    Thu, Dec 11 2014

    After reading this article I discussed on the Skype with a close friend in Mangalore how to avoid or stop communal disharmony and how to have communal harmony. I do not know if my considerations are right because I am not an Indian. But I think the real threat India faces is not communal violence, but poverty. It has been seen time and again that inclusive economic growth reduces the occurrence of communal violence. The need of the hour is to promote equitable economic growth which will promote communal harmony. But how to achieve this objective? When I look at the history of India´s democracy there is one point very clear in my opinion that Hinduism has not been able and will not be able to solve any of India´s tremendous problems. Isn´t it the reality that during the recent years the economic and social conditions have gone from bad to worse for hundreds of million Indians? Only secular humanism can solve and improve the economic, political and social conditions of India. Democratic secular humanism has creatively flowered in modern times with the growth of freedom and democracy. Countless millions of thoughtful persons have espoused secular humanist ideals, have lived significant lives, and have contributed to the building of a more humane and democratic world. The modern secular humanist outlook has led to the application of science and technology to the improvement of the human condition. This has had a positive effect on reducing poverty, suffering, and disease in various parts of the world, in extending longevity, on improving transportation and communication, and in making the good life possible for more and more people. It has led to the emancipation of hundreds of millions of people from the exercise of blind faith and fears of superstition and has contributed to their education and the enrichment of their lives. Secular humanism has provided an impetus for human beings to solve their problems with intelligence and perseverance, to conquer geographic and social frontiers, and to extend the range of human exploration and adventure. But my question is, could that work in India? I do not know. But one thing is absolutely sure, India needs communal harmony.

    Best regards

    Kurt Waschnig, Oldenburg, Germany


  • Zeitgeist, Mangalore

    Thu, Dec 11 2014

    Want to stop city from burning?? Ban all public demonstration/rallies which are of religious in nature. If you want to pray or glorify your god, then do it in your own home or inside the premises of Temple/church/Mosque.

  • krishna bhatt, moodabidri

    Thu, Dec 11 2014

    Yes there is a solution for communal tension free Mangalore. Mangalore ( Coastal Karnataka) you can not make a calicut or Kollam where Beef is common food because of Political parties ruled in that state for years since independence. just close all illegal cow transport, slaughtering houses. Stop minority appeasement programmes for political gain, respect other religion faith.

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