A war within a country, resulting from a riot or uprising or violence, pits citizens against citizens and bloodies everyone. It could flare up without warning or simmer forever at low heat. A war between two nations, on the other hand, kills the nation’s enemies and is unlikely to happen frequently or to last a long time. Take, for instance, India, a fast emerging economic power.
India has not had a peaceful period since her independence from Britain in 1947 except for the decade of the 1950s. She has fought five wars with other nations: four with Pakistan (1947, 1965, 1971, and 1999) and one with China (1962), both of whom are her next door neighbors. As to how many times Indians have perpetrated violence on other Indians, at times with the help of foreigners, is unknown. What is known is that the people and the economy of her cities and states have suffered as a consequence of both internal and external wars.
Tales of two cities, one in India and one in Germany, illustrate why peace is essential for diminishing poverty and elevating prosperity. These cities are not similar except that Bochum, Germany was 83 percent destroyed during the Nazi era in World War II and Bhagalpur, India has been continually trapped in communal violence since World War II.
Bochum, located northeast of Dusseldorf and southwest of Munster, has a population of more than 370,000 people. Once it was well known for its steel and coal industries, but after the allied forces dropped 1,300 bombs on the city during the war, most of its businesses were destroyed. Furthermore, the war killed more than 4,000 people and flattened nearly 65,000 homes, and the remaining 25,000 homes were uninhabitable. However, since then, the city has risen from the ashes and has achieved a steady economic progress. It closed down the remaining 17 collieries in 1973; it replaced the sweat-work of mills and mines with the think-work of high-technology. Today most of the 15,000 businesses are involved in developing new technology. This is the result of peace, sound economic policies, and the positioning of proper people in power.
Bhagalpur, located in the Bihar state and 220 kilometers east of the capital Patna, has a population of nearly 350,000 people (2001 census). The city is renowned for an age-old tradition of sericulture—rearing silkworms in order to obtain raw silk—and silk weaving. Its silk and saris, known as Tussah or Tussar, are sold in America, India, Japan, and in many Asian nations. Silk, fondly called the queen of textiles, is delicate; its manufacturing once provided employment to thousands of people from the Bhagalpur area.
However, the on-going hostility and the internal wars between Hindus and Muslims have affected the silk industry. Since the Second World War, communal riots have broken out in 1946, 1967, and 1989. The last one killed nearly 1,100 people, lasted for about two months, and resulted in legal proceedings that lasted until 2007. It is alleged that the violence started when young Muslims threw rocks at a ceremonial convoy of slow-moving vehicles carrying the Hindu deities and the hymn-singing people on foot.
The Bihar Times of May 23, 2009 succinctly stated the effects of riots:
Lack of credit, power shortage and rise in competition from other silk-producing centres [centers] in the country are generally attributed to the decline of silk industry in this eastern town of Bihar. What is generally not highlighted––this time too this aspect was totally ignored––is that the post-Ram Rath Yatra [a sacred Hindu religious procession] riots also dealt a fatal blow to this industry in Bhagalpur.
Clearly, the leaders of Bhagalpur and the Bihar state and India, all have neglected to safeguard the city’s silk industry – a goose that lays eggs – and have failed to attract new industries to the city. Perhaps, they could learn from Bochum. Sadly, the story of Bhagalpur is also a story of India’s many industrial cities.
Peace is a prerequisite for the production of goods and services, and production is a prerequisite for prosperity. Prosperity is a prerequisite for tranquility, and, in the end, tranquility topples turmoil.