January 2003




JANUARY  2003 Contents


 Peace in South Asia
 - Is it attainable?
 Read what they have 
 to say:


 Swami Agnivesh &
 Rev Valson Thampu

 Ardeshir Cowasjee

 Lt. Gen Arjun Ray 

 Raju Narisetti

 Waheguru Pal Singh 



 Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
 - 50 years of sarod


 Secular symbols of
 Sri Lanka

 2002 Round-up

 Books 2002

 Sports 2002


 Raju Nasiretti

 Mahreen Khan

Real Issues

 Corruption vs. NGOs


 Letter from Pakistan


 'India in Slow Motion'
 - by Mark Tully

 Serialisation of  'Knock at every alien 
 door' - Joseph Harris



 South Asian Events in
 London &  Washington DC

 Editor's Note

 the craft shop

 Lehngas - a limited collection

 the print gallery


 Silk Road on Wheels

 The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

 Parsis-Zoroastrians of

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in










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Peace in South Asia - is it attainable?

the-south-asian asks Lt. Gen. Arjun Ray (Retd.)

GEN_RAY.jpg (35351 bytes)
Lt. Gen Arjun Ray (Retd.)

"Our future will .. depend on religious tolerance, an Indian value which many have forgotten.""

"The opposite of love is not hate, the opposite of life is not death. It is indifference. Alienation is indifference."


A Brief Introduction

Lt. Gen Arjun Ray (Retd.) sought voluntary retirement, after 38 years of service, from the army last year. At the time of his retirement he commanded the 14 corps in Ladakh. 14 corps is the only high altitude corps in the world. A highly distinguished Mechanised Infantry officer – he was also the human face of the army in the high mountain region of Ladakh, where he had initiated and run the very successful and well-received Operation Sadbhavna. This was a goodwill operation run by the Army to forestall insurgency, and to instil trust among, and empower, the mountain communities of Ladakh through community development initiatives in education, health, and employment sectors, and also by providing the much-needed infrastructure. "It’s our way of saying let’s work together and forget all the worries. We can have different views but be madly in love with each other. Once people are empowered, nobody will allow it to be switched off."* He has stated time and again that "conflict prevention is better than conflict resolution" and that "the role of an army in today's world is to prevent war. " Lt. Gen. Ray is the author of ‘Kashmir Diary: Psychology of Militancy (published 1997. He was honoured, last year, with the Param Vishisht Sewa Medal, the highest award in the military for distinguished service.

Lieutenant General Arjun Ray sought voluntary retirement from the army, 21 months ahead of time, to "re-invent himself in the field of education and change leadership." He lives in Bangalore and is the CEO of Indus Group of international schools.

* Quotation from Gen. Ray’s interview given to Lalitha Sridhar in 2001.



Can fundamentalism pose a serious threat to the secular traditions of the Indian sub-continent?
ndia is a multi-religion and multicultural society; and herein lies our strength- unity in diversity. Hate can never create; it only destroys. Our future will therefore depend on religious tolerance, an Indian value which many have forgotten. Obviously, religious fundamentalism of any kind, is repugnant.

Should religion be confined to an individual's home, and not be seen or heard outside its confines?

Religion must remain a personal matter.

Is there room for faith-based institutions and political parties in a secular society?

My answer is a straight no except religious seminaries like madrassas, where religious teachers are required. Madrassas undoubtedly need modernization. That is a different subject altogether. As for religion-based political parties, they regrettably use religion as the card for garnering votes.

Your comments on the leadership (or the absence of it!) in south Asian countries.

The root problem of every South Asian nation is leadership - at all levels. Again; civillizationally, and because of a flawed educational system, we have continued to cling on to desperately, South Asians lack a strategic culture and historical understanding. Consequently, vision is missing in all spheres. This serious flaw can only be remedied by a completely different
approach to school learning processes.

Any people who inspire you? 

Well, the person who inspired me the most; rather who changed me was the Kashmiri and the Ladakhi. Their suffering and plight enabled me to understand myself. Enabled me to realize the "other selves" within me. I am now an authentic person.

Are you working on another book, or any community-related project? What keeps you busy in Bangalore?

Right now I am the Chief Executive of Indus Trust, and am setting
up an international school in Bangalore. Thereafter, we intend
setting up similar schools in other metros and even abroad. I left
the Army prematurely for this purpose.

I am also working on my second book. It is a practical and an intellectual
exposition of Sadbhavna-on how to win over alienated communities.
Nearly 70% work is over. Everyone who matters is convinced that
Sadbhavna approach is the desired way out. The problem is however
cultural. Indians, by nature are status-quo minded and do not like
surgical change. They prefer 'homeopathic' solutions. In India,
change is slow, a reality we must live with.





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