Back to square one

The Russo-Ukrainian war, getting hotter, more destructive, and the hatred becoming colder, more extensive, with every passing day, write Prof HC Pande


Some say the world will end in fire,

some say in ice.

From what I know of desire,

I know it would be fire.

But if the world has to perish twice,

from what I know of hate,

I know ice would be great,

and would suffice.

—— Robert Frost


History is more a chronicle of wars between nations and less about the development of civilisations.The cause of wars has always been ambition and desire for more territory and more possessions.Even when the victor nation has been,as badly destroyed,as the defeated nation, no permanent lesson has been

been learnt,and,the desire for grandeur lives on,unabated.After a disastrous war a Greek king is said to have remarked ‘one more such victory and we shall be defeated’,yet,battles continued,year after year,country after country with no nation ready to forswear wars.

Emperor Ashoka has been the only exception,who not only gave up arms after winning the Kalinga war,but took on the mission of preaching the creed of non-violence all over Asia.Edicts of Ashoka,from Kandahar to Girnar to Yerraguda to Dhauli to Shabazgadi testify to the total dedication of the great king to the cause of peace and non-violence.Ashoka Priyadarshi decried the desire and ambition for grandeur,abhorred violence and advocated tolerance among all sects with no room for hate.

Alas,the reign of peace,and,the environment of tolerance,disappeared within a few decades of the passing away of the greatest of all monarchs.And,then the desire for all that one can grab took over as did hate for any one who did not agree with you.Despite the millennia of existence of man ,the savage has hardly changed and the veneer of civilisation is just skin-deep,a scratch is enough and the animal leaps out.

There have been periods of relative calm when there were no wars of ambition and desire, and hate had gone underground only to comeback and hit with double the strength.Aldous Huxley has observed,that,it is no longer,’Do not do unto others what you would not like them to do unto you’,but rather,the current version ,’Do not let the others do to you what you would like to do to them’.

The first World war and then the League of Nations,the Second World War and then the United Nations.And then the Cold War followed,which was nothing but frozen hate. And now,the Russo-Ukrainian war, getting hotter,more destructive,and the hatred becoming colder,more extensive,with every passing day.

The United Nations Organisation and any number national,international fora for peace and friendship notwithstanding,the new world order is emerging,as the rebirth of the old,where might was right.The resolution of serious disputes,among nations, are not peacefully settled in the International Court of Justice where the gowned and distinguished looking gentlemen,argue their cases.The cases are settled,as once in the Malayan peninsula,out of court,only by the proverbial Penang Lawyer,the heavy stick of Malaysian cane.

As for hate it is no longer just white and black but brown and yellow as well.

The clear lesson is that there is no such thing as universal brotherhood but only the brotherhood of hoods,in other words,one set of vested interests against another set of vested interests.So the lesson for India is clear.India has to take care of its own welfare by becoming militarily and economically strong and,as for morality,the ghost of ‘Panch Sheel’ will do for the time being.Punch and steel is the order of the day!


 (Prof. H C Pande is Vice Chancellor Emeritus, BITS, Mesra)


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