Harmony in a simple sense is the unity one people keeps with the other in all respects or the willingness of one mind to be in kinship with the values and morals of another mind without showing any hatred and discrimination. When we think and do in a harmonious way things and life gets done easier. Only when people open the doors of their thoughts to accommodate others and their likes and dislikes we say there is harmony. For the healthy progress of a society and nation harmony is inevitable. Otherwise only those powerful sections come to the forefront and development becomes one-sided. So in any country, total development is possible through harmony. But the immovable obstacles like racial discrimination, communalism, terrorism, violence etc. where one group come directly to counter and challenge the existence of another one and wound the conscience of their beliefs stand like a multi headed axe that splits a tree from its own branches and blood. Among these the racial discrimination is seen as serious evil that shatter the unity of a nation.
Racial discrimination sets a particular race or community away from the forefront of the society and marginalizes them from points of administration, sports, literature, arts, etc. This prevents them from standing up to the other achieving sections. This ethnic discrimination has been used to instill hatred of others leading to conflict and war as in the case of Rwanda genocide in 1994. It is bad to see this persisting even in this growing per second era.
Here is where the observance of The Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by UN becomes relevant. The International Day for the elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed on the 21st of March every year. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa against the apartheid pass laws. Proclaiming the day in 1966, the United Nations General Assembly, called on the international Community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. This year it was observed on Wednesday March 21 on the theme ‘Racism and Conflict’. It highlights the fact that racism and discrimination are at the root of conflict. This theme raises awareness on the issues of racism, xenophobia, and prejudice and recalls the plight of the victims who suffered or continue to suffer racism related conflicts. The day was observed world over by participating people from different communities and races to expose the pride and culture of their community. Eminent persons from all walks of life joined several other people to celebrate this day ignoring who they are and where they come from.
It is interesting to see how Government of Australia celebrated this day as the Harmony Day this year. It was in the joint collaboration of the Ministry of Immigration and Citizenship and the Ministry of Multicultural Affairs. The theme of the day was ‘Sport-play, engage, inspire’, recognizing the important role and influence that sports play in bringing together Australians in all walks of life. Involvement in sports whether as a participant, volunteer, spectator or administrator people of all ages and fosters a sense of belonging, acceptance and understanding of other cultures. Thousands of Harmony Day events were staged across the nation. Community groups, businesses, scholars, government agencies and councils throughout Australia took part actively in the celebrations.
Now think of the need for the observance of the day in our India. There are thousands of communities and cultures. Each community obeys some social norms and common value among themselves. Still they are related to each other in some way or other. But how true is nowadays the world honored ‘Unity in Diversity’ of our country? How many here respects and recognizes the rights and cultures of other community? Other region? Religion? Party? Everybody is saying Australia is bad; Canada is bad…they do not respect Indians… but the actual truth is other way round. The situations of other countries are far better than that of India. She is not yet able to eliminate the racial consciousness, apartheid, marginalization of aboriginals etc. at the bottom. There are still racial conflicts, communal riots, and related fights and bombardments. The best example is the Babri Masjid demolition and still continuing riots and hatred of one community towards the other. Why are we not able to forget and forgive people for the faults any of their fanatics committed? Is not it bad to consider a whole group on a label imposed on them years and years ago? We must not ever forget the legacy our great leaders like Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Dr. Ambedkar, showed us on togetherness, religious harmony, upbringing of the lower casts etc.
Each of us is committed to contributing our share to this venture. We should be there in the front line to initiate related programs in our neighborhood, schools, colleges, workplaces etc. We have to join our hands with those who suffer because of discrimination and voice with them for their rights. We can also find out the friends among us who are forced to step away from things because of their racial background and form group activities to help them. And why not staging dramas and exhibiting movies like that of Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, Khuda ke Liye, Between Strangers, Visitor etc. that would unknowingly fill awareness in our minds? Hope you would think of individual suggestions to improve.