Indialogue Foundation in collaboration with Department of Philosophy, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh; and Gandhi Smiriti and Darshan Samiti (GSDS), New Delhi organised National Gandhi Jayanti Seminar 2018 on “Gandhian Perspective on Alternative Dispute Resolution” at Aligarh Muslim University on 30th-31st October, 2018. In the two-day national seminar various eminent speakers presented their views on the concept of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Gandhian method of conflict resolution.
The two-day national seminar comprised of four technical sessions apart from the Inaugural and the Valedictory sessions.
The inaugural session was chaired by the Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Prof Tariq Mansoor wherein Mr Tushar Gandhi, distinguished author and Mahatma Gandhi’s great grandson delivered the keynote address. In the session Prof Tariq Islam, Chairperson, Department of Philosophy, AMU made the introductory remarks; Mr Vedabhyas Kundu, Program Offıcer, GSDS, New Delhi, reflected on the theme of the program and Mr M Behzad Fatmi, Secretary-General, Indialogue Foundation proposed the vote of thanks.
While making the introductory remarks, Prof Islam said that justice is a concept that cannot be deconstructed as it is an exemplary singularity. It is for this reason alone that its European model of dispute resolution cannot be universalised, since it goes against the very grain of the significance of the concept’s relational essence. To abandon the European model may be preferred, while minimizing together with it the judicial system that promises to deliver justice through this method. The prevalent judicial system apart from being an expensive instrument creates a gulf and, at times, develops further antagonism between contesting parties. It is in this light that the world is moving towards Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes and ways of dispute settlement, in short, practices that lie outside the prevalent judicial structure. These practices invoking informal mechanisms to settle disputes, including court annexed dispute resolutions and amicable settlements. In many countries Courts prefer ADR method through mediation, before moving on to the formal procedures like cross examination, etc. The ADR has gathered popularity for its helps unload the traditional courts. A great advantage in ADR adoption is that it is less expensive than filing litigation, maintains a level of confidentiality, and addresses the need to have greater control over the selection of the persons who will resolve their dispute, which helps in maintaining the relations, respect and does not disturb the social environment. The aim of the introductory remarks was to bring the delegates and participants to the same level of understanding with regard to Gandhian method of conflict resolution and ADR.
Mr Gandhi in his keynote address said Bapu is globally venerated icon and he described his experience at amicable dispute resolution as an exercise in uniting parties which split or tear apart violently. We can trace various undercurrents of Gandhian ethics in conflict resolution theory and techniques, and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practices all over the world. During his address, Mr Gandhi raised various questions like; how can we resolve conflicts peacefully? What are the root causes of violence? He said that conflict resolution cannot establish peace if we ignore the root causes of the conflict, and that it is the responsibility of the youth that they do not become a generation exploiting the conflicts. He added that greatest cause of disputes among nations is poverty. In the present world the conflict resolution which depends on an impartial third party who enables those in conflict to reach an agreement has been criticised as value neutral, which does not have any interaction. So there should be peaceful dialogues among the parties. Mr Gandhi further said that the conflict resolution to Gandhi meant not the elimination of maladjustment. It rather meant for him progress towards more and more meaningful adjustments. This can be achieved only when violent relationships are transformed into non- violent relationships where the energies of the opponent are utilised to achieve a higher integration.
While reflecting on the seminar theme Mr Kundu, said that through the process of arbitration, Gandhi learned first hand the value of mediation, conflict resolution, and compromise. These early experiences would deeply influence Gandhi’s conciliatory conflict resolution approach. Gandhi, the mediator and conciliator, believed that conflict were best resolved not by force, nor even the edicts of heartless law rather, they were to be resolved through entering people’s hearts, and bringing to the fore their common humanity. Mr Kundu further said that the Alternative Dispute Resolution methods have now got global acceptance. The concept of ADR encompasses a broad range of methods through which disputes can be resolved without the final determination of a court or tribunal. He emphasised on the practical use of ADR and conflict resolution techniques.
In his presidential remark Prof Mansoor delineated that the conflict resolutions among nations are as important as the teachings of Gandhi. Even today his teachings are more relevant. He added that tolerance and interfaith dialogues are very essential for peace processes. He quoted a statement from Mr Tushar Gandhi’s keynote address: “We should prevent the conflicts”. He emphasised on proper scientific and secular education system and averred that it is the key to conflict resolution.
On behalf of the organisers, Mr Fatmi expressed his gratitude to all the speakers for their scholarly contributions, and thanked the faculty members and the students of the Department of Philosophy, AMU for their diligent efforts during the seminar.
First Technical Session
In first technical session, papers were by presented by Prof Rizwan Qaiser, Department of History and Cultural Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia; Dr Hilal Ahmed, Associate Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) and Dr Venugopal Maddipatti, School of Design, Ambedkar University, New Delhi. The session was chaired by Prof Tariq Islam, Chairman, Department of Philosophy, AMU.
Prof Rizwan Qaiser began with his argument that conflict is embedded in institutions we create for ourselves so it is preferable to avoid conflict. He further brought forth Gandhi’s concept of state. He said constitution ensures rights to citizens which are being violated everyday by the state and one root of aggression is embedded in unequal distribution of economic resources that includes the marginalisation of tribal, Dalit’s and minorities. He stressed how Gandhi believed in inclusive nationalism where everybody was a part of a civic nationalism with equal participation. Prof Qaiser concluded on the note that Gandhi never wanted religion as a guiding principle to the state and he never wanted a homogenised nation but a civic nation.
Dr Hilal Ahmed continued the discourse with his insight on how Gandhi and his thoughts evolved. He said Gandhi suggested preferring his latter writings over the previous ones because thoughts are subject to change with circumstances. He stressed how it is necessary to have perspective which leads to theorisation and how theorisation leads to argumentation. Talking about Gandhian mode of alternative dispute resolution, he said the methodology includes compromise as an honourable term. The second point is politics as one should be more clear when one questions the public affairs. He also made a point how the political scenario is changing now and we have a new binary of nationalism vs anti nationalism. He concluded on the note that we have to improve our understanding of political language.
Dr Venugopal Maddipatti presented his insights on how enigmatic a leader Gandhi was. He said that Gandhi has been researched by various scholars and it is almost impossible to do justice to the extraordinary personality that Gandhi had with regards to his actions. He said it is very important to contextualise Gandhi to learn whatever we can learn from him.
Second Technical Session
The second technical session was chaired by Dr Hilal Ahmed. In this session, papers were presented by Prof Sami Rafiq, Department of English, AMU; Dr Shahidul Hoque, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, AMU; and Ms Heena, Research Scholar, Department of Philosophy AMU.
In her paper Prof Rafiq brought up an important discourse on Sufism as resource of alternative dispute resolution. She explained how Gandhi was interested in Sufi Chishti Order, and how his methods were in resonance with Alternative Dispute Resolution. She said alternative dispute resolution transcends religious boundaries, and added that Sufism should be a tool for understanding of human nature. She elaborated how world is fragmented into violent and non violent spiritual voids. Sufism as a way of thinking opposes the restrictive thought patterns that people miss out on living in real sense. She ended up her presentation by saying disharmony is due to faulty understanding of language.
Dr Hoque threw some light on the concept of village republic. He emphasised on local narrative over grand narrative.
The session concluded with Ms Heena’s presentation. She came forth with the points on what effective measures can be taken with the help of Alternative Dispute Resolution and how it compliments and aids judicial system. She highlighted that it reduces the cost and time of litigation.
Third Technical Session
The third technical session was chaired by Prof Sami Rafiq in which Dr Akbar Chaudhary, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, AMU; Dr Ritu Jaiswal, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi; Ms Samreena Iqbal, Research Scholar, Department of Philosophy, AMU; and Ms Hina Mushtaq, Research Scholar, Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi presented their well-researched papers.
Fourth Technical Session
The fourth technical session was chaired by Prof Jawaid Talib, Chairman, Department of Law, Aligarh Muslim University in which Dr Sanjeev Kumar, Assistant Professor, Zakir Hussain Delhi College, University of Delhi; Ms Puja Raj, Research Scholar, Department of Philosophy; University of Delhi; Ms S Saba, Department of Law, AMU; and Mr Nehal Ahmed, Department of Law, AMU presented their papers.
Dr Sanjeev explained the basic essence of Gandhian thought and his philosophy. He said satyagrahis must never forget the difference between evil and evil doer; a person should seek positive transformation from self and others. Talking further about it he said one should always have the quest for self-realisation as Gandhi used to relate self with the others. He concluded his discussion that willing to sacrifice life is satyagraha and one should not fear anything.
Ms Raj took the discussion further by making an analysis of Alternative Dispute Resolution. In her presentation, she talked about empowering an individual with Alternative Dispute Resolution as it ensures that a conflict/dispute is resolved without requiring to hire a lawyer and gives space to an individual’s own voice. She further brought in the ideas of Raja Ram Mohan Roy who advocated for decentralisation of power, justice and equality for all. She said Alternative Dispute Resolution helps in exclusively avoiding litigation which is not only expensive but also time consuming.
Ms S Saba presented her paper in which she made a case study of how Alternative Dispute Resolution is working in countries like Russia, America and South Korea. She explained how in South Korea people are giving preference to meditation over litigation. She also emphasised on the eminent need to promote more Alternative Dispute Resolution across the world.
Mr Ahmed presented his paper in reference to Alternative Dispute Resolution and how it can help with trade relation and its mechanism. He proposed that a unified framework can be established to keep a check on disputes arising in international commercial arbitration. Also ADR can be helpful in making trade relations more efficient between the countries.
The valedictory session was chaired by Prof Masood Anwar Alvi, Dean, Faculty of Arts, AMU. Former Press Secretary to late President K R Narayanan, Mr S N Sahu delivered the valedictory address. Dr Zaid A Siddique, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, AMU proposed the vote of thanks.
From his extensive study of Gandhi’s writings and works, Mr Sahu highlighted some very crucial and unexplored aspects of Gandhian thoughts and methods pertaining to Alternative Dispute Resolution. He underlined that despite being a lawyer Gandhi preferred out of court settlements. Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagraha, Mr Sahu reminded, is the one best examples of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
With the participation of 22 eminent speakers with diverse backgrounds from across the country and hundreds of students and academics in the audience, the seminar was a huge success.