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Saturday October 2 2004 07:55 IST

By Karmayogi

Where POWER acts in freedom, man is uncompromising. The employer will be merciless if there is no law restraining him and if the workers are timid and unorganised.

The workers will not be reasonable if the courts take their side. How far these expressions of power - assertions - will go has been seen in different decades. When the situations change, it will be a sight to see the parties on their own switching sides and becoming rational.

There was a time when a mother-in-law asserted against her daughter-in-law for having used eight chillies instead of six. She was asked to drink that chilli powder as a punishment. The daughter-in-law died. Society practised a culture of silence.

The great extent of opposition - resentment, denunciation, terrorism - to which religious fundamentalists can go is often flimsy as well as ridiculous.

If in any country this resentment is at its height, it is in America.

Strangely it is in the same country that most of the nations of the world are richly represented by a substantial minority. Historians, economic historians, social anthropologists who have studied this phenomenon wonder how they live in amity in that nation, known as the New World.

One such author describes the stratification there of the Irish Catholics, effervescent Italians, British Protestants, Nordic liberals, Russian Jews, and Hispanics as an exact parallel to the Indian caste system. Presently in India, these tensions arise at an explosive temperature, especially during elections.

In the USA, economic opportunities, opportunities for upward social mobility are there for the asking. Settlers who arrived in New York in 1920 or even in 1870 in a matter of weeks rose to the position of middle class with an apartment and sometimes with a car.

The maximum they stayed in the slums was seven years, the average less than one year. That a nobody on the street can become a respectable citizen by hard, intelligent work is a SOLVENT of ethnic conflicts and tensions.

Prosperity dissolves human perversity. Fundamentalism goes to the rear, the dollar sign ($) beckons. It is not so much money as the keen urge for progress as an individual, the desire to educate one's children, the longing to be a respected member of the community, in short, the awakening of the individual that wipes out the evil of indiscriminate violence.

Indian prosperity will be the bedrock and foundation of peace in public life. As a lone individual, if one HONESTLY rises in status, and raises his income, he is a worker for Peace.
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