Tolerance and dissent are two indispensable characteristics of stable state and societies. From the past State and empires have flourished while, developing the character of dissent and tolerance within their spaces. The present State of affairs throughout the world are a worrisome concern for everyone keeping the approach these states depict towards different communities.

History as a discipline has much in treasure to teach us wise ways of dealing with different situations provided we are ready to learn. Ancient India is abundant with shreds of evidence of characteristics to be emulated and cherished about. The ‘Dhamma’ of Ashoka was an impressive move by the emperor of time while dealing with the empire which was geographically so extensive.  The Ashoka during his time was having two options to deal with such a large empire, it was large not only in terms of space but was diverse and with competing ideologies at all levels of life. The options before Ashoka were either to control by force or to put in the approach of dealing by persuasion.  He put efforts on the later as it was less cumbersome and was more suitable to the situation. Moreover, it couldn’t have put pressure on the treasury to recruit more soldiers and extract more taxes for salaries and other related expenditures on the project. The policy of persuasion he came with was a ‘Policy of Dhamma’. The Dhamma has relevance keeping its features in view. The emperor of time emphasised on tolerance.  As he knew that internal harmony and stability is essentially economic, social, political and cultural development of his state. Only in the atmosphere of peace between different communities could states and societies flourish. The atmosphere of peace could only get space when tolerance is given first place in all aspects of life. The Ashoka of 3rd century B.C was doing that very task, In his Rock Edict 2, he stated that his officers should concern about the welfare of all faiths and social classes. He again states through his Rock Edicts that there should be no disparaging between different sects and communities. This very stress from the above makes it clear where the problem lies and how the present states could play an important role to ameliorate the conditions of the state. The thrust coming from above always works below the line and Ashoka was striving through his Dhamma to integrate different sections of society by building the atmosphere of goodwill and harmony within them. His emphasis upon respect to be shown to each other again shows how states should care about their subjects. He was able during his lifetime to keep intact his empire and in a good and stable position.

The character of tolerance is what is the need of the hour. This very character is missing within the present states. It is not only the character of tolerance but the space of dissent has been squeezed by present states. The Ancient states used to give full space to the opposing voices. That is why religions with different ideologies took birth during those very times.  The questions to orthodoxy by Buddhists, Ajivikas, lokyatas and Jains all speak about the space to toleration and dissent. Now the opposite voice is considered to be a crime and it is explicit that unless and until the atmosphere of dissent will be given space we can never expect revampment within the corroded system. No doubt, there are examples of harsh approach at many times during the past but we also have evidence how those very harsh policies had to pay heavy prices. The court of Akbar is a clear example to be emulated about as he gave free space to all kinds of people to express and discuss upon the ideas they cherish on their part. The Bhakti and Sofi movements flourished only because when the states had developed the character of tolerating every opposite voice. The present states and societies could only flourish when they will develop the very character of toleration and dissent. The theoretical aspect of the constitution can only come true when space will be given to toleration and dissent. Toleration leads to harmony among the diverse range of people and makes it possible for states to become stable internally.  The internal stability leads to the development of peace and this in turn to economic progress and development of all sorts.  The neighbouring state is the prime example of internal disability and how that internal disorder affected its overall growth.  It is like the example of rotten Apple if rotten inside we simply throw it but if it rotten outside we can cut that part and it becomes eatable.  That is if the state is strong internally it can face any external aggression.

The character of dissent gives state enough to improve upon the policies it comes up with in relation to people. Why this very character is important because the opposite voice can bring loophole to fore and it becomes easy for the state to come up with newer solutions.  And in this sense, it becomes imperative that how much media plays role weather it is free or not and it’s a role to bring opposite voices to light is crucial for the development of any state. The states should do away with the approach of considering the opposite voices as anti.state or anti-national because everyone while raising does so for the improvement of his own. After all nation or state is because of people and it is people who are the priority.  Keeping the Dhamma and other phases of past in view it seems that the more space for dissent was within the ancient societies and the character of tolerance was special feature of State That is why we see the emergence of different faiths of opposite voices emerging those times.  We are not insisting to back to the past or emulate everything that was in past but what is worth emulation should be a special feature of the present State.

Ishfaq Abdullah  is a student of Kashmir University, JK



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