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Community Mediation

Ending conflicts and building bridges
Community mediation is a dispute resolution process applied to individuals or groups of individuals who have differences that may culminate in larger conflagration, given the nature of dispute. They begin typically in minor differences that fulminate causing disharmony to larger sections of the community.
Inter-caste disputes have a latent potential for such a blow up to larger dimensions of conflict from a seemingly simple difference between individuals and/or groups. Honour killings have their genesis in caste differences that are perceived as hierarchically stacked and police interventions are invariably after the disputes assume gigantic proportions consuming loss of lives and properties. Atrocities against Dalits and other socially disadvantaged sections are recognised by the State and even when there are laws entrusting investigation in high level police officers with scope for stringent punishments, we see that court litigation further deepens the wedge of misunderstanding to large sections of communities, even if geographically distanced, which erupt in large scale disquiet and violence.  In cases of assertion of temple honours or claims of privileges on the basis of religious or social standing there are many a time competing claims for similar honours or privileges and the results of the differences cause serious disharmony renting the social fabric.
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Garbage disposal and aspects that cause environmental degradation cause large scale damage that require approaches for solutions at multiple levels. State machinery, legal enforcement mechanisms, municipal administration, the polluter, the public, et al will have to be brought to the table for finding lasting solutions.  

Industrial disputes, trade union rivalries, canal disputes in villages, and every dispute that pitches one group against another have all to be approached with utmost tact. Courts only punish or impose punitive damages but do not have the resources to engage in dialogues that could heal the hurt experienced by disputants.

Community mediation adopts a slightly different technique of involving locally influential and at the same time selfless and good people who understand the local problems to co-mediate with trained mediators. Police personnel that twirl moustaches and present a tough countenance act differently as informers and referrers of disputes whenever they notice simmering discontent among disparate groups and get them to come to Community Mediation Boards or Centres to debate and discuss and come to meaningful solutions. The venue will be verily a sanctuary, as it were, - a place for warring groups to arrive and return mollified and be at peace.

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