Managing Diversity

Day #2 – Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Today each group presents two issues of pluralism in the country. Friends from India thrust the issue of cultural exclusivism (ethnicity, religious minorities, gender, etc) and digital divide related to the question of access to justice (including the digital divide, etc). I hope Mayashree, Vaneesha, Ayesha and Hasnein give much explanation on cross-cutting issues related to the cultural exclusivism, especially about the gang rape that seems to be the Indian icon in the media in recent times. But it is also interesting to hear them try to introduce the diverse India. Also, about the digital divide that I never thought of before in the issue of pluralism.

Friends from Uganda raised the issue of political pluralism and economical pluralism. To which political pluralism, they begin by telling historical precedents, ranging from brutal political regimes, movement politics, referendum in 2000, the public order management bill, districtization based on ethnicity to post-conflict dilemmas in Northern Uganda. There are many explanations of the economic pluralism, but one phrase that I like most is what they refer to as gifted by nature robbed by greed. Hmm … echoes something in my head at the thought of Indonesia. Indonesia also, gifted by nature and robbed by greed. There are three friends from Uganda. Dennis, academician from Uganda Martyrs University. Justine, from HURINET, an organization that work on issues of human rights. And Edwin, who works for the Religious Council.

Mira, Jette, Tim and Karlijn from the Netherlands start their presentation with a movie about Red-light street of Netherlands. They raise a topic of ‘Liberalism and pluralism: tolerance or ignorance?’ Liberalism as the basis for the rule of law, and pluralism as value for the most. Their issues are fear for Islam, and the positive effects of pluralism that is gender equality. Anyway, related to Red-light show that … behind its glamor that shown almost naked dancer, there is the sad story of the women who dreamed could exist on the stages of the world, but ended up as victims of human trafficking.

From Indonesia, me, Thowik, Irsyad and Ismah gave a presentation under the headline, ‘Managing Diversity’. Our issues are identity and religious freedom. Both are viewing at the state level and at the community level. And because the day before a lot of friends do not know much about Indonesia, so we explored a little profile of Indonesia also. One of the participants were amazed to learn that Indonesia consists of 17,508 islands. The islands straddle the equator stretching over 500 kilometers, with more than 350 ethnic. The big question, how diversity can be managed? Well, I think the diversity is not something you can manage at once and finished, but the process that takes time, also wisdom.

After discussion, there was a brief session of Ram about India. Profile and history of India in general, the distribution of states on the map of India, also introduced what is known as a hybrid cultural formations. Diversity can not always be strictly separated because of syncretism, both in religion and in tradition. There is a kind of fusion or syncretism. In essence, the culture in India is very complex. Looks like I have to reread given reading material before for the India is not as easy to understand as I imagined.

The session ends at five in the afternoon. There is a duty to read Bikhu Parekh on The Concept of Identity, Bruno Latour about Londres-On Gaia, and the writings of William E. Connolly on A World Becoming. This is part of the preparation for tomorrow’s sessions which will lead to three main focus. Every time I see reading material, I remember Civic Pluralism School Principal, Zainal Abidin Bagir. Remember his message, ‘Come on, use the opportunity to read along the month’.


Important note: I feel the need to appreciate the local committee which strives reduce the level of spicy. Food also became more varied. I so understand why worker at the training center is called a ‘caretaker’ rather than ‘staff’. So, thank you, friend, to taking care of us.

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