When cosmologists and space enthusiasts around the world remain dazed in amazement over the great feat of the James Webb Space Telescope, many areas of this Earth continue to be torn by hatred. This is an ancient form of rancour directed towards a marginalised community by the apparently superior classes. The awe-inspiring view of the cosmos as it looked a quarter of a billion years (possibly back to 100 million years after the Big Bang) makes one speechless. Apart from catching the cosmic image, the Webb Telescope has also in its mission the job of catching the glimpses of distant galaxies yet to be spotted. Undoubtedly, the telescope's function speaks eloquently of the great human potential which they are set to explore one day. Besides this and other landmark achievements in breaking new frontiers in space science, humans in the 21st century cannot avoid being singled out as a lesser species.
It is seen in the hate-filled treatment of the socially weak communities and those practising their own creeds by the self-professed superior races. Against the backdrop of human triumph in all the areas of knowledge, discoveries and expeditions, the aggression of a better placed segment on the weaker one sullies the very image of man. At the present stage of human progress, racial-tribal-communal hatred remains a blot on the process of man's evolution.
The history of ethnic hatred is traced back to the Medieval Europe. Though it began with the competition of displaying a race's martial superiority to another, in course of time it entered the area of beliefs --- i.e. diehard efforts to prove the superiority of one particular belief to another. In the later periods, irrational and pathological hatred became a part of the violent struggle to show the communities' superiority in different areas. In the early 20th century, an atrocious type of hatred for a community, Jews in particular, began vitiating the world. Sections of the then German society under Adolf Hitler had already turned megalomaniac. The power-blind Fuhrer's ruthless application of ethnic cleansing, euphemistically interpreted as Holocaust during WW-II, set off the cycle of the one-sided persecution of the racial and religious groups in Europe.
Despite its emergence as the saviour of mankind in the 17th century, North America's use of the black Africans as slaves eventually became a 'state policy'or an institutionalised social system in the later years. It had brought much infamy to the otherwise great nation extending open arms to the oppressed and the 'battered of the world'. Slavery was abolished in the US by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Although it sounds troubling, the American society has yet to completely uproot the scourge of anti-black biases. Unlike South Africa's apartheid, white supremacy and anti-black social and community attitude is still alive in the US. In spite of the enlightened white Americans' efforts to live in harmony with their black neighbours, their subconscious sense of superriority doesn't remain hidden. It has been seen nakedly in the recent police brutalities let loose on innocent blacks. The American blacks didn't have the orgaisational strength and firepower to start a countrywide rebellion. But the indigenous communities of the Santals in northwestern Bengal in 1855 were gifted with leadership and unflinching unity. After decades of physical and psychological oppression, looting of their crops, setting fire to the dwellings of the dissident young rebels, the indigenous people couldn't take it anymore. They took up arms and called an all-out disobedience against the alliance of the local feudal lords and their East India Company masters. A bloodied and fierce rebellion ensued. Due to their being far below in the strength of arms, only bows and arrows their fighting tools, the Santals had to concede defeat. The rebellion taught the oppressed of the then India an all-time lesson. Browbeating, persecution, constant threats of eviction, and, finally assaults, cannot go on for long. As part of the rule of history, the oppressed one day will turn against the oppressors today or sometime in the near future. This is how history has thrown the vestiges of the megalomania into the bins of history. The Santals cannot forget their bleak past.
Few societies have been able to cope with the social and communal feuds with success, at least outwardly. The responsibility for wiping out the vile agents of these divisions lies with the state machinery. That's why in the former Soviet Union, sectarian or communal violence remained unheard of. If the state secret agents had any hunch of these troubles that were in the making, the instigators and their sympathisers would be dealt with severely. In short, the USSR and the East European countries remained cleansed of the vice of ethnic conflicts. Trouble erupted after the socialist state's break-up in 1991. The Chechen rebels emerged as the first secessionist group in the Russian Federation. After sporadic battles with the Chechen militants (1994-1996), the heavily armed Russian Army was able to make them flee into the deep recesses of the vast county. The Chechens had rarely tried to make their presence felt ever since. Chechens were the first and only challenge to the Russian authority since the Soviet Union's break-up. Till now, Russia has remained free of armed sabotages. The reason lies in the ruthless combing operations by the military and secret police against the groups of saboteurs.
The ex-Soviet governments, and for that matter, the following Russian rulers, including Vladimir Putin, have adopted a no-tolerance policy for the insidious forces inspired by extremist beliefs. The pliable and ready-to-compromise governments targeting re-election continue to evade the sporadic rise of different types of extremist forces. It hardly occurs to them that these forces in the future may emerge as Franketstein's monsters. Due their different innocent guises, the governments remain confused about their chief objective: seizing the state power. To speak without mincing words, their feints start with non-deadly violent attacks on the groups living on society's fringes. They compel them to flee their ancestral homes. Being mainly the religious and ethnic minority groups, they manage to arouse sympathy of the local and international human rights platforms. But with the governments doing little to stop the spread of the lethal sparks of instigation, rumours to be precise, the isolated heated arguments do not take time to become raging blazes. What follow are pervasive panic, driving the bewildered people out of their sweet homes, desecration of their deities and sacred totems and a lot of other terror techniques. These persecutions are resorted to by people with ulterior motives in many developing and least developed countries. Apart from South Asia, many sub-Saharan African countries have begun falling into the hands of these well-orchestrated, ruthless forces one after another.
There are stark differences between the persecutions of minority religious communities and ethnic peoples which have been executed in the past and in the 21st century. The Nazi Gestapo forces used to hound starving and near-dead groups into the concentration camps like those in Auschwitz; the objective being wholesale extermination of them. In Bangladesh mainland in 1971, the Pakistani occupation forces executed their massive genocides at pre-selected spots. The strategy has changed drastically. Any village or rural neighbourhood can now draw the ire of certain obscurant groups without the faint knowledge of the would-be victims. All this reeks of an insidious rot. While the hell is being let loose on the awe-struck minorities or plain land tribes, the state protectors remain conspicuous by their absence. Ironically, tensions had kept simmering in the area for a few days or over a week and repeatedly used pretext for the final swoop. In Nigeria school children once used to be hauled up by self-taught militant groups to areas occupied by them. Smaller countries are fortunate to remain free of this nightmare. In Bangladesh, the vulnerable people in villages are always in fear of being attacked by hordes of stick-wielding hoodlums at the dead of the night. It cannot be called a life worth living like the life enjoyed by the other citizens of a sovereign democratic country.