How my village can teach a lesson in conflict resolution

24/09/2016 (Al Arabiya News -UAE): Scenes of village panchayat (courtroom) are among my best childhood recollections. Disputing parties would gather around a group of wise, usually old, men. Cases such as theft, forgery, property and family disputes would be taken up. Disputing parties would present their cases and then the accused, the aggrieved party and the witnesses would be cross-examined. After a little bit of deliberation, some pressure tactics and open pleas, the verdict would be delivered. Of course the process would be preceded by lobbying and sometimes followed by murmurs of dissent, even contempt. But there would be general consensus and recourse in the form of appeal, with the same protocol, at a mutually agreed time and place. At the end of it all, grievances would be addressed, the guilty would be punished and the victim compensated. More importantly, there will be no spillover. There were no winners or losers. It was a classic case of collective community compromise brokered and reached within the confines of a village with no outsider getting an opportunity to intervene…




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