CONFLICT A SOCIAL PHENOMENON:
Occurrence of conflict in society is an unusual phenomenon in all societies.2 If properly utilized, conflicts engender opportunities for desired progress in the society. In general, conflicts occur as a result of wrong or mismanagement of relations among members of the society. The wrong or mismanagement of the societal relations give rise to exploitative systems marked by accumulation of powers and wealth by a certain group of individuals. Obviously, what can be argued is that conflicts make nests in the structure of the society. In this sense, conflict implies a condition of the lacking of equality in social framework.
All societies are prone to ill define relations between the members.3 While the section occupying powerful or dominant position in the prevailing hierarchy strives for preservation of status quo, the others naturally fight for change. All conflicts are thus not essentially ‘evils’. Rather, they can be used by people to for legitimate interests.4 Historically, people in all parts of the world have used wars to liberate themselves from colonial or despotic rules. 5 The conflict becomes inevitable when rulers engage themselves to sustain their position.6 In this sense, conflict is a struggle between the oppressor and oppressed, rich and poor, privileged and deprived and between those who have access to state powers and those who are deprived of it. Conflict, as such, may have more than one dimension. Politically, it is directly associated with the issue of power sharing. , In political tone, conflict is an outcome of the lacking of transparency, accountability, participation and predictability which collectively constitute indispensable components of a democratic system.7 Economically, conflict is an expression of dissatisfaction of general people to the system of ill distribution of the livelihood and development resources. Socially, a conflict is a manifestation of anger against the seclusion some by others. Culturally, the conflict is a quest for preservation of one’s traditions and language against the consistent and deliberate encroachment of other. Psychologically, it is an outcome of defense maneuvers designed by one, who perceives threat of its existence in view of powers wielded by others who are dominant in power structure of the given society.
Conflicts might exist in latent and overt forms. Where the dominant class or group, or element has enormous strength over the weaker, the conflict is hidden in the heart and mind of the people. It remains in a sinking condition, where the peoples deliberatively but unwillingly suppress their expression of dissatisfaction and anger. The lack of expression, which is often described as a culture of toleration, however, does not rule out the situation of conflict. This form of conflict is called latent conflict, which is essentially structural in nature. The practice of untouchability in Nepal and India is a good example of the structural violence.
Overt conflict is a condition where the silence is broken or the culture of toleration is challenged. It is an expression of quest for change in the status quo.8 Change calls for equality and equality, in turn, is a foundation of justice. Creation of the condition of equality is in no way possible without change. The process of change from status quo to equality is defined as an instrument of transformation of the conflict. The conflict and terrorism differ in this point. Terrorism lacks purpose of transforming status quo to a condition equality bound-change. Thus, the overt conflict can be characterized by dynamics of change versus status quo9 and in this form a conflict in can be defined as an action to set up the condition of equality.
Conflict might be violent and non-violent. The violent conflict justifies destruction of conventional socio-economic, political and legal paradigms for construction of new ones. The violent use of force is synonym of the violent conflict. Violence exerts pain on some for benefits of others. Violence is cyclic as the counter action is an essential character of the violent conflict. Social science has not entirely rejected the justification of violence for change. In fact, a number of great changes in history have been materialized by use of force. Nevertheless, no violence is justified by the history on any ground which is intentionally perpetrated to exterminate human lives. In the 21st century, all forms of violence adversely affecting human rights are ipso facto rejected. Of course, a violence which exerts force to achieve change in disregard of human dignity and humanity amounts to be a terrorist act.