Client: Hindu and Christian leaders in Karnataka; a government entity providing support for the initiative.

Brief description: Sustained Dialogue involving representatives from diverse majority and minority faith communities with intra- and inter-community tensions.

Ccase study 1

Sector: Civil society

Context:Intra- and inter-communal tensions in Karnataka around issues of identity, religious practice, and political and economic power. These tensions have sometimes erupted in violence, most recently in 2007 and 2008, with attacks against Christians and Christian institutions.

In the aftermath of the 2007 attacks Meta‑Culture facilitated a series of Inter-religious Dialogues (IRD), which brought together leaders from Hindu, Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist faith communities in the capital, Bangalore. In 2008, there were a series of attacks on churches and Christian individuals in Mangalore, a coastal city in Karnata. In 2011, a state-commissioned report on the attacks was released, and subsequently criticized by Christian leaders and organisations for failing to hold suspected perpetrators and authorities accountable. Multiple Christian denominations joined in a rally to protest the report.

Challenge: Tensions between majority and minority faith communities in India are long-standing, deep-seated, and institutionally ingrained. In Karnataka, responses to violence against Christians have been ad hoc, and largely limited to protest and human rights-based advocacy. There is a need for long-term interventions that address the underlying dynamics that lead to violence.

Action and Solutions: Utilizing learning from the 2007 IRD, Meta‑Culture has designed an initial two-year program of Dialogue between Hindu and Christian leaders in Karnataka. As a first step, Meta‑Culture is incubating separate Hindu and Christian intra-community Dialogue processes to introduce participants to Dialogue and help them address tensions within their respective communities. Later, we will bring together participants in the two groups for sustained inter-community Dialogue, Training, and Consensus-building to encourage mutual understanding, strengthen relationships, and identify tangible ways to improve coexistence.

To date, Meta‑Culture has:

  • Carried out more than 30 in-depth individual interviews with key Hindu and Christian leaders in Karnataka. The purpose is to understand sources of tension within and between communities, as well as the multiple and sometimes competing perspectives of different groups and individuals.
  • Facilitated several Dialogue sessions with a group of Christian leaders. The Dialogue has so far helped participants expand their understanding of different Christian denominations, as well as identify more key stakeholders.
  • Begun the process of forming a parallel Dialogue group with Hindu leaders.

Results: Based on these conclusions, Meta‑Culture presented the Client with a comprehensive Situation Assessment report and a three-year peace building plan inclusive of community-based Mediation, Dialogue, Consensus-building, and Training activities. If implemented with consistency and commitment, this plan has the potential to rebuild relationships and lay strong foundations for sustainable peace in Kandhamal. This project remains a model for post-conflict analysis and intervention design in this part of the world.



Everyone loves metrics: managers, clients, funding agencies. Nothing destroys an opposing argument as well as masterfully-deployed empirical data. But metrics haven't been so helpful when it comes to measuring subtle shifts in human relationships. Metrics can't calculate compassion, empathy, wit or love. When a relationship is working, everything else works. When it isn't, you know it.