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The Muse

August 10, 2004

What if?

I was having lunch with one of my professors yesterday - he retired last year and used to teach German History. As is the case with a lot of talented historians, he is very informed about world issues so we tend to have a lot of interesting talks.

This time, he asked me what I thought about the concept of a unified India-Pakistan. This is called conceptual history or, what-if history. Its a lot of fun, and its very instructive to trace back and see how our actions then might have affected our lives now. My take on this theory of a unified India-Pakistan was surprising, most of all to me - I simply could not imagine it!! Think of all the country borders we would be sharing today. As if we don't have enough problems with Bangladesh and China! And what about population? And what about our Cricket teams?

I still remember one of my school teachers who talked, very passionately, about how India-Pakistan had the capacity to become a world player . He also hinted that as the West did not want any other major powers, they played this cat and mouse game with curbing Pakistan's role. All this left a deep impression on me, as I used to believe all that and see the logic behind such views.

But talking yesterday, I realized that for me, and for a lot minded people like me, the concept of India and Pakistan as an entity itself does not work. Sometimes, right decisions are made for the wrong reasons. Its all very fashionable nowadays to question the purpose of our leaders when they agreed to let Pakistan be formed, but even though we are neighbors and brothers and all that - in such a short span of 50 years, we have grown poles apart. Of course, most of it is based on religion [and I somehow feel that India will always remain a "Hindu Secularist" state!]

I watched Govind Nihlani's Dev the other day, it was a bollywood film - so a lot of it was fiction, but as usual he raised so many questions. If you look into yourself and ask - how much to do you really know about other religions? Sure, we are not extremists [only non-believers use their religion to force themselves on others!] and everyone respects other religions, but how much do you KNOW about it? That is what being a secular country is essentially about - its definitely not just tolerating hundreds of different views, but learning to respect and understand all the differences. If this was a bad Bollywood movie, everyone would exchange gifts on festivals and that's it - we are all bhai bhai!!

So all this brings me to think that the reason we are all so uncomfortable talking about Pakistan is that somewhere we still think of it as a part of India that got away. I think that's the wrong way to go about it. Its like a painful exorcism, it hurts everyone and changes you when its removed, but its gone and its better to deal with it. Maybe accepting that, and looking at them as people from another country would be the way to start the beginning of the end of this needless bloodshed...


  • Thats a very different perspective..one that I've not come across.

    By Anonymous Ajnabi, at 2:23 AM  

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