India and Pakistan: Common Dreams – Good Neighbours

14.04.2009 - Mumbai - Sudhir Gandotra

It was an old ruse from colonial times to divide peoples to gain control over their assets while they bickered and fought. The emotions raised, prevented clear vision and thinking and the politicians simply looked to their own ends, not the common good. The opposing capitalist-communist systems brought their various influences to bear on us, the people of the Indian subcontinent and our rulers followed the suggestions and went their separate ways. They also began over-spending on armaments and there was a competition among the arms suppliers to sell and as India was divided, one group would give better deals to another group. This further split the nation and provoked competition, but in a dangerous war game. National egos expanded. Borders were drawn (1947) and redrawn (1971) and still the lines needed touching up so this changing map is still changing. Distant points of centralized power drew these lines for their own convenience and divided peoples along the route! Armies arrived to support those adverse conditions and the locals were subjugated. Families were torn apart. Geographically well-knit sub-regions were cut into bits, and mutually economically dependent regions could no longer trade. There is a moral stalemate between India and Pakistan: the newly hewn nations of a once lively mix, with their now separate intentions.

However, on the individual level there is a yearning for that ancient togetherness and sharing of everything from sports to cultural forms, in music and dance, literature, religion, cricket (certainly), movies and pop songs (for sure). Certain parties seem to see it as part of their agenda. What is that agenda? To discriminate and play on the differences. Yet there are far more similarities than differences and where there is difference – how interesting, a new taste, a different aroma, another interpretation. Wonderful diversity, a great over-riding affinity. The problems between India and Pakistan are not problems of common people, but problems of those who are deciding for all. Their inflated egos are the bane of civilized life. They have, over the years, compounded and complicated the easily-resolvable issues, today reaching a point where the original issue has been lost in time to the extent that new problems and issues have to be generated to keep this 61 year-old stew on the boil; this concoction of senseless issues.

We, the people, need to better understand the root problem and act from our point of view. Both India and Pakistan have Humanists that see things in a way that lights the path ahead; a view point that is mutually corroborated by sane elements on both sides.

We believe that reconciliation can take place, provided the environment for this is allowed to develop and be sustained. When people have their say and it’s not those estranged ones acting over our interests, the problems could disappear in a very short time. Then, both countries together would save around 22.5 billion rupees every year that today are spent on armaments. This can be used for development purposes and would be more than enough to wipe out illiteracy, hunger, unemployment, homelessness, sickness etc, giving a quality life to many more citizens on both sides.

The current set of politicians do not talk like this or along these lines because an immediate result is a hefty cut in their personal gain, earned as their commission from the suppliers of arms. But, it is our life we speak of here. This is our future, one that all educated people from both sides need to work at to achieve in the shortest time. This work needs to begin now as the challenge is to achieve results immediately as time is running out. No more fingers pointing elsewhere. Let’s tidy our own house first and do some introspection. Successive Indian governments have blamed Pakistan for many of our ills, and now it’s the blame-game over terrorism. This is just the latest one.
However, what the Indian government likes to forget or rather wants us to forget is:

1. Both sides need to disarm their nuclear weapons, there being no place in international relations for such ‘Pointed guns’. Pakistan and India would both be devastated by their use thus rendering them pointless besides the unaffordable expense for their upkeep.

2. There are home grown violent groups like the Naxalites, the ‘Hindutva Terror’ and others, that have held the people of India to ransom long before so-called ‘Islamic Terror’ acted on Indian soil. Not much to say about these gangs! Why not? Too ‘close to home’ and not politically juicy enough like the sensationalized Hindu-Muslim issues.

3. What about the corrupt and the criminal sitting in our parliament and in the assemblies of the country? They are under the protection and sponsorship of the biggest political parties; these people are our law makers. What a sad state of affairs!

4. Apparently, US$1,460 billion in illegal ‘black money’ is stashed away by these politicians in Swiss banks and additional amounts in tax-havens. These corrupt politicians are the real terrorists. These immoral people have no right to talk about issues relating to Pakistan and India; they themselves are the ones that have created and complicated these issues in the first place.

We need put-up with this state of affairs no longer. First, let’s take off the blinkers. Second, let’s act. Let’s have our unity of purpose, let’s act together, as equals, as human beings. Let’s start from ourselves, with India treating Pakistan as a country of brothers and sisters, giving opportunities and a pleasant environment to welcome this new reality, while we ourselves also walk the path of this new reality, sincerely. Let’s stop talking about moral high grounds (what morality is that?) and let us meet the people from the other side as equals, without any discrimination whatsoever. Let’s stop the blame-game and change. If we are good, it’s our duty to show and share that goodness with others; to show and share the transformation process with the other, as a living example. Gandhi and Frontier Gandhi belong to both sides of the border and we share the same legacy. Let’s proceed, leaving the failures and insensibilities behind. Can we do it? Are we interested? Do we want a better future? Do we deserve peace and prosperity? We must answer these questions, to ourselves, with complete internal honesty. Then actions will surely follow.

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