Monday, August 13, 2007

What if....

I once read an interesting article 'What if Hitler had won WW-II?' It was an intriguing article. It got me thinking. What if India had remained United India and not the three pieces it is at present. Though Pakistan's creation is something I accept as fait accompli, I was tempted to think ' Hey what if India had remained United?'

I have always heard Pakistani politicians saying 'Muslims would have been 2nd class citizens in undivided India and woud have become slaves'. In fact reference to Hindus invariably has some insulting connotation. Pakistani textbooks completely deny large tracts of History (I will post in detail on this a little later). I am afraid I disagree with the assessment that Muslims would have been second class citizens at the receiving end.... To this end I wish to answer the Why part by quoting a recent article by renowned Pakistani columnist Irfan Husain.

He said recently in his column in the 'Dawn'

"all in all, my guess is that in economic terms, Pakistan has benefited from Partition. It is in the non-physical areas that our growth has remained stunted. Had the subcontinent not been divided into two (and later three) components, we would not all have squandered such vast resources on defence.With the trillions that have gone into the black hole of military budgets, the government could have doubled and tripled the expenditure on health, education, culture and sports.

As a confederating unit of India, the area today known as Pakistan would not have suffered from the identity crisis that has seen it position itself as an adjunct to the Middle East. This, and the exclusion of the army from political life, would have reduced the religious fervour that has brought the Taliban wolf to our door. Indeed, one of the factors fuelling the rise of extremism in Pakistan has been the perception of the existential threat that (Hindu) India poses to us......"

The best comes below (for which I appreciate Mr.Husain deeply)

"Living under a secular constitution would have made life a lot easier for our minorities. They would not have to live in fear under the Damocles sword of our iniquitous blasphemy laws, and would be equal citizens. Women, too, would have benefited, and not been subject to random prosecution as under Ziaul Haq’s infamous Hudood Ordinances. In the international arena, an undivided India would have long been a powerhouse. With around 1.5 billion people, it would have provided an even larger market for imported and locally produced goods.

Culturally, we would have benefited from much greater diversity than we have now. Pakistan is a monochromatic society where women have not been allowed to play their true role in society. By contrast, they are highly visible in all Indian cities. And with more exposure to literature and the arts, our cultural life would have been that much richer."

He debunks the theory that Muslims would have been 2nd class citizens...

"There is a perception that had Partition not taken place, Muslims would have been oppressed by the Hindu majority. But half a billion Muslims are not a small minority that can be kicked around. As it is, about 160 million Muslims still live in India.Similar numbers in the areas that constitute Bangladesh and Pakistan today would have ensured that Muslims carried substantial political clout. And had Indian Muslims not faced the kind of isolation caused by Partition, they would not be the marginalised community they are now.Politically, we would not have been subjugated by the army as we are today. As a result, parliament and the judiciary would have been functioning with far greater freedom than they have done here over the last six decades. Indeed, we would be a far freer people than we are.At the end of the day, there are going to be winners and losers. Through Partition, many people gained, while others lost out. Many fortunes were made as a direct result of the scams arising out of the purchase of property claims submitted by refugees. Thousands of well-off people, caught up in the stampede created by the riots of 1947, were made destitute. Other migrants prospered due to the lack of competition in the new state.

Of course, all these are highly speculative projections, and if I have offended readers on either side of the Great Divide, let me remind them that this is just a game. And everybody can play."

Well Said Mr.Husain well said.....

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