Atanu Dey On India's Development

Cognitive Dissonance

So here is something that does not surprise me in the least: Vajpayee has called for a common currency for the Indian subcontinent.

Actions recommended and taken on the basis of pious hopes are par for the course. Let’s be nice and in turn they too will be nice, that is the pious hope. Let’s take a bus yatra and shake hands and recite some neighborly poetry and they too will respond in kind. Yeah, really. Never mind the fact that a thousand of our miserably equipped soldiers had to die at Kargil.

Let’s have a rail link for people to people contact. Never mind that it also gets terrorists in by the trainloads. And not just terrorists, it also makes it easier to transport the truckloads of fake Indian currency from there.

Common currency? Surely, it already exists: Pakistan prints them already and ships them to India without any prompting.

Pious hopes. Deja vu all over again. Panchasheel and Chacha Nehru and the Chini-Hindi Bhai Bhai. Next thing you know scores of thousands of poorly equipped Indian soldiers are being slaughtered by the Chinese.

The problem is that the leaders don’t have to pay for their folly: only the poor soldiers die in the frozen wastes of the Himalayas.

Forward he cried from the rear
And the front rank died
The generals sat and the lines on the map
Moved from side to side

So sang Pink Floyd. The politicians and netas make the decisions that doom the foot soldiers. And not just them, the costly weapons that the country has to constantly buy condemns millions to a miserable existence.

Cognitive dissonance.

That is what I believe is the primary cause of all this craziness. Disconnect with reality. Not being totally clued in to the real nature of the world, interventions are suggested based on some idealized rosy view of the world.

It is a second best world out there. There are multipledistortions and divides. In such a world, attempting partial solutions can often transfer one from the frying pan into the fire.

Let me save you from drowning, said the monkey to the fish, as he put the fish up on a tree. Good intentions are not sufficient for achieving any utopian vision. More often than not, good intentions without a correspondence with reality, pave a path to hell.

Time for a reality check. Pakistan is precariously close to lobbing nukes at India. At the drop of a hat, there is talk of 1000-year jehads against infidel India. And in this salubrious enviroment, common currencies are being proposed.

Deva! Deva!

  • Rajan Urs

    India-Pakistan Peace initiative: What next?

    The guns have been silent now for a while now and I was wondering what are the two nations going to do next to strengthen the peace initiative before some incident sparks off fresh hostilities. I couldn’t think of any political solution except to let ‘sleeping dogs lie’ to prevent any further negative development in the political lobbies. The most ideal solution would be to allow some direct trade and commerce initiative between the people of the two nations. A permanent catalyst in this direction would be best if it is in physical form rather than just on paper and in the minds of the people.

    My vision is: along the historically significant Wagah border between India and Pakistan both nations should build a sophisticated twin trade center. It should be equipped with world class facilities for doing business, electronic equipments to handle communication and information, hotels, recreation facilities, air, road and rail connectivity, banks etc. This should be a small modern city by itself for not only trade between India and Pakistan but also to facilitate business organizations of these nations to extend to other countries in Asia. This center should be de-militarized, de-politicized and should be managed by an autonomous governing body of responsible business leaders, bankers and professors and scientists.

    Next both nations should have student study-exchange programs with direct responsibilities entrusted to the Vice-Chancellors of Universities. Students should be encouraged to seek admissions in the institutions across the borders with scholarships and sponsors by responsible social organizations. Sharing of information and study materials between universities and colleges in both nations should be facilitated.

    Cultural Ambassadors should be appointed to encourage interaction between talented artists and the people in both countries. For example a Pakistani singer/actor should be helped to give a performance to an Indian audience and vice-versa. Sports Ambassadors should also be appointed to encourage the youth to participate in various sports activities, training programs and not just limit it to cricket or hockey matches.

    The more sensitive but required initiate is to allow professionals and business persons from both countries to seek work opportunities and settle down across the border with their families. This may not be possible in the present climate for various reasons but should be part of the agenda for future action. The idea is to make the people of the two nations come together in all ways except in war and terrorism. Not an easy task but I have a gut feeling it is what the people want deep inside.

    This kind of initiative obviously takes lesser efforts, money and time than a hostile military/political approach to mend the relationship between India and Pakistan as well as to solve issues like the Kashmir freedom movement. The leaders of Pakistan should be made to realize that they could have not just Kashmir but the entire India for the benefit of the people of Pakistan if they choose peaceful paths to settle the differences.

  • Nagendra

    Hi Rajan,
    Do you live on the earth or in the Air?
    nagendra

  • Being Practical

    [Response to Rajan] Interesting thoughts. People to people contact is important but de-militriation of area means more attacks on Parliaments. There is only one issue between the two N-forces – ie Kashmir valley.

    [Response to Post] I strongly belive in the fact that both countries settle for the regions that they currently control. Imagine the PoK area which for generations has lived under Pak influence and culture to any day mingle with India. It is a part of the world which is as isolated and alienated as Afghanistan was few years back.

    Same applies to the Indian part of Kashmir region. Kashmiris in India have moulded themselves into a more liberal Indian society with work and educational opportunities brigther than on the other end.

    For years both parts have little cultural or social contacts.

    So it is more practical for both sides to give-up claims on the other half and concentrate on the development of parts