Gandhiji And Pakistan


As a little child completely head over heels in love with cricket, a rare book by Vijay Merchant was a huge treat. And there was a story in the book that I will never forget....

Once Vijay Merchant had played a cricket match against the British which Ghandhiji had attended. At the end of the match, the entire Indian team had a chance to meet Ghandiji. Now, it so happened that Vijay Merchant's sister had asked him to get the autographs of the English team, which he had done. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity of taking Ghandhiji's autograph as well, Merchant gave the same book to Ghandhiji to sign.

On receiving the book, Ghandhiji casually flipped through the book and on finding the autographs of the English players, listed himself as an additional member of the English cricket team and wrote his signature there. He told merchant that he wanted people to understand the difference between the British people and the British government. He brought to light that his struggle was only against the British government and its policies and not against the common folk of Britain.

Maybe it is important for us to have the same attitude towards Pakistanis...

Is India's disunity actually a source of strength?

[Note: What I have written is just an idea. I do not personally believe that inaction of any sort is a good thing. But coming from an economics background I cannot but resist this train of logic]

There was a recent article in the Economic Times about how unstable India's borders really are. There is the long drawn LTTE conflict in Sri Lanka, the rebellion in Bangladesh, Pakistan's shaky democracy, Maoist Nepal and last but not the least China's long dark shadow. Inspite of such a chaotic border, terrorism and various other problems, India is stil managing good economic growth. And good economic growth is a sure sign of stabilty both politically and socially.

How then is India managing inspite of all these problems? What is it that keeps people moving even with such tough obstacles? One of the factors, at least to my mind, is the extreme diversity that India possesses. The attitude of "Someone else's problem" may actually be a good thing here with each individual caring more for their own locality and community. Even if there is a problem in some part of India, the rest of the nation does not pick sides and take up arms for a cause, rather it goes on surviving and building a better tomorrow. It is probably this attitude that stopped the Gujrat riots from spreading all over the country, or the Tamil agitations leading to a fall of the central government. Why! people in the north have no idea what the whole Tamil movement was about!!!

India is a country where the local language changes every 400 kilometers and an emotional and cultural integration is almost an impossibility. But the common thread binding such a diverse collection of people is the idea of a stable and free India. Whatever the problem may be, the Indian psyche is programmed to accept that it shall soon pass and that tomorrow will be a better day. It may be that the day this complacency breaks is the day when true paranoia will spread among the masses and the riots that Gandhiji and others were fearful of, during the time of partition will truly unleash itself.
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