Monday, February 13, 2006

Making Geography - History!

An Anonymous comment to my article: Dived We Stand… [see link on sidebar] suggests that Bangladesh is not the cause of the lethargy that exists in SAARC. Bangladesh is bullied by India and therefore is helpless.

In my defence I believe this comment proves my point quite strongly. Think of it, doesn't it?

It is in Bangladesh's interest to stand up to "Big Bro"! By shunning from that great responsibility the only country loosing out is ours.

Prof Yunus in his speech at the Daily Star 15th Anniversary program (widely published) makes an emphatic plea for Bangladesh to engage with its two giant neighbours - India and China!

While there are many points in that speech that I don't agree to (my critic to the speech coming soon), I think he is right to declare that by playing an increasing strong role in the region we can only benefit.

After all we must keep two things in mind:

Firstly as President Clinton famously said “It’s the Economy, Stupid!” Our economic future is intertwined with that off India. Ours is to find how we can benefit from the testosterone-fuelled economy of India Inc.

And secondly, the only way to defeat a bully (if you are inferring that is what India is to us) is to respond to it.

Unfortunately leaders (and general public) in both countries misunderstand each other’s motivations. And no one is clarifying it. A big PR failure, me thinks! End of the day if we can respect each other’s sovereignty (and I don’t mean only the territorial ones) we can find areas of mutual co-operation. And that my friend will be the dawn of a beautiful day!

To paraphrase a famous quip “It is difficult to make Geography – History!”


Supriyo said...

Very interesting thoughts, Farhan!

Professor Younus was very utopian in the speech, no doubt, and even came close to advising that a media-led fascism will be preferable to an imperfect democracy. Not a very comfortable idea, I guess!

However, one thing about India - it is changing. So, the ideas, relationships and strategies concerning it should change too.

I agree that the new India is not entirely a good thing. Lots of cases it is too urban/ corporate-centric, and also its foreign policy, rather mistakenly, becoming that of a foot-soldier's.

But there are things which are positive. An evolving, matured but imperfect secularism for one. Or, the democracy, now with the left participating in it. The economy, as you say, and probably a forthcoming wave of micro-enterprise in technology and services sector. And, also an attempt to see the world with new eyes, not just in terms of 'for' and 'against' Pakistan.

This, at the least, requires new thinking and more than just 'rear-view' vision. Forgive me if I am wrong, but I always thought Bangladesh to be a 'History-Bound' nation. I am sure it will be a good idea to think where India and bangladesh should be 20 years from now - as you suggest - than starting with where they were 20 years ago.

hindu said...

I think your idea about how different we all are in south asia is a stupid thought. Only the uneducated and the ones who dont understand the 'true' history of the indian subcontinent and the evolution of it culture say this. We might have been 70 differnt kingdoms yesterday but we all were and still are, the same people. We may be 7 different countries now but we are still, one nation and always will be. We are so, bound by our geography and history.

In case you dont understand me, let me explain. The word 'country' refers to a political entity but the word 'nation' refers to a people, their ethos, culture, faith, lore, spirit etc. So even if we become like 10 or 20 countries within the region, we always will be a single nation. And your notion that an Assamee is different from a Malayalee is quite stupid. We may speak differnt languages, eat differnt foods but we share the same ethos, culture, lore and faith which are common to our land. If we start looking at our differences then it is a never ending path of finding more sub-nationalities and sub-sub-nationalities. What we have to value and focus on, is our similarities like our common culure, beliefs and ethos.

As far as pakistan and bangladesh is concerned it is a different case. I still think that india should have remained united. It was the biggest mistake of history to split the motherland in the name of a stupid thing called 'religion' and that too a foreign one. No matter how much you twist one's history books and try to sweeten things up, the fact still remains that islam and christianity are foreign religions to this land. Islam, is the Arab's religion, quite plain and simple. It was brought in by the invaders and always will be at odds with our native way of life.

You should remember that all the muslims of the subcontinent were hindus or buddhists once. They converted to Islam over a thousand years under the Mughal rule, which was in truth a foreign rule. Pakistan happened because the muslims of India began to foolishly value their 'islamic' identity more than their 'indian' identity. And bangladesh happened because the east-paskistanis valued their native 'culutral & lingual' indentiy more than their 'islamic' identity. They realized that 'religion' (ie. islam) cannot be a unitiing force, after all.

As far as SAARC is concerned, i do agree with you to some extent that India acts like a big-bro many a times. But so does the US under the NAFTA. I think we all should work together for our greater common good. It would be more prudent on the part of the other states to aid India in its growth and gain from piggying-back on its economic wave. Creating a common currency for a common market will be a very costly affair for us, as we are not rich like Europe. Instead i think we can follow the NorthAmerican model where the USD functions as a secondary currency in Canada & Mexico. If the Indian rupee is let in as a secondary currency in all the other 6 states then trade transactions will be made much easier. We also will not jump in to conflicts as all our economies will be tied to the good stand of the Indian rupee. Most importantly it will deter india from being too much of a bully as any conflict with any of the other six states will mean hurting itself.