Posts tagged ‘Indo-Pak’

June 27, 2010

A Message to My Fellow Young Indians

My Dear Fellow Young Indians,

We are the most privileged generation in the history of Independent India. If you are reading this message it means that you are educated and empowered with technology to en extent which was unimaginable even a few years back. The fact that I can reach out to hundreds of people through this blog at the click of a button, is a matter of great priviledge. And I get this privilege at no cost.

In the age we are living in, it is no more a question of can we reach out to people. There are hundreds of ways by which we can. But as Seth Godin asks in his blog, the more important question to ask right now is do we deserve to reach out to people, to be heard? Are we saying something important enough to be heard?
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January 8, 2010

Indo-Pak Joint Anthem?!

Ok, first let’s get the news. Then I will get down to my perspectives, most of which will be uncomfortable for many, but true nevertheless.

India’s Times of India group and Pakistan’s Jung group have jointly decided to create a new “anthem” for India and Pakistan written by Gulzar and sung by Shankar Mahadevan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The song called “Nazar Me Rehte” is part of “Aman Ki Asha: Destination Peace, the cultural and emotional people to people initiative” (as they call it) by both the media groups. According to TOI “Aman ki Asha seeks to build bridges between the two nations, 63 years after partition.” Click here for the complete TOI story.

Yeah, right! With all due respect to Gulzar, Shankar Mahadevan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan,  who are absolutely brilliant artists, this one is yet another sentimental gimmick by TOI which prides itself on taking initiatives on social issues but which publishes gossip in its newspapers in the name of news, because gossip sells. Lead India, Teach India, Vote India, loads of money spent on ads for these, hours of public debate and the end result in terms of societal change? Zilch. So brace yourself for yet another ad campaign which will bring you to tears (I have kept one here as a sample), and will convince you that both the countries are finally coming together. And TOI will publish reports on how its initiative is changing the world. But at the end of all its self praise (which it does brilliantly) and publicity and hopefully a couple of Cannes Lions (which seems to be one of its real objectives behind these campaign after the success with Lead India), whether there will really be any change (don’t trust the TOI news machine for this), is still under doubt.

Which brings me to a very important and serious issue:  according to me the only serious way of bringing India and Pakistan closer is by creating more awareness of the life of common man in both the countries, without any of the biases, jingoism or sentimentalism involved. The solution is not absolute hatred or absolute love, the solution lies in objective and unbiased understanding.

Come to think of it, how much of Pakistan do we really know? I am talking of the real Pakistan, the Pakistan that exists in the streets of Lahore, in the courtyards of Islamabad, in the Mosques of Multan, in the police stations of Rawalpindi, in the skyscrappers of Karachi and in so many other places whose names we don’t even get to know unless a terrorist or a cricketer hails from there. Not all Pakistanis are terrorists and likewise not all Indians are cow worshippers. What is the real essence of both the countries, their culture, industries, infrastructure, people and their livelihoods? And does Aman Ki Asha really intends to do that?

This question brings me to another very important question: even though India and Pakistan share a common (although disputed) border of 2900 kms, are we really neighbours? I know what a neighbour means. Ashok uncle used to be my neighbour in Calcutta. He was fifty years old, his wife was forty five, when I left the city. They have a son and a daughter. Ashok uncle has a peculiar habit of collecting magazines and newspapers and then cutting out articles and pictures and anything from them that catches his imagination. His son did his studies in my school and I know him well. His daughter is married to a fine young man. We helped each other whenever we could. Ashok uncle kept our keys when no one was at home. The point being, we know our neighbours. Between us, we share more than just a wall. Sometimes I think our real neighbour is US even though we are at two different ends of the world. We think like them, we dress like them, we watch their TV shows, we admire and worship their movies (at least I do) and film stars, and we keep looking for the smallest opportunity to go there. We have even started to have sex like them! The fact that even after fifty years we haven’t been able to figure out who our real neighbour is, has been a resounding failure for us. For both of us.

And all that the two biggest media conglomerates from either side can do is sing a song and bring celebrities from either side to say a few lines of peace and friendship! What a scam! Must we always reduce serious issues to trivialities, must we always bring unnecessary sentimentalism where decisive action is required, must we always think of our own interests in the garb of social welfare?

A word of advice to the people running both TOI and Jung: If you are seriously interested in bridging the gap between the people of India and Pakistan, why not set an example of outstanding international journalism and dedicate at least two pages of your newspaper for unbiased reporting on the life and culture of real Pakistan? I would subscribe to the newspaper just to know what my Pakistani brothers and sisters do everyday, to earn their livelihood, what happens in their power corridors and in their corporate boardrooms, how they dress for their festivals and funerals and how they admire their celebrities. Fear and hatred arises because of lack of knowledge of the unknown. We fear and hate darkness because we don’t know what darkness holds within itself. Can we, for a change spread light in the darkness, instead of first promoting darkness as evil and then singing songs and making ads to drive away the evil?

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