Thoughts on the Open thread

I thought I would share some of my thoughts on the open thread:

(1.) with regards to ethnicity; there is no doubt there is a post 1947 fork. For instance most Sindhi Hindus do not know that there are Sindhis in Pakistan and vice versa. Sindhi identity is super-strong to each religious group but it doesn’t transcend it.

(2.) It most likely has roots in pre-1947 where the Hindu minority (which was substantial) was the majority in the urban areas (I believe they were the majority in Karachi). As soon as Partition happened their role was essentially swapped for Urdu-speaking Muhajir. Sindhi Muslims are definitely not winners from Partition; Sindh has a whole suffered tremendously. The relocation of the capital from Karachi, for political reasons, was another blow to the province.

(3.) Ethnicity and religion have a start relationship in South Asia and guides most intermarriages. For instance I wouldn’t feel comfortable to marry a Muslim and my choice of marital partners were accordingly limited even though I’m ethnically from a much more Islamicate background. However I remember my Gujarati Ismaili boss telling me his mother was relieved that he was marrying a Gujarati (his wife was a Hindu) so that’s an instance where ethnicity trumped religion in marital preferences (the same goes for me; marrying another Bahai was not a priority for me).

(4.) with regards to Indian Muslim; my experiences are thus. When I go to India if I were to tell a Hindu I’m of Pakistani heritage while they may not hate me but they would be uncomfortable. It’s a bit like being African-American in the US; everyone loves Will Smith but not the kid from the ghetto. It’s a bit like that.

(5.) Of course I have noticed a stark generational divide in India; the uncles and aunties were Congress but the kids are now BJP. There is a latent Islamophobia coupled with Islamophilia; most Indians will interact and be close to Muslims at some point in their lives. Like all things it’s a complicated tapestry.

(6.) the difference between Indian Muslims and Indian Hindus (anecdotally) is their antipathy to Pakistan. It simply not there to the same extent among Indian Muslims; I’ll happily tell them that I’m of Pakistan descent whereas generally with Hindus I’ll tell them I’m Parsi-Persian simply to diffuse tensions. Vidhi calls this “dial the Muslim up, dial the Muslim down” and my best friend call me a chameleon but these are simply my observations.

(7.) Pakistan does hold a fascination for all Indians; it’s not simply just another country. The culture, the music, the heritage and the history have a particular pull on India so much antipathy is towards the State of Pakistan. Pakistan and the Indus have a strong weight on the immediate region simply because it is a border region between many different cultural zones. After Afghanistan got wrecked that exoticness shifted to Pakistan; however this is why I advocate AfPak confederation simply because two Stans are stronger than one. On a personal note I do think a SAARC Confederation is a way to go (Iran has a split identity since 30% of the country east of the two Dasht’s are tied in South and Central Asi) but initially various countries can couple up as a first step. Maybe instead of religious identity we should try Pan-Aryanism; whoops I think someone’s already tried that before ?

(8.) I think if India were to approach 10k USD per capital (with decent HDI & Gini coefficient) it would be a Asian hyperpower. It’s not only by virtue of her large population and economy but because the strong civilisational heritage can rapidly translate into global influence.

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5 years ago

A confederation is not going to happen as long as Pakistan and India hate each other and the Kashmir Dispute exists. Also, to many Pakistanis, any kind of confederation is going to be reminiscent of “Akhand Bharat” and will make us deeply uncomfortable. We fought too hard to run our own affairs. Let’s be neutral towards each other before we think of altering the political arrangements. Similarly, I much prefer Afghanistan as a separate country. Pakistan has enough problems without dealing with that mess.

On the marriage thing: For me personally, ethnicity trumps religion. I would have a relationship with a non-Muslim as long as they spoke Urdu (or were interested in learning it) and were interested in North Indian/Pakistani culture, particularly Hindustani classical music.

I am curious though what your particular issue towards marrying a Muslim would have been. Presumably, there are many Muslim women who are only nominally Muslim and secular in all respects.

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