THIS ESSAY WAS WRITTEN IN 2016 in the immediate aftermath of the URI ATTACKS with the aim of bringing some nuance in the increasingly binary discussions of Pakistan. Looking back at it in 2020 there are a few points in the essay I mildly disagree with but on the whole, I stand by my arguments.
For anyone willing to read a shorter -TL-DR version find the link HERE:
Note: This is not a scholarly analysis of Indo-Pak question but an essay ((*mildly subjective)) on the question with references being presented for most of the essay.
Every well-read Indian who has thought enough about the India-Pakistan issue will have faced Hamlet’s dilemma — “To be or not to be”. It’s fair to assume that national patience, with everything related to Pakistan, is waning very fast nowadays aided by the explosion of social media. Simply put — most Indians have had enough of this shit for 69 + years (the Idea of Pakistan being older than Pakistan). The leftist solution to the Pakistan problem has always been the “Aman ki Asha” narrative. The reactionary position of some of the Right-wing is to totally boycott anything related to Pakistan every-time a terrorist attack takes place in India. This position though backed by popular opinion at times like this seems to be no closer to a permanent solution to the problem. To come up with potential solutions for this problem, we need to discuss both these approaches and we also need to dig deep into the Nation-state of Pakistan.
Do state capacity and policy really matter when it comes to wealth among regions in South Asia ? Or is prosperity today determined largely by a mixture of geographical and historical factors ? South Asia as a unit is a reasonable region to study because the introduction to modernity in this entire region was mediated by the British Empire.
Seen in the two figures below are GDP per capita ($ PPP) figures for smaller (< 20 million population) and larger (> 20 million population) regions. The entities include the nations of Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, states and union territories of India, and provinces of Pakistan. Some notes about the two figures:
Green bars denote plains regions, red mountain regions and blue coastal regions.
Bold x-axis labels indicate entities with major metro areas.
Bold borders around bars indicate non-Indian entities.
There are roughly five bands of wealth we can identify:
Rich smaller entities of India: Goa, Delhi, Sikkim and Chandigarh. These have GDPs of around $20-25000.
Richer large entities consisting of Indian states and Sri Lanka. GDPs are around $10-12000, and these are predominantly coastal regions.
Succesful agrarian states of India (Punjab and Andhra), mountainous states of India (HP, UT, MZ), Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, and country of Bhutan. GDPs between $8-10000.
Interior Indian states and Odisha, along with all Pakistani provinces. This is the South Asian mean performance of around 4-6000$.
Poor regions: Indian states of UP, Bihar, countries of Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan’s remote area of FATA and India’s remote state of Manipur.
Clearly being on the coast and having a major city help in a major way. In this context, there are three regions which are major disappointments, India’s West Bengal, Bangladesh and Pakistan’s Sindh. All three are on the coast, have major metropolitan areas and even have rich agricultural lands. But their economic performance is significantly below potential.
On the other hand, the economic star of the subcontinent is the Indian state of Haryana. It defies every convention, its not on the coast, lacks a huge metro region and lacks abundant rainfall. But it excels in every aspect of economic activity, its agricultural productivity is second only to Indian Punjab, its industries are varied and well developed and its service sector is a leader in India along with Karnataka. Gurugram hosts genuinely innovative startups, home to at least 7 of India’s 30 unicorns.
An interesting comparison is that between the state of Punjab and the Pakistani province of the same name. Indian Punjab is richer despite lacking a metro area. But there is a convergence in certain aspects. These are rich agricultural areas, with strong remittance networks but they both might lack industrial entrepreneurs.
Bihar, Nepal and Eastern UP together continue to be home to the largest concentration of poor people on planet Earth. This is an isolated region, with no major cities, neglected by every Indian political entity for many centuries now. The Modi government’s national waterway one has already connected the region upto Varanasi to the ocean, upstream will be a technological challenge. Nepal, can look to Indian states like Uttarakand and Himachal for an effective growth strategy.
Although geography and history play a major role, the example of Haryana shows that those factors can be overcome. Market access, aggregation effects and the presence of mercantile communities are the key variables that determine economic performance.
The United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention warns of certain indicators that “provide an environment conducive to the commission of atrocity crimes,” including “increased politicization of identity” and discriminatory “measures or legislation” targeting protected groups. In addition to certain prohibited acts, such as killing members of a group, genocidal States often use legal and administrative tools to facilitate the destruction of a targeted group “in whole or in part.”
In Myanmar, successive governments have implemented measures and legislation to erase Rohingya Muslims’ identity and rights, creating an enabling environment for genocide.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi today expressed his concern over the publication of a National Register of Citizens (NRC) that may put large numbers of people in India’s north-eastern state of Assam at risk of becoming stateless.
It is too early to say what the nationality status of those left off the National Register, some 1.9 million according to the authorities, may ultimately be. UNHCR is concerned, however, that many are at risk of statelessness if they do not possess another nationality.
That’s a DoubleQuote — but it’s also pattern recognition, and the start of a possible concatenation of such quotes — a mala of urgencies.
BTW, it’s more than possible, as Myanmar >> Bangladesh migration illustrates, that mass migration across national borders may be a pragmatic alternative to genocide — but that threatens national sovereignty, doesn’t it?
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I was picking up the comment thread on the linguistics podcast. To my mind there are some inconsistencies about modern-day Pakistan:
(1.) Ever since MBQ conquered Sindh in 712; Sindh has remained under Muslim rule. When it did have local rule it was essentially a tussle between the Baloch and Muslim Rajputs, which has replicated itself to this day. Benazir Bhutto is of Rajput ancestry (Bhatt) while her husband Zardari is a Baloch. The Hindu minority were either merchants or serfs and as far as I know the caste Hindus of Sindh are a basically heteregenous lot (there is only one Brahmin surname among the Amils and the castes tends to have strong geographic regions).
(2.) As for Baluchistan and KPK; It’s basically seen the incursion of Iranian speakers the past millennia or so.
Punjab Governor declines to attend reception for Queen's Birthday hosted by British Dy High Commissioner in Chandigarh, citing Jallianwala Bagh massacre's 100th anniversary.@IndianExpresspic.twitter.com/VI3M1UfI78
One hundred years since the Amritsar massacre, probably among the worst violations in all of Britain's tenure in India and the phrases uttered still don't contain the word 'SORRY'. So much for the paragon of civility and refinement in the world. #shame
This may be related to a phenomenon Razib and Omar and their guests observed in the last couple of podcasts: of academics and others on the left in western countries having (and expressing) a really dim view of Hinduism and Hindu civilization, even vis a vis Islam and Islamic civilization.
My guess is that whenever a colonial atrocity is pointed out, even with sufficient evidence, people automatically think of the caste system, untouchability, Sati, etc. at the back of their minds, and that makes them come up with excuses for the coloniser. (Almost no other religion or civilization seems to have so many negatives associated with it in the Western mind, Yoga and stuff notwithstanding.)
The central policy challenge of the Bengali famine was that there was more than enough food WITHIN India but that food was not equitably distributed. Hence the British government's reluctance to import food to solve the problem. Plus the small matter of a existential total war.
I was flirting with a lot of topics on what to write but I’m just going to leave these tweets out here. We continued the exchange but my blood is now boiling; Vidhi always like to say “calm is a super-power” but I dislike the presumptuousness and arrogance when dispensing on the evil doings of colonialism in South Asia.
I notice many Indian commentators decry UP/Bihar backwardness but it has to do with British policy of bleeding India through her port cities.
British Development in the Subcontinent wasn’t centred in the most populous areas but rather the most productive. Say what you will about the Mughals (and John makes an uncharitable dig at them in a following tweet) but their development focus remained the UP-Bihar.
They may have been a rentier state par excellence but at the very least at least their wealth flowed back into the geographical territories that comprises modern day India