Monday, June 25, 2012

Bread, not nukes!

Pakistan is reported to be stockpiling nuclear war heads and by now they may have over a hundred. Similarly, India too is following suit and additionally testing ICBMs capable of the delivery of these nuclear weapons. Apart from this, both the countries are madly looking for conventional weapons at a huge cost. According to a survey conducted recently, India is the largest importer of conventional weapons in the world. These imports are worth billions of dollars. A deal has been under process for about $ 10 billion to purchase 126 latest fighter aircraft. At the present moment India’s defence budget is $ 41 billion. During next 5 years India is going to import weapons worth $ 50 billion. From Russia they plan to buy over 200 Sukhoi fighters worth $ 10 billion. Pakistanis are spending almost half of their budget on defence related purchases. In addition they have received liberal arms aid from USA. Even though the defence budget is only $ 5.75 billion yet compared to social services it is colossal. On an average during last 10 years or so they have been spending 10 to 23 % of their budget on defence. Compared to this the expenditure on health has been 0.61 to 0.88 % and on education 0.94 to 1.88 %. There is a crazy competition between these two neighbouring countries to acquire lethal weapons from all over the world. Now, India has to contend with China also. This has increased the arms spending still further. Pakistanis are totally broke. They have literally more weapons than breads for the hungry people. It is a pity that on one hand we are talking of a peaceful and economically developing South Asia while on the other hand most of our precious resources are channelled into arms purchases. It is claimed that India is shinning and is on way to becoming a super power and an economic giant. Yes, it was true but not now. The growth rate is down from 8% to 5%. Inflation has exceeded 10%. Rupee is tumbling. At present 56 to a US dollar! At the same time it has teeming millions living below the poverty line. Almost half the population mostly in rural areas does not have access to cured drinking water. More than 60% have no toilet facilities and go out in the nature. Basic healthcare is not available to the majority of the population. Infant mortality is very high. Most of all the bulk of the population does not have enough bread to eat. Yes, there is a large middle class and an extremely rich corporate sector but it is nowhere near being a welfare state for its citizens in spite of 65 years of independence. Well, we can say Pakistan is worse off. They too are not a welfare state. They have a rich feudal aristocracy and plenty of warlords. No power. No gas. No bread. Yes, the only thing they have in plenty is small arms and wide spread violence! The moot point is why have these two South Asian countries which were earlier a single unit become such adversaries? Why are they spending a major chunk of their precious resources on arming themselves for a senseless confrontation? One needs to go beyond the sub-continent to understand that mystery. The white man had colonized the entire world. With the mass awakening in these colonies, they had to slowly vacate all these held territories whose resources they had mercilessly robed. However, after losing the physical control, they invented a new type of colonialism. The economic colonialism. They ensured that these free countries did not follow the line of a welfare state like their own countries and enslaved them through various crafty measures. The best and the least expensive thing was to create situations of conflict amongst these. In fact, the division of the sub-continent and creation of an unsolvable dispute of Kashmir has been their very clever machination. This has been confirmed by the declassification of secret documents recording minutes of meetings held between George Marshal and Bevin in early forties. Not only did they create the virtually unending conflict and mistrust but ensured its continuation by various overt and covert means. From one extreme position of supporting Pakistan out rightly against India through the defence pacts of SEATO and CENTO, they have now given total support to India ostensibly for economic reasons but in reality to also ensure the tangle remains unsettled and they reap the benefits from both the sides. The most tragic part is that some of our leaders in both the countries not only endorse the policy of these western colonisers but actually collaborate with them. One would have thought these leaders to be in the forefront for developing their countries as welfare states so as to give good life to the teeming millions but they are raising pitch for more and more conflicts to waste the precious resources on lethal weapons. Both India and Pakistan need bread for their people rather than stock piles of nukes. It is probably difficult for the partition generations to reconcile to each other. The mistrust created in 1947 refuses to go away. It seems the only hope is the new generation. Unfortunately, the religious extremists in both countries are trying their best to poison the minds of the youth. The intelligence and security agencies in both the countries seem to have a commitment to prevent removal of mistrust between the two governments. The story is different when people from two sides meet each other. The high level elite interactions in five star hotels are mostly confined to the partition generation who try to drown their prejudices in cocktail parties. However, the true bonhomie and togetherness can come only through the “Junoon” generation which is devoid of any prejudices and biases of the partition days. The first thing which needs to be done to really remove the mistrust is to end the ridiculous spectacle at Atari-Wagah border. The flag raising and lowering ceremonies are a manifestation of enmity and aggressiveness. This must be the only place in the world where such a spectacle is held and advertised for the people to see it! Unless the common people on two sides meet each other freely and travel to each others’ places without any let or hindrance, the mutual trust cannot be built. It is a pity that in spite of umpteen meetings the two sides have not been able to relax the visa restrictions. The walls being built between the people of the two countries are more formidable than even the Berlin Wall. It seems the two governments are held hostage to the biases, prejudices, and the mistrust. Ultimately, the people themselves on two sides may have to rise to demolish the sub-continent’s Berlin Wall. Unless that is done, we will continue to make nukes instead of the scarce bread!

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