Monday, November 18, 2013

Normalization of India-Pakistan relations

Left: Jinnah-wali selfie Right: Nehru-wali selfie
The window is upon us to normalize India-Pakistan relations.  Google’s Reunion video – in which a Baldev of New Delhi is reunited with his childhood friend, Yusuf of Lahore – is indicative that the opportunity is ripe for more peace and less war in South Asia.  Even well before Google, Coca-cola’s finger was already on the Indo-Pak pulse.  They installed vending machines that enabled Indians to use video technology to converse with Pakistanis – new connections beget new relations?

My own doctoral research investigates this turn in Indo-Pak relations, particularly in the economic realm.  The interest to normalize Indo-Pak trade is strong and the sentiment is real.  I have especially felt as much these past few months during the numerous meetings and roundtables I have attended on this subject with representatives from government, industry, academia, and the media, to name a few. 

Roundtable by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) with former Commerce Secretaries of India (Rahul Khullar) and Pakistan (Zafar Mahmood), on November 7, 2013
Roundtable by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) with the Federation of Pakistani Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) with both Presidents, on November 13, 2013
Recent news clippings report that young business leaders from both countries have been organizing delegations (see The Hindu: CII Young Indians to develop Indo-Pak trade ), and the President of Pakistan's Chamber of Commerce and Industry indicates that trade will flourish regardless of whether India elects a Hindu-nationalist Modi or a secular Gandhi (see Business Standard: Modi's rise to power will not affect India-Pakistan trade relations: Zubair Ahmed Malik ).  History's first Indo-Pakistan joint venture has been incorporated legally, between two furniture companies in Amritsar and Lahore (see International The News: Pakistan, India launch joint venture ).These firms will join others from India and Pakistan at an upcoming Punjab International Trade Expo see Amritsar (see biz trade shows ).

I close by reciting Mahatma Gandhi-ji’s emblematic call to tolerance and love: Ishvar Allah tero naam!  This mantra calls for God to love us all, regardless of whether we each assign God with some different name, be it Ishvar, Allah, or Baghwaan (or Jesus, Yahweh, or Buddha, and so on).  I melt every time I hear this in song and poetry.    

plaque in Amritsar, Punjab, India which recites the mantra 'Ishvar, Allah tero naam!'

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