Tag Archive for 'Pluralism'

The idea of India versus the idea of Pakistan

Mukul Kesavan in The Telegraph:

During the Jaipur Literary Festival in 2009, Pakistani writers experienced a special kind of Indian incivility. Both in casual conversation and in formal question-and-answer sessions, they were asked if they thought that Pakistan was a good idea, the implication being that it wasn’t. Mohammed Hanif, the author of a wonderful satirical novel about Zia’s Pakistan, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, responded to a variation on this question by saying, patiently, that debating the virtue of Pakistan’s founding idea was less important than coming to terms with the fact that Pakistan was a real country that had to be reckoned with.

The interesting thing is that this question is often asked by people who can be reasonably described as liberals. They don’t want the reality of Pakistan undone and they would be appalled to be clubbed with sangh parivar rhetoricians who attack Pakistan as a Muslim abomination. And yet, despite themselves, the question rises unbidden to their lips. It isn’t normal in polite society to ask someone to repudiate his national identity as a preliminary to conversation and yet, well-intentioned Indians do precisely that.