understand the problem, just look at the staggering statistics. In
1947, the population of Delhi was about 700, 000. Now it has
exceeded thirteen million. Ludhiana, a city in Punjab, was a little
more than 100,000. Now it is estimated to be more than two million.
The cities lack infrastructure, with the similar increase in the
vehicles on the road, there is congestion and resulting air
pollution. The proper sewerage faculties are lacking so much that
more than 80% of people have no toilet facility. Water supply is
becoming tighter and tighter, more than 50% of the population
deprived from clean drinking water. Sewerage and water pipes have
crossed; frequently resulting in serious outbreaks of diseases such
as hepatitis and gastroenteritis.
pressures to build homes for the ever-growing population has
resulted in deforestation and loss of farmland. This puts greater
pressure on the remaining farmland with increased use of chemical
fertilizers and insecticides and burning of stumps of the crops
after harvesting. These are further damaging the already damaged
environment. The pressures of multinationals which led to
globalization have resulted in deep cuts in already inadequate
social programs for the impoverished population. I recently saw the
results of such cuts, which have led to deplorable conditions of
healthcare and education for the poor, which form a majority of the
growing competition for the limited opportunities increases
corruption, insecurity, and breakdown of values. This is leading to
growing crime and can create conditions for epidemics like AIDS.
While peoples’ problems keep getting worse, both countries are
increasingly diverting already depleted resources to the military
and defense. If they can improve their relations then this colossal
wastage of meager resources can be stopped and the money saved can
be used to solve the real problems of the subcontinent.
George Fernandes (the Indian Defense Minister) has just returned
from China. He was the main proponent of the theory that China poses
real danger to India, therefore India has to build a strong defense
against China. But, now he seems convinced that China has no
intentions of invading India or to destabilize India. On the
contrary, China seems interested in improving relations not only
between China and India but also between India and Pakistan. China
wants peace south of its border but it also strongly desires a
strong and prosperous Asia. The Chinese feel that in the last two
centuries, Asia has not gotten a good deal from the western powers
and time has come to restore Asia’s prestige and status.
and Pakistan should work for immediately improving trade and people
to people relations. There should be no preconditions set for those.
The tough political problems should be gradually addressed in the
environment of improved trust, cordiality and well being. Both India
and Pakistan are Asian countries belonging to the third world.
Moreover, they have a common culture and shared values and history.
There is no fundamental conflict between the interests of the two
the best thing which could happen to the Indian subcontinent is its
transformation into a South Asian Economic Alliance on the pattern
of the European Union and the ASEAN. The Indian subcontinent has
made tremendous contributions to the world, the most significant
being in the field of overall human development. Because of our
situation in the last two centuries, particularly in the last
century, our great contributions have been overshadowed by the
images of poverty, deprivation, and desperation. The west sees us a
city of joy, this was Calcutta, but it could very well have been
Karachi. The improved relations between the two countries can set a
stage for restoration of our proper status in the global community.