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The Truth about Pakistan is India

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What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

This is what Juliet says to Romeo after she comes to know that he was a Montague, an enemy. True, a rose will remain rose if called by any other name. Likewise, Indianness is the essence of the subcontinent. We might be known by different names today, be it Indians, Pakistanis or Bangladeshis, yet we remain essentially the same people and share so much in common for being the sons and daughters of the same soil.

The Truth is the Truth.

Of late, it has been reported that due to some reasons known to them, many Pakistanis have started introducing themselves as Indians in the West, especially the US. When it was first reported, the Indian media seized on the matter – like we always do – and started highlighting Pakistanis’ so-called identity crisis. Well, in my view Pakistanis are correct and absolutely justified in calling themselves Indians, for they are indeed ‘Indians’ besides being Pakistanis. Let me elucidate how.

In 1947, the most complex ‘divorce’ in the history of mankind took place wherein a family of 400 million human beings, along with the assets and household property they’d acquired in centuries of living together on the same piece of earth, was divided.

In the end, the truth shall prevail and ‘India’ is the Truth; the Truth is we are Indians and family; that we have been brothers and we will always remain brothers, despite the borders and walls of hatred that we have built around us.

At the outset of the cataclysmic Partition, Congress claimed the most precious asset of all, the name ‘India’. The party rejected a proposal to name their new dominion ‘Hindustan’ and insisted that since Pakistan was seceding, the name India and India’s identity in groups like the UN remain theirs. No tussle over the word ‘India’ is reported because Jinnah preferred the newly coined name, a very Islamic sounding identity, that is Pakistan.

John Keay in his book ‘India – A History’ writes that Jinnah was under the impression that neither of the states would want to adopt the British title of ‘India’. He only discovered his mistake after Lord Mountbatten had already acceded to Nehru’s demand that his state remained ‘India’. Jinnah according to Mountbatten, ‘was absolutely furious when he found out that they (Nehru and Congress party) were going to call themselves India’.

The author writes the use of the word implied a subcontinental primacy which Pakistan would never accept. It also flew in the face of history since ‘India’ originally referred exclusively to territory in the vicinity of the Indus River (with which the word is cognate). Hence, it was largely outside the republic of India but largely within Pakistan. If etymologically ‘India’ belonged anywhere, it was not to the republic proclaimed by Nehru but his rival headed by Jinnah in Pakistan.

Ironically, Pakistan inherited the majority of the main Harappan sites, so depriving India of the most tangible proof of its vaunted antiquity. Likewise, India inherited most of the subcontinent’s finest Islamic architecture, so depriving Muslim Pakistanis of what they regard as their own glorious heritage.

Jinnah was perchance under the impression that neither side would use the word ‘India’ because historically it was an object of conquest for outsiders, something to be coveted, ‘something worth taking’. Similar was the case with the terms like ‘Britain’, ‘Germany’ or ‘America’; When first these words were recorded, all were objects of conquest.

So why would either side want to associate itself with ‘India’, the land of the conquered?

Gandhiji, in his autobiography ‘The Story of My Experiments with Truth‘, has narrated his experience in South Africa as an Indian lawyer. Indians were called ‘coolies’, a disparaging term, and Indian Muslims would not even identify themselves as Indians. Instead, the Muslims would introduce themselves as Arabs and not Indians, as though they were ashamed of their true identity.

But, the Truth is the Truth. By merely calling ourselves an Arab, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and not an Indian, can we belie the Truth? Let me also state that there were many secular Muslims like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who were proud of their Indian identity and never disowned it.

India

‘The word ‘India’ first made its debut in an inscription found at Persepolis in Iran, which was the capital of the Persian or Achaemenid empire of Darius I; the Persian inscription, dated to c518 BC, lists his numerous domains that of ‘Hi(n)du’. The word for a ‘river’ in Sanskrit is Sindhu. Hence Sapta-Sindhu meant ‘(the land of) the seven rivers’, which was what the Vedic Arya called the Panjab. Most of these seven rivers were tributary to the Indus and it was thus Sindhu par excellence; and in the language of ancient Persian, the initial ‘s’ of a Sanskrit word was invariably rendered as an aspirate – ‘h’; Sindhu is thus Hind(h)u.’

When, from Persian, the word found its way into Greek, the initial aspirate was dropped, and it started to appear as the route ‘Ind’ (as in ‘India’, ‘Indus’, etc.) In this form, it reached Latin and other European languages. However, in Arabic and related languages it retained the initial ‘h’, giving ‘Hindustan’ as the name by which Turks and Mughals would know India. That word was also passed on to Europe to give ‘Hindu’ as the name of country’s indigenous people and of what, by Muslims and Christians alike, was regarded as their infidel religion.

Hence, we all are sons and daughters of the same soil. We might follow different religions or not follow any at all; religion is a matter of personal choice after all and the state should have nothing to do with it. If that is the Truth, how can people be divided in the name of religion when they’re essentially the same; when they speak the same language and follow the same culture? How can we divide the people whom the God has made one? Yet, it happened in 1947 and we are still reaping the whirlwind today.

The Truth

My brother from Pakistan Shehzad Ghias spoke the Truth in his brave and great piece, ‘To save Pakistan, we have to let go of the idea of Pakistan’.

“If we have any hopes of saving Pakistan, we have to let go of the idea of Pakistan. Neither the sub-continent nor the world needs a separate homeland for Muslims. We need a country where people can live freely regardless of their creed, caste, religion or political affiliation.”

In the end, the Truth shall prevail and ‘India’ is the Truth; the Truth is we are Indians and family; that we have been brothers and we will always remain brothers, despite the borders and walls of hatred that we have built around us.

And only the Truth can save us from perdition.

Next Story

India Needs to Improve its Educational Outcomes to Catch up with China

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes

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The Article 30 of the Constitution gives religious and linguistic minorities “the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”
India needs to improve its educational outcomes to catch up with China. Pixabay

By Amit Kapoor

Both China and India started building their national education systems under comparable conditions in the late 1940s. Different policies and historical circumstances have, however, led them to different educational outcomes, with China outperforming India not just in terms of its percentage of literate population and enrollment rates at all levels of education, but also in terms of number of world-class institutions in higher education, and greater research output.

The roots of China’s successful education system date back to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which unintentionally expanded access to the primary education through democratising the schooling system, which was previously elitist in character, thus addressing the problem of mass illiteracy.

In contrast, India continued to focus on its higher education system since independence and only realised the importance of basic education in 1986, keeping it behind China and many other countries in Asia in educational development. In terms of enrollment, China reached a 100 percent gross enrollment rate (GER) in its primary education in 1985, whereas, India attained that level only in 2000.

In terms of secondary school enrollment, India and China both started at the similar rates in 1985, with about 40 percent of their population enrolled in secondary schools. However, due to a wider base of primary school students, the rate of increase in China has been much faster than in India, with 99 percent secondary enrollment rate in China and 79 percent in India in 2017.

India is closing in on the Chinese rate in terms of access to education, but on the literacy level front, there is a huge gap in the percentage of literate populations in the two countries. In the age group of 15-24 years, India scores 104th rank on literacy and numeracy indicator, compared to China’s 40th rank.

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which assesses after every three years the domain knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, science and finance, revealed that students in China performed above the OECD average in 2015. Moreover, one in four students in China are top performers in mathematics, having an ability to formulate complex situations mathematically. Further, China outperforms all the other participating countries in financial literacy, by having a high ability to analyse complex finance products. For India, the comparable data is not available as it was not a participating country in PISA 2015.

abroad, study
Representational image.

However, in India, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 provides data for rural youth, aged 14-18, with respect to their abilities to lead productive lives as adults. According to this survey, only about half of the 14-year-old children in the sample could read English sentences, and more than half of the students surveyed could not do basic arithmetic operations, like division. For basic financial calculations, such as managing a budget or making a purchase decision, less than two-thirds could do the correct calculations.

With regard to the higher education system, both India and China dominate the number of tertiary degree holders because of their large population size, but when it comes to the percentage of the population holding tertiary degrees, only about 10 per cent and 8 per cent of the population possess university degrees in China and India, respectively. By contrast, in Japan, almost 50 per cent of the population holds a tertiary degree, and in the United States, 31 per cent of the population hold a tertiary degree.

In terms of the international recognition of universities, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking for 2019 places seven of the China’s universities in the top 200, compared to none for India. The global university rankings, which are based on various performance metrices, pertaining to teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industrial income, shows progress for several of China’s low-ranked universities, largely driven by improvements in its citations.

In fact, the Tsinghua University has overtaken the National University of Singapore (NUS) to become the best university in Asia due to improvements in its citations, institutional income and increased share of international staff, students and co-authored publications.

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While India has progressed in terms of massification of education, there is still a lot which needs to be done when it comes to catching up with the China’s educational outcomes. China’s early start in strengthening its primary and secondary education systems has given it an edge over India in terms of higher education. Moreover, Chinese government strategies are designed in line with the criterion used in major world university rankings, especially emphasis is on the two factors which weigh heavily in the rankings — publications and international students.

The relentless publications drive, which is very evident in China, is weak in India and has led to a growing gap in the number of publications contributed by the two countries. Further, China enrolled about 292,611 foreign students in 2011 from 194 countries, while India currently only has 46,144 foreign students enrolled in its higher education institutions, coming from 166 countries. The large number of international enrollments in China is a reflection of its state policies granting high scholarships to foreign students.

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes. Massification drive for education has helped India raise its student enrollments, but a lot needs to be done when it comes to global recognition for its universities. Further, it needs to focus on building the foundation skills which are acquired by students at the school age, poor fundamental skills flow through the student life, affecting adversely the quality of education system. (IANS)