Challenge of the future in south Asia

The daily word from the web: pogrom Meaning: noun: An organized massacre, officially tolerated or encouraged, against a particular group. ETYMOLOGY: From Yiddish pogrom, from Russian pogrom (destruction). Earliest documented use: 1891. NOTES: The word is usually applied to the massacre of Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. My earliest memories do not go back so far, but I do remember another such chapter in human history and my parents anguish at becoming refugees in their own land. The mass movement in 1946-48 of the Partition of South Asia into new nations hopefully will remain unprecedented; as millions left their homes on bullock carts, trucks, trains or just walking along the roadways to safety. The slaughter that happened between the communities; as the division was along Muslim and Hindu divide demanded by Jinnah and the visionaries of Pakistan, as the first new Muslim nation. A cancer of communal violence; that eats away at its soul even today, where poor communities are destroyed and war is threatened over Kashmir every few decades. The neighbors cannot live or trade in and harmony and peace with open borders. The divisions run deep now; and petty hostility prevails. that stops commerce and prosperity from spreading across these regions. They are soft states that struggle from political crisis to political crisis in an unending circle.
There is of course a better way and that is by breaking down these religious and cultural differences, and to rather embrace the modern reality that we live in a common world; and all of us are in this together. We rise and fall with each other; so it is much better to trade and expand commerce, across the area. If India is to go from 1.5 Trillion to the $ 15 Trillion by 2020, predicted by an economic research team’s recent projections; we will need a radical change is cooperation and openness across the nations. We should build the highways of the future through gas and oil pipelines from the best sources as that is what the third largest economy in the world will need. We need to ensure that Energy from solar, wind, biogas and all renewal forces like hydro, nuclear are utilized to their max, while cleaner coal continues to pay a great role in the mix. We need to build modern transportation hubs of railroads, highway, container ports and international airports that can facilitate the movement of goods and services so badly needed in this region.
There is a lot of thought leadership and entrepreneurial skill in the region; that is mainly held back, due to political considerations. Artificial constraints remain on the stock markets; and there is no mobility of resources, across the region. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank and other NGOs do commendable work in the region; and they can be leveraged to become the future ambassadors, of cross state endeavors. The ancient Grand Trunk Road at its imagined best; would become a true corridor of communication and logistics from Asia Minor, to the Indus and the Gangetic plains. From Tehran, Samarkand to Calcutta and Chittagong could be the land links. Then with their safe harbors in the Sundarban Delta of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra into the Bay of Bengal great waterways and river transports could bloom connecting the land to the oceans. Just like the mighty Mississippi is the artery of moving bulk goods through the heart of the US we could build waterways that link the south and the north. The energy and resources from land trapped nations could flow down giant pipelines; providing the needs of industry, that would serve the needs of billions across the region. For such a large bay and larger Persian sea and the expanse of the Indian Ocean; we should have a flourishing trade with container ports, railroad lines and highways servicing the interiors. We have the access to the fastest growing continent of nearby Africa; and are allowing China and other nations to overtake us in influence and trade, when we should be leading it.
The infrastructure build out required; would keep the region busy for the next century, if someone had the guts to envision the cross state proposals, that will truly transform the region. There are trillions of dollars just being wasted on a daily; basis because of crony capitalism and feudal living, which befuddles the villages and countryside (pheasants) which are the ones who need to transform themselves into the future. Let the people trade and just provide the means to do it efficiently, and the people will pay for it with their own effort. There is enough capability and knowledge as shown by the launch of the recent Mars mission and starting of the Russian plant in Tamil Nadu. There are enough natural resources in the region to provide for the next century if we only take the steps to harness them and share them with each other at an economical price. Greater education of the masses and the liberation of women can have a transformational impact on breaking barriers of ignorance and poverty.
The question remains that in a region where the huge Bamiyan Statues from ancient Buddhism could be callously blown away, and mosques and temples reduced to pages of history and destroyed since time immemorial; can a region of peace and civility be restored. It is said that the establishment of safe passage and open trade with towns and markets along a broad and smooth highway with no restraints; could truly transform the region into an urbanized miracle. This from the region that brought us the Indus Valley civilization, one of the earliest development of urban living. One could travel safely across the GT Road from Kabul to, Karachi, Tehran, New Delhi, Kathmandu, Dacca and Colombo in a matter of days and hours. Civil society and the rule of law is essential for this; with free trade treaties enforced, so no hiccups come in the way. Safety and speed should be the main points of effort; and the ability to scale massively, for the new urbanized population. Economies can only grow when savings can reach safely and quickly into investments, that better the investors. . The infrastructure for communication through use of satellites and towers and new wireless technologies; should connect the people, as information is a great equalizer.
The ideological dream would be to move away from decades of destruction into a world of reconciliation and progress. The passing away of Nelson Mandela could light the way to show how we can rise above our basic hatreds and build a new nation; where race, color, ethnic background do not divide, abut are used to build a better world. After CHOGM we could try for a new era of development between the Commonwealth nations; hindered by the narrow views of the sub-continent. UK, Canada and Australia would all gladly increase their trade with their traditional partners, if we can stop our petty squabbling. As nations of equals; there is far more to be achieved, than as nations of dividers, and regional destruction can at last become regional creation. Let us be creative and magnanimous; for our very own development is at stake, and that of the greater humanity. An economic miracle can unfold, or we can continue to plod along at our Hindu rate of growth. We could finally work on realizing Nehru’s Tryst with destiny speech “A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance…..Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?”

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About Rajiv Kapoor

Rajiv Kapoor was born in New Delhi. He was educated by the Jesuits at St Xavier’s, and graduated with Honors, from The University of Delhi. Rajiv Kapoor did his MBA in International Business from Penn State and is now settled in the US. He has traveled across most states of India, when he was working on modernization of Rice Mills, and understands their diverse culture and history. This book is a historical fiction, dedicated to his city of birth. His extensive research dives deep into a critical moment, in India’s long history, for his latest Historical Thriller “The Peacock Throne Wars”..

9 thoughts on “Challenge of the future in south Asia

  1. I have liked ur idea for development of this region.In gujrat mr modi has already proved that with existing infrastructure he has developed roads river water dams and power sector.even the minority community has now appreciate his idea about growth and secularism.

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