Farah Adeed |
What differentiates people living in Pakistan from those living in India? What are the distinctive traits of those living in Bangladesh and Nepal? What is the point of being different or indifferent? Ethnicity? Religion? Race? Geography? Culture? Or what else? There can be many answers to the questions posed above, depending upon who is giving the answer and under what conditions and in which context.
For example, a Muslim living in New Delhi will have something entirely different to offer than that of a Muslim living in Lahore. It is a sect, economic conditions, and sense of political responsibility and ethnic background which shapes the answers to the questions I have outlined above. You can say there are different cultures, various languages, multiple ethnicities, and a few religions within the territorial boundary of what is commonly called South Asia.
What makes India, self-proclaimed largest democracy of the world, Pakistan, a controlled democracy, and Bangladesh, a flawed democracy, similar and in what ways?
If there is a stark difference in every aspect of our societies and state structures then what is the point of being South Asian? Is it only geography which defines regions or there is something beyond it? I personally believe that socio-economic conditions, religious beliefs and racial differences within the same broader geographical boundary shape some collective social-cultural norms and easy-to-feel attitudes.
Look at South Asia and you will find something called South Asian-ness. Let it be clear at the very outset that broad generalizations generally do not offer arcane details or reliable evidence to understand a phenomenon rather they help us dwelling into the realms of confusion which ultimately leads to imagination and creativity. Imagination is the brainchild of confusion.
Read more: Has Informal Media overcome Formal Media?
What makes India, self-proclaimed largest democracy of the world, Pakistan, a controlled democracy, and Bangladesh, a flawed democracy, similar and in what ways? It is the prevalence of a culture of irrationality and sensationalism, and historical romance with established enmities which is universally available in these three countries that create the notorious South Asian-ness.
The counter-terrorism department killed a family on the road and everyone on media became an expert over intelligence, terrorism and dynamics and principles of police operations and encounter. Everyone in our media was the repository of infallible wisdom. Meanwhile, the economic crisis hit the incumbent government and our media men and women immediately became top-class economists. They offered every possible solution to the PTI government to come out of otherwise an unmanageable economic maelstrom. And then Muhammad Bin Salman decided to visit Pakistan and everyone on TV screens was an expert in International Relations, economics, and defense.
Foreign qualified media men became experts over terrorism and international relations and concluded even before any evidence that Pakistan was behind the attack.
Look at Indian media in a post-Pulwama attack scenario. Foreign qualified media men became experts over terrorism and international relations and concluded even before any evidence that Pakistan was behind the attack. War was demanded to teach a lesson to Pakistan. Pakistani commentators were invited on Indian TV channels and cruelly humiliated to appease Indian public. Rationality died in the Indian media industry but it was surely not something unexpected.
Now let’s look into what is going on Bangladesh everyone is expert of smuggling and black money in the country. Before that most of the TV presenters were giving a lecture on climate change and environmental degradation apart from political and economic debates.
Can Education Fix Ignorance?
What is common in these countries? My answer is simple and may be too broad for many of you. It is the presence of the same people on the same TV screens but with different claims of specialization. This develops a culture of persistent irrationality and irrevocable ignorance in the states mentioned above. And this is something beyond geography which defines our South Asian-ness.
Muhammad Bin Salman decided to visit Pakistan and everyone on TV screens was an expert in International Relations, economics, and defense.
It will be rather foolish to claim that those appearing on TVs are not well-educated or it is the absence of education which creates the culture of ignorance. Not, it is not like that. Some of the TV presenters in South Asian states are foreign graduates and many others are former students of various prestigious universities of their respective states.
It is not education or its absence which has created the same attitude in South Asian states rather it is the result of historical processes and socio-economic developments which have created the same men, same mentality and almost same worldview in geographically divided states.
I do not know what the solution to counter the forces of irrationality and hyper-emotionalism in South Asia is. But I can assure you, my dear readers, education is not the only force which can alter the course of our history.
The writer is a political analyst based in Lahore. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.