The Great Divide: India and Pakistan

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Item Code: IHL397
Author: Ira Pande
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Edition: 2009
ISBN: 9788172238360
Pages: 379 (Illustrated Throughout In B/W)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8 inch X 5.8 inch
Book Description

At a time when India and Pakistan are both reeling under terror attacks and hysterical talk of an impending war, it is important to take stock of where we have reached, individually and as part of the Indian subcontinent, sixty years after the two nations were carved out as two distinct entities. This volume of essays by writers from both sides of the border attempts to do just that. As the editor, Ira Pande, says in her introduction, There is a balance here between the "hard" topics (politics, economy, diplomacy, religion et al) and "soft" (music, crafts, language, cricket, cinema) to bring out the full range of our engagement with each other.'

The historical swamp that is Urdu, the strategic wilderness of the Rann of Kutch, the complex manoeuvrings of nuclear politics, the emotional rollercoaster of encounters experienced and relived, the difficulty of reconciling the idea of Pakistan with the importance accorded to pluralism within India — every single essay in this collection examines an aspect, of the India-Pakistan experience with a clear and unflinching gaze.

Lived experience, shared concerns, food and travel, nostalgia and analysis, and an extraordinary selection of previously unpublished photographs from the '40s and '50s make this an unusual compilation on the subject of two nations forever in love and hate with each other.

The Great Divide

India Calling! Rajendra Prasad and S. Radhakrishnan

Kulwant Roy Collection / © Aditya Arya Archive

The Great Divide

India and Pakistan

Edited by Ira Pande

HarperCollins Publishers India

a joint venture with

India International Centre

New Delhi

Karan Singh
200: Sonia Jabbar
The Terrorist's Story
Ira Pande
1 : THE DIVISION OF SPOILS 214: Salima Hashmi Photo Essay:
Art on Edge
02: Ashutosh Varshney
The Idea of Pakistan
238: Yousuf Saeed
Fled is that Music
22: Arvind Sharma
Founding Myths
250: Laila Tyabji
Chikan, Polyester Khadi

30: Swapan Dasgupta
A Tale of Two Democracies

260 Shiv Visvanathan
Celebrating Manto
38: Maj. General U.C. Dubey Photo Essay:
The Razmak Album
274 Alok Rai
Longing for Urdu
58: Philip Oldenburg
Different Faiths, Divided States
282: Ira Pande
72: Ashok Malik
Envy - and We
2 : GROWING PAINS 292: Kai Friese

82:B.G. Verghese
From Tragedy to Triumph

294: Anonymous
Shadow Speak
96: Meghnad Desai
Twin Troubles
300: Rehan Ansari
An Ordinary Nobody
106: Prem Shankar Jha
Double Deadlock
312: Madhu Purnima Kishwar
Messy Legacy
118: Salman Haidar
Diplomatic Baggage
330: Urvashi Butalia
Unfinished Histories
130 :C. Raja Mohan
The Great Nuke Game
344: Sabeena Gadihoke
History in the Making
142: Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy
Towards Theocracy?

348: Sunil Sethi
A Conversation with
Nadeem Aslam

152: Ajai Sahni
Encounters in a Nightmare
362: Daniyal Mueenuddin
Nawabdin Electrician
164: Mukul Kesavan
Bad Manners
172:Ajoy Bose
Portrait of a Nation
184: Beena Sarwar
Media Matters
194: Amit Baruah
The Fourth Party


The attainment by India of her Independence on 15 August 1947 was one of the seminal events of the last century, representing as it did a major breach in the citadels of colonialism that had dominated the world for four centuries. Within ten years of our attaining independence, literally dozens of other countries in Asia and Africa had shaken off colonial rule. However, while we celebrate 15 August as our Independence Day, succeeding generations tend to forget that it was marked by a cruel and bloody trifurcation of the country in which tens of thousands lost their lives and millions were uprooted with the creation of Pakistan. So while the Partition is looked upon as a tragedy by us, it was a day of great celebration in Pakistan. By an exquisite irony of history, 25 years later Pakistan itself was partitioned after a bloody uprising that resulted in the emergence of Bangladesh.

While dealing with India and Pakistan, therefore, we have to keep in mind the circumstances of Partition. Also, the war in Jammu and Kashmir and the ceasefire on 1 January 1949, has left a major dispute and casus belli that has already resulted in three more wars and conflicts that bedevil relations between the two countries, not to speak of the cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir as well as the hideous activities of 'non-State actors' trained, equipped and financed from Pakistan.

It is interesting to plot the trajectory of politics in India and in Pakistan over the last six decades. In India, despite all our problems and tensions, corruption and poverty, casteism and communalism, we have been able to sustain a rich and vibrant democracy with 14 General Elections and hundreds of state elections having been conducted on the basis of adult franchise, and resulting in smooth transfers of power. Indeed, in the course of these six decades, almost every legitimate political party in India has had the opportunity of sharing power either at the Centre or in the states. In sharp contradistinction Pakistan, since its inception, has been governed predominantly by a series of army dictators, although we are all watching the most recent democratic experiment with interest.

Moving away from politics, there are several positive linkages between India and Pakistan. In the field of trade and commerce there could be a much more mutually advantageous interaction, while on the cultural net we have strong affinities. The Urdu language, Hindustani classical music, Sufi singers, represent areas in which there has been a creative relationship despite political tensions, not to speak of the subcontinental fixation on cricket. Recently during a SAARC Summit the Indian Council for Cultural Relations invited rock bands from all the SAARC countries, including Pakistan, and their performance in Central Park was attended by over twenty thousand young music lovers. Indian films have always been very popular in Pakistan, and now those made in Pakistan are also being appreciated in India.

In the current Special Issue of the India International Centre Quarterly - The Great Divide: India and Pakistan - a number of eminent intellectuals, academics and journalists have written on a broad spectrum of topics relating to our two countries. I am sure this will be widely welcomed not only in India and Pakistan, but by scholars and academics around the world who are deeply interested in the relationship between these two nuclear neighbours. It remains my personal conviction, expressed on several occasions, that in the final analysis a positive relationship with Pakistan will help India to rise to her full stature as a global power in the new but confused world order that is emerging before our very eyes. Perhaps this issue can be looked upon as a modest input in that direction.


Each year, we choose the theme for the special volume of the Quarterly after a series of meetings and discussions. This year, when we held a preliminary meeting in December to thrash out possible topics, the choice was unanimous: it had to be an issue on India and Pakistan. The country was still reeling from the horrific Mumbai attack and everything else seemed inconsequential when faced with the hysteria raging then over an impending war between the two countries.

Initially, we had wanted voices from both countries so that the concerns could be equally represented and indeed, for a time it seemed as if that is how it would be. In early January, a host of eminent academics, journalists and activists from Pakistan and Afghanistan came to New Delhi to participate in the Delhi Dialogues. At one of their sessions, held at the Centre, I approached some of them to contribute articles for this issue and they readily agreed. Thrilled at having accomplished everything so easily, I sat back relieved. However, ominous silences from across the border alerted me some weeks later, when there were no responses to my e-mail messages, reminding them of their promised articles and negotiating dates and deadlines. Phone calls made to Lahore and Islamabad proved similarly futile. The few Pakistani contacts I managed to reach, politely declined the request quoting travel schedules, work or personal problems. Next time we'll do it, they promised, forgive us this time.

Gradually, it all sank in: it was going to be impossible to get writers and commentators from Pakistan to write in an Indian journal on this topic at this time. Although I was deeply disappointed, I also realized that they could not be blamed. After all, their position became more and more vulnerable as time went by and Pakistan hurtled from one political crisis to another. This is why I salute those writers from Pakistan who have contributed articles to this volume. Their views, courage and commitment to peace are exemplary and give us hope for both our countries. I hope that one day we will be successful in persuading some more writers to join this band of bravehearts.

We have tried to balance this volume between the 'hard' topics (politics, economy, diplomacy, religion et al) and 'soft' ones (music, crafts, language, cricket, cinema) to bring out the full range of our engagement with each other. There are some deeply moving pieces on Partition and the wounds that we scratch from time to time to bleed afresh as we remember a time when one country was carved into two nations. I have chosen a short story by a brilliant young Pakistani writer both for its sharpness and because I believe that fiction from Pakistan is far ahead of anything being written in India at present. I am willing to wager that the next Booker will go to a Pakistani writer: I sincerely hope it does.

>Art and photography are two other areas that more than made up for the failure to procure political writing from Pakistan for this issue. The redoubtable Salima Hashmi was so generous and prompt in her response that she took my breath away. She sent across a selection of images through a common friend and even though a carpal tunnel syndrome had crippled her wrist then, wrote a short piece because she said she had to. Her father's true daughter is our Salima.

For the cover photograph, the second photo essay and the photos for the rest of the volume, I owe a debt to Aditya Arya, photographer and archivist. He allowed us access to some brilliantly restored photographs from the late Kulwant Roy's unseen collection and also led us to General Dubey's Razmak Album. When we saw the Kulwant Roy collection, we felt the only way to bring out their freshness was to use just these throughout the volume. We hope that when you see them, you will agree with our decision. We are told that Roy's Muslim League and Jinnah photos are a scoop because they have never been published or displayed until now.

Finally, to Sonia Jabbar, Alok Rai, Beena Sarwar and Amit Baruah, special thanks for bailing us out when we were let down by three eminent Indian writers at the last minute. Their articles saved the issue but more than that, their inclusion has immeasurably raised the tone of this special issue. To all our other contributors and supporters, we offer our deep gratitude for responding to this topic with their minds and more importantly, their hearts.

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