Monday, January 16, 2006

A Modern Sage’s Advice for Indians

In his latest book ‘The Argumentative Indian’, Amartya Sen - the sage from Bengal as Tariq Ali calls him - offers some wise and sensible advice to his compatriots on their dealings with neighbouring Pakistan.

He writes:

[No] country has as much stake as India in having a prosperous and civilian democracy in Pakistan. Even though the Nawaz Sharif government was clearly corrupt in many ways, India’s interests are not well served by the undermining of civilian rule in Pakistan, to be replaced by activist military leaders. Also, the encouragement of cross-border terrorism, which India accuses Pakistan of, is likely to be dampened rather than encouraged by Pakistan’s economic prosperity and civilian politics. It is particularly important in this context to point to the dangerousness of the argument, often heard in India, that the burden of public expenditure would be unbearable for Pakistan, given its smaller size and relatively stagnant economy, than it is for India. This may well be the case, but the penalty that could visit India from an impoverished and desperate Pakistan, in the present situation of massive insecurity, could be catastrophic. Strengthening of Pakistan’s stability and enhancement of its well-being has prudential importance for India, in addition to its obvious ethical significance. That central connection – between the moral and the prudential – must urgently be grasped.
Amartya Sen, The Argumentative Indian – Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity, Allen Lane, UK, 2005, pp. 268-269.


Sreekumar said...

It is an argument which should be heard more often. Have a feeling that ppl in power in Delhi know about it. How much they believe it might be crucial for India's future.

hcg said...

Took me time to read all the comments, but I really love the article. It proved to be very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also engaged! I’m sure you had joy writing this article.