The situation in South Asia today is a clear reflection of the domino effect that has its roots in the British and American Game theories. Religion traders and poverty contractors have taken over the mantel of elites in the cosmopolitan and metropolitan cities of this region like Delhi, Mumbai, Dhaka, Islamabad and Karachi. In effect these hubs have been turned into cities of bandits, prados and palaces.
Karl Marx can be seen begging for bread at almost every traffic signal, while the Haves rush towards red carpet TV shows, contractors stubbornly proceed to consulate balls and religion traders crossing the speed limit to meet with important ambassadors behind in closed doors.
These are astonishing times in this region given the fact that governments in Delhi, Islamabad and Dhaka claim to be secular and strong believers of democracy and development. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh knows how to bring back the glory of India, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani knows how to handle a fragile democracy in the face of fear games played by Islamic radicals and Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has emerged as a strong believer of western-style democracy. Ideally, it should be a difficult time for occidental and oriental launderers to create social confusion and promote conspiracy theories in their smoke filled rooms. But sadly, this ideal situation is also dictated by social delinquency.
On the other side of the canvass, there’s Barack Obama who knows where to go, what to say and when to focus on his peace building mission, there’s Hillary Clinton who appears panic stricken at the state & direction of American economy, there are the western business cartels which are fighting a losing battle against the growing power of China. The iron curtain that was successfully taken down in 1989 has come to be replaced by several smaller steel curtains, even if a few of them exist in the minds of lazy intellectuals and sold-out souls of brokers. Brazil, Russia and a few European Union states are struggling to materialize the lost dream of equity and sustainability. And the ASEAN block has repaired the damages of Vietnam War, working hard to bring back nonviolent orientalism.
But South Asia continues to stifle under the weight of Islamic and Hindu radicalism. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi identified Hindu extremists as the greatest enemy of India, Awami League member Sajeeb Wazed Joy is trying to implement his digital Bangladesh road map to bring transparency to Bangladesh governance and in Pakistan Punjab governor Salman Taseer sacrificed his life for moderate Islam, peace and freedom of expression. It’s not an easy task for these three governments to break the spell of shadow dancers and religious mercenaries bent upon encashing the misery in South Asia. Knowingly or unknowingly they are facilitated by the nouveau riche who are driven solely by their need for immediate benefit. All this is at the cost of marginalizing the honest segment of society and making them targets of political criminalization.
In the western world teachers and journalists are still valued as positive influences on social secularism and democracy. But in South Asia, the criminalization of politics and military has distorted this very fabric threatening the dignity and existence of those very elements that have the ability to function as social balancers.
Hasina-Manmohan-Gilani led governments appear keen to rectify this imbalance, but terrorists are equally desperate to keep the trauma of Kashmir and Bengal divisions alive. Radcliff’s lines drawn in 1947 have not only grown strong, they continue to eat at peace efforts in the region. It’s now only up to civil societies to undertake the uphill task of reknotting the fabric.