Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can't Snap Cultural Ties

On CNN-IBN's Face the Nation, an interesting question was posed to the audience and panelists: Should India snap cultural ties with Pakistan to put pressure on the Government there?

I believe that it is impossible to snap Indo-Pak cultural ties. We have to remember that the two countries have existed as (hostile) neighbours for sixty years: prior to that, it was just one gigantic subcontinent, with its countless kingdoms. A common culture stemmed from this land, the culture of civilisation. To suddenly end millenniums for culture would be both impossible and foolhardy in attempt.

On the programme, singer Abhijeet made a somewhat valid point: the economics of it. While cultural ties such as clothing and food can never be severed, professional acting, singing, dancing and theatre can - and maybe even should? Abhijeet pointed out that while millions of talented professionals in our small cities struggle to find a footing, Pakistani professional cross the border (sans work permit, according to Abhijeet) and make their millions, and pay income tax to the Pakistani Government. The reverse process is strictly banned by Pakistan. How can we allow this one-way trade? Isn't it wrong to put our own people at a disadvantage?

I have no answer to this question posed by Abhijeet. Perhaps he is right: the Indian Industry, one of the largest in the world, should be a platform for Indians, otherwise it would become unjust. Or perhaps the argument that art knows no boundaries should apply.

Whatever be the argument, one thing is for sure: India and Pakistan started the human race in the subcontinent together. Governments can erect boundaries but they cannot erase history.

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