Sunday, July 3, 2016

Life in a Great Hope

Read Agam Saran's answer to Do Hindus in Pakistan regret not migrating to India in 1947? on Quora

I recently came across this interesting answer on Quora, from a user who identifies as (and talks quite freely about) a Hindu citizen in Pakistan, part of the 1.6% tiny minority largely embedded in the border regions of Sindh. It is said that the greatest tragedy of Partition was not in Punjab or Bengal, despite all the killing, because the people there knew what was coming. The greatest tragedy was in Sindh, which did not realize where it would go, particularly the large Hindu population in Karachi, a city that used to be the twin of Bombay in terms of culture and economy. Used to be. Undoubtedly, if Partition had not happened, Karachi and Mumbai would be spoken of in the same breath. Instead, one is spoken of as an urban war zone, and the other as South Asia's richest city.

But Pakistan-bashing is not my point. There are innumerable people on social media to do that. Besides, while I do not subscribe to the view that they are the same people as us any more, largely because of the way their history has gone, I have met and known many Pakistanis, and they may be different, but not bad people. There is much in common, and many differences. Anyway, the point is about Pakistani Hindus, who you rarely hear about in India, except when large groups come to India and seek refugee status, thus getting themselves entangled in the web of non-existent refugee laws in India (there really is no law, so it's all very ad-hoc, not just for Hindus from Pakistan, but also from Bangladesh, as well as Afghans and Burmese). More specifically, the point is about this individual, Mr. Saran, who writes quite freely about tech and identity.

What truly struck me about his answer was the air of resignation in it - he says it quite frankly, that he wished his forefathers had made the journey to what became the Republic of India, and not stayed back in Sindh. He frankly says that just about every Hindu family there is going to face mortal threat, and one day or the other "that one bad person" is going to destroy a Hindu family. He even gives a timeline of how to escape it: move from the big cities to the smaller towns, from the smaller towns to the suburban towns, from the suburbs to Karachi or Hyderabad, and from there, emigrate to India or the West. Viola!

Jokes aside, this young man, probably my age, seems to have something unique: a dogged desire to pursue what he's good at (or what he's allowed to be good at anyway, according to his answer about career choices for Pakistani Hindus). He seems to know that he is eventually going to face some threat to his life and well-being, it is inevitable, but he goes on with Pakistan's nascent IT sector, hoping it gets better (and chastising it for making undue comparisons with Silicon Valley or Bangalore). I'm not a tech expert (more a wannabe tech geek/PhD, with considerable knowledge of Civil Engineering), but he seems to know his stuff, and he knows his strengths and weaknesses. All of this, in people of my age, are extremely rare traits - most so-called millennials are short-tempered, greedy, incompetent hippies. In my humble opinion, of course.

Obviously I'm probably never going to meet him. India and Pakistan may have been one land for millennia, and they may be again, but right now, we are separate people, with separate identities, hopes, and dreams. And while I do wish him luck, I fear that he may not be alive in the near future, especially if he goes too far out of Karachi too often. I also fear that he knows that. On my part, despite all the losses and tales of hardship, I'm glad my grandfather made the journey from East Pakistan to India. 

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