The 70th Birthday

Substantive, sincere and meaningful steps need be taken right today

GKNN
Srinagar, Publish Date: Aug 15 2017 10:31PM | Updated Date: Aug 15 2017 10:31PM
India and Pakistan this week mark a major milestone in their histories - both the nations celebrated the 70th year of their independence. At the height of the freedom struggles of the two countries, the founding fathers of the two nations had envisioned a future for their peoples that would be free from poverty, injustice, suffering, inequality and want. This 70th anniversary of independence provides an opportunity to look back and reflect if the ideals that the two countries were founded on have been achieved. Admittedly, there has been considerable progress in eradicating poverty and disease; however, both the countries have a long way to go in creating conditions free from mass poverty, inequality and social and political justice for large chunks of their populations. Even as the founding fathers of the two countries were wedded to the ideals of non-violence, non-alignment and non-expansionism, the two countries today spend colossal sums of money from their national resources on maintaining their military machines. Newer and bigger challenges of youth bulge, low agricultural productivity, unemployment and climate change continue to pose significant risks to peace and security. The biggest challenge for the two countries in the coming years would be providing decent jobs to their young people in a global environment that will be defined by high competition in productivity and job creation. These challenges demand that both countries prioritise their time and energies in preparing for these challenges rather than remain locked in perpetual animosity, games of geo-strategic one-upmanship and fruitless disengagement. Much of this history of animosity and disengagement has something to do with their positions on Kashmir. As the two countries today brace for the future challenges, all people's longterm wellbeing and prudent use of resources, as against wasteful militarism, must be a priority. Focused journey of such paths requires the two countries' leadership to embrace statesmanship and resolve the principal issue of contention - Kashmir - and provide a fair chance to the people of the two countries in overcoming the aforementioned future challenges. It would be a tragedy if on the occasion of 100th anniversaries of the two countries' independence the two two countries would be locked in tension and disengagement as is the case today. The next 30 years are crucial to the realisation of the dreams of the two countries' founding fathers. Substantive, sincere and meaningful steps need to be taken right today.