From the ed­i­tor- in- chief

India Today - - FROM THE EDITOR- IN- CHIEF - ( Aroon Purie)

At 65, nations, un­like hu­man be­ings, are still at the peak of their youth. Like hu­mans, young nations are more en­er­getic and grow faster than their older coun­ter­parts. For both In­dia and Pak­istan, which also hap­pen to be en­dowed with some of the youngest pop­u­la­tion in the world, a 65th an­niver­sary ought to be a ju­bi­lant cel­e­bra­tion of achieve­ment. Un­for­tu­nately, nei­ther coun­try has quite ful­filled the prom­ise of 1947. In­dia is still wait­ing for its tryst with destiny promised by Prime Min­is­ter Jawa­har­lal Nehru at mid­night on Au­gust 15, 1947. The least we can say for In­dia is that it’s still on the right track, even if progress, par­tic­u­larly on the eco­nomic front, is aw­fully slow. Pak­istan doesn’t even have the lux­ury of that con­so­la­tion prize. It is a na­tion that is per­pet­u­ally on the precipice of be­com­ing a failed state. It has cer­tainly failed the prom­ise of its found­ing fa­ther, Muham­mad Ali Jin­nah, who wanted to see Pak­istan be­come a sec­u­lar and demo­cratic mod­ern na­tion- state.

There is lit­tle doubt that de­spite our com­mon past, In­dia and Pak­istan are now worlds apart, whether it is polity, econ­omy or so­ci­ety. In­dia’s per­for­mance hasn’t al­ways been ex­tra­or­di­nary in any of those spheres, yet Pak­istan has some­how con­trived to do much worse. For all the flaws of In­dia’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, it is a firmly es­tab­lished democ­racy. When peo­ple dis­like the politi­cians in charge of gov­ern­ment, they re­place them with an­other set, rather than con­tem­plate an over­throw of the en­tire sys­tem and its re­place­ment with some­thing more au­thor­i­tar­ian and less chaotic. The Emer­gency of 1975- 1977 was for­tu­nately an aber­ra­tion in the trend. Across the bor­der, democ­racy has been an aber­ra­tion over long pe­ri­ods of mil­i­tary rule. Pak­istan’s politi­cians have con­sis­tently failed to es­tab­lish enough cred­i­bil­ity with their peo­ple to force the mil­i­tary back into the bar­racks. The fail­ure of democ­racy, and its as­so­ci­ated checks and balances, has ex­tracted a huge price in Pak­istan.

On econ­omy, Pak­istan ac­tu­ally did bet­ter than In­dia in terms of per capita in­comes un­til the 1980s. Af­ter that In­dia’s eco­nomic lib­er­al­i­sa­tion and the un­leash­ing of en­tre­pre­neur­ial en­er­gies has meant that In­dia has eyed China more than Pak­istan in the last two decades. Pak­istan’s econ­omy has not un­der­gone any sig­nif­i­cant struc­tural changes to make it more com­pet­i­tive. It’s a coun­try that is al­most bank­rupt and heav­ily de­pen­dent on for­eign aid rather than the cre­ative en­er­gies of its own peo­ple. There is still too much poverty, il­lit­er­acy, mal­nu­tri­tion and gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion in both coun­tries to be op­ti­mistic about de­fin­i­tive so­ci­etal trans­for­ma­tion but In­dia, with its more open so­ci­ety, has the edge in achiev­ing moder­nity.

Our cover story pack­age for this spe­cial In­de­pen­dence Day is­sue fea­tures some of the finest writ­ers from both coun­tries. Ed­i­to­rial Di­rec­tor M. J. Ak­bar, who knows both coun­tries bet­ter than any­one else, sets the stage with his open­ing essay. Gopalkr­ishna Gandhi, grand­son of In­dia’s found­ing fa­ther, writes about Jin­nah and Gandhi. Apart from their dif­fer­ences, the two coun­tries have much in com­mon. Mark Tully and po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Khalid Ahmed com­ment on the po­lit­i­cal dy­nas­ties on both sides; The Guardian Cor­re­spon­dent Ja­son Burke writes on the Tal­iban in­sur­gency in Pak­istan while se­cu­rity ex­pert Ajai Sahni writes about the Naxal in­sur­gency in In­dia. For those not in­clined to pol­i­tics, there are fab­u­lous pieces on films, cities, mu­sic and even text­books in both coun­tries. Moni Mohsin writes on the one thing that still pro­vides a thread of unity: The English lan­guage.

This is­sue is a cel­e­bra­tion of two very dif­fer­ent nations, warts and all. I hope that you will en­joy read­ing it.

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