Ever since on the 14th August, 1947, the Dominion of India was granted independence from the British Crown and declared to be divided into two sovereign nations of India and Pakistan, there have been generally acrimonious relations between the two countries. There have been devastating wars that brought destruction and loss to both the nations and the pandemonium in Kashmir is also fuelled by the hatred between the two. If one travels back in time and changes history to have a single state of India, one wonders how much better the conditions in the subcontinent would be or would they? Is there a possibility, however remote, that India reunites with Pakistan and will this lead to better stability and a much safer world?
Let’s say that India was never divided, we will have then a country of India that includes Pakistan and Bangladesh, a mega-nation with nearly 1.5 billion people more than that of China and Taiwan. In economic terms, India would have a GDP by PPP of nearly US$ 3.95 trillion, a country that would be vying with Japan for the spot of the world’s third largest economy. The nation would be the most promising economy for future growth as India is currently a member of the BRIC nations that have been slated as the next superpowers while both Pakistan and Bangladesh are in the “Next Eleven”, a list by Goldman Sachs of the most promising economies in the future after the BRIC nations.
The biggest gain in the reunification of India would supposedly be the suppressing of the extremist Islamic militants in both Pakistan and Bangladesh. In both the nations, the extremists direct their hate towards India, a nation that they perceive as a bully that continues to exploit them. If India were one nation then it is very likely that extremism would subside at least in the subcontinent. However, this is only possible if the government of the mega-nation takes great care in dealing with the tribal and less developed regions and provides them with equal opportunities to advance and raise their standard of living. Next, the Kashmir issue, a major factor in instability and terrorism not only in the subcontinent but also worldwide, would become irrelevant. This reunification may very well be good for Pakistan that seems to have become a failed state today with the government helpless with militia and extremists roaming free. Even Bangladesh is unstable politically and it is this very political volatility that hinders economic advancement of both these nations. If reunification can result in political stability and economic advancement then why not give it a chance? One must keep in mind the extensive cultural and historical connections between these nations. If in the past everyone was flourishing in one nation then what is the need for divisions and mutual animosity?
Of course one cannot ignore the obvious negative fallouts of this unification. A mega-nation of 1.5 billion people is going to be very hard for any administration to take care of. It is truly too utopian to think that equal opportunities might be made available to all regions and all peoples. Tensions are bound to break out between some groups. However, if there can be an atavistic return to the Hindu-Muslim unity that existed before the British, the mega-nation could be a truly giant powerhouse of growth. It is going to be tough to quell anti-India sentiments in both Pakistan and Bangladesh and the various extremists and fundamentalists in these nations will definitely pose threats for the stability of the region.
Although the whole idea is utopian and idealistic and is probably never going to materialise, I believe that if it can be made possible, the world would certainly be a better and safer place to live in. When the state of Pakistan was crafted out of India, the leaders proclaimed it as a “divorce before marriage” but they believed and advocated the reunification of India in the future. It is said that Jinnah himself wanted India and Pakistan to re-unite somewhere along the future. India was one of the largest and most prosperous nations before the Industrial Revolution in Europe. Today, although India’s economy steams ahead, she still faces crippling problems and her sister, Pakistan faces total failure and anarchy. Yet, if the nations can re-unite, the greatest chance of a nuclear war will be done away with and I believe that economic and social development can replace extremism and fundamentalism, the seeds of which were planted in the British Raj. For me, it is truly mind-boggling to imagine how much power and potential a mega-nation consisting of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will have.