Justice Markandey Katju, former Judge, Indian Supreme Court
The opening of the Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak Saheb in Indian Punjab to Gurdwara Darbara Kartarpur Saheb in Pakistan is being hailed with great hoopla and glee by many political leaders, media persons and others who say this is the beginning of an era of good relations between India and Pakistan. Many more such ‘faith corridors’ to dargahs, temples, mosques etc., are being discussed.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the corridor can act as a bridge between India and Pakistan, and will be like bringing down the Berlin Wall. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will lay the foundation stone of the corridor on November 28, in a ceremony attended by two Indian government ministers and politician Navjot Singh Sidhu.
I am sorry to pour cold water on such rejoicing and revelry, but I must tell the truth – the opening of the Kartarpur Saheb corridor will change nothing, and is only a gimmick. Let me explain.
If there are good relations between India and Pakistan the very raison d’être of Pakistan will come to an end. Pakistan was created by the British on the basis of the two-nation theory that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations. That of course was a hoax and the theory on the face of it was bogus. If religion is the basis of a nation no nation can survive. For instance, the United Kingdom has Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, etc. Also, there are many varieties of Protestants, for example Anglicans (in England), Presbyterians (in Scotland), etc. So UK will have to be be partitioned into a dozen or more countries, and so should the US, France, Germany etc if we go by that argument.
So what was the real reason for Partition and creating Pakistan? There were two real ones:
(1) A united India would emerge as a powerful industrial giant, like the China of today, and that had to be prevented at all cost. This needs to be further explained.
Cost of labor is a big chunk of the total cost of production. If that is reduced the cost of production goes down, too, so that one can undersell a business rival.
There is competition in the market, and businesses are eliminated not by guns or bombs but by underselling rivals.
China set up a massive industrial base after the 1949 revolution there. This, coupled with the cheap labor available in China, enables the Chinese to undersell the whole world in consumer goods. often selling them in Western markets at less than half the price a local manufacturer can (because Western labor is much costlier).
Now Indian labor is even cheaper than the Chinese kind. So we can even undersell the Chinese. Other countries, including China, do not want India to emerge as an industrial giant, because that could hit the market for their costlier goods?
But how to prevent India from emerging as an industrial giant? The best way is by making Indians (in which term I include Pakistanis) keep fighting each other over caste, religious, ethnic, lingual and regional lines. I suspect behind much of the religious, caste and ethnic strife in the sub continent is the work of foreigners (acting through their local agents).
(2) A massive armaments industry was created in most Western nations after the Second World War, and both India and Pakistan are big markets for these. India is the biggest purchaser of foreign arms in the world, and has spent billions of dollars buying foreign arms. So hostility between India and Pakistan, if not actual warfare, is essential for Western arms manufacturers to keep earning huge profits. It is another matter that thereby these poor countries waste their scant resources in buying arms, which otherwise would have gone for the welfare of the people.
These are the real reasons that there can never be good relations between India and Pakistan. So,people like those who are hailing the Kartarpur corridor are living in a fool’s paradise. As I said, the truth is that the Kartarpur corridor is just a gimmick.
It is only when India and Pakistan (and Bangladesh ) reunite under a secular govt with modern minded leaders that we can really start rapidly industrializing and advancing towards our goal of becoming a powerful industrial nation with our people enjoying a high standard of living. But that is a long way off.
[Justice Markandey Katju, former Judge, Supreme Court of India. The views expressed are his own]