Sunday, March 21, 2010

Goodwill and dialogue

I found Nirupama Subramanian's parting piece on Pakistan poignant. I especially found this paragraph very relevant for the way we tend to discuss issues facing us within our own country:

But at the end of the day, the goodwill I experienced in my daily interactions with ordinary Pakistanis, even during the most heated debates, was overwhelming and more powerful than anything else. Despite the heavy hand of the state in every sphere of life, I found people who were willing to set aside long internalised stereotypes and prejudices about Indians and Hindus to try and understand me and my point of view, and they accepted with good faith that I was trying to do the same. We may not have entirely convinced each other every time but we managed to build little bridges of our own and find our own modus vivendi.

How often, we (I mean the elite, the so-called opinion-makers) are willing to set aside our prejudices regarding one another, and try to understand the other point of view, despite known disagreements? Should disagreements dissuade us from publicly discussing the merits or otherwise of those disagreements? Is the purpose of the discussion not served, if the other person is not entirely convinced about the merits of an argument? This is something which we need to learn from our friends in Pakistan.

2 comments:

karatalaamalaka said...

It isn't entirely right to ask "How often, we (I mean the elite, the so-called opinion-makers) are willing to set aside our prejudices regarding one another, and try to understand the other point of view, despite known disagreements..." and resolve the question using Nirupama Subramanian's article.

While the intentions of this particular blog post are indeed good, we shouldn't miss the logical flaw here. there are a couple of things:

1. There is no evidence that the Indian elite does not publicly discuss these disagreements. There is indeed a very vibrant dialog about India's role in the neighborhood and in the world- in the print, television and internet media.

2. Nirupama Subramanian would have interacted with a small cross section of the Pakistani elite. There is no reason for us to either generalize (as in this blog post) or discredit her observations. Ms. Subramanian's article stands as a message asking us to do good, and is neither a commentary on the amazing things about Pakistani society in general, nor is it about the inadequacies of the Indian discourse on foreign affairs.

Shivam Vij said...

Your post gives an all new meaning to the saying that there's a Pakistani in every Hindustani and vice-versa