Real Distance

A rather insteresting talk by noted journalist M. J. Akbar … and what these guys were talking about was one specific aspect of this talk. That of distance.

As Mr. Akbar says, for India, USA is more a neighbour than Pakistan. And these guys believe that this is so true. If you talk to people in India, you will see they are more aware about what is happening in USA than about whats going on in Pakistan. And what they would know about Pakistan would also come from the media. Hardy was talking about a young man from Pakistan he had met on a flight to San Francisco. He was a software engineer who was travelling to USA to join his new job. As a software engineer, Hardy expected him to know a bit about the Indian software services companies are doing, but this young man was clueless. While he had heard of Infosys, he didnt know who Mr. Narayana Murthy, or Mr. Azim Premji is. Far less was he aware of the kind of work companies like TCS, Cognizant, Infosys, and Wipro are doing.

While this had surprised Hardy at the point, seeing this talk sort of got him to understand. And this is about the psychological distance between the two countries. The way folks in Pakistan think is quite different from those in India. This can also be seen by the expressions that come out from the media, especially the news channels from the two countries.

What Laurel pointed out was rather an eye-opener … If you look at the readership of this blog, which you can see by the red dots on the world map, where the size of the red dots tells you how many folks from which part of the world have read this blog, you will find that very few folks from Pakistan have read this blog. Even though the blog talks about some of the things which are common interests to India and Pakistan, maybe … just maybe … this psychological distance is a far more compelling factor than physical distance. And so, this distance is what we need to aim to bridge.

There are, of course, a number of rather interesting things which Mr. Akbar also says in this talk. Especially the part about religion being a viable basis of a nation (thats what the talk is about, essentially, isnt it?). And he makes an important point … that if religion could be the basis of nationhood, then there would be far more cohesion among the Arab states than we see today. On the other hand, so would there be among Latin American nations. Or the predominantly Buddhist nations in South East Asia. These illustrations go to show that the two-nation theory, while seemingly viable at that point of time, isnt necessarily so, as we have seen from the factors that have unfolded during the 20th century.

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