January 06, 2010


If you get ToI, you've probably seen this ad today, for a project called Aman ki Asha which ToI is spearheading:
Friends are different. Enemies are the same.
No two friends are the same.
They feel differently, talk differently, dress differently, love and even hate differently. And still stay friends.

It is said that the most beautiful thing about friendship is that two people can grow separately without growing apart.

Enemies on the other hand are almost always similar. They share the same intensity of hatred, suspicion, betrayal and revenge on both sides of the battle line. Which is what makes them enemies.

So here's a question. Why is it, that we cannot have differences with our neighbours without making them our enemies?

Yes, we are being naive here. But being intelligent and complex hasn't really got us anywhere.

So we're going to make a start.
Again. With Aman Ki Asha.

A brave new initiative by The Times of India and Pakistan's Jang Group to bring the people of two fine nations closer together. Culturally, emotionally and peacefully.

A people-to-people project, Aman ki Asha is an open platform for a series of cross-border cultural gathering, business seminars, music & literary festivals and citizen meets.

So that the human bond that binds all people gets a chance to survive outside the battlefields of politics, terrorism and fundamentalism.

And lets us celebrate the simple truth that we can have differences. But still be friends.
First off, I had no clue that being attacked by people who find support in a neighbouring country is called "having differences" with said neighbour. "Having differences," in fact, is one of those phrases (not working out, not seeing eye to eye, there is a certain something, etc) which say something without meaning anything.

This is probably being released in Pakistani newspapers by the Jang Group as well. (If it isn't, I absolutely can't see why such guarded language would be used where you miss the issues completely and try to talk about emotional faff.)

There are a few hundred levels at which this thing just seems wrong, so let me outline a few basic things here.

First, India doesn't need peace the way Pakistan needs peace. Yes, I know, politically incorrect, everyone's supposed to need peace, etc etc. Point is, with larger armies and more funds, we're likelier to win wars if it ever comes to that. Which Pakistan knows. Hence it has never come to that.

Instead, Pakistan harbours *international* terrorists who take turns at trying to blow up parts of India. Then, when those terrorists are traced back to Pakistan, the President "strongly condemns" them, and also states that "these terrorists are not in Pakistan." Later, when they are found there, the country starts a trial... which releases them.

Now, seriously, not only do we have better forces, we also have the moral upper ground. What more d'you want, dudes?

Second, we can grow separately without growing apart? Come on, people! What did you recycle to write this ad, Dear Diana's letters?

(Also, our growth isn't going to shoot up if we start trading. It might help the GDP a little if they stopped bombing us, though.)

Third, being intelligent and complex has got you nowhere, so now you'll be naive. Really. Being intelligent and complex has at least saved us from believing that Kasab was roaming the beaches of Bombay the day before the siege.

Fourth, you really want more tolerance? Because right now our country is one that Gandhi would be proud of. We have successfully turned the other cheek for a few decades now. Clearly, though, that doesn't satisfy ToI. The next step is to slap ourselves in the face and smile while doing it.

Finally, the people-to-people interaction. Now I appreciate this. And I genuinely think it's good. My only question here is, does it lead to any tangible benefits in the next decade? (Both countries, being democracies, are about electing a bunch of nuts who don't really know what the people think but who have their own priorities - money, power, fame - clearly set. Which means that we'd be better off getting them to play rummy with each other every week.)

Hey, hey. Start a people-to-people interaction by all means. Just don't market it as the damn media initiative that'll lead to peace. Because it won't.

I know ToI specialises in BS of the extreme kind. But consider this. A month ago, the same newspaper was shrieking about how Kasab is still on trial, how the peace process can't continue this way, etc. Now, just because they managed to tie up with a Pakistani media group, love thy neighbour?

What d'you think the people are? Naive?


Roy said...

finally! someone who thinks the initiative is crap! praise be to allah. everyone else is getting mushy!

Asterix said...

It is obvious that anyone with half a brain would see through this 'initiative' as a feel-good warm and fuzzy but hollow media gimmick.

Taking a realistic view of things, a truce between India and Pakistan seems unlikely unless something drastic happens, like Pakistan disintegrating into 3 states. Vir Sanghvi has an interesting explanation.

The thing is that it is human nature to want to reconcile with something that he cannot conquer or decipher. And ToI plays on that. Speaking of Jang, they don't give this gimmick any footage. Arnab (Greatbong) has a post on that.

Mudra said...

Went through the Vir Sanghvi article. It reminds me strongly of this other article I came across while doing some research for a project:

Check it out.

ruSh.Me said...

But the TVC they made for it, is just so innocent... I adore it... :D


Asterix said...

Read the link. Seems like acting as a madman has been the in thing for decades now :)

Spaz Kumari said...

it's all true... i also really like the bit about the citizen meetups, but you're spot on in that common citizens are not responsible for policymaking.

it'll be interesting to see how it all works out though. more and more indian citizens are so virulently anti-pak that it would seem to be inviting disaster to coax them into bhai-bhai.

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

'What d'you think the people are? Naive?'

As their name suggests, they think we are 'TOI's.

Loved this one: 'The next step is to slap ourselves in the face and smile while doing it.'