On Wednesday night as is a ritual, amongst most decent folk, in the office I was bid farewell by a colleague who also said, ‘I’m off now, have a good evening and by the way, happy 60th anniversary of independence’!
Unfortunately, my reply commenced with a nod and then ended in a positive suggesting, ‘I’m not sure we should celebrate the follies of others but the good thing is that at least each country is now free’.
Last week I wrote about the price of freedom through the sacrifice of many innocent lives. This week after having watched the Tuesday night BBC documentary examining how India was, ‘a nation on fire’ I was promoted to write more about those sad days. I was in shock when one of the few army patrol officers pointed out that during the long walk between the borders some parents left their children behind.
The BBC documentary (probably heavily edited but lasting 90minutes) re-enforced my view that the leaders at the time were in disarray. Strangely every bit of video footage shows them smiling!? In addition, I was unaware of that the line of partition was known by Earl Mountbatten but not disclosed until after the handover of power?
Why was it that those with such power all seemed to be in such a rush?
A rush to:
* Get the British soldiers out – result, no planning or protection
* Hand over power to a select few – result, years of slow progress and 3 wars!
* Divide up the country, result, millions displaced.
* Not consider the welfare of those that would be affected, result, broken homes and hearts
* Ignore thousands of years of heritage and harmony, result, isolation and a move away from liberalism.
It is the latter that is also of concern. For example, the documentary suggested that the city of Lahore was an example multi-cultural oasis and melting-pot of culture. However, once the populations paranoia ‘kicked in’, mobs were on the move to kill and remove non-muslims from the city?
It is certainly true that hysteria can be created by a select few, resulting and mushrooming into a major calamity. Take for example, the methods used by the Germans against the Jews or embedded messages by colonial powers in Africa. Eventually people react and both paranoia and a state of frenzy takes over.
Does this mean that this power of evil can be tapped again? NB It has happened recently, for example, in India back in 1984 when there was heavy communal violence. It happened in Rwanda. It happens everyday in Iraq. Therefore, the answer is yes and we all need to be aware of the dark side of humans.
As we live our lives we see trouble and strife everywhere with little leadership to plan and resolve. Aggression rather than alternative compromise seems to be the way that most powers approach issues.
60 years of freedom is something to celebrate – we also need everyone to remember the sacrifices of freedom fighters, for example: Uttam Singh and Bhagat Singh.