Pakistan is still struggling with its economic survival as next-door India builds itself up as an economic power despite the rise of Hindutva and its consequences for non-Hindus living there. Anyone watching international TV will realize how India is busy developing its infrastructure of roads and bridges while its neighborhood is hard put to survive, especially Pakistan, where flooding has caused it a loss of nearly $40 billion. Pakistan has never prospered the way it wanted, repaying $130 billion of external debt while striving to devise a budget that doesn’t harm its rapidly-impoverishing population. A recent economic assessment published in India showcases statistics that would evoke only disbelief in Pakistan but help explain why Islamic Arab states are now paying more attention to our “enemy.” The fact remains that, in today’s world, if you are doing well economically, ideology falls by the wayside.
It would dismay many in Pakistan to hear that India has emerged as the 5th largest economy in the world. And that India’s progress dates from 1991, when it decided to dump the Nehruvian socialist path of slow growth and took to liberalization. Post-Nehru, India reduced import tariffs and freed the economy to allow foreign investment and higher competition as global competition found a fertile new market in the country. Expectedly, Indian industries arose to the challenge and soon redoubled the national growth rate once called “Hindu rate of growth” of 3 percent of the GDP. The ruling BJP, building on Golwalker’s Hindu Rashtra, is unkind to the Muslim minority—especially Muslim women wearing the veil—but it continues to focus on the economy like the Western world. Anyone using the word “ideology” carelessly, and equating Pakistan and India on the basis of religion, would be disabused by a bilateral comparison. Unfortunately, the world forgives “ideology” if it does not affect the economy. While “Islamizing,” Pakistan should pay heed to India becoming the third largest economy in the world in terms of Purchasing Power Parity. Who cares for poverty and high unemployment if the other economic indices are good?
If ideology is any measure, then Hindutva is doing better than the past Nehruvian model and Pakistan’s own highly “indebted” dystopia, which was ahead of a “socialist” India 40 years ago. The stigma of Hindutva has been eclipsed by India’s economic progress; but in Pakistan bad governance, absence of law and order and, above all, the absence of the writ of the state in most of the country has repelled any comparison with India. One must be able to understand why the average “liberal-secular” Indian is not greatly upset with the way the BJP is behaving with the religious minorities of India; he is unwilling to take a look at the modest past of the secular Congress Party because of the good times that have arrived with the BJP and its economic focus. In Pakistan, ideology has concentrated the mind away from such mundane but highly important subjects as education where India beats Pakistan from pre-Partition days and has bypassed it in our times.