Delusion of Grandeur

Unity in Diversity, why not?
Ok, well it’s another slow news week, so slow in fact, that people’s comments in blogs are already being labeled “Worst Comments of Year”, which is pretty funny considering how early into the New Year we are.

Anyway, after reading one of Akshay’s older Posts (see the link to Trivial Matters in my External Links Section) on an India-Pakistan re-unification, I decided to document the idea on my blog, for future reference. The idea of an India-Pakistan re-unification is an old one, nothing new there. But I’m suggesting a South Asian Union, or a United States of South Asia (USSA anyone? :-p).

Ok even that idea is pretty old (and new – people look to the EU for inspiration..). But nobody seems to pursue it. Since cynicism seems to be a trait inherent in South Asian genes, most people probably envision the idea, decide that it will never work and then carry on with their lives.

However, since my life is currently in limbo (when isn’t it?), I decide to not “move on” and preserve the daydream in a blog entry.

So here are contents of my daydream:

Kashmir & Eelam and the 7 Sisters
A United States of South Asia, consisting of the following countries:
India (of Course), Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Kashmir.

Yes, I’m counting Kashmir as a country in this daydream, and so, solve the Kashmir problem in one fell swoop (I am soooooo amazing…). See, instead of belonging to India or Pakistan (which is a zero-sum scenario presently), if Kashmir was a separate State of South Asia, it would a) be part of both and neither of the countries at the same time, and b) give the Kashmiris the autonomy that they’ve always wanted. The same applies to the Tamil Eelam – instead of being a small chunk of Sri Lanka, the new Tamil homeland would be the (former) Indian state of Tamil Nadu, clubbed with Jaffna (Sri Lankans, I apologise, I don’t know if that offends your sensibilities. Bear with me, it’s just a daydream at this point…)
Finally, “The 7 Sisters”, the 7 states of India which lie beyond “The Chicken’s Neck” which are also continuously fighting for a separate Bodoland and Nagaland – they can get that too. If we look at present day, Nagaland for example would be a NEW country carved out of an existing one -however, if all of the surrounding countries are part of larger union, nagaland/bodoland/Eelam all just become autonomous provinces part of the greater whole…again the extremely naive optimist in me believes this is the ideal solution for all the Sub-Continent’s territorial disputes…Saying Kashmir is a part of India will always piss a Pakistani off. Saying that we’re all citizens of the USSA? Does that rankle in the same way? Well..not to me…

Leadership, Governance & Laws
I envision the Union to be a loose federation, having a rotating presidency like the EU. So this is kind of how I see it: There is a Governing Council, which consists of the leaders of all the 6/7 countries/states, and one of them is the President. his presidency rotates every 3 years? 2 years? 4 Years? by country, which is the only fair way to distribute it, in my opinion.
Every member union must have a democracy in place, either presidential or parliamentary. Monarchies, dictatorships have no place in this union. This is because this voice has lots of faith in Democracy as the best form of government. The other reason all of the countries need to be democracies is so that they can follow a somewhat common set of laws. Each country would be able to implement the lowest common denominators for example on Human Rights, protection of Minorities e.t.c. Hell, this union would consist of so much diversity, that legislation for preventing discrimination would have to be pretty broad.

Travel & Trade
Of course, travelling within the Union should be free (i.e. without the need for a passport). This free movement is necessary for the union to be a success economically, and politically.
Trade of course will also be completely free (i.e. a Customs Union, like the EU) . Again, this will require that all the union members follow the same basic legislation …

“A Grand Army of the Republic”
Heh, to rip off a line from Star Wars Episode II, just think of the sheer size of the armed forces of the USSA. Of Course…in Star Wars, the 1000-year-old Republic’s Grand Army was just a precursor to formation of The Empire…hey I can live with that -) But it would be nice if India and Pakistan didn’t have their missiles and nukes pointed at each other. Further, think of the pooling of resources and cost-savings. We’d be the only Defence force in the world which had both F-16s and MiGs!! (As far as I know, anyway!)

“The #1 Cricket Team in Universe”
Contributed by RTD2 (see comments)
Tendulkar, Dravid, Sehwag, Jayasurya and Inzy’s batting, Shoaib and Murli’s bowling, and the rest (please no flames on who I have left out or ignored. Cricketing debates require a separate blog altogether!) Of course, this would also take away one of Cricket’s fiercest rivalries, but what to do, we United South Asians would be Like That Only! Note to World: Please ignore result of Asia XI vs Rest of World XI played recently….

Ok, these are just some of the visions that I’ve been having recently. Some people will ask, at this point, WHY? Well, some reasons are already mentioned above

– Solves the Kashmir problem (in my view, of course)
– Will go a long way towards enriching the inhabitants, especially the smaller members – as an Arrogant, Pompous Indian, I think Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka would benefit from having free access to a large Indian and Pakistani market
– Resolves a few border disputes, and integrates the sub-continent in a way that Indians (like myself) are always fantasising about
– and other reasons which, when they occur to me, will be added to this post -)

Of course, there is milennia of mutual distrust, and a fear of loss of identity and culture that may come with such a union, not mention all sorts of other disputes (Do we allow Indians to freely settle in Pakistan/Nepal/Bangladesh and vice versa? Can they own land? Won’t they steal each other’s jobs? Will the Caste System spread or be destroyed? Will 300+ Muslims vs 800 Million Hindus, make the infighting even more bloody, or will it reduce polarisation, like in the pre-British era?)

I just wanted to get the ball rolling, and hopefully get lots of input from anybody who passes by this blog….

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