Originally Published 2016-01-16 12:32:29 Published on Jan 16, 2016
Keeping aside past baggage

We know relations between India and Pakistan are tense; they have been so for the last more than six decades. India and Pakistan share a border, disputed territory, a history of four wars, but more importantly, also a culture and society. An Indian in Empress Market of Karachi is going to feel at home, the same way a Pakistani is going to feel comfort in the crowds of Chandni Chowk in Delhi. Of course, there has been loss on both sides and wounds are yet to heal, but the youth of India and Pakistan might just influence the dynamics of this highly politicised relationship in a postive way.

India is the second most populous country in the world, home to over 1.2 billion people. The growth rate of the population is 1.22 per cent and is not looking at slowing down at least in the next decade. The average age of India's population is 27.3 years and close to 47 per cent  is in the age bracket of 0-24 years. Pakistan's population is over 190 million with the average age being just 23 years. The growth of population is happening at 1.46 per cent, and 54 per cent of this is in the age group of 0-24 years. Why is the demography of these two nations important to change the relationship they share?

The average age of the Indian population is 27.3 years and for Pakistan it is just 23 years. Both nations have few people who are above the age of 65 years (India has 5.95 per cent and Pakistan 4.35 per cent). This is the set of people which witnessed the partition of India and Pakistan and have stories to tell their children and grandchildren, some of harmony and happy times and some of slaughter and killings. The next generation has heard the stories of partition first hand and were raised in a country that was finding its way post-1947. These are the people who are currently in-charge in India and Pakistan.

The generation after, below 35 years of age, in India and Pakistan, has lived in more tolerant times. About 71 per cent of Pakistan and 66 per cent of India today have only read about partition. They have been exposed to globalisation, foreign investment and trade, education not only in their home countries but outside in the Western world. Some of these individuals from India have friends in Pakistan; some people from Pakistan have family in India and vice versa. More importantly, this generation has grown up with the boom in media and the Internet. There are many a things that could go wrong by the use of Internet, but the silver lining that it brings to the India-Pakistan relationship cannot be ignored.

The memory of politics as a theory highlights the same point — that three generations are needed to forget an incident of the past and to move on. Because the current generation does not bother itself with the nuances of the way things functioned once upon a time, when this generation comes to power, it will be a lot more pro-active in building a friendship with each other than just for the sake of diplomatic ties.

Those born after the 2000s will perhaps not know the magnitude of the hatred that India and Pakistan shared, because their own parents do not understand that feeling strongly. Even those born in the 1990s do not find their time worthy of spending on the petty thought of hatred. What is to stop an Indian to invest in Lahore for business if there is a profit or a family from Pakistan to vacation one summer in the backwaters of Kerala?

The launching of a website called Aman ki Asha was a start in the initiative to mend things. The Coca-Cola campaign on bringing India and Pakistan together in the form of a video explains so much that the youth is looking forward to and willing to work towards. The Indian Hindi film industry does not hold back, and promotes movies and stars across borders. Art, music, talent do not know borders or boundaries. The emotional yet beautiful advertisement brought to us by Google about the friendship that India and Pakistan share, is just another example of how close these two countries are and yet so distanced due to a minority of the people living in the past. An app on the Android play-store called ‘India or Pakistan' tickles the brains of those who think they know these two countries well, but will only realise how wrong they were.

More and more people from both sides of the border do not care about nationality, religion and fighting over anything but cricket. Society is evolving in India and Pakistan. It is the time to be pro-peace and also anti-terrorism. The causes we must fight for are travel, trade, transportation, sharing of resources and helping each other build. Is it naïve to have a vision of a friendly India and Pakistan? Or is the globalised world the best phenomenon to have in this tumultous sub-continent? Only time will tell.

This article originally appeared in The Pioneer.

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