By Beena Sarwar
The visa and travel restrictions between India and Pakistan mean that Indians and Pakistanis who become friends often meet for the first time in a third country.
For economists S.M. Naseem, a Pakistani, and Prabhat Patnaik, an Indian, the third country was Thailand, 1978. They were both members of ILO's Asian Regional Team for Employment (ARTEPP) in Bangkok, headed by Prof. K. N. Raj. Prof. Raj, who died last year in Kerala, was also known as the author of the Kerala Model, and founded the Centre of Development Studies in Trivandrum after heading the Delhi School of Economics (where his students included Prabhat Patnaik) and as serving as the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University.
The "Kerala Model", commented Naseem in his obituary, "brought a sea change in development thinking, which was until then obsessed with the goal of achieving high GDP growth rates. Ideas of equitable growth, basic needs and poverty reduction started moving closer to the centre stage, although the IFI's infatuation with growth remained undiminished. However, two decades later, our own protagonist of 'growthmanship', Dr. Mahbubul Haq relented in his passion and turned towards the ideas implicit in the Kerala model and in collaboration with Raj's close colleague Amartya Sen, persuaded the UNDP to carry out the work on Human Development Indicators (HDIs) which started playing a larger role than the GDP in the framing of development policies.
Another decade down the road, the MDGs, embracing many, if not all, of the features of the Kerala model, with the notable omission of land reforms, became the new charter of development. Raj's seminal contribution to development policy thus had world-wide reverberations."
It is relevant to mention Proj Raj and his work here because his ideas clearly influenced both Naseem and Patnaik, who worked together again in the 1980s. Naseem, a veteran of Pakistan's 1950s' student movement, then headed the Development Planning Division of the UN Economic Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP). Patnaik, a leading Marxist economist who has authored several books, was a consultant.
Talking to Aman ki Asha over the telephone from Kerala, Patnaik quipped that Naseem "must have been the only UN bureaucrat with the copy of Karl Marx's Das Kapital prominently displayed in his office bookshelf."
On Aug 19, as the 'slow tsunami' in Pakistan unfolded, Naseem sent an SOS email to friends, relatives and colleagues around the world about "the worst disaster witnessed in living memory in South Asia". Among the recipients was Patnaik, currently Vice-Chairman of Kerala State Planning Commission - although he hails from Orissa, his association with Kerala goes back to the late Prof. Raj.
Patnaik shared the email with his colleagues in the Planning Commission and with the Chief Minister of Kerala (who leads the coalition government of the Left Democratic Front, LDF) whom he has been advising on economic affairs. On September 13, the Kerala cabinet formally decided to make Rs. 5 crores available for Pakistan flood relief.
Kerala's 87-year old Chief Minister V .S. Achuthanandan, who also heads the LDF's leading party the CPI-M, has since written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "requesting the central government to allow the Kerala government to send this money (since state governments cannot deal with foreign countries directly)," explained Patnaik in response to a query from Aman ki Asha. "But there should not be any problems from the centre."
The empathy with which the LDF government views the situation in Pakistan, and its sense of urgency is evident in the speed with which it responded to Patnaik's email.
"I forwarded Naseem Saheb's email to the Chief Minister at about 4.30 pm that day. The decision to help Pakistan had been taken by the time I reached home at 6.30," said Patnaik, adding, "I have never seen any decision taken so fast."
Patnaik emailed Naseem on Sept 10, informing him of the Kerala government's decision, which had not yet been made public. Naseem replied with a copy to a few people, including myself. That is how I learnt of this initiative.
My reply, copying Prabhat Patnaik, resulted in my contacting him for more details. I later emailed Naseem Chacha as I've always called him (our families go back generations) to update him. He was "humbled and flattered" to learn that his email had been used for the Cabinet decision.
"Prabhat could well have trashed my message," he said, "especially since he was travelling abroad when he received it. It says such a lot about his sense of responsibility and for his empathy with his friends and the flood-affected people of Pakistan. Five crore Indian rupees is about a million dollars -- an amount equivalent to or larger than many small countries that have contributed to Pakistan flood relief."
He hoped that this, "along with the 25 million dollar donation from India and the large amount of donations from NGOs and individuals in India, will help pass the discourse on India-Pakistan relationship from hawks to doves on both sides."
We believe that is a wish shared by millions of people on both sides of the border, and around the world.
The writer is Editor Special Projects, Jang Group. email@example.com
A Southasian 'juggad'
Responding to requests from Indians asking how they can contribute for flood relief in Pakistan, the monthly magazine Himal Southasian set up a bank account in Kathmandu to enable such contributions: the Indus Flood Relief Fund with Standard Chartered Bank
Please refer to the Indus Flood Relief page at www.himalmag.com for details.
The recipient organisation is The Institute for Social Movements-Pakistan (ISM PAK) in Hyderabad (Sindh), working with the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) on emergency response and support. ISM PAK urgently needs funds for rations, medicine, shelters, drinking water, infant diet support, livestock fodder and vaccination, hygiene kits, makeshift toilets and schooling camps.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
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The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
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The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw