Friday, December 28, 2007

The situation in Pakistan shows how complex South Asia really is

Whether it is Bangladesh, India, Pakistan or Afghanistan, understanding history and culture is critical to being able to foresee possible outcomes. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto was always a foreseeable possibility, yet it seems to have caught most by surprise. Did leaders, diplomats and journalists simply not want to believe it because of the potential catastrophic consequences? Why is Pakistan, with such superficially similar roots to India taking such a different path? Did the character of Jinnah, so different and yet so similar to Nehru result in such different results? How did Subhas Chandra Bose impact Bengal, even to this day? What is the history of Afghans and Western invaders?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

History often makes us feel good - but is it truthful?

The purpose of history as taught in schools, shown in movies and mentioned in the press is ofter to reassure us that we have a proud heritage, are on the side of truth and justice as well as to reinforce civic lessons. In order to succeed at this, liberties with the truth are often taken. One way to see this is to read history as in the text books of two neighboring countries, such as Canada and the United States, or Germany and France. While it serves an apparently noble purpose, it can also separate neighbors who have more in common than the history books show, and often fails to let us really understand the real differences which do exist. This has created many conflicts, in Africa, South Asia, Eastern Europe and even Western Europe.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why do so many in authority withhold information when questioned?

We see that it is an instinct in so many managers and politicians to withhold information when under pressure. Perhaps they really believe that they can keep the secret, but it is rarely true and then they suffer from the exposure. Openness is always the better policy, whether it is when the flight will really leave or tampering with product.