The decade of 40s has a very special place in my consciousness. I personally think that it was in this decade that the humanity radically shifted its course of history. Before these years, humanity lived in the old age. After this, the humanity began to move toward an advanced age. Before the 40s, the world was quite backward. After that, a lot of progress was made. Wars were the norm before the 40s. Civilized life became vogue after that. Technology that was being developed before that, gave a voice to many art forms. Music, drama, films, speeches, news, sitcoms and talk shows could be heard and seen on television screens. Belligerence subsided, oppression ceded, poverty alleviated, abjection vanished. Instead of all of these many world countries and their citizens started observing affluence and cornucopia in their lives.
One of the reasons I think like this is because of the great war. I am talking about the second world war. This was the greatest of the wars that happened on planet Earth. Almost every country in the world was drawn into it, willingly or unwillingly. And almost every country suffered. Even the victors suffered. It is said that the war caused bankruptcy to the British empire. Similarly, other colonial powers like France, Spain, and Italy also suffered huge financial losses. Germany surely lost the war, but the Russian economy bled badly too.
It is said that the only true victor of the war was the United States. This is quite right. The US joined the war quite late and stole the show when everyone else was really tired and exhausted with the war. But this is not the complete truth. The US was not the only victor. In my personal opinion, there were other victors too. And these were the countries that were colonized before the war. The Indian subcontinent was a victor, for instance. It gained independence from the British Raj in 1947. It is said that the British left India on its own as they could not afford its budget any longer. The bankruptcy caused by the great war had drained Britain so badly that she had to abandon her Indian ambitions altogether. Same is the case with the middle east. They colonizers retreated in the 40s. The Republic of Ireland, for another example, gained it complete freedom in 1949 from the British after almost a millennium-long hegemony. So that’s the kind of story the history has about the era of 40s. One thing we often fail to acknowledge is that although the US emerged as the sole victor from the great war, not all countries were losers. The colonized countries gained a lot. Primarily, if nothing else, they gained their freedoms. Their freedoms came as bounties for the colonizers’ financial losses and crippled economies.
Wars ceded to a great degree after that. Or at least we should believe that they have not happened at the scale that used to happen before that. There has not been a single war after the great war of the 40s that was equivalent in magnitude to previous wars that have happened in human history. Before the 40s, war was an enterprise. After that, even though wars involving superior technology happened, they did so much out of necessity. The cold war, even though a much wider and technologically intense event was not nearly as epic as the battle of Hydaspes. Instead of large-scale organized wars, technical apparatus proliferated in every sphere of human life including war and civilization. Villages, towns and cities evolved and thrived with huge buildings, hospitals, schools, banks, cars, transportation systems, political ideas and shopping centers with all sorts of goods, confectionaries, groceries, drinks and technical gadgets that mankind had never seen before. The ordinary man who could have had to struggle to buy a bunch of candles during the nineteenth century would be highly discomforted if the electricity of his house was shut down for five minutes only. Such are the expectations of today’s modern man about his life and from the society.
Humanity has progressed a lot ever since the decade of the 40s. It is the kind of progress humanity has never ever seen before. And most of this progress has been observed in countries who suffered in the war. Excluding the US, the sole victor, these countries include the Western European countries, the UK, the Scandinavian countries, Japan and China. The good thing about these countries is that most of these countries while making economic and technological progress, have also aspired to become welfare states, even if they have not been able to become so.
What remains are the countries that have not done so well. If you look at the world map closely, these are middle eastern, central Asia, and subcontinental nations. Consider UAE for instance. It has developed a lot of infrastructures but has poor labor laws. Consider India for another example. It boats to be the largest democracy in the world, but it has not been able to straighten up of caste oriented hierarchical society where one bunch of human beings are superior to another through a divine ordinance of some sort.
And now consider Pakistan. Ever since its independence, she has been suffering from tragic episodes of one kind or another. Despite all the resources she has, and despite all the progress she has made on various fronts, her people are suffering from poverty. The total population of Pakistan is of the order of 193 million as of this writing. Even in the midst of the 21st century, her people face a lot of problems. Basic amenities of life that have become hackneyed in the developed world are not accessible to most of the people of Pakistan. People have issues concerning basic housing facilities, healthcare problems, schooling of children, public transport, inflation and a sham democracy.
Above all, the major problem all of us have is that we love to blame a foreign nation for all of our problems. Most of those problems do not have anything to do with a foreign nation intervening in our domestic issues at all. It is true that foreign influence has indeed been a cause of retardation of our progress. However, to blame everything on a foreign nation is not only mistaken, it is very much a cause of our backwardness. For instance, consider the piles of filth that are accumulating on our roads and streets. It is definitely not a conspiracy of the US, India or Europe. It was supposed to be our responsibility to come up with an economically viable idea to clean the filth off the streets.
Similarly, attributing every religious, sectarian and ethnic quarrel to a foreign nation is not impressive. It was our job as a nation to elevate the standards and functioning of our institutions to a commendable level. Institutions that dispense justice, equality, and fairness to its people should have been put in place right from the onset. A culture of research and development should have been fostered right from the beginning. And even if we have failed to develop our country on progressive lines from the very start, its never too late. There is still a lot of margin and room for development. With prudent and scrupulous planning, we can raise the standard of living in our country to a level that matches that of the developed world. Currently, we are walking on lit streets like blind men. I wonder how long we would be able to walk like this.
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