October 13, 2013

Shooting for a Century - Stephen Philip Cohen - Book Review

Hi Guys,

As a new experiment, I have tried embedding my review from Goodreads.

Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

India - Pakistan. These two words are enough to spark many debates and fights in both the countries. Both the countries view each other as hard core enemies. What is it to do with both the countries? How did the problem turn out to be such a grave issue? Stephen P. Cohen looks into this issue in his recent book. As per the author, there are only 5% of the conflicts in the world that are not resolvable and India - Pakistan is one of them.

The author starts the book looking at the context of how these two became separate countries. The partition was done by a Britisher who never had any idea of the area, civilization and people leading to a poor border. Kashmir, an area with majority Muslims, but ruled by a Hindu Ruler was taken by India and it has become a big issue right from the partition. Result is that the South Asia region has only 5% intra regional trade which is very bad.

The author moves on to the conflicts between the states and how there are three types of issues that are mainly contributing to the conflicts. One is the visual disputes such as Kashmir, River Waters, etc. Other is the identity crisis in which the way people perceive about each other has caused lot of problems. India is considered as a giant which takes advantage and is considered to be a dominant Hindu oriented nation, while Pakistan is looked upon extreme Islamist. The strategic location of the nations has been exploited by external countries for their strategic advantage.

The author next moves into chapters dealing with the perspectives of how Indians and Pakistanis think about each other. They have always viewed each other as negative and has always taken all the chances to impose the same in their people's mindsets. The education system of both the countries are altered in such a way that History is never taught properly. He looks at the various sects of people in both the nations and how they consider the problem widely.

Nuclearization has not done major changes, but it has been a factor that has made responsible acts from both the Governments. There is always a chance of some irrational behaviour that would lead to nuclear war, though it is very low. The changing geopolitics such as Soviet Union collapse, rise of China, Afghan Terrorism has changed the way the external nations look at Pakistan and India. They have always played a crucial part in extending the issue and never tried to help the nations bridge the gap.

Pakistan is no longer a big threat to India with growing China and Pakistan doesn't look the same way with decreased Army dominance and increased terrorism in the western regions.

Finally the author considers the prospects of the countries coming together. Though he says normalization may not come true, increased trade and mutual acceptance might come due to the increase in communication through Social Media and the changing views of the countries. He also wishes that USA plays a crucial role in helping the nations come together.

Overall, it is a well researched book that explains the problem in all angles and from everyone's eyes. The book doesn't say what would happen in the future, but gives a clear picture of what are different possibilities and how things might turn up. It is a must read book, if you are interested in Geopolitics or if you are interested in knowing about how India Pakistan problem shaped up or would turn out in the future.
If you are interested in reading the book click the link below,

Happy Reading!

P.S: Thanks to Harper Collins and Indiblogger, who gave me this book as part of their Review Program.

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