India’s Lunar Success Highlights Pakistan’s Struggles: A Tale of Contrasts

Asma Noor
8 Min Read

In a powerful speech that has gone viral on social media, Syed Mustafa Kamal, a lawmaker from the Muttahida Quami Movement Pakistan (MQM-P), starkly contrasted the space achievements of India with the dire conditions in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. The comparison underscores the developmental disparities between the two neighboring countries and raises pressing questions about governance and priorities.

Kamal’s address to the Pakistani Parliament poignantly juxtaposed India’s triumphant Chandrayaan-3 moon landing with the tragic deaths of children falling into open gutters in Karachi. “Today, the condition in Karachi is that, while the world is going to the moon, children are dying by falling into gutters in Karachi,” he remarked. This stark comparison is not merely rhetorical; it encapsulates the broader issues of infrastructure neglect and poor governance plaguing Pakistan.

India’s Technological and Scientific Achievements

the successful moon landing of India in August 2023, with its Chandrayaan-3 becoming the first spacecraft to land on the moon’s South Pole, symbolizes a significant scientific and technological milestone. This achievement has not only bolstered India’s position in the global space race but also highlighted its progressive trajectory in science and technology.

India’s space program, led by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is a testament to the country’s commitment to scientific advancement and technological self-reliance. The success of Chandrayaan-3 is a culmination of decades of investment in education, research, and development. ISRO’s achievements are a source of national pride and demonstrate India’s capability to undertake complex scientific missions with relatively modest budgets.

The Role of Secularism and Scientific Temperament in India

India’s scientific achievements are deeply intertwined with its secular ethos and commitment to fostering a scientific temperament. The Indian Constitution, which embraces secularism, ensures that state policies are not influenced by religious dogmas, thereby creating an environment where scientific inquiry and rational thinking can flourish. This separation of religion from state affairs allows for policies and initiatives that prioritize education, scientific research, and technological innovation.

The promotion of a scientific temperament is enshrined in Article 51A of the Indian Constitution, which calls upon citizens to develop a scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform. This constitutional mandate has facilitated the growth of a robust educational system that emphasizes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, contributing to the development of a skilled workforce capable of driving scientific and technological progress.

Pakistan’s Struggles with Infrastructure and Governance

In contrast, Pakistan faces numerous systemic challenges that inhibit similar progress. Kamal’s speech illuminated several critical issues in Karachi, a city often described as the economic engine of Pakistan due to its strategic seaports. Despite its economic importance, Karachi suffers from severe infrastructural deficits. Kamal highlighted the pervasive problem of children falling into open gutters, a tragic symbol of urban decay and governmental neglect. He further underscored the water crisis, noting that for 15 years, Karachi had not received adequate fresh water supplies, exacerbated by the corruption and monopolization of resources by the “tanker mafia.”

The challenges in Karachi are symptomatic of broader governance issues in Pakistan. Corruption, inefficiency, and lack of accountability have plagued public institutions, leading to poor service delivery and infrastructural decay. The failure to provide basic amenities like clean water, sanitation, and safe public spaces reflects a governance crisis that prioritizes short-term gains over long-term development.

Educational Deficits and “Ghost Schools”

Education, another fundamental pillar of development, is in a dire state in Karachi and Sindh at large. Kamal cited a report revealing that 70 lakh children in Sindh are out of school, with over 2.6 crore children across Pakistan deprived of education. The existence of 11,000 “ghost schools” – institutions that exist only on paper – highlights the corruption and inefficiency plaguing the education sector.

The educational crisis in Pakistan is compounded by inadequate funding, poor infrastructure, and a lack of trained teachers. The emphasis on rote learning over critical thinking and problem-solving skills further undermines the quality of education. This educational deficit limits opportunities for social mobility and economic advancement, perpetuating cycles of poverty and underdevelopment.

Economic Struggles and Dependence on External Aid

These pressing issues are set against the backdrop of Pakistan’s broader economic struggles. The country is grappling with high inflation, mounting debt, and is currently negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a new loan program to stabilize its economy. The IMF has urged Pakistan to implement “strong cost-side reforms” and overhaul its tax system to restore economic viability.

Pakistan’s economic challenges are exacerbated by its reliance on external aid and loans, which often come with stringent conditions that limit the country’s fiscal autonomy. The economic instability undermines long-term planning and investment in critical sectors like education, healthcare, and infrastructure, hindering sustainable development.

Religious Extremism and Its Impact on Development

One of the significant factors contributing to Pakistan’s developmental challenges is the influence of religious extremism on state policies and societal norms. Unlike India, where secularism provides a framework for inclusive development, Pakistan’s political landscape is heavily influenced by religious ideologies that often conflict with progressive policies.

Religious extremism in Pakistan has manifested in various ways, including the imposition of blasphemy laws, restrictions on freedom of expression, and the targeting of minority communities. These issues create an environment of intolerance and fear, stifling intellectual freedom and innovation. The focus on religious orthodoxy over scientific and rational thinking hampers efforts to promote a culture of inquiry and reform.

The Contrast with Inclusive Development Model of India

India’s model of inclusive development, underpinned by secularism and a commitment to scientific progress, offers a stark contrast to Pakistan’s struggles. India’s achievements in space exploration, technology, and education are the result of policies that prioritize investment in human capital and infrastructure. The country’s ability to maintain a delicate balance between religious diversity and secular governance has been crucial in fostering an environment conducive to development.

The Indian government’s focus on digital transformation, innovation, and entrepreneurship has further accelerated economic growth and development. Initiatives like Digital India and Startup India have created opportunities for young entrepreneurs and innovators, driving job creation and technological advancements.

Syed Mustafa Kamal’s speech is a poignant reminder of the disparities between the two countries. While India reaches for the stars, Pakistan remains mired in fundamental issues of governance and infrastructure. The comparison serves as a call to action for Pakistani leaders to address these critical challenges and steer the country towards a path of sustainable development and progress.

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