Vidhi Godiawala spent India's 60th Independence Day in mid-August
celebrating the way most college students would: studying for final
exams with scenes of the festivities playing on a television in
watched a special show on a news channel dedicated to our 60th
year of independence, and the show ended with our national anthem,
for which I gave my due respect," she said.
Godiawala, an aspiring journalist, lives and studies in one of
the most populated cities in the world, Mumbai, and while celebrating
her country's independence is important to her, she has grown
up two generations removed from the turmoil that marked the 1947
creation of India and Pakistan.
Instead of the heated pride that defined many independence celebrations
in the years after the partition, most young people today celebrate
nationalism without personal vendetta.
"We visit the Pakistani school where we have Independence
Day special shows organized by the Pakistani Embassy," said
Naveed Ahmad, 21, of his Pakistani Independence Day ritual. "At
night we pay a visit to Corniche, where some Pakistani youth move
in a car rally and raise Pakistani flags for fun and enjoyment."
Departing British authorities separated the two countries largely
along religious lines, with most Muslims relocated to Pakistan
and India remaining a secular but largely Hindu state.
But the act of creation was a bloody one. Nearly 1 million people
died in fighting linked to the partition, many of them in the
disputed region of Kashmir. The two countries have undergone years
of political strife, and a new age of nuclear proliferation threatens
to bring the conflict to new heights.
Today, education of the partition begins when children are very
"On Republic Day and Independence Day, every school across
the country has a flag hoisting ceremony with a chief guest to
do the honors," said Godiawala. "We have a small march
after the ceremony, and thereafter we are served 'jalebis,' which
is an Indian sweet. So, in every group or kindergarten or nursery,
the children are taught the national anthem and are told to respect
Children are taught to have national pride by their schools,
and many young people are familiarized with the bloodshed and
triumphs of the partition through stories from their parents and
"They told us that we were fighting for our freedom against
the British rule," said Ahmad of his grandparents' stories.
"They also told us that during the independence, there were
many small battles fought between Muslims and Hindus."
"I remember my grandpa had marks on his body," said
19-year-old student Aaishwari Chouhan of Mumbai, whose grandfather
was a part of the movement for India's freedom when he was young.
Although they have grown up in the shadow of this violence, many
young people in India and Pakistan feel the conflict is more political
than cultural and say they don't feel the same intolerance their
parents had to endure.
"Basically, there's a borderline between religion and politics,"
said Yoginder Sikand, author of "Peace, Religion and Dialogue
in Kashmir." Sikand believes the tensions between Pakistan,
India and Kashmir are based on national pride rather than religion.
"Religion per se, is not as important as a nationalist movement,"
Because tensions are largely restricted to diplomacy, many students
feel they do not encounter prejudices in their everyday life.
Ahmad says in his experience, Hindus and Indians in Pakistan
"are treated the same way as any other Pakistani citizen
is. Our religion does not allow us to harm any non-believer. Islam
teaches us to respect all other religions."
Although Sikand said he believes conflict between the two nations
is based on nationalistic pride, religious minorities within the
borders of each nation still face some degree of prejudice.
"In Mumbai, you can find many Muslims, but it is very rare
to see a Pakistani," said Chouhan.
She attributes religious discrimination to social behavior, such
as Muslim polygamy, which is frowned upon in India. Women's rights
in Muslim culture have become an important issue for many Indians.
Despite feeling that the hatred that once divided their countries
is behind them, students do admit that they tend to have little
contact with those in their neighboring country, some even going
so far as to say the clear separation of the two nations might
add to the current peace.
Ahmad says there aren't many Indians in Pakistan, and Godiawala
has only met Pakistani friends in college.
Sikand feels the division between Pakistan and India has actually
changed the nature of nationalism in the Indian subcontinent.
"The way Indian nationalism and Pakistani nationalism have
been constructed, they identify themselves in relation to their
opposition to each other," said Sikand.
As they continue with their studies and their careers, Indian
and Pakistanis are aware of the 60 years of political strife between
their two countries, but it is a burden they feel falls on the
shoulders of their governments rather than themselves.
"I don't see any differentiation between Indians and Pakistanis,"