1 readers online now  |  69 million page views

India's Islamic Neighbors; Does fundamentalism cause backwardness (and poverty)?

Reader comment on item: The Causes of Terrorism: It's Not about Money

Submitted by Sudipto (United States), Oct 17, 2010 at 23:04

Dear Dr Pipes:

I am responding to your 2001 article in 2010. It is not easy to determine if fundamentalism causes poverty or is caused by it. It is often hypothesized that terrorism in certain Islamic societies is not caused by poverty but fundamentalist Islam is the cause of both poverty and terrorism. It is not easy to prove that fundamentalism causes poverty because opportunities to do a controlled comparison between similar fundamentalist and free nations do not often arise.

The recently concluded Commonwealth Games (CWGs) provided one such opportunity. India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are three nations carved out of the same historical, social, geographical and cultural entity. The economies of these three nations in terms of buying power of money and per-capita incomes are very similar. Same languages (including English) are spoken in all three nations. While India is prominently Hindu and is a secular democracy by choice, Pakistan and Bangladesh are fundamentalist Islamic republics by choice. All three countries are a part of the British commonwealth of nations and participated in the recently concluded commonwealth games.

At the world stage, such as in the Olympic games, all the three countries perform poorly and stand nowhere in the medal tallies. But in these commonwealth games (CWG), where the world's major sports powers were mostly not present, a direct comparison between these three nations could be made by looking at the final medal tally. It turns out the Indian medal tally in the CWGs is substantially more than the medal tally of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Indian athletes won over ten times as many medals as the athletes of the other two countries. India had the home court advantage (the games took place in New Delhi) and India's population is larger than that of Pakistan and Bangladesh combined. Still the difference in performance is too large to be explained by just these two factors.

It can be argued that the trend toward democracy and liberalization started about ten to fifteen years earlier in India than in Pakistan and Bangladesh (assuming that it has started there as well) and in a decade or two these two Islamic neighbors of India will also catch up. This argument may be true and our best hope. Islamic fundamentalists should realize that freedom is a fundamental requirement for prosperity and progress.

It can also be argued that many of India's medal were won by Indian women and women's participation in sports in Pakistan and Bangladesh is scant. But that is one of the points -- fundamentalism and lack of freedom hurts women much more. As it turns out Indian Muslim women won more medals than Pakistani or Bangladeshi women.

I am not taking a cheap shot based on a sporting event. It is very possible that the hypothesis provided here is false. But it may also contain a message for all nations that are choosing one or the other type of dictatorship over freedom.

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to India's Islamic Neighbors; Does fundamentalism cause backwardness (and poverty)? by Sudipto

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2021 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)