A GLOBALLY CATASTROPHIC COMMUNICATION GAP
The Republic of India measures 3.1 million square kilometers and is located on the Indian Plate in South Asia (BBC, 2009). It has the second largest population in the world with 1.2 billion people, according to United Nations 2008 statistics. Mumbai or Bombay as the most populated city while the capital is New Delhi. Its total land measurement excludes the Indian-administered Kashmir, which is the central conflict with Pakistan. Indians speak Hindi, English and at least 16 other official languages. The major religions are Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism. Life expectancy is 63 years for men and 66 for women, according to UN figures (BBC).
The country’s monetary unit is the Indian Rupee (BBC, 2009). Its major exports are agricultural products, textile, gems and jewelry, software services and technology, engineering items, chemicals, and leather products. The World Bank listed its GNI per capita at U.S.$950 in 2007. Pratibha Patil was voted as president by 308 million of its people in July 2007, the first female in India’s history. It is the world’s largest democracy and now considered a major power after foreign domination and a virtually dead economy.
Today, India’s economy is fast-growing, sustains a skilled labor force and suffers from widespread poverty (BBC, 2009). It is also fast developing nuclear capabilities. It tested these capabilities in the 70s and in the 90s in disregard of world opinion. Despite these new capabilities, India confronts large social, economic and environmental problems. The problems seem to have been the long-term effects of subjugation to foreign rule from the early 80s to 1947. Its ongoing and fiery conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir and its developing nuclear resources have kept the global community on the edge (BBC).
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan evolved from the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 (BBC, 2009). This modern state measures 796 square kilometers, excluding the Pakistani-administered Kashmir. According to the 2008 UN records, Pakistan has 167 million people. Its largest city is Karachi and the capital is Islamabad. The people’s major languages are English, Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, and Balochi. Islam is the major religion. Life expectancy is 65 years for men and 66 for women. The Pakistani rupee is the official monetary unit. The country’s GNI per capita was U.S.$870, according to the 2007 World Bank reports. Its main exports are textile, rice, cotton and leather goods. The people voted Asif Ali Zardari as president on September 6, 2008 by a large majority (BBC).
Since its political separation from the Indian sub-continent in 1947, Pakistan has encountered domestic political turmoil and regional upheavals (BBC, 2009). Before the partition, Pakistan was in two parts, the east wing and the west wing. The east wing, now Bangladesh, is located on the Bay of Bengal, which borders India and Burma. The west wing is Pakistan today and it stretches from the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea. The split occurred in 1971 when the Bengali-speaking east separated from the west wing with the help of India. The disputed northern territory of Kashmir was been the fierce pursuit of India-Pakistan wars in 1947-1948, in 1965 and in 1999 (BBC).
Kashmir and the Arms Race
The dispute over Kashmir began since the split and repeatedly brought the two sides into bloody confrontations (BBC, 2009). India accused that Pakistan refused to cooperate with police investigations on the November 2008 attacks on Mumbai. A peace process was attempted in 2004 during which Pakistani militants were blamed for the attacks. But the peace attempt was stalled right the following month. In May 1998, news that the two nations were conducting nuclear tests made the international community cringe with apprehension. The U.S. quickly entered the scene and sanctioned India. More recently, the two countries were said to have improved their ties. They even agreed to share individual nuclear technology. At present, India launches its own satellite, the first one on the moon in 2008. It even runs a large and successful cinema industry, Bollywood, one of the most watched in the world. Yet widespread poverty continues to afflict its rural populace. The majority of its people remain illiterate and poor. They remain oppressed by the ancient Hindu caste system, which fixes the place of each person in society (BBC).
Bidding for Kashmir were India’s 1 billion people and Pakistan’s 145 million (New
York Times Upfront, 2002). India’s military complement was 900,000 more than Pakistan’s. But about 1.4 million Pakistanis reach military age every year than those actually serving in the military. If India could increase the number of efficient ships to 75%, it could send about 55 to sea at any given day. It could also send 3,500 tanks to battle if 5% of these incurred mechanical failure (New York Times Upfront).
The First Summit, a Failure
Negotiations during the first summit over crucial phrases and clauses in theAgra Declaration stretched through the night but failed (Popham, 2001). Pakistan initially attempted to have India accept that the central issue to be resolved was Kashmir. India earlier demanded for the elimination of cross-border terrorism by Pakistan. Five drafts of the documents changed hands but the parties did not reach an agreement. General Mursharraf told senior Induan journalists that the Pakistanis did not trust the Indian government in denying that Kashmir was the issue (New York Times Upfront).
Cultural Differences between Pakistanis and Indians
Geographically, India and Pakistan have their separate and unique environments (Khan, 2009). Pakistan lies at the crossroads of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. India lies at the core of South Asia. Racially or genetically, Pakistanis are 70% Caucasoid, 20% Australoid-Negroid and 10% Mongoloid. Most of them are tall and fair-skinned like Middle Eastern and Mediterranean people. The most Caucasoid are the Pashtuns. Their Australoid-Negroid and Mongoloid features are well-incorporated into the dominant Caucasoid genes while retaining distinct racial characteristics. On the other hand, Indians are 50% Australoid-Negroid by race, 35% Caucasoid and 15% Mongoloid. They have dark skin complexion with wider noses and shorter stature. Their Australoid-Dravidoid features are more common along lower caste Indians, South Indians, and Eastern and Central Indians. The Caucasoid strain is dominant among Northwest Indians and those in higher castes. The Mongoloid racial strain dominates among Northeast Indians and border regions with China (Khan).
These two peoples also have distinct cultures, traditions and customs (Khan, 2009). Pakistani men and women wear the shalwar kamiz. Their food consists mainly of wheat as staple and meaty dishes. The Pashto, Punjabi, Balochi, Sindhi and other groups have their distinct music, instruments, patterns and styles. They engage in metal work, tiles, furniture, runs, designs and paintings, literature, and calligraphy, which are distinctively their own. Their architecture is also unique and distinct with Islamic styles. Their manners and lifestyles are a blending of Islamic and local traditions. Indian men and women, on the other hand, wear the dhoti. They eat mostly vegetarian foods. Rice the main staple in the north and west, and rice in the south and east. Music and dances are also unique to the Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil and the Bengalis. Their architecture is also uniquely Hindu in style. Their manners and lifestyles are mostly guided by Hinduism.
Their languages are also distinct. Pakistanis speak 99% Indo-Iranian (Khan, 2009).
This is a branch of Indo-European languages. All these languages are written in Perso-Arabic script. Much of the vocabulary was drawn from Arabic and Persian languages. Pakistanis speak Punjabi, Seraiki, Sindhi, Pashto, Urdu, Balochi and Kashmiri. Indians also speak Indo-Iranan at 69%, Dravidian at 26% and Sino-Tibetan and Austro-Asiatic at 5%. These are unrelated and separate languages. Most of them are written in Brahmi scripts, such as Devangari, Gurmukhi, and Tamil. Among the mother tongues in India’s states are Punjabi and Naga (Khan).
Pakistani Punjabi is distinguishable in vocabulary, dialect and writing script from Indian Punjabi (Khan, 2009). The Indian Punjabi is the language of Sikhs who consider themselves distinct from other Indians. They have been fighting for independence.
Meanwhile, Hindi is the mother tongue of the majority in India. In comparison, Urdu is the mother tongue of only 8% Pakistanis. Urdu’s writing script and vocabulary evolved from Arabic and Persian. Meanwhile, the Hindi vocabulary was derived from Sanskrit
and is written in Devangari script. Most Pakistanis and Indians can understand English
and watch American or British movies without losing their culture and nationality
Non-Verbal Communication among Pakistanis
A survey conducted among Pakistani students revealed the power of non-verbal communication in the classroom (Hassan, 2007). A sampling of 241 college boy and girl students from six different colleges of Muzaffargarh in Pakistani Punjab district responded to the survey. It found that students were not only conscious of the teacher’s non-verbal communication. Teaching and learning success also depended a great deal on this type of communication. The result should be of particular interest to Pakistani teachers who believe in innovative and reflective teaching styles and to education policy makers. It suggested that non-verbal communication should be an essential part of teachers’ training programs (Hassan).
Communication is sharing of information and meaning (Hassan, 2007) and that meaning dictates the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Students — and other people, in general — often interpret the oral information or message according to the non-verbal expression that accompanies it. A verbal approval said in an ironic tone can send an opposite impression of censure. Non-verbal communication should, therefore, be given serious consideration, especially in a second-language school setting (Hassan).
Findings of the study categorized non-verbal communication into 8 (Hassan, 2007). Kinesics consists of boy language and gestures, such as a happy mood, negative body expressions, kind and friendly look, nodding to encourage, exhaustion, and raised fingers, which embarrassed. Proxemics refers to the space between the teacher and the students. The closer they were, the greater the students’ understanding of the lecture. Students disliked distance. Vocalics covers the pitch, tone, rhythm and volume of the teacher’s voice. Students learn more if there is variation in these and tend to get bored with a monotonous tone. Chronemics refers to the teacher’s behavior towards time. If she comes to class irregularly, the students tend to take classes casually. If she keeps looking at her wrist watch, she sends the message that she is running out of time or on overtime. Oculesics means eye-to-eye contact. A cold stare embarrasses students. They like eye-to-eye contact with the teacher, but they look away when they do not know the answer. Locomotion refers to the teacher’s movement. Students become active when she moves and lazy when she simply stands still. Adornment consists of the teachers dressing, sex, age and smartness in looks. If she has an attractive personality or smart-looking, her lecture is often successfully conveyed. Gender and age are also important factors in successful teaching. Silence, haptics, facial and other physical expressions consist of touches, smiles, hand-shaking and patting, an interactive class, a well-furnished classroom and a vivacious teacher facilitate her message transmission (Hassan).
Non-verbal communication is, in truth, the most important factor or input to classroom (Hassan, 2007). Students observe the teacher’s body language in the smallest detail and its subjective implications. This determines the success or failure of her goal to impart a message. Non-verbal communication should complement or at least not contradict verbal information or message. If it does, the students get the greatest benefit. If not, the students get confused and the message lost. And because the teacher is a role model of her language, the students can only copy what she transfers through body language. This is what makes nonverbal communication more important, whether in the classroom or the outside world, especially where second-language teaching and learning occur (Hassan).
As previous studies found, non-verbal communication is a major part of communication and human interaction (Hassan, 2007). Teachers, for example, speak outwardly but actually communicate with their whole body (Abercrombie 1968 as qtd in Hassan). Non-verbal communication is also natural, reliable and spontaneous. It, thus, cannot conceal and conveys the message effectively when emotion accompanies it. That emotion determines whether students will be motivated, bored or depressed. It is part of communicative competence. Experts say that the teacher’s body language is, in fact, “the most important thing in class (Stevick, 1982 as qtd in Hassan). How she uses her eyes, the distance between her and the class, her touching or not touching items create and transmit powerful influence to her message or lecture. Her non-verbal behavior indicates the teacher’s psychological state, which should not be taken lightly (Hassan).
Furthermore, students are not only conscious of the teacher’s non-verbal communication but are also critical of it (Hassan, 2007). They retain and remember only the lectures given by the teacher they like. The like or dislike they feel constitutes an important part in learning a second language. Students who are highly motivated, possess strong self-confidence, a good self-image and low level of anxiety tend to learn the second language better. Non-verbal communication is also a language of relationship. If that relationship is pleasant, then the students are motivated to learn. Physical closeness, intimacy, concern, expressions of approval and other positive cues accrue to a pleasant relationship between the teacher and her students. The reverse is true of negative expressions. A teacher’s behavior, thus, creates the environment conducive to learning itself. It not only influences students’ moods, the amount of learning. It also determines their perceptions and attitudes beyond school and into their respective lives (Hassan).#
BBC (2009). Country profile: India. BBC News: British Broadcasting Corporation.
Retrieved on April 20, 2009 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/country_profiles/1154019.stm
-. Country profile: Pakistan. Retrieved on April 20, 2009 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/country_profiles/1157960.stm
Hassan, M.T. (2007). Non-verbal communication: the language of motivation for Pakistani students. Vol 7. Language in India. Retrieved on April 20, 2009 from http://www.languageinindia.com/Aug2007/nonverbalpakistan.pdf
Khan, H. (2009). Differences between Pakistanis and Indians. Pakistan. Retrieved on April 20, 2009 from http://www.geocities.com/pak_history/differences.html
New York Times Upfront (2002). Kashmir dispute fuels India-Pakistan arms race.
Scholastic, Inc.: Gale, Cengage Learning. Retrieved on April 20, 2009 from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m)BUE/is_10_134/ai_n18613320/?tag=content;col1
Popham, P. (2001). India and Pakistan fail to find agreement. The (London)
Independent: Independent Newspapers UK Limited. Retrieved on April 20, 2009
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