Friday, January 11, 2019

India v Pakistan v Bangladesh

India is an extremely genetically diverse nation, with considerable cultural, religious and linguistic diversity. So, what are the common features of India?  English, common law and parliamentary democracy: all legacies of British rule.

Pakistan is a nation with considerable cultural and linguistic diversity. So, what are the common features of Pakistan? Islam, English, common law (being nibbled away by Sharia) and (on a it-comes-and-goes basis) parliamentary democracy. The Middle Eastern Islam (pdf) of Pakistan is eating away at its other institutional commonalities.

Bangladesh ('the country of Bengal') is a country with very little cultural or linguistic diversity. For it, Islam, English, common law and parliamentary democracy are part of a dominant ethno-nationalist identity. It seems to be doing somewhat better than Pakistan, but not as well as India, suggesting that the ethno-nationalist identity is somewhat ameliorating the negative effects of Islam. 


  1. Lorenzo,
    Glad to see you posting again!! I've been toying with the hypothesis that kinship systems, rather than religion or language, are the main divide in South Asia. The jati/caste system (occupational endogamy and village exogamy) is dominant in India and the clan (FBD marriage + polygamy) in Pakistan. Muslims in India have largely merged into the jati socioeconomic kinship system. I don't know enough about Bangladesh, but I hear it's probably closer to the occupational division.

    1. Hi Ravi. Thanks! And yes, kinship and marriage systems matter a great deal. (See forthcoming book.)