Internet is rife with articles that make towering claims about how Pakistan is decades behind India in terms of development. But isn’t it flat out unfair to compare India with a country that was not provided a levelled playing field?

Pakistan and India inherited very different circumstances at the time of Partition which makes any comparison unrealistic. Whereas India inherited many noteworthy contributions in the field of finance, public health, and law, Pakistan came into existence under stressful conditions. As a newly formed country, it’s public administration was faced with grave challenges.

Shortage of skilled labor coupled with soaring flux of displaced people compounded the problem. There was a grave shortage of professionals including doctors, engineers, lawyers, and civil servants. At the time of Partition, there were only 100 civil servants. Professionally qualified non-Muslims who were moving to India in huge numbers, outnumbered Muslim professionals. Moreover, the part of India that formed Pakistan lacked infrastructure. There was no industry and roads were inadequate.

Death of Quaid-e-Azam brought many problems with it. Lack of strong leadership at a time of crisis was the last thing the country needed. The loss of a key stakeholder stalled the process of constitution-making altogether.

In the absence of a Constitution, the government had no framework of reference. Helpless, the country hurtled forward aimlessly until 1973 when Pakistan got its Constitution.

India on the other hand benefited a lot from past developments in the region. It was served many of its present day developments on a platter by British and Mughals. The British left a goldmine of heritage in the way of financial, educational, and public health reforms. They laid the cornerstone of the modern day police system. The Police Act of 1861 introduced police hierarchies that are prevalent in India today. Under the system, powers for each district vested in the Superintendent of Police followed by Deputy Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, and Inspector.

India inherited a ready-to-use system of public financial management. The system laid an enormous amount of stress on collection of land revenue. Land revenue was considered an important element of the tax machinery during British rule because it comprised a whopping 15% of the total revenue. Reconstruction of the land revenue system by the British resulted in shifting the focus from committees of revenue to boards of control.

The civil service structure we see in India today was an initiative of East India Company. The system underwent a lot of changes under the colonial rule before evolving into the system present at the time of partition. Civil servants were initially categorized as covenanted and non-covenanted employees. Covenanted employees were made to sign a bond where as non-covenanted did not sign any agreement. Non-covenanted employees could be sacked any time. The system of covenanted and non-covenanted employees was eventually abolished by Aitchison commission during the 1886-1887. The nomenclature was also changed from Imperial Civil services to Indian Civil Services. In Philip Woodruff’s words, the system was to be characterized by integrity and honesty. It would allow civil servant remunerations commensurate with their level of skill, discouraging incentives for unfair means of earning.

India also inherited some noteworthy contributions in the field of education. The Indian Universities Act of 1904 introduced reforms to help curb cramming. It also sought to recruit better quality of teaching staff and come up with a way of closely monitoring teaching quality.

Legal administration was a notable gift to India. The British coded laws, introduced a formal system of judiciary, and expanded the court system.

The rich cultural and architectural heritage we see in India was bequeathed by the Mughal empire.

Literature, a hallmark of Mughal era, flourished with all it’s might under the Mughal rule. From poetry to Sufism to prose, works of 16th and 17th century are still well known. They form part of curriculum in schools and colleges today. Works of history from Mughal era have long been studied. Historiography, which reached its zenith during Mughal rule, played a pivotal role in the years to come.

Some of the other things India inherited were Post, telegraph, railway, and the irrigation system.

India that we see today is a culmination of centuries of rich heritage. Pakistan, on the other hand embarked upon its journey less than a century ago. Can we really compare the two?