Dividing India To Save It

This is an article from an Indian Muslim writer  in response to Jaswant Singh’s book on Jinnah which poses some very interesting questions regarding partition and the role of Nehru and Patel in it.  Should make for interesting debate for scholars of partition on PakTeaHouse-YLH
By M J Akbar_775267_jinnah300
Jaswant Singh’s Jinnah has certainly provoked much ado about something, but what is that something? Would this biography have made news if the author had not been a senior leader of the BJP?

 The world of books requires some chintan, but fortunately no chintan baithak. Who or what, then, is the story: Jinnah or the BJP? The two are not entirely unrelated, for the BJP was formed as a direct consequence of the creation of Pakistan. The umbilical cord still sends spasms up its central nerve.

Two questions frame the Jaswant-Jinnah controversy. Was Jinnah secular? Do Nehru and Patel share the “guilt” for Partition?

Neither question is new, but both have an amazing capacity for reinvention. Jawaharlal’s great socialist contemporary, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, fired the first broadside in “The Guilty Men of Partition”: the title implied that responsibility extended beyond Jinnah. But since his purpose was polemical, the frisson was lost in forgotten corners of libraries. Jaswant Singh had little to gain from searching for some good interred with Jinnah’s bones, and a bit to lose.

For most of his life, Jinnah was the epitome of European secularism, in contrast to Gandhi’s Indian secularism. Jinnah admired Kemal Ataturk, who separated religion from state. Gandhi believed that politics without religion was immoral; advocated equality of all religions, and even pandered to the Indian’s need for a religious identity. He never publicly disavowed the ‘Mahatma’ attached to his name, even when privately critical, and understood the importance of ‘Pandit’ before Nehru, although Jawaharlal was not particularly religious. Azad had a legitimate right to call himself a Maulana, for he was a scholar of the Holy Book.

Jinnah was not an agnostic. He was born an Ismaili Khoja, and consciously decided to shift, under the influence of an early mentor, Badruddin Tyabji, from the “Sevener” sect, which required obedience to the Aga Khan, to the Twelvers, who recognized no leader. But his faith did not include ritual. He might have posed in a sherwani to demand Pakistan, but he would have considered ‘Maulana Jinnah’ an absurdity. In the end, Jinnah and Gandhi were not as far apart as the record might suggest. Jinnah wanted a secular nation with a Muslim majority; Gandhi desired a secular nation with a Hindu majority. The difference was the geographical arc. Gandhi had an inclusive dream, Jinnah an exclusive one.

The Indian elite tends to measure secularism in pegs: Hindus who do not drink are abstemious, and Muslims who do not are puritan. Jinnah was content with a British lifestyle. He anglicized his name from Jinnahbhai to Jinnah, and dropped an extra ‘l’ from Alli. His monocle was styled on Joseph Chamberlain’s, and he even had a PG Wodehouse moment during a visit to Oxford, when he was arrested for frolics on boat race day (he was let off with a caution; he would never spend a day in jail). His secret student dream was to play Romeo at Old Vic, and only an anguished letter from his father (“Do not be a traitor to your family”) stopped him from becoming a professional actor. He relaxed after a tiring day by reading Shakespeare in a loud resonant voice.

His politics was nationalist and liberal. His early heroes were Phirozeshah Mehta and Dadabhai Naoroji (known as “Mr Narrow-Majority” because he was elected to the House of Commons in 1892 by only three votes). After he met Gopal Krishna Gokhale at his first Congress session in 1904, his “fond ambition”, in Sarojini Naidu’s words, was to become “the Muslim Gokhale”. No one could have hoped for higher praise than what Jinnah received from Ms Naidu: “…the obvious sanity and serenity of his worldly wisdom effectually disguise a shy and splendid idealism which is of the very essence of the man”. Jinnah was only 28.

He scoffed at Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s two-nation theory, and wrote an angry letter to The Times of India challenging the legitimacy of the famous Muslim delegation to Lord Minto on October 1, 1906, which built the separatist Muslim platform. (The Times did not print it.) He ignored the convention in Dhaka on December 30, 1906 where the Muslim League was born. Perhaps the best glimpse of Jinnah’s idealism, in my view, is from the memoirs of his friends. The cool Jinnah broke down and cried thrice in public: after sitting, frozen, for five hours at the Khoja cemetery on the day his young wife, Ruttie, was buried; when he was taking the train back from Calcutta in 1928 after the failure of the talks on the (Motilal) Nehru Report; and when he visited a Hindu refugee camp in Karachi in January 1948.

n 1928, he thought he had lost the last chance for Hindu-Muslim unity; and as he watched the stricken Hindus twenty years later, he whispered,

 

“They used to call me Quaid-e-Azam; now they call me Qatil-e-Azam.”

Since Jaswant Singh has written a thematic biography, rather than a comprehensive one, the book skims over personality and addresses the politics of partition. Jinnah’s life is a window through which the author sees the larger landscape of Pakistan, and the heavily mined road towards this green horizon. One of the best sections of the book is the detailed examination of the great debates of
1927 and 1928, although it does underplay the influence of the Hindu Mahasabha on the Congress at the time. What is evident is that Jinnah walked away from 1928 with a deep sense of grievance, and when he returned to politics in 1934, it was with a firm sense of entitlement. From this, emerged, propelled by steely commitment and brilliant leadership, Pakistan in 1947.

The alleged “guilt” of Nehru and Patel is the story of 1946 and 1947, since there were no disputes in the Congress on the unity of India before that. A point needs to be stressed for those who find Nehru-baiting irresistible. Nehru was not the predominant power in the Congress at that time. Not only was Gandhi alive, and deeply involved, but Patel was an equal. He could not impose his personal views upon the Congress, without support, and decisions were made through long and even tortured discussions. The Congress was democratic in spirit and practice. Even after Gandhi’s assassination Nehru faced a strong challenge to his leadership, from Purushottam Das Tandon.

The “guilt” centres around Nehru’s response to the Cabinet Mission Plan in 1946 and the Congress Working Committee resolution on March 8, 1947 accepting “a division of the Punjab into two provinces, so that the predominantly Muslim part may be separated from the predominantly non-Muslim part”. (Nehru had earlier voiced the idea of a trifurcation of Punjab; eventually, that is what happened.)

The Cabinet Mission Plan is now of academic interest since it was overtaken by Partition, but it is true that on June 25, 1946 Congress accepted it in the hope of establishing a “united democratic Indian Federation with a Central authority, which would command respect from the nations of the world, maximum provincial autonomy and equal rights for all men and women in the country”. And on July 10, Nehru, newly elected Congress President, rejected “Grouping”, one of the key (if still opaque) aspects of the Plan. Azad described this, politely, as one of those “unfortunate events which changed the course of history”.

But Nehru was not the dictator of the Congress. Gandhi could have intervened and declared him out of order. The working committee could have convened and reaffirmed its resolution to satisfy Muslim League doubts. The fact that the rest of the Congress was largely (but not completely) silent indicates rethinking. The provisions of the Plan could have left the political map of India an utter horror story, enmeshed by potentially rebellious Princely States, and “Groupings” with their own executives and Constituent Assemblies, buttressed by the right to secede in 10 years. Jinnah might have been content with a “moth-eaten” Pakistan. Nehru would not accept a “moth-eaten” India.

The Punjab resolution of March 1947 was passed in the absence of Gandhi and Azad. Patel and Nehru were its stewards. When Gandhi asked for an explanation, he got an excuse. Patel was disingenuous: “That you had expressed your views against it, we learnt only from the papers. But you are of course entitled to say what you feel right.” Nehru was even more evasive: “About our proposal to divide Punjab, this flows naturally from our previous discussions.” Gandhi and Azad were still adamant that they would not accept Partition: had Nehru and Patel surrendered behind the back of the man who led the independence movement?

The Punjab resolution was prefaced by a conditional phrase: “faced with the killing and brutality that are going on”. By March 1947, Nehru and Patel were more concerned about saving India from the consequences of Pakistan-inspired violence. The experiment in joint Congress-League had begun against the backdrop of the great Calcutta killings, which began with Direct Action Day on August 16, 1946 and never stopped for a year, when Gandhi went on his heroic fast for peace in Calcutta: Gandhi’s supreme courage and conviction have few parallels. This was followed by the gruesome Bihar riots. There was administrative gridlock in Delhi and a drift towards anarchy across the breadth of India. Gandhi did not intervene to revise this CWC resolution either, despite his public reservations. Elsewhere, Azad and Rajendra Prasad have explained what happened. Patel persuaded the Mahatma that the option was either Partition or open war with the Muslim League, which meant a nation-wide civil war. Perhaps only Gandhi believed that Indian unity could have survived the Calcutta riots, and he too wavered.

On April 21, 1947 Nehru said openly that those “who demanded Pakistan could have it”. He entered a caveat: provided they did not coerce others to join such a Pakistan, or indeed to set up separate Stans. Jinnah did his best to partition India further. Nehru and Patel saved India from anarchy by isolating a wound that would have infected the whole of India if it had not been cauterized and sutured. For this they deserve our deepest gratitude. By early May, Nehru was able, in private conversations with Mountbatten in Shimla, to defuse what he saw as nothing short of Balkanization of the subcontinent, the details of which are in my biography of Nehru.

The anarchy that is Pakistan today would have visited India six decades ago. What ironic stupidity that a self-styled admirer of Patel should ban a book that describes how Patel and Nehru overcame, groping through complex imponderables and unimaginable horror, the greatest challenge in modern Indian history.

Times of India

92 Comments

Filed under History, India, Jinnah, Pakistan, Partition

92 responses to “Dividing India To Save It

  1. Majumdar

    Nehru and Patel saved India from anarchy by isolating a wound that would have infected the whole of India if it had not been cauterized and sutured. For this they deserve our deepest gratitude.

    I wholeheartedly agree with this. The torpedoing of CMP and partitioning of Punjab/Bengal were the only good things in his life that this worthless character called Nehru ever did for India/Hindoos.

    Regards

  2. ruSh.Me

    Read it in Times of India, today’s edition..

  3. Bloody Civilian

    “They used to call me Quaid-e-Azam; now they call me Qatil-e-Azam.”

    and m j akbar was standing right next to jinnah when this was whispered… who cares if he wasn’t even born yet.

  4. Jitendra Kaushal

    It is a measure of the bankruptcy of leadership in our times, that we seek alibis for our failures from past generations. At the same time the fact the Nehru and Patel are topmost in our troubled minds reflects their tremendous impact on history of the region.

    A forward looking stance belongs to leaders of initiative and foresight. People not so gifted can only strive to draw the spotlight on them by courting controversy.

  5. YLH

    BC,

    It is quite possible that he did say that isn’t it? He was known to take the issue by its horns.

    Must have hurt him deeply to see that people he had worked to bring together with Muslims were calling him that. How ironic and sad it must have been for the Best Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity to come to such bitter realization of alienation.

    He was a gentleman and he was deeply troubled at what had been unleashed despite good intentions of everyone involved.

    It is this humanity in the uncompromising, unbending and stubborn old man that needs to be admired.

    Did Patel and Nehru accept responsibility for their actions? No they kept passing the buck in my view.

    What would have happened if India would have stayed together with a Pakistan sub-federation inside such an India?

    Well I don’t think what this article concludes is true.
    A United India with three sub-federations would have been certainly better than India is today. It would be a unique federation but not an unworkable one. Would the Pakistan units seceded in 1958 under law? Maybe maybe not. There certainly would be far less violence. It was entirely possible that the Units seceding in 1958 would have had to form constitutions before that time and would have to carry minorities as equal citizens. The resulting states would have none of the issues that they have now.

    Ofcourse it would mean a slightly smaller India… a slightly bigger Pakistan and sizeable minorities in both countries… An independent Bengal state based on secular Bengali nationalism. there would be no anarchy. All three states would probably evolve a European Union like arrangement.

    People like Majumdar would probably end up being better off….but they don’t realize it.

    Ofcourse the most important criticism of this is that it would not have brought the benefits to the Muslim bourgeoisie class and would certainly not fulfill the agenda put forth by Rahmat Ali, Kifayet Ali and Iqbal.

    We keep forgetting that the idea of Pakistan was a tiger let out of the cage by Muslims of majority provinces not Jinnah.

    Jinnah simply rode it back with great skill to the all India jungle only to be spurned. The failure to realize this causes the dissonance which does not allow both sides to dismantle the concocted nationalisms that hinder peace and progress for both nation states today. Only a part of Bengal is free from this …

  6. YLH

    Muslims of muslim majority provinces and the Government of India Act 1935

  7. Bloody Civilian

    YLH

    jinnah might well have whispered the line, and that is how m j akbar should have put it. as pure conjecture that it is, not as a known fact. as for facts, we have fatima jinnah’s, for example, about seeing jinnah tearful when reading the reports at the breakfast table in the GG house about rioting and bloodshed.

    an indian federation, no matter what might have changed about it come 1958, would have be no worse than Rahmat Ali, Kifayet Ali and Iqbal’s ‘dreams’ and, probably, better.

  8. rashid

    My two cents on partition of India and Quaid-I-Azam

    1-Individual Muslims in India were in debt to individual Hindu Bania. If we add individual debt/ wealth it sums up much more than national debt/ wealth. Partition provided opportunity to individual Muslims to free themselves from their obligations to Hindu Bania. As lenders left current Pakistan, and borrowers left current Hindustan.

    2-I wish Quaid-I-Azam/ Muslim League should not have used religion (Islam) for creation of a separate homeland. When religion is used in creation of a country, it exploits it as in Pakistan and Israel.

    3- Quaid-I-Azam use to forward mail with questions about religion of Islam, as many in West thought being leader of Muslims he was scholar of Islam, to Maulana Muhammad Ali president of Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement.

  9. D_a_n

    ‘The anarchy that is Pakistan today would have visited India six decades ago. ‘

    From the above line it seems that Akbar has deliberately ignored the context and circumstances of our current situation..and makes it seem like some sage actually forsaw these very troubles and based on that, decided that partition was a good idea..

    I am not a partition scholar not a Jinnah historian like some people on this forum but this much is certain, much of what currently ails us is a direct result of having divorced ourselves from the vision Jinnah had for us….
    while reading Akbar it sounds like Nehru and Patel actually foresaw our current troubles….How exactly is not specified (maybe because they didnt) maybe because it’s not important to Akbar but I feel it makes for a less than honest picture…

    on the contrary, I would have thought that knowing that Pakistan would be in Jinnah’s hands….(and had he lived on as Pakistan’s leader like Nehru did)…..one would have been reasonably confident that economic success or not, we would have been a radically different society..

    Akbar further says:

    ‘Jinnah did his best to partition India further.’

    Maybe Akbar would have done well to make a couple of visits to PTH and read what some very sharp people have had to say on the matter…..extensively..maybe then he wouldnt have made a statement like this. This is lazy work and reads like many of the subcontinents elementary school books. He also does his readers the favour by not even attempting to explain just how this is true…wouldnt Nehru agreeing to the CMP kept India undivided..a federation yes, but undivided…

    and YLH has also said what I was thinking..even if the right to secede in ten years had been exercised, it wouldnt have been anything like the hell that was partition…maybe even as smooth and bloodless as the Czech republic and Slovakia. and the flip side would have been that the federation would have chugged along nicely

    And finally:

    ‘Nehru and Patel saved India from anarchy by isolating a wound that would have infected the whole of India if it had not been cauterized and sutured’..

    is akbar saying that the political demand that was Pakistan a festering wound? or was the Muslim Majority provinces acting uppity the wound? If the scenario of the federation been realised; then would there still be any infection to spread? If so, what was that infection? an infection of constitutional guarantees?

  10. YLH

    Rashid,

    1. Is a very simplistic. It also is something that makes the whole idea unethical. My reading of history suggests that this might have been a side benefit to Muslims here.

    2. Once again you’ve begun to echo Indian claims. We’ve discussed this and Pakistan is not based on religion. You should read a bit about why Ch. Zafrulla supported the Pakistan movement.

    3. I know that this is what is claimed. There are several other things claimed. The truth is Jinnah didn’t care much for religious people of any kind so I doubt it. He had much more regard for people Sir Zafrulla.

    Please quit your sub-sectarian angle …

  11. YLH

    Also this Lahori v Qadiani conflict within the Ahmadi milleu confuses everything so from now on I will delete any religious claims (ie predictions and other such nonsense) of all parties concerned.

    The contribution of Qadiyani Ahmadis to Pakistan movement is a historical fact and should be stated as a matter of fact to undo discrimination against them but please for god’s sake STOP this Obsessive Compulsive Disorder!!!! It has ruined many a life.

  12. Bloody Civilian

    ‘Nehru and Patel saved India from anarchy by isolating a wound that would have infected the whole of India if it had not been cauterized and sutured’

    D_a_n you are right. this kind of a ‘wound’ cannot be ‘isolated’ by just erecting a wall. how do you ‘isolate’ a problem like that between neighbours? by not treating a wound you are allowing it to fester. partition continues to (seriously) distort both countries’ politics, society and national discourse (therefore identity).

    this is why what m j akbar is saying is actually dangerous. ultimately, it comes down to condemning a community… for far too many. no matter how much many of them try to avoid that conclusion. an indian muslim condemning pakistan does not get round the problem. babri masjid, for example, was not the pakistani embassy…. and 1992 not 1947. as for the religiosity and religious chauvinism in our midst, here in pakistan.. it is, literally, killing us.

    partition cannot be undone. but the ‘wound’ must be ‘treated’. for our part, abandoning jinnah and what he stood for has meant, amongst other things, that we were not able to address the problem/’wound’ properly, as far as what we alone could have done about it.

  13. Jitendra Kaushal

    ‘an indian muslim condemning pakistan does not get round the problem’- BC puts his finger on the crucial point. There is a school of thought which says that great leaders are the product of the forces of history and not vice versa. Iqbals’ Shikwa’ sums up perfectly the Muslim psyche and the persecution mania plaguing it. Has it changed much since then? Pakistan arose out of this psyche and was not a gift either from Jinnah or Mahatma Gandhi. Forces of divisiveness, disguised as search for Muslim emancipation, were afoot way before the British came up with the Partition Plan. Is this game of digging up the past not an utterly futile exercise? Pakistan or other Islamic states can advance towards modernisation only if the stranglehold of Islam’s communal sentiments is broken. Religion is supposed to help individuals imbibe spirituality and seek emancipation, by degenerating into a communal force it ends up cementing dark regime of ignorance. MJA and his fellow Muslims in India do not criticise their fellow Muslims in Pakistan. It is their liberal stance, gifted by the Indian environment, that gives their utterances such a hue. The only way forward for Pakistan is to make Islam a university of humanism to produce enlightened citizens for the Republic. To make the Republic subservient to Islam to be commandeered by fundamnetalism. A clean break from the past and a conscious effort to forge a new an enlightened identity ought to be the first priority for the people of Pakistan. Only when the forces of history, sweeping the nation today, reflect this awareness and resolve, will Pakistan move forward. Then such preoccupation with meaningless past will automatically become out of place. Jinnah was a shrewd politician and a statesman and saw Pakistan as an opportunity to for Muslims to take charge of their destiny. Sadly, the nation of Pakistan never really came into being in the hearts and minds of Pakistani people, its place continued to be usurped by hated India’s inverted image. It can be said in retrospect that this India fixation became the curse which held back Pakistan. Pakistan needs a statesman to enthuse it with a new purpose and adumbrate a new identity for it.

  14. D_a_n

    @Jitendra Kaushal…

    ‘Muslim psyche and the persecution mania plaguing it’ …

    So what you are saying is that an entire religion is in fact an imagined psychosis of some sort and any percieved issues are by default divorced from reality…what we actually needed was some time on a couch talking about our ‘feelings’ and not constitutional guarantees….nice!

    ‘Forces of divisiveness, disguised as search for Muslim emancipation, were afoot way before the British came up with the Partition Plan.’

    All well and good to say that, however, I would like to see you back that up and maybe enlighten the rest of us by evidence to back up this claim…

    ‘stranglehold of Islam’s communal sentiments is broken. Religion is supposed to help individuals imbibe spirituality and seek emancipation, by degenerating into a communal force it ends up cementing dark regime of ignorance.’

    You know, there is much that can be said for people who live in glass houses….and I also suppose you think that the Sangh Parivar is the local chapter of the Sisters of Mercy right? Pathetic.

    ‘It is their liberal stance, gifted by the Indian environment, that gives their utterances such a hue’

    oh please! such patronizing BS..I suppose the RSS is also a ‘gift’ which the Muslims of India just havent gotten around to opening yet….

    it seems that your half baked and Islamo-phobic innanities would be more welcome at other hate forums….be off now..and for heavens sake read a book or two man..

  15. Jitendra Kaushal

    Hullo D_a_n

    I am thankful to you for having given my brief passage a reading and finding fit for a response. Thank you.

    A voice that comes from the heart does manage to touch a heart. I concede I am no scholar and spent seven decades of my life without much serious reading. Your observation is apt.

    I think at times a proposal’s fiercest critic ends up as its greatest benefactor. I am a God fearing man and refrain from the nasty pastime of denigrating other faiths for they all glorify the same God which bow to.

    Prejudice and aversion to truth are the two sides of the coin of ignorance. These two recede where the dominion of wisdom begins. And wisdom is not accumulation of other people’s ideas but their synthesis with one’s own thought.

  16. Majumdar

    BC/Dan,

    D_a_n you are right. this kind of a ‘wound’ cannot be ‘isolated’ by just erecting a wall.

    You are wrong. The fact is had Kashmir been divided along the River Chenab in 1947 itself, most of the wounds would have been healed thru isolation.

    I will elaborate in details on what I wud have liked to happen in the subcontinent in 1947 when I have time.

    Regards

  17. This was a good article, but I don’t agree with the conclusion. It seems like an post-facto rationalization: Partition happened and now Akbar has to claim that it was a good thing after all.

    Partition was a colossal tragedy and a collective failure of all parties concerned: the League, the Congress and the British. There is no reason why an undivided India in a federation would have necessarily been anarchic. For one thing, there would have been no Kashmir conflict.

    On a side note, I agree with rashid’s point number 2: religion should not be used as an arguement for a seperate nationalism. Whether Jinnah was only using “Islam” in a convenient political sense is not really the issue. It is a fact that the two countries explictly founded on religious basis (the state of Isreal and the “Islamic Republic” of Pakistan) are embroiled in major and unending political conflicts. The “Jewish state” cannot concede to an equitable solution with the Palestinians, and the “Islamic Republic” can’t leave in peace with “Hindu” India. Clearly cases where religion should have been kept entirely out of politics.

  18. Majumdar

    even if the right to secede in ten years had been exercised, it wouldnt have been anything like the hell that was partition…maybe even as smooth and bloodless as the Czech republic and Slovakia.

    Personally I think it would have been more like Yugoslavia. In 1958, Pakistan/BD would have emerged as bigger states and the non-Muslim population wud have been given three options-convert, kill or leave.

    Regards

  19. Bloody Civilian

    @majumdar

    kashmir was a result of the ‘erect a wall and isolate’ mentality. of the discourse that talked of ‘removing the poison’ from the body of ‘india’.

    i’m not saying that partition, as an idea, was an evil. it was the second best option or the lesser evil.. depending on how and from which direction you look at it. but the reason it ended up the way kabir mourns and not the way you’ve liked it to be was a result of this language of ‘hate’ used at the highest level of leadership. of not acknowledging that there were justified concerns and issues, as D_a_n has mentioned… but pretending that one side was ‘communal’, or had a ‘diseased mind’, or was a ‘poison’ or a ‘wound’. little wonder, then, that partition went as spectacularly wrong as it did.

    i know you are still rubbing your eyes in utter surprise, and have done all your life, at seeing someone like MAJ being born amongst ‘muslim barbarians’ who only ‘convert, kill or evict’ all others.

    @kaushal

    Muslim psyche and the persecution mania plaguing it

    and it is that which makes many muslims and hindus alike to believe that ghaznavi was a devout muslim on a divine mission breaking idols. the same persecution mania is responsible for muslims believeing that muslim rulers were mandir destroying, genocidal mlechhas.. singularly in the service of god.

    btw, do also read iqbal’s reconstruction of religious thought in islam.

    The only way forward for Pakistan is to make Islam a university of humanism to produce enlightened citizens for the Republic. To make the Republic subservient to Islam to be commandeered by fundamnetalism.

    huh??

  20. Majumdar

    kashmir was a result of the ‘erect a wall and isolate’ mentality.

    Kashmir was a result of crookedness and shortsightedness of INC politicians esp JLN. It had nothing to do with the business of Partition per se.

    but pretending that one side was ‘communal’,

    I certainly do not subscribe to any such notion. As a matter of fact I am only the self-described communalist on this forum.

    language of ‘hate’ used at the highest level of leadership.

    Who used this language of hate? If you can clarify, pls.

    Regards

  21. Bloody Civilian

    majumdar

    the language of ‘poison being removed from the body of india’ (patel, 7 aug 1947), for example, meant that Partition was going to happen between two sworn enemies with an iron curtain needed between them rather than a mutually agreed political settlement between hoping to be friendly neighbours.

    as for any representation of muslim interests being termed ‘communal’… well a good case can be made that comparably ‘communal’ hindu interests were subsumed within the ‘nationalist’ movement, namely, congress, and did not need any separately overt representation. that is why congress’ association with the mahasabha was merely political expediency, and malwiya getting 4 terms as congress president was nothing strange. as for mohommad ali’s presidency within the khilafat context… that is the other part of the debate. the ‘convert, kill or leave’ types being used against the interests of the rest of the muslims.

    i was not saying that you termed AIML ‘communal’. congress did.

  22. Bloody Civilian

    Personally I think it would have been more like Yugoslavia

    there, as in the case of ussr, the problem was lack of democracy, not lack of secularism. i think lack of respect for democratic principle by pre-partition congress was also the issue in india. not lack of secularism.

    and when i said “the ‘convert, kill or leave’ types being used against the interests of the rest of the muslims.” that, of course, was the result and not the intention of what congress did. congress mainly wanted a congress monopoly. that’s all.

    a united, democratic federation of india, with (say) nehru leading one sub-federal unit and (say) jinnah the other, would have poured cold water over many a communalist wet dream.

    regards

  23. Jitendra Kaushal

    Hullo BC, why be civil and bloody at the same time? Do you resent being a civilian or regret being something else earlier?

    “Truth is incontrovertible,
    ignorance can deride it,
    panic may resent it,
    malice may destroy it,
    but there it is.”
    — Sir Winston Churchill
    (1874-1965) Prime Minister of England

    Wishing you pleasant and elevating debating. Insha Allah.

  24. bonobashi@bangalore

    @Jitendra Kaushal

    Actually, he’s making an effort and being bloody civil. You should try provoking him and see the bloody results; it’s like a monster Bloody Mary spilt on the marble floor. Quite colourful, really.

    To provoke him, you need to explain to him carefully, at some length, preferably in two-syllable words, since his comprehension and grasping powers are not very, very good, that Indians are actually peace-loving people with no belligerent intentions, that we are so because of our superior cultural heritage and inclusive religion, which allows many strands of thought to co-exist, that ever since Partition, which is a most unfortunate occurrence which artificially sundered what essentially happens to be one and the same people, and which was caused due to the single minded malevolence of one Jinnah, we have increased our military apparatus to deal with two menaces, but have no intention of actually going to war. You should add that but for their unwanted interference, India would be a peaceful place; that on the other hand, we have tried to mediate in certain territories of theirs, so far with not much success.

    You might go on to say that we are after all part of the single great Indian civilisation, with no divides or different nuances, which really spans all of South Asia.

    You get the general drift. Now, into the fray.

  25. D_a_n

    @Majumdar..

    ‘You are wrong. The fact is had Kashmir been divided along the River Chenab in 1947 itself, most of the wounds would have been healed thru isolation.’ ..

    in that case you are referring to the wound that is Partition..but as far as I could tell Akbar was not saying that..He was referring to the wound itself being isolated..ie, the Muslim Majority provinces demanding political space and therein lies my point that instead of giving the political solution that would kept India united…
    the differentiation of the wounds that we are both talking about must be kept in mind…

    Its almost like talking about a diseased part of a body…and for the life of me I cannot tell why Akbar would even say that….is he echoing a very easily digestable version for his readership…or attempting to gain credibility for his views in this article by that ridiculous analogy?

    ‘Personally I think it would have been more like Yugoslavia.’

    Yugoslavia? Im sorry but I just cannot see that scenario unfold. As YLH said, the federations would have most likely had to adopt constitutions…I cannot see two federations led by Nehru and Jinnah (assuming that he had lived on) that agreed to a legal secession go the Yugoslav route and even if that had happened, it would have only if one federation tried to use force to stop secession and you know what im talking about here…

    ‘In 1958, Pakistan/BD would have emerged as bigger states and the non-Muslim population wud have been given three options-convert, kill or leave.’

    please explain what would make you say this? In the first 30 years of Pakistan’s existance, please point out instances where Pakistan’s Hindu, Christian and surprising number of tribal Sikhs have been subjected to such an pogrom and extermination? leave aside the period after 1977…what would make you say this?

    as BC inconvetiently pointed out: all the kill, convert and leave types were comfortable in your pocket and would have remained so had we had the federations

  26. Jitendra Kaushal

    Hullo Bonobashi

    I am reminded of an old saying, ‘You may win an argument, but you will lose a friend.’ I have no friends here to lose, but do hope to make a few at then end of this debate. So, I shy away from sarcasm and satire and attempt to make my point in all humility. The border between India and Pakistan is an invisible chasm of mistrust, and possibly hatred too. We need to build bridges of trust and friendship across it.

    Without harping on the partition we can turn the sub-continent into a region of harmony and peace, many times better than what existed before the Partition of 1947.

  27. D_a_n

    @ Mujumdar…

    as a side note (and keeping in mind the many many ways in which the example is not similar)….We can all see how well the Israeli policy of Isolating their ‘Palestinian Problem’ via their Separation wall is working….
    well enough to isolate the ‘wound’….but keeping it fresh at the same time..
    if a wound is festering and you can’t see it (ie, on one’s backside) …it’s still festering

  28. Bloody Civilian

    Bonobashi

    my comments have been within the strict context: this is why what m j akbar is saying is actually dangerous. ultimately, it comes down to condemning a community… for far too many. no matter how much many of them try to avoid that conclusion. which is within the larger context that you have now provided: we are after all part of the single great Indian civilisation.

    kaushal introduced another context: Iqbals’ Shikwa’ sums up perfectly the Muslim psyche and the persecution mania plaguing it. Has it changed much since then? Pakistan arose out of this psyche. except, pak wasn’t really a ‘civil rights movement’. it was not really about ‘minority rights’ either. it was about 90 million people refusing to think or act like a minority. quite the opposite of kaushal’s thesis. it was about indians who wished to have a share in the shaping of india. it was about democracy and not secularism. both parties had the democratic right to disagree. but how that disagreement was handled is where the discussion with majumdar moved to.

  29. Bloody Civilian

    Without harping on the partition we can turn the sub-continent into a region of harmony and peace, many times better than what existed before the Partition of 1947.

    absolutely. except the discussion here had started when issue was taken by m j akbar’s conclusion and some other points he tried to make, which perpetuate not avoid demonising the other. surely, by putting behind partition you don’t mean as D_a_n put it, in a different context, “if a wound is festering and you can’t see it (ie, on one’s backside) …it’s still festering”. we need to resolve and come to terms with it… as a historical fact. learn to be objective about it, as much as possible, then move on. otherwise, vested interests in both countries will keep exploiting both the ignorance and emotionality surrounding it. in the interest of objectivity, we must avoid sweeping generalisations. unless we indeed mean to make a generalisation, in which case, we must be prepared to provide decent evidence and justification. that’s how i see it with all my blindspots and what i hope to try and do in the face of all my faults.

  30. bonobashi@bangalore

    @Bloody Civilian

    I have not been following this argument very closely. I read the original in the Times of India and was interested to read Akbar’s analysis. It has to be remembered that he is a journalist. It also has to be remembered that he has done some work on Nehru in writing a book on him. With that in view, please consider the following.

    Akbar is, providentially, alive and well today. We need not agonise over his precise shade of meaning; some of what D_a_n has queried can be referred to him direct (you are aware that Inder Malhotra also is very much with us even today, and we can ask him too, if need be, regarding his report on the response to Nehru’s death being announced). Some of the phrases he has used, the wound being cauterised, sound fine, but do not make sense; the identification of the wound is not clear, and the closest I can get to it is the infighting between the political leadership on the two main political platforms, that is, between Jinnah on the one hand and Gandhi, Nehru, Patel on the other. It fits uncomfortably, in the context and in the sentence itself, with any other interpretation. If someone known to me has Akbar’s e-mail id, and I am sure I can trace somebody or the other, I plan to ask him what he meant.

    Your comment, especially three of the last four lines, was irresistible for its sweeping humanity, and its inclusive and healing sentiment. I cannot find fault in it. I cannot, however, truly engage with it, without more knowledge about the discussion which it embodies. As I said, I have not gone through the details of the skirmish that Majumdar has had with several of you. It is already late, so perhaps tomorrow, if a laptop or any other device comes to hand, I might attempt a reply.

    Finally, I am depressed at the thought of yet another earnest but misguided and innocent pilgrim turning the wrong way and finding himself in the midst of this tribal ceremony. He is bound to be identified as a stranger, and seems almost inevitably to be destined to be the main course at dinner. My last comment, to which you have replied with far more gravitas than it deserved, was intended at warning him away, in as polite and unobtrusive language as I could put across.

  31. Gorki

    All PTH readers:
    “we need to resolve and come to terms with it… as a historical fact. learn to be objective about it, as much as possible, then move on. otherwise, vested interests in both countries will keep exploiting both the ignorance and emotionality surrounding it”………

    I want to expand on BC’s words a little bit but before I say anything I want to share a human interest story with all readers of PTH.

    On 25th August a story was published in the Indian paper “The Tribune’ (and carried by all major news outlets) about a ‘terrorist’ who was nabbed in Ludhiana after he opened fire with a pistol, injuring two cops and killing a bystander. Also nabbed along with him was a woman accomplice with a ‘bag full of terrorist stuff’. The police declared it a big victory. Like many others I read it with satisfaction and relief that a terrorist was caught. The next day details started coming out.

    Turns out, the bag had contained bridal clothes and the terrorist in question; Balbir Singh Bhootna had earlier been declared a proclaimed offender but had come to Ludhiana to get married to the woman. They were in fact going to the local Gurdwara but ironically were nabbed when during a routine checking, a pistol was found in their possession; the same with which he committed the crime.

    The details are still coming out and it may still turn out that Balbir was indeed a major killer on a mission but reading between the lines to me this appears to be a former terrorist down on his luck, was trying to self rehabilitate himself by starting a new life with the woman he loved. Unluckily for him, he did not have the good sense to dump his gun and so got caught in the heat of the events; a search, an unexplained gun, the sudden reflex shooting and so on.

    What caught my attention was the reason he got caught. He did not run away as he could have since the cops were down and the coast was clear but he hid under a railway car and was later caught. He did not run away because his wife to be was in police custody and rather than leave her behind and escape he hung around risking death or capture and ‘encounter’ for which the Punjab Police is famously proud of.

    This brings me to the human interest and the poignant part. In the picture carried in the newspaper along with the story the captured terrorist looked nothing more than an animal; disheveled, poorly clothed and with a look of fear that an animal has when cornered. Yet this animal of a man had enough humanity left in him to risk all for he could not leave the woman he loved behind him.

    This is the real tragedy that happened to my people not too long ago when poor and illiterate youngsters like Bhootna were turned into mindless killing machines by a call given by others; their leaders, to risk all, to fight to kill; and die in the name of a community and a religion which was felt to be in the process of being overwhelmed by a brute majority. Today that cause is long lost, forgotten and the very people who had given the call are now heading the government. And strangely nothing bad happened to the community at ‘risk’. In fact it is doing very well at the moment. The leaders however have not bothered to explain to these wretched camp followers why suddenly everything was now acceptable and their ‘cause’ was no cause at all any more!!

    So why am I telling this story on the PTH? It is not to disparage any past leaders or causes. Far from it, I have a deep respect for all those men, MAJ, Nehru, Gandhiji, Patel etc. whom we all have discussed at length in this forum. They are an honored part of our proud heritage and rightly so for without their vision and sacrifice, we would not have the countries we have today. The reason I discuss this above story is that on 15th August 1947 one of those leaders quoted another and said the following:

    “The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.”

    Another of those titans said something similar three days earlier in Karachi. I feel that here at PTH, I have met people from my generation and others who honor the memory and the vision of those men long gone. We have argued enough about why a partition occurred in South Asia. We all seem to agree that their intentions were noble. The best homage to them then is not to go on arguing endlessly about the past but dare to dream a better future for us but especially not muddy the future for those who may hang on our words. Thus while the past is important, it is even more important to lower the temperature in the present.

    Thus today the first order of business is to ensure that political passions and heated rhetoric in our two countries never gets to the point where an illiterate villager like Balbir ends up paying the price. Sadly he is beyond redemption but true service to our communities\nations even before we eradicate “poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity” is that we do not let those afflicted by it to fall prey to the rhetoric of those like us; the ‘elite’.

    For we the elite, can go on discussing the above issues, endlessly and heatedly if needed from the comfort of our homes; but it is those like Balbir who will pay the price. It is too heavy a price to ask of those in whose name we claim to be arguing in the first place.

    Regards.

  32. Karaya

    This is an article from an Indian Muslim writer in response to Jaswant Singh’s book on Jinnah which poses some very interesting questions regarding partition and the role of Nehru and Patel in it.

    96 years ago one of India’s most well known politicians was introduced as a “Mohamedan” at a meeting of the Gujarati Sabha when, like M.J. Akbar (one of India’s most well known journalists) in the context of this article, his religious inclinations were incidental to say the least.

    To paraphrase one of the few hip hop artists that I don’t mind listening to, “Guess there’s a Gandhi in all of us.”

  33. Karaya

    Erratum: “94 years ago…” not 96 as earlier stated. And it was in Bombay, IIRC.

  34. PMA

    “The border between India and Pakistan is an invisible chasm of mistrust, and possibly hatred too. We need to build bridges of trust and friendship across it.”

    Jitendra Kaushal (August 27, 2009 at 9:21 pm): Since you are new to this site, let me repeat what regulars have heard before. We, the Pakistanis and the North Indians – particularly those who think that ‘their country was divided in 1947’ – need to disengage and move away from each other for a while till the passions cool off. May be by 2047 we could revisit each other and work out some way of civilized discourse between our two nations. Right now there is too much bad blood between us to think of “bridges of trust and friendship”.

  35. Anil Kapuria

    Dividing India to save it accurately describes the partition, however it fails to describe the cost that was borne out by two provinces and muslim Indians.

    Whether, BJP implodes remains to be seen. Lawyers from grandparents’ generation delivered the partition, politicians and generals of parents’ generation delivered wars. Singers (Adnan Sami), Cricketer (Shoaib Akhter visiting children hospital in Mumbai) are showing the way for professionals entrepreneurs to play their role. There is nothing left to partition, there is nothing to gain from the wars. Future is here with the current generation.

    This generation can benefit from restoring Jinnah, the abandoned Indian hero. They need a right-of-center party which is inclusive, and not ideologically weded to hindutva. My take, deliver BJP to RSS, and start fresh to have a right-of-center option.

  36. Gorki

    Dear PMA Sahib:

    I read your response to Mr. Kaushal and decided to humbly write a dissenting post. Before I write anything I want to mention that I am writing this post with some hesitation since I have a very high regard for you personally and consider most of your positions well thought out. For example your posts about engaging what you call Pakistan’s west bank are very lucid and visionary. Similarly I find your ideas about a possible scenario for a Kashmir solution very practical yet original and innovative.

    As a person too, I consider you a scholar and a gentleman. Moreover, on a personal plane I am indebted to you for overlooking a past transgression which was due to a misunderstanding on my part. Therefore I hope you will read my post in the spirit I am writing; as a counter point to your argument rather than a criticism of you as a person.

    So then here we go.
    I have a problem with your position when you say that we may have to wait till 2047 to have a civilized discourse between our nations. I am well aware of the Pakistani sensitivities and how some of them are offended when misguided Indians overenthusiastically proclaim either that ‘partition was a mistake’ or ‘we are one people’ etc. but notice what Kaushal Sahib actually wrote:

    “The border between India and Pakistan is an invisible chasm of mistrust, and possibly hatred too. We need to build bridges of trust and friendship across it.” All he is stating that we need to work on replacing mistrust and hatred with trust and friendship.

    Why do you find this so threatening?

    How can our generation justify ‘kicking the proverbial can’ down the road for the future generations to tackle if there is any chance at all to replace it with something better today?

    I protest because I would not want to do the same to my children if I had an enmity with a neighbor. I would do everything in my power to resolve it peacefully for them before I died rather than bequeath a legacy of anger and hatred to them.
    Why then would I wish something to my nation that I would not for my own children?

    I know your own stated position that Pakistanis need to engage their west bank first.
    That is true. India too has many other pressing problems to solve; we too have our far eastern border states to be engaged properly, we also need to focus on ending poverty and inequality, fighting corruption and providing education for all.
    Yet why must we consider our two peoples to be retarded idiots who cannot chew gum and walk at the same time?
    Why can’t we both do all these things simultaneously?

    In fact I would argue the exact opposite; by not engaging the saner elements from the opposite sides we are giving in to our hawks who find a convenient bogeyman to blackmail whole populations into believing that we have to remain belligerent out of necessity. Such climate of hostility demands that we waste precious resources preparing for a war with each other than on more pressing pursuits. Such paranoia also means we compromise on building civilian institutions and rely more heavily on defense related institutions which may have developed a vested interest in keeping the status quo.

    Don’t take me wrong. I am not advocating a Canada US like brotherly ties at the first instance; but surely there must be a middle ground somewhere between a clenched fist and a romantic and idealist inspired bear hug.
    Can’t we agree upon something in the middle like responsible grownups?

    The PTH has posted umpteen posts stating that MAJ had hoped for a Pakistan within the Indian Union and was forced out due to shortsightedness and pettiness of the Congress leadership. If that was so then what is so wrong in hoping to recreate that vision now that a new generation is in the saddle and we can no longer go on blaming long dead leaders?

    Why does a new generation today hold itself a prisoner to those feuds of the old?
    After all when was the last time any right thinking person ever said that talking of eliminating mistrust and promoting peace between former enemies was a bad thing?
    If peace is considered a desired goal among former enemies like USSR-USA, Palestinians-Israelis Ireland-Britain then why is there so much reluctance to consider it in our own backyard?
    Even you must admit that we cannot be enemies forever.

    Some may argue that talking peace is not easy given the current climate.
    I OTOH argue exactly the opposite; it is easy today than ever given the current climate. It is because today we have far too many opportunities to engage people from across the border than ever before. Given the ‘flattening’ of the modern world and instant communications we can clearly see each other as people; with names and faces, families and kids in school, with small ordinary dreams not very different from our own. Sometimes we can relate even to them even better than those we call our own. For example I can identify much more easily with people like BC, YLH and you, than say a RSS worker from Gujarat or a Khalistani advocate from Canada.
    Perhaps then it is the fear that keeps us all from giving up our comfortably familiar position of aloofness.

    Maybe we are afraid that we may discover that our enemy too has a human face after all?
    If so, then let us challenge ourselves to confront our fears; it will take real courage to make a peace of the brave.
    The question is; are we brave enough?

    Regards.

  37. Majumdar

    Dan,

    In the first 30 years of Pakistan’s existance, please point out instances where Pakistan’s Hindu, Christian and surprising number of tribal Sikhs have been subjected to such an pogrom and extermination?

    Pls read up on what happened to East Bengali Hindoos, Dalits in particular. You may refer to JN Mandal’s resignation letter. This all happened prior to 1977. As far as West Pak was concerned, the minorities were anyways reduced to 3% in 1948 itself so there was no further need to reduce the minority numbers- a happy equilibrium had been reached.

    We can all see how well the Israeli policy of Isolating their ‘Palestinian Problem’ via their Separation wall is working

    The wound is festering becuase Isreal is occupying territories which do not legitimately belong to them. The wound is festering in the subcontinent becuase India is occupying a territory (Kashmir) which did not belong to it.

    If India had not occupied Kashmir, if Israel had given Palis their fair share of territory, none of this gangrene wud have been formed. India-Pak, Isarel-Palis wud have lived peacefully behind walls, in fact they wud have collaborated in housekeeping.

    Regards

  38. Majumdar

    Dan,

    As YLH said, the federations would have most likely had to adopt constitutions

    Of course, yes. And one of the two federations (or maybe two of the three federations) would have handed over the sovereignty of the federation to Allah mian overriding any objections that the minority community may have had.

    the Yugoslav route …. happened…. it would have only if one federation tried to use force to stop secession and you know what im talking about here…

    As a matter of fact Yugoslavia did happen in the subcontinent …in 1971, so what is the happened?

    as BC inconvetiently pointed out: all the kill, convert and leave types were comfortable in your pocket

    I see. So why did the Hindoos and Sikhs of Punjab leave Punjab. Maybe they just didn’t like the idea of being in a minority.

    Regards

  39. yasserlatifhamdani

    “would have handed over the sovereignty of the federation to Allah mian overriding any objections that the minority community may have had.”

    I would say this would not have happened. Even the Objectives Resolution faced stringent opposition from the minorities who were greatly outnumbered in sovereign Pakistan… with minorities standing at about 48 percent or so…. there was not even an outside chance that this would have happened.

  40. yasserlatifhamdani

    Anil…

    Have you read my article “Future Belongs to Jinnah” in the news yesterday… I argue the same thing.

  41. @ Gorki, Hear Hear! My sentiments exactly. Why should we be threatened by talking peace?

  42. Kiran

    YLH and PMA are in the illusion that sub-continent is owned by two groups – Hindus and Muslims. They decide what should be the geography of this continent. Even the 1971 episode has not changed the two-nation mindset.

    There are several nationalities in India lingusitic, racial, caste based, class based, ideologyically based etc. All of them have the potential to form a nation on their own.

    This two nation theory is conversation between upper class Muslims with sentimental feeling towards mughal empire and mostly punjabi, western up caste Hindus. Most other people in India are bored with this.

  43. yasserlatifhamdani

    Kiran is under the illusion that it (I am not sure if it is a he or a she) knows everything about everyone else.

    Maybe it should refrain from assuming anything on anyone else’s behalf and making assinine comments which may pass foolishly as soundbytes but have nothing to do with YLH or PMA and their conception of Two Nation Theory – which mind you both YLH and PMA think has nothing to do with the present reality of Pakistan.

    Maybe it should also refrain from assuming what class structure YLH or PMA belong to or whether YLH or PMA have any “affinity” to the Mughal Empire. The Historic Two Nation Theory had more to do with Salariat than any upper class Muslims with an affinity to the Mughal Empire…

  44. Bloody Civilian

    majumdar-da

    The wound is festering becuase Isreal is occupying territories which do not legitimately belong to them. The wound is festering in the subcontinent becuase India is occupying a territory (Kashmir) which did not belong to it.

    i must repeat D_a_n’s correction and emphasis that this was being discussed within the context of what mjakbar is saying. unlike you, he is not calling the Partition the ‘wound’. instead, he claims, that Partition was the chosen method for effecting the ‘isolation’ of the wound. akbar chooses not to say what he thinks the ‘wound’ really was. he leaves it instead to the readers to decide what it is according to their prejudices and biases, or lack thereof. this dishonesty towards his ‘readership’ is what D_a_n pointed out. it’s dangerous.

    you are saying partition itself is the wound… only because issues like kashmir were left festering. otherwise, partition would not have been a wound, but an antidote. an antidote to what? you obviously feel that hindoos and muslims could not have lived together in a democratic federation. you have said it enough times that you believe muslims are not capable of living together with a non-muslim minority. i take it your comments are intended for all muslims except malaysian and indonesian ones. i do not know. but the POV is entirely different from mjakbar’s.. and, therefore, would require a totally different debate.

    PMA

    a ‘what-if?’: in 2047 it would be claimed that if india-pak couldn’t find any way to cooperate or agree on anything in a century, what chance we could do it in another 100 years. some engaging and talking to each other is required even if we are to reach the maturity and civility to learn to leave each other alone…. for a while.

  45. Bloody Civilian

    oops! forgot to end italics. only the first para was supposed to have been in italics as it is a direct quote from majumdar-da.

  46. Majumdar

    Civvie mian,

    I dont know whether I got MJA correct. If he was referring to the Muslim majority provinces right to self-determination as a wound, then of course it was quite unfortunate.

    Regards

  47. Jitendra Kaushal

    Hullo Gorky

    That you are in concurrence with me is satisfying. But, I do not find PMA wholly in the wrong. You and I speak in a voice animated by idealism and I are likely to brushed aside as too radical. His response is of one rooted to soil and in better know of the ground reality, which often gets tagged as conservatism.

    A bridge is to have a foundation on both side of a divide and has support traffic from both ends. All generations of free Pakistanis have been fed the staple of spurious statecraft focusing more on external trivia to near complete neglect of domestic issues. The people are therefore in frustration and furious at the outcome.

    The bridge that you and I speak of may neither appear appealing nor urgent when viewed through the prism of disenchantment and mistrust. It is not very different from my own mistrust of sham Track 2 diplomacy practised in the past.

    Three decades is not a very long time in lives of nation states. ‘Hum intizar karenge us ghari ka kyamat tak, khuda kare kyamat ho aur wuh ghari aaye’.

  48. D_a_n

    @Mujumdar..

    ‘Pls read up on what happened to East Bengali Hindoos, Dalits in particular. ‘

    Im sorry but that did escape my mind when I wrote what I wrote. However, I believe that (and by no means meaning to trivialize it) it was still too soon after partition and the poision of communal violence would have been a very fresh memory and still be able to influence such actions.

    However, the tribal area Sikhs lived and thrived and saw no reason to migrate..Sindh to this day retains a decent Hindu population..

    ‘As far as West Pak was concerned, the minorities were anyways reduced to 3% in 1948 itself ‘

    Again, the violence of Partition was the most over riding factor in this and I believe it would have been much different if Pakistan was allowed to come into being as part of an Indian federation. There would most likely not been the kind of violence we saw and thus the migration out of west Pak would also not have happened and even if it had happened, not anywhere near the scale we later saw…

    I dont know why you insist on transplanting the horrors of partition to the federation scenario and not seeing a different turn of events…

    do you really believe that there would have been no difference? I believe you know better…

    ‘And one of the two federations (or maybe two of the three federations) would have handed over the sovereignty of the federation to Allah mian overriding any objections that the minority community may have had.’

    Again, that scenario would have been unlikely and YLH has already explained why. I believe you would not have said that if you saw events unfold differently as this exercise in revisionist history asks….

    ‘As a matter of fact Yugoslavia did happen in the subcontinent …in 1971, so what is the happened?’

    rather different matter that. I dont believe that West Pak had any legal guarantee to be able to secede.

    Plus my point exaclty: that the only situation where even a 1958 secession would have been a bloody one if the larger (or largest) part: India would have attempted to stop one federation from exercising a legal right. Otherwise a czech republic and slovakia type divorce is easy to see.

    PS: your point about soveriegnty being handed over to Allah: it does not mean a just and egalitarian society is thus not possible and does in no way mean that non Muslim citizens can be treated differently in the eyes of the law. Obviously that is a whole different topic for another time and was not meant to take things off on an unrelated tangent. Just thought it merited a mention because of the way you brought out that point.

  49. D_a_n

    @ Mujumdar

    ‘I dont know whether I got MJA correct. If he was referring to the Muslim majority provinces right to self-determination as a wound, then of course it was quite unfortunate.’

    That is what I was getting at. Apparently BC was able to explain it to you better than I could🙂

  50. Majumdar

    your point about soveriegnty being handed over to Allah: it does not mean a just and egalitarian society is thus not possible

    I hope then you will have no problems with folks who wud want to give over sovereignty of the Universe to Bhagwan Shri Ramchandraji!!!

    Regards

  51. D_a_n

    @ Mujumdar…

    As I said..i didnt mean to take the discussion off on another tangent as it requires a debate of it’s own….
    but since you asked; If I am living in a country that decided to take such an action and I am still legally able to live my life and practice my religion without the interference of the state and no legal biases against my way of life; I would have no issues.

    This is ofcourse a perfect world scenario.

    Having said that, it is ‘safer’ not to go down such a route and our own historyhas unfortunately shown us the same. However, one must be careful not to confuse the actions of the religous with the religion itself was the point i wanted to make.

  52. The statement in the Constitution of Pakistan that “sovereignity belongs to Allah alone” is inherently discriminatory to the minorities, who don’t believe in Allah, including the atheists, agnostics, etc. Such an explictly religious statement has no place in a foundational document of a nation. We should instead have something on the US model “We the people…”

    It’s a given that the same applies to the hypothetical statement about “Sri Ramachandraji”.

  53. Jitendra Kaushal

    Kabir Sahib

    I view it differently. Religion is indispensable for recharging our moral batteries. Does any brand of car carries in its logo the name and make of its battery charger? The beauty of a charger lies in keeping a battery at its maximum potential. Why should not every walking Muslim be a testimony to the efficacy of Islam as a force for human uplift? Mother Teresa did not have to tell anyone that her inspiration came from Christ. Allah features in state documents because it is the only way for the clergy to assert its superiority, or for the laity to show its faith.

    ‘ Saaki mujh ko pine de masjid mein beth kar ya wuh jeagah bata jahan Khuda na ho’, this line from an old song comes to my mind. To use Allah as a proof of our strong faith in Him is put a question mark on it, for a bond between a man and his Maker is too sacred to be displayed publicly as a tool of PR.

  54. Jitendra ji, that’s what I was trying to say. I have no problem with people practicing their religion, whatever it is, in private in their own homes. The only thing I have a problem with is when nations adopt “State Religions”. I would have the same issue if India declared itself a “Hindu Republic” and wrote that into its Constitution.

    I’m not anti-Islam by any means, but I believe religion should not be part of public life.

  55. PMA

    Gorki (August 28, 2009 at 6:21 am):

    First of all I am thankful to you for your kindness, both presently and in the past. If the Sub-continent was inhabited totally by people like you there would not have been any India-Pak wars. Now coming to the subject.

    I could very well understand the Indian desires to “build bridges across the border” with Pakistan. Indian national aspirations are derived from the Ashoka period of the history as demonstrated by the symbolism employed by the modern day India. “Building bridges” is within that Indian Sub-continental outlook. But let’s look from Pak-centric perspective; the perspective I most care for.

    The respective morphologies of India and Pakistan are very different and therefore it is futile to compare the two. Pakistanis are trusted with a country bounded by two arbitrary lines, lines not necessarily of their own choosing. The country not only straddles across ethnic, cultural and racial divides but also along the ancient civilizational and geographical lines; the divides if not bridged and allowed to fester may threaten the very existence of the Pakistani state. The first need of the country is to build bridges across these divides. The bridges across the Radcliffe line with an eastward pull could wait. We need to put our own house in order before we can visit our neighbors. And it has nothing to do with being threatened by India or hating India as some have said mistakenly.

  56. PMA

    Bloody Civilian (August 28, 2009 at 2:32 pm):

    “in 2047 it would be claimed that if india-pak couldn’t find any way to cooperate or agree on anything in a century, what chance we could do it in another 100 years. some engaging and talking to each other is required even if we are to reach the maturity and civility to learn to leave each other alone…. for a while.”

    I am all for an India-Pakistan comprehensive peace agreement that addresses resolution of all past, present and future disputes between the two countries. I would like to see a demilitarized Kashmir, Indian military installations and deployments moved back from Pakistani borders, uninhibited free flow of river waters to Pakistan, and so forth and so on. I am afraid the list is rather long but the best approach is a goal oriented dialog between the two countries. However ‘building bridges’ is something different altogether. No bridge could be stable without solid foundations. And for any cross border bridge to last, Pakistan must be first strong within.

  57. Gorki

    Mr. Kaushal, Kabir and PMA Sahib:

    Thanks for the kind replies. As you all can see, we all have different opinions even about our opinions yet we do see each other as sincere human beings.
    That to me is a small victory.

    I concur with PMA Sahib in that if everyone in the Subcontinent was like this there would be no war.

    People like Kabir and I may be dismissed as too idealistic today yet even if we can agree to this ideal fantasy as a final goal for that ‘ghari’ to which Kaushal alluded to, then I think I can declare that as another small victory.

    On a side note, Kaushal seems to have quite a poetic side to him; in this case he ended up in the right place since PMA is a poet himself; and a pretty good one too.

    You two should get along fine.

    Regards.

  58. @Gorki sahib,

    What can I say? I’m an idealist and I’m proud of it:)

  59. Anil Kapuria

    Yasser:

    Can you please email me the link to your article?

    Thanks

  60. Bloody Civilian

    D_a_n… with apologies, i’m hijacking one of your arguments once again… hope it’s alright. repeating it at least. khood explanation 2/3 dafa repeat kiya karo na yar😉

    kabir

    The statement in the Constitution of Pakistan that “sovereignity belongs to Allah alone” is inherently discriminatory to the minorities

    cf.

    If I am living in a country that decided to take such an action and I am still legally able to live my life and practice my religion without the interference of the state and no legal biases against my way of life; I would have no issues.

    all of us here agree that god or religion has no place in a country’s constitution – the cornerstone of all public law. yet D_a_n’s answer above was to a specific question. and i agree with him. if i’m being treated right by a fellow human… in every sense of the word… then i can find it in myself to not question the source of his/her inspiration. not until i’m wronged.

    we know that those who insist upon wearing their religion on their sleeve have an agenda, not mere inspiration. they tend to vary between being mildly irritating to extremely dangerous and harmful. same is true of those who use religion in matters of public policy, law or statecraft. they alomst always have some vile vested interest.

    i’d not oppose, say, the iranian and the german states with the same vigour, even though the german constitution too mentions God (preamble: “Conscious of their responsibility before God and man”) and, thereby, disciriminates against atheists. just so we’re aware of both the ideal we seek and the reality we might just be able to live with, albeit after having our protest duly recorded.

    just a bit of hair-splitting, i agree.. but harmless, i hope.

  61. PMA

    Kiran (August 28, 2009 at 12:13 pm):

    Kiran, time has left you behind. Mughal Empire, British Empire, One-Nation Theory, Two-Nations Theory…..all have come and gone. Both the One-Nation Theory of Congress and The Two-Nation Theory of Muslim League now only exist in the historical context. The ground realities of today are the three nation-states of Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, each beseeched with multitude of internal problems. My suggestion is that each state look inward and try to solve its internal problems without pointing fingers at others. It is time to move on. But if you like to see your country India realigned on ethnic and linguistic lines, I have no say in that. I am only concerned about the health and well being of my own country, Pakistan. Matters of India do not concern me. Not any more.

  62. Jitendra Kaushal

    Hullo Kabir

    I would like to take leave of this gathering by quoting Saint Kabir. The urge was triggered by your name.

    ‘ Pothhi parh parh jag mua pandit bhaye na koi, dhy aakhar prem ka parhe so pandit hoy ‘

    I am of the opinion that it is statesman-like to shun the thrill of iconoclastic preoccupation and start the process of reconstruction from where is , as is, now.

  63. BC, I substantively agree with you. But in Pakistan’s case, not only is sovereignity handed over to Allah, the very country is called the “Islamic” republic (which is by the way a total contradiction in terms– either you’re Islamic or a Republic, not both) and then the Constitution decides who is “Islamic” and who is not. It’s far worse than a benign mention of God.

    Even the US pledge of allegience mentions God “one nation, under God”. A lot of people find that problematic, but personally that doesn’t bother me so much, probably because in official terms the US isn’t set up as the “Protestant Republic of the United States”– a name that would be equally ridiculous as Islamic Republic.

  64. Bloody Civilian

    I am of the opinion that it is statesman-like to shun the thrill of iconoclastic preoccupation and start the process of reconstruction from where is , as is, now.

    as long as that it does not mean ignoring history only to be condemned to repeat it. and, stop short of compromising on principles.

    Kabir

    to take the cue from kaushal’s “where is, as is”, pak wasn’t always the islamic republic. yahya renamed her so. ’73 is a dissapointing, depressing constitution even without the 2nd amendment. but, if you’d allow me to split the hair some more… pak still is a parliamentary democracy. there is nothing in the constitution holding parliament’s hand from changing the constitution. moreover, a) laws are passed by parliament, and b) there isn’t any mechanism stopping parliament from passing whatever laws it wishes to pass; the IIC has no legal power. same as the sharia court.

    things like 58.2(b) are, in practical terms, a much bigger usurping of the people’s sovereignty. yes, all the non-secular stuff of the ’73 constitution create great political hurdles and require the kind of backbone that our politicians seem unlikely to develop any time soon. but we have to continue our struggle. remember that even in 1897, the US (not a southern state’s) supreme court obited, as a matter of fact, that the founding fathers could not have intended social disorder by meaning ‘equality of men’ to in any way extend to the blacks. civil rights only happened in 1960’s. a black president in 2008.. and the struggle carries on.

    not being asked to be pioneers, pak has no excuse to take as long in this 21st century as the US did in the previous two. my intention was only to point out that the ideal we seek is a combination of both law and politics, constitution and attitudes, secularism and democracy. but without hope there can be no struggle, and without struggle there can be no progress.

  65. “Without hope there can be no struggle, and without struggle there can be no progress”.

    BC, I’m completely agreed. It’s just so frustrating when so many people don’t even understand why being an “Islamic Republic” is problematic. I know that that was not the original name of the country, I only wish that that word could be permanently removed forever. (Again, no problem with people practicing Islam in their homes, just don’t make it part of official state business or public discourse)

    What in heaven’s name is an “Islamic Republic” anyway? I really wish someone could satisfactorily explain it to me.

  66. Anoop

    @kabir

    It is true what you say that Religion and state must not mix but in Islam the 2 concepts are mixed it seems. If thats the case then Pakistan will never be ‘Republic of Pakistan’ but will always be ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’.. This one dream of yours will never be fulfilled.

  67. Anoop, as BC mentioned above, Pakistan was not always and eternally known as the “Islamic Republic”. Yahya Khan added the word “Islamic” at some point in history (I want to say sometime in the 1960s, but I’m not sure of the exact date). There is no reason why better sense won’t prevail some time in the future and the word won’t be taken out again.

    Pakistan must be a secular republic just like India if South Asia is going to progress. There is no place for religiously-defined states in the 21st century.

  68. D_a_n

    @ BC …

    Please note sign out front: ‘hijackers welcome’🙂

  69. bonobashi

    @D_a_n

    Perhaps you don’t remember that exchange many moons ago on All Things Pakistan when Bloody Civilian expanded on your theme in a side-splittingly funny paragraph. While your version has the merit of being terse and pithy, his was one of the reasons I decided that Pakistani blogs were more human-friendly than others. That comment of his is well worth a re-visit.

  70. Anoop

    @Kabir,

    I hope what you say happens. I dont understand the train of thought of people who dont want the word Islamic removed from Pakistan. It has 97% muslim for Godsakes. Why does pakistan has to flaunt its Islamic status(I am guessing this is why they have the word Islamic inserted in there)?
    Why is Pakistan so different from other majority Muslim states? Why does it has to flaunt its religion as its identity?
    I somehow dont see Pakistan lose the Tag Islamic Kabir.
    You know your name reminds me of the Great Poet Kabir. I have not personally read his creations but have heard some songs. Just lovely.

  71. yasserlatifhamdani

    Now here you’ve argued well Kabir.

  72. karun

    😉 wah! kabir you are getting accolades

  73. bonobashi

    Apropos of nothing.

    A hungry and thirsty fox was going past a wall when he saw some juicy, succulent grapes hanging down, seemingly within reach. He went up to them and jumped up to reach them, but could not. He tried again and again, but the grapes were just out of his reach. He trotted away, thinking to himself,”They were sour, anyway.”

  74. Thank you Yasser Bhai, You see we can agree on some things🙂.

    @ Anoop, I am named after Bhagat Kabir. His bhajans are lovely, particularly “Mo ko kahan dhunday banday” and “Koee bolay ram ram koee khudaee”

  75. karun

    @bonobashi

    hungry and thirsty, both @ same time😉

  76. Suv

    I think the Cabinet Mission proposal with a weak center would have been disastrous for India. Instead of having a single constitution if we had 3 constitutions within India, I don’t think there was a chance of unity. Case in point is Lebanon where they had a compromise formula of Christian President, Sunni Prime Minister and Shia Speaker of Assembly. It ultimately led to civil war in Lebanon with which it is still coping. I think the best form was representative democracy with equal rights for all citizens which Congress advocated. It was prudent for Nehru to accept the reality and agree to partition India in 1947 and then with help of Patel merge all Princely states with a strong center which will allow India to stand united. India with Cabinet Mission would have been doomed to failure and a still born country. Much as I regret the partition wounds, my grandparents having suffered direct and severe consequences for it, but I agree with author that Nehru and Patel did the right thing at that time.

  77. YLH

    Suv,

    There is no real comparison…the CMP was not confessional… I suggest you read H M Seervai’s Partition of India : Legend and Reality. Most of these arguments about still born country etc are soundbytes and don’t hold true against the actual text.

    Besides the difference between Congress and the League was on the interpretation of grouping clause … i.e. the CMP said that provinces would opt out after the first elections under a new united constitution…. but Congress interpretted it as before elections…. so your point does not hold historically.

    The only real argument that could hold water is that 3 federal subjects were far too few… but that is not the argument Congress took I am afraid so you can’t argue that in hindsight.

  78. Suv

    YLH,

    Thrust of the argument is not the nature of groupings but the fact that they would exist and would be rival power bases to center. I think this model would never have been successful. There would be constant struggle for power in this scenario and decision making would have been extremely tedious. Plus the polity would have been always communally polarized because of constitutionally mandated division of country into 3 zones based on religion. In my opinion this would have been an even worse formula than Lebanon has today and we have seen how Lebanon fared. Equality before law and constitutional guarantees for minorities to practice their religion and strong anti discriminatory laws on lines of US constitution was the best solution. This formula is much closer to Congress Mandated constitution than what Muslim League had in mind. The provinces could have been same as British India ones and Muslim majority areas most probably would have had Muslim Chief Ministers and since most funds are controlled by state governments anyways it would have ensured Muslims got their share.

  79. YLH

    Reading your comment is precisely why I suggested that you haven’t read the Cabinet Mission Plan… the CMP did not establish a confessional government like Lebanon… there wasn’t even the parity between zones that some commentators from India love to put up as an argument but which is entirely false. The central legislature was formed on the basis of population and not any parity.

    If you read H M Seervai’s book “Partition of India Legend And Reality”…. you’ll see that Mr. Seervai, the foremost authority on your constitution, actually does not buy any of the arguments that you are putting up.

    I think the US constitutional scheme- with its emphasis on residual powers being with the states- was always closer to what Mr. Jinnah had in mind in his original four amendments (as opposed to congolomerate 14) to the Nehru report in which he favored Joint electorate … than what the Congress had it mind. Even the 14 points are closer to the US scheme than the Congress formula as you put it which in any event was highly influenced by centralized legislatures of Europe.

    1946 was very late to consider anything but the three tier federation.

    Even if we accept your argument hypothetically … it flies in the face of historical reality… which is that Congress objected not to the principle of groupings but issue of when those groups would be formed.

    It was power politics and not this idealism that you want to attach to it. My suggestion… put aside your biases and read the proposal with an open mind before you pass judgments on it which are untenable historically but are nice soundbytes I guess.

  80. Suv

    I am not an idealist by any means and I understand the extent to which situation had deteriorated by 1946.

    But my point is that communal groupings and weak center would have been an unworkable solution. It would have resulted in cold war between two communities and constant bickering. The worst part of CMP was that the groupings would have option to secede after 10 years.

    This meant that whole of Punjab and Bengal would have gone from India instead of just Muslim majority regions. Also the princely states had the right to secede, which Hyderabad and Junagarh surely would have exercised in absence of a strong center .A weak center would have led to balkanisation of India and India would have had multiple partitions. I think it was prudent on part of Nehru and Patel to reject CMP and opt for a divided India which was based on principle of equality before law[which you call idealism] and a strong center needed to keep a diverse country like India together.

    It does not matter if the CMP was confessional in nature. What matters is it perpetuated groupings based on religion and ability to secede.Do you seriously believe that foundations of a modern and progressive country could have been laid on basis of such principles.

    Even US example you cite and Jinnah wanted to emulate had a deadly civil war in which southern states wanted to secede. Imagine if they had a constitutionally guaranteed right to secede.

  81. Suv

    @YLH
    I know we disagree on this point but I want to commend efforts of members of this blog who want Pakistan to become a progressive nation and are willing to do self introspection.

  82. Archaeo

    @Suv

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

    Nobody noticed how hard we’re trying, and how hard it is to be good. And sitting there for hours and hours introspecting – have you noticed how ugly the human navel is?

  83. Suv

    @Archaeo

    You are welcome buddy🙂. Keep fighting fundamentalists. I may have difference of opinion on some counts but I am a well wisher of Pakistan.

  84. YLH

    “The worst part of CMP was that the groupings would have option to secede after 10 years. This meant that whole of Punjab and Bengal would have gone from India instead of just Muslim majority regions”

    Now you’ve got it. The Congress was neither ready to persuade the Muslim provinces of its good intentions nor was it ready to accept the real basis of division as reconstitution of constituent units instead of an unnatural partition of two major provinces of India.

    You say that the “communal” grouping ( I have put communal in inverted commas because with roughly 60% majority … the “Muslim” groups would probably be less decidedly communal than the “Hindu” group) and weak center would be unworkable…. frankly I don’t see how that would be the case… given that Congress led Hindu group would have the same internal working as India today minus the hostility with Pakistan …

    The only difference was that the whole of Punjab and Bengal would have gone to the Muslim groups who may or may not have seceded (by no means a done deal because secession itself would be if legislatures in these groups decided together which would never have happened) …

    While we agree to disagree let us be clear on the point of disagreement… I disagree that there is any merit in the argument that the situation would be significantly different for most of India today had the Congress accepted the CMP wholeheartedly .. if anything it would probably be significantly better.

  85. Gorki

    Suv:

    I must commend you on your sensible comments and your style which allows for an honest difference of opinion and yet compliments the opponent’s POV and commitment to shared values.
    YLH is an honest man and a legal scholar who understands the events surrounding the partition, (specifically the CMP) far better than anyone else that I know, and thus I don’t think many people can debate him on this question. Moreover, several other sincere people with sharper minds than I, people like Vajra and BC among others; support his position with difficult to assail arguments. After many frank discussions on this topic with all of them, I have come to a conclusion that the issues surrounding the partition were very complex and a complete understanding of them is hard to master without long and serious study, a luxury which is not available to me at the present.

    Having said that, I must admit, points raised by Suv cannot be dismissed outright. Even in hindsight, (or perhaps because of it e.g. the experience of BD and the Khalistan demand) intuitively it leaves one uneasy to argue that our founding fathers should have opted for a course of events which left so many loose ends and so much room for misinterpretation. For example, reading excellent articles on this same forum we do know that MAJ certainly intended to make Pakistan a secular, modern nation but after his death his agenda was usurped by unscrupulous elements. Who is to say that the same elements would not have wreaked similar havoc but on a far larger scale and in collusion with the extremists from the opposite end of the political spectrum like the Mahasabha adherents (their brothers from another mother, as YLH calls them)?

    After all, India in 1947 was, and in some ways remains, even now, a very fragile nation state. Who knows, without a strong center how it would have fared?
    YLH argued recently in another place that there is a difference between nationalism (which is based on group loyalty, and essentially open to individual interpretation) and citizenship which implies a contract between a citizen and the modern state.
    I am willing to concede that ML had very valid reasons for their stand on the CMP but in those unsettled times, when the future appeared foggy at the best, both parties, the Congress and the ML had a case. The way I see it, both were operating with best interests of their people at heart but from different reference points.

    While the ML and MAJ, were afraid of compromising the nationalistic aspirations of the Muslims, who had voted overwhelmingly for them on that particular platform, the congressmen like Nehru were looking out for the interest of a nation state they wanted to build and were equally afraid of compromising the uniformity of the contract between a citizen and that state if they agreed to separate terms\contracts for separate groups.
    In hindsight, one can argue that if only they had some other instruments besides the CMP, and more time to work with them, may be they could have made better choices.

    That it did not happen is a fact of history and there is nothing we can do about it. As time passes, these issues will become more and more academic and are best left to professional historians to hash out.
    As for most of us, the well intentioned lay people; the only way to move forward is to develop a little more understanding of the contrary POV, a little less firm belief in the rightness of our own position; in short perhaps a little more self doubt.

    After all no one can argue that we who visit and write for forums like the PTH share the same goal for our common homeland and neighborhood; a peaceful coexistence and a prosperous future.

    Regards.

  86. Bloody Civilian

    ‘lets have the real horror of partition lest we have any of the even worse horrors… even if they are not much better than conjecture and even pure imagination’. sorry, but i have little respect for such arrogance.

    who knows how the sikhs would have fared as part of pakistan. the only fact is that they decided, as per right, as they did. not by referendum, as in nwfp, but by the choice of sikh legislators as representatives of the wishes of their people. their democratic right was no more or less important than that of the muslims, hindus or any other. that’s the only important thing, not all the conjecture.

  87. Suv

    @YLH
    By communal groupings I did not want to impute it to either Hindu or Muslim communal elements. I was just expressing my opposition to religion based (“communal”) as opposed to language or geography based (“secular”) units

  88. Milind Kher

    Had Punjab and Bengal gone over to Pakistan without being split down the middle, there could have been major problems.

    Punjab, for sure, would have a substantial portion of Hindus and Sikhs, which would have made it prone to riots. The same might have happened in East Pakistan too with a large Hindu population. Whenever a minority is significantly large, there are chances for riots to happen. Where it is much smaller, it does not happen.

  89. YLH

    “I was just expressing my opposition to religion based (“communal”) as opposed to language or geography based (“secular”) units”

    The irony my friend in that statement is that Muslim League insisted on keeping those linguistic and geographical units i.e. Punjab and Bengal united…. and Congress insisted on dividing those secular units along communal lines.

    And this irony is further compounded when one considers that the so called “communal” groupings in the Cabinet Mission Plan would have preserved geographical integrity of these “secular” units … (which is one of the objections you and Milind Kher have to CMP)

    So – while you say you oppose it but the practical implications of what you support actually shows that you opposed geographical and linguistic units…

  90. Milind Kher

    Talking of communal and secular, it is sad to see
    India also deteriorating into a Hindu fundamentalist state, although secular elements are fighting tooth and nail to see it does not happen.

    The Babri Masjid riots and the January 1993 riots were bad enough, the Gujarat riots were the most barbaric in the annals of Independent India.

    The worst part is that in none of these have the criminals been brought to book.

  91. vajra

    @Gorki
    @suv

    With reference to Gorki’s post of 11:22 pm:

    There are certain issues which are not worth bringing up at this point of time.

    Gorki has correctly pointed out that the review of pre-partition political and sociological history that took place in these columns was exhaustive and rivetting.

    It led to a revision of our knowledge of the history of that time, of our knowledge of the relative importance of different players, of the motivation of these different key players, of the detailed plans that were discussed by three main bodies, the British rulers and their administrative and legislative structure, the Indian National Congress, and the All India Muslim League, and the intricate details that led to the initial starting point of our three countries. He failed to acknowledge in adequate measure the contributions of Hayyer and Majumdar, who kept the deliberations on an even keel and let out the excess air from time to time.

    This discussion in cyber-space was astonishingly vindicated by Jaswant Singh’s publication of his book on more or less the same subjects. The entire discussion that took place in the popular press, and among the articulate and intellectually sensitised sections in all three countries had been anticipated in full in these columns, and there was nothing left to be added, a remarkable and revelatory outcome for me at least.

    This discussion also takes place in the context of a bitter ideological struggle taking place with somewhat eccentric axes in the three countries, on which this narrative can have tremendous influence. This is not the place to detail that struggle and its objectives, but a single-line summary may be permitted: reading from east to west, Bangladesh needs to recover its nationalist and revolutionary fervour, which was systematically suppressed through three decades of political and ideological cleansing, including the state’s murder of the bulk of the Mukti Bahini; India needs to win the battle against the dark forces of the coalition of evil, of religious bigotry allied to political fascism, which is raging at this moment, while our friends and natural allies in Pakistan are completely and perhaps understandably focussed on their own not inconsiderable problems; Pakistan needs to shake off the Old Man of the Sea that it has sitting on its shoulders, unwilling to move off and return to the country and the people their collective liberty.

    In the light of this titanic triptych of struggle going on, it is not appropriate to bring up quibbles or refinement at this stage; perhaps later.

    Perhaps at a happier time, if we live to see it, it will be proper to consider the strained, very convoluted locus of movement assigned to the religious Islamic right wing from its position as pro-Congress anti-Pakistan conservatives with no political influence but considerable negative social influence. The model that has been offered can be considered at best a working model, to be addressed later and set in better order. Perhaps also that happy time will be the time to address the absurd myths that the most respectable Pakistani intellectual opinion has been promoting, as a retrospective creation of a history that never was. This patriotic effort is commendable as patriotism; intellectually, it was and remains absurd, and this is a very kind word. Perhaps finally that time will be the right time to explain patiently and carefully the sociology of identity, which goes beyond religious or linguistic identity, and into a multi-dimensional perception of identity which can be summarised or aggregated by lazy politicians only to the future detriment of their constituents – but since when has that stopped our South Asian politicians?

  92. Gorki

    “He failed to acknowledge in adequate measure the contributions of Hayyer and Majumdar, who kept the deliberations on an even keel and let out the excess air from time to time.”

    Guilty as charged.
    Several other very knowledgeable gentlemen made excellent comments from time to time regarding this discussion that took place over several months.

    Karaya is another such name who deserves an honorable mention along with of course Hayyer Sahib and Majumdar Da.

    My only defense is that I only mentioned a few names as examples; it was not meant to be an exhaustive list of all those who helped to enlighten us.

    The error is regreted.😉

    Regards.