Partition was a blessing indeed
Second Opinion/Vinod Kumar
The Pioneer June 10, 1998
This is apropos of the article "Of the many ifs of history" (June 4), by
RK Murthi in these columns. The ifs of history are indeed difficult to
ponder but not always. India’s Partition is one such case. Partition was
one of the few good things that happened to India in this millennium but
sadly it was not carried to its logical conclusion.
Partition was rooted not only in the bloody and bitter history of the
subcontinent but also in the theology of the two dominant groups. Jinnah
dealt with this admirably in his interview with Beverly Nichols in 1943.
He said: "You must remember that Islam is not merely a religious
doctrine but a realistic and practical code of conduct. I am thinking in
terms of life, of everything important in life. I am thinking in terms
of our history, our heroes, our art, our architecture, our music, our
laws, our jurisprudence....In all things our outlook is not only
fundamentally different but often radically antagonistic to the Hindus."
He also said: "To yoke together two such nations under a single state,
one as a numerical minority and the other as majority, must lead to
growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so
built up for the government of such a state." For Jinnah Pakistan was
created the day the first Muslim landed in India. Only that he did not
mention that the two cannot live together even as neighbours, let alone
together in the same house.
No doubt, Jinnah was a nationalist to begin with and so was Muhammad
Iqbal when he wrote, "Hindi hain hum watan hai hindostan hamara", but
subsequently their views changed. Iqbal went on to write: "Muslim hain
hum watan hai sara jahan hamara". He was no longer "hindi" and Hindustan
was no longer his "watan". Jinnah too underwent a similar change. His
famous speech to the Pakistan Legislative Assembly on August 11, 1947,
when he said, "You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has
nothing to do with the business of the state", is mere pretense of
virtue. To make such a statement on August 11, 1947, when Hindus and
Sikhs were being massacred, converted or driven out of Pakistan, was
sheer hypocrisy. Jinnah’s statement fooled no one other than a few Hindu
"liberals", many of whom were themselves victims of Islam’s fury in
Pakistan. Even if one ascribed the conversions and atrocities of Muslim
invaders to medieval madness, how can one explain the actions of
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Taliban, to mention a few, at the fag end
of the 20th century when non-Muslims in these countries are at best
second class citizens?
Partition was indeed one of the few good things that happened to India.
The past 50 years have been more peaceful than the first 50 years of
this century. Scientific and educational progress, on hold for a
millennium, has taken off once again. Prior to 1947, routine
Hindu-Muslim conflicts had enervated the masses. The first 25 years
after Partition were almost riot-free and Hindus got a chance to devise
their own destiny. However, of late, increased tension between Muslims
and Hindus, frequent bloody riots, and insurgency in Kashmir, only go to
show how right Jinnah was.
While Pakistan, heeding Jinnah’s advice, solved the problem of
minorities, Hindus under the impractical policies of Gandhi and Nehru
failed to take appropriate action. Has anyone ever heard of Hindu-Muslim
riots in Pakistan or Zoroastrian-Muslim riots in Iran? Partition was a
blessing for both Hindus and Muslims but unfortunately it was not
carried to its logical conclusion, as Jinnah had proposed, by exchanging
the population of the two communities. Jinnah’s proposal shows that he
was a pragmatic person, committed to protect the interests of both
Hindus and Muslims by creating a separate country for the Muslims of
Imponderable: The If of history—only if our leaders had come out of "the
cocoon of Hindu-Muslim unity at any cost" and possessed even a fraction
of Jinnah’s wisdom and foresight!