The legacy of the division of India


Hindus and Muslims draw inspiration from different sources of history. Very often the hero of one is the enemy of the other

There were two sides to the score of the score. One was that the Muslim community was far behind Hindus as well as other minorities. They were about a third of the population or a third in number compared to the Hindus. Therefore, if independent India adopted a universal adult franchise, it would be largely outdated. Second, Muslims were less educated. As part of a long-term strategy, Islam had minimized education since its beginnings in the 7th century. Over the past thousand years, the Hejaz as well as the caliphs had banned ijtihad (reinterpretation or change) and imposed taqlid (orthodoxy). The less educated a person is, the less likely they are to think and ask questions. Thus, ensure the sustainability of religion. Incidentally, the education of women was limited to reading the Koran, especially prayers.

When the British arrived in India, instead of using English, the clergy urged their followers to avoid studying English and Western science. Sir William Hunter made a lucid analysis of how and where Muslim students fell in the 19th century and even earlier. Then came the decision of the lieutenant governor of the UP to make English the language of the court, Hindi and Persian were abolished. Such measures, while rational, are pushing Muslims back. Their fear was to dilute their identity which was dearer to them than their development.

The other difficulty was that very few Muslims turned to business and industry, the only exceptions were the Khojas, Memons and Bohras, all based in Bombay. Muslim elites in the rest of India were land-based, be they farmers, market gardeners, or orchard farmers, but had very few factories. In short, cultivating Hindus had the economic advantage. Timur Kuran, professor at Duke University, explained at length the financial disadvantage of Islamic communities. He focused on West Asia and how Islamic ordinations brought common people back economically. Imagine West Asia without oil! And imagine a business without a bank and an interest-free loan!

The Viceroy had called elections across India from December 1945 to January 1946. At that time, Jinnah’s speech preceding the adoption of the Pakistani resolution on March 23, 1940 at the Lahore session of the Muslim League hummed virtually all Muslims. ears in India. Incidentally, Jinnah deliberately got Fazlur Rahman from Bengal to sign the resolution. Rahman was a prominent and popular peasant leader on the eastern wing of what eventually became Pakistan and now Bangladesh. His two-nation theory is very briefly set out here: Hindus and Muslims have different religious philosophies, social customs, and literatures. They do not marry or intermingle and, indeed, they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their visions of life and of life are different. It is also quite clear that Hindus and Muslims draw inspiration from different sources in history. They have different epics, different heroes in different episodes. Very often the hero of one is the enemy of the other and likewise their victories and defeats overlap.

History has presented us with many examples, such as the union of Great Britain and Ireland. We know that the history of the last 1200 years has failed to achieve unity, and we have seen over the ages that India has always been divided into Hindu India and Muslim India. The end of the British regime will be a worse disaster. Muslim India cannot accept any constitution which must necessarily lead to a Hindu majority government. If Hindus and Muslims are united in a democratic system, it can only mean Hindu Raj. Muslims are not a minority; Muslims are a nation by any definition and they must have their homeland, territory and state.

Indeed, Jinnah argued as if one was willing to ignore the other. As Dr Rafiq Zakaria said: Throughout his youth, Jinnah showed no interest in Muslims. So he was all for Congress; his non-community and nationalist principle which excited him.

When he was a young man, Jinnah worked for Hindu-Muslim unity and did everything possible to have Congress and the League present a united front. He assured the British that they did not need to be unduly disrupted as the terms of the Lucknow Pact, if implemented, would help them as well. He welcomed the declaration made by the British Government on August 20, 1917, which assured the Indians that “the policy of His Majesty’s Government, with which the Government of India fully agrees, is that of the Growing association of self-governing institutions with a view to the progressive achievement of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British Empire. In response, the new Secretary of State Edward Montague visited India in the winter of that year. Along with Viceroy Lord Chelmsford, he conferred with leaders of different schools of political thought to try to find consensus on the future constitutional breakthrough. Of all the politicians Montague met, he was the most impressed with Jinnah. He noted this in his diary: “Young, perfectly bred, impressive in appearance, armed to the teeth with dialectics, and insisting on his whole plan …”

(This is part of an ongoing series on Indian score. The writer is a well-known columnist, author and former member of the Rajya Sabha. The opinions expressed are personal.)


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