Does Pakistan solve the communal question? A correct answer to this question calls for
a close analysis of what is involved. One must have a clear idea as to what is meant
exactly, when the Hindus and Muslims speak of the communal question.
It is not generally known that the communal question like the Forward policy for the
frontier has a greater and a lesser intent and that in its lesser intent it means one
thing, and in its greater intent it means a very different thing.
To begin with, the communal question in its lesser intent relates to the representation
of Hindus and Muslims in the legislatures. Used in this sense, the question involves the
settlement of two distinct problems:
the number of seats to be allotted to Hindus and Muslims in different legislatures, and
the nature of the electorates through which these seats are to be filled.
The Muslims at the Rouncl Table Conference claimed that their representatives from all
the provincial as well as the central legislatures should be elected by separate
electorates, and they should be allowed to retain the weightage in representation given to
the Muslims in those provinces in which they were a minority in the population. In
addition. they should be given a guaranteed majority of seats in the majority provinces
such as the Punjab.
The Hindus from the beginning objected to both these demands. They insisted on joint
electorates in all elections to all the legislatures, central and provincial, based on
population ratio of representation.
The Communal Award of His Majesty's government settled this dispute by the simple,
rough and ready method of giving the Muslims all that they wanted, without caring for
Hindu opposition. The Award allowed the Muslims to retain weightage and separate
electorates, and in addition, gave them the statutory majority of seats in those provinces
where they were in a majority of the population.
What is it in the Award that can be said to constitute a problem? Is there any force in
the objections of the Hindus to the Communal Award? Whatever may be the correct measure of
allotting representation to minorities, the Hindus cannot very well object to the
weightage given to Muslim minorities, because similar weightage has been given to the
Hindus in those provinces in which they are a minority. The treatment of Hindu minorities
in Sind and the North West Frontier Province is a case in point.
Second, as to their objection to a statutory majority, it does not appear to be well
founded. A system of guaranteed representation may be wrong and vicious and quite
unjustifiable on theoretical and philosophical grounds. But considered in the light of the
circumstances, such as those obtaining in India, the system of statutory majority appears
to be inevitable. Once it is granted that the representation given to a minority must not
reduce the majority to minority, that very provision creates, as a mere counterpart, a
system of statutory majority to the majority community. For fixing the seats of the
minority involves the fixation of the seats of the majority. There is, therefore, no
escape from the system of statutory majority,once it is conceded that the minority is not
entitled to representation which would convert a majority into a minority.
There is, therefore, no great force in the objections of the Hindus to a statutory
majority of Muslims in Punjab, the North West Frontier Province, Sind and Bengal. For,
even in the provinces where the Hindus are in a majority and the Muslimsin minority, the
Hindus have got a statutory majority over the Muslims. At any rate, there is a parity of
position and to that extent there can be no grounds for complaint. This does not mean that
the objections set forth by Hindus have no substance and that there are no real grounds
for opposing the Communal Award.
Muslim minorities in Hindu provinces insisted on separate electorates. This is really
what it comes to when one remembers the usual position taken, via. that the Muslim
minorities cannot be deprived of their separate electorates without their consent, and the
majority community of Hindus has been made to abide by their determination. Hindu
minorities in Muslim provinces insisted that there should be joint electorates. Instead of
conceding their claim, the Communal Award forced on them the system of separate
electorates to which they objected. If in Hindu provinces, Muslim minorities are allowed
the right of self-determination in the matter of electorates, the question arises: why are
the Hindu minorities in the Muslim provinces not given the right of self-determination in
the matter of their electorates ? What is the answer to this question ? And, if there is
no answer, there is undoubtedly a deep seated inequity in the Award of His Majesty's
government, which calls for redress.
To turn to the communal question in its greater intent: what is the problem, the Hindus
ask? In its greater intent the communal question relates to the deliberate creation of
Muslim provinces. Before the Act of 1935, there were only three provinces in which Muslims
were in a majority -in the Puniab, Bengal and the North West Frontier Province. The
Muslims desired that the number of Muslim provinces be increased. With this objective in
view, they demanded that Sind should be separated from Bombay Presidency and created into
a new self governing province, and the North West Frontier should be raised to the status
of a self-governing province. Neither Sind nor the North West Frontier Province was
financially self supporting. But in order to satisfy Muslim demand, the British government
went as far as accepting the responsibility of giving an annual subvention to these
provinces from central revenues.
The four provinces with Muslims in majority, now functioning as autonomous and self
governing, were not created for administrative convenience, nor for purposes of
architectural symmetry: Hindu provinces poised against Muslim provinces. It is also true
that the scheme of Muslim provinces was not a matter of satisfying Muslim pride. Asked
what could be the purpose of' having Muslim political power mobilized in this fashion, the
Hindus answer that it was done to place in the hands of Muslims an effective weapon in
their majority provinces to tyrannize the Hindu minorities, in case Muslim minorities in
Hindu provinces were tyrannized by the Hindu majorities. The scheme thus became a system
of protection, in which blast was to be met by counter-blast, terror by terror and tyranny
by tyranny. The plan is undoubtedly a dreadful one, involving the maintenance of justice
and peace by retaliation, and providing an opportunity for the punishment of an innocent
minority, Hindus in Muslim provinces and Muslims in Hindu provinces, for the sins of their
co-religionists in other provinces. It is a scheme of communal peace through a system of
The Muslims were aware from the start that the system of communal provinces was capable
of being worked in this manner. It is clear from the speech made by Maulana Abul Kalam
Azad as President of the Muslim League session held in Calcutta in 1927. In his speech the
That by the Lucknow Pact they had sold away their interests. The Delhi proposals of
March last opened the door for the first time to the recognition of the real rights of
Musalmans in India. The separate electorates granted by the Pact of 1916 only ensured
Muslim representation, but what was vital for the existence of the community was the
recognition of its numerical strength. Delhi opened the way to the creation of such a
state of affairs as would guarantee to them in the future of India a proper share. Their
existing small majority in Bengal and the Punjab was only a census figure, but the Delhi
proposals gave them for the first time five provinces of which no less than three (Sind;
the Frontier Province and Baluchistan) contained a real overwhelming Muslim majority. If
the Muslims did not recognize this great step they were not fit to live. There would now
be nine Hindu provinces against five Muslim provinces, and whatever treatment Hindus
accorded in the nine provinces, Muslims would accord the same treatment to Hindus in the
five provinces. Was not this a great gain ? Was not a new weapon gained for the assertion
of Muslim rights?
Implications of Partition
How far does Pakistan approximate to the solution of the communal question? If the
boundaries of Pakistan are to follow the present boundaries of the provinces in the
north-west and in Bengal, it certainly does not eradicate the evils which lie at the heart
of the communal question. It retains the very elements which give rise to it, namely, the
pitting of a minority against a majority. The rule over Hindu minorities by the Muslim
majorities and the rule of the Muslim minorities by Hindu majorities are the crying evils
of the present situation. This very evil will reproduce itself in Pakistan, if the
provinces marked out for it are incorporated into it as they are, i.e. with boundaries
drawnas at present.
Besides this, the evil which gives rise to the communal question in its larger intent,
will not only persistas it is, but will assume a new malignancy. Under the existing
system, the power centered in the communal provinces to do mischief to their hostages is limited
by the power which the central government has over the provincial governments. At
present, the hostages are at least within the pale of a central government which is Hindu
in its composition and which has power to interfere for their protection.
But, when Pakistan becomes a Muslim state with full sovereignty over
internal and external affairs, it would be free from the control of the central
government. The Hindu minorities will have no recourse to an outside authority with
overriding powers, to interfere on their behalf and curb this power of mischief, as under
the scheme, no such overriding authority is permitted to exist. So, the position of Hindus
in Pakistan may easily become similar to the condition of Armenians under the Turks or of
Jews in Tsarist Russia or in Nazi Germany. Such a scheme would be intolerable and Hindus
may well say that they cannot agree to Pakistan and leave their co-religionists as a
helpless prey to the fanaticism of a Muslim national state.
This is a very frank statement of the consequences which will flow from
giving effect to the creation of Pakistan. But care must be taken to locate the source of
these consequences. Do they flow from the creation of Pakistan, or do they flow from
particular boundaries that may be fixed for it? If the evils flow from the creation
itself, if they are inherent, it is unnecessary for any Hindu to waste his time in
considering it. He will be justified in summarily dismissing it. On the other hand, if the
evils are the result of the boundaries, the question of Pakistan reduces itself to a mere
question of changing the boundaries.
A study of the question amply supports the view that the evils of Pakistan are not
inherent. If any evil results follow, they will have to be attributed to its boundaries.
This becomes clear if one studies the distribution of population. The reasons why
these evils will be reproduced within western and eastern Pakistan is because, with the
present boundaries. they do not become single ethnic states. They remain mixed states,
composed of a Muslim majority and a Hindu minority as before. The evils are the evils
which are inseparable from a mixed state. If Pakistan is made a single unified ethnic
state, the evils will automatically vanish. There will be no question of separate
electorates within Pakistan, because in such a homogeneous Pakistan, there will be no
majorities to rule and no minorities to be protected. Similarly, there will be no majority
of one community holding in its possession, a minority of an opposing community.
The question, therefore, is one of demarcation of boundaries and
reduces itself to: is it possible for the boundaries of Pakistan to be so fixed, that
instead of producing a mixed state composed of majorities and minorities, with all the
attendant evils, Pakistan will be anethnic state composed of one homogeneous community,
namely Muslims? The answer is that in a large part of the area affected by the project of
the League, a homogeneous state can be created by merely shifting the boundaries, and in
the rest, homogeneity can be produced by shifting only the population.
Some scoff at the idea of shifting and exchange of population. But
those who scoff can hardly be aware of the complications, which a minority problem gives
rise to, and the attendant failures on almost all the efforts made to protect them. The
constitutions of pose war states, as well as of older states in Europe which had a
minority problem, proceeded on the assumption that constitutional safeguards for
minorities should suffice for their protection, and therefore the constitutions of most of
the new states with majorities and minorities were studded with long lists of fundamental
rights and safeguards to see that they were not violated by the majorities. What has been
the experience ?
Experience shows that constitutional safeguards did not save the
minorities. Experience also showed that even a ruthless war on the minorities did not come
the problem. The states then agreed that the best way to solve the problem is by
exchanging alien minorities within its border, with those of its own which were outside
its border, with a view to bringing about homogeneous states. This is what happened in
Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. Those, who scoff at the idea of transfer of population, will
do well to study the history of the minority problem, as it arose between Turkey, Greece
and Bulgaria. If they do, they will find that these countries found that the only
effective way of solving the minorities problem lay in an exchange of population. The task
undertaken by the three countries was by no means a minor operation. It involved the
transfer of some two million people from one habitat to another. But undaunted, the three
shouldered the task and carried it to a successful end because they felt that the
considerations of communal peace must outweigh every other consideration.
That the transfer of minorities is the only lasting remedy for communal
peace is beyond doubt. If that is so, there is no reason why Hindus and Muslims should
keep on trading in safeguards which have proved so unsafe. If small countries, with
limited resources like Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, were capable of such an undertaking,
there is no reason to suppose that, what they did, cannot be accomplished by Indians.
After all, the population involved is inconsiderable and because some obstacles require to
be removed, it would be the height of folly to give up so sure a way to communal peace.
How far does the creation of Pakistan remove the communal question from
Hindustan ? That is a very legitimate question and must be considered It must be admitted
that by the creation of Pakistan, Hindustan is not freed of the communal question. While
Pakistan can be made a homogeneous state by redrawing its boundaries, Hindustan must
remain a composite state. Musalmans are scattered all over Hindustan, though they are
mostly congregated in towns, and no ingenuity in the matter of redrawing of boundaries can
make it homogeneous. The only way to make Hindustan homogeneous is to arrange for
exchange of population. Until that is done, it must be admitted even with the creation
of Pakistan, the problem of majority versus minority will remain in Hindustan as before
and will continue to produce disharmony in the body politic of Hindustan.
Admitting that Pakistan is not capable of providing a complete solution
to the communal problem within Hindustan, does it follow that the Hindus on that account
should reject Pakistan ? Before the Hindus draw any such hasty conclusion, they should
consider the following effects of Pakistan.
First, consider the effect of Pakistan on the magnitude of the communal
problem. That can be best gauged by reference to the Muslim population as it will be
grouped within Pakistan and Hindustan.
|Muslim population in Pakistan*
||Muslim Population in Hindustan
||1. Total Muslim Populationin British India (Excluding
Burma and Adem)
||2. Muslim population grouped in Pakistan and Eastern
||3. Balance of Muslims in British Hindustan
|5. Eastern Bengal Muslim States
|(i) Eastern Bengal
These figures indicate that the Muslims who will be left in British
Hindustan will be only 18,545,465 and the rest 47,897,301, forming a vast majority of the
total Muslim population, will be out of it and will be the subjects of Pakistan. This
distribution of the Muslim population, in terms of the communal problem. means that while
without Pakistan the communal problem in India
involves 6.5 crore Muslims, with the creation of Pakistanit will involve only 2 crores. Is
this to be of no consideration for Hindus who want communal peace? It seems that if
Pakistan does not solve the communal problem within Hindustan, it substantially reduces
it, becomes of minor significance and therefore much easier of peaceful solution.
Second, let the Hindus consider the effect of Pakistan on the communal
representation in the central legislature. The following table gives the distribution of
seats in the central legislature, as prescribed under the Government of India Act, 1935
and as it would be, if Pakistan came into being.
|Distribution of Seats
||Distribution of Seats
|Name of the chamber I-As at present
||Non-Muslim (Hindu Territorial Seats)
||Muslim Territorial Seats
||Non-Muslim (Hindu Territotial Seats
||Muslim Territorial Seats
|Council Of State
To clearly bring out the quantitative change in the communal
distribution of seats. which will follow the establishment of pakistan, the earlier
figures are reduced to percentage in the table that follows:
|Name of the Chamber
Distribution of Seats I-As
Distribution od Seats II-As
||percentage of Muslim seats to Hindu seats
||percentage of Muslim seats to total seats
||percentage of Muslim seats to Hindu seats
||percentage of Muslim seats to total seats
|council of State
From the table one can see what vast changes would follow the establishment of
Pakistan. Under the Government of India Act, the ratio of Muslim seats-in the total is 33
percent in both the chambers, but for Hindu seats, the ratio is 66 percent in the Council
of States and 80 percent in the Assembly. After the creation of Pakistan the ratio of
Muslim seats to total seats falls from 33.3 percent to 25 percent in the Council and to 21
percent in the Assembly, while the ratio of Hindu seats falls from 66 percent to 33.3
percent in the Council and from 80 percent to 40 percent in the Assembly. The figures
assume that the weightage given to the Muslims will remain the same, even after Hindustan
is separated from Pakistan. If the present weightage to Muslims is cancelled or reduced,
there should be further improvement in the representation of the Hindus.
These are the material advantages of Pakistan. There is another which is psychological.
The Muslims, in southern and central India, draw their inspiration from the Muslims of the
north and the east. If after the creation of Pakistan there is communal peace in the north
and the east, as there should be, there being no majorities and minorities there, the
Hindus may reasonably expect communal peace in Hindustan. This severance of the bond
between the Muslims of the north and the east and the Muslims of Hindustan is another gain
to the Hindus of Hindustan.
Taking into consideration these effects of Pakistan, it cannot be
disputed that if Pakistan does not wholly solve the communal problem within Hindustan, it
frees Hindus from the turbulence because of Muslims being predominant partners. It is for
the Hindus to say whether they will reject such a proposal, simply because it does not
offer a complete solution. Some gain is better that much harm.