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Partition
Dr. Ambedkar, A' True Hindu
Feb 2013

According to Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhiji was a Hindu and an Indian, the greatest in many generations, and he was proud of being a Hindu and an Indian. He said this in a broadcast on 14th February, 1948. What the Mahatma wrote, said and did is widely known. The track record of Babasaheb Ambedkar as a Hindu is not so well known. His popular image is that of a dalit leader and a constitutional guru. How much he felt, thought and pleaded for the interests of Hindus therefore deserves recounting, 

Babasaheb was one of the few Hindus, if not the only one, who foresaw the consequences of not letting Muslims have their Dar-ul-Islam. He therefore openly and in cold print favoured partition and in precise detail by 1940. H'e did this almost on the morrow of the resolution demanding Pakistan which was passed by the Muslim League at its Lahore session on 23rd March 1940 He was clear in his view that partition without an exchange of population was worse' than partition. His reasoning was impeccable. To him dividing the subcontinent was to solve its communal conflict. The Communal Award was given in 1932 when Ramsay MacDonald was the Prime Minister of Great Britain. The award gave the Muslims what they had demanded, Their weightage as well as their separate electorates were retained and in addition they were given the statutory majority of seats in the provinces in which they were the majority population.

At the time there were five Muslim majority and nine Hindu majority provinces. Since the Hindus had nothing comparable to the Muslim League, the Congress presumed to lead every one including the Hindus. It did not believe in separate electorates, In fact it had continually insisted on joint electorates for all communities, and had strongly objected to any community being given a majority of seats guaranteed by the constitution. The privileges which the Muslims had been given had no meaning for the Congress and its followers. 

In Ambedkar's' perception, in the provinces of Punjab, North West Frontier, Sind, Bengal and Baluchistan, Muslim governments could treat Hindu minorities as they wished, knowing fully well that they need not fear retaliation in the other provinces as they would have secular governments. Hindu minorities in the Muslim provinces also insisted on joint electorates although the Communal Award ignored their feelings.

Balasaheb was perceptive enough to realize that the evil was not partition, but the boundaries of the provinces which did not reflect, nor were they consistent with the profile of Hindu Muslim populations. The boundaries had to be altered; Punjab and Bengall had to be bifurcated. Even then, some Hindus would get left behind in Pakistan and many Muslims would be scattered across Hindustan. All these would then have to be moved in a planned manner so that Hindus and Sikhs came away to Hindustan and Muslims moved to the territory of Pakistan. This was the gist of Ambedkar's formula. Nevertheless, it would be useful to quote him : 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. That, 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 it would be a height of folly to give up a sure way to communal peace because some obstacles in it require to be removed. 

If only Ambeddkar had been the first Prime Minister of India, would not the history of the subcontinent been different? With the respective populations transferred, as suggested by Babasaheb and demanded by the Muslim League, would there have been any scope left for communal conflict?

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