In March, 1940, the All India Muslim League, under the presidentship of Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah passed a Resolution which asked for separate homeland for the Indian Muslims, known as Pakistan. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was the only Hindu statesman and an eminent scholar who came out in December, 1940 with a book entitled Pakistan or The Partition (Thackers, Bombay, 1940). In this context, it is significant to note that Jinnah in his first meeting with Gandhi in September 1944 had told him to study Ambedkar's work for a clear understanding of the Muslim League's demand for Pakistan. We, in the Jana Sangh Today, are convinced that no Hindu scholar, leader, statesman since has surpassed Ambedkar's intellectual achievement on this subject.
On his 123rd birth anniversary, we give below, in brief, his thoughts on the creation of Pakistan and also his view on conversion (neo-Buddhist).
Muslim case for Pakistan
On 26th March, 1940, Hindu India was startled to attention as it had never been before. On that day, the All India Muslim League at its Lahore session passed the Pakistan Resolution. Paragraph 3 of the Resolution read:
Resolved that it is the considered view of this session of the All India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to the Muslims unless it is designated on the following basic principles, viz, that geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the north-western and Eastern Zones of India should be grouped to constitute Independent States in which the Constituent Units shall be autonomous and sovereign.
In concrete terms, it meant that the Punjab, North-Western Frontier Province, Baluchistan and Sind in the north-west and Bengal provinces in the East instead of remaining as the provinces of British India would be incorporated as independent states outside British India. The Resolution merely resuscitated a scheme which was earlier put forth by Sir Mahomed Iqbal in his presidential address to the Muslim League at Allahabad in 1930. Later, it was Rehmat Ali, a student at Cambridge who gave it the name Pakistan in 1933. The British rulers declined to consider the scheme because it would have meant the revival of the old Muslim Empire. The idea of separation of Pakistan from Hindustan was, however, shocking to the Congress led by Gandhi.
Considering what Gandhi himself did after his arrival in India it should not look shocking. Gandhi introduced: civil disobedience and principle of linguistic provinces. The first measure involved participation of masses. Under the latter scheme India was to be divided into 20 provinces. Linguistic division of states after Independence was the legacy of Gandhi. This division was suggested without any regard to area, population or revenues. Orissa, Bihar and Sindh had already been separated. Andhra wanted separation from Madras province and Karnataka from Bombay. If there was nothing shocking in the separation of Karnataka and Andhra, what was there to shock the Congress in the separation of Pakistan? The Hindus then asked why were the Muslims asking for complete vivisection of India?
Muslims are a separate nation : The Muslim answer was that they were a separate nation. The things that divided the Hindus from the Muslims were more vital than the things which unite. In emphasizing upon certain common features, Hindus, according to Muslims were mistaking what is accidental and superficial for what is essential and fundamental. The political and religious antagonism divide the Hindus and Muslims far more deeply than the so called common things are able to bind them together. The two communities can never forget or obliterate their past. Their past is embeded in their religion, and for each to give up its past it meant giving up their religion. During the British rule, Muslims called themselves a community. In 1940 they called, themselves a nation. Here it is necessary to distinguish between nationality and nationalism. The former means consciousness of kind, awareness of the existence of tie of kinship. The latter means the desire for a separate national existence for those who are bound by the tie of kinship. For nationality to flame into nationalism, there must be the will to live as a nation and there must be territory which the nation could occupy. Muslims claimed that they satisfied all the pre-conditions for a separate nation.
Escape from humiliation : The Muslim leaders pointed out that for six hundred years the Musalmans had been the masters of the Hindus. The British occupation brought Muslims down to the level of the Hindus. From a master to fellow subject was degradation enough; but a change from the status of fellow subjects to that of subjects of the Hindus was would be the ultimate humiliation. Is it unnatural, asked the Muslim leaders, if they sought escape from this intolerable position by the creation of a separate national state in which the Muslims could find a peaceful home and in which conflicts between a ruling race and a subject race could find no place to plague their lives?
Pakistan and communal peace
Does the creation of Pakistan solve the communal question every Hindu asked? It had two aspects: lesser intent and greater intent. The lesser intent related to the representation of Hindus and Muslims in the legislatures. This question was settled by the Communal Award of 1932 given by the British government confirming separate electorates for Muslims. It was however, iniquitous in the matter of electorates. It granted the Muslim minority in the Hindu provinces the right of self determination in the matter of electorates, but it did not grant the same right to the Hindu minority in the Muslim provinces. This was the fundamental wrong in the Communal Award.
The greater intent meant that the permanent solution to Communal Question lay in the shifting (and exchange) of Muslims and Hindus after the boundaries of Pakistan /Hindustan were demarcated; an exchange of populations. In this context, it is pertinent to note that World War I had thrown up the problem of minorities in Europe. The assessment of the leaders had confirmed that constitutional safeguards for minorities did not work. The affected nations agreed that the best way to solve the problem was for each to exchange its minorities. As a result, minorities in Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria were exchanged. A transfer of population was the only lasting remedy for communal peace. India and Pakistan should follow the same route, suggested Dr. Ambedkar. Later, M. A Jinnah also made the same proposal to Viceroy Wavell.
MUSLIM ALTERNATIVE TO PAKISTAN :
Dr. Ambedkar had also considered the question whether Muslims had any other alternative to Pakistan.Dr. B.R. Ambedkar pointed out that the Muslims would put forth as their alternative some such proposal. That the future constitution of India to provide:
(i) That the Muslims shall have 50% representation in the legislature, Central as well as provincial, through separate electorates.
(ii) That 50% of the Executive in the centre as well as in the provinces should consist of Muslims.
(iii) That in the civil services 50% of the posts should be assigned to- the Muslims.
(iv) That in the fighting forces the Muslim proportion shall be one half. both in the ranks and in the higher grades.
(v) That Muslims should have 50% representation in all public bodies, such as councils and commissions, created for public purposes.
(vi) That Muslims should have 50% representation in all international organizations in which India were to participate.
(vii) That if the Prime Minister be a Hindu, the Deputy Prime Minister must be a Muslim.
(viii)That if the Commander-in-Chief be a Hindu, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief would be a Muslim.
(ix) That no changes in provincial boundaries could be made except with the consent of 66% of the Muslim members of the legislature.
(x) That no action or treaty against a Muslim country would be valid unless the consent of 66% of the Muslim members of the legislature were obtained.
(xi) That no law affecting the culture or religion or religious usage of Muslims should be made except with the consent of 66% of the Muslim members of the legislature.
(xii) That the national language of India would be Urdu.
(xiii) That no law prohibiting or restricting the slaughter of cows or the propagation of and conversion to Islam would be valid unless it is passed with the consent of 66% of the Muslim members of the legislature.
(xiv)That no change in the constitution would be valid unless the majority required for effecting such changes also includes a 66% majority of the Muslim members of the legislature.
This guess of mine is not the result of imagination let loose, wrote Dr. Ambedkar. It is not the result of a desire to frighten the Hindus into an unwilling and hasty acceptance of Pakistan. If I might say so, it is really an intelligent anticipation based upon available data coming from Muslim quarters. Dr. Ambedkar also pointed out that, there was no difference in regard to the above alternative between the nationalist Muslims and Muslim League members. Instead of arriving at a settlement with Mr. Jinnah, Gandhi launched Quit India Movement which was a failure. Later, as a last attempt to dissuade Muslims from insisting on Partition, Gandhi asked for one-to-one meeting with Jinnah. The talks took place between 9th September and 27th September, 1944 at Bombay and failed. Gandhi, conceded Partition. Gandhi wanted it to take place after the British had left India.
In the epilogue written as part of the third edition of the book in 1946 Dr. Ambedkar raised the following nine issues:-
(1) Is Hindu-Muslim unity necessary for India's political advancement? If necessary, is it still possible of realization notwithstanding the new ideology of the Hindus and the Muslims being two different nations?
(2) If Hindu-Muslim unity is possible, should it be reached by appeasement or by settlement?
(3) If it is to be achieved by appeasement, what are the new concessions that couldbe offered to the Muslims to obtain their willing cooperation, without prejudice to other interests ?
(4) If it is to be achieved by a settlement, What would be the terms of that settlement? If there were only two alternatives (i) Division of India into Pakistan and Hindustan, or (ii) Fifty-fifty share in legislature, executive and the Services, which alternative should be preferable?
(5) Whether India, if she remained one integral whole, could rely upon, both Hindus and Musalmans to defend her independence, assuming it is won from the British?
(6) Having regard to the prevailing antagonism between Hindus and Musalmans and having regard to the new ideology demarcating them as two distinct nations and postulating an opposition in their ultimate destinies, whether a single constitution for these two nations can be built in the hope that they would show an intention to work it and not to stop it
(7) On the assumption that the two-nation theory has come to stay, would not India as one single unit become an incoherent body without organic unity, incapable of developing into a strong united nation bound by a common faith in a common destiny and therefore like1y to remain a feeble and sickly country, easy to be kept in perpetual subjection either of the British or of any other foreign power ?
(8) If India could not be one united country, would it not be better that Indians• should help India in the peaceful dissolution of this incoherent whole into its natural parts, namely, Pakistan and Hindustan?
(9) Whether it is not better to provide for the better of two independent and separate nations, a Muslim nation inhabiting Pakistan and a Hindu nation inhabiting Hindustan, than pursue the vain attempt to keep India as one undivided country in the false hope that Hindus and Muslims would some day be one and occupy it as the members of one nation and sons of one motherland?
Dr. Ambedkar invited Hindus to react to the above issues. On his own, he made the following observations: Hindus were in the grip of the Congress and the Congress was in the grip of Mr. Gandhi. It could not be said that Mr. Gandhi had given the Congress the right lead. Mr. Gandhi sought to avoid facing the issue of Pakistan by taking refuge in two things: To partition India was a moral wrong and a sin to which he couldl never be a party. Gandhi ignored he fact that the demand for Partition was a social, political and military question. Sin had no place in it. Second, Gandhi started by protesting that the Muslim League did not represent the Muslims and that Pakistan was only a fancy of Mr. Jinnah. It is difficult to understand how Mr. Gandhi could be so blind to Jinnah's influence over the Muslim masses was vertuality total. Enemy outside borders?