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Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan was the ....
Aug 2015

Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan was the first Muslim leader of modern India. By being one of the few U.P. Muslims to have been on the side of the British during the Mutiny of 1857, he wielded considerable influence with the rulers. He was a member of the Viceroy's Executive Council. He was also the first to declare in 1887 that the Hindus and Muslims were separate nations. His co-religionists, being smaller in number, had to have reservation in government services as well as in electoral bodies that may come up, etc. His example was an encouragement to community to practise the Islamic ethos which in essence was non-commercial and not greatly concerned to its production. It preferred to live off nature's bounty including the womenfolk.  

The ethos does not lay much store by way of saving or capital accumulation. Muslims rely on Allah to look after them in their hour of need if and when need be. As it happened, nature's bounty was generously bestowed upon the Indo-Gangetic plain as well as the land of the Brahamputra. U.P., Bihar, Bengal or Assam which is where there are more Muslims than in other parts of divided India.  And little wonder that the easy going economic habit infected the non-Muslims in this whole belt which is described as backward and, by and large, poorer. Bengal, which was flourishing with industry at Independence, gradually became the graveyard of industry. The fate of Kanpur was also the fate of the whole belt that stretches from Saharanpur in the west to Kamrup in the east.

The Partition was meant to bring to a close the mischief of Sir Sayyid and his two nation theory. M.A Jinnah and at least seven of his League colleagues had demanded an exchange of populations whereby most Muslims would settle in Pakistan and most non-Muslims would live in Hindustan. Led by Jawaharlal Nehru the Congress and its government obstructed this final solution and instead resumed accommodating the two nations all over again in the Hindustan post 1947. In order to counter the Patelites or the nationalists in the Congress, he played to the Muslim gallery and pampered its members more than he would his own children. If any Hindu leader was loved by Muslims it was Nehru. Sardar Pastel described him as the only nationalist Muslim that there was. 

Nehru ruled India as an unquestioned badshah for 17 long years and, as it were, inspired this backward belt from Saharanpur to Kamrup into deeper communal line. It continues to be the most backward and, by and large, the poorest in the country. No one has looked back to ask how the ruling class for seven centuries, has become backward and less educated? Nor has anyone pointed a finger at either Sir Sayyid or at Nehru.



April 2017


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