A serious reading of Indian History throws up many surprises. But the greatest of all surprises is the fact that the Indian leaders have yet to get over the slavish mentality complex imbibed during seven centuries of Muslim rule in India (1206-1858). All Hindus, exceptions apart, consider themselves as inferior to Muslims. This is reflected in the fact that rarely do Hindu leaders talk about the atrocities committed on them by the Muslim rulers in the past; rarely do they mention the fact that it is the Muslim minority which had forced the division of India on religious basis in 1947. According to V.P. Menon, Constitutional Reforms Commissioner to the last British viceroy, M. K. Gandhi lived for Muslims and eventually died for them. Jawaharlal Nehru, the beloved successor of Gandhi destroyed the Hindu identity by providing for a separate set of Fundamental Rights for Minorities, an euphemism for Muslims. So long as the concept of Minorities remains on the statute book, India's future is uncertain.
The pages that follow provide a bird's eye view of how the concept of Minorities was introduced in the last quarter of the 19th century and changed to Nation in 1940 leading to the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Nehru resurrected the concept of Minorities again after 1947.
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: Propounder of Two- Nation Theory
The third session of the Indian National Congress was held at Madras in 1888. A little before the session Badruddin Tyabji, wrote to Sir Syed to attend the session and express his point of view. Sir Syed wrote in his reply that as India was not the home of one nation, he could not have an organization like the Indian National Congress. Hindus and Muslims belonged to two different nations and the question of their cooperation did not arise. In this context, Professor Hamid Khan of Pakistan observes: Sayed Ahmad's contribution to the political cause of Indian Muslims was formidable. He was one of the original exponents of the two nation theory. Since Muslims were in a minority, Sir Syed insisted on nomination and separate representation for Muslims under the British rule.
The Aligarh movement, which is the central factor of Islamic renaissance in India, had two very important results. It was the first step towards the integration of Indian Islam. The Muslim population in different parts of India had now a central institution which provided them with a common intellectual background and fostered a common ideology. It was the Aligarh man who was the spearhead of the Muslim movement in every corner of India. In the second place, it elevated Urdu to the position of a national language for Indian Islam. Thus provided with a separate language and with a special ideology the Muslims were able, in due course to claim to be a separate nation. In 1907, when the question of political reforms became urgent in India, and the Minto-Morley scheme was on the anvil, the Government of India took the decision at the request of a Muslim delegation led by the Aga Khan, to introduce separate electorates for the Muslims. The two-nation theory which Sir Syed Ahmed had advocated had found its consummation. Islamic integration was complete, for everywhere in India the citadel of nationalism was permanently breached and the separation of Islam from the body politic of India proclaimed in word could not be misunderstood. From 1907, there could be a Hindu-Muslim alliance but no united national movement. From separate electorates to Pakistan was but an easy and natural evolution observes Sardar K.M. Pannikar, the eminent statesman and historian.
Mahatma Gandhi Era
Gandhi took over the reins of the Congress Party after the departure of Balgangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal. Basing on his experience of leading the Indians against the British in South Africa, Gandhi adopted a policy of Muslim appeasement. According to Gandhi: Hindus must sacrifice their interest to keep the Muslims on the side of the Congress so that the British face a united opposition to their rule in India. Gandhi knew nothing about the influence of religion on the Muslim mindset. In 1931, at the Round Table Conference in London, Muslim leaders in one voice told the British Premier that the Congress party led by Gandhi did not represent the Muslims of India.
Appeasement vs Settlement
On the morrow of Pakistan Resolution (March, 1940), Dr. Ambedkar came out with his book Thoughts on Pakistan (September, 1940). He pointed out that Congress led by Gandhi and Nehru had encouraged the adoption by Muslims of the gangsters' methods in politics. To cause communal riots had become a settled part of their strategy. Congress policy was to tolerate and appease the Muslims by political and other concessions. Congress, in the process, has failed to realize two things: First, there is a difference between appeasement and settlement. The former means buying of the aggressor by conniving at his acts of murder, rape, arson, loot against innocent persons. The latter means laying down rules which neither party can transgress. Appeasement sets no limits to the demands of the aggressor. Muslims have interpreted these concessions as a sign of defeatism on the part of the Hindus. This policy of appeasement is reminiscent of what the Allies adopted towards Hitler before the Second World War.
Immediately, after 1937 elections, Jinnah approached Gandhi through B.G. Kher for the solution to the problem of Hindu-Muslim unity. Nehru deprecated this initiative by pointing out: The Congress may or may not represent any considerable body of Muslims but the Muslim League certainly does not represent any but the reactionary elements in the Muslims. Gandhi in the meanwhile suggested that before he meets Jinnah, there should be a meeting between Azad and Jinnah. Jinnah reacted sharply to this suggestion by observing: We have reached a stage when no doubt should be left. You recognize the All India Muslim League as the one authoritative and representative organization of Musalmans in India, and, on the other hand, you represent the Congress and other Hindus throughout the country. It is only on that basis we can proceed further and devise a machinery of approach.
In 1938, Syed Abdul Latif, Professor Osmania University, Hyderabad had published his scheme, The Cultural Future of lndia in which he proposed division of India into fifteen cultural zones-4 Muslims and 11 Hindus with exchange of population to achieve cultural homogeneity. Gandhi's reaction was: I believe in the possibility of the two cultures blending. Latif wrote back: What blending could be expected between cultures so distinctly different in their attitudes towards life? There is nothing common between Islam and Hinduism asserted Latif. There were other Muslim leaders who had emphasized that the only solution to Hindu-Muslim conflicts lay in complete separation between the Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi thought that he could convince the Muslims. He was no Mahatma in the eyes of Momins. In retrospect, Gandhi's leadership has proved too costly for India.
Muslim separatism came out in the open in 1940 when they asked for a separate homeland. After successfully winning the elections in 1945-46, Muslim leaders launched Direct Action in Calcutta in August, 1946. It resulted in the killing of thousands of Hindus. Thereafter Gandhi and Nehru conceded Partition.
Having been divested of power and privileges, Muslims' attitude towards Hindus did not undergo any change. The Muslims continued to behave with Hindus as if they were still the rulers of India.
Gandhi went to London in 1931 to attend the second session of the Round Table Conference. During the conference Gandhi made the point that the Congress Party was representative of all communities in India. This was strongly opposed by all other parties and groups. However, the British prime minister who was chairing the meeting asked Gandhi the reasons for continuing Hindu-Muslim conflicts in India. Gandhi's reply was: This quarrel is not old. l dare to say it is coeval with the British advent. (The Constitutional Problem in India) by Sir R. Coupland, 1944-45). Maharajadhiraj of Burdwan during his lecture tour of USA in 1932 on Hindu-Muslims relations rebutted effectively Gandhi's argument. ln his words: The fact is that the religious and cultural feuds between Hindus and Mohammedans go as far back as AD 1017 or 1018, when Mahmud of Ghazni conquered the then Hindu centre of India known as Kannauj, destroyed the holy city of Mathura, and destroyed and pillaged many Hindu temples. Mahmud thus had sown the seeds of hatred and religious animosity which have survived through the ages, bringing a bitterness between Hindus and Mohammedans which breaks out at any moment, despite the talk by armchair politicians of the possibilities of goodwill and amity, whether at the Round Table Conference in London or some public platform (The Indian Horizon, London 1932).
Gandhi Learnt No Lesson
But Gandhi was too arrogant to learn any lesson. Even after the vivisection of India, Gandhi did not ask Muslims to leave India for their beloved homeland, Pakistan. A distinguished British Journalist, Beverley Nichols who toured all over India during 1944-1945 has given the following estimate about him: Gandhi seems to me a typical Hindu politician, of quite inordinate vanity, narrow, ignorant, and supremely intolerant. As for his much-vaunted regard for Truth... well, really, Mr. Gandhi should look up that word in dictionary and then, if he is wise, he will change the subject as rapidly as possible... No body can dare to criticize him and yet remain a member of the Congress. A host of prominent Congress leaders had to leave the Congress as they had incurred the displeasure of the Mahatma. Mr. Nariman, Dr. Kher, Mr. Subhas Chandra Bose and Mr. Rajagopalachari, all at one time held positions of immense influence in the Congress, but their diference of opinion with one man alone in the Congress, Mr. Gandhi, led to their permanent expulsion.
Muslim Minority: Creation of Jawaharlal Nehru (Post Partition)
As far as the Muslims are concerned they had got a separate homeland in 1947 and there was no question of providing them with any special safeguards. In the international sphere, the concept of minorities arose after the defeat of Turkey in the First World War. The collapse of the Turkish Empire led to territorial changes in Eastern Europe. The demand for special safeguards arose because territorial changes had occurred without the consent of the people living in those areas. In the case of Indian Muslims, they had overwhelmingly voted for the creation of Pakistan in the elections held in 1945-46. As a sequel of such division Hindu leaders could have insisted upon an exchange of population between Pakistan and India. Those Muslims who remained in India did so of their free will and option. The Partition was the seeking of their own community and not the result of any circumstances beyond their control, such as the First or Second World War which led to international minority issue. And they solved it through an exchange of population between Turkey and Greece and Turkey and Bulgaria.
Gadgil on Nehru
Dr. N.V. Gadgil was a senior member of Jawaharlal Nehru's first cabinet. In Gadgil's words: I have already described how systematically Pakistan drove out its Hindus and how they encouraged Bengali Muslims to enter and occupy some areas in Assam. The Indian Government took no notice of these. On the other hand, Nehru was greatly annoyed when once Vallabhbhai suggested mutual exchange of Hindu and Muslim populations and a proportionate division of land between India and Pakistan. Such an exchange would have been beneficial in the long run.....Thousands of Muslims who had gone to Pakistan returned and were given back their properties. The Hindus received no such justice. It is true that Hindu refugees became objects of charity in India and received monetary assistance. But the self-respect and religious faith for which they had made such sacrifices were not honoured. And we overlooked in the past many of their (Muslim) transgressions because they were a minority. Our difficulties today sprang from this weakness. This mindset of Nehru made simple problems complex.
1949 saw such unspeakable atrocities against Hindus in East Pakistan that it became almost imperative to go to their help. The cabinet discussed the situation at great length and decided that some action should be initiated. But Nehru did not want it. Liaquat Ali, Prime Minister of Pakistan, came to Delhi in March 1950, had discussions with Nehru and one fine morning at 10 O'clock Nehru placed before the cabinet a draft of his agreement with him. l am not sure if Vallabhbhai was consulted before the draft was agreed to. The final two paragraphs in the agreement accepted the principle of reservation for Muslims in proportion to their population in all the services and representative benches in the constituent states of India and similar provisions were suggested for Central Government also. I said: These two paragraphs nullify the whole philosophy of the Congress. The country had to pay the price of division as a result of its acceptance of separate electorates. You are asking us to drink the same poison again. This is a betrayal of the last forty years of history, according to Gadgil, Nehru was displeased. I said: These two paragraphs must go lock, stock and barrel. Nehru replied in anguish: I have agreed to this with Liaquat Ali Khan. When the cabinet met the next day, the last two paragraphs were omitted.