Jinnah Proposed, Gandhi Disposed…Thus, India Divided

BOOK REVIEW

(Prafull Goradia, K.R. Phanda)

The book contends that it was the cussedness of the Muslim League, and the indifferent and callous attitude of the Congress that led to the Partition of the country and created certain bitter issues like Kashmir, a perpetual bone of contention between the two countries.

Though the division of India into two nations took place nearly seven decades ago, memories of its holocaust still linger in the minds of the people who were witness to it or were affected by it.

This book contends that it was the indifferent and callous attitude of the Muslim League led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the Congress by Mahatma Gandhi that led to the Partition of the country.

The author, Prafull Goradia, argues that certain unpleasant issues like Kashmir, a perpetual bone of contention between the two countries, could have been avoided if the two leaders had adopted a pragmatic approach to the issue of Partition. To substantiate his views, Goradia quotes the views expressed by Jinnah through his various letters to Gandhi. Both author’s Goradia and Phanda argue that Gandhi’s role did not help in preventing Partition. What they consider worse is that Gandhi managed not only to coerce the Nehru government of free India to pay up Rs. 55 crores to Pakistan “but also disregard the Muslim League’s repeated demand for an exchange of population.”

In this book, which is a compilation of not only Jinnah’s letters to Gandhi but also excerpts from B.R. Ambedkar’s book, Pakistan or the Partition, Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s book India Divided and G.D. Khosla’s Stern Reckoning, authors Goradia and Phanda point out that Jinnah was impartial towards the Hindus and Muslims before 1930 when he departed for England but subsequently, began to feel outmanoeuvered by Gandhi and isolated from the people, as Gandhi had developed a mass following within and without the country. Jinnah returned to India and the Muslim League offered him the presidentship of the party despite the fact that he was an Ismaili Khoja who had switched over to Asnashi Shia sect so that none could challenge him for not being a true Muslim.

The book also highlights the fact that Jinnah wanted to be known as Qaid-e-Azam. This could not be so in India where there were many competitors for leadership; he therefore, demanded a separate state. He whipped up a mass hysteria among the Muslims for creation of a separate Muslim state and got adequate support from the Aligarh Muslim University which was the epicentre of such separatist politics. Educated Muslims, especially the Habib clan of Bombay, feared that they would be outnumbered in the event of elections. Anyhow, Jinnah was certain that the Muslims would gather in their exclusive homeland and non-Muslims would migrate to India.

Authors Goradia and Phanda say that neither Jawaharlal Nehru nor Mahatma Gandhi “understood the Muslim mind”. Nehru deluded himself as being acceptable as a leader of Muslims while Gandhi was obsessed with seeking Muslim cooperation in ousting the British from India.

In his presidential address to the Muslim League, in March 1940 at Lahore, Jinnah criticized Gandhi for suggesting the setting up of a tribunal to attend to the grievances of the Muslims, who had been facing difficulties since January 1939 as he feared that Muslims would be one against three. Jinnah countered this by saying that Muslims were not a minority but occupied large parts of the country. He went to the extent of saying that Hindus and Muslims can never “evolve a common nationality…The Hindus and Muslims have different religious philosophies, social customs and literatures. They neither intermarry not inter-dine and indeed, they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.” He added, “If Hindus and Muslims are brought together under a democratic system, forced upon the minorities, it can only mean Hindu Raj.”

Goradia and Phanda then quote Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the father of Indian Constitution, who said, “The Muslim areas are an anomalous excrescence on Hindustan and Hindustan is an anomalous excrescence on them. Tied together, they will make India the sick man of Asia.” He felt that India had failed to realize two things — the first thing was that “there is difference between appeasement and settlement, and that the difference is an essential one. Appeasement means buying off the aggressor by conniving at his acts of murder, rape, arson and loot against innocent persons who happen for the moment to be the victims of his displeasure. On the other hand, settlement means laying down the bounds which neither party to it can transgress. Appeasement sets no limits to the demand and aspirations of the aggressor. Settlement does.”

The second thing according to him, was that the “Congress has failed to realize that the policy of concession has increased Muslim aggressiveness and what is worse, Muslims interpret these concerns as a sign of defeatism on the part of the Hindus and the absence of the will to resist.” Ambedkar considered “settlement” as a proposition against appeasement. He preferred “the Partitioning of India into Muslim India and non-Muslim India as the surest and safest method of providing for the defence of both” and therefore concluded that “if the Musalaman will not yield on the issue of Pakistan, then Pakistan must come.”

A considerable portion of the book is devoted to Jinnah offering clarifications to Gandhi on questions put up by the latter regarding the Lahore resolution and its principles.

G.D. Khosla, ICS, is quoted in the book as saying that the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan was based on the hypothesis that Hindus and Muslims constituted two separate nations, each entitled to a separate homeland where they would be free to develop their culture, tradition, religion and polity. He added, “But the Two-Nation Theory brought the problem of minorities into greater prominence than ever before and Partition, instead of offering a solution, made it even more difficult and complicated…No matter where the lines of demarcation were drawn, there would be Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs on either die of it, in a majority or in a substantial minority.”

Jinnah Proposed, Gandhi Disposed…Thus, India Divided is a book to be read to get a picture of the reality that prevailed before Independence.

-Manju Gupta 

(The reviewer is a former editor of the Navbharat Times)

Published by: CARRIED, a unit of Samarth — a Trust
16, Vinoba Puri, Lajpat Nagar – 2, New Delhi 10024
011-29842070, 29842546

Pages – 269; Price: Rs 600.00

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