Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mohammed Ali Jinnah and India

A lot has come out in the media about Jaswant Singh's book on Mohammed Ali Jinnah. It is an undeniable fact that India needed to demonise Jinnah, so that Nehru could bask in the post-independence glory.

Jinnah's grandfather was a Hindu trader who converted to Islam. Jinnah as a student, had fought a case against the British Raj for Lokmanya Tilak in the Supreme Court at London. Tilak was unable to fund his trip to London and could not find a lawyer to help his litigation there. Jinnah, then as a foot soldier of Congress, had helped Tilak but lost the case. Jinnah was more an Indian leader than a Muslim leader before Gandhiji embarked from South Africa.

Mahatma had worked in the media in South Africa. Being an editor of a newspaper, he knew the power of media. What Gandhiji wore, where did he go, what did he do were the stories carried by the media when he settled in India. He used the media to feed the masses and make a cult out of himself. He has to be credited of being successful in invoking a mass awakening like no other leader could do. The same media blitzkrieg is followed even after independence for the congress leaders. Most recent being to show where Rahul Baba spent a night, when he wants to get married, how he blushed, etc, etc;

The cost of Mahatma Gandhi's rise was that other leaders - Jinnah, Savarkar, Bose, Annie Besant - were gradually marginalised. Gandhi arrived in 1915 in India and the Muslim league and RSS were formed in the 20's. This was a result of the power struggle which the other leaders were subjected to take for the second position after Gandhi's Congress.

Jinnah had left for London in the 1930's and returned only in early 1940's when the Quit India Movement failed and there was a sense of the British actually leaving India due to WWII.

Jinnah had wanted a more federal republic with three tier administration - a Centre, a group of provinces and the provinces. While Nehru was against the idea of group of provinces. He wanted a more centralised system - the Centre and the provinces. This admonition of the group of provinces was seen by Jinnah as Nehru's unwillingness to share power, which finally led to a brutal and inhumane partition.

Ill-prepared partition was a mistake for whom Indians would love to put the blame upon Jinnah solely, but truth cannot be more farther from this. Both the sides were signatories to it. It is said that, it was not until 1946 that the idea of a partition took root. But there are reports of Muslim League propping up the idea of Pakistan from 1940.

Congress acted under the duress of 1946 'Direct Action' (known as Calcutta killings - Calcutta was governed by Muslim League) which had led to widespread rioting and killing by the Muslim League. Congress was subjected to accept the 'Two Nation Theory'. If it had not accepted then there was a threat of Direct Action being repeated wherever Muslim League came in power. Neither Nehru nor Jinnah had envisioned the bloodbath that took place due to partition and both had later acknowledged it as a mistake.

In Indian context, the whole responsibility was put upon Jinnah. One thing to be noted here is that "HISTORY IS WRITTEN BY THE WINNER". Raja Vikramaditya Hemraj becomes Hemu; Hitler is the villain, when there are reports of US and UK looking the other way when they had full knowledge of the concentration camps; US is absolved of its nuclear bombings; the only truly secular society in the Arab world is destroyed - the act being claimed as liberation of Iraq - and it ends up as a chaotic polity; and there are many more examples. Jinnah's case was similar.

Jaswant Singh has made a good observation that the partition has turned out to be futile. It has not served its purpose. Most importantly, he cites history, refers to the reservation introduced in 1906 which are comparable to the Sachar committee report. He cannot be held completely wrong in his conclusion that, another partition cannot be ruled out if we keep following the same path.

In its quest for power, BJP could have lapped up the scholarly and well-researched article. This would only have made the Congress a little defensive, since any lessening of the saintly Halo around the Nehru-clan would have had gone in favour of the BJP. Alas, they did not milk the opportunity, while they also lost one of their least rewarded most deserving loyals, by expelling Jaswant Singh who worked for 30 long years of his political life for the party.

In another perspective, BJP by rejecting to admonish Nehru and Patel have exercised a higher moral and ethical practice, so very rare in present day politics. It also suits them the best.


  1. Good one, Amit. Engagingly written too.
    And Jug's piece hasn't been removed from the TOI blogs.

  2. Thanks Rajesh,

    Am really honoured by your comment on my blog.

    About Jug's blog, I did find it later. It was only that he updated his Ram related post with the Ljubljana visit post so it was not in the latest list.

    Mr. Rajesh Kalra works in Times Group and heads all its internet ventures editorially. I truly feel honoured with his visit and comment on my blog.

  3. Great, Amit. Very insightful.

  4. Good Blog..Good insight! You write very nice! Will keep looking for more! Very interesting to read and know! Keep it up!

  5. Good Job Amit, Your thoughts are well organised and give a good understanding of the subject...Keep writing ....will look forward for some more interesting ones...

  6. Interesting stuff-Wonderfully written,and is quite gripping.good job.Cheers!

  7. nice one....2 sides of a story...gr8!!

  8. Jinnah is certainly to be blamed for partition of India. You do not go and seek partition of your motherland on religious and communal lines simple because some people are not in agreement with you and are not letting you have your way.
    Jinnah could have sought some other way to resolve his issue. Instead he played the religion card and after the creation of Pakistan, aired his secular views.
    No wonder a lost man created a lost country!