Partition, Pakistan, Jinnah A Case Of Historical Fixation
Geography is accepted as unalterable. History generates controversies. The latter are more acrimonious for recent events compared to earlier periods. Division of India in 1947 is a case in point. Creation of Pakistan and personality of its chief proponent, MA Jinnah is fixated in our psyche. He is regarded as divider of Akhand Bharat.
Cabinet Mission of 1945 was a serious effort by Britain to withdraw from the sub-continent. But a loose federation with a weak Centre and three major units proposed by the Mission could not afford Congress any significant control over large parts of India, as two of the three units—North and East—were Muslim-majority strongholds. They now continue as Pakistan and Bangladesh. The proposed Centre was to control external affairs, defence, currency and communications. Even finance and taxation were with the State units—Centre being bankrolled by States. Indian National Congress which was the sole negotiator apart from Muslim League did not rightly accept this plan.
In both plans—the other being Partition on communal lines—status of native States was left unclear in the new set-up after British suzerainty over them lapsed. Three units were doomed to disparities and conflicts and the proposed Centre was bound to be weak and ineffective. It would have been rudderless in policies in respect of subjects allotted to Centre. Internecine quarrels would have been perennial and the proposed Constituent Assembly would not have succeeded in writing an acceptable draft of principles, leave alone a constitution. India was condemned to constitutional and administrative anarchy, if this model was accepted. With all-India majority of Congress, Gandhiji had proposed Jinnah as PM of a United India to avoid division—an offer which was spurned by Jinnah off-hand.
Other alternative of Partition on communal lines was opposed by Gandhiji. It was zealously pursued by the Muslim League. Jinnah had alleged that with the Congress majority in the proposed Constituent Assembly, Pakistan as an idea would be weakened. He cited the Congress’ unwillingness to share power with the League in the provinces and a statement of Nehru as indicative of breach of faith by Congress. He gave a final ominious call for Pakistan and called for Direct Action by Muslims. Synonym for present-day terrorism and violence Direct Action led to massive pogrom of Hindus in Bengal with encouragement of HS Suhrawardy who was Premier of Bengal. Punjab saw mass murders of Hindus and Sikhs and there were communal riots in rest of the country with unprecedented migration.
British were keen to leave under pressure of US in their post-war financial troubles. Indepence movement under Congress was on its unprecedented high with pregnancy of hope and promise. Cornrnunal virus was spreading at an alarming pace. Native States like Hyderabad had come under divisive external influences. Naval mutuny of 1946 was portending danger to future of armed forces. Widespread scarcities of essential commodities had led to blackmarketing. Our top national leaders were getting old. Instead of, landing with a oxymoron of a loose federation under unified India formula, CWC accepted Partition under British supervision. Sardar Patel in consultation with the States People Conference was having a broad roadmap for future of about 400 native States under British suzerainty.
After Partition, border demarcation was completed in record time. West and East Pakistan were separated by 2000 miles. Jinnah proposal for creating a long corridor to link two units was rejected. Thus was born a secular India and a Islamic Pakistan.
Consolidation And Unification
India lost no time in consolidating its areas. Provinces were not a problem. Native States which suddenly became sovereign—free to join either of the two or continue independent—posed a major challenge. States Peoples Conference and Praja Mandals were with Congress and all of them enjoyed some popular clout in their respective areas. Sardar Patel and his team acted adroitly and with considerable alacrity. Waverers like Jodhpur were brought around. Travancore’s bid for independence was scuttled. Junagarh and two tiny principalities were virtually forced by popular uprising to accede to India. Hyderabad in the heart of India was made to accede after a swift police action. Kashmir was an unfortunate leftover-apart from French and Portuguise settlements in body of India.
Process Of Integration
The process was smooth and even. Native states entered into a Standstill Agreement with newly created Union of India. When they decided to join they signed an Instrument of Accession with India. All were not evenly sized area-wise and were not viable units. They were thus encouraged to integrate by merger keeping in mind their language, cultural homogeneity and geographical proximity. Thus, a string of unions of states like Saurashtra, Madhya Bharat, PEPSU, Mastya, United Rajasthan and Travancore and Cochin were formed. Such of the states which were large enough were merged in provinces, as like Baroda, Cooch Behar. Some like Bhopal and Hyderabad were constituted as independent units. They appeared as Part B and Part C states in our Constitution till 1956 when states were reorganised on linguistic basis.
Constitution making was an achievement. It was a Union of States not unitary nor federal. It is secular, with individual fundamental rights guaranteed. Directive Principles orient policies.
Minorities have safeguards. Languages are recognised region-wise. Judicial review was enshrined under the Supreme Court. We have so far preserved the basic structure of the Constitution. Federal aspects are being guarded. Our territorial integrity is intact. We had several wars imposed on us by inimical neighbours. We have a vibrant and growing economy growing at a healthy rate. We are improving on human welfare indicators. We have kept hostile neighbours under check. Sixty years have given us a status and role in the world affairs.
One has to look back to 1946-47. If we transpose ourselves to the situation then prevailing and imagine the scenario, it would be dismal. If that persisted can one imagine where and what we could be today? In this scenario, it is uncharitable to blame Nehru-Sardar for Partition. It is the best thing that could have happened to us. We should thank Pakistan for leaving us alone. We must thank Jinnah for having left with a truncated Pakistan.
But all peace talks notwithstanding, we cannot forget Pakistan our tormentor for half a century. With US treasury and armoury helping them we will need always to remember them, with wars, intrusions, subversion and espionage against Indias body-politic.
As for Jinnah, it was a case of liability of a surrogate mother post child-birth. He did not live long enough post delivery. Call him advocate of two-nation theory or three nation theory he deserves our gratitude for leaving us alone. We may thank him for releasing us from imbilical chord.
As is said, muze mere hal pe chhod do, muze tum se kuchh nahin chahiye. Thanks yes. But no adoration, lionisation and homage to his memory. Let him rest in peace.
But how can we forget him despite? We cannot forget great lines of Mukesh: Jine hum bhulana chahen, aksar yaad atey hain.
By RJ Majithia
(The author is a retired IAS officer)