Has anyone here read Ambedkar's book "Pakistan, or, The Partition of India"?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,754
SoCal
Has anyone here read Ambedkar's book "Pakistan, or, The Partition of India"?
As to the ultimate "responsibility" for the Partition, I freely admit possible/probable bias as an Indian when I say the following: in my view, while Congress may have done a better job in working with Jinnah from the start, and while the British may have ossified divisions between Muslim and Hindu communities due to policies such as their Partition of Bengal and the introduction of separate electorates for Muslims, I cannot help but feel as if there was an overriding element of prejudice against Hindus and Hinduism in the demands of the Muslim League.

I have in mind the following:

- The fact that they found the prospect of losing their historic political dominance in the subcontinent in the wake of independence as abhorrent as they did, compared to Muslim Congress politicians like Maulana Azad who believed that Muslims could live honorably and peacefully in a Hindu dominated but secular India they were committed to realizing
Yeah, it's quite interesting that nowhere near all Muslims in British India initially supported the idea of Pakistan.

- Closely related, their disproportionate fear of their potential "subjection" to Hindus and Hinduism. On a numerical level, I can understand this concern but I personally find it odd that they were as persistent and presumptuous as they were in this respect, even going so far as to demand the continuation of separate electorates in their proposed compromises. This is something that the Congress Party disagreed with not only on liberal/secular principles, but on the grounds that it would further fracture India. On a historical level, given that Muslim elites were politically dominant in the subcontinent for 7+ centuries, and were responsible for numerous instances of systemic oppression of non-Muslims in India (with a relative lack of the reverse happening) that left indelible marks in the cultural memories of the latter communities, the fact that these Muslim elites were now stoking fears of Hindu dominance and promoting Muslim independence is something I've always found distasteful
Where can I read more about Muslim oppression against non-Muslims in India?

Also, interestingly enough, the Muslim League had no problem proposing that Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab and Bengal should accept to be ruled by Muslims (the ML initially opposed the partition of these two provinces) but at the same time declared that it was completely unacceptable for Muslims to be ruled by Hindus. As I wrote above, Ayesha Jalal argued that the ML wanted a sizable number of Hindus and Sikhs in their new state so that they could be used as hostages to ensure that India's remaining Muslims are going to be treated well. It didn't quite work out that way considering that a lot of Hindus and Sikhs fled Pakistan after partition--with Pakistan losing almost all of its remaining Hindus in 1971 with the secession of Bangladesh.

- Their suspicion of the Congress Party's commitment to the religious minorities of the country. Certainly the Congress Party was dominated by upper-caste Hindus; however, much of their leadership were dominated by liberal/secularist elements. The Indian nationalist movement they led lacked an overt religious identity. Nehru and Gandhi were largely respected and admired by Muslims and Hindus alike for their lack of communalism, to say nothing of the presence of numerous other influential Gandhians and liberals in the party, who would all go on to shape and govern India's future institutions. But the circumstances of their faith (however liberal in orientation) and birth (rhetoric about Brahmin caste domination was common from the Muslim League) were enough for the Muslim League to cast aspersions and suspicions on the Congress leadership's ultimate goals.
Good point! Interestingly enough, the INC was quite generous in its treatment of Kashmir with Article 370 and all that.

All this gives me to the strong suspicion that Pakistan was a demand primarily grounded in emotions relating to Muslim communalism. For instance, whereas the Congress party consistently promoted a message of hope, unity, and social peace in its campaigns for the 1946 elections, the Muslim League's message was dominated by fear: the fear of domination by Hinduism and Hindus, the fear for the death of Islam in the subcontinent. The latter's message worked; they swept a large chunk of the Muslim vote compared to their poor performance in the previous election. It seems to me that rather than subsequently dispensing with this divisive message, Pakistan has constantly made it the guiding ethos of their Indian foreign policy.
Oh, certainly, Pakistan has a serious problem in the sense that it developed a national identity with an extremely heavy anti-Indian component and not much else. :(

This isn't to say that India for its part has always lived up to its ideals, as recent events demonstrate otherwise. India, however, has done a significantly better job throughout history of uplifting its minorities, religious or otherwise, throughout its existence and I believe it owes this ultimately to its founding principles and the strength of its inherited institutions. I do think that the Partition, rather than alleviating tensions between religious minorities, has significantly contributed to the polarization of Hindus and Muslims.
Agreed. Interestingly enough, partition might have been perceived by Hindu nationalists to have vindicated their view that Muslims are a subversive fifth column and aren't really loyal to India.

If there were no Partition, I do think it likely that both communities and their representative parties (with liberal Muslim elements like Azad leading the way) could have worked towards realizing a state where communal harmony was the norm, with Muslims adequately represented (which they are not in India relative to their population) due to the cohesion and size of their voting block, and where Hinduism/Hindus and Islam/Muslims could liberalize each other. This may be wishful thinking on my part but we will never know sadly.
Yeah, it's certainly very possible. That said, though, here in the US, with the declining white majority, white nationalism appears to have become more rather than less of a political force among white Americans due to them feeling more threatened than they previously did. I wonder if a similar feeling would have existed for Hindus in an unpartitioned India as a result of the Hindu % of the total population in Greater India falling from 75% in 1881 to around 60% in the 21st century.
 

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,739
New Delhi, India
India might have succeeded even if it was hyper-diverse (is it not already that?) for the simple reason that the leadership was not restricted to one or two ethnicities. We have had prime mini9sters from many regions of India (of course, the dynasty dominated for a long time untill it was finally dislodged by Modi). Even Jyoti Basu could have easily been the prime minstier of India, had his party not refused it. :)
 
Last edited:

Devdas

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
4,856
India
India would benefit from capturing the Haji Pir Pass if the cost of war with Pakistan wouldn't actually be so high. Pakistan's control of this pass makes travel in Indian-controlled Kashmir longer and more cumbersome since it prevents territorial contiguity in one of the main routes there. It takes something like 200 miles to travel from Poonch to Uri even though they are right next to each other due to the fact that the path between them is blocked by this pass (which, again, is Pakistani-controlled).
That may be the case in 1950s but now infrastructure between Jammu and Srinagar is quite good through tunnels, a 4 lane highway and a railway line to be complete in few years.
 
Aug 2017
204
USA
Countries such as the Baltic countries and Czechoslovakia were able to build organs of government from scratch without too much problems, no?
I'm not familiar with the modern histories of the Baltic countries and Czechoslovakia unfortunately. In the case of Pakistan though, the relative disadvantage there compared to the situation in India certainly contributed to a weak constitutional state and a strong military (with its physical manifestation in Rawalpindi). It also lacked to a greater degree the initial talent and manpower to effectively staff its civilian institutions.

Did this also involve trade restrictions?
Off the top of my head, I do not know. However, one feature of the relationship between India and Pakistan is that they've generally traded very little with each other. That remains a problem to this day.

And a deal was eventually worked out in regards to this, no?
Indeed, the Indus Waters Treaty. The overall point though is that its a situation where India has the advantage and the leverage due to the Partition. No wars over the control and (improper) usage of these waters have been fought and disputes have largely been settled legally, but I cannot say if that will remain the case under India's current administration or future nationalistic ones.

As for Sindh's Hindus, they were replaced by the well-educated Muhajirs. So, Sindh lost some talent but also gained some talent.
Yes. However, the overall integrity of the region was comprised for while Sindh obtained Muhajirs for its Hindus, it also resulted in ethnic tensions between them and existing communities that had well established histories in the region. This was inevitable since, as mentioned previously, Pakistan was created out of regions where the problem of Hindu domination did not exist anyway. Accordingly, some regions (like NWFP and Balochistan) were at best ambivalent to the actual realization and implementation of a unified Islamic nation. When it came to the resettlement of refugees and the integration of muhajirs, it was therefore no surprise that existing groups in Pakistan were more likely to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity than integrate on the basis of a shared religious identity.

Yep. Interestingly enough, I wonder why Pashtuns in the NWFP were more loyal to India than they were to Afghanistan.
I've wondered about this too.

What's quite interesting, though, is that communal violence in Punjab and Bengal (but especially in Punjab) reached quite unexpected proportions in 1947. Did this all come out of nowhere?
Certainly not out of nowhere. As Guha notes in his India After Gandhi, Bengal in particular had a lengthy history of violent conflict between Hindus and Muslims since at least the late 19th century. Large sections of the Hindu middle class there were even happy to rid themselves of Muslim dominated areas. For several decades, Hindu professionals had been moving west to the Hindu dominated portions and landowners had been selling their properties and investing the proceeds in Calcutta. Thus when Partition came, the violence there was less acute than it was in Punjab as segments of the Hindu (and Muslim) populations were, in some sense, historically prepared for the realities of the Partition.

In Punjab, there were no significant clashes on the basis of religion prior to 1947 between the Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, the last of whom were not a factor in Bengal. The Hindu community in Punjab were dominated by merchants and lenders with economic ties to the agrarian classes and so were unwilling to relocate, hoping to the last that Partition would be avoided. Sikhs from eastern Punjab were asked in the beginning of the 20th century to settle areas in western Punjab made cultivable by British irrigation works, which they did to great success and prosperity. They too were simply unwilling to now pack their bags and leave and likewise hoped to the last minute that the terms of the boundary award would work out in their favor. Religiously, their holy sites (especially Nankana Sahib) were also at risk of being marooned in separate Muslim and Hindu dominated states. There were also disagreements among the communities over the status of Lahore, the Gurdaspur district, etc.

The British are also partly blame for the acuteness of the Partition violence in Punjab. Mountbatten himself actually postponed the announcement of the Punjab boundary after August 15th (the formal date of independence) even though Cyril Radcliffe was finished with it by August 9th. His reasoning was that

without question, the earlier it was published, the more the British would have to bear the responsibility for the disturbances which would undoubtedly result.
On August 14th, the commander-in-chief of the British Indian army, Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck, observed that

the delay in announcing the award of the Border Commission is having a most disturbing and harmful effect. It is realised of course that the announcement may add fresh fuel to the fire, but lacking the announcement, the wildest rumors are current, and are being spread by mischief makers of whom there is no lack
Even the governor of the then undivided Punjab, Sir Evan Jenkins, requested several times for more troops and a "tactical reconnaissance squadron". However, the protection of British lives was a greater priority than the prevention of potential communal violence as many army units were placed near European settlements rather than for riot control elsewhere. Ironically, Europeans were the safest people on the subcontinent in the wake of the Partition as nobody was interested in attacking them then.

The Punjab Boundary Force, established on August 1st to control communal violence and disbanded only about a month later, was understaffed due to the aforementioned reasons and also ineffective because it had to report to civilian officers in the absence of martial law. Mountbatten was also unwilling to supply it with air cover. Had the boundary award been announced before August 15th and had there been a greater commitment on part of the British to prevent communal violence by redeploying troops prior to the formal transfer of power to the two future dominions, I do believe a decent bit of the violence might have been prevented. Unfortunately, British self-interest combined with the unique communal situation of the region made for a rather volatile situation when the Partition arrived.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist
Aug 2017
204
USA
Yeah, it's quite interesting that nowhere near all Muslims in British India initially supported the idea of Pakistan.
This perhaps isn't so surprising given that unlike the Muslims of India who led the demand for a separate Muslim nation, the Muslims in the areas of future Pakistan already constituted a majority and, accordingly, were more content with the advantages they had under the existing British system as autonomous provinces. This held at least until the political calculus changed in 1945 when the ascendancy of the Labor government raised the eventually of a British withdrawal and discussions then shifted from the provinces to who would control power at the center (Muslims or Hindus).

Where can I read more about Muslim oppression against non-Muslims in India?
Any book on the late Medieval period of Indian history and after will include such instances.

Also, interestingly enough, the Muslim League had no problem proposing that Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab and Bengal should accept to be ruled by Muslims (the ML initially opposed the partition of these two provinces) but at the same time declared that it was completely unacceptable for Muslims to be ruled by Hindus. As I wrote above, Ayesha Jalal argued that the ML wanted a sizable number of Hindus and Sikhs in their new state so that they could be used as hostages to ensure that India's remaining Muslims are going to be treated well. It didn't quite work out that way considering that a lot of Hindus and Sikhs fled Pakistan after partition--with Pakistan losing almost all of its remaining Hindus in 1971 with the secession of Bangladesh.
Yes, the "hostage theory". Even before the 1971 war though, few non-Muslims remained in Pakistan after Partition and those that did remained in the distant East. This was hardly a consolation to those Muslims in India who supported the Muslim League and resided in regions not destined to become a part of future Pakistan. In any case, they simply preferred to migrate. Ultimately, as the subsequent history of the subcontinent has shown, both nations just didn't care enough (to varying degrees) about "hostage" minorities in each other's nations to ensure the proper treatment of domestic minorities.

Yeah, it's certainly very possible. That said, though, here in the US, with the declining white majority, white nationalism appears to have become more rather than less of a political force among white Americans due to them feeling more threatened than they previously did. I wonder if a similar feeling would have existed for Hindus in an unpartitioned India as a result of the Hindu % of the total population in Greater India falling from 75% in 1881 to around 60% in the 21st century.
That is a good point. Sadly, we will never know.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist
Aug 2017
204
USA
The problem was that some supporters of the Pakistan idea might have felt that, rather than only be a homeland for the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, Pakistan should also be an Islamic state. It's similar to the difference between Jewish Israelis who merely want Israel to be a Jewish homeland and those that want it to be governed by Jewish law. As for Jinnah wanting to keep Pakistan's minorities, that might have been in order to use them as "hostages" in order to ensure that India will treat it remaining Muslim population well. Basically, any bad behavior by India towards its remaining Muslims could result in bad behavior by Pakistan towards its Hindus and Sikhs--with the goal of getting India to back off of its bad behavior. Ayesha Jalal wrote about this idea in one of her books about partition.
I think it was probably inevitable that Pakistan would end up an Islamic state simply because it was (largely) founded on the basis of a common faith in the first place.

Why'd Pakistan get such a huge share of the British Indian military?
That is because of the disproportionate amount of manpower certain regions of future-Pakistan contributed to the British Indian army.

If you want a hyper-diverse India, why not also, say, have Britain annex British East Africa to it--as well as have India keep Burma and annex western Thailand and/or (Malaysia + Singapore)? After all, that would create a really diverse India.
I don't want a hyper-diverse India for its own sake. Post-Partition India already has a large amount of diversity. I merely think that with the Muslim dominated regions not excised, the subcontinent might have been better able to nurture its existing diversity, as opposed to the current situation where the subcontinent's two largest religious communities are constantly at war with each other. India annexing/keeping lands outside of its sphere of influence in the subcontinent has no interest for me.

Also, out of curiosity--do you think that it would have also been better for Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and the Soviet Union to have reformed themselves and survived?
This is probably a discussion for another thread.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,739
New Delhi, India
Oh, certainly, Pakistan has a serious problem in the sense that it developed a national identity with an extremely heavy anti-Indian component and not much else. :(
RSS and BJP clearly differentiate between common law-abiding Muslims and the trouble-makers. By now, millions of Muslims are members of BJP, that even in Kashmir.
Ultimately, as the subsequent history of the subcontinent has shown, both nations just didn't care enough (to varying degrees) about "hostage" minorities in each other's nations to ensure the proper treatment of domestic minorities.
There was no option other than war. The Army was still led by British Officers. Those in Pakistan were partial to a fellow Abrahamic religion rather than the Hindus.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist
Aug 2019
46
Mars
RSS and BJP clearly differentiate between common law-abiding Muslims and the trouble-makers. By now, millions of Muslims are members of BJP, that even in Kashmir.
RSS also has a separate muslim branch. I always felt RSS is a nationalistic oraganisation rather than religious one. I think crazies(who were non-RSS) had already been punished by Modi back in 2002. But without clear vision the strength of this organisation is not much useful for the country.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,739
New Delhi, India
You are correct. Being chauvinistic does not help. Accept history for what it is without trying to garnish it. Accept that astrology is a farce and trying to 'protect cows' is an uneconomic step. It will have an exactly opposite effect, people will not rear cows. Government doles do not help, we know very well that only leaders and administrators eat fodder, not the cows and bullocks.'Gaushalas' are not the answer.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist