The Power Of History

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[This blog turns five today. Long post]

High school. History period. Sitting in the front bench a friend said to me, a bit loudly and with barely concealed exasperation “What is the use of this stuff?”  Our history teacher, in an unusually good mood, turned to him and rather than boxing his ears  pointed to the book, ” Everything you see in today’s news has its origins right here. This is also where all today’s news will ultimately land up.”

Jaswant Singh’s new book on Partition and his subsequent expulsion from the party based on what was in the book confirms what our dear history teacher said, so many years ago. As if it ever needed confirming that is.

I should start out by saying I have not read Jaswant Singh’s book. What I say from now on is solely based on his interview with Karan Thapar. In other words his own words. Now I understand what he is saying may be slightly different in tone and in emphasis from what is in the book. However I think that what he says pre-release of the book would be expected to capture accurately the motivations and the thesis behind his work.

First up, what struck me was this. [Link]

Karan Thapar:Let me put it like this. Do you admire Jinnah?

Jaswant Singh:I admire certain aspects of his personality: his determination and the will to rise. He was a self-made man–Mahatma Gandhi was a son of a Dewan

Karan Thapar: Nehru was born to great wealth.

Jaswant Singh: All of them were born to wealth and position, Jinnah created for himself a position. He carved out in Bombay a position in that cosmopolitan city being what he was, poor. He was so poor he had to walk to work. He lived in a hotel called Watsons in Bombay and he told one of the biographers that there’s always room at the top but there is no lift and he never sought a lift.

I interpret this to mean that the “all” refers to Gandhi and Nehru and not Jinnah. I base this on the subsequent sentence when Jaswant Singh says that Jinnah “created his position” (as opposed to Nehru and Gandhi) and uses the word “poor” as an adjective and then emphasizes Jinnah’s poverty as having contributed to his “self-made” aura in that he worked himself up, in contrast to the others who got everything on a platter.

This totally flew in the face of what I knew about Jinnah’s father Jinnahbhai Poonja, that being that he was a rich businessman. How rich was Jinnah’s dad? A page from Pakistan.gov.pk says (it is titled as the official gateway to the government of Pakistan and hence I presume would be authentic and if anything would be expected to magnify Jinnah’s achievements rather than diminish them)

By the early 1880s’ Jinnahbhai Poonja’s trade business had prospered greatly. He handled all sorts of goods: cotton, wool, hides, oil-seeds, and grain for export. Whereas Manchester manufactured piece of goods, metals, refined sugar and used to import into the busy port. Business was good and profits were soaring high…………..

He (MA Jinnah) remained in Bombay for only six months, returned to Karachi upon his mother’s insistence and joined the Sind Madrassa. But his name was struck off as he frequently cut classes in order to ride his father’s horses. He was fascinated by the horses and lured towards them……

Karachi proved more prosperous for young Jinnah than Bombay had been. His father’s business had prospered so much by this time that he had his own stables and carriages. Jinnahbhai Poonja’s firm was closely associated with the leading British managing agency in Karachi, Douglas Graham and Company. Sir Frederick Leigh Croft, the general manager of the company, had a great influence over young Jinnah, which possibly lasted his entire life.

Jinnah looked up to the handsome, well dressed and a successful man. Sir Frederick liked Mamad, recognizing his extreme potential, he offered him an apprenticeship at his office in London. That kind of opportunity was the dream of all young boys of India, but the privilege went to only one in a million. Sir Frederick had truly picked one in a million when he chose Jinnah.

So let’s go over that once again. Jinnah used to bunk classes to ride his father’s horses. His father owned stables and carriages. I dont know about you but that sounds like he was, like Nehru, also born to great wealth and position. Now as to how self-made a man Jinnah was we see that he was picked up and sent to England by a business associate of his father, hardly what you would cite as evidence of “self-made”. It is true that during the later years of his life in England, his family’s business failed and he came back to Bombay which is the phase I presume that Jaswant Singh is referring to. But as you note by this time Jinnah had already had a British legal education, acquired by him on the dint of his family’s riches and position as opposed to any personal struggle—the same as Gandhi and Nehru.

I am not a historian and maybe I am missing some nuance here. Neither is this really that important in the context of the wider picture. But it did make me do a double-take when I read it.

And then things got more interesting.

Jaswant Singh repeats the “Jinnah was a secular man” line we have discussed before here on the blog [Link]. Summing of what I had said before, there is nothing much to debate here. Jinnah, in person, indeed was a secular man who had no truck with Islamic religious zealots and led a life which would shock many Islamic purists. As a matter of fact, he was opposed to Gandhi’s introduction of religion into politics as part of the Khilafat andolan, ironically a pan-Islamic movement. This inherent secularism of Jinnah of course is supposed to be one of the reasons why Jaswant Singh admires him so much. However I would take a contrary position. It was the very fact that Jinnah himself was not a Muslim fanatic that made his adoption of radical Islam and Hindu-hatred such a cynical political gambit, triggered by his own marginalization in 1937 when the League won 4.8% of the Muslim vote getting wiped out in the area now known as Pakistan and the Congress under Nehru rejected his fervent appeal to ally with them, as Jinnah stipulated that the Muslim League be recognized the sole representative of the Muslims in India (yes with 4.8% of the Muslim vote !). It was after this that Jinnah’s rhetoric became stringently anti-Hindu (Jaswant Singh says Jinnah was anti-Congress but not anti-Hindu) culminating in an almost open call to massacre Hindus on Direct Action Day.

So what is Jaswant Singh’s take on Direct Action Day and the Great Calcutta killings?

Karan Thapar: So his problem was with Congress and with some Congress leaders but he had no problem with Hindus.

Jaswant Singh: No, he had no problems whatsoever with the Hindus. Because he was not in that sense, until in the later part of his years, he became exactly what he charged Mahatma Gandhi with. He had charged Mahatma Gandhi of being a demagogue.

Karan Thapar: He became one as well?

Jaswant Singh: That was the most flattering way of emulating Gandhi. I refer of course to the Calcutta killings.

Maybe I am getting this all wrong. But is Mr. Singh trying to say that Jinnah’s becoming a demagogue was his emulation of Gandhi and that his espousal of the Calcutta killings was a concomitant of him reflecting Gandhi’s demagoguery back at him? I hope I am misunderstanding this because otherwise the equivalence between Jinnah and Gandhi’s message  (even his worst critics will never say Gandhi asked people to kill) as manifestations of the same kind of demagoguery is just a bit too much to bear.

Moving on,  let’s look at the foundations behind Jaswant Singh’s assertion that Nehru-Patel-Gandhi and the rest of the Congress leadership were as responsible for Pakistan, if not more, than Jinnah.

The first of course is that old chestnut. Nehru refusing to share power in 1937 , Jinnah’s subsequent violent communalization and Nehru rebuffing attempts to give Jinnah the PM-ship as suggested by Gandhi to assuage the Muslims. First of all, as mentioned before, Jinnah’s demand to be accepted as the sole representative of Muslims with 4.8% of the Muslim vote was laughable. Second of all, Nehru was in his every right to refuse to ally with an opponent he had bested—would Jaswant Singh’s ex-party, the BJP, give Rahul Gandhi the Home Ministership if they came to power with a resounding majority and the Congress reduced to a 4.8% of vote share just for the sake of “national unity”? I think not. And finally considering the charged political atmosphere leading upto independence if Jinnah had been made the PM of an unified India, would Hindus have stood for it? As it is Gandhi and Nehru were being accused of having sold out (and still are) to the Muslim League, ironically by intellectuals of Jaswant Singh’s own party, would not handing the leadership of the country to a person who not so long ago was triggering communal riots be the ultimate act of betrayal for the country’s majority? [ A viewpoint here says that Nehru did not even reject Gandhi’s offer to make Jinnah the PM-ship with any kind of uncompromising virulence ]

The second foundation of his thesis is however the real crackerjack. Its not very original having been a staple of Marxist and some Pakistani academics. Karan Thapar, the interviewer summarizes it. [Link]

The critical question this biography raises is how did the man they called the Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity in 1916 end up as the Quaid-e-Azam of Pakistan in 1947?

The answer: he was pushed by Congress’ repeated inability to accept that Muslims feared domination by Hindus and wanted “space” in “a re-assuring system”. Jaswant Singh’s account of how Congress refused to form a government with the Muslim League in UP in 1937, after fighting the election in alliance, except on terms that would have amounted to it’s dissolution, suggests Jinnah’s fears were real and substantial.

The biography does not depict Jinnah as the only or even the principal force behind Partition. Nehru and Mountbatten share equal responsibility. While the book reveals that Gandhi, Rajagopalachari and Azad understood the Muslim fear of Congress majoritarianism, Nehru could not. If there is a conclusion, it is that had Congress accepted a decentralised, federal India, a united India “was clearly ours to attain”. The problem: “this was an anathema to Nehru’s centralising approach and policies”.

So what Jaswant Singh is saying that all Jinnah wanted was a little “space” and Nehru with his Western European ideal of a “nation state” with strong notions of centralization refused to give him that leeway and this is what led to partition. The logical conclusion that Jaswant Singh makes is that a decentralized federal India based on religion would have been a “solution” (a Pakistan within an India as he says), something that Nehru refused to accept. If only he had.

This I believe raises serious questions. Is Mr Singh’s espousal of denominational decentralization a tacit acceptance of Kashmir’s right to secede from India on the basis of their need for “reassuring space” ? Simultaneously is his criticism of Nehru’s insistence on a strong centralized state based on principles of secularism (as in not a homeland for Hindus or for Muslims but for all peoples) as a West European ideal (he makes the point in his interview) a rejection of the concept of India as it is today?

And thats not all. Jaswant Singh then drives home the fact that it was Jinnah’s fear of Muslim marginalization that has been validated in today’s India, in essence repeating a talking point straight from Pakistan.

Jaswant Singh: Yes, indeed why? I cannot yet find the answer. Look into the eyes of the Muslims who live in India and if you truly see through the pain they live–to which land do they belong?

We treat them as aliens, somewhere inside, because we continue to ask even after Partition you still want something? These are citizens of India–it was Jinnah’s failure because he never advised Muslims who stayed back.

It may be argued, and with some justification, that the Muslims who stayed back in India did not want advise from Jinnah. But Jaswant Singh seems to want us to accept Jinnah’s fundamental claim. That being  that he was the sole representative of South Asian Muslims. And it is because of that that Indian Muslims, treated as aliens inside the land they chose, are still searching for his advise, six decades after he is gone.

There raises another question.  Whose vision was the solution, albeit an imperfect one? Jinnah’s or Nehru’s? What does sixty three years of history tell us ?

First let us look at Jinnah’s “space”—Pakistan, founded on the basis of religion and decentralization. Today it is a rump of a state, torn asunder by internecine feuds within the same religion (even the fact that they are all of the same religion has not solved their problem) with the principal challenge to the existence of Pakistan coming most ironically from the most “decentralized” parts of the country—-the North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. It is these areas which are allowed to have a Jinnah-ian  “state within a state” existence where  tribal laws (essentially no laws) and the writ of tribal leaders ran supreme (till recently since now Taliban calls the shots). The result? This area is one of the most dangerous and the most backward areas of the world.

And then let us look at Nehru’s legacy of the strong centralized nation-state founded on Western ideals and based fundamentally on the equality of all religion. Nehruvianism brought in its wake many problems, many serious problems. People can argue that states should have more power. And that’s a debate for another day.

However there were two things Nehru’s concept of India did. It kept the country united. It made democratic institutions so strong that even Nehru’s daughter could not subvert it.

In conclusion, one can say that India’s emergence as a stable economic and political power over the years  has been  the ultimate historical validation of Nehru’s obstinate non-negotiable insistence on a state founded on secular principles and with a strong central authority, a place where a “Pakistan inside India” idea would not be tolerated.

Given this, blaming Nehru for his vision of India as Jaswant has done (after all he claims that it was Nehru’s vision that alienated Jinnah) is putting the baggage of history on the wrong person’s shoulders.

In the second part of this post (now online here), I hope to cover the BJP reaction (overkill or justified?) and other things.

Keep comments according to TOS. Moderation will be used otherwise.

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138 thoughts on “The Power Of History

  1. Emm, GB dont you mean even Nehru’s daughter couldnt subvert the democratic institutions?

    BTW bravo GB, nice article.

  2. Looking through Wikipedia (so people are free to add info with citation) the one thing one does NOT find in Singh’s bio is any training as a historian. His entire take, apart from the facts that he cites (and I hope he has), is one big IMO. Or IMHO. It is somewhat pointless for him to put this forward, and IMO equally silly to debate it.

  3. Nice article, haven’t been interested in politics in a long time.

    Is Jaswant singh trying to make a quick buck out of this book or aiming at something higher!(somehow reminds me of the SRK post) What good does it do to discuss about what Jinnah did or Nehru did? they are all dead and gone.
    The only thing this book might do is aggravate the hindus, appease muslims or vice versa.
    I agree that history should be used to not repeat any mistakes made by our forefathers, but looking at India today, it looks that we are indeed on the right track.

  4. Akasuna No Sasuri,

    I dont think that you need to be a “historian” to be able to write history. Nehru was a lawyer and not a historian and yet he wrote some of most lucid history books I have read. And Jaswant Singh is no hack. He has been one of the leading lights of the BJP and has been Finance and Foreign Minister. So yes his opinions are definitely worthy of comment and analysis especially when you realize that his opinion on the state of Indian Muslims and the role of Nehru-Gandhi-Patel will be fluttered in the air by our friends across the border and elsewhere as a stinging indictment on the Indian state and Indian “heroes” from a right-wing Hindu ex-Foreign/Finance Minister.

  5. From the link about the 1937 elections, I still see that Muslim League received massive support in United Provinces (present day Uttar Pradesh) and Bombay (present day Maharashtra and Gujarat). It looks like the Muslim League’s contemporary avatars (the Ulema Council, the Abu Asim Azmis, the Mukhtar Ansaris) in the same regions are thriving once again.

    If I may, I would like to comment on the manner in which the Muslim League became widely acceptable and how League’s electoral support grew from 4.8% to 89.2% of Muslim votes within a short span of 9 years.

    After its 1940 Lahore Conference (where the Muslim League reiterated its commitment to create an independent Muslim state called Pakistan, including all of Bengal, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Sindh, NWFP and Assam), the Muslim League gained massive strength in Bengal and other parts of undivided India.

    The Muslim league was also quite popular in pockets of the Madras Presidency (much of southern India).

    In the Indian Constituent Assembly elections of 1946, the League won 425 out of 496 seats reserved for Muslims (and about 89.2% of Muslim votes) on a policy of creating an independent state of Pakistan, and with an implied threat of secession if this was not granted.

    In 1946, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy (born to a prominent family in Midnapore) established and headed a Muslim League government in Bengal. It was the only Muslim League government in India at that time.

    Under Suhrawardy’s direction, the Bengal Government declared August 16, 1946 to be a public holiday to celebrate the Direct Action Day called by Jinnah to protest against the Cabinet Mission plan for the independence of India.

    Suhrawardy’s government freely provided weapons, petrol and financial support to Muslim League mobs who attacked Hindus en masse to press their demand for Pakistan. The intensity of Direct Action Day was at its worst in the capital Calcutta. There was also a whole-scale genocide of Bengali Hindus in the Noakhali district.

    Suhrawardy orchestrated the anti-Hindu pogroms and suppressed the news of the same from the media. The physical and emotional scars of Direct Action Day linger among millions of Bengalis even today.

  6. Happy Birthday!!! n many wishes for many more to come!!!
    Super read! By Nehru’s grand daughter u meant Indira G / ?? a bit confused there

  7. One has to remember the role of Allama Iqbal in ideologically influencing M.A Jinnah, on how to be a good Muslim, after 1920.

    Going by what Jaswant is saying, it seems he has little understanding of the pshyche of South Asia, in the 1920s-40s.

  8. It has become a rule of a thumb these days that to sell a book like hot cakes don’t make the cake out of eggs but rather throw eggs at people who are usually revered by the multitude in general(Aussies throwing eggs at SRT in their autobiographies and now Jaswant following suit by insulting the loh-purush)

    So my suggestion to you Arnab is (in case you havent done this already), go and postpone the publication of your book “May I hebb your…” to make certain edits which include mudslingings at the one and only Prabhuji. That would certainly be a deviation from your blogging idealogies and more of your blog followers will surely buy the book 😛

  9. Ameya,

    I would not compare this with SRK or John Buchanan. The tone, tenor and the nature of what is being said is much more serious. There is conviction here (misplaced I would say) and perhaps many other factors at work. But a sales-driven desire for publicity is not one of them.

  10. Well, if there is conviction then he has the right to say what he feels since we are supposed to be an open society with the freedom to author.

  11. Tejaswy,

    A quick question back at you.

    Have you read these lines in my post?

    I should start out by saying I have not read Jaswant Singh’s book. What I say from now on is solely based on his interview with Karan Thapar. In other words his own words. Now I understand what he is saying may be slightly different in tone and in emphasis from what is in the book. However I think that what he says pre-release of the book would be expected to capture accurately the motivations and the thesis behind his work.

    Some parts of the above lines were similarly emphasized in bold just so that people would focus attention on them.

  12. what i am completely flummoxed by in this episode and the advani fiasco earlier is the sudden fascination for jinnah among right wing leaders in india. Is it because jinnah’s sectarian and communal politics is academically appealing to hindutva leaders. its arguable that jinnah’s pollitics was more successful than hindu right wing politics has ever been.
    its strange that jaswant chooses to praise jinnah by calling him a secular person. wasnt jaswant singh, till very recently, part of a party which dismissed secularism as pseudo secularism and secularist policies as appeasement. Perhaps jinnah’s brand of ‘secularism’ is what is espoused by the rightwing intellectuals as the kind of secularism closest to their heart.

  13. Having a decentralised, federal India, was not a bad dream at all, we currently have the same. Have we forgotton what happened to people from some parts of India in Mumbai last year??? We are actually multiple small states binded by loose federal structure.

    [edited by GB: hate-bait]

    From whatever I have read and heard about M.A. Jinna, he looked to me quite OK kind of guy (not secular), but his thrist of power proved too much and a new country was born.

  14. Isn’t it time when people should be judged by what they achieved rather than what they were or what they intended to be? The real motive or circumstances under which Jinnah operated are immaterial now. With such logic even Hitler, or to that extent, Osama-bin-laden are determined,self made man.
    Jinnah ruined his principal constituency- Muslim of this subcontinent- by making them a minority in one strong nation,India, and majority in two weak nations,Pakistan and Bangladesh. Isn’t it a fact that Jinnah’s demons- no matter what jaswant says,Hindus are the biggest beneficiary of partition? If partition were such a bad thing, why nobody, in this side of the border, wants a unification of this subcontinent again?
    I get really pissed off when people give any ridiculous argument to prove their point against Gandhi and Nehru. Even if that comes from the best minister of Atal Bihari Govt.

  15. gr8bong, a very good post. your humor and sarcastic post are fine but you really excel when writing (non-humor) on politics and cricket.

  16. awesome post man…Provided a hell lot of insight into this raging issue…
    I wonder why the BJP leaders are so obsessed with such [edited by GB: let’s not get abusive, even creatively] as Jinnah…!

  17. I don’t know how to say this and express what i am feeling about this whole issue but what i feel is Jaswant Singh’s heart was at the right place when he wrote this book.
    About his comments that Jinnah was self made, I think (though it can be confirmed only after reading the book which I have still not) Singh is comparing though his choice of words is wrong when he says that he was not BORN in a wealthy family …. it should be he struggled more.

    Your interpretation that Jinnah being a secular but then using Muslims votes as a political gambit is I think correct….. jinnah’s desire for power probably led to partition. But I think so did Nehru’s .. though I cannot say that about Sardar.

    Though I agree with you that Pakistan still has troubles though being an all Muslim country and there are fights n troubles even within Muslims but still I think a Federal India with decentralised power would have been better, governance wise, economics wise. States like Arunachal, etc wouldn’t have felt neglected, more competition amongst states would have helped create better living environment rather then having centrally run SOCIAL schemes like which NEVER benefits the actual people but gets eaten up by our so called system. And with so much efforts that we are right now spending on the tussle with Pakistan and Bangladesh .. all these efforts could have been utilized for our country’s progress.
    Whats the use of such a democracy if its not truly LIBERAL? Democracy which is run by one family for last 60 years? Democracy which is so fragile that religious sentiments can be easily flamed by a few people. Democracy where poor are still not getting their due, where small traders, hawkers are still harassed by police, corruption is an accepted practice, where if the economic compulsions would have not forced then the License RAJ would have still been prevalent.

  18. The more I read this, I fear the impact this book will have on people like me .. who didn’t really pay attention during history class… thanks for your write up to provide some perspective on what seems to be carelessly penned down by Singh. So he is now expelled from BJP http://in.news.yahoo.com/43/20090819/818/tnl-two-days-after-jinnah-book-jaswant-e.html, what good does that do ? Being expelled from a political party… not sure if that’s suppose to make people feel better. I guess this is the beauty of freedom of speech.. people can publish what they wish… but it’s the reader’s responsibility to equip themselves with perspectives before surrendering our own opinions…. and if we are lucky we’ll find the honest and accurate sources…

  19. Idris wrote:
    “Your interpretation that Jinnah being a secular but then using Muslims votes as a political gambit is I think correct….. jinnah’s desire for power probably led to partition”.

    Rishi Khujur:
    Jinnah WAS a secular man in the early 1920s.
    He was heavily influenced by Alamma Iqbal (who was a honest believer in Islam) and his transformation can be seen over the next 3 decades.

    The more Jinnah got influenced by Islam the more he realized the need for Pakistan.

    Idris wrote:
    Though I agree with you that Pakistan still has troubles though being an all Muslim country and there are fights n troubles even within Muslims….

    Rishi Khujur:
    Pakistan is a Muslim country which is trying to be MORE Muslim.
    The issue there is not whether Muslims are fighting amongst themselves, the issue is that the average Amir is fighting to
    prove that he is more MUSLIM than the Salman next door.

    I would like to ask you a question?
    What is that keeps India, as a united single country, so far?

  20. Bravo GB. Great article and again hats off to the links you have provided.

    One of my biggest dreams is to buy all history books taught in Pakistan…right from medieval to the recent past..I cannot picturize a freedom movement without the mention of Gandhi Nehru or our leaders, would be a great experience reading how they interpret the history of the sub-continent…

  21. Ahoy GB , Kickass as usual . I have a feeling that a seasoned politician like Jaswant jee wouldn’t publish a book without any rhyme or reason , given his association with the BJP , being the Bajrang Bali of it and what not . Do you think he is going to pull a Kalyan Singh here ? Should we be ready for him to announce that he is undergoing de-saffronization , and will be donning the “secular” robes of Congress shortly ?

    Or , Theory II . He knows he is old , may be he is bored as well . And the BJP is not exactly in the pink of the health . So this book could be his way of going out with a bang . You know , no publicity is bad publicity .

    What say , eh ?

  22. !!.. I never knew you had such a sound historians and critical political surgeons head over your super humorous shoulders. I am quite surprised by the way you have placed your points and no doubt you have made better points than any of the acclaimed critics flashing their faces on the TV or writing their minds out in newspapers on this topic currently.

    I had very similar feelings about the whole issue. I explained to myself , that Mr. Singh has fallen into an age trap. He was just 9 yr old kid when India partitioned and probably did not see anything at all about partition.Yet he is now an old politician from whom it is kind of expected that he/she will say a few words on partisan. This is the age trap. The current generation of old politicians are all caught into this age trap and each of their comments on partition and freedom struggle will be second hand. The next generation of politicians will then be out of this trap as they will happily say that we were not even born when that happened and thus have no view on it. Sad but true, we have very few people left of that stature who can actually speak of the partition from their own experience.

  23. I missed out that line.My bad.

    The truth is that there are many conflicting reports about Jinnah
    During the final period of his stay in England, Jinnah came under considerable pressure to return home when his father’s business was ruined. Settling in Bombay, he became a successful lawyer—gaining particular fame for his skilled handling of the “Caucus Case”. ”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Ali_Jinnah#Early_life
    May be this was what Jaswat was referring too when he said Jinnah being a self made man.
    One can only tell after reading the book.

  24. @Tejaswy,

    Again please do read my post. This is what I said.

    It is true that during the later years of his life in England, his family’s business failed and he came back to Bombay which is the phase I presume that Jaswant Singh is referring to. But as you note by this time Jinnah had already had a British legal education, acquired by him on the dint of his family’s riches and position as opposed to any personal struggle—the same as Gandhi and Nehru.

    In summary: Jinnah definitely did not drag himself out of poverty as he already had a privileged educational background.

  25. Arnab,
    Brilliant piece..I’ve been reading your blog for the last 4 years or so, rarely (if at all) commenting here. And i think this is one of your best – pbbly the best – of your posts. Nice research.

    Arun

  26. Let me repeat what others have said. This is a brilliant and insightful analysis and I only wish this would get mainstream media attention.

    Tejaswy seems to have this pre-determined agenda to carp at your post. So she reads one line and rushes down to comment trying to prove you wrong. Then you quote the next line where you have handled exactly the point she raises. Considering how big the piece is, I am looking forward to many “I could not be bothered to read but let me comment to show I disagre” comments from Tejaswy and GB’s “Please read the post” replies.

    So much fun.

  27. GB,

    Just one gripe ! How come there aren’t any usual photographs to accompany this wonderful piece? 🙂

    I suggest two juxtaposed photographs of English actor Christopher Lee in the two identical roles of his career: Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Count Dracula…lol…j/k 😉

  28. Good one and well articulated. I think Jaswant Singh has lost it. As they say..’Budhau sathiya gaya hai”

    Although I would have to disagree on your take on Nehru. Nehru or no Nehru India would always have been secular. It’s inherently secular.

    What this ‘chachaji’ did 65 years ago, we are still a very heavy paying for it. And how!

  29. Here’s the inside scoop (if certain media outlets are to believed):

    * If Jaswant Singh was walking the line by praising Jinnah, he certainly crossed it by holding Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, responsible for the Partition while absolving Jinnah.

    * By criticising Patel and praising Jinnah in his book, Jaswant cooked his own goose and was expelled from the BJP immediately.

    * By expelling him, the BJP wants to send out a strong message that it will not dilute its Hindu Nationalist ideology to appease certain vote-banks.

  30. “He was so poor he had to walk to work.”

    Either jaswant doesn’t have an internet ready computer at home or is too lazy to google and get his facts right before spewing something as dumb as this.

  31. IMHO you should have read the book before commenting. I know that you would say that you have put a disclaimer but it doesnt serve any purpose.
    The truth as it is very fragile and its certainly not helped by lazy analysis which you have put forward through some internet links or from long forgotten history books.
    I dont have much of a handle on the history of that era and niether do I suspect have the majority of your readers. So i guess your analysis would seem very brilliant to them and also very convenient as they would get their so-called facts in one blog post ( without taking the trouble to read the book) which they can quote the next time they have a dinner convo on it.
    I would have loved if you would have read the book and commented on it then. But then I guess the issue would have died down by then and wouldnt have gone down well with your readers who demand your blog to be in-line with the Topic of the day.

    PS: Sorry if I am offending you and your readers but the demand and the subsequent supply of instant, ready to cook analysis really irritates me.

    PPS: On the subject of the blog I dont have much knowledge and maybe your knowledge of history is more than what I give you credit for but I would love to hear your opinion after you have read the book. I would be waiting for that!!

  32. I have not seen Jaswant Singh’s interview with Karan Thapar. But based on Mumbai Mirror’s take on the book (it appears the reporter has read it) and the extracts posted, there seems to be some disconnect. I think it is difficult to take a call before actually reading the book although I agree some of those statements on television appear strange.

    FWIW

    The extracts are here:

    http://www.mumbaimirror.com/article/2/2009082020090820022529375b780b61e/India-should-have-given-more-to-Pakistan-at-Partition.html?pageno=1

    And the Mirror article is here:

    http://www.mumbaimirror.com/index.aspx?Page=article&sectname=News%20-%20Cover%20Story&sectid=15&contentid=200908202009082004023415fa5a68f8

  33. Mr Singh belongs to the royalty of Rajasthan who held huge properties which was taken away by congress over a period of two decades after independence. He has a grudge against the “socialist” congress, and probably admires Jinnah because Pakistan is still a feudal state where Muslim League (a party of landlords) never did any land reforms what so ever.

    Heh he sounds more like the intellectual version of duki bana from Gulaal.

  34. @ Contra

    GB has commented on JS’s views as provided in the interview. Perhaps JS’s views on Jinnah will turn out to be entirely opposite once one reads his book !! However, his interview still stands. GB tries to correct the basic premise of JS’s arguments as provided in the interview. Else lazy people with not too much of a handle on history might quote JS’s views in dinner convo as an unvarnished truth. No offence – really.

    So qui bono? Well JS really profits from the fracas, apparently pakistanis are going to buy that book in large numbers – might even outsell Mushy’s ‘In the Line of the Liar’ (though I doubt it, considering he suppossedly made the govt of pak buy a copy for each employee).

  35. This, for instance, is what he has to say about Jinnah’s Pakistan demand – dont see much wrong in there

    “Mohammed Ali Jinnah was, to my mind, fundamentally in error proposing ‘Muslims as a separate nation’, which is why he was so profoundly wrong when he simultaneously spoke of ‘lasting peace, amity and accord with India after the emergence of Pakistan’; that simply could not be. Perhaps, late General Zia-ul-Haq was nearer reality, when asked as to why ‘Pakistan cultivated and maintained this policy of so much induced hostility towards India?’, he replied (some say apocryphally, but tellingly) that, ‘Turkey or Egypt, if they stop being aggressively Muslim, they will remain exactly what they are – Turkey or Egypt. But if Pakistan does not become and remain aggressively Islamic it will become India again. Amity with India will mean getting swamped by this all enveloping embrace of India.’ This worry has haunted the psyche of all the leaders of Pakistan since 1947.”

  36. Jinnah owned over 200 hand-tailored suits which he wore with heavily starched shirts with detachable collars. It is also alleged that he never wore the same silk tie twice. I wonder how he was a poor man..

  37. First of all, kudos GB on an excellent piece.

    Couple of points:
    [before that a disclaimer – I too have not read the book and I haven’t even read the interview you linked to. I am just going by your excerpts]
    On the demagogue bit, I think you are misinterpreting Jaswant Singh. He seems to be saying that Jinnah later became what he had accused Gandhi of – being a demagogue – but I don’t think he is drawing any equivalence between the two. It is not necessary that their demagoguery were of similar level or aimed at achieving similar results.

    On the last point – whose vision was the solution, Jinnah’s or Nehru’s. There is no doubt that Nehru’s vision succeeded in laying a strong foundation for India to become what it has today. But I think Singh’s point is that Jinnah’s original vision wasn’t what it finally turned out to be. So we cannot say based on the relative standing of the two countries today that Nehru was right and Jinnah was wrong. What he seems to be saying is, if Nehru had accommodated Jinnah, had provided that “reassuring space” to the Muslims (need not be a separate geographical area within the subcontinent, but maybe a proportional representation system or just that power sharing in UP in 1937) then the history of the subcontinent might have been different. We may have avoided partition and lots of other unpleasant events over the last six decades. Of course, it can be argued that that’s just a Utopian dream, the Mullahs would never have allowed it to happen, even if Jinnah were placated, someone else would have asked for something more, etc. But I think Singh is just asking “what if”.

  38. Here is another interesting extract from the book (from the Mirror link), where he talks about how Jinnah “expressed fear of the “Hindu Raj” to frighten Muslims into joining the League”. Jaswant Singh actually calls it for what it was (or what he saw it as) – use of religion as a tool to gain his political objective. I really fail to see anything wrong in holding such an opinion.

    GB – Sorry for cluttering the comments section with all these extracts – if you think its gone overboard, let me know.

    “Towards the end (1940-47) Jinnah was both a self-avowed and the actual political leader of almost the entire Muslim community of undivided India. He had started his political life as an early champion of Hindu-Muslim unity, along with the total commitment to the cause of freedom from the British. During that period he stood unambiguously for a united India; yet when he sought a Muslim ‘nation’, that was through partition, a division, and only in terms of a separation from India, whether internal or external, but as a separate entity. M.R.A. Baig, for some years Jinnah’s secretary, has written in Jinnah: ‘Islam, as such, came very little into his thinking, and if asked how a mere belief in a common faith’, by people of essentially the same ethnic stock could make a nation, he always gave the example of ‘Americans [having proven] that nationalism was purely subjective. If the Muslims thought themselves a nation, [well then] they were a nation, and that was all there was to it’. This was not just a lawyer’s argument, it was Jinnah’s assertion of his belief in the ‘power of faith, which he held to be the foundation of nationhood’. Even though this kind of reasoning remains riddled with infirmities, for Jinnah this was the needed and the only philosophical (at least so it sounded) platform, a kind of a much needed ideological ‘cap’, wearing which an idea [such as this] could be pushed. His opposition was not against the Hindus or Hinduism, it was Congress that he considered as the true political rival of the Muslim League, and the League he considered as being just an ‘extension of himself’. He, of course, made much of the Hindu-Muslim riots (1946; Bengal, Bihar, etc.) to ‘prove the incapacity of Congress Governments to protect Muslims; and also expressed fear of the “Hindu Raj” to frighten Muslims into joining the League, but during innumerable conversations with him I can rarely recall him attacking Hindus or Hinduism as such. His opposition, which later developed into almost hatred, remained focussed upon the Congress leadership’.

    The Muslim community for Jinnah became an electoral body; his call for a Muslim nation in his political platform; the battles he fought were entirely political – between the Muslim League and the Congress; Pakistan was his political demand over which he and the Muslim League could rule. Religion in all this was entirely incidental; Pakistan alone gave him all that his personality and character demanded. If Mr. Jinnah was necessary for achieving Pakistan, Pakistan too was necessary for the fulfilment of Mr. Jinnah.”

  39. @Haha,

    ““Mohammed Ali Jinnah was, to my mind, fundamentally in error proposing ‘Muslims as a separate nation’, which is why he was so profoundly wrong when he simultaneously spoke of ‘lasting peace, amity and accord with India after the emergence of Pakistan’;”

    The point I feel here is subtle. What JS is saying is that given the nature of what transpired post 1937 and Jinnah’s Direct Action Day, it would be impossible for Pakistan to exist as a secular nation [“”where Hindus cease to be Hindus and Muslims cease to be Muslims” —I suppose the first part is true in Pakistan and not the second]. That is true.

    However where JS supports Jinnah is the demand for denominational autonomy inside India (not a separate nation but a separate “space” for Muslims) Not only is this a vague and practically unrealizable ideal, something close to this has been tried in FATA and its consequences are for all to see.

    Again I was going to put this in my followup but what is essentially driving JS is the fate of the princely states (the fate of which he was personally invested in) in the face of Nehru’s strong belief in centralization. This is where the anger comes from and in order to support the thesis that there could have been “states within states” JS puts his flag in Jinnah’s camp since a similar idea was once articulated by Jinnah.

  40. @ Mohan,

    I wonder if you have read Dr. Ambedkar’s – Pakistan or the Partition of India. It is one of the most brilliantly articulated case for pakistan and stunningly prescient. These are the questions he posed in his book (written in 1942).

    http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/ambedkar_partition/index.html

    To help them in their task it might be well to set out the issues. On the pleadings the following issues seem to be necessary issues:

    (1) Is Hindu-Muslim unity necessary for India’s political advancement? If necessary, is it still possible of realization, notwithstanding the new ideology of the Hindus and the Muslims being two different nations?
    (2) If Hindu-Muslim unity is possible, should it be reached by appeasement or by settlement?

    (3) If it is to be achieved by appeasement, what are the new concessions that can be offered to the Muslims to obtain their willing co-operation, without prejudice to other interests?

    (4) If it is to be achieved by a settlement, what are the terms of that settlement? If there are only two alternatives, (i) Division of India into Pakistan and Hindustan, or (ii) Fifty-fifty share in Legislature, Executive, and the Services, which alternative is preferable?

    (5) Whether India, if she remained [=remains] one integral whole, can rely upon both Hindus and Musalmans to defend her independence, assuming it is won from the British?

    (6) Having regard to the prevailing antagonism between Hindus and Musalmans, and having regard to the new ideology demarcating them as two distinct nations and postulating an opposition in their ultimate destinies, whether a single constitution for these two nations can be built, in the hope that they will show an intention to work it and not to stop it.

    (7) On the assumption that the two-nation theory has come to stay, will not India as one single unit become an incoherent body without organic unity, incapable of developing into a strong united nation bound by a common faith in a common destiny, and therefore likely to remain a feebler and sickly country, easy to be kept in perpetual subjection either of [=to] the British or of [=to] any other foreign power?

    (8) If India cannot be one united country, is it not better that Indians should help India in the peaceful dissolution of this incoherent whole into its natural parts, namely, Pakistan and Hindustan?

    (9) Whether it is not better to provide for the growth of two independent and separate nations, a Muslim nation inhabiting Pakistan and a Hindu nation inhabiting Hindustan, than [to] pursue the vain attempt to keep India as one undivided country in the false hope that Hindus and Muslims will some day be one and occupy it as the members of one nation and sons of one motherland?

  41. Thank you for the history lesson. At times, people think the world is a moron and they’ll take whatever you say at face value. Especially when you’re an unknown un-celebrity like Jaswant…

    I think all this controversy might just increase the sale of his book from 100 to maybe 150.

    I’m more interested in the BJP reaction…

  42. Ok completed the post now… and you know I think In Hindsight, especially now seeing the situation of both the countries, you’d be more intelligent about who was right and whose policies were better but Jaswant Singh seems to be blind. How could he even argue that Jinnah’s policies about decentralisation were better or worth even considering, especially when you’ve seen the future.

  43. Great post, GB.

    The ease with which you are able to switch from Rakhi Ka Swayamvar to The Power of History still surprises me.

    Reading the comments I feel that a lot of our consternation is to do with seeing things in black or white all the time. Our epics are black or white – Ramayan and Mahabharat, our historical figures are black or white – Jinnah, Patel, Nehru, Gandhi. Somehow shades of gray are not a part of the mainstream discourse.

    Some of the things mentioned by Jaswant Singh may be stretching the truth or figments of his imagination. Though I can not think of any ulterior motive he may have had in it. It is a scholarly work and he is entitled to his mistakes in this work. GB and others are entitled to point them out.

    We will never know the impact of ‘Jinnah The Secular’ or Jinnah The Nation Builder’ because he passed away too soon after the partition. He hardly had any impact on the shape Pakistan took after independence (ditto for Gandhi).

    The biggest what if would be – ‘what if the partition had not happened?’

    If you look at the history of AfPak for the last 60 years I am not sure if we would have been better off if Jinnah had got what he wanted. Some of the problems we face today would not exist but others would. I may not want to thank him for dividing the country but I would certainly hold back the brickbats.

    Was Jinnah good or bad? Did he hate the Congress or the Hindus? I don’t know. Today, I don’t even care if he did. Honestly, it would not make me froth if it is proved that Gandhi-Nehru-Patel handed Pakistan on a platter to Jinnah. It was a tough negotiation and all players did what they thought was best. Armchair critics can say what they want.

    Nehru did have a role in building the institutions of modern India. Surely some of his actions have left us in despair today but then that is what you get with all leaders. His legacy is more positive than negative. He is Chacha Nehru. It would not be wrong if he was called Tau Nehru instead :). His achievements justify the moniker.

    Sardar Patel was a person who pulled the country together during tough times. He earned the title of Lauh Purush (unlike his poor cardboard copy that was spray painted a metallic steel gray). However, he need not be made into a fictional Maryada Purushottam. Let us not tie ourselves in knots explaining everything he did. He too leaves a legacy a lot more positive than negative. Great. That is why we like him so much.

    What is more relevant to me is that my only choice for a vote in the next election is disappearing. We are back to the single party rule and the TINA factor, it seems. I look forward to GB’s next post for a more relevant discussion on things that matter to the current times.

  44. neither am i a history student nor am i a keen follower of politics …but enjoyed this particular piece of writing…..i was just wondering if it was indeed impossible to have ‘space’ for all within a ‘socialist’ state with a ‘centralized’ authority….ussr emerged from the shadows of czarist imperialism which relied heavily on a feudal system(which i’m sure would have been much worse and repressive as compared to our zamindars or the landlords of NWFS)…..ussr comprised of people who were different in terms of the languages they spoke in , the cultural aspects of everyday life and of course their religious beliefs(exactly like the situation in the indian subcontinent) ……but still russian sfsr co-existed with turkmen ssr …..so what stopped our leaders from embracing the same structure……different political units with local governments but represented as an union at the world stage……bowing down to right-wing fascism wasn’t a right move

  45. GB, you have said it a couple of times, I think:

    “However where JS supports Jinnah is the demand for denominational autonomy inside India (not a separate nation but a separate “space” for Muslims) Not only is this a vague and practically unrealizable ideal, something close to this has been tried in FATA and its consequences are for all to see.”

    I am not sure if FATA is the correct example. I can’t think of any system of governance that would bind FATA (or discipline it) to any country other than to just let them be. Such tricks as state within a state should have been tried on a ‘different set of people’.

    This is not the example to justify junking this theory.

  46. Arnab, A nice article after many days..Ya liked this one more than ur any movie review or SRK RND..:)

    This article was really informative..and after watching all recent interviews I also searched about JS’s backgorund,BJP’s approach and ya Jinnah..
    The link of a TOI blog (which someone has mentioned already) states Tarun Vijay’s RSS kinda remark abt Calcutta killings..What caught my attention was a comment there stating Nathuram Godsay, was a memebr of the Hindu Mahasabha, and he used the pistol..I surely did not know this history.

    Your findings abt Jinnah’s early life are absolutely correct.After hearing JS in the interview I too searched on the net(the only source since I do not have nay history background) and found the smae details.
    Is JS mad?NO? Is it a publicity gaining strategy?God knows.

    Waiting for your second article.

  47. Whateever might have happened before partition..I am happy to see this India ..
    “First let us look at Jinnah’s “space”—Pakistan, founded on the basis of religion and decentralization. Today it is a rump of a state, torn asunder by internecine feuds within the same religion (even the fact that they are all of the same religion has not solved their problem) with the principal challenge to the existence of Pakistan coming most ironically from the most “decentralized” parts of the country—-the North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. It is these areas which are allowed to have a Jinnah-ian “state within a state” existence where tribal laws (essentially no laws) and the writ of tribal leaders ran supreme (till recently since now Taliban calls the shots). The result? This area is one of the most dangerous and the most backward areas of the world.

    And then let us look at Nehru’s legacy of the strong centralized nation-state founded on Western ideals and based fundamentally on the equality of all religion. Nehruvianism brought in its wake many problems, many serious problems. People can argue that states should have more power. And that’s a debate for another day.

    However there were two things Nehru’s concept of India did. It kept the country united. It made democratic institutions so strong that even Nehru’s daughter could not subvert it.

    In conclusion, one can say that India’s emergence as a stable economic and political power over the years has been the ultimate historical validation of Nehru’s obstinate non-negotiable insistence on a state founded on secular principles and with a strong central authority, a place where a “Pakistan inside India” idea would not be tolerated.

    Given this, blaming Nehru for his vision of India as Jaswant has done (after all he claims that it was Nehru’s vision that alienated Jinnah) is putting the baggage of history on the wrong person’s shoulders.

    SO true Arnab..
    Having Pakistan withing India India would have become another Bangladesh.
    And How can JS make this comment ?”I cannot yet find the answer. Look into the eyes of the Muslims who live in India and if you truly see through the pain they live–to which land do they belong?

    We treat them as aliens”–Are they aliens..at leats their increasing population in this country dont say so.

  48. I agree that I would love to read your view after you read the full book. Not saying that you are wrong to dissect Jaswant Singh’s interview mind. If you have the patience and the enthusiasm to go through the book, please post your additional thoughts or email them to me.

    This is a quality post. I see no mistakes except some one can make a subjective assessment and disagree on the demagogue issue.

    Was Jaswant right in making the speech? Of course he was as this is free India and every one is right to say what he feels but then you have to also pay for it with the consequences. I am not talking about expelling from the party – that is some thing up for debate and I would love to hear your view on that in the next post. But then Singh is also liable for the speeches he makes as people like you and me have every right to dissect these speeches and form our own opinions.

    I don’t know what Singh has planned next, if he has any thing that is but it is always interesting that debate is created over issues like this as it helps clear things.

  49. Another pointless public debate on insignificant details and superfluous matters which have little or no relevance in understanding the hows and whys of the partition of India. Whether Jinn-ah was a secular, pseudo-secular or a communalist doesn’t really matter and worse, it distracts us from apprehending the real truth about the partition and its principal architects. India and Pakistan are like the two proverbial cats perennially at loggerheads, arguing and fighting over trivialities, while the monkey who set the cats fighting is perched on a treetop absolved of any blame for his dastardly role.

    As far as Jaswant Singh, he is a pompous asshole (and of course so is advani) possibly on the payroll of his colonial masters who were also the puppet-masters of the man he admires so much. There is so much evidence to suggest that Jinn-ah was agent of the empire. Almost every act of his was backed by his british masters. The Calcutta killings were also a well-planned collaboration between Jinnah & the British rulers. Why did Bengal governor approved a holiday for all policemen on direct action day? Why were rioting and killing allowed to continue for three days? A non-entity, he was set up by the British and used by them to achieve their end of dividing India.

    http://mostaqueali.blogspot.com/2009/02/was-jinnah-british-raj-agent.html

  50. It is debatable whether the ‘India of Nehru’s vision’ has proved a better model than a federal set up with (some) major provinces enjoying autonomy. Pakistan’s problems in the North West stem from other issues as well, not just the impracticality of a decentralised state. On the other hand, India may be in better shape apparently, but there is no reason to be smug about how better it is – there are large tracts where the writ of the state does not run.

    It is also obvious that Congress has a vested interested in preserving the Nehruvian sacred cow and Jinnah is a very convenient scapegoat – perhaps not entirely undeservedly. It is in their interest (and that of secularists, who can point to the devil and move on) to maintain the myth, which makes me want to take a deeper look at the whole thing instead of dismissing Singh (this is intended for some commenters) without finding out more, much more. And why should Sardar Patel be beyond historical examination, if the idea is an (relatively) objective analysis?

  51. Dear GB, Great clarity of thought, as usual.
    Some points I would like to make as you might add more clarity them. Jinnah had announced his retirement from politics in June 1947, after making Pakistan a reality for the Indian Muslim League. Nawab Hamidullah Khan was the Muslim League’s favored candidate as the premier of Pakistan. Jinnah had decided to retire to Jinnah House (Bombay, India!). However some family matters (or was it insecurity?) kept Hamidullah from taking over the responsibility.
    It would be interesting to know yours and others views on this, as well as your next post on the present charade.

  52. Due to the expulsion controversy, Jassi’s book is selling like hot cakes in India.

    http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_jaswant-s-banned-in-gujarat-book-selling-like-hot-cakes_1284114

    By the time this controversy is over, I hope Jassi has a nice nest-egg for retirement (from book sales), given that his political career is over.

    I always thought Jassi’s decision to support the Gorkhaland issue was not feasible. Jassi may have realized the reality of the situation and that he may be unable to get re-elected from Darjeeling if he does not deliver to the Gorkhas.

    Hence the controversial book with an expectant promise of expulsion and concomitant publicity.

  53. @Mohan,

    I second your point.. The difference between Nehru and Jinnah was that Nehru was alive to “implement” his dream almost like a supreme authority for over a decade, where as Jinnah died soon after.

    @GB,
    I might be talking without having full information here, but can I draw an analogy of “not finding space in congress leadership” that Jinnah had complained of with that of Subhash Chandra Bose…. Ironically he belonged to the same religion so he had to go to Germany..

  54. For readers interested in this period and its political dynamics …… here’s a book I reco – “Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire” by Alex Von Tunzelmann

  55. ”Our epics are black or white – Ramayan and Mahabharat”

    Dear Alpha Q, you clearly have not read Mahabharat. I highly recommend you do. And yeah, read as in read it and not watch B R Chopra’s televised nonsense!

  56. Pingback: Debating Jaswant Singh | DesiPundit

  57. @ Arnie Thanks for the link.
    @GB I agree with your viewpoints of this post. Writing history without compromising the objectivity of the facts is the most difficult job. You have done this with great sensitivity. I am more interested in your next post. Thats the real issue and probably best reflects the maturity of India as a democracy.

  58. Dear Bengali Boy,

    Please stop trying to diss Amit Varma at every opportunity and get over your fan fervour for Greatbong. Greatbong is a decent blogger but in no way is he even close to Amit in his humor, logic, originality, capability for analysis and wisdom. So trying to bring Amit down just confirms what a big loser this blog is and its readers.

    Amit is one of the most influential people in India according to Businessweek. He is the winner of international prizes. He is a published novelist. He has been asked to write a section on blog-writing by Penguin along with other leading lights. He has written for the Mint, Guardian and several other quality places. Tell me has Greatbong here ever come close?

    If you read this post, you will realize that Amit Varma does not even consider Greatbong to be a blogger worth mentioning (http://indiauncut.com/iublog/article/blogging-tips-from-a-jaded-veteran/) in his list of India’s best bloggers.

    As I said this blogger is decent though to be honest he has an intellectual level suitable for Mithun Chakraborty and Gunda and others. This may be tough for his readers to accept but that is the truth. So stop hating people and recognize true quality.

  59. @ not impressed
    I read different kind of blogs and like quality writing. I am a general reader not a fan of any particular blogger. So with absolute neutrality I request you to stop spreading hatred by writing phrases like this” …he has an intellectual level suitable for Mithun Chakraborty and Gunda and others”. By saying this you disrespect readers of this blog and readers in general. If you don’t like some piece of writing you have every right to object but not by demeaning others. Lastly,I guess you missed the sarcasm in his(GB) writing.

  60. Dear Bangali Lincoln,

    How come all Bong’s supporters are all Bongs and have their identity embedded in their nicks? In case you did not notice, I said that Greatbong’s level of intellect is at the level of Mithunda and Gunda. I am very aware he does sarcasm. He is passably good in it. Overall but he is nothing in front of Amit Varma who beats Greatbong pants down in every category. Normally I would not rub Greatbong’s face in the ground since this is his space and he has every right to peddle his mediocrity. But the way Bengali Boy dares pose a link trying to pull Amit Varma down pissed me off.

    Now go back to your Bongol and stop trains.

  61. @ Not Impressed:

    Sorry bhai, not impressed by you or Amit Verma ji, after looking at his site.

    See the thing that is impressive about Arnab is his versatility. One may disagree with him on many things, but one needs to admit that it takes a special effort and talent to pull off the type of variety in content, and layering in intellectual depth, that Arnab provides.

    Maybe its difficult for some to fathom that, while they barely gnaw the surface.

  62. Out of curiousity, Rishi Khujur, are you Bongoli? Something tells me you are. Frankly you and your Bongoli idiot master-blogger are not a match for Amit Varma. Not just Amit Varma but also of Jaiarjun Singh, Sepia Mutiny and other blogs Amit Varma mentions. Go through Amit Varma’s posts and see how robust is his English and how learned and well-read he is.

    The biggest proof of Amit’s greatness is provided by the Bongoli Blogger himself. His blogroll’s first name is Amit Varma. Amit Varma however does not bother to mention him in the book. Anything more?

  63. One think factually I believe is incorrect in your blog is that Muslim League had much higher than 4.8 %. During the 1942 quit India moment many congress leaders were imprisoned and the vote for Muslim league in the following election shot up to upward of 20 %
    That embolden Jinnah to push for a separate state.

    I have read ‘The Indian Summer’ and The Great Partition and from those books my reading was pretty much that Jinnah and Nehru both wanted to be PM. Jinnah was also concerned about state of Muslims in a ‘Unified Bharat’

    His biggest mistake was that he stirred up communal hatred to get his pakistan, giving all the religious zealots a romantic idea of a muslim country based on Sharia Law. Once he got that he boldly claims on Aug 14 1947 that Pakistan is a secular state where Hindus and Chritians can stay..

    But the cat was out the bag..and today we still see the repercussions of that..

  64. “One think factually I believe is incorrect in your blog is that Muslim League had much higher than 4.8 %”

    Please look at the links. This is where I got the number from.

  65. Key, I still didnt get the point. In 1937, Muslim League did have 4.8% of the vote and it was then that Nehru refused to accept it as the voice of the Muslims. Jinnah then began his campaign of hate and the League’s influence greatly increased over the years right upto 1946.

  66. The first of course is that old chestnut. Nehru refusing to share power in 1937 , Jinnah’s subsequent violent communalization and Nehru rebuffing attempts to give Jinnah the PM-ship as suggested by Gandhi to assuage the Muslims. First of all, as mentioned before, Jinnah’s demand to be accepted as the sole representative of Muslims with 4.8% of the Muslim vote was laughable….

    The last line when I read it, I thought that number is taken out of context..cause as we both agree things changed from 37 to 46.. Anyways not a Friday evening discussion..:-) ..

    keep up the good work..

  67. @ not impressed
    Am I a Bong?
    No…but I can speak Bengali.
    That has nothing to do with what I said…does that?

    @others who feel that Jinnah was “afraid” Hindus would dominate.

    Jinnah was just reflecting the larger “fear” of the Islamic Ummah in South Asia, that Hinduism will make a “comeback” and break the 800 years of Islamic domination of the subcontinent.

    Hindus had been on a resurgence since the 17th century and had used every opportunity during the British rule to educate and consolidate themselves. Organizations like Arya Samaj were attracting a lot of support from Muslims in West Punjab, who wanted to revert back to their ancestral Hindu religion.

    Jinnah was just a suited-booted moutpiece of the Islamic Ummah.
    Nehru and Gandhi were powerless, and whether they pampered Jinnah or neglected him, was of little consequence to the overall outcome.

  68. @all

    The reason for rise of muslim vote is attributed to the fact that all Indian leaders incl Gandhi, Nehru, Patel being in Jail for protesting against the British (1939,1942). None of the Muslim League leaders were behind bars. And along with tactical support from the British, their job was easy. So increasing their vote share was never an issue.
    Another point to note is that the constituencies were drawn up such that key muslim areas had more representations. All this can be attributed to the divide and rule policy of Britan.
    Parition was severly opposed by Nehru and Gandhi. In fact, incidents have been cited where Nehru drove away a Hindu mob from attacking muslims by getting in their way and challenging them to fight with him before they approached the muslims.
    All these info is gathered from the biography of Nehru by Shashi Tharoor (Pub: 2002). The book in turn references the various books written by Nehru as well as some authentic biographies of Nehru.
    (link:http://books.google.com/books?id=3axLmUHCJ4cC&printsec=frontcover&dq=nehru+biography&client=safari#v=onepage&q=nehru%20biography&f=false)

  69. Maybe the crisp relatively pollution free air of Darjeeling has reinvigorated Jass…

    IMHO India would have been india regardless of which leader we got. Nehru was actually a disaster. Pakistan would have been Pakistan. In a way we are pretty lucky to have got rid of a large part of the disesase otherwise just imagine living in the same country as FATA etc. Not to mention deal with the ever exploding population growth of Bangladesh.

    BTW interestingly not even a single muslim majority country in the entire world has an unblemished democratic or Human rights record. We expect too much of our fellow ‘secular’ folks.

    @ Not impressed

    dude if u love amit varma and worship him its ok, if u hate greatbong thats even more ok (sometimes we all hate him) but do not diss bengalis …especially since u are not fair dinkum enough to state your own ethnicity so that the bongs could have a chance to rip into you..thats cowardly shit mate

  70. Haha Shouri, Let me guess another Bongoli. Seems to be too many in the world. I dont need to state my ethnicity since I do not define myself by it. You show your Bongo aukaad by wanting to know my ethnicity so that you can abuse it. I find you pitiful. You say you hate Greatbong sometimes and yet you use his forum frequently to pile your hate. Typical Bongoli backstabbing. You don’t mind people criticizing Greatbong as long as they do not criticize you. Shows why your state is the shame of India.

    I pity Greatbong for not only not having a brain but also for having a bunch of backstabbing brain-deaders in the comment space.

  71. Hey,
    Good one. I had said before: when you do something like this count me in on the first bench. Deep, reflective as always. Keep them coming.
    Congrats for completing five
    cheers

  72. @ Not impressed

    Actually we do not define ourselves by our ethnicity…its little narrow minded shits such as yourself who insist on categorizing people by their ethnicity. As i mentioned you are a little cowardly shit who is too scared to state his own ethnicity.

    lemme guess…. from your language, your familiarity with bongs, your general stupidity and your mention of ‘shame of india’ i would be willing to bet that you belong to the state which is actually the shame of india.
    It is people like you who have ‘do kaudi ke kutte ki aukaad’ everywhere. Thanks for your pity, i am sure pity is something you have in plenty as pretty much everywhere you are pitied, abused and spat upon.

    I do not pity you as your people keep our streets clean and or gutters functional. Thanks for that …cheerio

  73. @ not impressed
    I have requested you something to do. You went on calling me a bengali. This is something showing your “level” of intellect. I am again impressing on my point– if you don’t like something you have every right to object it but not by demeaning others. I think in my first post opposing your viewpoint I have not mentioned anything that is derogatory to you. But really, instead of arguing in a proper manner you just went after my language I speak. Is that any thing to do with the argument? Think seriously. Another thing, if GB is writing mediocre stuff then those who are following/liking it,doesn’t it imply that they are mediocre too?

  74. @not impressed

    Amit Verma has his comments space disabled at his blog .IMHO, Blogs with comments disabled is really against spirit of blogging . I learnt so much from comments section here.

    And if you are so unimpressed why do you check the comments section of such blog ?! KOI KAAM NAHI HAI KYA ??

  75. I used to like Jaswant Singh and I thought he’d done a decent job as India’s External Affair’s minister and Finance minister in Vajpayee’s Govt.
    However, his credibility took a big beating with the scandal that followed the release of his last book, where he claimed that there was a mole in Narasimha Rao’s cabinet. That issue rocked parliament and despite repeated pleas to come clean with the name, Jaswant refused. This left his reputation in tatters.
    Consequently he needed to hype up the release of his second book. As you’ve rightly pointed out in your post Mr Jaswant Singh doesn’t seem to know his history. Either that or he has a very warped version of it. The book has obviously not been properly researched and it’s more a political statement than an intellectual work.
    It’s a shame that when the nation is facing a major drought crisis, all that the media have to cover is what we all know from the beginning to be a sham.

  76. not impressed,
    just kidding man….just so you know what a non-Bengali like me thinks of neutered mongrels like you. 😉
    Given your hidden design and obvious smartness, which part of the “Land of the Pure” do you hail from?

  77. @notimpressed
    Firstly, I’m not a bong, so you can get that sh*t out of your system. Personally, I think Arnab is a far better writer/blogger than Amit Verma. GBs english is much better, y’know, vocabulary, usage, depth of knowledge of English, hinglish etc. His range of blogging, as someone above mentioned, is far wider. The clear area where he scores over Verma (and in fact over a great number of other bloggers) is that on the topics he chooses to write, his depth can be immense. One could hardly see another writer with a range multiplied by depth factor as much as GBs in the current blogosphere. Of course, your allusion to Gunda & mithun straightaway says that you don’t understand sarcasm: so I won’t even talk about humor and satire to you.

    However, however, that I say GB is a better blogger than Varma is neither here not there. Because personally I don’t find the need to compare them other than to counter your inanities. They have their own space, style and followers.

    Also because for trolls like you, it makes no difference as to what I say. You are going to come back and litter this blog space and perhaps call me a few names and go away with stupid pride. Above all, I think it does not matter for GB or for that matter, even to Varma that some comparison is being made between them! So, don’t go on with this cr*p unless you are some queen trying to use this unique way of getting close to a person whom you so seem to idolise. In which case, I should ask you to check his preferences first!

    Cheers

  78. @Not Impressed-

    Ha ha ha ha ha. Thank you so much for your comment. This was even beyond my wildest expectations. You are under my complete control. The domination process is now complete and irreversible. Pavlov lives on. You are like a remote controlled entity now, just waiting to jump up and down to my orders. I had an inkling that I had a pulse on your “sensitive areas”, and some well know psychological buttons, but boy oh boy, was that a jumping jack reaction. Sure it was!

    Dear Bengali Boy,

    “Please stop trying to diss Amit Varma at every opportunity and get over your fan fervour for Greatbong.”

    No Slave. You don’t give me instructions. I do that to you. :)))) I will comment whatever and whenever i think is appropriate. You will meekly and timidly respond in the fashion that you just did. Ok I give you a concession- if you show displeasure, you will do so softly. :))

    “Greatbong is a decent blogger but in no way is he even close to Amit in his humor, logic, originality, capability for analysis and wisdom.”

    You are absolutely right slave. Loved the manner you paid a tribute to GB in a tone of sarcasm and backhanded complement that even GB would have been proud of. Humor, logic, originality, capability for analysis and wisdom. Sure :)))

    “So trying to bring Amit down just confirms what a big loser this blog is and its readers.”

    Trust me a roomful of people just read this line and are rolling in laughter at the sheer irony of that statement!!! Some of them just splurted out your real name- a name which anyone with half a wit will understand, but which I shall abstain from disclosing. :))

    “Amit is one of the most influential people in India according to Businessweek. He is the winner of international prizes. He is a published novelist. He has been asked to write a section on blog-writing by Penguin along with other leading lights. He has written for the Mint, Guardian”

    A friend in the room just whispered the following in my ears. These are his views, not mine. “The Bw link is entirely accomplished thru connections. Plus it was done on a A-Z basis where once in a while, you just had to put in a filler. V had one such random filler. I am also told that a neat trick to say that a book is a bestseller is to put the no of copies that a bestseller needs to sell on the shelves, and then claim that the sales were actually that name. His book, an endeavor to achieve Chetan Bhagat’s sales volume while retaining Oh I am so snooty attitude is a nothing really. Even he knows that. He was also kicked out of Cricinfo and Mint. Did you know that? NR and SB, both editors, showed him who is the boss, by drilling his pompous ass with extreme prejudice, right after he started acting too bitchy after that 2-pence niche prize.

    “If you read this post, you will realize that Amit Varma does not even consider Greatbong to be a blogger worth mentioning (http://indiauncut.com/iublog/article/blogging-tips-from-a-jaded-veteran/) in his list of India’s best bloggers.”

    But the point is that the people who matter…the readers…have voted with their feet. :)))) Remember the last Indibloggies. And bickering aside, you know one thing? Class and talent always differentiate themselves. However hard you may try to be an egotist by put down others, mention your own blog endless time in your own book for self promotion, try to make money thru google manipulation, try to seek attention thru false reports and lying about being an eyewitness, try to show that you are an eclectic reader and a beyond compare writer; the output, the book, puts everything in perspective. :)))))) I especially liked how your dude’s lack of originality showed at the absence of quotes and hyperlinks. Heh. His limitations have been well and truly exposed. Even autistic and retarded children can attest to that easily.

    “As I said this blogger is decent though to be honest he has an intellectual level suitable for Mithun Chakraborty and Gunda and others. This may be tough for his readers to accept but that is the truth. So stop hating people and recognize true quality.”

    I know slave…That when I gave out that quote, [fully justified in this context], in the comments to a brilliant post, it would hurt you. You are a coward and detest the fact that so many people would actually click that link (the horror!! the shame!!! ha ha ha) and read whats posted. tch tch tch. And so many have!! But I was merely testing your intelligence. Would you keep quiet or draw more attention? It turns out that you are stupid as ever! By responding in the fashion that you have, you prove irrefutably that my domination over you is complete. Remember me in your wet dreams and wild nightmares alike. He he.

  79. @ Rohit

    Thanks for pointing out.

    I have read various versions of the same. It will be nice to exchange notes on the versions you have read and I can share some of the interesting views that I have.

    The larger point in that para was in the last line. In popular discourse it is easy to present things in black or white. The BRChops Mahabharat that you so despise is what most people have seen. Take a quick survey and tell me how many around you have read Sivaji Sawant or MT Vasudevan Nair versions among others. OK, how many have heard of them.

    The invite still stands. I would love to discover new versions of/ viewpoints to MBharat – my favorite epic.:)

  80. Again to GB, an amazing post.
    I would not give much to JS. As GB himself, and several readers have pointed out, there are several factual errors in JS’s book. And thanks to AJai, fopr pointing it out as I had forgotten, this was an awesome way to recoup your literary losses after the mole-in-the-parliament scandal. Sometimes the cynic in me thinks that this was all a stage managed affair, to give the man a comfortable exit route, and maybe, a big maybe perhaps, for BJP to conveniently wash their hands off Gorkhaland.
    To the others trashing “not impressed”, I think the best way to ignore mischief-makers is through silence, plainly ignore them as GB did. (He posted after that moron, yet simply ignored him, and did not even delete or moderate his comments to give him the importance he so desperately craves.)

  81. Nicely articulated post GB, though at times I agree with you while at times I feel otherwise.

    As per to what I have read earlier, Jinnah was a secular at heart and after partisan wanted Pakistan to be a country where people of different faith live together in harmony. But let us not forget that though at heart he was a secular, in entirety he was after all a politician ; and a power-hungry one at that. A lot of cynics, often accuse Nehru to be a power hungry moron, conveniently forget that Jinnah was not very different. Since he started toying with the idea of Pakistan he wanted to assume the post of Governor- General. He had seen the luxuries of Viceroy(previously Governor) and wanted to taste some of it as well. A fact which is widely unknown is that at the time of partition he was affected by severe tuberculosis and it having no medication at that time, was given only a few months to survive. Indeed, he died on 11 September, 1948. A wish to become Governor coupled with the imminence of his death made him as power hungry as anyone. But still at heart he always remained secular, always abhorred the traditionalist mullahs and there commands and wanted the Hndus and Muslims to live in cooperation.

    Secondly , I really am puzzled by the 4.8% figure as lot of others. And i really doubt the relevance a 1937 figure held at the time of partition. I dont find it plausible that based on a 4.8% support he was considered to be a leader of a huge community. Neither do I think that at the time of partition only 4.8% of Muslims in India went over to Pakistan.

    Also, i don’t believe JS when he says that a decentralized country based on religion could have been the solution. Admittedly it throws Jinnah’s secular credentials in doubt but then, he was possibly acting a politician at time. And JS still believing it is downright ridiculous as that means Mr. Jaswant Singh has either spent the last 5 years in either solitary confinement or has just turned amnesic regarding the last few years or else thinks that present day Pakistan is a figment of imagination of the minds of some of the idiots that abound.

    And please forgive me, for saying this in advance of your coming post, as i could not resist.

    I really don’t support JS expulsion from BJP as kowtows to the thinking that I don’t like your views , so I would rather that you don’t at all have them. Another reminder of the the age BJP thinks Indian are still living in.

  82. Greatbong, you have done a very logical analysis.

    But how, a man with just 4.8% of muslim representation manages the whole Culcutta killings? What made a man like Nehru who had 93.2% of muslim support give away pakistan?

    I have not read Jaswant Singh’s book but I feel that the responsibility of parition must lie on Nehru and Patel as well as much as it lies on Jinah. Look at Hurriyat today and see how the Indian government has been responding to them. I feel Nehru’s approach towards Jinah was wrong thought I dont buy the “space” argument.

  83. @ Key, Sumit, Akshar,

    There is no mystery. Please read my earlier comment about “4.8%”. (Its the 10th comment from the start).

    In the 1937 elections, Muslim League received massive support in United Provinces (present day Uttar Pradesh) and Bombay (present day Maharashtra and Gujarat). The League received 4.8% of the Muslim vote nationally.

    Then by the grace of the Almighty, a miracle ensued. After 1937, the Muslim League became widely acceptable to the masses. From 1937 to 1946, the League’s electoral support grew from 4.8% to 89.2% of Muslim votes i.e. within a short span of 9 years.

    The Muslim League gained massive strength in Bengal, Madras Presidency (much of southern India) and other parts of undivided India.In the Indian Constituent Assembly elections of 1946, the League won 425 out of 496 seats reserved for Muslims (and about 89.2% of Muslim votes) on a policy of creating an independent state of Pakistan.

    So, there is no mystery, you see. 89.2% of Muslim voters voted for Pakistan in 1946. Period. But here’s the greater mystery….and a bigger challenge for you. Can you find out what percentage of these confirmed Muslim League supporters moved to Pakistan and what percentage of these confirmed Muslim League supporters continued to stay back in India after 1947? You will be surprised at the results. And then it all begins to make sense why we have widespread bomb-blasts, terrorism and jihad aplenty in India today.

  84. @bengal voice,
    Thanx for the explanation.

    ………..when the League won 4.8% of the Muslim vote getting wiped out in the area now known as Pakistan and the Congress under Nehru rejected his fervent appeal to ally with them, as Jinnah stipulated that the Muslim League be recognized the sole representative of the Muslims in India (yes with 4.8% of the Muslim vote !)……

    I just raised the doubt to highlight that the fervent appeal of Jinnah was not as unrealistic as Congress or GB himself deemed it to be .

  85. “I just raised the doubt to highlight that the fervent appeal of Jinnah was not as unrealistic as Congress or GB himself deemed it to be .”

    In 1937 when Congress refused to accept the demands of the Muslim League as the sole representatives of the Muslim population, it indeed had 4.8% of the vote. How would Congress look into the future and see where the Muslim League would be in 1946, sitting in 1937?

  86. greatbong, please delete my first comment (August 22, 2009 at 6:16 am) which is laced with Malayalam and English cuss words. In hindsight, such comments don’t look good on a great blog like RTDM.

  87. Dear Alpha Q,

    Thanks for the invite. Sure. Though in interest of not spamming GB’s comment section, let’s take it offline.

    Btw, I have not read Mr Nair’s version. thanks for the pointer.

    Bengal voice,
    ”So, there is no mystery, you see. 89.2% of Muslim voters voted for Pakistan in 1946.”

    To be more precise, 89% of the eligible Muslim vote. The voting rights in that era were restricted to certain classes–the landed gentry for example. Accordingly, approximately 25% of the total Muslim population was eligible to vote in the 1946 elections.

  88. @Rohit,
    Can you give me some historical sources for your “25%” reference for voters? I am really interested in getting an objective , in-depth view of the Muslim League.

    On a related subject, I must point out that the numerous Muslim League mobs that ravaged Bengal, Punjab, NWFP and Sindh were not landed gentry, but comprised of Muslim commoners – students, artisans, weavers, soldiers, businessmen, marginal farmers, rickshaw-wallahs, tanners and butchers.

    The landed gentry might have paid for their weapons, kerosene, vehicles and supplies, but the Muslim League mobs were certainly comprised of your next-door neighbour types.

  89. Pingback: The Power Of History Part 2 | Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind

  90. Thank you Great Bong for putting sense in the current scenario. But the funny thing is Jaswant would have gotten away with being overly critical of or even bad mouthing Nehru and Gandhi. It is only because there was an indirect criticism (supposedly) of Patel that he lost his job. The Sangh Parivar thinks since Sardar had differences with Nehru, Sardar was their man ( “enemy’s enemy= friend” Logic). If he liked their “inclusive” Hindutva so much he would have joined the Hindu Mahasabha instead.

  91. I do not think Jinnah should be credited with the current state of Pakistan given that he was not around to manage it. After his death and the subsequent death of his main lieutenant there was a power vacuum in Pakistan which in the end had to be filled militarily. As for the “state within the state” analysis that u have made on Pakistan, as I understood from the post, it was Jaswant Singh who says Jinnah wanted a state within a state, and not Jinnah himself. Jaswant’s opinion may not be correct. Incidentally, part of the earlier instability in Pakistan was due to the power struggle between the East and West Pakistan.
    Though I agree that Nehru’s centralized approach led to a stable India, I am not sure of whether Congress would have wanted a decentralized India. The autonomous Princely States may not have been to keen to join either nations had it not been for the steadfast insistence on part of the powers that be (Congress, Muslim League & Mountbatten) that they do.

  92. @ GB,
    Thanks for the correction. At least it enables me to add my two cents to this already rich debate .

    Your point is quite valid and I must admit I could see it coming. But my reason still stands as far as can understand. When Jinnah made the demand it may be termed a bit extravagant in the light of that day figures, but was it totally unrealistic? I don’t think so. If that was the case, what happened that within 11 years , 4.8 went to 89%? A meteoric rise, despite the huge time span involved. 11 years is a long interval , but is it long enough to arouse the emotions of a total 85% of a community to a demand as exaggerated as to want the creation of a new country?? There must have been a simmering undercurrent which Congress and Nehru failed to realise and which Jinnah exploited to the hilt. And maybe therein lies the failure of Congress and Nehru. (Sorry for going a bit off topic)

  93. Sumit,

    It doesnt take much to make a turn-round in Indian politics—BJP went from 2 seats in 1984 to 85 seats in 1989. Not that any third agency is to blame for this.

    As to how Muslim League did it. Jinnah openly adopted calls to violence and went around the country raising fear amidst Muslim minorities and that’s how his vote share went up. It is unfair to blame Nehru and the Congress for that.

  94. GB great post. I was (am) sick of JS interview’s on NDTV and Barkha Dutt NOT even once questioning the validity of JS’s claims. However, to be fair to JS, in his interview with KT, he himself mentions that this is his findings. Somebody else can come, do their research and contradict them. I guess you just did !!!

  95. “There raises another question. Whose vision was the solution, albeit an imperfect one? Jinnah’s or Nehru’s? What does sixty three years of history tell us ?”

    and you go on to say….
    …there were two things Nehru’s concept of India did. It kept the country united. It made democratic institutions so strong…

    so India succeeded where Pakistan failed… but isn’t it precisely because we moved in opposite directions… India embraced more and more concept of a federal state as the centre’s grip over the individual states was gradually loosened… Pakistan, on the other hand, built up a centralized Islamic state where state autnomy can now only be obtained via the gun… a la Balochistan…

    Overall, a nicely written piece… looking forward to the second part…

  96. Pingback: The BJP fascination with Jinnah – not surprising – POV

  97. I am not convinced with the premise that Hindus and Muslims had to stick together as envisioned by Nehru and company. Apart from Jinnah, the whole Muslim feudal classes were convinced of being sidelined by a Hindu majority. It was this class led by Agha Khan and other notables like Nawab of Mehmoodabad and others created the Muslim League to counter the Congress. Nehru had vision of a centralised Soviet Russia kind of state which would cater to his socialistic ideals. This was unacceptable to rich Muslim landlords who supported the Muslim League to protect their interests. Essentially, it was Nehru who couldn’t convince this influential group of Muslim elite who had visions of erstwhile Mughal India as their ideal. Jinnah was first opposed to this group but was isolated by them and rejected by Gandhi who saw him as a Muslim first (in their first meeting) and this set the tenor of their future relation which got more and more complicated. Jinnah was no saint and used his exile in Britain in the 1930s to reinvent himself and return with a vengeance as most of our current-day politicians do. He mastered the game to isolate his community by playing on their worst fears and gambled his future on it. The Congress did what it did to most leaders opposed to the Nehru-Gandhi faction; witness Subhaschandra Bose, Ambedkar, Purshottamdas Tandon, etc but here the player opposite to them was a master manipulator resistant to all moves to checkmate him. Agreed the Congress-BJP will not unite but in case of Congress and the Muslim League it was the country which was ripped apart. But, the moot question in this whole exercise is can’t populations determine their own choices as Jinnah did?
    Did Hindus and Muslims coalesce together in India as a joint population? Why are we creating fairytales to please the ‘secular’ lobbies in the media? Why is truth not openly discussed?

  98. As for apportioning blame for partition, you have passingly mentioned Gandhiji’s canvassing for the pan-islamic khilafat movement which was opposed by Jinnah. Well, once you start playing identity politics, it is a river of no return – you can’t do it and limit it to an issue which works for you politically and say that’s it! Once you create and legitimize such politics, either you or someone else it going to come back and harness it for their own political gains. Also, as for Gandhi and Nehru, they were great visionaries but also hard nosed politicians seeking to protect their turfs and play favorites. That’s the reason why people like S.C. Bose (and to some extent, Jinnah) who were initially greatly attracted to Gandhi turned away disillusioned and in Jinnah’s case, became totally cynical (there was an undeniably interesting transformation there). I don’t agree with J.Singh but I do believe there’s nothing wrong in analyzing history with politically incorrect (i.e., non-Marxist, non-Congress) lenses. These were all extremely complex, intelligent, politically ambitious men who were on-again, off-again playing footsie with the Brits.

  99. @Jyotsna,

    “politically incorrect (i.e., non-Marxist, non-Congress) lenses”

    You may not be aware but what JS is doing is analyzing partition and the idea of India with among other things “Marxist” lenses. In terms of academia, it may be argued that he is doing something extremely politically correct.

  100. I think too much weight has been accorded to Jaswant’s opinion and thought process. He seems ill informed (Jinnah was poor?) and very opinionated. His convictions are not deep seated – merely superficial whims and figments of imagination from a senile mind. The anti-Congressism may be a fallout of his royal lineage but I find the connection with Jinnah’s marginalization in the congress too far fetched..
    This is the same man who accompanied terrorists to safe passage as India’s external affairs minister and seems to have a fascination for the ludicrous. Lets give him his due – the man is an idiot.

  101. Pingback: Jinnah, Pakistan and some thoughts « Kite in the Wind

  102. ‘We treat them as aliens, somewhere inside, because we continue to ask even after Partition you still want something? These are citizens of India–it was Jinnah’s failure because he never advised Muslims who stayed back.’

    Did Muslims in India want Jinnah’s advice? If they had heeded it, they would not have chosen to stay in this side of the border. Jaswant Singh does not know what he says, that’s all.

  103. Jinnah was truly a great hero. His creation of Pakistan was truly a great favor to India and Indians. Can you imagine what our condition would have been with Bangladesh, the NWFP, Waziristan et al as part of our nation, Afghanistan as our neighbour, and the Kasabs and Behtullah Masuds as Indian citizens, having the right to travel freely through India? Despite the few bad apples like the Indian Mujahideen, we are also better of as Indian muslims are self selectedly more secular than those who went to Pakistan.

  104. Dear UI,

    I too would like to believe you and become complacent, but the harsh reality in India is different from what you would like to portray, my friend.

    I profusely apologize, in advance, to GB for presenting a well-known security expert’s article on GB’s blog…..If my quote below is not appropriate or irrelevant to the point you have raised, I request GB to please delete my points.

    Mr.Maloy Krishna Dhar is a former Joint Director, Intelligence Bureau (IB). Dhar has seen actions in the North East, Sikkim, Punjab, and Kashmir, and handled important political, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and counterintelligence operations.

    Even a staunch secularist like former IB Chief Mr. Maloy Krishna Dhar admits that 60% of India’s 150 million Muslim population are fundamentalists.

    Here are some relevant excerpts from Mr.Dhar’s blog: http://maloykrishnadhar.com/indian-fault-lines-perception-and-reality

    “The other cancerous reality check pertains to unbiased appreciation of the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, contamination of Indian Muslim minds with the poison of jihad and revival of the isolationist separatist tendencies. Let us be clear at the outset that all Muslims are not separatists and jihadists. Most of them are not even fundamentalists. In case a comparative study is made between the 80+ crore Hindus and 15+ crore Muslims it would appear that about 5% Hindus strongly believe in Hindutwa and Hindu fundamentalism. Only a fraction, may be 0.01% think of taking up weapons against the Muslims.

    Compared to this about 60% of Muslims can be rated fundamentalists, 35% believe in Islamic resurgence, 30% believe in isolationist separatism and nearly 15% believe that armed jihad, as practiced by Pakistani and Bangladeshi tanzeems can alone retrieve the lost glory of Islam in India. This figure is worrisome.

  105. @ Saika
    Most Muslims who actually voted for Pakistan did it based on their belief, but they never intended to leave and most actually stayed back.

    Muslims of UP, Bihar, Bengal…add up.

    However that doesnt mean that their children or grandchildren hate India.

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