Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The man who might have made a difference was Mohammed Ali Jinnah, known to Pakistanis as "Quaid-i-Azam", the great leader. Jinnah was 70 years old and dying of tuberculosis when, in 1947, he became the first governor-general of Pakistan, a country he more or less created after breaking off from the Indian National Congress. He thought their freedom movement was becoming increasingly pro-Hindu and chauvinist as independence neared.
But Jinnah was not an Islamist. A cosmopolitan lawyer trained in London, he wore European clothes, he drank (a matter of huge controversy in Pakistan) and he was married to a member of the Parsi religion, Ruttie Petit, who has since been written out of Pakistani history.
Perhaps the savants Mohandas K. Gandhi, Lord and Lady Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru caballed to give Jinnah a ''moth-eaten'' Pakistan stripped of Kashmir and other choice territory. Richard Attenborough's portrayal of Jinnah as a cold fish in his film “Gandhi”(1982) is yet another subject of communalism.
Should there have been a Pakistan at all? On this point there remains a question of an explosive issue rarely discussed in the subcontinent. ''What if Jinnah were to come alive to see the mess that is his Pakistan?'' He asks, and then he answers: "It would still look better than Muslim life in Hindu-dominated India." With Hindu fundamentalism on the rise, there is enough evidence to back his assertion that pogroms, poverty and prejudice have dogged those Muslims who stayed behind after partition.
Jinnah would perhaps quote Dr. Balraj Madhok, former Professor of History at Delhi University who while explaining the term “Hindu” said, “Everyone living in India is a Hindu. Hinduism is no religion; it is the name of a civilization (Tahzib), a way of life.” In an interview with the New York Times correspondent in 1996 at Delhi, Professor Madhok said, “In this country we have never insisted on religious conformity and we are not going to start now. However, one we do insist on is that Muslims become Indians. They can worship as they like, but they must adopt this country's customs.”
A Gujarati Brahman, Daynada Saraswati, (1824-1883), openly raised the slogan “India for Hindus”. According to him, Hinduism was to be the sole religion of the subcontinent and the Hindus its sole master. The Muslims were foreigners. Hindu militant Bal Thackeray of the Shiv Sena and other militant Hindu organisations are thinking that Muslims have their own homeland in the shape of Pakistan. Countless incidents and discrimination can be cited against the Muslims of India.
The historic 16th century Babri mosque was razed by thousands of Hindu fanatics in Ayodhya (UP) on 16 December 1992. The government could have averted this tragedy had the law-enforcing authorities been more agile rather than being silent spectators to the demolition.
According to Indian journalist Yuvraj Mohite, recording his statement in the court at Mumbai, “Bal Thackeray, founder of Shiv Sena, ordered the massacre in December 1992 after demolishing Babri Mosque. The double-dealing Congress Ministry of the then Prime Minister Narashimha Rao at the centre did nothing to prevent destroying the 450-year-old Babri Mosque by BJP and VHP and other anti-Muslim elements. The Statesman of New Delhi (02 December 1992) reported, “The VHP and Bajrang Dal cadres were taught demolition methods by a retired brigadier of the army in a month-long training camp in a Hindu village in the Gujrat state. The state government had full knowledge of it.”
In an online article, the statement “Advani betrayed me on Babri” by Amit Sharma of The Indian Express notes that Kalyan Singh has come out with a point-by-point rebuttal of the charges against him. He claimed that L.K. Advani and other leaders of the RSS and its outfits had hatched a "deep and secret" conspiracy for demolition of the mosque and "these leaders had not only kept me in the dark on the issue but also betrayed me."
Discrimination of the Muslim community in services is another example of deprivation. According to a 1991 census, Muslims make up 12.60 per cent of the total Indian population. However, the representation in para-military forces, educational institutions and the private and public sector is far below their proportion.
The percentage of the Muslims in the civil and foreign services is less than a quarter of their population. Further, a white paper, prepared by All India Milli Council (AMIC) and presented to the then Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, on the performance of the Indian Union during the first 50 years, there were only 116 Muslims out of a total 3,883 administrative officers (2.98%), 45 out of 1,433 police service officers (3.14%), and 57 out of 2,159 foreign service officers (2.64%). In the central government, Muslims make up 1.6% of all Class 1 officers, 3.9% of all Class 11 officers and 4.4% of the technical supervisory staff.
An official report prepared by Dr. Gopal Singh Committee shows a marked disparity between Hindus and Muslims in economic, social and educational fields. The committee's report based on a sample survey of 80 districts across the country, found there were only 92 Muslims out of 2,698 students in engineering colleges. The number of Muslim students in the MBBS courses in eight universities of eight states was 98 out of 2,895. Though the statistics are for 1991, there is no significant change as far as the Muslims are concerned in all spheres of activities.
Is India really communal? One may, perhaps find a clue, that the venom of communalism was spewed during the British rule when earthen pitchers were categorized as Hindu water and Muslim water.
An article by the eminent Indian columnist Kuldip Nayar “History a la Joshi”, further gives a hint of the communal and ethnic politics that has become deep-rooted amongst Indians. In the article Nayar writes, “For the first time in the last 40 years, where the International Trade Fair at Delhi became a factor, handicrafts by Muslims and Sikhs had been displayed at a section called “Minority Handicrafts”. Handicrafts are either good or bad, they are not tagged as minority.”
The Indian Muslims are in a dilemma, whether to accept humility in the form of Indian nationalism (based on secular ideas) or to preserve their Muslim identity.
Now, the question is one of whether Jinnah's Pakistan was worth the fight.