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Politics India

CAB Debate: Falsehoods to the Fore

Who was responsible for Partition of India?

Ram Puniyani 23 Dec 2019

Protest against CAB

The Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was recently passed in both houses of the Parliament, has elicited diverse and negative responses all over India. On the one hand, we see massive protests in the North-East, leading to the death of four people. On the other hand, there is a severe discomfort among those upholding the Indian Constitution and among the Muslim community all over the country. This Bill, in its present form, gives the right of citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians persecuted in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. What is glaring is that Muslims are missing from the list. What is also glaring and dangerous is that while those persecuted in these countries have been offered citizenship, countries like Myanmar, where the worst sort of persecution against Muslims has been seen in recent years, donot find any place in the list. Also, even in the countries which are mentioned in the bill, there are sects of Muslims which are persecuted, but have been left out.

A lot has been written against the bill and its intention of converting our plural India into a Hindu Rashtra. What is also disturbing is that the defence of this Bill has been done by blaming the Congress party and by stating that partition was done on the basis of faith! Both these formulations are a total lie. Mr. Amit Shah, while speaking in the RajyaSabha in an aggressive manner, retorted that “Is deshkavibhajan agar dharma keaadhar par Congress nakarihoti to is Bill kakaamnahinhota.” (Had the Congress not partitioned this country on the basis of religion, there would have been no need for this Bill). In response,ShahshiTharoor of Congress said that Amit Shah was not paying attention during the History class. The facts lie somewhere else.

Mr. Shah was a RSS worker who later joined the RSS student wing, ABVP. Contrary to what ShashiTharoor is saying, Shah has imbibed the history taught by the RSS combine, and seriously internalized it. We recall that even NathuramGodse, the murderer of the Father of the Nation, held Gandhi, the patriarch of the Congress party, as being responsible for partition. This is believed by most of the Hindu nationalists. Religion as the basis of nationhood is, by and large,said to have begun with Savarkar and then Jinnah. As such, the story is much older. Before coming to the genesis of the idea of religion as the root of nationhood, we also need to remember that the British, the colonial masters, were the prime force in encouraging Muslim League on the one side and Hindu Mahasabha-RSS on the other.

The British, to begin with, saw these organizations as helpful in the pursuit of their ‘divide and rule’ policy. Later, close to the peaking of the National movement in 1942, they started keeping yet another angle in mind – that of the geo-political realities of those times. Russia had emerged as the major other pole in the power politics of the world. It was posing a challenge to the British-American hegemony. Russia was also inspiring the anti-colonial movements. Many of the leaders of the freedom movement were influenced by socialist ideology. Keeping this in mind, the division of India was one of the steps the British had in mind. The idea behind this was that they can retain their hold in the region through the yet-to-be-formed Pakistan.

Coming to the genesis of nationalism in the name of religion, it was the reaction of the declining classes, landlords and kings to the changing scenario, where through industrialization, communication and modern education, India was emerging as a secular democratic nation. Different groups, Madras Mahajan Sabha, Pune SarvajanikSabha, Bombay Association, representing the emerging classes and newer social changes, started coming up and they, together, formed the political organization, Indian National Congress in 1885. In response to this, the declining classes became very uncomfortable with the changes which were the root of equality. The feudal classes, landlords, kings of both religions were deeply shaken as the system of birth based hierarchy, on which they were presiding, started crumbling.

At this point of time, the Muslim section started saying that Islam is in danger and Hindu sections presented Hinduism to be in danger. As the Indian national organizations and parallel activities of education for dalits and women started picking up, the feudal classes saw it as an assault on the religiously ordained inequality. While these organizations, initially, had the participation of landlord-kings, later they succeeded in winning over other elites and, still later, sections of ordinary people. This is the foundation of religious nationalism-Muslim and Hindu. So, on the one hand, we had Indian nationalism, which can broadly be identified with Gandhi, Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh, while on the other hand, there was the Muslim League, formed in 1906; the Hindu Mahasabha in 1915 and the RSS in 1925. The latter groups harped on our ancient glorious past while the India nationalist stream saw the need for struggle against the prevalent inequality.

The articulation of religious nationalism comes with Savarkar, who saw Hindus and Muslims as two opponents, and Muslim League, which felt that the Hindu majority would not let them have equal rights. Hindu and Muslim nationalists spread hatred against each other, forming the base of intense communal violence in times to come.

It was the gravity of the communal violence which forced Congress to gradually accept Lord Mountbatten’s (March 1947) proposal of partitioning the country. Congress, in its resolutionaccepting the partition, stated that though it opposes the ‘Two Nation theory’ (of Savarkar, Jinnah, Golwalkar, Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha and RSS), under the given circumstances, it seemed to be the lesser evil as compared to the communal venom which was engulfing the nation at the time. Here, again, VP Menon, the architect of thePartition Plan, points out that Patel 'accepted the division of India in December 1946, while Nehru would only acquiesce six months later'.

Maulana Azad and Gandhi, did not accept the idea at all, but in the face of the rising communal tide, they had to keep quiet about it. In the Amit Shah-RSS narrative, Congress is blamed but Congress, leading the freedom movement, never accepted the idea of religion as the basis of nation.

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

  1. Anand Sharma fact-checks Amit Shah
  2. CAB 2019 is not just Unconstitutional, it is meant to create communal divides
  3. NO to AZAD, WELCOME SAVARKAR!
  4. 150 years of Gandhi: A legacy of Ahimsa and Communal Peace
  5. An Essay for Our Times: Diversity and Indian Nationalism

CAB Debate: Falsehoods to the Fore

Who was responsible for Partition of India?

Protest against CAB

The Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was recently passed in both houses of the Parliament, has elicited diverse and negative responses all over India. On the one hand, we see massive protests in the North-East, leading to the death of four people. On the other hand, there is a severe discomfort among those upholding the Indian Constitution and among the Muslim community all over the country. This Bill, in its present form, gives the right of citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians persecuted in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. What is glaring is that Muslims are missing from the list. What is also glaring and dangerous is that while those persecuted in these countries have been offered citizenship, countries like Myanmar, where the worst sort of persecution against Muslims has been seen in recent years, donot find any place in the list. Also, even in the countries which are mentioned in the bill, there are sects of Muslims which are persecuted, but have been left out.

A lot has been written against the bill and its intention of converting our plural India into a Hindu Rashtra. What is also disturbing is that the defence of this Bill has been done by blaming the Congress party and by stating that partition was done on the basis of faith! Both these formulations are a total lie. Mr. Amit Shah, while speaking in the RajyaSabha in an aggressive manner, retorted that “Is deshkavibhajan agar dharma keaadhar par Congress nakarihoti to is Bill kakaamnahinhota.” (Had the Congress not partitioned this country on the basis of religion, there would have been no need for this Bill). In response,ShahshiTharoor of Congress said that Amit Shah was not paying attention during the History class. The facts lie somewhere else.

Mr. Shah was a RSS worker who later joined the RSS student wing, ABVP. Contrary to what ShashiTharoor is saying, Shah has imbibed the history taught by the RSS combine, and seriously internalized it. We recall that even NathuramGodse, the murderer of the Father of the Nation, held Gandhi, the patriarch of the Congress party, as being responsible for partition. This is believed by most of the Hindu nationalists. Religion as the basis of nationhood is, by and large,said to have begun with Savarkar and then Jinnah. As such, the story is much older. Before coming to the genesis of the idea of religion as the root of nationhood, we also need to remember that the British, the colonial masters, were the prime force in encouraging Muslim League on the one side and Hindu Mahasabha-RSS on the other.

The British, to begin with, saw these organizations as helpful in the pursuit of their ‘divide and rule’ policy. Later, close to the peaking of the National movement in 1942, they started keeping yet another angle in mind – that of the geo-political realities of those times. Russia had emerged as the major other pole in the power politics of the world. It was posing a challenge to the British-American hegemony. Russia was also inspiring the anti-colonial movements. Many of the leaders of the freedom movement were influenced by socialist ideology. Keeping this in mind, the division of India was one of the steps the British had in mind. The idea behind this was that they can retain their hold in the region through the yet-to-be-formed Pakistan.

Coming to the genesis of nationalism in the name of religion, it was the reaction of the declining classes, landlords and kings to the changing scenario, where through industrialization, communication and modern education, India was emerging as a secular democratic nation. Different groups, Madras Mahajan Sabha, Pune SarvajanikSabha, Bombay Association, representing the emerging classes and newer social changes, started coming up and they, together, formed the political organization, Indian National Congress in 1885. In response to this, the declining classes became very uncomfortable with the changes which were the root of equality. The feudal classes, landlords, kings of both religions were deeply shaken as the system of birth based hierarchy, on which they were presiding, started crumbling.

At this point of time, the Muslim section started saying that Islam is in danger and Hindu sections presented Hinduism to be in danger. As the Indian national organizations and parallel activities of education for dalits and women started picking up, the feudal classes saw it as an assault on the religiously ordained inequality. While these organizations, initially, had the participation of landlord-kings, later they succeeded in winning over other elites and, still later, sections of ordinary people. This is the foundation of religious nationalism-Muslim and Hindu. So, on the one hand, we had Indian nationalism, which can broadly be identified with Gandhi, Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh, while on the other hand, there was the Muslim League, formed in 1906; the Hindu Mahasabha in 1915 and the RSS in 1925. The latter groups harped on our ancient glorious past while the India nationalist stream saw the need for struggle against the prevalent inequality.

The articulation of religious nationalism comes with Savarkar, who saw Hindus and Muslims as two opponents, and Muslim League, which felt that the Hindu majority would not let them have equal rights. Hindu and Muslim nationalists spread hatred against each other, forming the base of intense communal violence in times to come.

It was the gravity of the communal violence which forced Congress to gradually accept Lord Mountbatten’s (March 1947) proposal of partitioning the country. Congress, in its resolutionaccepting the partition, stated that though it opposes the ‘Two Nation theory’ (of Savarkar, Jinnah, Golwalkar, Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha and RSS), under the given circumstances, it seemed to be the lesser evil as compared to the communal venom which was engulfing the nation at the time. Here, again, VP Menon, the architect of thePartition Plan, points out that Patel 'accepted the division of India in December 1946, while Nehru would only acquiesce six months later'.

Maulana Azad and Gandhi, did not accept the idea at all, but in the face of the rising communal tide, they had to keep quiet about it. In the Amit Shah-RSS narrative, Congress is blamed but Congress, leading the freedom movement, never accepted the idea of religion as the basis of nation.

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

  1. Anand Sharma fact-checks Amit Shah
  2. CAB 2019 is not just Unconstitutional, it is meant to create communal divides
  3. NO to AZAD, WELCOME SAVARKAR!
  4. 150 years of Gandhi: A legacy of Ahimsa and Communal Peace
  5. An Essay for Our Times: Diversity and Indian Nationalism

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