What If India Were Not Partitioned?

This is the quintessential ‘What If’ question. It is counterfactual because now we can never know what would have happened if India had not been partitioned. But we can speculate about the possibilities and try and construct plausible scenarios for purposes of understanding and discussion.

In this post we argue against the scenario presented by Aakar Patel in his op-ed in The News on September 22, 2008. Aakar Patel’s one-line conclusion is that an unpartitioned India would have been a disaster for both Hindus and Muslims.

Let us first list the points we aim to contend:

  1. Unpartitioned India would be the word’s largest country (1.4 billion people), the world’s largest Muslim country (500 million) and… the world’s poorest country (over 600 million hungry).
  2. In undivided India, religion would have dominated political debate, as it did in the 30s and 40s, and consensus on reform would be hard to build internally. All energy would be sucked into keeping the country together. Undivided India would have separate electorates, the irreducible demand of the Muslim League and the one that Nehru stood against. A democracy with separate electorates is no democracy at all.
  3. Hindus would never have been able to rule Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan or the Frontier.
  4. Without Partition there would have been no Nizam-e-Mustafa.
  5. The fault line of national politics in undivided India would have remained Hindu versus Muslim. Jinnah alone understood that from the start. Nehru and Patel understood it much later, agreeing to Partition. Gandhi never understood it; if he did, he never accepted it.
  6. Three parts of undivided India had a Muslim majority. The west became Pakistan, the east became Bangladesh. Sooner or later, the north will become something else: the Muslims of Kashmir do not want to be India. But Indians do not understand that.

Let us now respond in order and present a different perspective:

  1. Undivided India need not have been the world’s poorest country. The resources, attention and energy that have gone into the continued hostility since Partition could have been channeled into development. (See the cost of conflict estimated by the Strategic Foresight Group, Mumbai). The huge market and the complementarities of arbitrarily divided ecosystems could have yielded great benefits. Huge investments went into making up for the division of the Indus water system, for example.
  2. A democracy need not be a mechanical and rigid system. Malaysia, with three, not two, hostile communities found a way to adjust its system of governance to suit its constraints. South Africa, with its bitter history of apartheid, found a way in its constitution to work around the hostilities. There was no reason India could not have found a similarly workable formula.
  3. There is no reason to think in terms of one community ruling the other. Indeed, that is a framework that is incompatible with democratic governance. The fact is that almost right up to Partition, the Punjab’s Unionist Party had found a mechanism to govern with a coalition of the major communities.
  4. Even after Partition there is no Nizam-e-Mustafa. The fact that a large number of Hindus in India today want the Kingdom of Ram does not mean that their demand needs to lead to a redefinition of India. These kinds of demands need to be resolved in the political arena.
  5. Jinnah did not feel from the start that the fault-line in undivided India would have remained Hindus versus Muslims. In fact, Jinnah was the advocate of Hindu-Muslim unity because he believed it was possible. The management of any fault line is up to the leadership as shown by the examples of Malaysia and South Africa mentioned earlier. Ireland is another example.
  6. Three parts of undivided India had a Muslim majority but the demand for Pakistan did not originate in these areas. In fact the Muslim majority areas of the west were the last to sign on and even then very reluctantly. The Muslims of Kashmir seemed quite satisfied with the situation under the Farooq Abdullah government. Their attitude is more a function of India’s mismanagement (and post-partition Pakistan’s incitements) than of some innate hatred of Hindus. There is no cure for mismanagement. Even the Muslim west and east could not coexist in the face of political folly.

It is quite possible to argue that there were many possible resolutions of the situation that prevailed in India in the 1930s and 1940s. It was a failure of leadership that the worst possible alternative was chosen. India lacked a statesman of the caliber of Mandela who could see beyond the immediate political gains and losses.

The cost of the Partition is hard to imagine – almost a million deaths, ten million homeless, and continued conflicts. Add to this the subsequent costs in Bangladesh and the ongoing ones in Kashmir. If the inability of Hindus and Muslims to live together is given as the sole reason for the Partition, it should be considered that in all the one thousand years that Muslims lived in India, there was never once this scale of conflict or bloodshed.

It was possible to live together. In fact Hindus and Muslims continue to live together in India even though their relations were poisoned and made immensely difficult by the fact of the Partition.

One could just as well argue that the Partition was a disaster for both Hindus and Muslims as also for the Sikhs whose homeland was cut into two. A united India would never have allowed the Saudis or the Americans to set up madrassas and train jihadis within its territories. Dim-witted dictators would never have been able to occupy the positions of power they were in post-Partition Pakistan and Bangladesh.

We can say that Manto in Toba Tek Singh had the right perspective on the partition of India.

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371 Responses to “What If India Were Not Partitioned?”

  1. Anil Kala Says:

    I think soon some kind of political stability would have emerged like a Hindu Prime Minister a Muslim Dy. Prime Minister.

  2. SouthAsian Says:


    Personally, I agree with you. Some formula would have emerged. Even in Lebanon, with its intense differences, a power sharing formula was agreed upon and provided stability for a considerable period of time. The fact that Lebanon was sucked into the Middle East crisis is a different story.

    I feel the main point is that there were a number of possible solutions, some proposed by the British and some by the Unionists, all of which would have yielded less immediate pain and suffering and less longer term instability.

    So the question is: Why did reasonable, highly educated individuals, fail to arrive at a sensible solution?

    If one reads Shameful Flight by Stanley Wolpert (2006), it would seem that a main contributor was Mountbatten’s hurry to get back home to England. But, of course, there was more than that.

  3. Zubair Osmani Says:

    Without partition the subcontinent would have been a war turn region exploited by the world powers pitching one group or one religion against the other for their own specific interests. Unlike the present situation, one ethnic group would have striven to dominate the other, Hindus who had not ruled in a thousand years would have been slaved easily; it would have made no difference if there was a non Hindu ruler.
    It would have been simple and easy to exploit the resources of the sub continent by keeping it in constant turmoil.
    Look at Africa, a demographically homogeneous continent has been turned into battle field of tribes promoted by the ideology and corporate interests.
    Partition was the best solution, even if Muslims were made to sacrifice more than the others.

    • patriot Says:

      I do not agree with you. Partition did not solve anything it only worsened the situation. A leader who considers his caste, community, or religion ahead of his nation is not a patriot.

      It is not possible to devide nation on basis of religion, every nook and coner of india you have people of different religions, can you drive them out of their houses and promise a new house in a different land will they be happy? Has partition solved any problem?

      People of different religions can coexist provided they dont mix community issues with national issues. Individual rights are important but they must be fought as citizens of the country. Religious rights of an individual is also important, even that can be fought for without harming national interest.

      In conclusion, partition only gave extra power to politicians to rule (more countries, more states more polititians can rule) no benifit to the citizens, just loss of money time and life’s!!!!!

    • Ahmed Bihari Says:

      Here’s democracy unlike Pakistan

  4. Observer Says:

    Your argument is that the presence of more than one group in a country provides the opportunity for outside powers to exploit the situation.

    After partition, India still has more Muslims than Pakistan but outside exploitation is minimal. Pakistan which was almost all Muslim was much more subject to outside exploitation. It seems that the factors that promote exploitation are different.

    Malaysia had three very large and different groups but once they found a formula to co-exist, no one from outside could exploit them.

    If diversity is a problem then it seems that partition is not the answer because it was Pakistan that was partitioned again, not India.

    Diversity can be a source of strength or a weakness. It is a function of the leadership how they deal with diversity. It was for this that Nelson Mandela was awrded the Nobel prize.

  5. Rohit Says:

    One reason why Nehru and Patel agreed to parition was because they saw it as the only way that a strong centralized state could be created which could implement the congress parties agenda be it land reforms, nationalisation of industry, abolition of the caste system, Hindu law reform etc. The alternative model of a loose federation would have made it more difficult.

    On the other hand, it might have been a good thing if the congress had faced credible opposition in the first 30 years of its rule.

  6. SouthAsian Says:


    Yes, this is a plausible reason for why Nehru and Patel agreed to partition. The alternative model would have made some things more difficult.

    But how difficult? The question is: Was the price the political leaders were willing to pay for subsequent ease of operations worth the gains?

    Would it not have made more sense for each side to have given up a little in order to preserve a peaceful subcontinent in which 10 million people did not have to leave their homes.

    It is in this sense that one feels none of the leading politicians were able to see the larger interest. There was no one with the vision or stature of a Mandela.

    • Esh Bharti Says:

      Actually there was a leader named Abul Kalam Azad with the vision or stature of a Mandela. But no one listened to him ,unfortunately.

  7. suhail Says:

    I think partitioning India was something the Brits did to vent out their frustration of them losing their “JEWEL IN THE CROWN”.and we indians(pro 1947) fell for it.India is a beautifull mix of hindu and muslim culture.I have grown up in Post Independent India where people live in harmony for most of their days.Politically motivated riots have happened in the past but India has remained true to its values.I think its not too late.Pakistanis and Indians are the best of friends when they are studyin overseas(my friends)which shows that we can live together without the hatred.I think if we unite India again,stress will again come back to its culture,its diverse beautifull people.How could we fall for The Brits after them having slaved us for 200 years.Shows how we INdians/pakistanis are so easily deceived.I think rulers like AKBAR(MUSLIM) truly understood the strenght of united India where the rich muslim and hindu culture would make the country the worlds richest.Lets start with open borders ,think of each other as humans first,pre 1947 Indians and reunite one day.

  8. SouthAsian Says:

    Suhail, This is an experiment that can be tried any time. Put a some Pakistanis in a group comprising Indians, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Arabs and Iranis and more often than not they will gravitate towards the other South Asians. With the Arabs and Iranis they may share a religion but with South Asians they share much more and that is what determines one’s level of comfort. Your observation about students overseas is quite right. You can also see the interactions of Punjabis abroad where the affinity of language between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs outweighs the differences of religion.

    We should not wait for the subcontinent to be reunited in order to see each other as fellow human beings. Who could have said that Germany and France in 1948 would be part of a united Europe fifty years later. Fifty years is a long time and we have no way of knowing what the politics of South Asia might be in the future. If we do away with the border lines in our minds and hearts the physical borders would lose much of their meaning. The starting point is to reject those who preach hatred.

    • man0jm Says:

      Well said. To add to this, my personal experiences in US & EU 1. Many Pakistanis introduced themselves as Indians – if they were india haters, why would they do so? 2. I have been recipient of many acts of kindness by Pakistanis, when indians werent.

      I really think the way forward to peace and growth is not encouraging stereotyping and biases, but both sides taking CBM’s by controlling the hawks within them.

      If Sudan & South Sudan can talk to each other, why cant India and Pakistan?

      • Kabir Altaf Says:

        Sometimes Pakistanis introduce ourselves as “Indians” because we don’t want to get into pointless discussions with well-meaning people about whether we support the Taliban or our mothers are covered in head to toe burka.

        Unfortunately, our nation has a bad reputation these days (some of it well-deserved and some of it a result of highlighting certain aspects to suit various agendas)

  9. Aakar Says:

    The Daily Times has published an opinion piece on a new book about Jinnah. Very roughly put, it argues that the trajectory of Pakistan was not ‘negative’ (inspired by Jinnah’s charisma, which gathered Muslims under a two-nation banner), but ‘positive’ (meaning to say that India’s Muslims were — are — looking for something that they saw their faith promising them).
    That Jinnah followed the Muslims into Pakistan rather than the other way around.


  10. Vikram Says:

    Well, Dr. Ambedkar;s perspective on this issue is very valuable, since he was one guy who was neutral towards both Hindus and Muslims.

    The movement for Pakistan was a mass movement, and it was backed up by the League’s success in the provincial elections held in the areas that comprise Pakistan today.

    I think one problem is that most Pakistanis tend to view India as essentially homogenous and Hindu, while Indians have very different (and contesting) views on the nature of their country. National identity is a very problematic idea in an India of Punjabi Sikhs and Christian Tamils. India is an idea that is still evolving, and it is an idea that might not succeed.

    And it is difficult for me to see why the areas that comprise Pakistan today would have chosen to remain in the Union once these divisions started surfacing. I think you are under estimating the power of religious nationalism.

    • SIranjeev Says:

      Exactly my thoughts. Today, people consider Pakistan and the conflict in Kashmir as a major problem. But the truth is, if the partition had been denied, the subcontinent would have disintegrated into a full scale civil war. If we look around us, at each and every instance of a country where a minority felt alienated, demanded a separate state, and was denied it, we would see disasters. Be it Sri Lanka, be Syria, be it Ukraine. Ghandi and the leaders of the Congress of that day saved us from this fate. It’s hard to see so many people today, especially since the BJP came to power, criticise Ghandi. To me personally, the partition is what distinguishes India from every other nation. It’s a mark of the greatness of our land and its values. For where every other nation tried to take, we were willing to give. Jai Hind.

      • SouthAsian Says:

        Siranjeev: I am not questioning your conclusion since there is no way of knowing that “if the partition had been denied, the subcontinent would have disintegrated into a full scale civil war.” You can’t claim something is “the truth” simply by declaring it so.

        However, I am questioning your logic because in the very next sentence you affirm your belief that “each and every instance of a country where a minority felt alienated, demanded a separate state, and was denied it, we would see disasters.” If that is indeed the case, one could ask why India is not “willing to give” (your words) the areas in which minorities have felt alienated for over 60 years?

        I am not stating India should do that. I am only asking why you don’t recommend it doing so given the logic of your argument.

        • Indian Says:

          Hi South Asian, Indian congress did not have the power to split India, it was British who split because Jinnah and Muslim League asked for it. Muslim League and Jinnah wanted to separate electorate based on religion, this could have permanently divided the country and could have been a source of conflict between politicians and us people. Off course this is a guess because we cannot know what would be, only what is.

          • SouthAsian Says:

            Indian: The way I look at this is different. Take your claim that “it was British who split because Jinnah and Muslim League asked for it.” Did the British do everything that was asked of them? If not, why did they agree to this particular demand? And why did Jinnah and the Muslim League ask for a split of India? Did Congress actions have anything to trigger that demand?

            Take the other claim that “Muslim League and Jinnah wanted to separate electorate based on religion.” Dr. Ambedkar also wanted separate a separate electorate for Dalits. The Congress accepted the first but rejected the second. Why? The effect of both would have been the same if your claim is right – that separate electorates divide and are a source of conflict. Did these contradictory actions have any bearing on what happened?

            You are quite right that we will never know for sure but these sorts of questions can point us in the direction of useful research.

  11. SouthAsian Says:

    Vikram, It is difficult to underestimate the power of nationalism and religion after the conflicts of the 20th century.

    On this blog we are trying to answer a few issues that preceded the conflict in India. As you mention, the idea of national identity is complex: the differences between Punjabi, Bengali and Keralite Muslims were just as profound as the ones you have mentioned – the subsequent contempt of West Pakistani Muslims for East Pakistani Muslims is just one example by way of evidence. So why did identity in British India get defined around religion and not around ethnicity or langauage? This was not an accident and we have referred a lot to the excellent book by Kamaljit Bhasin-Malik (In the Making: Identity Formation in South Asia) to explore this question.

    Those who are interested in these issues know that there is no homogeneity in India just as there is none in Pakistan. The Muslim League tried to create a Muslim identity just as the BJP is trying to create a Hindu one. These attempts can have temporary political payoffs but ultimately do more harm than good.

    The movement for Pakistan was not a mass movement to begin with. The League did very poorly in the 1937 elections but much better in the 1946 ones. What happened in the interim to change the opinions of Muslims? Even so, in interpreting the movement one should keep in mind that these elections were contested on the basis of separate electorates and a limited franchise. The majority of Muslims did not have the vote and most who migrated had no choice because of the scale of the riots in 1947.

    The areas that comprise Pakistan today were the last to sign on to the Pakistan movement, if it can be called a movement. That is not where the movement began or was the strongest. There is no reason why they would not have remained in the Union given alternative representational arrangements. And even if they had wanted to separate they could have done so without so much loss of life and perpetual hostility – as for example in the case of the Czechs and the Slovaks. We have spent considerable effort on the blog establishing the crucial importance of electoral rules in political outcomes – see the posts on Malaysia and Japan.

    The discussion on Dr. Ambedkar is a separate one. In brief, he was amongst the most highly trained, analytical and forthright personalities of that time. He was unusual because he did not start with a preferred position for which he then sought convincing arguments. On the contrary, he led with an objective analysis and put his weight behind whatever position was supported by logic.

    It was in this sense that he was neutral. Otherwise he was bitterly opposed to the caste discriminations in Hinduism and ultimately converted to Buddhism with his followers. As for the Muslim League, irrespective of the merit of the case for Pakistan, he maintained that it was not negotiating in good faith by continuing to ask for more when earlier demands were conceded.

    Dr. Ambedkar was a huge intellect and an immense resource. It goes to the credit of Gandhi and Nehru, that despite his criticisms of Hinduism, they included him in the first cabinet and entrusted him with the leadership of the constitution committee. That his views were not popular with the general voters is obvious from the fact that he failed to be elected to the Lok Sabha. His contribution to the political stability of India was invaluable. There was no one of his calibre in Jinnah’s team.

  12. Vikram Says:

    Very good reply.

    My impression was that the Muslim League’s movement was a mass movement, but I guess it was not that clear cut. I still dont see how some kind of ‘united’ South Asia would have survived, when almost all the countries here have serious internal conflicts.

  13. SouthAsian Says:

    Vikram, If you read Ramachandra Guha’s book India after Gandhi, you might find at least one answer to your question. The book is an expression of surprise that India has stayed together as one country when few expected it to do so.

    There were serious internal conflicts in India (think of the separation sentiment in the South) and there still are. India has stayed together because of a proactive policy of conflict management and prevention – the creation of states based on langauge was an important element of this policy.

    In essence this was strengthening a linguistic identity to tide over the time it would take to build an Indian identity. An identity built around language rather than religion is much more stable simply because there are many more languages than there are religions. A major Us versus Them polarity is much less likely to emerge.

    So we are back to our question: Why was identity in the frst half of the 20th century in British India allowed (or encouraged) to emerge around religion rather than around language or ethinicity?

    There are few conflicts that cannot be managed with intelligent policy. South Asia could have survived just as India has survived. At least there was a very good chance. After all, it had survived for a very long time before it broke apart.

    • Arun Gupta Says:

      None of the movements in (divided) India has asked for parity of a numerically smaller community with a larger community. Separate electorates and complete parity at the Center were the All India Muslim League demands and there was no possible compromise that the Indian National Congress could make with that.

      If there was a formula that could have worked, those people would have found it – they were in general smarter and more honest and sincere than the politicians we have today.

      In any case, we’ve had 60 years to bring about a European Union-like situation, and that hasn’t happened. SAARC is a joke. I don’t need to invoke counterfactual history to prove this. If we could not get that to work, how would a united India work?

      We still see most of Pakistan and some of Bangladesh and India still fighting the religious fights of the twentieth century. In Bangladesh the Supreme Court and in India the electorate seems to have rejected religion-based politics. The fight continues in Pakistan.

      • SouthAsian Says:

        Arun: People have managed to find workable solutions in even more complex situations – Malaya, Lebanon, South Africa to take just a few examples. Mandela and the ANC could have done to the Whites in South Africa what Idi Amin did to Indians in Uganda but sometimes the larger welfare calls for accommodations, even major accommodations. The historical accounts that are being written after the release of the Transfer of Power papers (Khilnani, Seervai, Wolpert, Jaswant Singh, etc.) are not agreed that the situation was one without a possible solution.

        I agree that SAARC is a joke but your inference is not valid. SAARC is a post-conflict organization, United India would have been a pre-conflict one. The fact that SAARC does not work does not imply that a United India would not have worked. It might have or it might not have for other reasons.

        You are right that religion-based politics continues in Pakistan but the counterfactual that is relevant to this discussion is whether the area that now constitutes Pakistan would have seen the same conflict had Pakistan not been created?

        • Arun Gupta Says:

          Well, sometime between March 1940 and August 1947 was the point of no return regarding conflict/pre-conflict; and I place it closer to 1940 than to 1947.

          Once the rhetoric started that “without Pakistan, Islam and Muslims will perish from India” (e.g., here is Jinnah, March 1941, Aligarh : Pakistan is not only a practicable goal but the only goal if you want to save Islam from complete annihilation in this country.), IMO, there was no going back.

  14. Vikram Says:

    True, in fact my very first ever blog post was about the creation of linguistic states in India,

    One note, please dont refer to the states of India as ‘provinces’, it is something that most Indians would detest. The very first line of the Consti is that ‘India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States’.

    Changed. Thanks for pointing out the slip.

    • Vinod Says:

      Vikram, SA – can one of you educate me on why referring to the states of India as provinces would cause Indians to squirm? Thanks.

  15. sameer Says:

    i think that if there had not been a partition atleast what pakistan is right now would not have been this way Muslims wanted to be indipendent but they never were as dictatores in pakistan ruled the way they wanted if there had been one united india we surely would have become a superpower by now

  16. SouthAsian Says:

    Sameer, Your comment raises a number of important points that need to be discussed further:

    1. Did Muslims want independence? What is the evidence for this assertion? Some answers to this question are provided in the post On the Emergence of Pakistan (https://thesouthasianidea.wordpress.com/2009/01/29/on-the-emergence-of-pakistan/). More Muslims stayed behind in India than moved to Pakistan. How is this fact reconciled with the claim?

    2. What made it easier for military dictators to take over power in Pakistan compared to India?

    3. What is the basis for the claim that an undivided India would have been a superpower by now? What are the essential requirements for achieving the status of a superpower?

  17. Bloody Civilian Says:

    an involved discussion about the possibilities of a non-partitioned india, and not even once does it mention the Cabint Mission’s Plan! how amazing!

    not a single commentor, nor even the author has challenged the false assertion about separate electorates. it was swallowed line, hook and sinker.

    the CMP was based on a single, joint electorate for all indians. there were no separate electorates. jinnah had long been making clear his disdain for separate electorates, and disuading his electorate from espousing them.

    all indian leaders envisaged india to have universal adult franchise.

    the CMP did not envisage a partition of any province. group B = united punjab, nwfp, sindh, baluchistan. group C = united bengal + assam. group A = the rest of british india.

    the following is the picture after the success of the league in the 1946 elections (on a separate electorate, limited frnachise basis):

    1. in the punjab, the ministry was formed by a congress + unionists + akalis coalition, not the league and their partners the communists.

    2. nwfp had a congress ministry.

    3. in group C, league had a lead of merely 3 seats, i.e 35:32.

    so this was hardly a communal grouping. rather it was staunchly anti-majoritarian in case of groups B and C.

    the CMP required the absolute minimum of the three subjects – defence, extrenal affairs and communications – to be central subjects.

    group A, with its overwhelming congress majority could make the centre as powerful as it wished by giving it all conceivable government subjects, and the centre would still have controlled the defence and comms over the other two groups and held external affairs. that is, a unified military institution and command.

    there was no parity at the centre, neither between the groups nor the two communities. each group had the power of veto, which is not the same as power to vote.. which was 201 to 73 in the INC’s favour.

    grouping was compulsory only till the first general elections. that is, it was for the sole purpose of constitution making, as was the group veto. after that, provinces were free to abandon groups, or change from one to another.

    under the CMP, no province was allowed to secede from india (notwithstanding INC’s long held stance that they would never deny a province’s democratic right to do so).

    the league accepted the CMP. the congress claimed it accepted it without accepting the ‘compulsory grouping’ explained in the above paragraph.

  18. Bloody Civilian Says:

    dr ambedkar’s book: it was written in december 1940. it could not have forseen 1946, let alone answer the question: “why did the league accept the CMP?”

  19. harsh vardhan Says:

    partition is right.

    Editor’s comment: Perhaps, but opinions differ. This is what Sunil Khilnani writes in The Idea of India: “Partition is the unspeakable sadness at the heart of the idea of India: a memento mori that what made India possible also profoundly diminished the integral value of the idea. It conceded something essential in the nationalist vision, the conviction that what defined India was its extraordinary capacity to accumulate and live with differences.” (pp. 201-202)

    Whether it was right or wrong, it was clearly a failure of the human imagination and of human skills since no one started out wanting an outcome that cost a million lives, ten million displaced, and endless strife.

    On this blog we are not trying to reverse history, only to understand why it turned out in a particular manner and what other possibilities were foregone. Is there something to be learnt from that history?

  20. Vinod Says:

    Harsh Vardhan, are you THE Harsh Vardhan? – The IAS officer who resigned to do a tremendous job at providing relief for the victims of the Gujarat pogrom?

  21. Jainulabideen_Proud 2 B an Indain Muslim Says:

    i’m not able to gues wat wud’ve hapend in unpartitioned India…. coz xcept Bangladesh, der r separatist movements all over india n pak wo want der own countries n regions.. but if india emerges sucessful in controlling it, it wud surely b 1 of d powerful C’tries in wrld 2day..coz 2 of us obtained N-power independently…

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Jainul: What do you think are the chances of India controlling the separatist movements? What does India need to do to control them?

      Jaswant Singh’s new book, “Jinnah – India, Partition, Independence,” was released on August 17, 2009. The following is a quote from the book:

      The cruel truth is that this partitioning of India has actually resulted in achieving the very reverse of the originally intended purpose; partition, instead of settling contention between communities has left us a legacy of markedly enhanced Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or other such denominational identities, hence differences…

  22. Raza Says:


    ‘South Asia could have survived just as India has survived. At least there was a very good chance. After all, it had survived for a very long time before it broke apart.’

    Could you please explain that when and how long it [South Asia] had survived before it broke apart.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Raza: I have been thinking how best to illustrate this. Let us see if this would work: Let us move back from 1947, year by year, and identify another time when one million people died and ten million became homeless because two communities wanted to live in separate countries of their own. Of course, if we move forward from 1947, we would arrive at another such date in 1971. We would also come to the unfulfilled demands of Khalistan, Nagaland, Mizoram, Pakhtunistan, Balochistan, Tamil Eelam, etc. that have been the cause of violence and deaths. Does this characterization seem reasonable?

  23. Ganpat Ram Says:

    The real paradox of Partition is that Hindus produce so many characters who spend their days fantasising about an impossible dream of undoing Partition, taking it for granted in their brain-free skulls that Hindus, Muslims and the rest will then live as one happy family…..

    Whereas the whole history of India since the Muslim invasions has shown graphically and conclusively that Muslims hate the guts of Hindus, have always done so and always will. They follow a tough, extremely intolerant Mosaic religion, and are the last to accomodate mere idolators.

    If Hindu India with 150 mllion Muslims lives on the edge of catastrophic explosion, tense with fear of Muslim eruptions, the solution of the INCREDIBLY stupid sick Hindu “intellectuals” like the donkey’s clown Puri is to introduce another 300 million Muslims into the explosive brew by undoing Partition……!!!!

    I ask you !!!!!

    Partition, by getting rid of two-thirds of a endlessly demanding and violent Muslim population to Pakistan, actually allowed Hindus the possibility of breathing in a free country.

    No sane person wants to go back to Hell. That is what India would be if Partition were undone.

    The paradox is that Hindus, who were SAVED by Partition, kept nearly all the good land in India, were given the chance for the first time in a thousand years to unite in one big state where they had a hige majority, often produce donkeys who want top undo the basis of this salvation.

    Without Partition, in a couple of generations Muslims would be a MAJORITY in the Sub-continent. A camel brain like Puri doesn’t realise this.

    Muslim Pakistanis almost NEVER, paradoxically, want Partition undone. They are PROUD of Pakistan and want to keep away from Hindus if they possibly can.

    ANWAAR has pointed out that no less than two million of three million Bengalis pitilessly slaughtered by the butcherous Paki armies were Hindus ! This is a country in which Hindus were a helpless minority of hardly 10 per cent……They were put to wholesale Nazi-style genocide for no other reason than that they were Hindus.

    Such are the Muslim “brothers” of Hindus. No people on earth hates Hindus even one-millionth as much.

  24. kabir Says:

    Ganpat Ram,

    I’m a “Muslim Pakistani” and I want Partition undone. That disproves your thesis all together.

  25. Ganpat Ram Says:


    You are the exception that proves my rule.

    No wonder you want Partition undone, though. As I pointed out, if India, Bangladesh and Pakistan were united, in two or three generations Muslims would ge a MAJORITY. Foolish Hindus don’t realise this.

    No, we sensible Hindus know Partition was our community’s salvation and DO NOT WANT YOU BACK, THANKS.

    Away to Arabia !!!!!

  26. kabir Says:

    Ganpat Ram Bhai,

    “Away to Arabia!” I am not an Arabian. I am an Indian. My family is Indian. My culture is Indian. The languages I speak–Urdu and Punjabi– are Indian langauges. The classical music I sing is Hindustani classical. The food I eat is Indian. I have no interest at all in Arabs or Arabia.


    Kabir Mohan

  27. kabir Says:

    Ganpat Ram Bhai:

    In the the words of Bhagat Kabir– a great Indian: “koee bolay ram ram koee khudai”. This is the true essence of Indian secularism, and what allowed Hindus and Muslims to live together for centuries with minimal issues. It was only when the British introduced seperate electorates and the competition for political resources became intense that communalism became an issue.

    The motto of India is “Unity in Diversity”. Why do you want to turn Bharat into the Hindu equivalent of the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”?

  28. Ganpat Ram Says:


    You are harping on an old tune, and it does not convince.

    Muslims with few exceptions feel far more for Arabia than for India, and certainly loathe Hinduism.

    I don’t blame them. It is their religion and choice. Only, don’t try to fool Hindus.

    Bhagat Singh was a brave but foolish man.

    In a united India, Muslims will rule as they will in as few decades be the majority.

    Under Muslim power Hinduism will be finished. It led a slave existence in previous Muslim regimes. WE DO NOT WANT TO GO BACK TO THAT.

    Arabia is the place for you.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Ganpat: This is not a fruitful line of argumentation. You cannot decide what would be the right place for anyone else – it is their choice. You could just as easily be asked to move to Nepal where there would be no danger of your being ruled by anyone else in a few generations. Nor would you have to live with people you don’t like. That would be equally pointless. You have to decide where you want to live and what you want to make of that place. You seem to have given up on the secular and democratic vision of India that Jawaharlal Nehru had espoused. I am intrigued what your vision of an ideal India looks like and if you were in the driver’s seat what would be the first half dozen policy measures you would put in place to get there?

  29. Hayyer Says:

    Ganpat Ram:
    If over 700 years of Muslim rule could not reduce Hindu majority in India it is unlikely that a few decades would have done so.
    Hindus don’t live tense in fear of Muslim eruptions. If anything it is Muslims who have reason to live in tension.
    The three countries are separate now; what is done is done. The best that they can do is to try and get along.

  30. Ganpat Ram Says:


    It seems you will not accept that Hindus and Muslims do differ profoundly in their loyalties and allegiances and that is the fundamental reason why they formed separate nations once the British decided to quit.

    Blaming the British is very callow.

    Islam is an extremely powerful religion. Muslims in the Subcontinent feel the terrific pull of Arabian history and culture and have huge contempt for the Hindu heritage. They identify with their Arab converters not their now remote Hindu ancestors. Jinnah is a good example. He came from a Hindu family a couple of generations back, but totally rejected any Hindu links.

    Fair enough. No one is obliged to love Hindus or Hinduism.

    However, Hindus do have to try and survive. Under Islamic rule, there was no equality or hnour for Hinduism. At best it hung on as a despised slave religion.

    Now, Hindus are concentrated in one big state, and have a big majority. Partition got rid of two-thirds of the endlessly threatening and violent Muslimas, who have their own countries.

    I have read the bitter old arguments prior to Partition, and was chilled by the extent of hatred and contempt for Hindus they show.

    Let us not go back to all that. It was a terrible world.

    Steps to help India?

    Eradicate illiteracy. Make healthcare universal. Carry out serious land reforms. Make hiring people in industry easy. Fence the borders to prevent Muslim illegal immigration. Get a tough army to withstand Pakistan and China. Ensure equality for monorities.

    Such are my thoughts.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Ganpat: All your steps to help India make sense. I am not sure though how you will go about the last one – “ensure equality for minorities”?

      • Ganpat Ram Says:


        I notice you seem to be avoiding the major part of my message.

        However, so be it.

        By equality for minorities I mean exactly what any civilised state would have. India is certainly Hindu-dominated and ought to be a Hindu state to give Hinduism honour. But that does not mean in the least that Muslims should be discriminated against. They should have equality in law and their religious observances and places should be respected. There should be a single legal code all should be subject to and steps should be taken to help Muslim women escape the particular disabilities they suffer. All this is commonplace.

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Ganpat: The specification is ideal and perfect. I am not sure how it can be achieved simultaneously with intense hatred, contempt, bitterness, resentment, and the desire to send all of them to Arabia where their entire loyalties lie? Can one be socially civilized and individually uncivil at the same time?

  31. Ganpat Ram Says:

    The less Hindus have to do with Muslims, the better for them.

    Reading post-Independence Indian history, I am struck by how the frightening pressure and fear of the Thirties and Forties was replaced by a much calmer world in India once the Muslims quit and went off to Pakistan.

    The fifties were in many ways India’s happiest times, because the Muslim population was proprtionately at its lowest.

    A lesson in that for Hindus.

    Muslims are a tough bunch. As they increase in numbers, they become more and more demanding and threatening.

  32. Ganpat Ram Says:


    I don’t think reminding Muslims that their heritage is basically Arabian is an insult. It is an honour for them to recall their allegiance to the homeland of Mohammed.

    Nor did I say Indian Muslims should be sent to Arabia. I merely told Kabir that that is where he should look to as his culture was centred on it.

    I have no gripes against Muslims of the Subcontinent. If they destroyed Hindu temples, I blame the Hindus for not having the guts and efficacy to defend them.

    I don’t blame Muslims for their love of Islam. It has a great culture behind it and I am sure it is in many ways better than Hinduism.

    As a Hindu I am loyal to my religion, but I am sure it is far from perfect and I do not claim it is beautiful. It is mine, that is all.

    To each his own.

    The Hindus have their country and Muslims theirs.

    Let us live in peace and see how to develop them.

    As Nehru said, wisely: “If so many people do not want to be in India, hiow can we and why should we compel them?”. That was his final verdict on Partition, and I thnk it stands. Patel remarked, also wisely: “Let the Muslim League develop 20 per cent of India, and we will develop the rest.”


    • SouthAsian Says:

      Ganpat: Not agreed; rather totally perplexed. “The Hindus have their country and Muslims theirs.” So what is the country of the 150 million Muslims who are citizens of India?

      • kabir Says:

        Ganpat Ram bhai,

        Nehru and Patel may have agreed to Partition, but Gandhiji was always against it. He told Jinnah in 1944 that he did not believe that Hindus and Muslims were seperate nations. He said “I have never heard of sons of converts claiming to be different from the parent stock”.

        My culture is not in Arabia. I am South Asian and “Hindustani”. I do not speak or read Arabic, I do not eat Arab food, I don’t wear Arab clothing. I have nothing in common with Arabs, except perhaps nominally a religion– which I’m not really that interested in anyway.

      • Ganpat Ram Says:


        If the Hindus don’t even have India, what country have they?

        Of course there are minorities as in every country and I have said they deserve equal rights.

        So what is the problem?

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Ganpat: Kabir beat me to the punch on this but I would like to add something. I don’t think it is enough to say that minorities ‘deserve’ equal rights. I feel the correct perspective is to think of all citizens having equal rights that are inalienable. Minorities should not have a status that is at the mercy of someone’s dicretion. One can think of this as the difference between the status of courtiers under a king and bureaucrats governed a civil service code. This difference in status makes all the difference to behavior. When a bureaucrat violates the terms of his service, he or she can be dismissed or put in jail. But even those in jail retain an inalienable right to their status as equal citizens.

          In a sense, the US violated this principle when it interned Japanese-Americans during WW2. It has since apologized for the error. Citizenship should have no relationship to religion, caste, ethnicity, language, color, or sex.

      • kabir Says:

        Ganpat Ram bhai,

        India belongs to all its citizens– Hindu, Muslim Christian, atheist, whatever.


    • Ahsan Ahmed Pitafi Says:

      Ganpat Ram you are right at your place but we can not depend over some statements which were given by Nehru because no one is perfect on earth .We are just trying to end all problems which were created between two nations in 20 centuary because I can not watch any more certain deaths of the soldiers .

  33. Ganpat Ram Says:

    SouthAsian, Kabir:

    You are talking about another subject altogether.

    I see no reason why Muslims in a Hindu India cannot have equal rights if Hindus in a Protestant Christian UK can have equal rights.

    Muslims have 60 states or so that are Muslim; there are scores of Christian states, many very liberal like the UK. Why not just ONE Hindu state, if liberal?

    The issue we were actually discussing was the pros and cons of Partition.

    My view remains that the Hindus had a VERY narrow escape thanks to Jinnah. Muslims in the Subcontinent are well on their way to a majority in the Subcontinent in a few decades. 1947 was a chance for Hindus to have a Hindu-dominated country, and they got it through Jinnah.

    Well done, Jinnah. I hope the fierce pride of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in their countries and separation from Hindus will keep us separate. That is best for ALL.

    I have read the bitter attacks on Hindus by Muslims in those decades leading to Partition. They breathe a hate and alienation that Hindus would be EXTREMELY stupid to submit themselves to again by undoing Partition.

    Partition has given Hindus the best chance for a decent life they have had since the Muslim invasions. I devoutly hope they keep it. Above all things, I fear the insinuating voice of Muslims who try to undo Partition, and the folly of Hindus who listen to them.

    Hindus and Muslims are much better off where they are, mostly in separate countries.

    Pakistan is run down by Hindus, but it was a great ideal for Muslims who sought a truly Muslim society that they could develop free of a Hindu environment. It was a great POSITIVE experiment, and that is how Muslims think of it. They can work to sort out its difficulties at present.

    Just keep us poor Hindus out of your way. We have been badly burnt in our association with your fierce Mosaic THRE IS ONLY ONE GOD faith.

    • kabir Says:

      Ganpat Ram bhai,

      Not all “Muslims” are the way you think. Personally, I think everyone is entitled to worship god in the way they like. My relationship with god is personal and I’m no one to impose a particular view of the divine.

      Prior to Partition Hindus and Muslims lived peacefully together overall. Muslims even sang the Meera bhajan “Shyam piya more rang day chunaria” (a bhajan which I love by the way) only changing “Shyam” to “Khwaja” and addressing the song to Moinuddin Chisti. Indian Islam is not Arab Wahabbi Islam.

      Also, I object to your term ‘Muslim invasions”. The Mughals may have been foreigners but they became Indian. They gave Indians some of the most beautiful aspects of our common culture, such as the Taj and Hindustani Music, even Mughlai cuisine.

      I think trying to separate what is “Hindu” and what is “Muslim” in the Indian context is really foolish.


    • SouthAsian Says:

      Ganpat: I have already acknowledged your opinion as one in the spectrum that has a very wide range. You are entitled to it. My interest is to figure out what kind of India you want. What do mean by a Hindu state? Is it the kind of state that Tagore, Nehru, Gandhi, and Sarojini Naidu had in mind, or is it different? If so, what is the difference?

      I am also unconvinced that the Hindu state you seem to be articulating can be liberal at the same time. Liberalism cannot have intolerance as a foundation.

      And finally, I don’t see how you can speak on behalf of all Muslims, past and present. You can speak for yourself and let other people present their opinions both in agreement and disagreement. Those are the rules of a debate. You can’t logically say “that is how Muslims think of it.” You can say “that is how I think Muslims think of it.” And then you would have to leave open the possibility that you could be wrong.

      The impression I form is that your position is similar to the one expressed recently by Varun Gandhi. We have talked about it earlier on the blog. It can be accessed here in case you want to pursue that discussion.

      • Ganpat Ram Says:

        SouthAsian, Kabir, Hyvver:

        A Bharat Ratna is (seriously) too little for the truly unsurpassed service Jinnah rendered to the Hindus.

        It was little short of divine mercy that this man, whose grandfather’s family was Hindu, created Pakistan and in this way gave three quarters of the Subcontinent, and almost all the desirable lands, to the Hindus. As he correctly pointed out, it is much more than they have had for a long time.

        Hindus would have been in the pit of sheer hell by now had Pakistan not rid them of two-thirds of the appallingly violent, despotic and blackmailing Muslim population.

        Hindus also need to be devoutly grateful to their other saviour, Nehru. His hot temper saved us in 1947 when he threw out the Cabinet Mission Plan whereby large Hindu and Sikh areas would have remained under Muslim control while large Muslim areas would all be under Muslim control too. The centre would be feeble, and regions would be free to secede if they wanted. The Muslims, a qurater of the population would have parity at the centre. It was a formula to destroy the Hindus. Nehru threw it out and saved them.

        No wonder Islamists are whining about Partition. They knows that all Muslims got under it was a bum’s deal of two widely separated areas, mostly the worst bits of India.

        Saying that inundating the country with Muslims would make it peaceful is like saying that making a small fire in a house far bigger will protect the house.

        We Hindus are wll rid of Muslims, mate. Don’t let’s get mixed up with these dangerous fanatical characters again.

        Muslims also want Pakistan and Bangladesh to survive. They don’t want to get back with Hindus. Good for them.

        Been there, done that, not going back again! Away with foolish delusions.

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Ganpat: Your opinion has been registered. Repetition does not make an argument stronger. Personally I am delighted with your stroke of good luck and wish you all the best.

    • Anil Kala Says:

      Why one Hindu State? Many Hindus will find it suffocating to have a religious state. The way you are arguing for a liberal Hindu state, India is a de facto Hindu state so what is bothering you?

      There is one point which bothers me though. Why aren’t there several secular countries having Muslim majority? Will someone answer that?

      • SouthAsian Says:

        Anil: The question you have asked is an important one. Let me rephrase it:

        Why aren’t there countries with Muslim majorities that are secular?

        While this is not my area of expertise, let me start a discussion. This is a complex question some of whose complexities are obvious and some hidden.

        One of the hidden complexities is the fact that we live today in the age of the nation-state which is a form that is less than 200 years old. One peculiarity of a nation-state is that it has a written constitution (leaving aside the special case of England) and this constitution has to declare the orientation of the state. Given that there is no distinction between Church and State in Islam (the Caliph is simultaneously the religious and secular head) it is an impossibility for a Muslim majority state to declare itself secular in its constitution.

        This is a legal conundrum that Kemal Ataturk tried to resolve by coercion in Turkey. The real question that we need to ask is how countries with Muslim majorities (regardless of whether they call themselves Islamic or secular) deal with the religious beliefs of non-Muslims who live in the same territory?

        Here the record is quite mixed – some do much better than others. So we have to go further and investigate what the local factors might be that determine whether the record is good or bad. This is a task for readers with more knowledge of the comparative record.

        It is interesting, however, to go back prior to the age of the nation-state because there one can judge simply on the basis of the record – the constitutional conundrum not being relevant. We again find a mixed record. For example, in the article by Amartya Sen that I had referred to in the post on Akbar, Sen writes:

        Western detractors of Islam as well as the new champions of Islamic heritage have little to say about Islam’s tradition of tolerance, which has been at least as important historically as its record of intolerance. We are left wondering what could have led Maimonides, as he fled the persecution of Jews in Spain in the twelfth century, to seek shelter in Emperor Saladin’s Egypt. And why did Maimonides, in fact, get support as well as an honored position at the court of the Muslim emperor who fought valiantly for Islam in the Crusades?

        Many non-Muslim historians have commented that in Jerusalem, the most contentious city because of its shared heritage between the three major Semitic religions, the most tolerant periods were those when the city was under Muslim control. A new book by the Templeton Foundation (Religious Tolerance in World Religions, 2008) has useful material on the historical record. Most of the book is available on the Internet and Chapter 12 (starting on page 274) has relevant information about Jerusalem.

        Even in India, although this may be more contentious, the Mughal period is not classified as particularly intolerant and one cannot point to religious persecutions that were any worse than have taken place in a secular India.

        So the question we have to ask (and not just for Muslim majority countries) is how majorities treat those who do not share the majority religion. And why, within the same culture, some periods are much more intolerant than others? If we can get a handle on this we may be able to recommend measures that would eliminate intolerance at the level of the state. It may never be possible to eliminate it at the level of the individual.

      • kabir Says:

        In his book on Jinnah, Jaswant Singh cites a scholar on Islam, who says that Islam is a “theocentric but not a theocratic” religion. So, all activities revolve around god. the “good” orthodox Muslims cannot concieve of seperation of church (in this case mosque) and state, of religion being something that you practice in the privacy of your home, and not in the public sphere.

        Without being able to conceptualize the seperation of church and state or the public sphere/private sphere distinction, a country cannot be secular.

      • Anil Kala Says:

        Apparently this is the crux of clash and not the clash of civilizations. Non Muslims don’t care how Muslims find it difficult to separate church with state therefore depend on their tolerance for equal rights. They expect quid pro quo, if we give constitutional rights for equality we should get the same from Muslims states.

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Anil: This is a problematic proposition. Suppose Muslim states don’t guarantee equality; would we (I presume you mean India) also do the same? Is this a point of principle or of tit-for-tat? If the latter, India may go into a deep slide.

          Secondly, the issue is really one of equal rights. Is it possible to guarantee equal rights even if the state is non-secular? I hope someone who knows more can inform us of the status of guaranteed rights in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Algeria, Morocco, etc.

          Third, if the tit-for-tat logic is to apply to Muslim states, would India guarantee equal rights to Christians because countries with Christian majorities have constitutionally guaranteed equal rights for non-Christians? So, India would have equal rights for some minorities and not for others? What will happen if some Christian countries renege on equal rights? If some Indian Christians originated in those countries, would they lose their equal rights?

          • Anil Kala Says:

            I didn’t say we should reciprocate in the same way. I am merely speculating on reason for rancour.

          • SouthAsian Says:

            Anil: Sorry, I misread your comment. I see the point you are making. There is also the other side to that. For all its talk of Muslim brotherhood etc., it is quite obvious that the successive governments in Pakistan have never given any importance to the well-being of Muslims in India. Their narrow self-centered actions have brought untold misery on Indian Muslims because of the rancour that has been generated.

            This also highlights the lack of logic in the demand for Pakistan. Ostensibly, the intention was to provide political protection to the Muslims who were living in provinces like UP with large Hindu majorities. Muslims in Muslim-majority provinces like NWFP had adequate protection any way because of their numbers. Pakistan left behind all the Muslims that were considered vulnerable and constituted a new country in areas that did not need protection. The group that came out worst was of Muslims left behind in India deprived of political leadership. To make things even worse, subsequent actions of Pakistani governments ensured that more rancour was generated in India against Indian Muslims.

            This is the real test for India. Pakistani Muslims will do nothing to make the lives of Indian Muslims tolerable. Indians have to rise the challenge. It is a huge moral test – the kind of test the requires a Gandhian vision.

          • Vinod Says:

            I can say something about Malaysia. The Indians and the Chinese have constantly resented the Bhoomiputra policies which guarantee reservation to a class of Malays (I am not sure exactly whom the reservations are guaranteed for), who invariably happen to be muslims as well. During lunch chats with my chinese colleagues they tell me that if Singapore was a part of Malaysia, our senior management in the Singapore Co affiliate would all be Malays and not Chinese though the majority in the populaiton is Chinese. Indians, Christians and the Chinese in Malaysia have always dreaded the imposition of Shariah. There are parties that are calling for a Saudi-style Shariah in their political rallies. The minorities in Malaysis continue to live in Malaysia even when they can affort to live in Singapore because Malaysia offers a cheaper and better quality lifestyle and the Shariah threats are only sporadic in nature.

            There have been issues in Malaysia about muslim apostates and the jurisdiction of the Shariah court that have troubled inter-community harmony. Lately, there have been issues with the movement of a temple that is being objected to by the muslims.

            I believe Malaysia survives through all these despite Islamic influence because of its pre-Islamic culture of syncretised growth of culture that has continued to a large extent till the global Islamization wave caught up in Malaysia too.

            I don’t hear much about Indonesia.

          • Vinod Says:

            SA, muslims make an argument that Chirstian states do not let them practice a key aspect of their religion – polygamy. In that way, they are not giving equal treatment even in civil matters.

      • kabir Says:

        Anil I agree with you about quid pro quo. But I also think India, as a secular state and as a democracy, should hold it’s self to higher standards than “Islamic Republics” and oil rich middle eastern kingdoms.

      • Vinod Says:

        SA, I want to add a qualification of the tolerance you speak of in the medieval period. I beieve that kind of tolerance is a rather low standard when speaking of tolerance to minorities in today’s world. Would Saladdin have let one of the Maimonides become his deputy or his stand-in? Never. Letting the maimonides settle down in his empire and go about their daily business is one thing and letting a person from the minority rise up to governing a state is another. I don’t think we could ever have seen a Barrack Obama type leader in the medieval times. There was a limit to the tolerance of the medieval times that one should be aware of and medieval tolerance should not get overrated. .

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Vinod: This is an issue we should address with some care. First, one could argue that the extent and intensity of the intolerance we have seen in the modern era is unprecedented – where in the past would one find the equivalents of the Holocaust, the Partition of the Indian subcontinent, the Apartheid in South Africa, the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, the decimation of native populations in North America and Australia, etc.?

          In some sense this is not the most interesting aspect. I feel the past has to be evaluated in terms of its own norms, not the norms of the modern era. And within the norms of any era it becomes useful to look at variations. Why at a particular time were some parts or some regimes more tolerant than others? That could tell us that we might be missing something important. If people of the same religion or culture could display variations in tolerance, there might be some other variable involved that we might be overlooking. It could be some political aspect that we are not aware of and have not looked for. In such cases most people find it easier instead to make sweeping generalizations for which no research is required.

          As for Maimonides, as Professor Sen has mentioned, Saladin not only supported him but gave him a place of honor at his court. We have already recorded in an earlier post the composition of Emperor Akbar’s cabinet – it ought to be considered a great sign of trust and religious tolerance to assign the control of the finances and the military of the empire to individuals belonging to groups that most people think in terms of hated enemies. If some Muslims were reading this discussion, they would surely point also to the fact that a black slave was the first appointed muezzin of the Islamic faith.

          So, either we are misinformed about the norms of earlier times or we are judging them too harshly.

          • Ganpat Ram Says:


            Partition means Muslims can now peacefully develop their Pakistan with a mainly Muslim personality, and Hindus can develop an India with a mainly Hindu personality. The two can live separately. A very good result. I have many many criticisms of Nehru, but his decision to accept Partition SAVED the Hindus.

            Without it, there would have been an unimaginable bloodletting and Muslims would have seized far more land than they got. Hence their gripe about Partition.

  34. Hayyer Says:

    Ganpat Ram
    You have read the hate mongers among the Muslims prior to partition. Have you read the hate mongers among the Hindus? It is a long list starting with Dayanand Saraswati and Vivekananda (though the latter claimed to be reasonable).

  35. Ganpat Ram Says:


    India has the right to be a Hindu state IF it gives equal rights to minorities.

    I am glad you admit Partition was a piece of enormous luck for Hindus.

    Even Muslims are better off with it. Hindus and Muslims have quarreled so much that without Partition there would have been total chaos and bloodshed.

    Indian Muslims tend to whine rather than use the ample opportunities they have to biuild decent lives. They do not deserve the sympathy you waste on them.

    I am VERY happy Indians, Paks and Bngladeshis will live seprate lives forever. GOOODO!!!!!!

  36. Hayyer Says:

    Ganpat Ram:
    If Hindus wanted a Hindu state they would vote in those political parties that want a Hindu India. Why argue on this site? Address your questions to Indian Hindus and ask them to vote for the Parivar group.
    You have an idea of Muslims; and you insist that it is the only correct idea. There is nothing to be done about that. It is what fanaticism is usually about.

    • Ganpat Ram Says:


      Calling those fanatics who warn about Muslims because of universal experience of Muslim fanaticism is a very cheap polemical device.

  37. Ganpat Ram Says:


    You seem to be dead set on whitewashing Islamic imperialism.

    By your standard Hitler would come across as a trusting and tolerant ruler because he entrusted much of France to Marshal Petain, a French soldier belonging to a group most Nazis would think of as hated enemies.

    There were plenty of Hindu collaborators with Muslim rulers. They stood by as these rulers committed monumental atrocities agaibst their people and destroyed Hindu temples.

    So what?

    • Vinod Says:

      Ganpat, if you think SA is whitewashing, do you realize you are painting in black and white?

      • Ganpat Ram Says:


        What would it take to convince you that Muslims had a profound opposition to the Hindus in the times of Muslim rule in India?

        The FACT that rulers like Aurangzeb rpeatedly expressed acute contempt and for Hinduism and the desire to eradicate it is not enough for you.

        The FACT that Muslim rulers destroyed vast numbers of Hindu temples on any number of pretexts is not enough.

        The FACT that Hindus were subject to all manner of disabilities under Muslim rule is not enough.

        Then what is?

        As for Hindus having collaborated with Muslim rulers…..So what? Did not Indians collaborate with British rulers?

        As for the idea that a British census can create the Hindu-Muslim split: what sort of unity was it that could be split so easily?

        Why dream about a unity that is illusory?

        Just accept the division and live with it. India puts up with a separate Lanka and Nepal, which have infinitely more in common with India culturally than Pakistan and Bangladesh….Why can’t it accept a separate Pakistan and Bangladesh?

      • Vikram Says:

        Ganpat, I dont see how you can claim that Lanka and Nepal have “infinitely more” cultural similarity to India than India does to Pakistan. As far as I am concerned, in cultural terms South Asia is mostly a cultural continuum, apart from communities on the fringes like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Kashmir that are related to the continuum but not part of it.

        What distinguishes India from its neighbours like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan is the strong (but often strained) mass and constitutional commitment to pluralism and democracy. They are the foundations of our Republic. To some extent Bangladesh is similar to us in this regard.

        I agree with you that romanticizing about a possibly illusory past will not solve the problem of community relations in India, but neither will blaming all the country’s ills on the perceived malevolence of a particular community.

  38. Ganpat Ram Says:


    May I remind you that the great majority of Indians are Hindus, and that Nepal and Sri Lanka share a huge heritage of religion and culture with the Hindu majority in India since they are Hindus or Buddhists – followers of a daughter religion of Hinduism?

    So it is arrant nonsense when you say these countries do not share more cuturally with India than Muslim countries like Bangladesh and the former West Pakistan.

    • Vikram Says:

      Mr. Ram, I am well aware of the demographics of my country. The point I am trying to make here is that culture does not stem just from religion (although it is an important source) but also from language and history. A Hindu Tamil does have something in common with an Assamese Hindu, but he/she also has something in common with a Tamil Christian.

      If religion was the sole determinant of culture and nations, then ‘East Pakistan’ wouldnt have fought a war of independence and become Bangladesh (i.e. nation of Bengalis).

      India shares culture with all of its neighbours, but their politics and Constitutions are very different.

      • Ganpat Ram Says:


        If language is what counts with you, there is no case for any kind of united India, or united Pakistan.

        We all speak different languages.

        Stop fooling yourself. The idea of a united India is primarily based on the Hindu heritage. Without it there will be just a bunch of independent states.

        You can fool yourself all you like. The Muslims are NEVER coming back to join the Hindus. We have gone our separate ways, and a jolly good thing too. Islam is too intolerant.

      • Vinod Says:

        Ganpat, you have completely missed the point of this post by SA. It is not about calling for a unity of India and Pakistan. So pls stop belabouring that irrelevant point. The point of this post was about how an analysis is more often than not tainted with the simplifications about others derived from one’s prejudices. It is about deriving lessons from history on arriving at sound judgment in difficult scenarios.

      • SouthAsian Says:

        Vikram: I agree with the point you have made (culture does not stem just from religion) but want to push further on two subsequent comments: that religion is an important source of culture; and on the nature of the relationship between conflict and culture.

        We have had this discussion earlier with Mazhur who took a position similar to Ganpat Ram’s that religion is the source of culture. In general, a stronger case can be made that culture is the larger category and culture subsumes religion. Thus religion becomes one element in a culture. For example, we talk about the culture of the Punjab which includes Punjabis of all religions. Similarly, as you mention, there is Tamil culture which also cuts across religions and has some of the same religions as in the Punjab.

        When a community converts to a new religion it’s culture essentially remains the same – only some practices change. This is what explains the existence of syncretic communities that are perplexed at the attempts of purists to force them into one religion or the other. Even those who do not believe in any religion belong to one culture or the other.

        Regarding conflict, there is nothing that prevents conflicts within cultures. There can be inter-cultural as well as intra-cultural conflict. Intra-culture conflict can be driven by differences over some element of that culture like religion (e.g., a conflict between Sikh and Muslim Punjabis) or some dimension within the religion itself (e.g., caste). There are often intense quarrels over property within families that share all elements of a given culture.

        Your conclusion is absolutely correct – there is a shared culture in South Asia but the politics and Constitutions of the countries comprising South Asia are very different.

      • Vikram Says:

        Mr. Ram, For the majority of Indians, language counts along with religion, caste and nationality. They are part of people’s identity. Trying to form nationalism based on religion does not appeal to the majority.

        It is time for you to open your eyes and your mind.

        ISRO has Hindus, Muslims and Christians speaking different languages, but that does not stop them from being an organization and achieving collective goals, does it ?

    • kabir Says:

      Judging by some of the comments on this post, Hinduism is just as intolerant as Islam. Rather, intolerant people exist among followers of all religions.

      Now back to the topic of the post.

  39. Ganpat Ram Says:

    The mistake many people make is imgining thsat Pakistan was due solely to Jinnah.

    In fact, by 1945 it was a mass movement. Jinnah or no Jinnah,it would have dominated Indian politics.

    However Hindus and Muslims might have co-existed in the past – even setting aide the actual grisly record of communal battles – in modern times, as thy became much more self-conscious about communal identity, they could no longer co-exist. Co-existence was a feature of a pre-modern age. In modern times, Muslims wanted Pakistan.

    You cannot escape the diffuculties of modernity by praising the past, as many are doiung here.

    Hindus and Muslims no longer, if they ever did, trust each other. Each expected the worst. It was time to part.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Ganpat: The following points need attention in your comment:

      1. There is no one on this blog who thinks that Pakistan was due solely to Jinnah. You were the only person who did so. It is good that you have joined the majority.
      2. Assertions are not enough by themselves. They are only starting points and need proof of have credibility. You need to cite evidence of the “grisly record of communal battles” in the past.
      3. Co-existence could not have been a feature of a pre-modern age if the latter was also riddled with grisly communal battles. There is a contradiction in this claim.
      4. You need to support the claim that in modern times as people become more self-conscious about communal identity, they cannot co-exist. How would you apply this to the history of Europe?
      5. Does this imply that as people in India become more self-conscious of their caste identities they would no longer be able to live together?
      6. Your claim that in modern times “Muslims wanted Pakistan” needs elaboration. How would you explain that more Muslims stayed in India than moved to Pakistan?
      7. You misunderstand the debate on this blog by thinking that people are trying to “escape the difficulties of modernity by praising the past.” The objective is to study the past to understand the present; and also to see how the past is re-invented to justify the present. This is the standard task in thousands of history departments in the world; there is nothing odd or fearful about it. Knowledge of the past does often shake one’s certainties about the present. Some are excited by the prospect, others are afraid of it. Often the latter groups try to stop the study of history. That becomes part of politics.
      8. You make a strong claim that “Hindus and Muslims no longer, if they ever did, trust each other.” You need to cite evidence for that without resorting to the label of ‘collaborators’ for all those who did trust each other. Labeling also does not count as proof. In fact, dismissing everything and everyone that does not agree with one’s position and repeating one’s assertions is an indication that one wishes to engage in polemics not debate.
      9. If it turns out that your claim is indeed true, the task for the participants on this blog would be to rebuild that trust.
      10. Nothing is forever. There may be a time to part and there can be a time to get together again. It depends upon the needs of the times. We are in one boat now buffeted by the storms of globalization and climate change. In one boat we need to row together lest we drown. It is not wisdom to practice one’s prejudices on a sinking boat.

      The following is a third century BC inscription from the Twelfth Major Rock Edict of the Mauryan emperor, Ashoka:

      ‘… On each occasion one should honour the sect of the other, for by doing so one increases the influence of one’s own sect and benefits that of the other; while by doing otherwise one diminishes the influence of one’s own sect and harms the other. Again, whosoever honours his own sect or disparages that of another, wholly out of devotion to his own, with a view to showing it in a favourable light, harms his own sect even more seriously. Therefore, concord is to be commended, so that men may hear one another’s principles and obey them …’

      • Ganpat Ram Says:

        1. Did more Muslims stay in India than went to Pakistan?
        Not if you know anything about the numbers. Pakistan and Bangladesh constituted two-thirds of the Indian Muslim population. According to me. two-thirds is twice as big as one-third. Correct me if I am wrong.

        It is true actual Muslim migration, though one of the biggest mass movements in history, was of a small portion of the Musloim populaion within the new borders of India. But did that imply these Muslims had no enthuisiasm for Pakistan? Not at all. Thety were the main supporters of Pakistan, in Indian elections. The rest of the Muslims joined in later.

        2. What proof of Hindus and Muslims not trusting each other in modern times, you ask. May I point to the Pakistan movement? Isn’t that evidence enough and more?

        3. As for earlier times, I cannot summarise the vast evidence in an inch. I would advise you to study the history of Muslim temple-destruction in India. There are few large and really old Hindu temples left in areas of India longest under Muslims. You have to go to South India for those. This is enough to show you the Muslims deeply despised Hinduism. It is no more persuasive to pretend Hindus loved Muslim rule than that Arabs were happy under Western rule. Do not prescribe colonialism for Hindus. I see an Islamist imperialist tendency in you.

        4. It is tough luck if the Pakistanis got the worst of the deal under Partition. That boat is over-populated, increasingly waterless and is siunking. Don’t try to take over the Hindu share. That’s all I ask. They decided to go, and they should stay gone.

        • SouthAsian Says:


          1. We are obviously talking of different numbers. I am talking about the proportion of the total population of Muslims in the newly created India that migrated to Pakistan. That constitutes a strong test of whether they did not want to live in India. You have to remember that elections before 1947 were not based on universal suffrage.
          2. As I have mentioned times change and people change with the times. One can argue that the British also ruled repressively in India (Plassey, 1857, Jallianwala Bagh) yet all Indians (Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs) find it possible to co-exist with them. The Nazis carried out genocide against the Jews and they have learnt to live together. The Americans bombed Vietnam to death and they have learnt to co-exist. You may wish to live in the past but everyone does not have to be bound to your preferences.
          3. If you talk for a mile and cannot spare an inch for evidence all your talk is in vain. What you see in others depends upon the eyes you see with. I have mentioned that labeling does not substitute for evidence.
          4. Your statement “that boat is over-populated, increasingly waterless and is sinking. Don’t try to take over the Hindu share” is disconnected. Please do not be fearful – no one is trying to undo history. I have said before I am delighted you have a secure space.

          • Ganpat Ram Says:


            I see you try to avoid facing up to historical facts with rather feeble subterfuges.

            1. Indian elections under the British had a restricted electorate, true, but no historian I am aware of doubts that the Hindu population by and large supported the Congress and the Muslims by 1945 overwhelmingly supported the Pakistan movement. The electoral restrictions applied right across the India of that time, and it was consistently in the part that became the India of today that the Muslims most strongly supported the Pakistan movement. Jinnah himself was Bombay-based, and other important early leaders came from the UP.

            2. Co-existence is inevitable on Earth, but the Hindus and the Muslims have quarreled so much that it would be the height of folly to bring the two together again in the same country. People like Nehru and Patel were far from fanatical Hindus, yet they took the decision to have Partition once they realised the alternative was a permanent Muslim veto on everything that happened in India, that in effect a minority would be holding the rest to ransom with civil war and massacre a perpetual reality. I respect their decision, which saved most of India.

            3. I don’t blame the Muslims for their devition to the Islamic identity. It is a very proud and magnificent heritage, and they have every right to take pride in it. But Hindus too, respect their heritage, however measly it seems to Muslims. We are glad of a chance tio develop our Hindu identity in India, without the Muslim veto.

            4. Every serious historian accepts that Muslims destroyed Hindu temples on a mass scale. Are you disputing this?

            5. Germans and Frenchmen live in the EU, but they are not divded by Islam, and had to go through two world wars. Hindus and Muslims are profoundly different, and should stay by and large in different lands. Certainy India can trade with Pakistan, just as it does with Peru. Other than that, it should be a strict non-interference, comment or connection other than good neighbourliness as with, say, Burma.

            6. Every serious historian knows Muslims destroyed Hindu temples en masse. Are you seriously disputing that?

  40. kabir Says:

    Ganpat Ram:

    In all sincerity, given your views that Hindus and Muslims are well rid of each other, why are you commenting on a blog called “The South Asian Idea?”. We are not called the “Akhand Bharat Idea”, the “Indian Idea”, or even the “Pakistani Idea”. Our use of the word “South Asia” should let you know of our ideology and our belief in promoting peace and tolerance in the Indian Subcontinent.

  41. Ganpat Ram Says:


    How ironic and telling that people like you make a big thing about your devotion to the Indian cultural heritage, yet try to evade accepting that there was a massive Muslim destruction of Hindu temples.

    Are those Hindu temples not a very important part of the Indian heritage?

    This lack of concern about the destruction of the temples gives the lie to your praise of about South Asia’s cutural unity, etc etc.

  42. Ganpat Ram Says:


    I take it you welcome debate, that you don’t just think your views should go unquestioned. That is why I participate in this debate.

    Muslims need people who will argue with them, politely but firmly.

  43. Ganpat Ram Says:


    Apologies for the accidental repetition of the question about Hindu temples above.

    I wait for your answer.

    Were the temples destroyed or not?

    Don’t Hindus have aright to be concerned about that?

    Can that concern be dismissed as that of a minority, as Romila Thapar suggests? Does the Thapar principle apply to all historical crmes, like the Holocaust, for example?

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Ganpat: Many temples were destroyed. I haven’t come across a count; if you have let us know and cite the source. Everyone has a right to be concerned. The concern cannot be dismissed as that of a minority without evidence. Your concern is very obvious and has been registered. I am not sure if the entire German race or all of Christendom is being held accountable for the Holocaust which is a historical fact.

  44. Ganpat Ram Says:


    I believe people like Romila Thapar have done a measureless amount of harm to Hindu-Muslim relations.

    You recommend her atrociously dishonest argument that the Muslim destruction of Hindu temples like that of Somnath was not motivated by Islamic hatred of a rival faith, Hinduism.

    This is adding insult to the injury Hindus have suffered. If Hindus destroyed mosques on the same scale would you or any honest person buy the claim that this had nothing to do with Hindu intolerance of Islam? Obviously not.

    General Dyer claimed that his massacre of Indians at Jallianwalla Bagh was not motivated by prejudice against them. No serious person accepts this, though as a matter of fact some local Sikh leaders felicitated Dyer.

    Why then attempt similar arguments to whitewash Islamic crimes against Hindus?

    Would you accept the attempt of upper caste Hindus to argue that their maltreatment of Dalits had nothing to do with caste prejudice?

    Muslims would do far better to admit the history of Islamic intolerance, and try to be tolerant.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Ganpat: I fail to understand how Romila Thapar has done a “measureless amount of harm to Hindu-Muslim relations.” Clearly her argument differs from yours but does that necessarily make it “atrociously dishonest”? Is everyone who disagrees with your opinion dishonest, deluded, or a collaborator?

      Your example of General Dyer reiterates the point that there can be more than one interpretation of the same event. The task of the historian is to examine the evidence not to call the other side names. If you have a different opinion you need to point out where you dispute the evidence.

      It is not for me to tell anyone what to do. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but if they wish to participate in a debate they have to defend their opinions with evidence and logic.

      • Ganpat Ram Says:


        The popint I was making was that Thapar applies to Hindu history standards of evaluation she would not think of applying to other histories. That is why she is deeply dishonest.

        Thapar suggests that the destruction of Hindu temples by Muslims need not be held tio mean these happened because of Muslim bias against Hinduism. She would NEVER apply the same principle to Hindu crimes against Muslims such as the Babri Masjid destruction or Gujarat, would she?I clearly pointed out that General Dyer could be absolved of racial bias against Indians, by the Thapar method which you praise.

        So I have clearly indicated what my argument is about.

        Do not pretend not to understand.

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Ganpat: I would expect Romila Thapar to apply exactly the same methodology to Babri Masjid as she applied to Somanath. She would look at all the contemporaneous documents and sources and lay them out for review by others. From these she would draw her own conclusions and also enable others to draw theirs. In the case of Babri Masjid the task is much easier because the documents are readily available and in languages that are accessible.

          The Dyer incident would also be examined in the same way and the available evidence would be weighed in the court of history. Taking one position or the other based on ideological or nationalist preferences does not qualify as rigorous analysis.

          Your last sentence suggests that along with Romila Thapar you also consider me deeply dishonest. As I have mentioned before, if your starting position is that anyone who disagrees with you is deeply dishonest there is little prospect of resolving the differences. The only option is for us to retire with grace.

  45. ModerateIndianHindu Says:

    1. Great discussion, enjoyed reading it. The depth of knowledge of you all is amazing. I agree with Ganpat Ram that the Hindu and Muslim nation has gone so wide apart that integration is impossible…. But I do hope that one day India and Pakistan can have open borders, if not integrated population like Germany. Open borders could be an interim step before unification, if that happens in my lifetime!!

    2. Ganpat Ram – Bitterness does not help, educated people like us can bring a change to move forward from prejudice and work together for the betterment of the society.
    Yes, I agree atrocities were committed on Hindus during Muslim rule. But that has nothing to do about religion… this is an innate human nature that unfortunately represses the downtrodden and has shown time and time again all over the world.
    Hindus repressed Dalits for ages… hot molten lead was poured in the ears of dalits who happen to listen to vedas and other hindu religious recitals. Was this religion based prejudice? NO – it was power based… upper caste hindus had a perceived power and they abused it.
    British and also Nadir Shah repressed Indians (Hindus and Muslims alike) ….Colonial powers repressed slaves both Black and White, European settlers in US repressed Native Americans, Australian natives is the same story, Christians repressed non Christians, Sunnis repressed shias…. list goes on and on… so the common thread there is not the religion but raw human instinct of hunger for power and resulting abuse.
    I would equate the abuse listed above to a small token exercise of abusive power by a govt office babu(clerk) in India today – he has a perceived power to delay you a phone connection or delay your customs clearance and by golly he exercises that – I don’t believe he will distinguish between religion in exercising his abusive power.
    The power in modern times has translated to electoral power and hence manipulation by conniving politicians. Illiteracy, poverty and uneducated masses get manipulated by such hate mongers.
    Descendents of American Slaves carried a chip on their shoulder for generations, and some still do live in the past…. But successful African Americans are those who have come to terms with the historical facts and learnt to move forward. We should all do that.
    2. SouthAsian – Great effort in moderating the discussion.. and your knowledge is awesome !!

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Moderate Indian Hindu: You have summarized the discussion very well and extracted the key point that is relevant. Belonging to a religion and being ideologically motivated by it are two completely different things. This is a distinction that many people overlook. The Mughals who invaded India were Muslims but it was not Islam that motivated their invasion. Had that been the case, Aurangzeb would not have spent half his life fighting the Muslim kingdoms in the Deccan. The Khilafat Movement was supported by Gandhi, opposed by Jinnah, and crushed by Kemal Ataturk. Political considerations almost always override religious ones.

      When one reads the history of India over the last one thousand years one never comes across an instance of a purely Muslim army arrayed against a purely Hindu army – there were always people of both communities on either side. All the battles were driven by control over territory and sources of revenue, never by religion. I was reminded of this again while reading a short story by Prem Chand (Rani Sarindha). It is about Bundelkhand which is in the news these days – readers would find the story of interest for more than one reason.

      The irony is that those who are motivated by religion are particularly prone to violence against their co-religionists whom they consider not sufficiently religious. This is what the Taliban are doing in Pakistan and what the RSS has been doing in India.

      When we oversimplify religion we exacerbate the divisions in society for reasons that have almost no support in reality. Many thanks for your very valuable comments.

  46. Siddharth Says:

    We Indians and Pakistanis come with so much baggage.

    Here are the identities I most identify with: I am a human, a lover of rock and roll, a beer connoisseur, a photographer, a cartoonist, and an atheist.

    My “Indianness” is primarily culinary, linguistic, and related to pop culture. I come from a Pakistan bordering state (Rajasthan), and I can assure you no one ever thinks/talks about Pakistan there. I have lived a good 13 years of my life in South India. No one thinks/talks about Pakistan there either. There are primarily only two places in India where Pakistan is an issue people discuss: in the chatty circles of Mumbai and Delhi (I have lived 5+ years in both cities).

    I don’t know if this is a good thing or bad, but Indians on an average don’t care about Pak either way.

    Do excuse me for not contributing anything relevant to this debate/discussion. I just hope we call all just chill out and get along. Wishful thinking, I know.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Siddharth: There could be a bit of natural parochialism involved in this phenomenon – I doubt if people in Rajasthan think or talk much about South India, or vice versa, either. In normal circumstances this lack of involvement would not matter but the circumstances are far from normal – the nature of India-Pakistan relations could cast a huge shadow on the welfare of over a billion people in South Asia. For that reason alone, the Indian government has a very active public policy stance vis a vis Pakistan. Whose views is it representing if the people are not involved in the debate or are indifferent to it? Could it become like the situation in the USA where American citizens are not interested enough in the Middle East thereby allowing neo-cons the opportunity to take liberties in that sphere?

      • Siddharth Singh Says:


        The problem is that Rajasthanis, or the people living in rural areas of any state in India, Pakistan or any other south Asian country have a lot of problems of their own to worry about anything else. International relations is last on their minds. Hence I wouldn’t be too surprised to see such indifference of people beyond India too (I can only speak about what I have noticed, everything else is speculation).

        I too fear that the international policy will be taken over by jingoistic neo cons in our subcontinent. In fact, haven’t they already? At least, in my eyes, we might be heading in that direction.

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Siddharth: In Pakistan the neo-cons have undoubtedly taken control. In India, there have been ups and downs but the general trend is towards a hardening stance. I keep thinking if this represents the preferences of the rural populations which are still the majority in both countries. How does one find out? In the theory of democracy, the will of the people drives the policy of the governments. In our times, the ruling cliques manipulate and manufacture the will of the people with control of information and its abuse backed by money. This was at the back of mind in the two posts about Kashmir (here and here).

  47. Arun Says:

    Just keep Pakistan an uninterrupted parliamentary democracy for a sufficiently long time (two decades at least) and things will improve; some kind of South Asia will emerge.

    Everything else is wishful thinking.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Arun: I agree, although keeping Pakistan ‘civil’ for two decades is a tough order. A lot of smart politics by India would be needed to finesse such an outcome. My fear is that Indian democracy itself might be squeezed over two decades if it does not deliver benefits to the majority of its population.

  48. Bharat Says:

    Very interesting discussion, and an unusually high content to vitriol ratio. My compliments.

    I tend to agree with Ganapat Ram for the most part, though his feisty and robust language seems to have caused a great deal of perplexity. In my experience in discussing with members of the Pakistani intellegentsia (defined as those who write more or less coherently on blogs, op-eds etc.) I have found (with a handful of exceptions) that any Indian (especially if he should come across as a Hindu) that expresses himself vigorously in opposition to the Pakistanis’ received verities is reflexively dismissed as a Hindu fanatic, and put in a box with Thakre, Modi et al. It is to this blog’s credit that this didn’t quite happen to Ganapat Ram, but it came mighty close to happening.

    Being grateful for a Hindu majority state, where for the most part Hindus feel free to be Hindus without feeling that they are on sufferance from the rulers is not the same as being a Hindu fanatic or an intolerant person. India (aspirationally at least) is a country where the question of sufferance does not arise (which fact is what protects the dignity and natural rights of its minorities), whereas Pakistan, in the best of possible worlds, is a country that is modeled on exactly this idea of sufferance and “tolerance” of the despised inferior.(in the less-than-best scenario, the minorities are systematically exterminated and degraded, both in fact and in aspiration). Like Ganapat Ram, I thank the Almighty that this idea, and not Muslims per se, has in effect been quarrantined in Pakistan, and pray that India wises up and keeps its ideological borders secure and well-policed.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Bharat: Thanks for the compliment; it is much appreciated.

      This is not a partisan blog and does not suffer from the self-imposed burden of having to defend specific positions. The response to Ganpat Ram was not undertaken from the position of a “Pakistani” blog. Rather, it was an attempt to engage logically with his arguments. In the end it was a draw as neither side was able to make headway but hopefully other readers were able to benefit from the exchange.

      On your second point, I have mixed feelings. You make an important distinction that it is not Muslims per se but the ideological stance that is quarantined in Pakistan that is problematic. If Pakistan had not been created, India would still have been a Hindu majority state. Therefore, being grateful for Partition does not seem relevant from this perspective. There might be other benefits for India but acquiring a majority is clearly not one of them.

      • Bharat Says:


        I am having trouble parsing
        “You make an important distinction that it is not Muslims per se but the ideological stance that is quarantined in Pakistan that is problematic. ”

        It is not clear whether you are saying that the distinction (ideology or mindset vs religion) is problematic; if so, how is it problematic?

        The subcontinent was always nominally Hindu-majority, even before British times, so that is irrelevant to discussion about partition. The exact question that divided the country was whether any group should be privileged enough to have a veto power over pubic decision, in law as well as in fact. Pakistan’s Constitution clearly states that Muslims shall have that power, and it has proved so in fact, with everyone else living in terror of the whims of Muslims, and that being perfectly legal. The ideology of India, while accepting some safeguards for various vulnerable elements of society, emphatically does not privilege any group over any other. Hindu numerical majority by itself is meaningless (as it has always existed, yet arguably in many parts of India over many periods of history Hindus lived in terror of Muslims, along with kings, nobles, and so on. India (despite occassonal and sporadic outbursts of Hindu supremacist sentiment along with violence, has by and large never sought to reverse the scales on Muslims; an equal and free status is more than sufficient for Hindus. The opposite of such equality and freedom is what is quarantined in Pakistan.

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Bharat: I was reiterating the point you had made in your earlier comment: “I thank the Almighty that this idea [of sufferance], and not Muslims per se, has in effect been quarantined in Pakistan.”

          I felt this was an important and valuable distinction because it identifies the real problem – the idea adopted by the people in Pakistan. This gets us away from the position that the problem resides in the religion itself. Just as an idea can be adopted, it can be un-adopted – this is a normal part of political struggles.

          Constitutions do not explicitly need to privilege groups – the majority is automatically privileged if democracy degenerates into majoritarianism. It is the minorities whose rights have to be protected against the abuses of majoritarianism. Pakistan has failed completely in this endeavor; India has done much better but there is room to do more.

  49. Satyajit Says:

    Nice topic, heated debates.

    Hindus had been under Islamic rule for a over 700 years. Politicians, intellectuals, and other secularists cannot just expect Hindus to forget the past!!! Past is past, but it matters.

    Can the Jews ever forget Holocaust. Never. They should never.

    That secularism is enshrined in the Indian Constitution is itself a miracle considering the history of Hindus. Which other country would have allowed for such a document of rights after being so brutally ruled? None!!! Israel is also a Jewish state.

    Having said this, I believe for the future of India, secularism is important. There is simply no other way to manage a country like ours. Why should Hindus, who form the majority, give equal rights and equal consideration to all minorities? They should because India is now looking to unify all its people under a common banner. In other words if Hindus want a better life, and a greater say in their country they have to make sure that the minorities, feel as Indian as they do!!! However painful and unfair it may sound, this is the best way forward now.

    Those who preach secularism, and I am one of them, should also acknowledge and accept the fact that in India, Hindus had been brutalized in the past by Islamic rule.

    Preaching secularism without accepting the fact that Hindus have for centuries suffered under foreign domination, is absolutely wrong!!! We in this country have quotas for the Dalits, because it is widely understood that they have suffered, and the quotas are a way of addressing historical injustice. The Hindus are merely asking that politicians, minorities and other groups accept the fact that Hindus have suffered.

    Presently, there is no acceptance of that fact. People get angry when they hear a politician make speeches about secularism without even showing remorse for the injustice Hindus have suffered.

    A society gets stronger when, every group condemns and protest, injustice against any community. In our country how many Muslim leaders have come out and accepted the fact that Aurangzeb was a murderer who brutalized Hindus? Why is their silence on that issue? Is it because they see nothing wrong with it? Why is it that the English media is silent about past atrocities committed by Muslims rulers, but makes noise about BJP, Advani and other hindutva parties? Why is it that we do not have a national remembrance day for the Hindus who died during Islamic invasions? These are double standards.

    Let me summarize by saying this- Secularism asks a lot from Hindus, and Hindus have accepted secularism because they kmow it is important for their country, but then they also see that they alone compromise. They see that their pain is not seen heard or felt by politicians, and that is when many of them start doubting secularism.

    Pakistan, is a nice country. It has a different take on the History, but for how long are we going to deny the truth? Pakistan and India can be one country, but let us first agree on our past!! Let us at least understand why Hindus are angry. After all India gave birth to Hinduism, and Hindus are the original residents of this ancient land.

    When Aurangzeb and other Islamic rulers who killed Hindus are celebrated as national heroes, how would Hindus react? I wonder.

    For India and Pakistan to be one, we will have to start with the history, then move forward slowly. Will they ever be one, I do not know, but I want them to. Yes, after all the past I am of the opinion that we are one people divided by religion, but divisions are meant to be sealed, and communities (under appropriate conditions – too many to list here) heal. Hope for the best.

  50. arsalan Says:


    I’m from Pakistan, I just want to say that the Indian Partition was a really great mistake. Over a million people got killed due to violence created by the ill designed partition. Just ask yourself, are the lives of 1 million innocent people of South Asia really less important that the greed of power hungry political entities such as the Muslim League and Congress.

    Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs were living peacefully until the British arrived. Its not just Pakistan or India, everywhere you look while withdrawing the British Empire broke up all of its colonies.

    Unfortunately, the bulk of Pakistanis and Indians have been brainwashed due to institutionalized propaganda, and remain in complete denial.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Arsalan: This is a complex issue and it can be easily over simplified. I believe that attributing the one million deaths to the greed of power hungry political entities like the Muslim League and the Congress would be one such over simplification. We have the benefit of hindsight that the key players did not have when they were negotiating. I don’t think any of them wanted one million deaths or indeed believed that such an outcome was possible. We can fault them on poor judgment but not on inhuman intentions.

      There is little doubt that the British were interested in prolonging their rule as long as possible and their strategies were geared to that end. Recall that the major anti-colonial uprising of 1857 was a united movement. It was in the interest of the British to divide and conquer – they gained an extension but at huge cost to the people of India. Part of the blame has to be shared by the Indians who fell for this tactic. I feel the main parties were conscious of this and tried, as evidenced by the many attempts to build united coalitions till late into the 1920s, but they lost control on both sides to the fringe elements that valued ideology over compromise.

      It is ironical that both Indians and Pakistanis have forgiven the British but remain unforgiving of each other.

  51. Bala Krishnan Says:

    Deart southasian,

    I am sure sounthasian is a Muslim who longing for a united India or a very foolish Hindu who is ingnorant of Muslim psyche.

    is there any country in the world that can co-exist with a Muslim population of more than 30%? Impossible. The fundementals of Islam dictates Jihad is the only option to liberate from non-mulsim rule – if in all countries the Muslims do not attempt now only means, they are not ready for such a combat. Why East Timur or south Sudan drifting away? It is impossible to live honourably by non Muslims in a Muslim majority country. Can you show a single nonMuslim living honourable in any of the 57 islamic countries? No. you cannot find.

    If India had not been divided, India would have gone under a terrible civil war killing millions and would have created far greater a Muslim country comprising almost all of north India. Every Indian, Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs for that matter, would have been carrying AK47 and suicide belts same like happening in Pakistan (every Pakistani got either AK47 or other kind of guns – I talk to them)

    If anyone dreaming of coexistence withe Muslims honourable, they are living in a fool’s paradise.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Bala Krishnan: There is a larger issue embedded in the point you have made. Throughout most of the human history we know, people have found it difficult to coexist with those who are different whether they are minorities or not. There have been ups and downs but the essential inability has not disappeared anywhere. The variations over time have been quite significant. We find the Christian countries relatively tolerant today (although note the treatment of the Roma in Europe) but for centuries there was intense anti-Semitism culminating in one of the most tragic episodes in history. The Islamic world is going through its phase of intolerance now as you have pointed out but there was a time when Muslim countries were the most tolerant. Many unbiased historians have recorded the fact that when Jews were hounded out of Christian countries they were given refuge in Islamic ones. Intolerance is not intrinsic to religions but springs from many different contextual reasons.

      This inability to coexist is not confined to differences in religion. Discrimination based on color, language and ethnicity has been a constant throughout history. And even beyond this, where people share all these attributes, the powerful have not been averse to treating the weak with brutality. You will not have to look far to find many examples.

      In such a context, it is a disservice to continue the pattern of demonizing others based on broad generalizations and a partial knowledge of history. What is needed are concerted and united efforts to find ways to reduce prejudice and discrimination. The task is not hopeless. Look at the history of the United States starting with the extermination of the native Indians and the enslavement of the Africans. Today there is a President with the middle name of Hussain. It needs people of the calibre of Martin Luther King to travel this road of healing. Look at the history of South Africa where decades of brutal exploitation of the natives has given way to a reconciliation under the guidance of Nelson Mandela. It is indeed ironic that both King and Mandela take their inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi.

  52. Bala Krishnan Says:

    Dear SouthAsian,

    I appreciate your moderate approach to every issue. Yes you are right – we must hope for a better future of co-existence. I am a post graduate in History and had more liberal views than you until I start to live in an islamic country. I intereact wtih Muslims from Indonesia to Algeria and I found them, individually taken, very nice persons devoid of any extremist thoughts expressed in daily interactions. That matter gives us hope, as you professed, for a great change as happened in Christian world. Fanatism among Christians is not eliminated in mind and thought and it is shown whenever they got a chance to express it. But in the modern secular world, Christians have learnt to love and accommodate persons other religions unlike Muslims.

    This does not preclude us to ignore the current realities – if we ignore, it means ‘deliberate suspension of disbelief’ and it is very dangerous for our (if we both are Hindus otherwise read my religion’s) future survival.

    Somehow or other I must wish you all the best for your chosen middle path which may shed some light to those who drift to extremisim and enable them to go back to more humane society.

    Thanks again

    Bala Krishnan

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Bala Krishnan: I see human beings as bundles of contradictory passions that, most of the time, keep each other in check. Once in a while, some one passion takes control of their lives to the exclusion of others – and these are the dangerous times. These passions are so raw and so close to the surface that it seems the very idea of a match can set them afire – and this makes instigators so dangerous. If one reads Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan (in English) or Qurratulayn Hyder’s Aag ka Darya (in Urdu) or Yashpal’s Jhutha Sach (in Hindi) one can get a sense of how people can live together for years and then one day have no compunction in the most brutal carnage.

      This is the problem of induction (that you cannot always infer the future from observations of the past) that Bertrand Russell illustrated with his fable of the benevolent farmer. In his book, The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb has used this fable to reflect on the fate of the increasingly integrated German Jews in the 1930s.

      A good book that has been mentioned on this blog is Secularism Confronts Islam by Olivier Roy. Roy describes how Christianity was dragged kicking and screaming into the secular world and then asks: “But if Christianity has been able to recast itself as one religion among others in a secular space, why would this be impossible for Islam?”

      His answer is worth reading but a point he makes is that one would be led completely astray if one started the argument from dogma (Christian or Islamic). He strongly recommends a sociological approach based on a concrete analysis of Muslim practices that is often at variance with dogma just as the practices of many Catholics are at variance with the dogma regarding contraception. If one focuses on practice, Olivier claims, one would find that the majority of Muslims in countries with non-Muslim majorities have already adjusted to a secular world. And he makes an important point in describing his book: “Fundamentalism touches only a minority of believers, and many people defined sociologically as Muslims have no religious practices. But I have deliberately concentrated on what has caused problems.” Overlooking this fact carries “the risk of an obvious distortion.”

      I see our task as keeping individuals from inflaming human passions and progressing to a stage where differences of opinions can be resolved through debates and discussions. This forum is intended as a contribution to that effort.

  53. Arun Pillai Says:

    If I may intervene in this one on one conversation, the last couple of posts by Bala Krishnan and South Asian are very heartwarming and also conceptually deep. Bala Krishnan shows a tremendous control of his bundle of passions and I like South Asian’s description of a human being as such a bundle.

    I would like to add a political dimension to this in two ways. If one divides all political thought into conservative, liberal, and radical in terms of the kinds of thinking they portray rather than the substance of their thought, then liberal thought stands out as that thought which is able to reason about things in parts rather than wholes. It breaks the whole problem down into parts and then analyzes the parts and their relationships to each other and to the whole. On the other hand, conservative thought and radical thought treat wholes very much as totalities. This does not mean there are no parts in such systems but rather that the parts are not given their due. (Some liberal strands give too much weight to the individual and not enough to the social whole for example and then this also veers away from abstract liberal thinking.) This part-whole relationship (the study of which is called mereology in philosophy) in liberalism – as opposed to that in conservative and radical thought – is crucial to the moderateness of liberalism. That is why liberalism exists between the two extreme poles of political thought.

    The other dimension about liberalism is its “meta” nature. This is that it houses many different subsystems under it and is a highly abstract principle unlike conservative principles or radical principles. This abstractness is both a strength and a weakness. The strength is that it does not prejudge human nature much because it has very little content. The weakness is that people find it difficult to live with such an abstract system, they need more concreteness which both conservative and radical thought offer.

    I include all religions as well as conservative economic theories within conservatism and I include all extreme leftist and rightist movements and theories under radicalism. The truth about human beings lies somewhere in between. However, this simple unilinear classification is a bit awkward because political thought actually requires a multidimensional space to classify it. In any case, this will suffice for my purposes.

    To conclude, I would add that the posts above exemplify liberal thought even if the people who posted them may not be liberals.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Arun: This is a very insightful and useful perspective. I would add two things. First, the liberal strands that give too much weight to the individual and not enough to the social whole fall in the category of libertarianism and begin to trend into the type of radicalism you have defined. Second, you have described pure modes of thought. Obviously the situation becomes more complex when we are dealing with individuals. The sociologist Daniel Bell who died earlier this month had an interesting “triune” characterization of himself: “a socialist in economics, a liberal in politics, and a conservative in culture.” As we agree, individuals are a complex bundle not only of passions but of modes of thinking. This makes it all the more important to capture more accurately the essence of the various segments of the South Asian population.

  54. Bala Krishnan Says:

    Arun Pillai in his brilliant analysis of the theoritcal thought process and its classifications looks to our subject from another plane. The strange thing I notice that it is impossible to visualize the mindset of a non-Muslim living in a Muslim countries (all the 47 Islamic countries are fanatical in nature except little moderate Turkey and Malasia). Non-Muslims’ subdued existence in Islamic ambience is to be experienced rather than studied.

    Once I had an argument with the IndianMuslim office boy over the work matters totally unrelated to any religions, suddenly I found him shouting all over the vast office saying “if anybody insult my prophet, I will kill him even if he is my son” – all the muslim staff had the impression I had insulted the prophet. Everyone knows what is the punishment of insulting prophet or Islam – here where I live is 10 years jail after namesake trial and in Pakistan death penalty, only two witness required which is easy to get. This is the way nonmuslims are subdued all over the islamic world. Somehow I escaped that ordeal, but the threat is always dangling over a non-muslim’s head all over the islamic world.

    Regarding the possibility of transformation of mind of an islamic extremist to liberal or moderate, I had one Egyptian fanatic ( an engineer !!) came to my office as newly appointed. He refused sit in my large room saying I am a Hindu hence not a human being – equal to monkey or pig (he told it to another muslim colleague). Gradually over months I had discussions opening up his mind and mine too, and he was surprised to find that many other ideas exist in the world. He said to me that 35 years of his life in Egypt, he had not seen any such idea or books to make him understand other cultures. This means 47 islamic countries are closed societies, strictlycontrolled by their autocratic governments. My engineer friend had a metamorphosis, now he does’t follow Islam, doesn’t do daily prayers, eventhough I intended only to make him moderate. Now he says that all religions are fake, only psycho therapies. Now he is of the opinion that Islam inevitably heavily impairs intelligence, it deadens imagination and hinders logical thinking and produces as the end result a general mental degradation in the believer.

    Regarding the Hindus’ position in the face of growing Muslim extremism in India, Hindus should take the teaching of The Art of War by Lao Tsu. The Art of war teaches us to rely not on the liklihood of the enemy not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him, not on the chance of his not attacking but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Bala Krishnan: As I said before the scenario you have described is accurate – it is not much fun to be a non-Muslim in a Muslim majority country; for many it is not even much fun to be a Muslim in a Muslim-majority country. This is a fact. My interest is in how one generalizes from this fact. Two options are open. One can say that the situation results from something that is intrinsic in Islam which has existed from the day of its birth – one would then find some explanations for the exceptions of Turkey and Malaysia you have mentioned.

      Alternatively, one can look for a more historical explanation. One could argue that the social situation in Egypt was quite different under King Farouk, Gamal Nasser and Hosni Mobarak, respectively, although the majority was Muslim throughout. Ditto for the Shah in Iran, Zahir Shah in Afghanistan, Bourguiba in Tunisia, etc. The task would then be to explain what happened in the post-colonial era that gave rise to fundamentalism and to Islamism as a political ideology.

      A comparison can illustrate the point I am making. Till the 1960s in the US South, Blacks and Whites did not eat at the same counter, did not sit in the same bus, did not attend the same schools, and did not us the same toilets. Blacks were deprived of the vote and could readily be accused of rape and lynched with or without recourse to the law. Would it have been correct to generalize from these facts that they were due to something intrinsic in Whiteness or Christianity that had persisted for ever? If so, how would one explain the election of Barack Obama half a century later?

      As for Muslims in India, the perspective you recommend can very easily turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Americans had a choice after 9/11 to treat the incident as a crime committed by people who were Muslims or to launch a War on Terror whose main proponents were Muslims. The latter alternative suited a pre-existing agenda of the neo-conservatives but it has not served either the Americans or the rest of the world well. I am not sure Lao Tsu’s The Art of War is the right approach. Idealistic as it may sound, I would prefer Dale Carnegie’s The Art of Making Friends and Winning People.

  55. Anil Kala Says:

    Bala Krishnan: You succeeded in converting a fanatic into a liberal.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Anil: Can the individual be classified as a liberal? It seems to me he swung from one extreme position to another. A person cannot be liberal while holding such blanket opinions like “all religions are fake, only psycho therapies” or that “Islam inevitably heavily impairs intelligence, it deadens imagination and hinders logical thinking and produces as the end result a general mental degradation in the believer.” This reflects an inability to think through issues and a tendency to take refuge in some overarching belief. There are literally millions of people who defy this stereotype. Religion is a part of this world that cannot be wished away. What is to be avoided is the desire of some to impose their faith on others and secular laws ought to be employed for that purpose.

      • Anil Kala Says:


        Actually I also think all religions are fake and comic. I thought I was liberal so assumed this fellow is liberal too. Now I realize I am a fanatic.

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Anil: You can believe whatever you want but if you believe that people holding other views are mentally impaired then there is a problem. Liberalism doesn’t have much to do with belief or lack of belief in religion – it is an attitude of mind. Atheists and agnostics can be liberal, conservative or radical. So a person who believes all religions are fake does not automatically become a liberal by virtue of that position – it is possible that you are a liberal while the individual under discussion is not. I was commenting on the individual’s perspective that “Islam inevitably heavily impairs intelligence, it deadens imagination and hinders logical thinking and produces as the end result a general mental degradation in the believer.” This flies in the face of evidence – surely there are many Muslims who are just as intelligent and imaginative as anybody else. Are those who do not believe in religion more intelligent as a group than those who do?

        • Anil Kala Says:


          Apparently holding extreme view is fanaticism. Why? If some arrives at a view after much thought, not in sync with politically correct wisdom do we regard this fellow a fanatic? Even if this fellow has an open mind and willing to change his views on hearing counter arguments?

          I don’t think so. Important thing is to have an open mind and willingness to tolerate and respect other person’s contrary views. Holding extreme view alone does not make some one extremist until he begins to impose his views on others.

          • SouthAsian Says:

            Anil: I agree with what you are saying but there are some terms that need to be defined with more clarity. Someone holding extreme views is, by definition, an extremist but an extremist is not necessarily a fanatic. At the same time, it is possible to be a fanatic without holding extreme views at all. The following description from Wikipedia is useful in making the distinctions:

            Fanaticism is a belief or behavior involving uncritical zeal, particularly for an extreme religious or political cause or in some cases sports, or with an obsessive enthusiasm for a pastime or hobby. Philosopher George Santayana defines fanaticism as “redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim”; according to Winston Churchill, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject”. By either description the fanatic displays very strict standards and little tolerance for contrary ideas or opinions.

            The behavior of a fan with overwhelming enthusiasm for a given subject is differentiated from the behavior of a fanatic by the fanatic’s violation of prevailing social norms. Though the fan’s behavior may be judged as odd or eccentric, it does not violate such norms. A fanatic differs from a crank, in that a crank is defined as a person who holds a position or opinion which is so far from the norm as to appear ludicrous and/or probably wrong, such as a belief in a Flat Earth. In contrast, the subject of the fanatic’s obsession may be “normal”, such as an interest in religion or politics, except that the scale of the person’s involvement, devotion, or obsession with the activity or cause is abnormal or disproportionate.

  56. Anil Kala Says:

    There is a tendency to generalize when it suits us. I remember in office when a Dalit does something silly, the refrain would be ‘ye log kabhi nahiiN sudherenge’ while for the same stupidity by an upper caste, the individual will be cursed.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Anil: If one is prejudiced against a group any untoward act of a member of that group is automatically attributed to some genetic characteristic of the group. Where no such prior prejudice exists the act of an individual is seen as no more than the act of an individual. Two things are needed to fight against this virtual auto-response. First, one should consciously refrain from generalizing from the individual to the group. Second, one must subject one’s prior prejudices to critical examination.

  57. Bala Krishnan Says:

    Well said, southasian, your approach is laudable, your argument convincing. However, when facing the realities, human being tends to drift towards formation of more prejudices and join extreme ideologies. Sometimes such experiences injure even the secular minds and force him to take sides.

    At a Christian church function at the Church compound in the Gulf, Indian classical Bharatanatyam dance by young girls was scheduled. As everone knows, almost all Bharatanatyam themes are based on Hindu mythology and on that day some Lord Siva theme was chosen. Halfway through the beautiful performance by many girls, a Christian father angrily appeared on the stage and told to stop the dance. He shouted, why you praise Siva while Jesus Christ is the saviour of the world? – Everyone there looked the scene in disbelief. The girls on the stage started crying and they left the stage in great humiliation.

    What generalizations should we get from that scene? An isolated incident or expression of Christian fanatism that pervades among the priests and his followers!! How do we fight such extremist ideas? Following Dale Carnegie or Lao Tsu?

    As Anil Kala mentioned about the attitude towards Dalits, I must admit that the greatest injustice to any human beings is done in the name of caste among Hindus in India. This attitude is changing among Hindus, but before it gradual death, it should be accelerated, othewise Hindus has no right to speak about injustices happening around the world.

    Yesterday I had long discussion with an Iranian sunni Muslim, he said that being a sunni in Shia Iran is a hell life. He says that before any conversation begin, a shia will ask – are you a sunni, if yes, they turn their face and stop talking further. He talked a lot about injustices in Islam. Here comes the point made by Southasian. Generalizations are often misleading which means human psychology has a tendency to see the forest but not individual trees.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Bala Krishnan: In my view no generalizations can be made based on that scene – it would not make sense to argue that the problem derives from Christianity or is latent in all Christians. One person wished to impose his personal preference over that of the collective and he should have been restrained by the organizers (who had given permission for the event to be performed in a Church) or charged with disrupting order. Neither Dale Carnegie nor Lao Tsu are needed in this case, just the application of social norms or the law.

      In my view humans have a very hard time seeing the forest. They just see individual trees and project them onto an imagined forest. Where the imagined forest gives rise to negative feelings, they do not really see the individual either – they see an image of the individual that conforms to the image of the forest. The conception of the forest in most cases is a outcome of early childhood socialization that is never challenged by any kind of mature and objective investigation.

      You are a recent participant on this blog and have probably missed the discussion that took place on this topic earlier. One illustrative text was a research report by Latika Gupta (I am Hindu, You are Muslim). Another example can be the typical reaction of South Asians newly arrived in the US towards African-Americans.

  58. Vinod Says:

    I believe that the reason we generalize is that at the pscychological level we need to find something to lasso emotions. Incidents such as the one Balakrishnan described generate a lot of anger. This anger triggers the rational mind to find an explanation very quickly to explain and justify it. Under the influence of such strong emotions the rational mind cannot do a good job. It will be unable to engage in the exercise of making distinctions. Hence it latches on the easiest generalization that is available in our instincts (a storehouse of “emotional ideas”). A truthful and patient approach requires immense control over emotional behaviour.

  59. Bala Krishnan Says:

    It is easy to hold dispassionaate views so far as one’s life is not affected. One incident may not be representing the whole and generalizations often ignore individual positives. This is really utopian approach – it will not cause any social change for the better. This is equivalent to an anecdote of an Ayurveda doctor or vaidyan sent to plot for removing the exisitng bushes and weeds for preparing the ground for cultivation of some vegetable. The Ayurveda doctor returned without doing anything because he could not cut any plants or weeds saying that all the plants and vegetation growth there have some kind of medicinal value in Ayurveda. How can an ayurveda doctor destroy medicinal plants. Too much neutrality by the onlookers will help the evil to grow only.

    I will mention some more incidents. The Arab or Muslim mentality is of hate or degrade to other religions. Say 99% Muslims hate other cultures – that leaves 16 millions muslims being moderate, tolerant or allowing mentality. How do we conclude? siding with the 16 million or condemning 1584 millions? If we find excuse for all evil things, it is not conducive to human civilizations.

    For example, from where do they get teachings or inspiration to have this attitude for the below mentioned actions? should it not be condemned? or fought against?

    All know about the plight of labourers in the gulf area. I happened to meet one Egyptian engineer carrying a stick on he back, under the shirt, and while supervising the building construction work, he will beat randomly to the workers buttocks with the stick, hardly of course, to push them to work harder. Severe beatings only to non-muslim labourers. I came to know about the incident, and I asked him, pretending I am a Muslim, he told me that ‘we should beat kafirs whenever we get a chance. Prophet told us llike that and heaven is assured for whoever punish kafirs. That Egyptian is an engineer, not ordinary person and his belief is not fake, he genuinely believe so.

    Another incident experienced by me. I was little raising my voice to a cleaning man (a Hindu from Tamil Nadu) because he was looking offensively, staying frozen at passing ladies in that huge shopping complex where I was on duty of supervision. Suddently a Syrian guy from a shop (he is very friendly to me) and we had the following conversation.
    Syrian – dont shout him – he doesn’t know what is right and wrong
    me – what you mean by that.
    Syrian – he has no relilgion – so how can he know right and wrong?
    me – He is a Hindu – Hindus know what is right and wrong – they have a lot of teaching available from childhood.
    Syrian – No No – Hinduism is not a religion – they worship trees, fire, cows, stone etc. That cannot be a religion.
    me – then what is religions
    Syrian – The only true religion is Islam – through Islam only one can know right and wrong and learn how to live as human beings
    me – what about Christian and Jews
    Syrian – they were revealed religions of course – but they were corrupted – By coming of Islam, Christian and Jews religions became obsolete, unwanted.

    me – Oh I see – like that – ok ok (knowing that more argument is dangerous for me I stopped the conversation)

    The Syrian guy was a graduate from Damascus university. I could not find a single Syrian or palestinians or jordanians, sudanese etc having a liberal, hateless views whether he be labourer, doctor, engineer, or Phd holder.

    This Muslim mentality is widespread – what should be conclude – Should we enlighten them enmasse or condone as exception and continue our moderate journey. This mentality in a different form is with the Hindus – in matters of hating Muslims – hate of Muslims in Hindus may be due to the stubborn attitude of Muslims to hate other religions.

    My opinion is we should fight idelogically even if the ideals are restricted to a small minority and we should treat as a whole because then only we can prevent the minority becomes a majority attitude.

  60. SouthAsian Says:

    Bala Krishnan: Your objective is to decide what steps to take to prevent a negative minority attitude becoming a majority attitude. But the situation of Islam you are concerned with is different from the above. In your estimation 99% of Muslims are already affected. So the real question should be: What is to be done now that the disease is so far advanced? I would be interested in hearing your recommendation.

    Personally, I have to keep going back to taking a historical perspective. Even if one accepts your claim that 99% Muslims are affected today there is still the dimension of time – has it always been like this since the birth of Islam?

    The comparison is again with the American South – there was a time when 99% of the Southern Whites thought of the Blacks as subhumans to be treated as such with whipping, sexual abuse, buying and selling, etc. But that culture no longer exists now or, even if it does, those kinds of practices are impossible today.

    The British colonialists held exactly the same opinion of Hinduism that your Syrian friend does. But they don’t do so any more. Generalizations across space and time have to be made with care.

    The human tendency to generalize cannot be helped but we should make sure that the generalizations stand up not just against contemporary facts but also against historical evidence and reasoned analysis.

  61. Bala Krishnan Says:

    I may conclude this topic from side with the following comments. If we compare with current realilties of the Islamic world with that of whites-blacks or British-Hindus attitude, we would still be evading the main issue. Whites-black or British-Hindu polarities have no ideological basis like Nazis had one for hating jews. British on Hindu treatments has no religious connotation, it was rather political and whites never spoke of any solid ideological base for their treatment.

    I am lucky to be able to learn Arabic and thereby able to read the Quran word by word with root meanings and many of Hadiths. Islam has defined as Allah’s wish or order explained very clearly their ultimate aim to be achieved in this world and beyond, and also defined how to achieve this goal and it is very very harmful to the existence of other religions and noreligious peoples as well. We cannot say it is wrong from their viewpoint and they believe that if it is Allah’s order, all human beings should obey. It becomes harmful when majority of humans are in the other side of the river – inevitable bloodbath is predicted if Muslims have the means to do it because they have the will based on solid ideological foundation and they have a very clear hierarchy to execute their ultimate goal. This goal was with all the Muslim invaders all over the world but the concentrated on personal pleasures instead of sustained efforts to achieve the goal, but in the recent history the ordinary Muslim people helped with their literacy took over the responsibiltiy to achieve the aim.

    Lessons from the history defy any such eventuality as you rightly pointed out, and history is supposed and surely will, progress to a perfect system of peaceful coexistence. To release the steam from the swollen egos of the ordinary Muslims, and this misguided goal (from non-muslim perspective) is soley perpetuated by the dictatorial rulers of the Islamic countries, the other side of the world should relentlessly contest idelogically, even not to shun forceful battles if necessary to win the war.

    The current situation in the islamic world is a pointer that the progress of history from bad to good, worst to best cannot be stopped. The flow of history could be blocked for a while, but it will find its way to escape the stagnant lake that human beings occasionally make like the current islamic world. However historical progress is manmade, and everyone should in his own way contribute his share individually and collectively in harmony with peaceful existence as far as possible, just like Southasian is tirelessly working on.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Bala Krishnan: A few points in your comment need elaboration:

      1. I feel you are using the term ‘ideological’ too narrowly; anything the derives from a central idea is ideological by definition. The attitude of Whites towards Blacks during the period of slavery was based on the idea of racial superiority just as the attitude of Europeans towards Jews during the period of anti-Semitism was also a statement of racial superiority. While the objective of the British colonialists was economic, the political domination of India was justified by the ideology that found expression in the notion of the White Man’s Burden – the divinely ordained mission to civilize the half-savage, idolatrous natives living in the dark ages and unable to govern themselves. If you look at the Christian missionary literature of that time you will see the characterizations of Hindus flowing from the ideology of religious superiority.

      2. I feel it is an error to infer the behavior of a people by a line-by-line reading of their religious dogma. If you read the Bible in the same way you will run into similar problems. This is a characteristic of the monotheistic religions all of which claim to be the ‘true’ religion of the ‘chosen’ people. There are fundamentalists in each of these faiths who wish to interpret the texts literally but they are in the minority. There are also times in history when there are upsurges of such fundamentalism – historians of Christianity would readily point to the Crusades, the Inquisition, the forced conversions of native Americans, the burning of witches, the expulsion of Jews, etc. But all such episodes are now a part of the past.

      3. One has to give more weight to evidence than to assumptions. If Muslim invaders all over the world did not pursue the goal that you attribute to them, perhaps the goal was not important to them. To continue to hold to your assumption in the face of so much evidence and to attribute the outcome to everyone pursuing personal pleasure is a logically weak position. This reiterates the problem of inferring goals, objectives and behavior from dogma.

      4. The task of social scientists is to explain such episodes contextually and to prevent the spread of racial, ethnic or religious stereotypes that claim to be true across time and space. We cannot solve problems by stereotyping.

  62. Yogesh Says:

    If India had not been partitioned then sub-continent would have been like Sudan. Communal riots would have been a norm because both islamist and hindu fascists cannot live under totally different cultures and values. Thank God it happened and both nations can now concentrate on uplifting their people.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Yogesh: Yes, it could have been like that but was it inevitable, the only outcome possible? That is the real question of interest. A number of thoughts come to mind:

      1. It is intriguing that the country (India) that still has significant religious diversity is doing much better than the one (Pakistan) where such diversity has been eliminated.

      2. If one draws the parallel of religious diversity with racial and ethnic diversity one can look at the example of the US. The racial antagonism was far worse in the US (with one group being enslaved and segregation being legal ) than religious antagonism in India. Yet, today a mixed race person is the president of the country and the racial divide is being eroded (see attached link for the most recent evidence). This suggests that there is an alternative (albeit difficult) to work at such problems and not to opt for the easy and populist solution of radical surgery.

      3. Regarding your point of “totally different cultures,” the US example remains pertinent. One could have said that the black and white cultures were totally different and drawn a line on that basis. But the evolution of race relations shows that would have been a simplistic interpretation of culture. It is a coincidence that one of the recent posts on this blog (On Culture and the Clash of Cultures) is about this very topic:

      • Yogesh Says:

        1. I would say India is doing so well ONLY because it is too diverse, no group is absolute majority to rule the others in a bias manner. Hindus may be 80% but they are themselves into groups like castes, north-south-marathi-bengali etc. State wise no state has its diktat in policies of whole country whatever be size of state or its economy. Thus any central government has to take into account considerations for all sates. (Its not perfect as some governments have been biased towards states run by their own governments)

        2. As far as comparison with US is concerned, blacks have been accustomed to culture of whites. There is only north-south differences in terms of culture. For India such peace would have come only if Hindus were islamisized because if you take example of India, muslims still have it their way and they are not going to mend “anything” about themselves. Call me biased or whatever but muslims as theists are very different from any other religions. Christianity has reformed but not islam. So I am sure that a united India was a terrible idea for Hindus. You can see this from treatment of Hindus in pakistan and bangladesh where still force conversions are taking place in 21st century, so I would say good that we got rid of them and they got a seperate country for themselves.

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Yogesh: I agree with you that India’s strength is its diversity. But an unpartitioned India would not have lost this diversity.

          Re the US, the issue is whether a problem is posed by the occurrence of “totally different cultures” (as you had mentioned earlier) or not being accustomed to different cultures (as you are now suggesting). If the latter, it would be difficult to argue that Muslims and Hindus were not accustomed to each other’s culture after over a thousand years of coexistence and given that the majority of Muslims were converts from Hinduism.

          Partition has still left a very large number of Muslims in India, larger than the population of most other countries. But India is at peace (if there is a war it is with the Naxalites) despite the fact that Hindus have not had to Islamize. What exactly is it that Muslims are not “mending”?

          • Yogesh Says:

            India is at Peace – but I would say that is because of Hindus/Sikhs etc not because of muslims. And I am afraid situation is not going to be same when muslim population will outnumber Hindu population, it will either result in 2nd partition (as asked by Imam Bokhari of jama masjid yrs ago) or slowly Hindus are going to be persecuted in India itself. I am not saying majority of them are extremists nor I am questioning their patriotism but majority of them are muslims first and Indian second.

            Try to implement uniform civil code in India and you will see whether muslims will accept/mend or not. Try to break a Temple for development for city and you wont notice it in any news but break a masjid for development whole country will come to standstill.

          • SouthAsian Says:

            Yogesh: I see what you mean. But if the two foregone outcomes of Muslims outnumbering Hindus (when is that projected to happen?) are equally bad (another partition or persecution of Hindus), it would be a folly not to take preemptive steps to forestall the outcomes. What is the solution you have in mind?

  63. Yogesh Says:

    I dont see a easy solution, all what can be done is to educate the muslims and implement reforms that are required, Their modernization is imperative. There are many muslims who are liberal but a significant portion is not which is the root problem anywhere.

    Situation would have been less alarming had muslims from North India would have been asked to leave to East and West pakistan while all non-muslims in India, in my opinion it would have been unfair to ask South Indians muslims to leave due to cultural differences. Before you confirm me as some sort of Hindu extremists, you should note that Sardar Patel was also of similar opinion. Sounds hard but would have resulted in better stability for both nations and their people, you dont see riots in Greece and Turkey which did such population exchange after WWI.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Yogesh: Are you recommending something that goes beyond the 2006 Sachar Committee Report? (The official report is here and the quick summary can be accessed here on the Wikipedia site.)

      I am intrigued by your observation about South Indian Muslims. Does that imply that what is at issue is not religion per se but cultural differences between North and South? If so, do these differences affect all Indians or just Muslims?

      Also, you have left the situation very vague in this sentence: “There are many muslims who are liberal but a significant portion is not which is the root problem anywhere.” What would be your best guess about the breakdown between liberals and others amongst Muslims? And to what extent do you think it differs from the breakdown amongst non-Muslims?

      Another thing to be a bit careful about is that not being a liberal is not necessarily a problem – conservatives are a part of every society and often constitute the majority and do not pose any problem. You are making the transition from liberals to illiberals to extremists – these are a much smaller subset of non-liberals.

      • Yogesh Says:

        Here is whats going on and what will continue in India once their population gets more than Hindus

        Am I being paranoid, or just learning from history and present ? Whats your take, you “really” think India can remain peaceful with so many muslims ? What do you think is the difference in Indian muslims that they wont go same route as their pakistani and bangladeshi brethen.

        All sub-continent muslims were not force converted during mughal rule but a significant portion of them did convert because of presecution. Infact with exception to Indonesia and Malaysia islam had spread only to those areas which were under muslim rule, other than that it could not impress the masses. Take for example Nepal and Sri Lanka, both have mere 7% muslim population while areas next to them were highly islamisized. What do you think is the reason that Awadh and Bengal had such high portion of muslim population while Nepal doesnt, mountains ? then how about Kashmir. I hope you have read something about case of Kashmir too. With this I rest my case.


      • Vinod Says:

        Yogesh, before you rest your case I’d like to see you answer the questions that SouthAsian has raised in the comment above. Thanks

  64. SouthAsian Says:

    Vinod: We have not heard back from Yogesh and I am not pursuing the argument further since it needs the prior questions to be answered to make sense.

    Yogesh has repeated the claim that the population of Muslims will exceed that of Muslims in India. He has not given the basis for this claim. I had provided the link to the Sachar Report and it summary for this purpose. In the section ‘Removal of Common Stereotypes’ it has the following bullet point:

    “That there is “substantial demand from the community for fertility regulation and for modern contraceptives” and over 20 million couples are already using contraceptives. “Muslim population growth has slowed down as fertility has declined substantially”. This does away with the concern that Muslim population growth would be able to outnumber Hindus or change the religious demography in any meaningful way.”

    This is just to keep the discussion in the realm of reality but the real point is more complex. It is one that Professor Nivedita Menon has raised in her writings: Why should it matter even if the claim were really accurate and Muslim population were to exceed Hindu population? India is a secular democracy, not a religious majoritarian state. Why should the religion of citizens be an issue?

    This thought came back to me when I read a column in the NY Times that non-Hispanic Whites would become a minority in the US by 2050. The author, a well-known professor at Harvard University, characterizes the scenario as “an even more wonderfully diverse America.”


    Clearly, what one sees depends upon the glasses one wears. And also one should not forget self-fulfilling prophecies – if one sees diversity as a problem, it is very likely to turn into one.

    • Vinod Says:

      SA, hard questions and conversations are difficult to take for those who want to hold on to simplified digestible versions of the complexity that reality presents.

  65. Tanveer Ahmed Says:

    A great resource for South Asians and a great platform for academic freedom in the region. I wonder if you could comment on the following supposition: That the twin occupation and division of Kashmir was a direct consequence of the division of India? Bearing in mind that the two-nation theory of Pakistan and the secular reasoning of India continue to drive both countries’ continued occupation.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Tanveer: I feel there can be little doubt that Kashmir becoming a problem is a direct consequence of the division of India. On his recent visit to the subcontinent, PM Cameron said as much in plain words. Once it became a prize of war, everyone forgot about the welfare of the Kashmiris themselves or, to be more generous, couldn’t figure out how to reconcile it with their own narrow interests.

  66. himanshu bagaria Says:

    whatever it is but one thing for sure indian cricket team would have been the strongest in the world with the lights of sachin, waqar younis, wasim akram, imran khan, kapil dev, saeed anwar…just imagine!!!

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Himanshu: I see no reason why India and Pakistan separately cannot have strong cricket teams given their large populations and the fact that cricket is such a passion in both countries. There is something fundamentally wrong with the organization of the game in both countries that comes in the way of better performances.

      The real cost of the separation, in my view, has been the division of natural eco-systems that could conceivably lead to conflict over water in the not-too-distant future. The shrinking of trade and the separation of families have been other major losses. On top of these, a great cost has been imposed by the continuing conflict that has diverted resources from welfare to war to the extent that almost three-fourths of the populations in both countries continue to live in poverty.

      I find it impossible to justify these outcomes in any kind of humanistic or moral perspective nor can I see how they could be justified.

  67. sree Says:

    You have pointed out to the diversion of resources towards war or military expenditure as a cost of partition. Even if partition had not happened wouldn’t India have to spend on its defense expenditure vis-a-vis China.
    Do you really believe that the partition and the bad relations between the two countries is the cause or the most significant cause for poverty in the subcontinent?

    Another statement you made, which I don’t understand is “India lacked a statesman of the caliber of Mandela who could see beyond the immediate political gains and losses”. I don’t think there is any autonomous whites majority region in South Africa, or there exists any form of power structure whereby whites have any sort of independence separately from the rest.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      sree: I am looking at the issue in an incremental perspective. We can assume that the Partition would have made no difference to the allocation of resources vis-a-vis China. But the additional resources needed to defend hostile borders created by partition would have been avoided. Therefore the total allocation to defense expenditures would have been lower in the absence of partition. That is the argument in theory.

      One cannot say if something is the definitive cause or the most significance cause of something else outside the world of controlled experiments. What I am suggesting is that if the additional resources allocated to defense expenditures had not been necessary they would have been potentially available for allocation to welfare. Whether they would have been actually used for the purpose is impossible to say. At least, the argument that poverty is due to lack of resources would have been less credible.

      The argument about leadership does not depend on color. It is a general point about conflict resolution. Sometimes the collective welfare is enhanced if the parties to the conflict agree to settle for less than their maximum demands. Mandela could have pressed for a complete marginalization of the Whites – justice and morality were on his side – but he gave up some of his claims in the greater interest of South Africa. My argument was that the same vision and level of statesmanship was not seen in pre-Partition India.

  68. sree Says:

    Without partition the overall defense expenditure might have been lesser, but the gains would have been offset by increased cost in maintaining internal security and law and order.

    Regarding the point on “the lack of a statesman of Mandela’s calibre”, my question was not about color of the leader. My point is, as far as I know, there is no structure of government or provinces in South Africa whereby whites (the minority) enjoy any form of autonomy or independence from the rest. I don’t know if they asked for any separate powers or for the creation of any autonomous province from a region with white majority. Mandela’s vision was for a South Africa with all the communities as equal stakeholders. I don’t think it is any different from what the Indian leaders desired prior to partition or how they charted the country’s path after partition.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      sree: These comments are better addressed by switching the order of the two points. The comparison with South Africa is a general one not related to specifics. The point I am making is that both places involved a conflict between two communities. In one place an arguably better resolution was achieved because the parties were willing to compromise, to each give up something for the greater good of the collective. The subsequent costs of internal security are an outcome of how the conflict is resolved. If a mutually satisfactory arrangement is achieved, the costs would be minimal. However, if the collective is maintained without a satisfactory resolution, the costs would indeed be very high. The counterfactual under consideration in this post that the Partition would not have occurred if the conflict had been satisfactorily resolved.

  69. ahmed Says:

    i do not know how many of my friends who have narrated their views above has survived during painfull times of partition of india. on that it is pain giving to read muslims are intolerant. if so was the situation than how it became non-muslims who survived in india in majority and with freedom and rights during the approximately 300 years rule of muslims over india. of course a muslim can not tolerate an act which is against the nature. one more thing to be discussed here is it was not the muslim league or any muslim leader who spoke regarding two nation formula. it were them who at that time were paid workers of British East India Company. who open fired on the beloved father of the nation SRI MAHATMA GANDHI. they with intensions well known to them put the entire country on fire and still people like them do not want peace in our heaven land INDIA.


  70. YogeshYogesh Says:

    Non-muslims are majority in India because muslims refused to live as a single country and got a separate country otherwise they form approx 1/3 the population of sub-continent. Also Hindus were not absolutely meek whom muslims could butcher at their will, they faced constant opposition from various Hindu and Sikh kings time to time. As far as tolerance of muslims of concerned, perhaps pakistan is a brilliant example.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Yogesh: I feel this discussion would benefit from being placed in a larger context.

      First, it is useful to separate religion from politics. All religion is not about politics and all politics is not about religion. Christianity came to India almost 2000 years ago as a religion that had very little to do with politics. The British colonialists came much later to trade and not to spread religion. Similarly Islam came to India with trade almost 1500 years ago, not to conquer. The invaders came much later to conquer but not to bring religion. If religion had been the motive Babar would not have unseated Lodhi; they would have joined forces to fight non-Muslims. Nor would Nadir Shah and Abdali attacked Muslim kingdoms in India and Aurangzeb would not have spent half his life in conflict with Muslim rulers in the Deccan. The generals of Akbar’s army would not have been Rajputs. The Nizam would not have sided with the British against Tipu. The history of those events was not driven by religion.

      Second, it is useful to make a distinction between the age of empires and the age of nation-states. In the former, territorial expansion was the norm. Alexander, Changez Khan, Babur all belonged to the age of empire. It would not have made any sense to them to be told that they were breaking some international treaty by crossing some non-existent border. It is a mistake to morally judge one age by the rules of another.

      Third, tolerance is a multi-dimensional concept. One can imagine a thought experiment in which, say, a Swedish human rights lawyer is asked to rank the countries of South Asia on a scale of tolerance. What would comprise that scale and what do you predict would be the outcome? Then suppose, he/she is asked to do the same for provinces within India. What would be the ranking? What conclusions would one derive from this exercise?

  71. sochta hoon Says:

    Here is a Pakistani muslim who wishes there was one united India but realizes that it is way to late to turn back now. Jinnah did not wish for the Pakistan in front of our eyes today. Forget about Muslims versus Hindus and Sikhs, there are muslims killing other muslims in a country founded on the basis of “Islam”. It’s disgusting really and I hope someone gets the courage to revolt to bring about change. But I know no one will. Anyway… I just wanted to say that I, as an individual, consider all Indian’s, whether Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, etc. as my brothers and sisters and wish them the best; even if I do not get the same treatment in return. It is ok.

  72. reader Says:

    In your argument you mention the Nizam-e-mustafa, but you don’t give enough detail to back up your argument. Why did the people want the Nizam-e-Mustafa when the countries split? Why was it thought to be a good idea and supported?

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Reader: Nizam-e-Mustafa was mentioned in Aakar Patel’s original op-ed to which the post on this blog was a rejoinder. In support of the creation of Pakistan, he had written: “But Pakistan was formed out of a positive desire, not a hatred of India. Allama Iqbal articulated something that the majority of the subcontinent’s Muslims felt and feel: the desire to live under Nizam-e-Mustafa. This was not possible without Partition, which did not change the demography of what was to become Pakistan. Hindus would never have been able to rule Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan or the Frontier. Partition was not about that. It was about what kind of rule these places would have. The politics of Pakistan are about how to capture this desire and turn it into a constitution.”

      Frankly, I don’t know what the term means. I can only guess it is a synonym for an imagined ideal world that existed at some earlier time, a kind of garden of Eden. And I really doubt Muslims felt the need for that kind of world. They had been living in India for a thousand years without feeling that need. And, even when Pakistan was created, the majority of the Muslims in what is now India did not go over to the garden of Eden. Furthermore, Muslim religious groups were largely opposed to the creation of Pakistan which undermines the entire hypothesis.

      As far as I can make out, it was a hollow religious slogan used for political purposes. The fact that it was a hollow slogan was proved by the fact that no Nizam-e-Mustafa emerged in Pakistan – it was the same old exploitation of the powerless by the powerful. In real terms, religion turned out to be irrelevant as was to have been expected.

      You can read more coherent explanations (hopefully) of why Pakistan was created here:


  73. Manoj Says:

    Methinks thou protesteth too much, Balakrishnan & Ganpat Ram.

    SA, compliments on a blog that touches the raw nerves left behind by the tearing up of India abruptly, painfully, into 3 parts. That neither Hindus, Muslims, Indians and Pakistanis wanted it, suspected it or have been able to get over it half century later, is proved by the cognitive dissonance I see up here.

    Please dont think this mega-disaster was about welfare of people.

    It was about politics, and power lay with leaders. As history tells us, no player – Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah, Golwalker, MA Azaad – expected freedom early, nor did any want a broken-up india – freedom had been promised 25 years earlier and not given – Churchill declared India unfit for self-rule.

    So, why did British withdraw, despite US no longer supporting India’s independence after 1940?
    1. Gandhi had strategically crippled India’s imports as also it’s trade through civil disobedience. What use is a colony that does’nt earn?
    2. Murderous attacks on ~100,00 Brits – Calcutta presidency (Bose) – Punjab (Mashriqui) and starting in Bombay presidency.
    3. UK’s crying need to rebuild it’s economy and society post WWII.

    The allies’ concerns in a post WWII context were :
    1. India’s (Bose) growing links with enemies – Germany & Japan
    2. Growing belligerence and closeness between Muslims in USSR and ME
    3. Shutdown of trade interests by a fortress india

    So the solutions were –
    1. Weaken india to enable continuing military and trade interests,
    2. Create a buffer of secular Muslims between the radical Muslims in Baltics & Arabia. Thats why it needed to be where it is, though the demand for a Muslim state (not country) arose from Bengal, not Punjab.
    3. Install leaders who were natives but western in mindset, (Nehru & Jinnah – weak, resurrected leaders, amenable to West)

    Indians fell into the trap. Mountbatten knew, and escaped quikcly thereafter to ensure no late-stage reconciliations surface, leaving both countries tending to their colossal losses.

    Today, interest is falling in the buffer state that served it’s purpose well in the past 50 years, as the new threat is China

    The geopolitics will realign soon, however whether India and Pakistan will act strategically and in their own interests remains doubtful. Both countries have weak, corrupt leaders presiding over thinly veiled colonial systems.

  74. rated r Says:

    no i am not agree with u. un partition india is new power in army airforce and navy. we can rate our gdp rate up to 8-9% like china. we have wast area something 40,00,000sqkms. and + tibeat 12,50,000 + hindu state napel 1,44,000 + bhutan 38,000. it is batter for super power like china. we can bild wast army and bild big airforce and navy so we can abale to counter china. pooraity is lost in unpartition india after sez’s. so i think it is batter world for india.

  75. Lexie Says:

    Can someon just tell me if it was a good or bad thing?!?

    • Vikram Says:

      Hey Lexie. I dont think that question can really have any answer. We cant turn the clock back and press play again with a different track.

      Whatever has happened has happened, and we can only look to build a more peaceful future.

      My 2 cents.

      • SouthAsian Says:

        Vikram: That was not the question Lexie asked. He didn’t ask if a different track could be played now. He asked whether the track that was played was better or worse than the one that was not played. Of course, this does not have a simple answer. Different people would answer it differently based on what impact the choice had on their lives. Some who thought what happened was good now feel it was actually bad; some who thought it bad are now quite happy with how things turned out. To some, it made no difference either way.

        Some people use a particularly simple measure: Anything that caused one million deaths, ten million homeless, separated families, and perpetual conflict in the region could not have been good in any real sense. Surely, better resolutions were possible.

        • Vikram Says:

          Thanks SA. When I said the question cant really have an answer, I was actually half thinking along the same lines as you have stated, that different people will have different perspectives. Now that you have put it down, it makes a lot more sense.

  76. Vishnu Sharma Says:

    Partition was completely unnecessary and wasteful of lives and resources. People would not have been displaced and Muslims would have been more modern and progressive in a United India. The Muslim Majority provinces of Punjab, Sindh, NWFP, Balochistan, East Bengal and Kashmir would have had Muslim chief Ministers and more Muslims in their legislatures.

    Urdu and Hindu would have been official Languages of India. Indian strength in Sports and India’s power would have been greater. Indian economy would have enjoy a boost.

    There would have been no nuclear arms race in the region and all efforts would have gone into improving the standards of living of the people and the infrastructure. Women would have greatly benefited and would have been educated and modern in outlook. It would have allowed more freedom for individual Indian families to settle in any part of India and call it home or go on vacations to different parts of United India.

    There would have been a melting pot of ideas and customs. Islam would not have been in any danger because in Muslim majority provinces, Islamic practices would always have been respected since Islam is respected in the India which came after 1947. The Indian Army would have been non political and professional and would have been the guardian of India’s large borders.

    Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah and Liaqat Ali should not have been born.

    Instead we needed leaders like RajaGopalachari, Patel, Ghaffar Khan, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Allama Mashriqi, at the helm to decide the future of Greater India with care, responsibility, even temperament and wisdom.
    People who never brought religion into politics and make a stern tradition of it.

  77. Vikram Says:

    I think one country that would have been almost certainly better off had their been no partition would be Afghanistan. I am certain that the Soviet Union would not have thought about attacking Afghanistan had they been neighbors of undivided India. Almost all the Indo-Aryan populations share an admiration for the Pathans and a soft corner for Afghanistan. They are different from us, but the people most similar to us than the rest of the world. Undivided India would have formed a great partnership with them, in contrast to the current battle for influence.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Vikram: My reply would be that Afghanistan, in all likelihood, would also have been better off.

  78. aman Says:

    This is an excellent discussion forum. I have gone through most posts. By opinion I can safely categorize them as hard liner Hindus, Liberal Hindus Atheists, Nationalists, fundamental Muslims, Liberal Muslims, Indian Muslims Pakistani Muslims (Just my View). But irrespective of your differences all opinion posts have some degree of logic. And no one out here is driven by sheer hatred. ( Trace of xenophobia in here and there though). Keep posting more logical and informative posts brothers..

    • SouthAsian Says:

      aman: Thanks for the frank evaluation. Please keep us on our toes by pointing out any trace of xenophobia whenever you come across it on this forum. It is worrying that you can match a person’s opinions with dimensions of his/her personality. It suggests the identity interests not facts are driving opinions. Also, that facts are interpreted in a way to be compatible with prior positions. We need to overcome such prejudices if we wish to grow intellectually.

  79. KTShamim Says:

    Hindus believe in a caste system. Their books preach the same and many Hindu leaders practiced the same. Muslims are worst than Shooders. That Hindu leaders decided to abandon their religious teachings of caste and adopted democracy is fact and excellent. That Muslims decided to abandon Qur’an and adopt religious caste is also sad.

    But the principle reason for creating Pakistan, a secular Pakistan, given Hindu religious dogmas and practices of 1940s was very much right.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      KT Shamim: Castes exist in the subcontinent. Effectively, all religions there comprise castes in one form or another. Among Muslims, there are the ashraf and the ajlaf; the syeds do not like to marry among the non-syeds; the fair do not like to marry among the dark, etc.

      Hindu religious dogmas and practices did not emerge as a surprise in the 1940s. As you state, they have existed for centuries. So one can ask, why the demand for Pakistan arose only in the 1940s? Something else must have been going on that you have ignored.

  80. Yousuf Says:

    I’m a Muslim living in Pakistan. I support the undivided India .because in today’s Pakistan the real power is in the hand of Americans and Saudis while the Pakistanis themselves are killed everyday by jihadists of America .and I’m pretty sure that Pakistanis themselves are as well fed up of partitions and Islamists .

  81. A hindu Says:

    partition was a blessing for hindus. if the partition not happened, india’s neighbor would have been afghanistan. and Fata would have been in india. pious muslims were then doing their jehad in indian cities without any control. hindu girls would have been chased as jannat hoor.
    anarchy had been prevailing and india could be in place of sudan and pakistan.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      By this logic it might make sense to partition India even further. Then messy Pakistan and Bangladesh would also not be neighbors. Also, I don’t see the connection with the welfare of girls – it doesn’t look like they are having a very good time anyway.

  82. A hindu Says:

    south asian
    united india would have 33 % muslims with independence to move anywhere. poor, uneducated and hungry mobs of muslims from afghanistan and bangladesh would have come to indian cities without any control. continuous rioting could happened as a norm. what kind of development can be thought in that condition.
    partition thinned the muslims, it separated their strength in three parts and now in india we hindus could manage them effectively. border controls mean that poor and uneducated muslims can be stopped from entering and spoiling indian atmosphere.
    proof of my statement is that even today thousands of muslims try to sneak into india from bangladesh and our border guards have to work hard to stop them.
    for girls also, islamic society could have been worse than a hindu dominated society. some cultural issues are same for girls on both side but overall see indian women/girls, they are conquering every field. paki girls, they are in burqa or if for some time out of burqa than wait, sharia can come any time in near future.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      A hindu: You are entitled to your hypotheses. I am not entirely convinced by the logic of the arguments.

      First, that Hindus could not ‘handle’ 33% Muslims but only 11%. That logic also suggests that things would be better with even fewer Muslims. So why not make separate countries out of some Muslim majority areas?

      Second, continuous rioting is taking place in many parts of India even now and has nothing to do with Muslims. Why not make separate countries out of those areas?

      Third, if thousands of poor people streaming into places is such a big problem, why not make Bihar independent and put border guards around it. Thousands of poor people from there are streaming into all parts of India and are not welcome in many of them.

      Fourth, Paki women are indeed in trouble but Paki women do not represent all Muslim women. Do read Amartya Sen to note that Bangladeshi women are doing better than Indian women on many social indicators.

      Fifth, Sharia can come any time in the future but so could the Sri Ram Sena.

      • A hindu Says:

        south asian
        let me be clear about your idea of further dividing india that we hindus will not let it happen because-
        i. those areas which became pak were not stronghold of ancient aryan religion and u find very few holy places of hindus there. while in mainland every inch was contested with muslims and taken back by heroes like marathas, jats etc. Before coming of English , India was dominated by hindus. so no question of giving it to few muslim pockets now.
        ii. we know how to tackle few muslim pockets and when the time comes a solution will be devised for this problem. so no need to divide india further.
        iii. things would certainly be better without muslims but not by giving land to them. hindus of this generation have learnt their lessons well. we have a grand army and we have seen from israel that how to tackle islam. we will follow the same route.

        now, about rioting. out of every 100 riots in the world muslims are involved in about 80- 90. see pakistan (land of pure islam). it is the prime example of real character of muslims. we hindus have no problem with few muslims who can be used as cheap labor but a united india with muslims everywhere, would have been a hell for peaceful people like hindus.

        • SouthAsian Says:

          All this geography and history you are citing is new to me but let others comment on its veracity.

          • A hindu Says:

            south asian, u have asked a question that should india be partitioned further. i answered it.
            keep in mind that these are complicated issues so answers can not be politically correct ones.
            now in place of debating u just ducked these. possibly because answering these will show ur ideological side, which i guess somewhat but will comment later.

          • SouthAsian Says:

            A Hindu: We are too far apart in our understanding of the situation to have a useful discussion. However, this is an open forum and I am hoping someone else would step into the debate.

        • Anil Kala Says:

          A hindu: I am not saying you are right or wrong but your arguments don’t make sense.

          Present day Pakistan is the cradle of Vedic civilization. No mention of Ganga in Rig Veda, it either did not exist or was inconsequential, the most important river was Saraswati ( now disappeared) followed by Indus so you are wrong that the land occupied by Pakistan was not stronghold of ancient Aryan religion. Marathas(Shivaji) did not fight Muslims but supposedly tyrannical ruler why else he had Muslims generals (Ibrahim Khan as Navy chief and Siddi Ibrahim as artillery chief? Later Marathas were fighting each other and and everyone for purely political gains.

          Question is were Hindus at peace prior to arrival of Muslims or swelling of Muslim numbers?

          You say that these are complicated issues so do complicated issues must have politically incorrect answer? Why would disagreeing with you would be due to ideological reasons alone?

          • SouthAsian Says:

            Anil: Yes, that part of the old India is indeed the cradle of the Vedic civilization, central to Buddhism, and contains within its boundaries the Mecca and Medina of Sikhism.

            You will find the following about the Sri Maata Hinglaj mandir of interest:

            “To still the divine dance, Tandava, of Lord Shiva following the death of Dakshayani, Lord Vishnu scattered the remains of her embodiment over various places of the Indian subcontinent. It is said that the head fell at Hingula or Hinglaj and is thus considered the most important of the 51 Shakti Peeths. At each of the Peeths, Bhairava (a manifestation of Shiva) accompanies the relics. The Bhairava at Hinglaj is called Bhimalochana, located in Koteshwar, Kutch. The Sanskrit texts mention the part as ‘Brahmadreya’ or vital essence.”



            And read this to see what connects these geographies:


    • Ahsan Ahmed Pitafi Says:

      sorry to say that but I want to tell you that as i am living in Pakistan there are women’s in each type of works.They are in forces ,in politics,and in each department of government or private sectors and they are not forced to wear burqa and the area in which I am living there are 30% hindus who are totally free to do whatever they want .

  83. rediff Says:

    I think at the end of the day, the order in which people in general see their identity is different from a Hindu and a Muslim. I might see myself first as a human, then as an Indian by culture/geography/civilization/etc, then as a Bengali by sub-culture/geography/language, and finally as a Hindu by religion. On the other hand, my Muslim neighbor sees himself as a human first, an Indian second, a Muslim third and fourth as a Bengali. In fact, for him #3 might also supersede #2. While I am an Indian Bengali Hindu in that order, he is a Muslim who happens to be Indian by geography and Bengali-speaking. This ultimately depends on his level of immersion into Islam as a religion. In the modern globalizing world, there is a trend that globalization is creating a stronger pan-universal Islamic identity, while for Hindus we don’t know ABC of Vedas or anything (not speaking for all Hindus, but talking of urban educated middle class in general). The strength of a Muslim in faith is very universal, this is not a bad thing by the way. They have their Ummah, Buddhists had their Sangha, Vaishnavs also have a very similar outlook out of the Hindus. In a united India, the Muslim 35% voting block would have remained intact. The non-Muslims would be hapless politically. South Asian Muslims are sorting out their ethno-linguistic identity issues after they have secured themselves homogeneous religion-based states. Hindus see caste and language as superseding the religious identity. During the Nellie massacre in Assam, the RSS lamented that the Assamese were not distinguishing between Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims. RSS is a lame attempt from the Hindu side to inculcate the type of organic unity that Muslims have by faith.
    So overall, Hindus have been saved by Partition and will be better off with even less Muslim percentage within India. See the political power that Muslims have in India by being only 15%. They can indulge in tactical voting to ensure Modi wins least possible seats. This unity would have persisted even if Muslims were 35%.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Rediff: These generalizations are much too broad. There are all sorts of people in all religions – they see the various dimensions of their identity in different orders and even these orders change over time. One glance at history will show show the orders of the Indian identity changed from 1857 and 1914 (the birth of the Ghadar movement) to 1937. A timeless and frozen representation is worse than useless.

      When I read your comment: “In a united India, the Muslim 35% voting block would have remained intact. The non-Muslims would be hapless politically,” I can just wonder how many subscribe to this sentiment and who they think they are insulting by expressing it.

      And, in conclusion, I just have to repeat the question I have asked in response to an earlier comment: “If Hindus have been saved by Partition and will be better off with even less Muslim percentage within India” then why hang on to areas with a large percentage of Muslims? Whey not reduce the percentage of Muslims in India even further?

      • man0jm Says:

        SouthAsian: Not sure what you really mean by these comments. The facts are that minorities (Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadiya, now Shias) have shrunk in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and grown or stayed stable in India.

        Dont think it is debatable who chose the right way from a human perspective.

        Does that mean muslims are evil? To me, it doesnt – it just means radicals among them overpower the rest, and their religious-social systems do not safeguard conscientious objectors within. This is not a happy state of affairs either for Muslims, or the country.

        To suggest more partitions will solve this problem is luducrious, as if the 2 partitions of 1947 worked out so well. All that the partition achieved was isolating the larger peaceful communities from interacting with others at huge costs, and growing power to radical elements within.

  84. A hindu Says:

    Anil kala
    just for your information Rig Veda 6.45.31 mentions ganga also in the nadistuti (Rig Veda 10.75). i will answer rest in detail.

    • Anil Kala Says:

      Yes you are right about ‘nadistuti’ mentioning both Ganga and Yamuna but still it is dominated by rivers flowing in to present day Pakistan.

  85. Makarand Says:

    What are all you guys? expert historians? I am truely impressed by every contributer on this blog… btw I only read the first few responses from 2009… All of you sounded very knowledgeable and very respectful of each other even while disagreeing with each others views… also got a lot of insight into the partition era through this reading…. thank you all for a nice blog.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Makarand: Thanks. This is the kindest comment I have seen in six years. No one here is an expert on history. We are all ordinary folks – tinkerers, tailors, soldiers, and (the occasional) spies – trying to learn from each other while respecting each other’s often quite different opinions. Some of the people who have been around since the beginning feel they know each other well enough to be quite open in what they say. We try and simulate a coffee house conversation – start with something quite off-the-wall and see if we can make sense of it through discussion. The secret of this blog is that most of the time the commentary is much more useful than the post that was the trigger.

  86. Amit Says:

    If India were not partitioned “Osama Bin Laden” would have been caught in india , not Pakistan ,
    sooner or later Islam will show its colour , the less of it , better ,

    Instead I will say there is no way India could have remained united till this time , demand of partition came from muslims , and it happened again in Kashmir , a “Freedom Struggle for Islamik nation ” , it happened in Chechenya , it is happening worldwide , in some way or other ,

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Amit: Right now all we can see is saffron – the more of it the better, I suppose.

      There was a freedom struggle in India as well against the British. Where ever there is oppression there will be a freedom struggle. I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

      • Amit Says:

        if you support so called ” freedom struggle ” based on muslim identity ,that starts with slogans of “Yahan chalega kya ,Nizam A Mustafa ” ( Law of Prophet will rule here ) , and Hindus r asked to leave valley , 3 days continuously Mosque play same tape through there loudspeakers asking pandits to leave Kashmir , 1000s are killed , temples burnt , then
        how you even ask the question “If India were not divided ” ,

        “A freedom struggle against Oppression” that’s very illusive term , problem is Islam can assume oppression when there is none, Islamik religion is so much mixed with politics that failure to establish an Islamik state can be seen as Oppression in Islam , because there is a concept of “Islamik state” , world is divided between Darul Islam and Darul harb ,
        there is no Parallel of this in any other religion ,there will always be candidates willing to finish unfinished business of centuries to convert the whole world to ” Darul Islam ” and so a freedom struggle for Muslim identity is inherently dangerous , will be violent always , because killing kafirs is good , and Islamik state will be hell for Kafir , how much religious freedom minorities get in Islamik state is well known ,

        but that’s not all , where is peace in Islamik world , when there is no Kafir to fight , shea – sunni kill each other .

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Amit: Are you against violence or just against green violence? All violence of the oppressors against the oppressed is to be condemned but there are few places in the world where such violence has not occurred. There is little need to revisit the violence against blacks in America or against Jews in Europe. Dr. Ambedkar’s The Annihilation of Caste has just come out in a new edition. Do read it, you might see closer to home some other forms of violence and parallels with Shia-Sunni killings. If every incident of violence were to lead to a partition we would all be living in kingdoms of one.

          As for religion and politics, there is a long history of Christianity to learn from. And, isn’t that what is idolized by the RSS – just arriving late to the party.

          There are two types of thought processes. In one, you start with a conclusion and look for selective evidence to support it. In the other, you start with all the evidence and reach a conclusion even if it challenges your prior beliefs. Which process is to be preferred is a choice we all have to make for ourselves.

          • Amit Says:

            Well you have not answered it yet , “oppressed” ? in what sense ? as I have pointed out Muslims don’t need “oppression ” to start Freedom struggle , Its all there in Political Ideology of Islam ,

            There is much difference between “caste Violence ” and ” Shia -Sunni or violence against Kafirs “, Fact is that “caste discrimination ” can be eliminated , its a social phenomenon and its on its way out ,

            while root of “Shia Sunni” differences lies in hardcore Islamik Beliefs , which even permit annihilation of others ,this is not something curable .

            Yes RSS has a political cultural Ideology , but that is not the one of establishing Sharia Courts and giving death punishment to Non believer , something many muslim countries are doing now , in 21st century, the Magnitude of Islamik Fanaticism sets it apart from any kind of fanaticism that exist now .

            But most important question is , struggle against Caste discrimination started from within , it was Hindus like Raja Rammohan ,Jyotiba who started these social reforms ,

            It was Christian nations who opposed Hitler and fought him ,

            where is such reform in Islam ? you people don’t even accept valid criticism , but try to silence the critic , a mob controlled by Maulavi and Mulla’s , it has not changed a bit in 1400 years and this way it will not change in next 1000 years .

          • SouthAsian Says:

            Amit: Instances of oppression are not difficult to figure out. I gave two historical examples – blacks in the US and Jews in Europe. Palestinians ‘(Sunni, Shia or Christian) are oppressed in Israel; presently, all minorities are oppressed in Pakistan.

            I have an objective question for all readers:

            Shias and Sunnis have been in India for a thousand years. Over these thousand years how many killings can be attributed to Shia-Sunni violence and how many to inter-caste violence? Estimate a very rough number per year – suppose it is X for the former and Y for the latter. Then normalize it for the different population bases. Assume that Shias and Sunnis together were a quarter of the population of pre-partition India. Therefore, if the populations had been similar the comparative numbers would have been 4X and Y.

            Now compare 4X and Y. Which do you think, based on hard statistics, would come out greater?

            This should not become a test of loyalty so that ‘you’ identify with ‘your’ people and ‘we’ identify with ‘our’ people. This is not a ‘you’ versus ‘us’ forum.

            What would you conclude from this exercise? A blanket condemnation of ‘some’ people and a weak defense of ‘other’ people or an understanding of the roots of violence? If violence were so clearly associated with religion would one see the very similar violence against women in both groups?

            For the people at the wrong end of violence it is little comfort that the violence is social or is on its way out. Are Jews supposed to feel good that it was Christian nations who fought against Hitler?

            Whether things change or not I don’t know. In the midst of sectarian killings in Christianity, it would have seemed to observers that it would never end but it did. Even caste discrimination that has existed for thousand of years and is a part of hardcore beliefs is finally fading away. Things change.

  87. Amit Says:

    Hindu dalit caste were treated very badly , that’s for sure , but it has not been a tradition of violence and killing against any caste , some incidents might have happened ,
    but that’s nothing comparable to the Violence that has happened in the name of Islam , against the Infidel and among muslims,
    and what is happening in Nizeria right now , whats happening in Kenya , in Pakistan , Iraq , Iran,
    killing are carried out daily and “civilized world ” does not even takes time to react , “oh Allaho Akbar bombing is a daily act of muslims” people think across world , no need to react ,
    this needs a deep Introspection ,within Islamik world .

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Amit: Some incidents might have happened, no need to react. This needs a deep introspection within (and without) the ‘Islamik’ world.

      • Amit Says:

        visit http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ the number of “some incidents ” is “75 ” for last week only , although this is anti islamik propaganda site , but all credit for these high numbers goes to ” believers ” .

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Amit: I am afraid you missed the irony re “some incidents.” We are still looking for that comparison of 4X and Y in India. If violence were related to religion, the objective numbers would tell the story and speculative discussion would become unnecessary. There is not much to be gained by referring to propaganda sites. Here is a link to Human Rights Watch which is a lot more credible: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a83f0.html

          “Between 1994 and 1996, a total of 98,349 cases were registered with the police nationwide as crimes and atrocities against scheduled castes. Of these, 38,483 were registered under the Atrocities Act for the sorts of offenses enumerated above. A further 1,660 were for murder, 2,814 for rape, and 13,671 for hurt.”

          Looking for a simple theory attributing violence to religion cannot explain long periods of very different levels of violence over time or great variations across space. For example, Shias are being oppressed in Pakistan but not in India. Should one attribute the problem to Pakistan or to Islam? And why so much more in Pakistan now than 50 years ago? Those are the really interesting questions.

          • Amit Says:

            Propaganda does not means that they lie , instead they give source of all info and that info is available from elsewhere too like cnn or telegraph.co.uk ,
            in india or elsewhere murder is done for personal rivalry , land , wealth etc , rape because of lust , these r not done because somebody is dalit , you will find such cases against people of all caste , including Dalit ,they too do such crimes 4 times more Rape happens in USA which has 4 times less population than india (effectively 16 times) , but no body says that they are doing this because they r dalit or Thakur or Brahmin or christian ,but when it is categorized like Dalit or Brahmin it can be given any hue , but same logic does not apply to Islamik Violence

            Islamists r doing it on name of religion , you can hear it from there own mouth ok ,

            I am astonished at this denial of Islam being source of Violence , when Terrorist themselves accept it what more proof is needed ,
            its simple why Shia Sunni Don’t fight in india , Hindus constitute more than 82% of country and muslims r simply not allowed ( or free ) to go on Rampage whenever they like , also muslims r living in a Kafir majority nation so obviously they will like to unite among themselves , yet Shia Sunni riot do happen in india ,http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/the-lucknow-connection/

            One should attribute the Shia Persecution to Sunni Islam , because it has been allowed to flourish in Pakistan not in india for reason I stated above , so the problem is Islam .

          • Amit Says:

            Secondly in India a SC/ST atrocity case can be registered for using “foul language” , calling “Caste related words” etc etc , and many times a large number of such cases r false,

            there is no point in comparing crimes of general nature with Violence that is does in name of Islam or other Religion ,
            I am sure murder and Rape happen in Pak and Bangladesh too and if they r categorized they can be presented as “against shia ” “against sunni” etc , and they can be added to my list of Islamik violence , I am not talking about that , but of those violence when the terrorist themselves r accepting it that they r doing it for Glory of Islam , or for establishing an Islamik Sharia nation ,

  88. Vikram Says:

    Amit, per my knowledge, every religion that has come into being leaves room for some kind of violence. There was a time when Shaivite kings would fight Buddhist and Jains in India. And even Jains have some legends of violence against Buddhists ! See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madurai_massacre

    Regarding violence in the Muslim world and India today, the major difference is that at a key moment India had an enlightened that enacted many laws (often contrary to orthodox Hindu doctrine) to check Hindu on Hindu violence (be it caste or gender or linguistic group related). Also, political institutions were created so that all different groups of Hindus have a voice in the government. Therefore, the markedly less Hindu on Hindu violence in India.

    If there is more violence in the Muslim world, it is due to political circumstances and not some inherent feature of Islam. Note that there are Muslim majority countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey that have far lower levels of violence than India does.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Vikram: Thanks for the input. We have been stressing on this blog the perspective that there is an intimate relationship between politics and religion.

      The simple point to be considered is the following:

      If one locates the roots of violence in religion, it is impossible to explains very significant variations in violence across time and space (as you have also noted).
      If one locates the roots of violence in politics, it becomes much more possible to explain the variations. Religion then emerges as one of the instruments of politically motivated violence.

      It is quite true that there is a huge upsurge of violence in a large swath of the contemporary Muslim world. The interesting question is why now? That takes us to rewarding explorations of contemporary politics and its historical antecedents.

      If one were to take a recent case in India, I would consider Muzaffarnagar. Did some dormant religious passions come alive all of a sudden or was there electoral politics underlying the incident? What is the objective verdict?

      It is also true that religious passions once inflamed tend to get out of control and take on an autonomous life of their own. People actually do start believing in divine responsibility to purify the world even if that involves killing others. It happened in the Crusades and it is happening in parts of the Islamic world today.

  89. Waleed Noor Says:

    The issue of land reforms, or lack thereof in Pakistan as opposed to India, gets very little attention in Pakistani debates. Was the preservation of feudal structures not the single most potent reason for Muslim League (ML) to push for partition? After all ML was essentially a party of feudal lords. This raises some questions:

    Did Jinnah believe that a ruling class of feudal lords would bring about modern social capitalist development in Pakistan? Did he not clearly see the “class” interests involved behind the “Two-Nation” façade? Or did he just hope that the feudal lords could be subordinated as was done by the British?

    • Vikram Says:

      I believe that up until the 1946 Punjab election, the ML was mostly a party of urbanites and bourgeois from the Muslim minority regions of India, especially Delhi and UP. The nature of the party changed dramatically after the 46 elections, with the influx of Punjabi zamindars. This was driven by the exigency of winning the elections, and post election calculations.

      I believe the note by Prof. Ralph Russell elsewhere on this blog also hints that the League did not have much of a base amongst the lower class Muslim population, and had to resort to heightened religious rhetoric to bring them on board.

      Therefore, I would say that it is unlikely that Jinnah thought in the way you are suggesting. He was tangled up in a web of his own (and Congress’s) making by then.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Waleed Noor: In my opinion, Vikram is correct in his observation. The ideas that became Pakistan originated with Muslim elites in areas where they were in a minority, primarily UP and Bengal. The fear was that they would lose in relative terms if and when power was allocated on the basis of votes. Jinnah was a lawyer – his primary interest was to preserve as much representation in power for the Muslim elites as he could once the British left. He tried first as a member of Congress and failed; he then switched to become an advocate for an exclusively Muslim party. Jinnah was not an economist. There is no evidence that he ever thought about economic development or its nature or who would lead it. Part of it may have been because, frankly, it doesn’t seem Jinnah ever felt Pakistan would really come into being. In that sense, Pakistan was the failure of Jinnah’s gamble.

  90. Veronica Says:

    What happened after the partition? Was there violence of peace?

    • Vikram Says:

      Veronica, partition failed to resolve the political conflicts in the erstwhile British India to the satisfaction of all parties. That this was the case in the newly formed state of Pakistan is clear by looking at the events of the Bangladesh Liberation struggle and the eventual secession of Bengali speaking areas.

      In India, partition only served to marginalize the Muslim populations further, and left a lasting legacy of doubt and hostility between Hindus and Muslims.

      There is certainly no peace to be found in South Asia after partition.

    • Kabir Mohan Altaf Says:


      Vikram’s answer is basically acceptable. However, from the Pakistani point of view there are a few issues:

      1) “the newly formed state of Pakistan”: Pakistan and India were formed at the exact same time out of British India. “India” and “Pakistan” are exactly the same age.

      2) In Pakistan, we do not use the phrase “Bangladesh Liberation Struggle”. This phrase is too closely aligned with the Indian and Bangladeshi POV. In Pakistan, we refer to 1971 as the “Fall of Dhaka”. There was a civil war between West Pakistan and East Pakistan, which resulted in the secession of the Eastern Wing.

      3) Vikram neglected to mention that Kashmir is the unfinished business of Partition. As a Muslim-majority state, it should logically have gone with Pakistan. However, since it was not part of British India and the ruler was a Hindu, he chose to accede to India. India and Pakistan have fought 4 wars over Kashmir, territory that both of them control in part but claim in full.

      I fully endorse Vikram’s conclusion, but I wanted to put across the Pakistani point of view as well.

      • man0jm Says:

        Your comment on No 3 is exactly the expansionism that Muslims believe in that creates disharmony. You do know that India had and has a far bigger muslim population than Pak. So by your logic, all of India should belong to Pakistan? Please learn to accept that India & Pak do NOT represent Hindu & Muslim religions but political entities, like all nation states are.

        Had Jinnah & Nehru not fallen into the divisive and bloody trap set by Brits at the time of leaving, there would not have been the horrendous loss of lives started with Moplahs, led to partition and still continued in Kashmir, now in Assam, and that has taken untold lives of people in Pak.

        • Kabir Mohan Altaf Says:

          No, my point # 3 is not “expansionism”. It is simply an acknowledgement of the reality that there is a dispute regarding Kashmir. Kashmir is Muslim-majority and as such logically should have been Pakistan. The Partition of British India (NOT “India”) was carried out on the basis of the Two Nation Theory with Muslim-majority districts going to Pakistan. The complicating factor was that Kashmir was a princely state ruled by a Hindu Dogra king.

          And of course “all of India” should not belong to Pakistan. The Muslim-majority areas in the Northwest and the Northeast went to Pakistan. Nowhere else in British India was there such a concentration of Muslim-majority areas.

          Your conclusion that modern “India” and “Pakistan” are political entities is true. On that, we agree.

  91. Ahsan Ahmed Pitafi Says:

    it was not necessary to partition India because Hindu and Muslims were living with each other from centuries..
    As United India we might become super power country..
    As United India we may be most prosperous area of earth..the problem was with our leaders who have took a very difficult way which is still creating big problems..
    As United India we can save several lives who are dying on borders to defence their nation..

    • man0jm Says:

      I like the way you think. Rather than remain stuck in what might have happened in the past, you are concerned about lives of people here and now. Kudos. I agree with your observations, and it is only through constructive dialogue that we can disengage from the destructive cycle set in motion 75 years ago by a withdrawing colonial power, and hope to create a brighter future for our children.

  92. Vikram Says:

    I find the use of the term ‘logical’ in the context of ethnic/territorial disputes unsatisfactory. In such disputes, what can seem eminently logical to one person might seem completely illogical to another.

    In the specific matter of partition and Kashmir, I would like to remind you that the partition agreement did not agree to any general ‘logic’. It merely established three principles:

    1) There would be independent states of India and Pakistan created out of British India.
    2) Princely states had the option of joining either of them, or remaining independent.
    3) Provincial assemblies (with the exception of Punjab and Bengal) would vote to either join India or Pakistan. The Punjab and Bengal would vote on a plan of partitioning along religious lines or joining India or Pakistan in their entirety.

    As Jammu and Kashmir was a princely state, it was well within its rights (as per the partition agreement) to stay independent. There is no provision for any reorganization of a princely state along religious lines.

    The question then was what the general population of the state desired, and the reality is that we simply dont know. The political organization that could claim to be the most representative of Jammu and Kashmir was the National Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah. And there is certainly no indication that the NC and Abdullah were interested in a merger with Pakistan. Indeed, the Pakistani government at the time denounced him and did not recognize him in any way. On the contrary, NC workers assisted the Indian army during the 1947-48 war.

    So the question of Kashmiri accession to Pakistan simply doesnt arise, much less being ‘logical’ as you are asserting.

    • Kabir Mohan Altaf Says:


      Princely states may theoretically have had the option of remaining independent. In reality, they were forced to join either Pakistan or India. The Nawab of Hyderabad did not want to join India. The Indian government forcefully conquered that state. The Nawab of Junagadh acceded to Pakistan. But because the state was Hindu-majority, India insisted on a plebiscite. It is quite curious that in the case of the only Muslim-majority state that is in India, the Hindu Dogra king was allowed to choose for the Kashmiri Muslim people.

      Partition was done on the basis of Muslim areas going to Pakistan. Kashmir bordered both new domains and could have gone either way. But as a Muslim-majority region it would have made sense for it to become Pakistan.

      I suppose we will just have to agree to disagree.

      • man0jm Says:

        Kabir, what is being argued is the antithesis of any multi-cultural democratic people. Specifically, please re-consider why you assume that Muslim-majority states should have gone to Pakistan and that would have made the Partition the best thing that could happen? Extending your ‘logic’, India should have become a Hindu country post-partition with Muslims left behind as second class, not responsible citizens. It didnt and thank god it didnt go that route.

        I believe everyone agreed (at least some time) that it was a power struggle among leaders to fill the shoes of retreating colonial power, not theological – the ambition of a few well-off muslims to preserve their fiefdom even if it costed lives of a million Muslims and non-believers. It’s so sad to see educated people failing to see such a colossal human tragedy we should have resolved never again have to, but are suggesting how it should have been more ‘fair’ to their side??

        Please, this is not a personal attack but a challenge to remove cognitive biases many of us seem to suffer from, when we should have learnt better, and become better people. Sadly we have not, and seem destined to repeat our history.

        • Kabir Altaf Says:

          We will have to agree to disagree. You think you are right. I believe that a Muslim-majority state was necessary if British India’s Muslims were to be free of Hindu domination. Given that the logic of Partition was the Two-Nation Theory, Kashmir as a Muslim-majority state should have been part of Pakistan. For various reasons that did not happen and many Kashmiris feel that they are still Occupied by India.

          This view may not be palatable to you, but it is the Pakistani nationalist viewpoint.

      • Vikram Says:

        “Partition was done on the basis of Muslim areas going to Pakistan.”

        No such condition was agreed to by the Congress and Indian nationalists. One could argue that partition was agreed to as a settlement to create a Muslim majority nation state in the subcontinent. Then it was up to the various political entities in the British Indian empire to join this nation state, join India or stay independent.

        Let us not forget that the vast majority of princely states did join India or Pakistan without overwhelming pressure. Many did not, and these have to looked at on a case by case basis. States like Kalat and Manipur were forced into joining the new South Asian republics, and these disagreements form the basis of the long running insurgencies there.

        In Hyderabad, the ruler unleashed a private militia on the people of Telangana, with some parallel to the Bangladesh genocide. Indian intervention was absolutely essential, and once Telangana was secured, the vast majority desired to be part of India.

        In Junagadh, 99% of the population voted to join India.

        In Kashmir, the situation was totally different. First of all, demographically the state was not a simple ‘Muslim majority’. It had various regions with differing ethnic makeups. The valley was overwhelmingly Muslim majority. The Chenab valley in between Kashmir and Jammu was 60-40 Muslim- Hindu. And then Jammu was overwhelmingly Hindu majority. Ladakh was Buddhist majority. Pakistan forcibly tried to take over the state (a policy it has continued to this day) and failed.

        Again, I dont really see what the Pakistani argument regarding Kashmir is, especially given that Pakistan is now not the only Muslim majority state in South Asia.

        • Kabir Altaf Says:

          Once again we have to agree to disagree. You clearly have an Indian nationalist perspective, which for obvious reasons, I cannot agree with. Why is it that Hyderabad Deccan was an “insurgency” and in Junagadh the choice of the Muslim Nawab can be ignored, but in Kashmir, the decision of the Hindu Dogra king is sacred? This smacks of double standards. Either the ruler decided in all cases, in which case Kashmir “acceded” to India and Pakistan should stop complaining. Or the people decided in all cases, in which case Kashmiri Muslims have still not been able to exercise their right to self-determination.

          And Partition was done on the basis of the Two Nation Theory (You may not like it, but this was the case). The idea was that Muslim-majority areas would go to Pakistan NOT remain in the Hindu-majority Republic of India. This is why Punjab and Bengal were split. Kashmir is (and was) solidly Muslim-majority. As such it should have been part of the Islamic Republic. Kashmir remains the unfinished business of Partition.

          • Vikram Says:

            What point does ‘agreeing to disagree’ when one side is continuously sending terrorists and murderers to the other side, firing on villages on the other side ?

            This is either naivety, or a tacit approval of the Pakistani army’s policies.

          • man0jm Says:

            Kabir, you may not agree with an indian nationalist ‘perspective’ but what exactly is your perspective? To me it seems filled with dichotomy.

            If you claim the idea was a homeland for Muslims, then you are being most unfair to Muslims, Christians etc who stayed in divided India, because you accept they are not citizens but aliens living in india at the pleasure of Hindus.

            Make up your mind please.

    • Anil Kalai Says:

      I am curious that Nehru was alive till 1964, why didn’t Pakistan insisted on Plebiscite when he was alive? After all he was the one who agreed for plebiscite.

  93. Kabir Altaf Says:


    Of course those Muslims who chose to stay behind in India are Indian citizens. India claims to a secular state, so they are not living there at the “pleasure of Hindus”. That does not change the fact that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was formed as a homeland for all British India’s Muslims, according to the Two-Nation Theory.

    Vikram: Please let’s not get into whose “side” is doing what. If you read well-reputed Pakistani newspapers such as DAWN, you find that Indian troops have killed four civilians so far in the Sialkot sector. The story as reported in India is something else. Obviously, as a Pakistani I will trust my own news sources more than anything coming out of the rival country.
    My contention is that all of this is cross-border hostility is a symptom of the underlying Kashmir dispute, which must be solved through diplomacy and by taking the Kashmiri people (from both sides of the LOC) on board. That’s all I’m going to say, lest you accuse me again of “siding with the Pakistani Army”.

    • Vikram Says:

      Kabir, what does firing in Jammu, in the Samba sector have anything to do with Kashmiri Muslims ? And I ask you again, on what basis is Pakistan a party to the Kashmir dispute ?

      Since you have talked a lot about ‘logic’, please use some yourself. Does it make sense for the Indian army to start firing across the LOC ?

      Regarding your claims about Pakistan being a homeland for all of British India’s Muslims, please refer to Vazira Zamindar’s work on how quickly the new Pakistani state moved to stop Muslims moving from India to Pakistan. And neither Pakistan, nor Bangladesh (both states for Muslims) are ready to accept the stranded Urdu speakers in Bangladesh. What are the conditions of Indian migrants in Karachi ? They are still officially called Muhajirs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qasba_Aligarh_Massacre

      • Kabir Altaf Says:


        Pakistan is a party to the Kashmir dispute because it controls 1/3 of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Any map published outside of India shows the LOC as distinct from a permanent border.

        Indian troops are killing Pakistani civilians in Sialkot. I’m sure Indian media accuses Pakistan of starting the firing. Our media says the exact opposite. You are free to believe the version that suits you.

        At a time when Pakistan is fighting domestic terror and is busy at the Afghan border, India may have decided that it will take advantage of Pakistan’s “weakness” by heightening tension on the astern border.

        I see no point in further engaging with you. You are an Indian nationalist and I am a Pakistani nationalist. Our worldviews on this issue will never converge.

        • man0jm Says:

          I’m sorry but this is not a response based on fact or analysis discussions. From all the comments one can see Muslims speak about partition with pride and a deep hurt at not being able to gain a bigger land area, (which is why I called it expansionism earlier) and others speak of it as a tragedy that hurt unity, and convenient references are sought to justify their stances

          There can be no settlement if the 2 parties cannot listen to each other, re-examine their positions, and explore a middle ground to align with present realities.

          With the tinker, tailors, soldiers (& spies) thinking this way, I now understand better why there was a partition, since these exact same positions were exploited by the powerful for themselves, while people lost everything they had & were killed horrendously.

          I also believe that neither Pakistanis nor Indians have learnt any lessons from this massive human tragedy (much bigger than the holocaust) and the history will continue to repeat itself.

          Subscribing to this blog has been a real eye-opener to bigotry, and I thank the authors and the commentators for helping me see that everyone DOES NOT want peace or prosperity. But there’s very little to be gained by continuing, hence I wish you all a good year ahead, and unsusbscribe from this blog.

          • SouthAsian Says:

            man0jm: That is a cruel beginning to 2015. It is devastating to be labeled a bigoted blog after eight years of trying to provide a space for reasoned discussion.

            We do not choose our world – there are people with differing views out there which makes our life difficult. We can choose to ignore them at the cost of existing in a cocoon of like-minded persons or we can engage them in the hope of contributing to change. It is a frustrating process especially when people do not wish to engage in debate and sometimes we also feel like giving up.

            We cannot grudge you your choice except to say that you would be sorely missed. We need participants like you in the difficult task on which we have embarked.

          • man0jm Says:

            I apologize for not being clear. My use of “bigotry” does apply, but not intended for the creators of this blog. It was to describe the level to which discussions, if they can be called that, have sunk to. If I hurt your feelings by making a blanket statement, I am truly sorry.

            My view is, while we cannot and should not ignore the tragic past, let us draw lessons which help us move beyond the conflicts to secure a better life for people in India and Pakistan – an objective I believe you shared in one of your comments. I have been following this blog for a year plus, but the acrimony & tendency to “dig into” stereotypical positions is really sad.

            And thank you for the gracious message to stay. I will and try to contribute to the blog in whatever small way I can.

  94. Anil Kala Says:

    This discussion is sliding into emotional ground. I personally think J & K should have gone to Pakistan due to large Muslim majority. If a new state was carved out of India, rightly or wrongly, on the basis of Muslim self rule then J & K logically goes to them. The question however is would that have made the two neighbors less hostile to each other?

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Anil: This is a regional forum not beholden to nation-states or political parties. It also aspires to cater to a learning community. Therefore, our primary focus is on facts that are documented. I am extracting a long passage from a book which I feel states the facts quite accurately and objectively. They can form the basis for a useful discussion if we wish to carry it forward.

      The book is The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia (Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia, London/New York, 2000) by Tai Yong Tan and Gyanesh Kudaisya. There is no evident reason to accuse the authors of any particular bias. The extracted text is from pp. 218 to 220 in this version of the book on the Internet:

      “On 15 August 1947, the princely states were advised by Mountbatten to choose between India and Pakistan. By July 1947, a newly established Department of States set out the procedures for transfer of power to take effect for the princely states. As an interim measure, these states were to initially sign a ‘stand still agreement’ with the Dominions of India and Pakistan. This was to enable the princely states to continue ‘business as usual’ in areas such as transport and trade and communications until each individual princely state signed a permanent ‘Instrument of Accession’ with either India or Pakistan.

      In deciding whether to accede to Pakistan or India, the princely states were advised by the British to proceed on the basis of geographical contiguity. As they were excluded from the 3 June Plan (which had required the Muslim majority provinces to decide whether to join Pakistan as a whole or be partitioned) the choice of whether to accede to India or Pakistan could not be determined on the basis of the religious composition of the minority population in the princely state. The option of a boundary demarcation, as the Radcliffe Commission was implementing for the international boundary between India and Pakistan, was therefore not applicable for the princely states. In any case, to impose boundaries on the princely states was simply impossible, given their haphazard geographical spread across the subcontinent. Furthermore, the situation in many princely states was compounded by the fact that Hindu rulers often presided over Muslim populations and vice versa.

      Although the British had advised the rulers to consult their populations before signing the ‘Instrument of Accession’, they were none the less concerned that the decisions of some princely states might jeopardize the territorial integrity of India and Pakistan. The neatest solution, according to the British, was for the princely states to join the Dominion with which their territories were contiguous. Such a prospect created a conundrum for Kashmir, which had the singular advantage of being geographically contiguous with both India and Pakistan and, on that basis, could accede to either.

      By 15 August 1947, most princely states, except Hyderabad, Junagadh and Kashmir, had acceded to India. Hyderabad and Junagadh, both with Muslim rulers and Hindu majority populations, did not hold out for long and were forcibly ‘integrated’ within months of independence as a result of police action started by the Congress-led Indian government. In the case of Kashmir, its Hindu ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, showed open reluctance to accede to either of the two new dominions. Although he was caught in the unenviable situation of being the Hindu ruler of a Muslim majority state, he still entertained thoughts of making his kingdom an independent country in its own right. Following the ‘logic’ of partition, Kashmir, with a Muslim population outnumbering the Hindus three to one, should have gone of Pakistan. Yet, Hari Singh as a Hindu ruler naturally felt a greater sense of affinity with India. Therefore in 1947 he found himself in a difficult position, having to decide upon the future of his state by joining either India or Pakistan. Prem Shankar Jha, a political analyst, offers the following explanation for the difficulty of the Maharaja’s position:

      Prior to July-August 1947, Hari Singh was unable to make up his mind not so much because he was indolent or weak, but because he was being pushed powerfully in two opposite directions. He was drawn to India by his own religion and antecedents, but was being impelled towards Pakistan not only by preponderance of Muslims in the state, and its close geographical and economic links with that dominion, but by everything that was important to him personally – power, status, and prestige.

      In the prevailing circumstances the Maharaja held out. As he weighed his options, Hari Singh worked out a ‘stand still’ agreement with Pakistan, but delayed signing the ‘Instrument of Accession’. For its part, India decided against entering into any agreement with Kashmir, perhaps not wishing to have its hands tied by a ‘stand still’ agreement. However, the situation changed dramatically in October 1947 as trouble broke out in the district of Poonch close to the Pakistani border when Pathan tribesmen invaded Kashmir. Thinking that this was a Pakistani plot to start a rebellion in his state to overthrow him, the Maharaja panicked and turned to India for help. On 26 October 1947, in return for India’s assurance for military aid to help stem the tribal attack, the Maharaja signed the ‘Instrument of Accession’ and, as a result, Kashmir joined the Indian Union. Pakistan protested by sending its troops which challenged the Indian army on Kashmiri soil, therefore starting the first armed conflict between the two countries.

      This sequence of events (which led to Kashmir’s merger with India) has been challenged endlessly by Pakistani interpretations which argue that the so-called tribal invasion was actually an internal popular revolt against the Maharaja, evidently in protest against the actions of his troops involved in ‘ethnic cleansing’ against the Muslims. Some other non-Pakistani scholars have also lent support to this interpretation. For instance, Alastair Lamb has argued that Kashmir’s accession was the result of connivance between Mountbatten and Nehru. Lamb has asserted that the British were keen to keep Kashmir within India for geo-strategic reasons. He has cited the Radcliffe Commission’s award of three Muslim majority tehsils of Gurdaspur district to India as proof of British complicity in preventing Kashmir from acceding to Pakistan. The Gurdaspur award gave a land link to Kashmir, making its accession to India possible. The validity of the ‘Instrument of Accession’ signed between India and Kashmir has also been questioned. It has been alleged that the document was fraudulent, as the Maharaja had been forced to sign it under duress.

      There remains no doubt that political leaders in both India and Pakistan regarded Kashmir as a territorial prize too important to be lost to the other side. To both the countries the option of an independent Kashmir was simply unacceptable. The Maharaja’s right to independently decide the future of his state was given little heed, as both countries harboured their own territorial ambitions for Kashmir. As Robert Wirsing explains:

      It is clear…that the contention that India’s intervention in Kashmir at the end of October was entirely reactive, unpremeditated and entailed no territorial ambitions whatsoever – and that it was implied in the White Paper (which India published on Jammu and Kashmir soon after her intervention in the state) essentially an afterthought – is not worth a moment’s consideration. Neither, however, is the contention that Pakistan was an innocent bystander, the unfortunate victim of an Indian plot.

      Eventually, Indian troops were flown into Kashmir after signing of the ‘Instrument of Accession’. They were able to quell the rebellion and push the armed tribesmen out of Srinagar, the capital. The Pakistani troops, however, retained control over a thin slice of the valley in the west as well as large tracts of mountainous wasteland in the north along the borders of Afghanistan and China. Kashmir was therefore divided along the ‘line of control’ where the troops stood when a ‘cease-fire’ agreement was imposed by the United Nations on 31 December 1948 in response to growing international pressure. At present these ‘lines of control’, instead of formally demarcated and internationally recognized borders, held by Indian, Pakistani and Chinese troops, determine the geography of Kashmir as well as the fragile peace which exists there.

      The stalemate that was created in 1948 has defied a solution over the past fifty years, despite endless rounds of diplomacy, repeated attempts at mediation and constant international pressure. Ideological constraints and domestic politics within India and Pakistan have conspired against a compromise on this issue. While India maintains that the relinquishing of the predominantly Muslim territory would weaken her secular polity, Pakistan fears that giving up its claims over Kashmir would be tantamount to compromising the very ideological basis of Pakistan as the homeland of Muslims in South Asia.

      India has continued to maintain her hold over Kashmir on legal grounds, citing the ‘Instrument of Accession’ signed by the Maharaja in 1947 as an irrevocable and final settlement of the issue. The validity of this claim has, however, been challenged as the ‘Instrument of Accession’ was conditional upon a plebiscite which was promised but never took place. Pakistan thus considers Kashmir as an ‘unfinished business of partition’, arguing that if Hyderabad and Junagadh, both Hindu-majority states with Muslim rulers, had gone to India, it was only logical that Kashmir, a Muslim-majority state with a Hindu ruler, should have come to Pakistan.

      The refusal of the either country to concede has created a virtual deadlock which belies hopes for a peaceful solution at least in the foreseeable future. Kashmir continues to remain a stark and poignant reminder that after half a century the ‘unfinished business of partition’ continues to exact a heavy toll on peace and stability in the region.”

    • Anil Kala Says:

      SA: It really doesn’t matter now who was right concerning J & K. This article is about speculating, so I was merely thinking if Kashmir had gone to Pakistan without any quarrel then may be the hostility between India and Pakistan would not have been so pronounced. In such an event political trajectory followed by Pakistan hardly gets affected. This would leads to very bleak scenario concerning Bangladesh.The scale of tragedy there would be unimaginable without India’s intervention.

      • SouthAsian Says:

        Anil: Thanks for reminding us that the article was intended to open up the space for speculation not for stating hard and fast positions that were non-negotiable.

        I don’t quite follow the point you are making. Clearly, if there had been no dispute over Kashmir, hostilities between India and Pakistan would not have been so pronounced if there had been any at all. But why would that leave the political trajectory followed by Pakistan unaffected? That is not clear to me.

      • Anil Kala Says:

        SA: I am not very good at History so may be I am wrong. I don’t think coup staged by Ayub Khan had anything to with India or Kashmir so Pakistan would still have martial law, may be no war with India in 1965 but again Kashmir or India did not play any role in West Pakistan’s disdain and neglect for East Pakistan so it is likely that political set up in Pakistan would have been similar to as it really was, that is West part alone would have wielded political power. It appears unlikely that a ,militarily and economically strong West Pakistan would have allowed a Bengali from East Pakistan to become prime minister so events unfolding in East Pakistan would have been exactly the same as it really happened except an indifferent India would have shut door on exodus from East Pakistan and not have meddled with Mukti Bahini. Pakistani army would have easily slaughtered Mukti Bahini therefore the scale of misery there would have been many times more grotesque. Today East Pakistan would still be around but rife with insurgency.

  95. Righ Wing Says:

    Great knowledge of history is shown by all of you. But I prsnly feel that if Kashmir is an integrated part of India, you can see & judge situation of both POK & Indian Kashmir. It is pretty much clear that Indian govt. developed Kashmir a lot while Pakis just spread terror & terror camp.. also in recent elections in J & K, heavy turnout shows people of Kashmir have faith in Indian democracy.

    • Kabir Altaf Says:

      First of all, please realize that “POK” is an extremely offensive term. What you call “POK” is properly known as Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Second of all, the Pakistani military presence in Azad Kashmir is nothing like the amount of troops in Indian Kashmir. By and large there has been no uprising in Pakistani Kashmir, with people demonstrating their desire to be rid of Pakistan.

      On the issue of the elections in Jammu and Kashmir, one can argue that the reason people in the Valley voted in such huge numbers was to keep the BJP out. Also even the mainstream “pro-India” parties have always said that the elections are for development and not a substitute for a political resolution to the Kashmir problem.

      • SouthAsian Says:

        Kabir/Right Wing:

        I am closing this discussion as it is beginning to lose readership for the blog. As Anil reminded us, the original article was intended to speculate on what might have happened if India had not been partitioned. The intention was never to decide the rightness or wrongness of the Kashmir accession. Having stumbled into that we have given enough space but the discussion has not resulted in much light. I hope you will accept this editorial decision in the right spirit.

  96. Vikram Says:

    “Clearly, if there had been no dispute over Kashmir, hostilities between India and Pakistan would not have been so pronounced if there had been any at all.”

    I am surprised with this statement. The roots of extremism, manifesting ‘unofficially’ as terror groups and officially as not allowing trade relations to develop etc lie deep inside the Pakistan movement, with the Hindu vs Muslim reasoning at the core of mass appeal of the Pakistan movement, which has been pointed out many times on this blog.

    Kashmir is merely a site for Pakistan to deploy its extremist machinery. If it wasnt Kashmir it might have been some other region in India, where the bogey of discrimination against Muslims would have been used. Indeed this has already been the case, else why did the Pakistani military orchestrate the Mumbai massacre ?

    Things in Kashmir were undoubtedly magnified by India’s broken promises and political machinations in the valley. Had India not resorted to political repression in the valley, there probably would have been no popularly supported insurgency in Kashmir. But had Pakistan not been inclined to enter into the Kashmir conflict, it is more than likely that the Indian state and Kashmiris would have found a less bloody solution to the conflict, as had happened in Mizoram.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Vikram: Your response seems contradictory to me. In the first part you say that even if there had been no dispute over Kashmir, Pakistan would have found some other excuse for conflict since extremism was built into its character – this is a genetic argument to which there can be no answer. In the concluding part you say that had Pakistan not been inclined to enter into the Kashmir conflict (which would have been the case if there had been no dispute over it), there would have been a more peaceful scenario.

      in my view, your understanding of what led to the Pakistan movement is incomplete. Re-reading the first two chapters of Sunil Khilnani’s The Idea of India should add the necessary nuances.

      • Vikram Says:

        SA, I can post this comment elsewhere if its not suitable for the discussion but I am really interested in understanding your perspective here.

        My claim was not based so much on the reasons for the Pakistan movement, but more on the mechanics and ground level consequences it had, quoting from the post ‘Governance in Pakistan: A Good Analysis’,
        “It hardly needs to be said that if appeal to sentiments of this kind helped to mobilize the mass support without which Pakistan could not have been won, it also strengthened the religious (or pseudo-religious) fanaticism which Jinnah had opposed.”

        By the late stages of the Pakistan movement Jinnah was already being sidelined by the more extreme sections of the movement, take for example, the blacking out of his August 11 speech. It would also be interesting to see the makeup of the Constituent Assembly he was addressing.

        But it seems obvious to me that a Pakistan in which religious fanaticism had gained the upper hand so quickly would end up in conflict with its largely Hindu neighbor. Pakistan ended up in conflict with its own eastern wing which was accused, among other things of being ‘too Hindu’, and there was certainly no Kashmir conflict there. It helped install and sustain a fundamentalist government in Afghanistan, and that had nothing to do with Kashmir.

        If the Pakistani military’s conflict with India is only about Kashmir, why did the Mumbai massacre happen ? Why the ISI support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which clearly has as its goals to destroy the Indian Republic and annihilate Hinduism and Judaism.

      • man0jm Says:

        A good idea to stop this bickering over Kashmir. I find it surprising that northern UP, which had the most muslims at the time, but noone ever discusses why they were’nt in a Muslim Homeland. This is how powerful agenda setting works, I guess.

        2. A quick study of the history of Cyprus, South Africa, Malaysia, India, Israel, Persia, Poland, Ireland, Sudan all show that after the colonial rule ended, all went through a partition, which were followed by at least a war and/or a partition, sometimes more. India has been no different. It’s the ideological justifications created for the partition that made it so bloody, and it continues to fester three quarters of a century later.

        • Kabir Altaf Says:


          I agree with you that the “bickering” over Kashmir is not getting us anywhere. Deeply entrenched nationalist positions will prevent us from looking at the issue with whatever “objectivity” we can find.

          I do have two points about this last comment of yours though:

          1) UP was always a Muslim-minority province. The backbone of the Pakistan movement was there because they were the most concerned about how they would deal with the Hindu majority in an undivided India. The provinces that today make up Pakistan were solidly Muslim-majority and so weren’t too invested in the Pakistan movement until relatively late. Recall that in undivided Punjab, the Unionist Party was mostly in power and they didn’t have any particular “Muslim” agenda. It is one of the ironies of history that those who were most committed to creating a Muslim homeland didn’t realize that they would lose their own actual homeland if their ideological project ever came to fruition. The whole UP scenario has been explored by Qurrutulain Hyder in “Meray Bhi Sanam Khane” and “Aag Ka Dariya”.

          2) Israel/Palestine was perhaps an unfortunate example to add in this list of countries partitioned after decolonization. Unlike British India where the Indian National Congress, The Muslim League and the British agreed that Partition was the best (or the “least-worst” option), the Palestinian Arabs never consented to give 50% of their land to a small Jewish minority. Israel unilaterally declared independence which led to a war. Then again in 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. That land is still today internationally considered Occupied Palestinian Territory. In the India/Pakistan scenario, there is no international consensus that either party is occupying the other’s land (despite what both sides feel). Palestine remains one of the most important unresolved human rights issues of our time.

          Anyway, I absolutely agree with you that we should not forget the millions who lost their lives or were made homeless by Partition. The bloody nature of that Partition as well as the four wars fought between India and Pakistan and the ongoing territorial disputes have created an atmosphere of such distrust that when it comes to the current cross-border firing most Pakistanis are not willing to believe a single thing coming out of Indian newspapers and vice versa. The whole saga of the “Pak Terror Boat” is another example.

          The question is how do we get over that distrust? I believe that on an individual level, Indians and Pakistanis can be friends (as long as we don’t start arguing over contentious issues) but our national governments are really not interested in “Aman” despite whatever lip-service they give to it from time to time. It seems to me that as of now the best option the two countries have is a cold peace such as Israel has with Jordan or Egypt, which is really just the absence of war. Perhaps this is too cynical.

          • man0jm Says:

            On 1, Nationalism as long as it means pride and working for one’s country, it’s all good. Sadly, both in India & Pak, it appears to have come to mean warring with others !! On the facts, look at an interesting set of maps and draw your own conclusions http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00maplinks/modern/maps1947/maps1947.html. Note the province of Khulna & Murshidabad for example.

            On 2. I agree a cold peace is the start point. The real risk to Pak & india people is the building of military complexes by their governments – Pak has completed this, leading to economic drain, armed violence and military regimes. India seems to be building it. Once these complexes are in place, they must fund war-mongering propaganda, like US – WMD’s, extending democracy etc – everything becomes grist for the mill.

            In my opinion, indians and pakistanis, instead of falling for jingoism like “the unfinished agenda” etc, should push their governments to do more for their citizens, rather than war with others – covertly or overtly. Let it become a healthy competition between the 2 nations, not a destruction theme.

  97. Vikram Says:

    SA, there is a big problem with the narrative you have presented on Kashmir. The Nawab of Junagadh (a state with an overwhelming Hindu majority) was courted by the Pakistani authorities and even acceded to Pakistan on 15 September 1947. How was the acceptance of this accession consistent with the ‘logic’ of the two nation theory that had been frequently been alluded to above ?

    Junagadh was neither contiguous to Pakistan nor a Muslim majority state. So why was this accession accepted ?

    It is quite clear what was going on. Two new states were born, and like any state both tried to gain as much territory for themselves as possible. Pakistan made a move and did not get the outcome it wanted, and has been unable to reconcile with this reality ever since.

    The narrative you have presented also claims that the invasion of the Pathan tribesmen from Pakistan was a ‘spontaneous uprising’, this view has been firmly discredited by military historians like Christine Fair.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Vikram: That was not my narrative in that it was not written by me. The book is part of the Routledge series which has global credibility. As I said, there seems no reason to accuse the authors of any particular bias.

      The reason to present the narrative from a respected source was to remove doubts about the clear choice given to the rulers of the princely states and the non-binding guidelines that were suggested to them. What comes across very clearly is that when it came to the test, both countries acted in unprincipled ways to maximize their territories. Much suffering has ensued from this unprincipled behavior. Any subsequent attempts to find justifications for the behaviors cannot ignore that starting point.

      As mentioned in my response to Kabir/Right Wing, discussion on the rightness or wrongness of the Kashmir accession is closed as it is hurting the blog.

  98. Fa Xian Says:

    I am Chinese, and even I am saddened when reading about the Partition of India. Surely unity would ever be preferable to disunity? Even most mainlanders and Taiwanese people would put aside differences and come together — if it meant averting the possibility of war forever. Do you truly have no regrets? Have none of you wondered, “What if?”

    • Kabir Altaf Says:

      Fa Xian,

      I think all South Asians have at some point wondered “what if?”. Partition was a huge tragedy for those who lost their lives and their homes. At the same time, as a Pakistani, I am glad that I have my own nation-state and my own identity separate from India. There were many reasons (some good and some not) why Muslims in British India felt they could not live in a Hindu-majority country where they would be at a perpetual disadvantage under a one-man-one-vote democratic system. Also, please remember that there were many attempts over more than two decades to find a compromise that would have left India united. For various reasons, a workable solution was not found.

      Anyway, it has now been over six decades and most Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are (I assume) quite happy to live in independent nation-states. We can be good neighbors, but there is now need to give up our own identities.

      Finally, there were wars in India even when it was “united”. Some would argue that it was the British that really made India one country. Even then, there were over 500 princely states that were nominally independent.

    • Vikram Says:

      Fa Xian, I think the situation between mainland Han Chinese and those on Taiwan cannot be compared to that between Pakistanis and Indians.

      Between the Kuomintang that succeeded the Qing dynasty, and the CPC, the dispute was primarily was one of the economic system to be adopted in a modern China, and the foreign backers of each party. There were also disputes regarding the political system to be adopted, although these really became salient only after Taiwan became a full fledged democracy.

      Most importantly, the CPC and the Kuomintang did not have differing definitions of the Chinese nation they claimed to speak in the name of.

      If today, reconciliation is possible between the CPC and Taiwan, one big reason is that the CPC has practically abandoned the CPC economic system, and moved towards a more capitalist one. State owned enterprises still control most upstream industries and play a major role in the PRC economy. However, this extensive role of the state in the PRC’s economy is a structural consequence of the CPC’s political system, and not the result of widely held belief among the Chinese about the state’s role in the economy.

      Also, I doubt if any real unification between the PRC and Taiwan can take place unless mainland China becomes a democracy like Taiwan (i.e. the CPC abandons both its economic and political ideology), or the US withdraws from the region and the PRC can take over Taiwan by force.

      • man0jm Says:

        Vikram you are right, the situation in PRC and Taiwan cannot be compared – after all they didnt kill a million and displace 10 million.

        75 years after this tragic events, I see on this blog 2 kinds of comments – 1. Parition justified our ideology & we regret we didnt kill and displace more 2. Partition was a shameful event and we should learn from it and resolve never to have anything like this again.

        Take your pick.

        • Kabir Altaf Says:

          man0jm, I hope you don’t place me in the “we regret we didn’t kill more” category. That would be really unfair. While I don’t want Pakistan to not exist as a nation-state, I’m certainly not happy about the human cost of that decision. Many members of my own family lost their homes in what is now India.

          Perhaps an equivalent feeling could be that of those “liberal Zionists” who acknowledge the Palestinian “Nakba” but still believe that there was a need for Israel to exist. I think Pakistan needed to exist but of course Partition was a tragedy.

          Partitions are messy events but realistically most nation-states were formed through some such events.

          • man0jm Says:

            Kabir, that was put very well. And I really meant ‘categories of comments’, not persons – it would be too pretentious to judge people by what they write on a blog. Peace !

        • Vikram Says:

          Manoj, I am not sure what you mean. The Chinese Civil war (between the KMT and CPC) killed 8 million people, almost the entire population of Taiwan consists of Han Chinese displaced from China’s southern provinces.

          I also think you need to revise your understanding of partition violence. The roots of the intense sectarian violence, especially in Punjab go back a long way into colonial policies of land allocation and militarization of the Punjabi peasantry. If anyone’s conduct was shameful, it was the British colonialists, who after manipulating and exploiting Indian (especially Punjabi) communities for so long to entrench and prolong their rule, showed no interest in maintaining order during the transfer of power.

          There was a political disagreement between the principal politically active agents in British India, and no resolution that could have maintained the unity of British India could be agreed upon. There is nothing to feel ashamed about here and there is no point in blaming this and that person.

          Had the colonial authorities fulfilled their duties, the non-Muslim population of Pakistan would not have shrunk so dramatically from nearly 20% in 1941 to 1.5% in 1951. It might have gone down to 15% perhaps, with the urban Hindus of Punjab leaving (many of whom did leave before the bulk of the violence), just like it was mainly the urban Muslims of Delhi and UP left. The memories of migration would have been of seeking a new life and cultural security, but without the bitterness and animosity that has come to characterize it.

          I will argue that despite the increasingly Islamist nature of the Pakistan movement in its later years, this 15% minority, would have been an important bulwark against fundamentalism, much like Indian Muslims were crucial for Indian secularism in its early years and even today.

  99. Kabir Altaf Says:

    Anyone who is at all interested in the Partition and the creation of two new dominions out of British India should perhaps watch the series “Pradhan Mantri” available on Youtube. Though it is Indian Nationalist in presentation– a fact made amply clear in the opening moments of Episode 1 where Jinnah is depicted as a classic soap opera villain– the events depicted seem to me to be quite real. The series covers the history of the Republic of India from 3 June 1947 to the present day. There are episodes on the wars with Pakistan, The Babri Masjid demolition, the Gujarat pogroms, etc. Honestly, in the later episodes it’s a bit anti-BJP. So if you can separate out the program’s bias, it is an interesting refresher course on history and current events.

    • man0jm Says:

      I agree with you – the series gives an accurate and comprehensive picture of major events in 40’s and 50’s, from the leaders’ perspective.

  100. Prabhjot Singh Says:

    Only Indian and Pakistan govt fight ,people still love each other.I don’t know the name of a single person from Pakistan whom I hate,So I even don’t have a reason to hate Pakistan and its same with the Pakistani people too. I don’t know what would have happened if India was not partitioned but i know that I could have more friends than I have now.

  101. Vikram Says:

    I wonder if this entire discussion is premised on the right assumptions. Starting with the title of the post (and the general label of ‘Partition of India’), I feel that we predispose the discussion towards a negative evaluation of the fact that two, not one sovereign political entities emerged from the British Indian Empire (BIE). We also forget that even after ‘partition’ the border between India and Pakistan was open, and it was only in 1965 that we started having the kinds of restrictions that we have today.

    But most importantly, we fail to separate the violence that accompanied the political emergence of India and Pakistan from the BIE from the political arrangement itself. This violence, a dark spot on human history was the fault of the British authorities abandoning their duty to uphold order and their intense miltarization of the Punjab during the century of their rule.

    Pratap Bhanu Mehta has also noted in a recent column that we should stop looking at the political actor’s of the 1940’s in terms of heroes and villains in the context of partition. Instead we should look at the various aspirations of the communities that resided in the BIE that lead to the Indian Independence and Pakistan movement.

    A recent book by Venkat Dhulipala presents a rich history of the Pakistan movement, in particular how the Urdu speaking Muslims of North India, who had a major impact on Pakistan in its early years saw the demand for Pakistan.


    • SouthAsian Says:

      Vikram: The original post was not premised on any assumptions. It posed the standard counterfactual question: What would have happened if India had not been partitioned? Of course, there are positive and negative opinions and the idea was to provide a space to articulate them. Even Dhulipala, in the review you have linked, has a perspective on the question: “In fact, so fixated have we been on the idea that the bad guys were the ones who wanted territorial Partition that we often forget that the cost of territorial unity was always going to be religious conservatism. Territorial unity required the partitioning of social orders; not the modern ideas of citizenship”.

      I believe the argument is contestable because post-partition India did not become free of different social orders and, more damaging to the hypothesis, post-partition Pakistan that did become much more free of social differences, did not become religiously liberal – in fact it became even more conservative.

      It is true that the commentary on the post drifted into unrelated issues of the genesis of the partition and the attribution of responsibility but commentary is never in control of the author. This blog is in agreement with Pratap Mehta that there is not much to be gained by looking for heroes and villians. Just as a reminder, the following was posted on the blog quite some time back: https://thesouthasianidea.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/jaswant-singh-the-road-to-partition/

      I do feel that looking at the aspirations of communities is not sufficient because the aspirations are shaped by events. It is the events that need to be focus of analysis.

      Note: Dhulipala’s article is archived in the Best from Elsewhere section of the blog:


  102. Param Siddharth Says:

    I am an Indian, and let me tell you, there is no discrimitnation here.
    The creation of Pakistan was a big mistake.
    I am an Indian, and I am telling you that Muslims live happily in my country.
    Those who think that Muslims are discriminated here have false thoughts.
    Hope people will understand it someday.

  103. Australian Says:

    Appreciate the article, Indian Hindus are equally responsible for creating a country Pakistan, so called upper caste Hindus were treating Muslims as bad as untouchables, Jinnah has realised this well in advance, once India becomes independent country then the Muslims minority will not be treated well by upper caste Hindus, they (Hindus) will never give an equal opportunity to Muslims in terms of education and other opportunities, certain extent this is true.

    Hindus were vegetarians and they don’t like to see other people eating meat, secondly Muslims were creating problems for Hindus such as throwing meat bones on Hindu majority streets, purposely praying on the street and creating an unpleasant situation to Hindus.

    We cannot look back to the past what has happened and there is no point in turning back to history pages, rather we should look forward to patch up the relations, Pakistan is still an underdog country and they should work to heal the wounds and look for an economic development, health and education with the help of its neighbours than finding ways to take revenge in the name of Kashmir. Creating a separate country or Kashmir becoming part of Pakistan will not solve the problem in fact this will further escalate the problem, it is too bad for China, who will have more Muslim neighbours in the western part of the country and the current situation in China will lead to bigger problem.

    Muslims per se are the most conservative in the current world and undemocratic society with very stringent one-sided rules, severe punishments and with highest level of human right violations. thanks

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Australian: I am intrigued by your closing comment: “Muslims per se are the most conservative in the current world and undemocratic society with very stringent one-sided rules, severe punishments and with highest level of human right violations.”

      First, how does one arrive at this conclusion? For example, what are the stringent one-sided rules under consideration and how do they compare to rules in other religions? Second, is there need to see democracy in a global geopolitical perspective? For example, Iran was a democracy in 1953 which was toppled by the US and replaced by an undemocratic system (Obama has now apologized for that). The Saudi regime is the dearest ally of the US and has been protected all along. Do these aspects relate to religion or the politics of oil? Third, is there a table of human right violations per 100,000 population by country? Here is one list I found showing the ten most extreme violators:

  104. Shivatejas Bettadapura Says:

    Interesting and informative article.What hasn’t been discussed is that a unitary country like modern India with a strong center was not on the table. The choice in 1947 was between accepting the Cabinet Mission plan and Partition. If Partition had been avoided and CMP adopted, then some princely states would have seceded. The young nation would have quickly balkanized, within a decade or so.

    Secondly, a single South Asian country would have got dragged into the turbulence of the greater Middle-east. Delhi would have been unable to handle this without some measure of devolution or decentralization (unacceptable to Nehru and Patel at the time).

    All of you have framed it in terms of Hindu-Muslim relations, most arguing that they would have equilibrated over time and some arguing that they would have continued to remain bitter. While the rhetoric of the Muslim League certainly invoked imagined Muslim greatness in the past and how that could be realized in Pakistan, what people have ignored is the strong zamindari angle to the opposition of the ML to the egalitarian impulses of the Congress. In undivided India, Congress would have found it impossible to enact land reform in large swathes of territory that forms Pakistan today.Witness how Pakistan has been unable to enact land reform to this day. Without land reform, the country would have struggled with continued poverty on account of entrenched caste equations and inequalities.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Shivatejas: Thanks for an intellectually stimulating comment, precisely the kind the post was intended to elicit.

      As you mention, devolution or decentralization was not acceptable to Congress at that time while the League was in favor of it. One wonders if no compromise could have been found short of partition? Regarding your argument about the princely states, even following partition India could only retain territories in the northwest and northeast by recourse to force so the problem you allude to wasn’t exactly avoided by partition. As for balkanization, Europe can be considered balkanized but does that make it particularly disadvantaged compared to South Asia. According to some, the competition amongst smaller states is a spur to innovation and progress.

      It is not clear to me what would have led an undivided India to be dragged into the turbulence of the middle east. Would it have been because of its large Muslim population? India still has a very large Muslim population that is not pressing it to be involved in the turbulence of the middle east.

      Your point about land reform is plausible except for the fact that there does not seem much difference in the continued poverty in both India and Pakistan. It is not as if land reforms in India have had much of an impact on poverty. Was partition a price worth paying for such minimal impact?

      • Shivatejas Bettadapura Says:

        Speaking as a young south Indian, I would say Partition served us. The first generation of Partition refugees lost a lot and they feel a nostalgia for an undivided country.
        India as it is is much much stronger than a fragmented south asia could ever have been: with a common market, with free transport of goods and people across the length and breadth of the country and allegiance to a liberal Constitution. The combined strength of Rajasthanis,Gujaratis and Malayalis is far bigger than Junagadh,Kathiawar and Travancore.

        The point about Muslims is worth talking about. The mistake most Pakistanis make is that they “homogenize” India’s Muslims. Tamil Muslims are proud of their Tamilness, Malayali Muslims are Malayali first and many Kannada Muslims have made valuable contributions to Kannada literature. Pakistanis’ view of India is dominated by North India and the Muslims of the Gangetic plains. Here too, the fact that today, UP and Bihar Muslims aren’t interested in the events of the greater Middle east owes probably to the fact that after 67 years, we in India have been able to build a civic identity owing largely to a highly liberal and non-sectarian definition of nationalism(the originality of the Congress version of Indian nationalism has to be thanked for this). Without Partition, I feel we would have continued to think of ourselves as Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, etc. I for one would never want to live in a confessional state.

        India has progressed from a “ship-to-mouth” existence to being a food grain exporter. Of course, agricultural research is responsible for this but in large measure, productivity in farms was boosted by land reform. Lazy, city-based zamindar elites were replaced by hard-working peasants. India has been able to build a substantial rural farming elite. You hear about farmer suicides and get the impression that Indian farmers are struggling, but the bigger story is that farmers today want to send their children to the best schools and get into debt for that.

        In short, to quote MJ Akbar, the idea of India is a modern idea, the idea of Pakistan is an outdated idea. It would not have died even if Partition were averted.

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Shivatejas: You are assuming that if India had not been partitioned it would have fragmented into dozens of states like Junagadh, Kathiawar, and Travancore, etc. No such tendencies were in evidence during the years leading up to 1947.

          I agree on the problem of homogenization but you can appreciate that this was precisely what happened in the years leading up to 1947 creating the impression that all “Muslims” wanted to separate whereas that was clearly not the case. Also, do consider where the categories of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs came from. Last week Professor Romila Thapar was at the Lahore Literary Festival and was reported as follows – http://www.dawn.com/news/1165001:

          “In fact, till the British conducted their first census, there was no concept of religious minorities and majority in the subcontinent. The census purely divided the people on the basis of their religious identity without taking sects into consideration. If this had been done, she said, the Bhakti-Sufi sects would have come up as a majority. Most people only followed the popular folk traditions and did not push religious identity till the colonial thought process pushed them to do so.”

          Whether India is an importer or exporter of grains has very little impact on poverty – the statistics on rural child malnourishment are shocking. See this report:

          I repeat the point that partition did not contribute sufficiently to poverty reduction in India to justify its human costs.

          As for MJ Akbar, this blog considers his book to be bad history: https://thesouthasianidea.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/tinderbox-the-past-and-future-of-pakistan-%E2%80%93-a-review/

  105. Asian Says:

    Be one again. Please.

  106. LeGrand Says:

    In the last 5000 years, India (subcontinent) remained as one country for only 500 years. So the concept of partition seems too natural to India

    • kpr Says:

      Im an 18 year old northern indian hindu …first and foremost let me congratulate you on this blog .!!….
      Im proud of my patriotic indian muslim brethren who chose to stay back in india during the partition… It goes to show that the idea of pakistan is not as strong as some pakistanis may think.. hindu numbers have dwindled there while muslims numbers in india have grown here.. nd just becoz i am secular does not mean i forget the way abrahamic relegions treat hindus . Dirty words like kaafir … My god …. Let me make it very clear to you here on this blog HINDUS ARE NOT IDOLTORS AND POLYTHEISTS.
      I think its important to mention tthis as ive read reports online and watched clips of pakistani talkshows on youtube where people speak of being taught anti hindu hate in school textbooks and whatnot…
      All abrahamic relegions have this view .
      1)we dont worship idols rather we worship through idols… See it like this .. you love your mother … And say you have a photograph of her and someone asked you to spit on it .. would you? YOU wouldnt ,saying that it would be disrespectful … Lets get logical here .. the photograph is paper and plastic and cant think, move, speak ,see and feel emotions the way your mother does … So insulting the photo ,an inanimate object, shouldnt be such a big deal . Yet it is …. Becoz you see the shadow of your mother and maybe the photograph offers you solace and comfort when you are away from her, miss her and only wish to be with her… So much emotion for a mortal being , then how can i disrespect the image of my god , becoz even in the lifeless stone metal and wood idols … I see him … Do i love the photograph more than my mother .. no way!! i dont look at it when im with her .. same goes for hinduism .. the idols are a way for us to concentrate in prayer ..
      2)hinduism is essentially a relegion with one god only -brahma – all the others are extensions of him in various forms.
      Hindus dont worship cows like a god but since in our scriptures they are seen as pure,sacrificing, maternal& innocent figures ..they are placed on a pedestal and so are all of gods creation .. think about it how can i praise him and not appreciate this world he created .
      Anyways …that was that … It bothers me that hinduism and some eastern religions freak people out so much?? I dont see hinduism as pagan but even if it was … What is it to you … Live and let live .. unless you thrive on expansionism and proselytizing.
      anyway back to the topic … Since we dont live in an ideal world id say- no, i dont think the india and pakistan shoould merge … Atleast not for another 30yrs or so
      … Let the scars of partition scab over and let the two countries develop &evolve and then if there is still longing for each other then maybe just maybe .. who knows ..
      But plz rein in your radical islam .. id rather die than see myself or the future generations live under the the vitriol filled atmosphere of a religion that hasnt evolved with the centuries and continues to be oppressive in this day and age .. proof is all over the world ..
      We in india are fighting against caste system with the help of our constitution , reservations in schools colleges and offices ,reformation drives etc
      Id like to see a similar change in the muslim world .. im in no way saying that all muslims are like this .. infact we have muslims family friends that are we so close with that i call them mamu mami ( uncle & aunt ) . Some members of my extended family came from lahore during partition and one of them even studied medicine at lahore medical college .. and she regales us with stories of pakistan sometimes… So No hate here .. bt i cannot and will not stand anti hindu sentiments ..

      • SouthAsian Says:

        kpr: Welcome to the blog and thanks for the appreciative words. In response to your comments, I would like to raise a few points for discussion in the spirit of this blog.

        1. I don’t believe it is justifiable to attribute the decision of many Muslims to stay in India to patriotism and by implication that of those who left to lack of patriotism. There were very violent riots on both sides of the border, especially in Punjab and Bengal from where the majority of the migrations took place, and many who left their homes had no option but to flee to save their lives.

        Patriotism is not a good touchstone in any case for such decisions. Many South Asians have migrated to the West to better their lives. Should we attribute a lack of patriotism to them?

        Finally, Muslims in India ought to be seen as Indian citizens like all other citizens. Implicit arguments pertaining to their patriotism are a subtle form of discrimination – the ‘othering’ of a group not quite considered at par with the majority.

        2. I don’t believe you need to defend Hinduism vis a vis the Abrahamic faiths. It’s an ancient tradition that has no need to comply with the norms of Abrahamic faiths. As for ‘dirty words’ they are floating all over the place on every side and need to be ignored if we are to move forward.

        3. I am most concerned about your last sentence: “I cannot and will not stand anti Hindu sentiments.” This puts you in the same category as the angry Muslims who cannot stand anti Muslim sentiments. If that is the case, the critique of angry Muslims loses force. Unless we develop the ability not to be provoked we will always remain at the mercy of those who benefit by inflaming our emotions.

        4. Your sentence “plz rein in your radical Islam” is problematic. Why is it mine? What is the basis for that claim?

      • LeGrand Says:

        Historically, India was like a small continent comprised of many countries/nations/states. That’s why India was called the Subcontinent also.

  107. Vikram Says:

    “Historically, India was like a small continent comprised of many countries/nations/states. That’s why India was called the Subcontinent also.”

    Historically, every part of the world that had the economy to generate enough surplus and establish a state (which was not forcibly taken over by another) was a country. National consciousness only arrived in post enlightenment Europe in the 18th century as people sought a new source of sovereignty following the delegitimization of monarchies. Due to the various twists and turns of history, and the preexisting demographics of religion, it culminated in monolingual nation states. These monolingual nation states, the borders of most of which defied natural logic set the stage for the two Great Wars in Europe.

    In India, the history of nationalism begins with the 1857 war. Most nationalist movements in India, evolving as they were under a multilingual, multireligious empire took on a more broad based definition of the nation than religion or language. It is the events from 1857 to 1947, that form the core of nationalist memory in India today. The independence movement still shapes how Indians think about politics.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Vikram: This is a very important subject you have touched upon. I would like to move it forward by submitting the following observations:

      “Historically, every part of the world that had the economy to generate enough surplus and establish a state (which was not forcibly taken over by another) was a country.”

      The concept of ‘country’ is a very late arrival. Historically, there were states of different forms but they cannot be classified as countries the way we know them today. They were either city-states, principalities, kingdoms, or empires.

      “National consciousness only arrived in post enlightenment Europe in the 18th century as people sought a new source of sovereignty following the delegitimization of monarchies.”

      This may not be strictly correct. For example, the city-states of Athens and Sparta exhibited quite a fierce ‘nationalism’ over two thousand years ago. The 14th and 15th century city-states of Milan, Florence, Venice, etc., were at war with each other and are well known. Machiavelli is the best-known name associated with this period.

      Also, many empires only disintegrated after WW1. The Russian Empire even later.

      “Due to the various twists and turns of history, and the preexisting demographics of religion, it culminated in monolingual nation states.”

      Monolingual nation-states did not emerge out of a natural process. A lot of ethnic cleansing was involved in creating linguistic homogeneity. The Slavic episode is still fresh in our memories. We should remain aware of how European nation-states came into being. A little bit of that is discussed in a review of Tony Judt’s monumental work Post-War: “He also observes that because war, genocide, and ethnic cleansing had separated the fractious, ethnically diverse regions of Eastern Europe into tidy, homogeneous nation-states, “the stability of postwar Europe rested upon the accomplishments of Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler.”” (http://nymag.com/news/features/64626/)

      Also, there are still a number of nation-states in Europe that are not monolingual – Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, UK, among them. Even the US is not monolingual. Also, some city-states have survived into the present era, e.g., Monaco, San Marino, etc. These are sub-national states – surrounded by nation-states in which people are of the same ethnicity and speak the same language.

      “In India, the history of nationalism begins with the 1857 war.”

      We tend to refer to this as nationalism but it was more an anti-colonial movement.

      “Most nationalist movements in India, evolving as they were under a multilingual, multireligious empire took on a more broad based definition of the nation than religion or language.”

      I wish that had been the case. The Indian Western-educated elite was unable to think beyond the European nation-state as the norm. This was what led to Muslims suddenly beginning to think of themselves as a separate ‘nation.’ The same trend continues today with the desire of some to transform India into a Hindu state.

      India was and still is a civilizational-state and that is the way it should have been imagined.

      • Vikram Says:

        “Monolingual nation-states did not emerge out of a natural process. A lot of ethnic cleansing was involved in creating linguistic homogeneity. The Slavic episode is still fresh in our memories. We should remain aware of how European nation-states came into being.”

        I was including all the nastiness in the ‘twists and turns of history’, I should have a more deliberate word. But the key point I want to emphasize here is the religious demographics. Medieval Europe was overwhelmingly Christian (with a splattering of Jews), and the various denominations of Christianity played a key role in the formation of national identities.

        The nation states that emerged in Europe, were thus not only monolingual, but monoreligious (at the level of Christian denomination) as well. There were exceptions as you point out, but this was the norm. A similar process seems to be underway in the Middle East as well.

        “India was and still is a civilizational-state and that is the way it should have been imagined.”

        Both modern day Indian nationalism and even Hindu nationalism essentially imagine India as a civilization state. Indeed, so does Muslim nationalism in modern South Asia. Its just that they refer to different civilizations.

        With the establishment of the first Persianate state by the Ghaznavids in Lahore, a policy continued by future Turkic/Iranic rulers in the Delhi Sultanate, Deccan Sultanate and the Mughal Empire a decidedly Persianate Muslim identity emerged in the Northern regions of the subcontinent. The surplus generated in these states was appropriated to develop a Persian based culture in South Asia.

        I dont think this attempt to create a Persianate culture would be such a problematic historical memory given that India was plural long before the establishment of these states. But the fact that it was accompanied by wanton destruction of the existing heritage and the removal of Sanskrit and other Indian languages from the court and literary circles created a very different impression of this period among different groups. Support to native traditions seems to have been sporadic and token. (I would be interested to know how Richard Eaton explains Aurangzeb’s artillery bombardment of the Bamiyan Buddhas.)

        Perhaps for a lot of the Muslim elite, the roots of the demands for Pakistan can be found in the desire to see this Perso-Islamic culture form the basis for a modern Muslim (or even secular) culture in South Asia. This can be seen for example, in the elevation of Urdu to a ‘sweet’ ,’beautiful’ inclusive language, even though its vocabulary and modes of expression are overwhelmingly Persian.

        It is ironic then that the key modern expression of the culture Persianate Muslims in South Asia came from Mumbai in India rather than Pakistan. But in India, there is not contradiction between the growth of this culture and the rendering of Indian epics on the modern medium of television. See any Indian channel, and you will see a seamless blend of shows based on the stories of the Buddha, Mahabharata and Akbar-Birbal. Turn on Indian radio, and you will hear mushairas and bhajans. The Indian state supports AIR Akashvaani in Hindi and AIR Urdu.

        So how then is India not a civilization state ?

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Vikram: Thanks for the response. Here are some further comments:

          On religious demographics: It is not clear how various denominations of Christianity played a key role in the formation of national identities. When the English Protestants and Catholics were in conflict they were both English. It was similar in the other countries of Europe. In the Middle East today, if Sunnis ad Shias are arrayed against each other in Iraq, they are both Iraqis.

          On India as a civilizational-state: One can imagine India as a civilization but as soon as one begins thinking in terms of Hindu or Muslim nationalism, one has transitioned in real terms to the paradigm of the nation-state.

          A civilizational-state, if it had been imagined, would have been a different model, one accepting its composite Indian-ness without making exceptions. But the thinking you have outlined, one of grievances, whether justified or not, precluded that outcome and led naturally in the direction of the nation-state model. From there followed the construction of different civilizations each glorifying its own nation-state.

          As for the grievances, you have to cite more evidence for the wanton destruction of existing heritage and the removal of Indian languages from literary circles. If Muslim identity emerged in the northern areas of the subcontinent, how did it manage to eliminate Indian languages all over India? If the destruction happened sequentially, one has to provide the sequential evidence of the measures that eliminated Indian languages. To take a more recent example: Are Indians abandoning mastery of their own languages for English voluntarily or was/is there a systematic design to eliminate Indian languages from offices, courts, and literature?

          There can be a quite different perspective on the phenomenon you have mentioned. It is but natural for a foreign group coming from outside India to bring along its own traditions. But it is remarkable how quickly the Muslim foreigners were Indianized giving rise to what is referred to as the Ganga-Jamni tehzeeb (civilization) in Northern India. This is not to say that there were no political conflicts but it would be hard to argue that political conflicts did not exist in India before the arrival of the foreigners.

          William Dalrymple provides one example of this Indianization in his research on the tradition of erotic literature in India (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/jun/26/india-the-place-of-sex/):

          “It was not, therefore, during the Islamic period that the dramatic break with India’s erotic traditions occurred; instead that change took place during the colonial period with the arrival of evangelical Christian missionaries in the mid-nineteenth century.”

          This, despite the fact that, in Dalrymple’s words:

          “Islam brought with it to India a very different attitude toward sexuality, which was much closer to Eastern Christian notions—the environment in which so many early Islamic attitudes developed—and which divided the mind from the body, and the sensual from the metaphysical. Like much early Christian thought, Islam emphasized the sinfulness of the flesh, the dangers of sexuality, and, in extreme cases, the idealization of sexual renunciation and virginity…. Yet, remarkably, Islamic rule did not disturb the long Indian tradition of erotic writing. The Kamasutra survived and in time even helped to convert to the life of pleasure India’s initially puritanical Muslim rulers.”

          The same was the case with music, language, religion, lifestyles. The syncretism of the period was quite remarkable – what Dara Shikoh described in his Majma-ul-Baharain: The Commingling of Two Oceans.

          However, if you are arguing that the foreigners should never have come to India in the first place you are being ahistorical. There were no ‘countries’ at that time, only empires with no fixed borders. Just read the history of England to see how many different foreign groups went and ruled there and became English in turn – even the present royal house is German in origin.

  108. Kabir Altaf Says:

    There was no “India” before August 15, 1947. Before that, there was British India and a bunch of princely states. Before the British, there was Hindustan (which did not include all of what is today India). This idea that “India” was always one united country and its boundaries were recognized as such is completely ahistorical.

    The Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan are exactly the same age. Both are socially constructed entities. Neither was ever inevitable.

  109. A Pung Says:

    India and China are great nations but greatness is not automatic. It requires quality leadership during important moments in history. Unfortunately, Indian leadership of the forties was short-sighted and lacked quality. China seized its moment by emerging as one giant nation after its communist revolution and has never looked back. India missed its opportunity when the British left. Instead of having one voice to represent the Indian nation, it got two and later, three. Three voices to represent the opinion of one nation – that is ridiculous and self-defeating as more often than not, they drown each other out. The partition of India was a monumental failure of the prevalent Indian leadership and a historical error which, unfortunately, will probably never be undone. India is not great anymore and will not be until it’s division is undone. Instead competing with nations such as China and the United States, India has been reduced to a ‘regional power’. China makes sure that the distraction of Pakistan keeps India too busy to compete with it – a distraction which would not have existed in a united India.

  110. Vikram Says:

    The evidence for the damage done to native traditions by the invasion and subsequent policies of Turko-Iranian invaders is overwhelming.

    1) Change of official languages. Before replacement by Persianate dynasties, North India was ruled by the Shahis (Sanskrit), Gurjara-Pratihara/Vaghela (Sanskrit, Gujarati), Pala (Sanskrit, Pali) dynasties. Central India was ruled by Yadava dynasty (Kannada, Sanskrit). None of the invading dynasties (Delhi/Gujarat/Bahmani/Bengal sultanate) retained these official languages. In South India, which was under the Vijaynagar Empire (Kannada, Telugu) neither the Qutb Shahi nor the Adil Shahis maintained continuity.

    Sanskrit, Marathi and Kannada did not return as official languages until the Maratha Empire and Wodeyar kingdoms were established. And Tipu Sultan changed the official language of the Wodeyar to Persian again.

    The pattern is clear.

    2) Loss of patronage for native artists. The example of Vidyapati illustrates this. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/627989/Vidyapati

    “Many of these love songs were written in the court of Shiva Simha, grandson of Vidyapati’s first patron. When in 1406 Muslim armies routed the court, Shiva Simha, Vidyapati’s friend and patron, disappeared, and Vidyapati’s golden age was over.”

    2) Contrast with the policies of similar invaders in Central Asia. The Samanids, Ghaznavids, Seljuks who were Turkic maintained Persian as the official language of the Iranian lands they conquered. In Iranian history, they are renowned for being Persianate states who restored Persian to a high status after Arab conquest. This is what allowed folks like Rumi (surplus of Seljuks), Hafiz (Timur, Muzzafarids) etc to thrive.

    By contrast, native Indian poets like Kabir, Tulsidas and Surdas had to make their own living. Narsinh Mehta had to live in poverty.

    4) Destruction of architectural legacy. Koenraad Elst has an adequate response here to Eaton’s thesis. http://www.outlookindia.com/article/vandalism-sanctified-by-scripture/213030

    I do not accept Elst’s thesis that temples were destroyed because of Islamic scripture, there are plenty of examples of the original Muslims not harming the holy buildings of other religions. The real reason was more likely Turko-Iranian contempt for Indic traditions.

    But it is clear that there was no norm of temple destruction in India. No Hindu/Buddhist/Jain scripture talks about it, and the example in the Ramayana is the very opposite. The handful of examples Eaton are not enough.

    And then, there is just the simple fact that in North India, where Hindus are the overwhelming majority, and were an even bigger majority a hundred years ago, not a single major temple of the kind found in South India survives.

    5) Behaviour of other Muslim communities in India. Contrast the Muslims of Kerala, Dawoodi Bohras and Ismailis to the Persianate Muslims.

    I would like to remind of you of your own words where you once mentioned that Muslims in the Middle East do not want to suffer the same fate as the native Americans. Neither did the native Indians. Persian culture may have a lot to be admired, and Indian traditions may have many flaws, but I doubt the vast majority of Indians wanted to become Persianized.

  111. Vikram Says:

    “However, if you are arguing that the foreigners should never have come to India in the first place you are being ahistorical.”

    Lest I be misunderstood, this is not my argument at all. Given the experience of the Parsis, the Arab Muslim communities on the west coast, a syncrectic Indo-Islamic culture would have emerged in the North in any case with the migration of sufis, artists and noble men from Central Asia.

    It is only the actions and policies of the Turkic rulers and the inability to look at them objectively which is the stumbling block.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Vikram: Let us accept all the facts you have mentioned. But facts have to be interpreted in some framework. The framework you are employing seems problematic to me for the following reasons:

      1. Surely you cannot be arguing that there is a moment in time before which a pristine culture exists and after which traditions are wantonly destroyed. The Turkic invaders were not the first invaders of the Indian subcontinent. Before them there were the Huns and before them the Kushans. These invasions too must have caused some destruction of traditions. And there were constant expansions of empires within the subcontinent simply because there was no united Indian entity in those times. You must definitely have read about the Kalinga War nothing like which has reputedly happened in India before or after.

      What might be called the natives of India (the first settlers) were driven into the forests where they survive today not very different from Native Americans and where their indigenous languages are dying out. Sanskrit was replaced by Pali when Buddhism emerged as the ruling religion. At some point, the tradition of varna was imposed, the consumption of beef was curtailed, whole segments of society were declared untouchables. All these can be considered wanton destruction of preceding traditions. One only has to refer to Dr. Ambedkar’s The Annihilation of Caste to accept that radical interventions in tradition were the norm, not the exception, in the times we are talking about.

      And such interventions are not limited to olden times. After 1947, the attempts to impose Hindi on other languages – a displacement of tradition – were curtailed only after fierce resistance. Similar was the case of the attempt to impose Urdu in Pakistan.

      2. One cannot compare Parsis and Arab communities on the west coast with the Turkic invaders. The first arrived as refugees, the second as traders; it is natural for such groups to assimilate rapidly within the host communities on whose goodwill they survive. The Turkic invaders arrived as rulers of small kingdoms; you would expect some differences in their behavior. Your comparison with invaders in Central Asia is also problematic. Persian was the dominant language of that region. Even the Turkic invaders to India did not bring their own language with them but the dominant Persian language. This need not be all that surprising. The language adopted by the Russian nobility was French though no one seems to have imposed it on them.

      3. It was to highlight these comparisons that I mentioned the analogous history of Britain. It was invaded continuously from Europe and was under Roman, Danish, Saxon, and Norman rule for periods extending over centuries. The Normans made French the language of the court and the British Royal Coat of Arms even today has its mottos in French (See here: http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/motto.html). Latin came to Britain with the Romans, feudalism with the Normans. All these could be considered major destructions of preceding traditions. See the timeline and facts of British history here: http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/history.html

      4. The really relevant point is that after all these invasions, impositions, and destructions, there emerged an English identity that went on to create the biggest empire in the world instead of lamenting wanton destruction of some pristine culture of the Britons. The analogous question is: Did the Turkic dynasty ever become Indian in a similar sense? There were continuous intermarriages and as early as Jehangir many of the Mughal rulers had Rajput mothers. If one argues that the lineage can never be accepted as Indian then one is indirectly arguing that India can only be a nation-state of and for Hindus. But that is not what Indians would own up to asserting. So, there is a contradiction in the argument that needs to be resolved. And this unresolved contradiction would, in my opinion, stand in the way of Indian civilization achieving its potential.

      5. This brings us to your concluding sentence: “It is only the actions and policies of the Turkic rulers and the inability to look at them objectively which is the stumbling block.” It is not clear what it is a stumbling block to? As I said in the beginning, let us accept all the facts you have enumerated and conclude objectively that in comparison to all other invaders in history the Turks were the worst, then what? What would be the implication of that for the India of today?

      • Vikram Says:

        1. SA, no disagreement over the fact that Central Asia (esp. its South-East) has always been part of the political matrix of the subcontinent. And invasions and incursions have gone both ways, and my framework is certainly not one of the corruption of a pristine culture. My stress was on the policies of Turko-Iranian rulers, particularly their linguistic and religious policies. In particular, since these policies seem to be relevant to people’s political and social views even today.

        2. Regarding language, I have some new information from Dr. Audrey Truschko that indicates that my previous views were incorrect. Perso-Islamic rulers (as she calls them) did mostly adopt local languages for administration. It was not really until Akbar that Persian was declared and firmly became the official language of the Delhi polity. Sanskrit was never used as an official language by South Indian kingdoms, the Gupta’s and Harsha did use it in the North but it was gradually restricted to literary and religious purposes in subsequent Indic kingdoms.

        Truschko in fact mentions that when Shivaji made Sanskrit the official language, it had been so long since Sanskrit was used for such mundane purposes that his officials had to invent Sanskrit equivalents for many Persian words in use.

        3. We are now left with religious policies, particularly temple desecration. Structures like Nalanda and Somnath become institutions and enduring parts of people’s identity. Nalanda especially was patronized by a succession of Indian kings (both Hindus and Buddhists from its inception till its destruction by Khilji, and no Muslim king revived this institution). Sites like these were not only for Hindus and Buddhists inside India, but also maintained enduring networks between India and South East and East Asia, which became linked spiritually and materially.

        In this matter, the record of India’s Turkic rulers, with the exception of Akbar seems very problematic. Add to this the fact that the overwhelming majority of structures built by Muslim emperors were mosques and other Persian inspired architecture (with Indian embellishments) and we can start seeing why the attitudes towards those rulers are often hostile. Wrongly or rightly, temple desecrations are a reminder of how helpless and powerless Hindus were.

        It is quite possible that my understanding of the temple issue is also incomplete, but I find Eaton’s explanation very unsatisfactory. If the destruction of your opponents prestige religious structures was such a big part of Indian politics, why didnt the Marathas and Sikhs go around destroying Mughal mosques ?

        Since identities are intimately connected to history, it is quite clear that if Muslims regard political control of India by Turkic families as their high point in India (although this view has now started to be questioned by Muslims themselves), and Hindus see it the same period as one of helplessness, a civilization state project based on the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb will not succeed (not to mention the regional limitations of such a strategy).

        Instead, a nationalist strategy where Indians jointly resist a colonizer, and the entire idea of the strong dominating the weak seems much more promising. And when one resists through a political strategy which allows the weakest member of the society to take part in the struggle, and politicizes each section of society, preparing the grounds of democracy, the chances of success increase dramatically.

        A nationalist movement of this kind will produce a civilization state that allows cultures within itself to express themselves. And this is what has happened in India, notwithstanding the intense politicization of linguistic and religious identity, most groups in modern India has been able to express themselves and develop further.

  112. brqp Says:

    Backtracking from the Cabinet Mission Plan was a blunder committed by Nehru which led to the Partition. Azad writes in India wins Freedom

  113. விஷ்ணு கார்த்திக் Says:

    “Hindus would never have been able to rule Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan or the Frontier.”
    Hindus don’t rule anything India! India is a DEMOCRATIC secular country.

    The Partition is big load of Bullsh!#t! only muslims were given a chance to go to form a “Islamic country” but Hindus were not given a chance.. they’re worthless i guess!

    Paksitan is an Islamic country but India has be a Democratic pseudo-Secular country(AKA Anti-Hindu) because Hindus don’t deserve anything!

    I swear to God Gandhi&Nehru were the real anti-hindu people and Jinnah was the TRUE Hindu saviour who wanted to take away all the muslims away from Indian sub-continent!

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Vishnu: Your comment is perplexing. At first, it seemed you were proud that India was a democratic secular country and of the fact that the concept of ruling, at least permanently, doesn’t make sense in modern democracies. But then you defined the worth of Hindus by their having a Hindu state. And you have termed India pseudo-secular because it is allegedly anti-Hindu. Finally, about Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah: It seems to me that the last thing Jinnah intended was to be a true Hindu savior. Also, he never wanted to take Muslims away from the Indian subcontinent, only to have self-rule in Muslim-majority areas. And, if he really thought he could take away all the Muslims to the latter areas, he made a tragic error in judgment. It is impossible for me to pull all these thoughts together and would request you to clarify what kind of country you would like India to be today.

    • APUNG Says:

      India should not have been divided in the first place. It was a crazy idea propounded and supported by Jinnah and others. In a country like India where you find Muslims in every village and town, the idea of partition was ridiculous because it was impossible to have a complete exchange of populations like the exchange that occurred in the Greece-Turkey scenario. So if you a partition a country on the basis of religion, then no partition would make sense unless there was a complete and total exchange of population which was impossible in the Indian context. So, the only result of the partition was that the Muslim majority areas of British India which had 70% population of Muslims increased that majority to 90% and despite this increase due to the mass migration of Muslims and Hindus, as of today, there are 150 million Muslims still living in India. So the purpose of partition was not served at all. Infact, there was no logic and rationale for the partition. If anything, the entire idea of Pakistan was propounded by the influential upper class Muslims of Uttar Pradesh who wanted a country of their own where there would be virtually zero influence of other religions. Unfortunately, a substantial number of middle class Muslims and poor Muslims also bought into the idea as they fell victim to the fear-mongering of the Muslim League. Further, the Hindu-Muslim riots pushed the leaders of the day into a knee-jerk reaction of accepting partition without fully understanding its implications. An opportunity to stay united was lost and a message was sent for generations to come that Hindus and Muslims cannot live together in peace.

  114. birla Says:

    Azad was not very influential. Nehru & Patel were. Once Nehru rejected the 1946 Cabinet Mission Plan, all hopes to avoid the Partition were gone. Jinnah had accepted the Plan.

  115. Vikram Says:

    SA, let me reposit my question in a simpler form.

    Why was the Congress definition of Indian nationalism not reflective of India’s composite civilization ? And subsequently, how do the theoretical underpinnings of the modern Indian nation state not reflect the ideal composite nationalism you describe ?

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Vikram: Sorry for a very delayed response. I have done fairly extensive reading so as to make what I believe is an accurate assessment of the historical record.

      I believe one can say that there was no one definition of Indian nationalism that reflected the Congress position. It is fair to say that the top INC leadership (Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Azad) were keen on the INC standing for a composite nationalism. However, the lower tiers of leadership and the majority of Congress rank and file were much more inclined to the Hindu revivalist position. One indicator of this was the struggle over the language supported by the INC. Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and Azad tried their best to advocate Hindustani but the factions headed by PD Tandon, Govind Das and others succeeded in their campaign for Hindi as part of their Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan platform. The pressure that was built for Hindi persistently described Urdu as an alien language and insisted that Hindi be cleansed of all foreign contaminants. The extremely rapid Sanskritization of Hindi that followed on All India Radio, much to the annoyance of Nehru, was the result of the success of this campaign. Language policy was one concrete manifestation of how the desire for a composite nationalism expressed by the top leadership was negated by INC rank and file.

      This probably also explains why so many Muslim leaders including Jinnah, Iqbal, and Maududi who started off aligned with Congress or parties allied with Congress broke away over time once the weight of the lower tiers of INC leadership became obvious.

      As far as the modern Indian nation state is concerned, it has moved a long distance from the the commitment of the early leadership to composite nationalism. Theoretical underpinnings are not the best barometer of the state of play. Rather, one should look at concrete manifestations. Any time a senior minister can divide the nation into Ramzadas and Haramzadas without any censure or penalty, it should be obvious that composite nationalism is dead, at least for the moment.

      • SouthAsian Says:

        Vikram: Here is a tantalizing glimpse of contours and possibility of a composite culture and also of its fragility which Dalrymple labels ‘heartbreaking’. It is not really the religion or ethnicity of the ruler that determines the outcome but the spirit of the enterprise. The question for us today is whether we want a composite culture in which everyone has an equal sense of belonging and respect or do we want ‘our’ side, however we define it, to be calling the shots while being nice to the ‘others’. The two are not equivalent.


        • Vikram Says:

          “The question for us today is whether we want a composite culture in which everyone has an equal sense of belonging and respect or do we want ‘our’ side, however we define it, to be calling the shots while being nice to the ‘others’.”

          If this is indeed the case in India, it is because the vision of the Constitution has not been achieved and the ideals of the freedom fighters forgotten. The communally biased freedom fighter is the exception, not the norm.

          The culture produced and practiced by the majority of Indians is still a composite one, with even more influences than before. But yes, a major section of the middle class that has embraced political Hindutva, and Western materialist mores.

          • SouthAsian Says:

            Vikram: I feel the key point to grasp is that the vision of the Constitution was not singular. The leadership championed a vision that was not owned by the majority. There is nothing wrong with that except to note that the nature of the contestation widened the divisions in society – Gandhi was murdered for being ‘pro-Muslim.’

      • Vikram Says:

        “The extremely rapid Sanskritization of Hindi that followed on All India Radio, much to the annoyance of Nehru, was the result of the success of this campaign. Language policy was one concrete manifestation of how the desire for a composite nationalism expressed by the top leadership was negated by INC rank and file.”

        SA, this debate was about the official language of the Indian Union government, it has nothing to do with nationalism per se. If the INC rank and file expressed a desire for a Sanskritized Hindi as the official language, it perhaps reflected the desires of their constituents. If it doesnt, the official language can be changed (as indeed it has).

        The decision about what should be the official language of a modern nation state should be made by the majority, no matter how lofty the goals of the minority that oppose it.

        I would agree with your argument here if the Congress rank and file overruled the top leadership on matters of religious equality and freedom, and giving religion a presence in the nationalism. The negation of the vote on including God in the Preamble and the affirmation of religious freedom as a fundamental right clearly indicate that the rank of file shared the basic values of the Congress leadership.

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Vikram: I was not pointing to the debate over the official language of the Indian Union government. My reference was to the contestation over the language in which the official transactions of the INC were to be conducted and recorded. Gandhi convinced the INC in 1925 to employ Hindustani as official language for the conduct of its proceedings. The top leadership supported this position but it triggered an ultimately successful resistance led by the second tier leadership.

          The debate over the official language of the Union government came in the twilight of the struggle for composite nationalism. The Constituent Assembly was formed in December 1946. At its initial session the Rules Committee decided that the Assembly proceedings would be in Hindustani or in English. By the fourth session in July 1947, this position was abandoned in favor of Hindi.

          I have no problem with the adoption of Sanskritized Hindi as the official language of India. My aim was to highlight the struggle between composite nationalism and religious nationalism as reflected in the struggle over the particular register of language to be adopted. One cannot subscribe to composite nationalism and majoritarianism at the same time.

          Also, it is impossible to separate nationalism from language in the Indian context both in the first half of the 20th Century when languages were assigned religions and in the second half when linguistic identities served as the basis for articulating sub-national demands which were accommodated by the reorganization of states along linguistic lines.

          A reference I consulted is Language Conflict and National Development: Group Politics and National Language Policy in India by Jyotirindra Das Gupta. It is availabe on the Internet at: https://books.google.com.pk/books?id=qGACL5YJRjEC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

          For a more recent example from Europe of the intertwining of nationalism and language, seehttp://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2012/11/language-and-nationalism

          • Vikram Says:

            There seems to be an insistence on seeing the composite Indian nationalism in the Hindustani language which was heavily, heavily Persianized. It was spoken as a link language by many due to economic and political compulsions, much like English is today. Maybe the majority simply had an aspiration to speak a language that was more rooted in their soil, and saw the making of Hindi as official language part of that goal. There was no summary removal of Persian and Arabic words from the Hindi language. Its just that proportion of Sanskrit words has increased.

            I see the composite Indian nationalism in the language Aamir Khan uses in his introduction in the show Satyameva Jayate and Bollywood cinema uses in general.

          • SouthAsian Says:

            Vikram: Surely the point is not what you or I or the majority desires as the official language of India. It is a matter of historical record that the leadership of the INC voted for Hindustani as the language of record of the INC as also of the Constituent Assembly. Is this an incorrect statement? If not, what was the reason for that choice? Surely, the leaders of the freedom movement had the intelligence to see whether it was a language used mainly due to economic and political compulsions on top of being heavily, heavily Persianized. Why did the great freedom fighters make such an obviously ridiculous choice?

          • Vikram Says:

            SA, the discussion started with a original claim was that the demand for a Sanskritized Hindi versus Hindustani reflected the communally prejudiced nature of the majority of Congress members.

            That is the claim I am contesting, not whether Hindustani was the language of record for the INC. There are many reasons why Hindustani could have been chosen, perhaps the leadership genuinely thought it could have brought more politically powerful Muslims into the party.

            However, if we say that even an aspiration to use more Sanskrit vocabulary is communally biased then there isnt much room for negotiation. In your opening argument, you equated this aspiration to Hindu revivalism. Sure, some extreme arguments might have been used in the language debates, but that surely doesnt mean that the bulk of Sanskrit proponents were Muslim haters. You further extended this to claim that Jinnah, Iqbal and Maududi might have left Congress because it was filled with such people.

            Please find me the prominent Congress leaders who:
            1) Claimed Hindus and Muslims were completely distinct and could never live together.
            2) Proclaimed a man convicted of murdering a Muslim as a ‘matchless warrior of Hindus’.
            3) Advocated the creation of an Indian state with Hinduism as an official religion where all other religions would have inferior status.

          • SouthAsian Says:

            Vikram: The claim was that the adoption of Hindustani was an attempt by the INC leadership at a composite nationalism. The resistance in favor of Sankritized Hindi was a part of the Hindu revivalist movement and is described as such in books on the language controversy. The record also shows that the campaign was carried out not on linguistic terms but on those of purification. There is no argument with the rights or wrongs of such a political campaign except that it was not compatible with composite nationalism. There is no necessity to have a composite nationalism.

  116. Vikram Says:

    “The leadership championed a vision that was not owned by the majority.”

    SA, I have already mentioned that the Constituent Assembly decisively negated the proposals by the right-wing lobby to give religion a major say in national organs, and to give preferential status to any particular religion. This shows that the majority was with the leadership on this issue, but not on the language issue.

    If indeed the majority did not share a secular vision for the Indian state, it could have voted in the appropriate party and gotten the Constitution amended. In fact, the Constitution became even more clearly secular in the 1974, a non Congress party with a leadership more right wing was voted in, major amendments to the Constitution were made, but the secular aspect was untouched.

    Now a right wing party is in power, but the PM only reaffirms the Constitutional commitment to religious equality. So how does the majority not agree with the leadership on these matters ?

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Vikram: “the PM only reaffirms the Constitutional commitment to religious equality.” I wonder if someone can design an interesting study to validate that claim.

  117. Vikram Says:

    One can see how the equation of more Sanskrit vocabulary as opposed to Perso-Arabic as Hindu extremism, falls into the trend line of denouncing ‘Satyagraha’ as a ‘Hindu’ word alienating to Muslims, yoga as something unIslamic, the singing of Vande Mataram as anti-Muslim, i.e. anything with any Indian roots is unMuslim.

    Why is this is the case ? N. Hanif points out that Islam entered India more as “empire and culture, than spiritual message”. (Islam and Modernity: Pg. 260). So the constitutional guarantee of professing and practicing Islam freely did not mean much to many of the Muslim leaders of the time. What was more important to them was the preservation of Muslim political power and supremacy of the high Muslim culture of North India, even at the expense of the culture of the other Muslim communities of the subcontinent.

    One can see here the key difference between leaders like Azad and Khan Abdul Ghaffar who emphasized the spiritual dimension of Islam and its impact on and blending with subcontinental traditions, versus leaders like Iqbal and Jinnah who stressed more on political power and the Persianate culture of North Indian Muslims.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Vikram: You are reversing the situation here. Place it in the historical context in which anything with Muslim associations was anti-Indian requiring purification (like Ghar Wapsi). Given the demographics, one claim had much more latent power than the other with all its political implications. Read the note on Shuddhi on the Arya Samaj website: http://www.aryasamaj.com/enews/2012/jan/4.htm

      Both sides had cosmopolitans and communalists in their ranks and the communalists carried more weight in the end. That can be read as a democratic majoritarian outcome which is fine. It would be good to go back and re-read the first chapter of Sunil Khilnani’s Idea of India. There were a number of competing ideas at the outset and one of them emerged dominant. That too has lost its hold over time. The objective here is not to assign blame just to record the transition.

      • Vikram Says:

        I am sure there were people who felt (and who still feel) that anything with Muslim association was anti-Indian requiring purification, and the Arya Samaj was one of them. But it is incorrect to ascribe this view to the majority of Hindus, otherwise they would not spend millions of dollars supporting a film industry in which Indo-Islamic culture is pervasive and Muslim artists ubiquitous.

        On the contrary, the idea that anything that happened in India before the establishment of Muslim political dominance is either seen as communal or inferior by a much larger proportion of the Muslim elite. This is why even the Islam in South India and Bengal, which did not have the political dimension is not seen as authentic by them.

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Vikram: I am sorry I have fallen behind but I do intend to reply to your excellent comments. In the meantime, I am thankful to Kabir for forwarding a link to a very rich debate organized by the Asia Society on the legacy of partition. This should prove useful to all the participants on our forum:


        • SouthAsian Says:

          Vikram: The psychology of human beings is complex – they can hold seemingly contradictory positions. Thus, Pakistanis can enjoy Indian movies and be anti-Indian at the same time. But, of course, what is the view of the majority (or of a minority) is an empirical question that cannot be presumed.

          I couldn’t figure out your second paragraph.

          • Vikram Says:

            SA, I doubt Pakistanis watch ‘Indian’ movies. It is more likely ‘Urdu’ movies with Muslim stars ?

            I would actually like some solid data on how popular Hindi movies are in Pakistan. My thesis would be that even though some sections of urban Pakistanis watch both American and Indian movies, they employ various justifications to see the Indian movies as essentially Muslim products.

            Regarding my second paragraph, it is an observation I have made before. There is immense confusion among the Muslims of North SA regarding attitudes to SA history before the establishment of Muslim led polities. The very identity of Muslims in this region has become tied to political power and purported Iranian/Arabic origins. The Islam in Bengal was very different, and the Bengali Muslims were not seen as authentically Muslim by the Pakistani elite.

          • SouthAsian Says:

            Vikram: I can only attribute such gross misperceptions to the lack of communication between the two countries.

            Some of the links below will be of help:


            The entertainment pages of Pakistani newspapers are full of the comings and goings of Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, and Hrithik Roshan because these stars have fans in Pakistan.

            Incidentally, Indian TV is even more popular with the middle class especially with women. This has none of the Urdu/Muslim links of Bollywood that you mention.


          • SouthAsian Says:

            Vikram: As for your second paragraph, I feel the generalization about North South Asia is too broad. Muslims in NWFP were with the INC almost till 1947, those in Punjab were happy with their Unionist coalition, those in Balochistan were uninvolved. The movement for Pakistan was dominated by Muslims in Bengal and UP. So, it is not clear how “Islam in Bengal was very different.”

            It was only after political differences arose between West and East Pakistan that the West Pakistani elite began to denigrate all aspects of Bengaliness including the authenticity of its religion.

            As a general point, regional chauvinism is widespread. The stereotype of the Bengalis has them considering themselves much more intellectual than other sub-nationalities in South Asia. At one time the attitude of North Indians towards South Indians was also quite problematic. It is reassuring that this has changed significantly as the Indian economy has integrated. But note the attitudes towards people from regions that are less integrated, e.g., the Northeast.

  118. Vikram Says:

    SA, it is important to note that the debate between Persianate Hindustani and ‘purified’ Hindi as the national language was an elite one. I havent heard of too many pro-Hindi or pro-Sanskrit mass agitations, certainly nowhere near the scale of pro Telugu/Bengali/Tamil movements.

    The nationalism of the Congress Command, and the Hindu right were among the myriad other nationalist movements (communist, Dravidian, Dalit) active in the anti-colonial movements and the eventual outcome in the Constitution was a compromise between these movements. Granville Austin’s book details these deliberations and compromises.

    The point of disagreement remains that you ascribe the desire for a Sanskritised Hindi to a *mass based* Hindu revivalist movement. It is not at all clear that the Hindu revivalist movement had mass appeal. Remember that the Arya Samaj only really gained prominence in Punjab where Hindus were a minority. In the first election after independence (1951), the largest political formation after the Congress was the left with about 20% of the vote, the Jana Sangh managing only 3%.This trend remains in subsequent elections. It is not clear why a Hindu revivalist electorate would continue supporting the secular Congress and not migrate to the Jana Sangh.

    And if indeed we accept the argument that the majority on both sides was communally inclined, it puts into focus into the nature of religious syncretism in the subcontinent. It seems that it was unable to withstand the test of modernization and mass politics. Why was this the case ?

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Vikram: The answer to most of these questions is best articulated by Sunil Khilnani and Pratap Bhanu Mehta. The fact is the the pre-1947 nationalist movement was very elitist. It could not be classified as a mass movement from below in any way. In this context, the relevant observation is that not the masses but the leadership of the INC, leaving aside those at the very top, were motivated by revivalist sentiments. This leadership then aroused people, by playing on their prejudices and fears, for particular outcomes that accorded with their preferences. The language movement, orchestrated from above, was one example of this. Khilnani goes so far as to say: “Hindu nationalism was a real mover in the agitation for Partition, both directly through the organization and action of Hindu communalists, and through its influence within Congress” (The Idea of India, pp. 161-2). And he also articulated the divisions with the leadership: “But its [Hindu nationalism’s] definition of an Indian nation was an ever-present imaginative magnet, the pole against which men like Gandhi and Nehru constantly had to act” (op cit, p. 161).

      In this framework, the claim is not that the people on both sides were communally inclined. Rather, that the leadership on both sides opted to push communal buttons at various points in time. This practice continues to this day.

      Your comment that there couldn’t be a Hindu revivalist electorate because the Jana Sangh managed only 3% of the vote is commonly made but requires unpacking. The best counter-example is from Pakistan. It is readily believed that all Pakistanis are infused by an Islamist sentiments, yet the religious parties hardly ever get more that 5% of the seats in parliament. How and and on what basis people vote is a complex matter involving as it does a tradeoff between material interests and psychological satisfaction. The theory of the rational voter can explain this seeming conundrum.

      Also, for the sake of general interest, there should be clarity about what is meant by Hindustani. It was not that a Persianate Hindustani and and a Sankritized Hindi existed at the same time and a choice had to be made between the two. Professor Frances Pritchett who taught Urdu and Hindi at Columbia has a very useful page on issues of language: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00urduhindilinks/hu_history_books.html

      In this list, there is a particularly good history of Hindustani by Dr. Tara Chand (1944). He clarifies that the term Hindustani referred to Khari Boli which was the lingua franca of the Upper Ganjetic Doab: “Hindustani is thus no new-fangled name, invented to replace Hindi and Urdu, but a well-recognized and old established term for the speech which is the common basis of its two divergent forms, Hindi and Urdu.”


      • Vikram Says:

        “Your comment that there couldn’t be a Hindu revivalist electorate because the Jana Sangh managed only 3% of the vote is commonly made but requires unpacking. The best counter-example is from Pakistan. It is readily believed that all Pakistanis are infused by an Islamist sentiments, yet the religious parties hardly ever get more that 5% of the seats in parliament.”

        SA, there can hardly be any comparison between the Jana Sangh and the Islamist parties of Pakistan. The Jana Sangh from the start accepted democratic and constitutional politics, and agitated on specific issues like cattle slaughter, uniform civil code and language. Even if defined India as a culturally Hindu country, there was no proposal from it to usher in a Hindu state.

        The comparison with Pakistan’s Islamist parties is improper because they are demanding the implementation of an Islamic state, while the state already claims to do this as it has declared itself to be an ‘Islamic Republic’ and the constitution gives Islam a position of primacy in the country.

        If Pakistanis are not infused by Islamist sentiments, why not give equal citizenship to the Ahmedis and the Hindus ?

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Vikram: You misunderstood the argument and also made an incorrect assumption.

          There are exclusively Islamic parties in Pakistan that accept democratic and constitutional politics and participate regularly in electoral politics. These include the Jamaat-e Islami and various factions of the Jamiat-e Ulama-e Pakistan. Pakistanis are infused with Islamic sentiments, therefore, according to your logic, they should vote for such parties so that the country has a more religiously oriented leadership than it has now. The fact is that they don’t. That shows that voting behavior is not simplistic and that the vote is not entirely determined by religious inclination or preference.

          Yes, there are Islamist groups in Pakistan that are not part of electoral politics like the various lashkars but it is not that case that there are no religious parties committed to electoral politics and offering voters a choice.

  119. khemesh Says:

    undivided india will be more beautiful country of mixed several cultures and united nation will be a message for the world how to live unite together. it will just like a garden of several beautiful flower. and its constitution consist of secularism equality democratic value helps to stable and develope the country. but this stupid partition was injustice and illiterate decision. which gave only problems to both the country like terrorism, war etc
    undivided india could have very large area and population recources etc.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      khemesh: What has happened has happened and in terms of human cost it was an immense tragedy. But there is nothing that prevents each country in South Asia from striving to be an example of how to live together internally and externally. Unfortunately, most of them have failed to do so and it is useful to think about the possible causes.

  120. SouthAsian Says:

    Vikram: An amusing example of what is considered shuddh Hindi in India – involves Christine Fair. There seems a lot of confusion at the level of the masses!


    • Vikram Says:

      SA, there is no confusion. In India, Hindi is understood to be a dialect continuum, i.e. there are many Hindi’s. Of these, the masses are most influenced by the Hindi of Bollywood, Hindi television and increasingly advertisements. But most speak a combination of Hindi and English, or Hinglish.

      Shuddh Hindi here just means Hindi without any English words.

      • SouthAsian Says:

        Vikram: Perhaps post-1947 Shuddh Hindi means Hindi without any English words but earlier it was very much focused on purifying the local vernacular of Persian and Arabic accretions. All histories of that period document that. A good reference is Religious Controversy in British India: Dialogues in South Asian Languages edited by Kenneth W. Jones (SUNY, Albany, 1992).

  121. Moulin Says:

    Partition of India wasn’t something totally new. Partition of Bengal was a fair precursor

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Moulin: Bengal was reunited after the partition you mention. Should that also be taken as a fair precursor for the future?

  122. Vikram Says:

    SA, regarding the popularity of Indian movies in Pakistan, my specific claim is that ‘Muslimness’ plays an important part in how these entertainment products are consumed. I doubt a movie like ‘Baahubali’ would get any audience in Pakistan. So Pakistanis arent really watching these movies under an ‘Indian cinema’ umbrella, but picking and choosing specific movies based on a variety of factors, the Muslimness of the product being a major one. I am sure the same applies vis-a-vis Hollywood products (by both Indians and Pakistani), but the filters there are very different and much more limited.

    My perception here has developed by following articles on Pakistani newspapers and social media trends.

    Regarding the attitudes of Muslim elites in North India, I wouldnt include NWFP elites in that category and I very much doubt they would like to be called ‘Indian’. I specifically include first the UP elite and the Punjabi elite in this category. Ajmal Kamal provides a good perspective on this,

    “After dealing with the 1857 Mutiny (or the War of Independence if you like), the British colonial authorities decided to replace Persian with English at the higher levels of education, administration and judiciary and with the local vernaculars at the lower levels of primary education, thana, kutchery, post office, land revenue, irrigation etc. At most places this did not create a problem, for example in Sindh and Bengal, respectively Sindhi and Bengali were adopted for this purpose. But it did create a problem in that portion of the ‘Hindi Belt’ which was later designated as United Provinces (called North West Provinces and Oudh then). A huge ruckus ensued as a result of associating the language to this or that script, although the public (which was till then referred to as ryot or subjects) was mostly illiterate and had nothing to do with either the Persian or the Nagri script. But since the area was close to Delhi, where the post-Mutiny Muslim elites still had economic and cultural clout, the knowledge of the Persian script was made compulsory for those wishing to be employed at different lower levels of administration etc. However, a vast part of the area’s population was learning the Nagri script. They too aspired for those sarkari jobs and found the doors shut to them because of the script condition. This led to a campaign which demanded that the knowledge of the Nagri script be also made a criterion of eligibility.

    In 1900 an order was issued by the Lt. Governor of the NWP&O, Anthony McDonnel, which accepted this demand. The order did not remove the Persian script or replace it with Nagri, but the spectre of erosion of the Muslim elite’s monopoly over government jobs made this into a big political controversy within the province, and government jobs and ‘patronage’ came to be known as the means for ‘survival’ of the Urdu language. A strange phrase of ‘Urdu ki khidmat’ (service to Urdu) was invented, which is still current. (Have you ever heard a boatman claim that he is serving the river, or the boat?) The immediate purpose of this identity campaign was to make more jobs available to those who were proficient in reading and writing Urdu in the Persian script. The linguistic community was divided into the Urdu-walas and Hindi-walas and both camps began to make extravagant claims about their separate ‘languages’. Both bragged about their language being spoken in the whole subcontinent; a claim which was fraudulent from the point of view of those speaking Bengali, Tamil, Sindhi, Gujarati and so on.”


    Note that in 1900, the use of Devanagri was not acceptable to the Muslim elite of UP, despite the fact that they were a minority and most of the population did not understand the Arabic script. Attitudes like these form the background of later conflicts over language in the subcontinent which we have been discussing.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Vikram: The notion of a Muslimness filter is truly amusing. Believe me people in Pakistan can keep their politics and entertainment separate. There is lot of Anti-Americanism yet Hollywood films remain very popular. China is Pakistan’s best friend yet no one watches Chinese movies unless they are pornographic. You can only verify your suppositions with a visit – seeing is believing. One contra-indication to your hypothesis is the immense popularity of Indian soap-operas on TV. There is no Muslimness there to serve as a justification.

      As for Baahubali, I don’t know much about it but looking it up on Wikipedia tells me it is a Telegu movie. If so, it will not be a surprise if it is less watched in Pakistan. People wish to understand what is being said and at the very least want to have the script dubbed. My sense is most people watch Indian movies for the ‘item songs’ (nothing could be more anti-Islamic) and savor the double-meanings. If they don’t understand the language the pleasure is lost.

      It is unfortunate that you quote Ajmal Kamal to support your argument on language. That is like quoting Huma Yusuf to make a point about Ibne Sina’s science. Ajmal Kamal is not a scholar. He just has a hypothesis like you and me and many historians have dismissed it as incorrect. You would be much better off reading a scholarly account of the language controversies. I had linked one in an earlier email. Here is the link again: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00urduhindilinks/king/king.html.

      In particular, look at Chapter III. You will note many interesting facts and realize your mistake of conflating scripts with religion – not all Hindus favored Nagari and not all Muslims favored the Persian script. The key decisions were being made by the British and not by either Hindus or Muslims. The British were partial to the Persian script for their own reasons that the book explains. Also, the Nagari script was opposed not just by many Muslims but also by many Hindus. In Bengal, with a very significant Muslim minority, there was no demand for either Persian or Bengali in a Persianized script.

      The language issue was complex and one can’t leave it to the mercy of newspaper columnists like Ajmal Kamal.

      • Vikram Says:

        SA, yes of course, not ‘all’ Hindus supported Nagari and vice versa. But the reasons for the opposition were instrumental (as the book you linked clearly points out), in the sense, that they would lose an advantage. I understand how the ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ differences crystallized and got accentuated as the Raj went about setting itself up and recruting/interfacing with the locals. In fact, even caste divisions crystallized much in the same way in that time, and have sharpened even more since independence.


        I am not sure why Ajmal Kamal’s argument is much different from that in the book. Kamal is thorough with his references. His argument is presented in a different way, putting a spotlight on the attitudes of elite Muslims who dominated ‘Muslim’ political activism. You mentioned Bengali, and that asks the question, why was the Bengali script acceptable to Bengali Muslims, but Nagari not to UP Muslims. Like I said earlier, the main reason for this has to be that Islam in the North Indian Muslim elite was a political and social identity. The language and script of administration is an important sign of who is in power, and hence the reluctance to let go of it.

        I hope you understand the immense confusion and frustration such attitudes lead to among the majority. Nobody can justify the tyranny of a majority, but on matters like the official language, the majority point of view has to hold, and then others accommodated. It is quite clear that the majority in UP desire Hindi in the Nagari script to be the official language. A logical compromise would have been to use both Hindi and Urdu in the Devanagari script, but it is the elite Muslims who associated script and religion.

        • SouthAsian Says:

          Vikram: You are making an elementary mistake by conflating interest group politics with religion. Interest group politics is the universal norm. Whenever a group has power it is not willing to relinquish it. It has nothing to do with religion accept by coincidence. You associate the difference between Bengal and UP to a special kind of Islam. A more convincing explanation would emerge by examining the gains and losses of a particular stance. The gains that were at stake in the UP were not so in Bengal. That is also why there were people of both religions on both sides of the political conflict.

          To push this further, on can say that the majority in UP or India desire social justice. Does that convince those who hold economic power to concede it to them. In this case there is no religious complication since the majority on both sides belongs to the same religion.

          • Vikram Says:

            SA, hardly a couple of CM’s in India are from the so called ‘high caste’ families. The overwhelming majority come from the peasant communities and OBC’s who form the plurality of the Indian electorate and commander the vote of farm labourers due to their economic dependence on them.

            The ‘high castes’ (Brahmin, Bania and Kshatriya) hardly make up 15 % of the Indian population and the establishment of democracy by a Constituent Assembly where members of such groups were in a majority would be tantamount to a relinquishment of political power according to me. Similar things could be said of post apartheid South Africa.

            I dont think people in India desire social justice, although they are not opposed to it. In fact this conversation points us to why this might be the case. The very nature of politicization in the subcontinent has been identity based, starting with Hindu-Muslim and then later on after independence with caste. Where there has been political mobilization based on economic justice, there has been land redistribution. Actually, most of India has since quite a bit of land reform (see Table 4 in this paper http://www.agrarianstudies.org/UserFiles/File/1Bakshi_Social_Inequality_in_Land_Ownership_in_India.pdf) and the high levels of inequality are more a consequence of an urban rural divide and general population increase.

            So all in all, yes a lot of Indians have given up unfair economic power (starting with the abolishment of zamindari) when confronted with an articulate political movement.

          • Vikram Says:

            Another example of a group willingly relinquishing power and becoming part of a democratic order,

            Click to access Rudophs%20–%20Baviskar.pdf

  123. anton Says:

    might I add that whitehall already decided to divide India because they did not want a powerful coloured country, the same as they european powers did to the Arabs and created Isreal, nothing against Jews but these were the same people who turned back Jewish refugees and alerted the Nazis to their Jewish communities.

    Jinnah wanted autonomy not a separate country. This was the work of the Colonial Government and yet the sub-continent still cannot see that!

  124. Maryam Says:

    I too agree with the author, some other solution would have definitely worked out if India was not partitioned. But it was something that was bound to happen as a result of de-colonization, as it happened everywhere else in the world. We can sit here ask this question because more then half a century later we now understand what happened in British India and every where else in the world.

    Here’s something else to ponder about, what would have happened if Pakistan was formed, but for some reason, the Indian Muslims changed thier minds at the last moment and had decided to stay where they were?

    • Vikram Says:

      Maryam, partition ultimately was the result of the specific modes of politicization of first the educated elite and then the masses of British India, and the inability or disinterest of leaders to check this mode of politicization. I think demographic trends also played a part, with the proportion of Muslims in the entire subcontinent rising from 19% in 1871 to 25% in 1941, with particularly sharp increases in Punjab (40% to 60%) and Bengal (50% to 56%).

      Other colonized areas of course went through a similar process, but the question could be asked if India can include Hindu Tamils, Bengali Christians and Rajasthani Muslims, why not Punjabi and Sindhi Muslims ?

      Regarding the question you have put forward to think about, I feel that your premise is incorrect. The overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims stayed where they were. The Muslim population of the current day India decreased only slightly from 13.4 % to 10.4%. Most of those who left were forced to do so. Today the Indian Muslim population is back to 14%.

      The far more dramatic change has been in the Hindu population of Pakistan and Bangladesh. In Pakistan, the Hindu population dropped from 19.7% in 1941 to 1.6% in 1951. In Bangladesh, the change has been more gradual, but just as decisive, 29.61% in 1941 to 22.89% in 1951, and just 9% as of 2011.

  125. Dehlavi Says:

    A perfect article, Altaf! Couldn’t agree more. Partition sowed the seeds of the worst ever family feud ever!

  126. Raman Sehgal Says:

    I must appreciate South Asian for patiently replying to comments (I just read few of them) and wishing for united India.

    In the hindsight – we all r wise. My analysis is that Partition was a god send gift to Hindus (minus the tragedy of millions killed in ’47 riots). The terms of the partition as set by Jinnah (or British) were impractical. You have mentioned the example of Malaysia, Lebanon and S. Africa. Lebanon is no example to follow and S. African division r racial not religious. The only relevant example is that of Malaysia. Well in Malaysia i dont think Chinese or Indian came to that country as conquerors or destroyed their heritage or culture. Their past is not soaked with blood – moreover it is the Indians and Chinese who earn money and provide for the welfare for the Malayans ( I am no expert on Malaysia – correct me in case i am wrong).

    But in case of Hindus and Muslims in India – the history is socked in blood since the first arrival of muslims. The old wounds would have opened sooner or later. We could not resolve the Hindu-Muslim conflict till past is not acknowledged and forgiven / forgotten.

    To know the root of Hindu Muslim divide – read the following : http://ramansaigal.blogspot.in/2016_03_01_archive.html

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Raman: What can I say except that beliefs, especially strongly-held ones, need to be cross-checked against facts. You want to believe that the Muslim-Hindu past is “soaked in blood”. Perhaps the entire sum of casualties in the Muslim-Hindu interaction was less than the total casualties in the Kalinga war alone. Do look it up.

      That period of history, whichever part of the globe you look at, was one of warfare. Do you believe when the Aryans or Alexander or the White Huns or the Mongols or the British came to India there was no bloodshed? Have you boycotted Britishers or Christians (who came as conquerors and ridiculed Indians as uncivilized) because of that? But the incredible part is that in today’s era when civil war has disappeared from most of the world, it is still going on in India between the state and the Adivasis and there is no lack of violence between the upper and lower castes. If you cannot resolve what you call the Hindu-Muslim ‘conflict’, can you resolve the inter-caste ‘conflict’ over which Dr. Ambedkar tore up a major text? I agree that the resolution of all conflicts requires forgiving and forgetting but it seems that you believe some are exempted from the requirement.

      I can’t understand how you believe Partition was a “god-sent gift to Hindus”. I suppose you mean in the sense of getting rid of Muslims. But there are still more Muslims in India than there are in Pakistan. Not only that, India has had to divert considerable resources to fighting wars and protecting itself from terrorism. This is a strange gift indeed.

      You claim Lebanon is no example to follow. Well, it handled its religious complexities without killing a million people and making ten million homeless. To me that makes it a worthwhile example. Regarding South Africa, it is also a better example of handling differences than India – it doesn’t matter whether the difference was religious or racial. As far as Malaysia is concerned, the majority could very well have decided to decimate those who were earning all the money (as happened in Indonesia) and holding all the government jobs. They succeeded in finding a power-sharing formula which the Indian leaders failed to do. All these are facts that you can read up.

  127. Raman Sehgal Says:

    South Asian,

    1. Fights between humans had been going on since ages and will continue till eternity. Hoping for a peaceful world is a wishful thinking.

    2. Pre-abrahmic fights were secular – for which there can be a solution or the solution can be found by the passing of the main protagonist – whose ego would have been the cause of the fight.

    3. But the scriptural hatred has no solution – it will continue from one generation to another. The muslims have been fighting non-muslims since mohammed’s time and will continue doing so till the time islam exists.

    4. The hindu genocide is the greatest in history – read : https://themuslimissue.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/islamic-invasion-of-india-the-greatest-genocide-in-history/

    5. muslims hatred towards hindus is scriptural and no one can erase it – read my above link.

    6. muslims with 25% population wanted parity with hindus – but r muslims of malaysia willing to provide parity to heir non-muslims subjects when they constitute around 40% of population.

    7. We on the hindsight are all wise – india with strong centre is still not able to resolve inter state issues – how do u think weaker centre would have resolved issue with hindu-muslim states having separate constitutions – we need to be practical and not dreamers.

    8. partition was blessing for Hindus – as hindus got united and muslims turned weaker in all three states. there was no blame game for the failure of hindu or muslim state – which otherwise would have been the case.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Raman: Re your claim that “The hindu genocide is the greatest in history,” I believe this will become the accepted truth in India because of majoritarianism. Unlike you, I don’t think this will be good for India in the long term. In the rest of the world, ordinary people have very little interest in Hindu-Muslim issues. The only people who reflect on it seriously are scholars with a specialization in South Asia. I doubt if they would come to the same conclusion. If you have read any reputed scholar supporting this claim, do let me know.

  128. Raman Sehgal Says:


    1. I had posted the links on the details of the temple destruction – I do not find the post – I presume u might have deleted it by mistake – for i am sure u r not a believer in censorship.


    ‘The Moslem Conquest of India’ from ‘Story of Civilization’ by Will & Ariel Durant [Volume 1, Chapter 16]

    The Mohammedan Conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precarious thing, whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace may at any time be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.

    The Hindus had allowed their strength to be wasted in internal division and war; they had adopted religions like Buddhism and Jainism, which unnerved them for the tasks of life; they had failed to organize their forces for the protection of their frontiers and their capitals, their wealth and their freedom, from the hordes of Scythians, Huns, Afghans and Turks hovering about India’s boundaries and waiting for national weakness to let them in.

    For four hundred years (600-1000 A.D.) India invited conquest; and at last it came. The first Moslem attack was a passing raid upon Multan, in the western Punjab (664 A.D.) Similar raids occurred at the convenience of the invaders during the next three centuries, with the result that the Moslems established themselves in the Indus valley about the same time that their Arab co-religionists in the West were fighting the battle of Tours (732 A.D.) for the mastery of Europe.

    But the real Moslem conquest of India did not come till the turn of the first millennium after Christ.

    In the year 997 a Turkish chieftain by the name of Mahmud became sultan of the little estate of Ghazni, in eastern Afghanistan. Mahmud knew that his throne was young and poor, and saw that India, across the border, was old and rich; the conclusion was obvious. Pretending a holy zeal for destroying Hindu idolatry, he swept across the frontier with a force inspired by a pious aspiration for booty. He met the unprepared Hindus at Bhimnagar,slaughtered them, pillaged their cities, destroyed their temples, and carried away the accumulated treasures of centuries.

    Returning to Ghazni he astonished the ambassadors of foreign powers by displaying “jewels and unbored pearls and rubies shining like sparks, or like wine congealed with ice, and emeralds like fresh sprigs of myrtle, and diamonds in size and weight like pomegranates.”

    Each winter Mahmud descended into India, filled his treasure chest with spoils, and amused his men with full freedom to pillage and kill; each spring he returned to his capital richer than before.

    At Mathura (on the Jumna) he took from the temple its statues of gold encrusted with precious stones, and emptied its coffers of a vast quantity of gold, silver and jewellery; he expressed his admiration for the architecture of the great shrine, judged that its duplication would cost one hundred million dinars and the labour of two hundred years, and then ordered it to be soaked with naphtha and burnt to the ground. Six years later he sacked another opulent city of northern India, Somnath, killed all its fifty thousand inhabitants, and dragged its wealth to Ghazni.

    In the end he became, perhaps, the richest king that history has ever known. Sometimes he spared the population of the ravaged cities, and took them home to be sold as slaves; but so great was the number of such captives that after some years no one could be found to offer more than a few shillings for a slave. Before every important engagement Mahmud knelt in prayer, and asked the blessing of God upon his arms. He reigned for a third of a century; and when he died, full of years and honours, Moslem historians ranked him as the greatest monarch of his time, and one of the greatest sovereigns of any age.

    Seeing the canonization that success had brought to this magnificent thief, other Moslem rulers profited by his example, though none succeeded in bettering his instruction. .In 1186 the Ghuri, a Turkish tribe of Afghanistan, invaded India, captured the city of Delhi,destroyed its temples, confiscated its wealth, and settled down in its palaces to establish the Sultanate of Delhi- an alien despotism fastened upon northern India for three centuries, and checked only by assassination and revolt.

    The first of these bloody sultans, Kutb-ud-Din Aibak, was a normal specimen of his kind -fanatical, ferocious and merciless. His gifts, as the Mohammedan historian tells us, “were bestowed by hundreds of thousands, and his slaughters likewise were by hundreds of thousands.. “In one victory of this warrior (who had been purchased as a slave), “fifty thousand men came under the collar of slavery, and the plain became black as pitch with Hindus.”

    Another sultan, Balban, punished rebels and brigands by casting them under the feet of elephants, removing their skins, stuffing these with straw and hanging them from the gates of Delhi. When some Mongolian habitants who had settled in Delhi, and had been converted to Islam, attempted arising, Sultan Ala-ud-din (the conqueror of Chitor) had all the males -from fifteen to thirty thousand of them – slaughtered in one day.

    Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlak acquired the throne by murdering his father, became a great scholar and an elegant writer, dabbled in mathematics, physics and Greek philosophy,surpassed his predecessors in bloodshed and brutality, fed the flesh of a rebel nephew to the rebel’s wife and children, ruined the country with reckless inflation, and laid it waste with pillage and murder till the inhabitants fled to the jungle.

    He killed so many Hindus that, in the words of a Moslem historian, “there was constantly in front of his royal pavilion and his Civil Court a mound of dead bodies and a heap of corpses, while the sweepers and executioners were wearied out by their work of dragging” the victims” and putting them to death in crowds.”

    In order to found a new capital at Daulatabad he drove every inhabitant from Delhi and left it a desert; and hearing that a blind man had stayed behind in Delhi, he ordered him to be dragged from the old to the new capital, so that only a leg remained of the wretch when his last journey was finished.

    The Sultan complained that the people did not love him, or recognize his undeviating justice. .He ruled India for a quarter of a century, and died in bed. His successor, Firoz Shah, invaded Bengal, offered a reward for every Hindu head, paid for 180,000 of them, raided Hindu villages for slaves, and died at the ripe age of eighty. Sultan Ahmad Shah feasted for three days whenever the number of defenseless Hindus slain in his territories in one day reached twenty thousand.

    These rulers were often men of ability, and their followers were gifted with fierce courage and industry; only so can we understand how they could have maintained their rule among a hostile people so overwhelmingly outnumbering them. All of them were armed with a religion militaristic in operation, but far superior in its stoical monotheism to any of the popular cults of India; they concealed its attractiveness by making the public exercise of the Hindu religions illegal, and thereby driving them more deeply into the Hindu soul.

    Some of these thirsty despots had culture as well as ability; they patronized the arts, and engaged artists and artisans–usually of Hindu origin– to build for them magnificent mosques and tombs; some of them were scholars, and delighted in converse with historians, poets and scientists. One of the greatest scholars of Asia, Alberuni, accompanied Mahmud of Ghazni to India,and wrote a scientific survey of India comparable to Pliny’s “Natural History” and Humboldt’s “Cosmos”.

    The Moslem historians were almost as numerous as the generals, and yielded nothing to them in the enjoyment of bloodshed and war. The Sultans drew from the people every rupee of tribute that could be exacted by the ancient art of taxation, as well as by straightforward robbery; but they stayed in India, spent their spoils in India, and thereby turned them back into India’s economic life.

    Nevertheless, their terrorism and exploitation advanced that weakening of Hindu physique and morale, which had been begun by an exhausting climate, an inadequate diet, political disunity, and pessimistic religions. The usual policy of the Sultans was clearly sketched by Ala-ud-din, who required his advisers to draw up “rules and regulations for grinding down the Hindus, and for depriving them of that wealth and property which fosters disaffection and rebellion.”

    Half of the gross produce of the soil was collected by the government; native rulers had taken one-sixth. “No Hindu,” says a Moslem historian, “could hold up his head, and in their houses no sign of gold or silver…or of any superfluity was to be seen…. Blows, confinement in the stocks, imprisonment and chains, were all employed to enforce payment.”

    When one of his own advisers protested against this policy, Alauddin answered: “Oh,Doctor, thou art a learned man, but thou hast no experience; I am an unlettered man, but I have a great deal. Be assured, then, that the Hindus will never become submissive and obedient till they are reduced to poverty. I have therefore given orders that just sufficient shall be left to them from year to year of corn, milk and curds, but that they shall not be allowed to accumulate and property.”

    This is the secret of the political history of modern India. Weakened by division, it succumbed to invaders; impoverished by invaders, it lost all power of resistance, and took refuge in supernatural consolations; it argued that both mastery and slavery were superficial delusions, and concluded that freedom of the body or the nation was hardly worth defending in so brief a life. The bitter lesson that may be drawn from this tragedy is that eternal vigilance is the price of civilization. A nation must love peace, but keep its powder dry.

    3. In case u want to have more detailed information – kindly read Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel.

    • Vikram Says:

      Mr. Sehgal, the reasoning methods involved in the study of historical and social realities have to be more subjective and accommodating of varied perspectives.

      One of the principal reasons is that data are hard to come by, and even when present are highly subjective, given that they represent a particular person’s beliefs and interests. Therefore, relying on a single account is bound to lead to a limited understanding.

      The account you have quoted from, comes from a particular historian, who had a strong position in general, against religions, and thus was inclined to see the role of religions in history and the information from his sources in a negative light. This is not ‘wrong’ but it is only one perspective.

      The same holds for Ram Swarup, Sita Ram Goel, and Romila Thapar as well. There is no ‘right’ answer in history, we can only try and interpret our already limited, biased and inaccurate sources in myriad ways, and put together a point of view.

      This is why I find the term history very limited, histories is a better term in my opinion.

      To put things more directly, if being Muslim automatically meant such a deep hatred of India and its traditions, then people like Mohamed Rafi and A.R. Rahman would not exist, much less be pillars of our culture today.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Raman: I would like to mention two points. First, Will Durant is not considered a scholar of South Asia. At the end of the narrative you have quoted he arrives at the grand generalization: “This is the secret of the political history of modern India. Weakened by division, it succumbed to invaders; impoverished by invaders, it lost all power of resistance, and took refuge in supernatural consolations; it argued that both mastery and slavery were superficial delusions, and concluded that freedom of the body or the nation was hardly worth defending in so brief a life.” Do you subscribe to this? Is it possible that some may still be afflicted by “supernatural consolations?”

      Durant’s history is like that James Mill, who, by the way, has a much greater reputation. Have you read his History of British India, especially the long essay “Of the Hindus?” Would you cite that as acceptable history? If not, why not?

      Second, the facts you state in terms of the number of deaths may well be correct but it would still not constitute genocide. You have to be careful with the use of the term which is defined as follows: “Genocide is the intentional action to systematically eliminate an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group.” The emphasis is on the word ‘intentional.’ Hitler’s extermination of Jews constitutes genocide; so does a number of massacres in Bosnia. However, despite many deaths in the two World Wars, and in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, these do not fall under the category of genocide.

      • Raman Sehgal Says:


        Who the writer is not important – important are the facts presented – and then we can interpret the facts based on our biases.

        That is y I am mentioning SR Goel and Ram Swarup – they have collected the facts from court records of muslims emprerors, muslim writers, inscriptions, etc. These have not been challenged (to the best of my knowledge – in case u know of study that refutes their study – do let me know) – so we take it as true.

        Genocide : let us not go into semantics – the facts is Islamic murderers have obliterated all other religions, cultures of west and central asia, north africa – u can choose whatever word to describe it – bu the facts will remain the same.

        My suggestion is y dont muslims acknowledge these facts. U were not responsible for the massacre and most likely nor were your ancestors (they are likely to be converts from hindusim) – once facts r acknowledged – and appropriate apology made – one can find a solution for peaceful co-existence in present and future. But muslims r so brainwashed with lies that they r told muslim invasion was god sent opportunity to make us civilized people.

        Can u elaborate how Mohammed bin – Quasim or Ghori or Ghazanavi r projected in Pak books?

        Let us face the harsh truth and move on.

  129. Raman Sehgal Says:


    I presume you r as much of the armature historian as I am. We rely on scholars words – who have spent their life unearthing truth. But how do we know whose version is true as any person will tend to put his/her bias into the study and twist the facts to suit their own conclusion? The answer is above is let them debate – this way we will come to know who stands on strong or weak wicket.

    To give you an example on temple destruction – Richard M Eaton professor of history, University of Arizona (a marxist) has written a well researched book on temple destruction in India.

    Lot of seculars give reference to Eaton’s book in order to downplay the Hindu voices on destruction of thousands of temples. You can find lot of articles referenced to Eaton.

    Now Dr. Elst – a camp follower of Ram Swarup and SR Goel has written a rebuttal to Eaton’s book – here is the link : http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/articles/ayodhya/eaton.html

    Now – a normal inquisitive person (which I am) would like to read a rebuttal to Dr. Elst write-up so that we know the bottom of the truth.

    There was an article by an American Scholar (Stanford University) -Audrey Truschke – stating the same thing as other seculars that temple destruction – as imagined by hindu right – is a myth.

    I wrote to her asking for the rebuttal to Dr. Elst’s write-up. I did get few replies but when i kept on insisting on her reply to Dr. Elst – she went silent.

    From above what conclusion would a lay person like me draw – that Dr. Elst is speaking the truth – but in case tomorrow – someone comes with better replies and nails Dr. Elst study – I will change my stand.

    This is a normal process.

    The scholarly study of Ram Swarup and SR Goel has not been refuted by any of the secular scholars.



    There r documentary and other evidences to the above list – so no secular scholar dare refute the above – instead these so called scholars label RS and SRG as hindutva ideologues without bothering to counter them scholarly.

    The remains of Ram Temple at Ayodhya were found during excavation – what better proof u want. recently a road side mosque in Karnataka was partly demolished for widening of road – at its foundation – the pillars of hindu temple were found – where is bias in this study.

    I have written on Hindu- Muslim divide / hate – what r the causes and how to bridge the divide :


    your comment would be appreciated.

  130. Raman Sehgal Says:

    Mohammed Rafi, AR Rehman etc – i will write on them and post link here in few days.

  131. Raman Sehgal Says:

    This explains AR Rehman, Mohammed Rafi and millions of other good muslims :

    If Islam is Evil then how come majority of muslims are normal people like non-muslims?

    The core / centre of Islam is Koran and complementing it are Hadiths and Sira. In reality, we do not know what happened in Arabia in 7th century but the picture drawn from hadith and sira (though written around 200 years from Mohammed’s death) is evil, at least towards non-muslims and females.
    The history of islam testifies its spread through sword, destruction of various religions and cultures that came in way of Islamic juggernaut but there have also been great muslim scientist, musicians, poets, humanists, sufis, etc. – who vouch for truthfulness of islam and are proud of being muslim. How can we explain the goodness if Islam is evil?
    The best way to explain the above dichotomy is allegorically through the transverse concentric waves that emanates when a heavy object is dropped in water.

    The origin / center of the wave is Koran, Hadith and Sira – it produces the concentric wave pattern of crests and troughs. Crest (high point) being visible part of islam is political Islamism as practiced and preached during medianian era while trough (low point) is invisible part is a spiritual Islam as preached during the meccan era.
    As the wave travels further from its center it gets weaker and in case some other light object is dropped in water the main wave’s intensity gets weaker and sometimes the effect of the main wave vanishes and only the wave of the lighter object is felt (depending on how further the object is dropped from the main center and how heavy the object is in comparison to the main object).
    Wahabism / Deobandi only believe in the main wave emanating from Koran, Hadith & Sira and that too only the crust part of Islam (since trough part has been abrogated in Koran). Their objective is to destroy any other smaller waves that originates in the Islamic spread from the presence any Sufis (Baravelvi), Shias (Ali, Hussien, Hassan), Ahmadi, etc. The closer they get to the center of the concentric wave ie 7th century Islam – more evil their ideology becomes. Further they r from the core – more moderate they are.
    Now large number of muslims, even deobandis, who believe only in the original wave and no other sect (smaller waves) too are nice people – this can be explained by the fact that these people mainly believe in the trough (meccan) part of the wave and not the crust (medinian) part.
    Now the other sects of Islam like Shias, Ahmadi, Ismali, Baravelli, etc can be allegorized as being independent centers that emanates their own waves within the large spread of Islam. The ones that are closer to the main core eg Shias are only little bit less evil than wahabism Islam since the effect of the original wave is too strong. But the ones that form the independent core having their own waves at the periphery of the Islamic spread like Ahmadi or Sufi sects have very less element of the original evil wave since it has been superimposed by the waves of their own sects. These people though calling themselves muslims – are moderates, nice normal people like any average non-muslims.
    The above allegory can be put to test in the following cases :
    Akbar initially was a die hard islamist (closer to the Islamic core) killed several innocents just because of their different faith, once he started getting away from the main Islamic center , he started getting liberal to such an extent that he started a new faith Din-e-elahi and in true sense laid the foundation of mughal empire in India
    And opposite happened to Aurangzeb, he was initially liberal but soon started getting closer to the Islamic core – imposed Jaziya, started converting non-muslims and fought with them all his life – thus was instrumental in demise of mughals.
    All scholars of Islamic golden age were rationalist who considered Koran as created and not divine ie away from its evil center even Dr. Abus Salam – a devout muslim was a Ahmadi – who have their own philosophy and are thus away from the main core plus have their own waves that nullify the evil waves of main Islam.
    Baghdadi, Osama-bin-laden, etc are the ones who are closer to the center of islam as they want to bring back 7th century Islam – hence they r pure evil.

    Similar examples can be seen in nation states – the ones who r closer to the evil center r worst in human rights and treatment of minorities whereas those who r at the periphery of the Islamic spread r better
    So in conclusion – the closer one is within the concentric circles to real islam the more evil he will be and farther one is from the core and under the influence of the divergent waves (sects) – better the person will be.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Raman: Your comment “If Islam is Evil then how come majority of muslims are normal people like non-muslims?” triggers the following thought:

      Let me break this into two parts: (1) Islam is Evil and (2) the majority of muslims are normal people like non-muslims.

      First, are all non-muslims normal people? If not, is the ratio of normal to abnormal people different in different religions? If so, what is the evidence for that claim?

      Second, if the majority of muslims are normal people, why does it matter whether Islam is evil or not? It seems to have no impact on the majority of muslims.

      I recommend reading Olivier Roy’s Secularism confronts Islam. He explains why one should start with the lived reality of people rather than from scriptural texts in order to arrive at sensible conclusions.

  132. Raman Sehgal Says:

    SA : Islam is evil :

    We all have characteristic of grey – none of us (that includes holy saints or hardened criminals) is pure black or white. But it requires an evil ideology to turn an otherwise sober person into a criminal. The more one is attracted towards Islam (the trough portion) – the more evil he/ she becomes. There r umpteen examples. The the reason for this is exclusivity and hatred towards non-muslims – and it is scriptural.

    have u ever wondered y muslims cannot live in peace with any other non-muslim community – start from Philippines and end in US. – it is the same story everywhere. The only only common element among diverse people is Islam – so the blame has to go to Islam

    Leave aside non-muslims – muslims cannot live peacefully among themselves. Have u ever wondered y? What reason do u give yourself? Do u blame all others except Islam – as is the norm of the muslims.

    Yes – one need to form an opinion with the lived reality of people – but muslims fail in this respect. This can be applicable to Jews and Christians – whose scripture is as evil as koran or hadith – but they have moved on from these scriptures and formed a new narrative – which sadly muslims have not.

    Let me know what wrong you found in my write-up.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Raman: I have no issue with your position. You are entitled to your conclusion and can defend it if you have ascertained your facts from a reliable source and verified and cross-checked them.

      On this blog the emphasis is on logic and on that score I still have some questions:

      First, if “the majority of muslims are normal like non-muslims” what exactly is the problem? Why does it matter that Islam is evil if it has no impact on the majority?

      Second, If the Torah, Bible and Koran are equally evil but Jews and Christians have moved on why do you believe muslims are different and will never do so? Suppose you had lived at the height of the Christian Inquisitions, would you have predicted that Christians would move on? If not, how can you be absolutely sure that muslims won’t? That is a non-scientific attitude because one can never predict the future with complete certainty. You would have to ask if you are being dogmatic because you don’t want to concede a possibility that contradicts your present beliefs.

  133. Raman Sehgal Says:


    Having ones own Position : It is obvious every person is entitled to have his/her own opinion but the purpose of debate is to challenge the opinion of the other person – not for one up-man-ship, but to delve into truth. Every person has limited range to look at the things – but it can be widened but the perspective of various people. So I have given my facts / opinion – I can be wrong – so it is your intellectual duty to either accept my facts / opinion or to reject or alter them by providing different facts or opinion. With honesty we can come to the same conclusion.

    Even 1% of muslims – if affected my the evilness of islam will make a huge number ie 15 million – just imagine 15 million jihadist planning to kill infidels and establish khalifa-u-din rashida where sharia rule the supreme.

    The problem is that if the evil ideology is kept intact – it can entice an otherwise normal muslim into a killing machine – so the only solution is to tamper with the ideology so that no one kills others because of the scriptures.

    Torah : Jews r a closed group – they dont want to push their ideology down your throat – they think they r chosen people – they have right to think whatever they want – as long as they do not interfere in my life – equally i have the right to think i am the only chosen person created by God – as long as I do not make you change your ways and do not interfere in your life.

    Bible : Christians did have a problem – and the way out of the problem resulted in killing of million of innocents just because they did not agree on which type of same god they should worship.

    Looking back – Christians had the advantage of benign image of christ – who was not a political figure – though their scriptures r as evil as koran and hadiths.

    Islamic hope – similar tinkering can be done in islam – in fact one sudanese mulla suggested that only meccan islam should be taken as eternal and medianian islam should be considered to be relevant to mohammed’s perisod only. This can be a solution to the islamic scriptural problem.

    But sadly that mulla was killed – I dont see any islamic intellectual speak in a way to find scriptural solution.

    I do have an idea – but that is too radical.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Raman: I don’t hold a brief for Islams and Muslims. My interest is only in the logic of the argumentation. So, for example, I find problematic your retrospective explanation for the reform of Christianity. If “Christians had the advantage of a benign image of Christ,” how come they killed “millions of innocents”?

  134. Raman Sehgal Says:

    SA, the problem with christianity and islam is exclusivity.

    read the complete analysis here : http://ramansaigal.blogspot.in/2016/02/abrahamism-andhinduism-can-they-adapt.html

    Till reformation Christians took literal meaning of bible resulting in a situation similar to that of today’s Islam. But Christianity has survived reforms only due to the benign image of christ. Every now and then u can hear pope alter their stand on long standing issues like homosexuality, abortion, contraceptive, etc. This change will enable Christianity to move with times. I often say to myself that the day Pope announces that salvation can be attained by different means ie it is not exclusive to Christ – I will turn myself Christian – because its exclusivity will be dead.

    Muslims need to get more honest about Islam and at least start debating on reformation in Islam – how and what can be reformed – only then muslims can think of moving with times.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Raman: In my view, the “benign image of Christ” seems to be an irrelevant variable in your equation. Were the pre- and post-reform images of Christ different? If not, then what it did have to do with the reform?

  135. Raman Sehgal Says:

    SA – apart from the difference in the image of the respective founders (Mohammed and Jesus) – there is not much difference between Islam and Christianity :

    Read the verses from Torah, Bible, Koran and Hadith – u will not be able to distinguish to which book a particular verse belongs :


    But looking in hindsight – we can say that Christianity survived close scrutiny of its scriptures because of benign image of Jesus. Islam does not have this escape valve.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Raman: You have simply repeated the statement you had made earlier: “Christianity survived close scrutiny of its scriptures because of benign image of Jesus.” You have not responded to the logical challenge posed to this claim: Was the image of Christ different before and after the reform?

  136. Raman Sehgal Says:

    I think Christ remained the same – since he surely is depicted as a selfless person (turn other cheek) but the Judaistic philosophy surrounding Christ got demolished and is still in process of getting demolished. I think most Christians in west – do not read or follow bible but do have a nice image of christ plus there r cultural reasons to remain within the community. I have not seen anyone defend objectionable verses of bible – they try to wriggle out of it or r simply embarrassed.

    Sadly, islam does not have the luxury of christianity.

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Raman: What does it mean that “Islam does not have the luxury of Christianity.” What is the “luxury” of Christianity now that the image of Christ is accepted as an irrelevant variable?

      I have asked this earlier: If you had been living during the middle of the Christian Inquisition would you have predicted with certainty that the Biblical philosophy would get demolished? If not, how can you make the same prediction about Islam with so much certainty?

  137. Raman Sehgal Says:

    SA, Where is Jesus irrelevant – take an example of a fruit – where pulp is judaistic theology and jesus is seed. Pulp got vitiated but seed remained healthy. So pulp was discarded and seed gave birth to a new Christian theology.

    Whereas in Islam the pulp (Islamic theology) and seed (mohammed) both r rotten.

    Every religion had its share of reforms. Christianity went back to its New Testament or rather jesus and is healthy and reforming or trying to reform with each passing day.

    Islam too had its age of reform in the form of Wahabism – where Wahab wanted to take islam to its pristine past to the days of mohammed and sahaba. He preached the removal of all the impurities of sufis, shias, baravelli, etc. from Islam. ISIS or Al Queda r the reformist movements of the islam – taking it to its original roots.

    But let us imagine – u have some theoretical ways to reform Islam – what would that be – can u change koran or reject hadith (as some koran only muslims r doing) ?

    • SouthAsian Says:

      Raman: We have now exhausted this subject and should let it rest. Thank you for your contributions.

  138. SouthAsian Says:

    Life at the very personal level:


  139. SouthAsian Says:

    These are great BBC documentaries about India’s frontier railways. You can view them to think over the implications of partition or the romance of rail travel. What struck me was the stark reality of poverty and the struggle to survive. Surely all development should be focused on individuals and communities and not on the achievement of abstract ideas and objectives:

    • Vikram Says:

      The second episode (connection with Nepal) also illustrates how different the lived realities of religion in Indic lands were/are from the compartmentalized thinking that were imposed from above.

  140. Rehan Khan Says:

    kashmir is a integral part of india so stop assuming about that whether they want to live with india or with na-paki.

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