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The Jinnah legacy

Jaswant Singh’s book on Jinnah has new material from sources that were earlier untapped. But is his reading of Partition completely unbiased? Khushwant Singh examines...

india Updated: Sep 07, 2009 13:06 IST

Books on Mohammed Ali Jinnah, founding father of Pakistan, will fill many shelves of a library. We assume that all that could be known about him has been recorded and there is little new material to bring to light besides interpreting his role in Indian politics leading to the Partition of the country in August 1947.

Evidently, that is not so. In his recently published book, BJP leader Jaswant Singh has uncovered new material from sources hitherto untapped and come to the conclusion that Jinnah was deliberately demonised by Indian politicians and writers. That is the theme of his book Jinnah: India-Partition Independence (Rupa).

I do not agree with Jaswant Singh’s reading of the events leading to the division of the country. I believe Partition was inevitable as its seeds had been sown many centuries earlier and nurtured by Indian politicians of British times. My analysis is as follows :

Indians were never an integrated society. Besides caste and language divisions, the greatest was the Hindu-Muslim divide. They got along reasonably well but kept their distance from each other. There was never any real mixing of families visiting each other’s homes or even contemplating matrimonial relationships. The British fostered the feeling of separateness between the two. As the time neared for the British to leave, Muslims began to feel uneasy at the prospect of living in a Hindu-dominated India.

National divisions of India had been made before. Lala Lajpat Rai had made a rough map dividing India along communal lines. Later, Chaudhary Rehmat Ali coined the word Pakistan. Allama Iqbal, who at one time composed patriotic verses including Saarey Jahaan Se Achha, spoke of a Muslim state. Jinnah’s contribution to separateness was evolving the two-nation theory that Hindus and Muslims were two separate nations which would not live together in one state.

The feeling was echoed in the minds of middle-class Muslims across the sub-continent. After that no one, neither Gandhiji, nor Nehru, nor Sardar Patel nor Jinnah, could stop the process of religious cleansing of Hindus and Sikhs from Muslim-dominated areas. It may be recalled that as early as March 1947, Hindus and Sikhs were being driven out of towns and villages in north-west Punjab. There were communal riots in many Punjab cities, including Lahore.

By August 15, 1947, the migration of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan had become a bloody exodus. Sikhs and Hindus of east Punjab made sure that this was not going to be one-way traffic: they drove out Muslims from east Punjab with double the violence. It was the most catastrophic exchange of populations in the history of mankind, leaving a million dead and tens of millions homeless.

Pointing accusing fingers at Nehru or Patel or Jinnah serves no purpose. Not one of them, nor indeed all of them put together, could have stopped the process of Partition. They were helpless against the tidal wave of hatred generated by history. They were the real causes of the wars we have fought against Pakistan and the continuing conflict over the future of Kashmir.

Swine Flu

Swine Flu in Pune: No need to panic, read the headlines in many papers. Swine flu in Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi. No need to panic, read the headlines a few days later. The Health Minister appears on TV channels, tells us it is a worldwide epidemic but India is well-prepared to face it. Anti-flu vaccines will be available soon. All hospitals are equipped to face flu cases. No need to panic. Every morning the death toll is reported. You are told hour after hour about the total number of victims of swine flu. But don’t panic. Don’t run out on to the streets and yell “bachao, bachao, a wild boar is after me”.

I stay at home minding my own business and yet the flu gets me. It is the same I get every change of season, with a sore throat followed by sneezing, followed by a running nose, followed by a cough. Nothing very serious about it. The only thing I can think of as a pig’s contribution to my sickness is that the night before I ate quiche lorraine, which has pig meat in it. It was delicious. So I hogged on it.

I am well aware that pigs are dirty animals which eat filth. According to the Islamic scholar Dr Zakir Naik, they also have no morals as hogs are known to offer their sons to their hog friends. The learned doctor lists 19 diseases that are due to eating pig meat; swine flu is not one of them.

Despite it being anathema to Jews and Muslims, I relish it in any form: bacon, ham, pork, sausages, pickle, salami etc. So do a majority of meat-eating people across the globe. All said and done, swine flu has nothing to do with eating swine. The first Indian victim of this so-called epidemic was a young Muslim girl in Pune, who almost certainly never touched swine flesh, so what is all this hoo haa about ?

No Problem

A girl went to a public swimming pool wearing only her bra and panty. The man incharge of the pool told her: “Two piece costumes are not allowed here.” The girl asked innocently: “Which one do you want me to take off ?”
(Contributed by Amarinder Bajaj, Delhi)