Don’t succumb to soft emotions

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Don’t succumb to soft emotions

Monday, 06 March 2023 | Prafull Goradia

Different religions have different ethos and value systems; we must understand them and should not get carried away by emotions

Mohammed Ali Jinnah stated that Partition began when the first Hindus converted to Islam. In the course of his presidential address to the Muslim League on March 22, 1940, at Lahore proposing the Partition, he had said: “The question of Hindu-Mohammedan unity is neither possible nor practicable. There is no finer Mohammedan in Hindustan than Hakim Ajmal Khan, but can any Muslim leader override the Quran? Also, what about the injunctions of the Hadiths? No Muslim can override them”. He quoted the London Times saying that “the differences between Hindus and Muslims are not only of religion but also of law and culture. They may be said indeed, to represent two entirely distinct and separate civilizations”. Jinnah continued “Notwithstanding years of close contact, the nationalities, which are as divergent today as ever, cannot at any time be expected to be transformed into one nation”. “Moreover, in India”, he went on, the problem is manifestly an international one and must treat as such”. He further said, “The only course open to them is to allow them to have separate homelands”. Further, on the same issue, Jinnah added, “The notion of one Indian nation has gone far beyond the limits and is the cause of most of our troubles. If not Partition, this will lead India to destruction”.

“It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders. It is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality. This notion of one Indian nation has gone far beyond the limits and is the cause of most of our troubles and will lead India to destruction if we fail to revise this misconception in time. The Hindus and Muslims have different religious philosophies, social customs and literatures. They neither intermarry nor interdine and, indeed, they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their views on life and of life are different. It is also quite clear that Hindus and Muslims derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, heroes in different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other and, likewise, their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one a numerical minority and the other a majority, must lead to growing discontent and the final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state.”

It is clear from many discussions on social media that some Pakistani citizens, in desperation born of the current crisis in that country, are suggesting that Pakistan should merge back with India. Many also say that Qaide-e-Azam Jinnah made a mistake in striving for and achieving Partition. There would be some in India too, who would desire such a merger, for old times’ sake. Due to the fundamentals described above most by Jinnah’s words — such a re-merger is not desirable. We in India remember the year 1991, when Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, assisted by the then finance minister Yashwant Sinha, was dispatching gold to London every day, as a pawn against an IMF loan. It was only when P.V. Narasimha Rao became prime minister and New Delhi was able to retry the situation, including getting India’s gold back.

We also remember how, some 25 years ago, the Pakistani per capita GDP had overtaken its Indian counterpart. Such ups and downs are the features of the history of many countries. No country merges with another at the advent of a doubt. In the case of Pakistan, such emotions may be understandable because it has undergone a demerger twice; once in 1947, from India and again in 1971, out of East Pakistan, which subsequently became Bangladesh. New Delhi should, therefore, not take the current emotional outbursts emerging from Pakistan seriously and should turn a deaf ear to such fleeting emotions.

The perennial problem of India is not the issue of the two religions Hinduism and Islam. The inescapable syndrome is the contrasting systems of logic, upon which the two faiths are based. Islam, as well as Christianity and Judaism, were founded and followed based on a system reminiscent of deductive logic. This branch of logic begins with an assumed premise. In religion, this premise is the assertion that there is only one good and then the logic follows flawlessly. In sharp contrast, the spine of Hinduism is inductive logic, which begins with facts on the ground and moves upwards to a conclusion. This may not be a singular postulate, but merely an agreement to disagree. In light of the difficulties, it would be useful to recount Dr B.R. Ambedkar who had written that from 1920 onwards, India suffered a continual civil war (and in fact, continues to do so). Surely, India should not risk a repeat of that misfortune all over again.

(The writer is a well-known columnist, an author, and a former member of the Rajya Sabha. The views expressed are personal)

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