Thoughts on Pakistan

Posted on August 8, 2010

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A banker by profession, Salim Ansar has a passion for history and historic books. His personal library already boasts a treasure trove of over 7,000 rare and unique books.
Every week, we shall take a leaf from one such book and treat you to a little taste of history.
BOOK NAME: Thoughts on Pakistan
AUTHOR: B. R. Ambedkar
PUBLISHER: Thacker & Company Ltd – Bombay
DATE OF PUBLICATION: 1941
The following excerpt has been taken from Page: 23 – 26

A NATION CALLING FOR A HOME
“That there are factors, administrative, linguistic or cultural, which are the predisposing causes behind these demands for separation, is a fact which is admitted and understood by all. Nobody minds these demands and many are prepared to concede them. But the Hindus say that the Muslims are going beyond the idea of separation and the questions are asked what has led them to take this course; why are they asking for partition, for an annulment of the tie by asking that Pakistan be legally divorced from Hindustan.

“The answer is to be found in the declaration made by the Muslim League in its Resolution that the Muslims of India are a separate nation. It is this declaration by the Muslim League, which is both resented and ridiculed by the Hindus.

“The Hindu resentment is quite natural. Whether India is a nation or not has been the subject matter of controversy between the Anglo-Indians and the Hindu politicians ever since the Indian National Congress was founded. The Anglo-Indians were never tired of proclaiming that India was not a nation, that ‘Indians’ was only another name for the people of India. In the words of one Anglo-Indian ‘to know India was to forget that there is such a thing as India.’ The Hindu politicians and patriots were on the other hand equally persistent in their assertion that India is a nation. That the Anglo-Indians were right in their repudiation cannot be gainsaid. Even Dr. Tagore, the national poet of Bengal, agrees with them. But the Hindus never yielded on the point even to Dr. Tagore.

“This was because of two reasons. Firstly the Hindu felt ashamed to admit that India was not a nation. In a world where nationality and nationalism were deemed to be special virtues in a people it was quite natural for the Hindus to feel, to use the language of Mr. H. G. Wells, that ‘it would be as improper for India to be without a nationality as it would be for a man to be without his clothes in a crowded assembly.’ Secondly, he had realized that nationality had a most intimate connection with the claim for self-government. He knew that by the end of the 19th Century it had become an accepted principle that a people, who constituted a nation, were entitled on that account to self-government and that any patriot, who asked for self-government for his people, had to prove that they were a nation. The Hindu for these reasons never stopped to examine whether India was or was not a nation in fact. He never cared to reason whether nationality was merely a question of calling a-people a nation or was a question of the people being a nation. He knew one thing, namely, he must maintain, even if he could not prove it, that India was a nation if he was to succeed in his demand for self-government for India.

“In this assertion he was never contradicted by any Indian. The thesis was so agreeable that even serious Indian students of history came forward to write propagandist literature in support of it, no doubt out of patriotic motives. The Hindu social reformers, who knew that this was a dangerous delusion, could not openly contradict this thesis. For anyone who questioned it was at once called a tool of the British bureaucracy and an enemy of the country. The Hindu politician was able to propagate his view for a long time. His opponent, the Anglo-Indian, had ceased to reply to him. His propaganda had almost succeeded. When it was about to succeed comes this declaration of the Muslim League — this rift in the lute. Just because it does not come from the Anglo-Indian it is a deadlier blow. It destroys the work which the Hindu politicians has done for centuries. If the Muslims in India are a separate nation then of course India is not a nation. This assertion cuts the whole ground from under the feet of the Hindu politicians. It is natural that they should feel annoyed by it and call it a stab in the back.

“But stab or no stab, the point is, can the Musalmans be said to constitute a nation? Everything else is beside the point. This raises the question. What is a nation? Tomes have been written on the subject. Those who are curious may go through them and study the different basic conceptions that lie at the core of it, as well as the different aspects of it. But it is enough to know the core of the subject and that can be set down in a very few words. Nationality is a subjective psychological feeling. It is a feeling of a corporate sentiment of oneness which makes those who are charged with it feel that they are kith and kin. This national feeling is a double-edged feeling. It is at once a feeling of fellowship for one’s own kith and a anti-fellowship feeling for those who are not one’s own kith. It is a feeling of ‘consciousness of kind’ which on the one hand binds together those, who have it so strongly that it overrides all differences arising out of economic conflicts or social gradations and on the other, severs them from those who are not of their kind. It is a longing to belong to one’s own group and a longing not to belong to any other group. This is the essence of what is called a nationality and national feeling.

“Now apply this test to the Muslim claim. Is it or is it not a fact that the Muslims of India are an exclusive group? Is it or is it not a fact that they have a consciousness of kind? Is it or is it not a fact that each Muslim is possessed by a longing to belong to his own group and not any non-Muslim group?

“If the answer to these questions is in the affirmative then the controversy must end and the Muslim claim that they are a nation must be accepted without cavil.

“Is the idea of linking up of the provinces in the North-West a shocking idea? If so let it be remembered that the linking of these provinces is an age old project put forth by successive Viceroys, Administrators and Generals of the Pakistan Provinces in the North-West, the Punjab and N.W.F. constituted a single province ever since the Punjab was conquered by the British in 1849. The two continued to be a single province till 1901. It was in 1901 that Lord Curzon broke up their unity by creating the present two provinces out of what was originally one single province. As to the linking up of the Punjab with Sind there can be no doubt that had the conquest of Sind followed and not preceded the conquest of Punjab it would have been incorporated into the Punjab for the two are not only contiguous but are connected by a single river which is the most natural tie between them. But although Sind was joined to Bombay, because in the absence of the Punjab it was the only base from which it could be governed, still the idea of disconnecting Sind from Bombay and joining it to the Punjab was not given up and projects in that behalf were put forth from time to time.

“It was first put forth during the Governor Generalship of Lord Dalhousie; but for financial reasons, it was not sanctioned by the Court of Directors. After the Mutiny the question was reconsidered, but owing to the backward state of communications, along the Indus, Lord Canning refused to give his consent. In 1876 Lord Northbrook was of the opinion that Sind should be, joined to the Punjab. In 1877 Lord Lytton, who succeeded Northbrook, sought to create a trans-Indus province, consisting of the six frontier districts of the Punjab and of the trans-Indus districts of Sind. This would have included the six Frontier districts of the Punjab namely, Hazara, Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu (except the Cio-Indus tracts), Dera Ismail Khan (with the same exception), Dera Gazi Khan, and trans-Indus Sind (with the exception of Karachi). Lytton also proposed that Bombay should receive the whole or part of the Central Provinces, in order to compensate it for the loss of trans-Indus Sind.

(International The News, 8 August, 2010)

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