False Truth: the Disillusionment and Hope Behind the Indian Partition
India can be characterized by many more ethnic and religious groups than most other countries of the world. Excluding the 2000 castes, there are eight major religions, 15 languages spoken in various dialects in 22 states and nine union territories. The 1947 Partition of India left millions dead and many uprooted through ethnic violence. Communities that coexisted for almost a millennium attacked each other in a terrifying outbreak of sectarian violence, with Hindus and Sikhs on one side and Muslims on the other—a mutual genocide as unexpected as it was unprecedented took place. The callousness to which the India-Pakistan border was drawn disturbed this coexistence of ethnic communities and as a result caused one of the largest human mass migrations in history.
The partition of India is now known as one of the most devastating events in Indian history. Religious violence increased throughout the subcontinent as Muslims were made to feel that only Hindus were welcome in India, an idea brought about by Jinnah. Jinnah was known as the “Creator of Pakistan”, educated in Cambridge and someone who relied on the British to make his dream of a Muslim state (Pakistan) a reality. The country was divided to quench the thirst of power of Jinnah and Nehru. Thousands were left homeless and few had food to eat.
Hindus blamed Muslims and the Muslims blamed the Hindus for this. In quenching the thirst of power of Jinnah and Nehru, religious violence increased in the sub continent as both religious groups killed each other in civil uprising out of rage and hunger, while leaders like Gandhi tried to prevent the separation of the states and calm tensions. Little did civilians realise, it was not their fault. Jinnah was not solely to blame for the repercussions of the Indian Partition, the British Empire and Nehru — were equally, if not more, complicit. At the heart of most debates lies the personality of Jinnah, the man most responsible for the creation of Pakistan. In Indian-nationalist accounts, he appears as the villain of the story; for Pakistanis, he is the Father of the Nation.
Neither side ever seems especially keen to claim Jinnah as a real human being, the Pakistanis restrict him to an appearance on banknotes in demure Islamic costume and Hindus think of him as the creator of a virtual genocide. Jinnah in many ways was a surprising architect for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. As a loyal secularist, he drank whiskey, rarely went to a mosque, and was clean-shaven and stylish, favoring beautiful suits and silk ties. Significantly, he chose to marry a non-Muslim woman, also the glamorous daughter of a Parsi businessman. She was famous for her revealing saris and for once bringing her husband ham sandwiches on voting day.
Although Jinnah defied the social norms for many muslims, and set a very different precedent he continued to push hard for the creation of Pakistan politically. His goal was to side completely with the British as he knew all along that the British empire was in favor of splitting Pakistan. The Partition of India cannot be blamed on a single individual, although there are plenty of candidates that could take the blame, almost everyone in this story made a decision or misjudgment that contributed to the eventual disaster. Among the principal players are Winston Churchill, The Last Viceroy of England: Lord Mountbatten, Mr. Attlee. Creation, Nehru, and of course Jinnah. Although Jinnah played a large role in creating Pakistan by getting along with the British politically, he had just been a political figure all along, not one of the main causes to the partition.
The brains behind the partition came from Churchill. He had always had a deep seated hatred for the Indians and never really cared about India’s well-being. Lord Mountbatten on the other hand loved Indians and the sub continent and was never fully in favor of the partition. Neither Jawaharlal Nehru, the incoming prime minister of India, nor Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the first governor-general of Pakistan, foresaw the exact scale of the coming violence. Mr. Nehru had told a journalist in 1946 that “when the British go, there will be no more communal trouble in India.”
Mr. Jinnah had only pushed for the partition to create Pakistan, a homeland for Muslims, who would otherwise be a minority in a Hindu-dominated superstate. He was backed by British imperialists, notably Winston Churchill, who believed Pakistan would prove a faithful friend to the West and a bulwark between the Soviet Union and a socialist India. It is fair to accept that Churchill never warmed to Russia. When he was a subaltern, it posed a threat to India as Russia had always supported India and vice versa.
Jinnah, and Nehru’s role in the partition was to help solidify to the British why their plan was right, and why, “it would be the only solution to India’s constitutional problems”. Yes, they did have to vote in agreement to the partition but they did this because of their greed for power. Jinnah, was not even a very religious muslim he defied most muslim norms, and Nehru only wanted to gain power as soon as he could. The only way he could get power was to get the British out of India and to do this, the Partition had to happen first.
Therefore, I believe it is fair to come to the conclusion that the British Empire (Winston Churchill) notably, and Nehru’s hunger for power were the real causes to the partition and they should be blamed. In an attempt to prevent the British Empire from separating India, Gandhi went on a fast having several positive impacts on the outbreak of religious violence. Riots had been erupting throughout the subcontinent, many in Calcutta and many in Kashmir. The British army tried to calm tensions but their presence only worsened conflicts rather than help.
The only figure who had the power to calm religious tensions was Mahatma Gandhi. When Gandhi went anywhere he had a magical presence and effect on everyone in India no matter if they were Hindu or Muslim. Gandhi unlike nehru, Jinnah, or any members of the Indian congress understood the drastic effects that splitting the country would have. By June 3, the plan to seperate India into two different states had been set but before anything was to actually happen, Jinnah, Nehru and the members of the Indian congress had to say yes.
During terrifying religious outbreaks, Gandhi visited Calcutta, It is important not to solely blames him, yes he did believe, “[…] The Government should, without any further delay, make a clear declaration of its policy accepting Pakistan as the only solution of India’s constitutional problem and I am hopeful that once the principle has been accepted the details can be adjusted”.