Leadership / 22.03.2009

Varun Gandhi is reported to have said some strong things about Muslims in India. So, I am told, did his father. Let me use this as a peg to say something about Varun’s venerable great-grandfather whose maturity Varun seems unlikely to emulate. But beyond that, let me speculate about some neglected dimensions of the political history of the subcontinent. Two remarkable statements made around the time of the partition of British India continue to intrigue me: Here is Mohammad Ali Jinnah, addressing the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in August 1947: You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State. And here is Jawaharlal Nehru, writing to...