What If India Were Not Partitioned?

This is the quintessential ‘What If’ question. It is counterfactual because now we can never know what would have happened if India had not been partitioned. But we can speculate about the possibilities and try and construct plausible scenarios for purposes of understanding and discussion.

In this post we argue against the scenario presented by Aakar Patel in his op-ed in The News on September 22, 2008. Aakar Patel’s one-line conclusion is that an unpartitioned India would have been a disaster for both Hindus and Muslims.

Let us first list the points we aim to contend:

  1. Unpartitioned India would be the word’s largest country (1.4 billion people), the world’s largest Muslim country (500 million) and… the world’s poorest country (over 600 million hungry).
  2. In undivided India, religion would have dominated political debate, as it did in the 30s and 40s, and consensus on reform would be hard to build internally. All energy would be sucked into keeping the country together. Undivided India would have separate electorates, the irreducible demand of the Muslim League and the one that Nehru stood against. A democracy with separate electorates is no democracy at all.
  3. Hindus would never have been able to rule Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan or the Frontier.
  4. Without Partition there would have been no Nizam-e-Mustafa.
  5. The fault line of national politics in undivided India would have remained Hindu versus Muslim. Jinnah alone understood that from the start. Nehru and Patel understood it much later, agreeing to Partition. Gandhi never understood it; if he did, he never accepted it.
  6. Three parts of undivided India had a Muslim majority. The west became Pakistan, the east became Bangladesh. Sooner or later, the north will become something else: the Muslims of Kashmir do not want to be India. But Indians do not understand that.

Let us now respond in order and present a different perspective:

  1. Undivided India need not have been the world’s poorest country. The resources, attention and energy that have gone into the continued hostility since Partition could have been channeled into development. (See the cost of conflict estimated by the Strategic Foresight Group, Mumbai). The huge market and the complementarities of arbitrarily divided ecosystems could have yielded great benefits. Huge investments went into making up for the division of the Indus water system, for example.
  2. A democracy need not be a mechanical and rigid system. Malaysia, with three, not two, hostile communities found a way to adjust its system of governance to suit its constraints. South Africa, with its bitter history of apartheid, found a way in its constitution to work around the hostilities. There was no reason India could not have found a similarly workable formula.
  3. There is no reason to think in terms of one community ruling the other. Indeed, that is a framework that is incompatible with democratic governance. The fact is that almost right up to Partition, the Punjab’s Unionist Party had found a mechanism to govern with a coalition of the major communities.
  4. Even after Partition there is no Nizam-e-Mustafa. The fact that a large number of Hindus in India today want the Kingdom of Ram does not mean that their demand needs to lead to a redefinition of India. These kinds of demands need to be resolved in the political arena.
  5. Jinnah did not feel from the start that the fault-line in undivided India would have remained Hindus versus Muslims. In fact, Jinnah was the advocate of Hindu-Muslim unity because he believed it was possible. The management of any fault line is up to the leadership as shown by the examples of Malaysia and South Africa mentioned earlier. Ireland is another example.
  6. Three parts of undivided India had a Muslim majority but the demand for Pakistan did not originate in these areas. In fact the Muslim majority areas of the west were the last to sign on and even then very reluctantly. The Muslims of Kashmir seemed quite satisfied with the situation under the Farooq Abdullah government. Their attitude is more a function of India’s mismanagement (and post-partition Pakistan’s incitements) than of some innate hatred of Hindus. There is no cure for mismanagement. Even the Muslim west and east could not coexist in the face of political folly.

It is quite possible to argue that there were many possible resolutions of the situation that prevailed in India in the 1930s and 1940s. It was a failure of leadership that the worst possible alternative was chosen. India lacked a statesman of the caliber of Mandela who could see beyond the immediate political gains and losses.

The cost of the Partition is hard to imagine – almost a million deaths, ten million homeless, and continued conflicts. Add to this the subsequent costs in Bangladesh and the ongoing ones in Kashmir. If the inability of Hindus and Muslims to live together is given as the sole reason for the Partition, it should be considered that in all the one thousand years that Muslims lived in India, there was never once this scale of conflict or bloodshed.

It was possible to live together. In fact Hindus and Muslims continue to live together in India even though their relations were poisoned and made immensely difficult by the fact of the Partition.

One could just as well argue that the Partition was a disaster for both Hindus and Muslims as also for the Sikhs whose homeland was cut into two. A united India would never have allowed the Saudis or the Americans to set up madrassas and train jihadis within its territories. Dim-witted dictators would never have been able to occupy the positions of power they were in post-Partition Pakistan and Bangladesh.

We can say that Manto in Toba Tek Singh had the right perspective on the partition of India.

Back to Main Page

  • Bala Krishnan
    Posted at 08:59h, 27 January Reply

    Deart southasian,

    I am sure sounthasian is a Muslim who longing for a united India or a very foolish Hindu who is ingnorant of Muslim psyche.

    is there any country in the world that can co-exist with a Muslim population of more than 30%? Impossible. The fundementals of Islam dictates Jihad is the only option to liberate from non-mulsim rule – if in all countries the Muslims do not attempt now only means, they are not ready for such a combat. Why East Timur or south Sudan drifting away? It is impossible to live honourably by non Muslims in a Muslim majority country. Can you show a single nonMuslim living honourable in any of the 57 islamic countries? No. you cannot find.

    If India had not been divided, India would have gone under a terrible civil war killing millions and would have created far greater a Muslim country comprising almost all of north India. Every Indian, Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs for that matter, would have been carrying AK47 and suicide belts same like happening in Pakistan (every Pakistani got either AK47 or other kind of guns – I talk to them)

    If anyone dreaming of coexistence withe Muslims honourable, they are living in a fool’s paradise.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 22:35h, 27 January

      Bala Krishnan: There is a larger issue embedded in the point you have made. Throughout most of the human history we know, people have found it difficult to coexist with those who are different whether they are minorities or not. There have been ups and downs but the essential inability has not disappeared anywhere. The variations over time have been quite significant. We find the Christian countries relatively tolerant today (although note the treatment of the Roma in Europe) but for centuries there was intense anti-Semitism culminating in one of the most tragic episodes in history. The Islamic world is going through its phase of intolerance now as you have pointed out but there was a time when Muslim countries were the most tolerant. Many unbiased historians have recorded the fact that when Jews were hounded out of Christian countries they were given refuge in Islamic ones. Intolerance is not intrinsic to religions but springs from many different contextual reasons.

      This inability to coexist is not confined to differences in religion. Discrimination based on color, language and ethnicity has been a constant throughout history. And even beyond this, where people share all these attributes, the powerful have not been averse to treating the weak with brutality. You will not have to look far to find many examples.

      In such a context, it is a disservice to continue the pattern of demonizing others based on broad generalizations and a partial knowledge of history. What is needed are concerted and united efforts to find ways to reduce prejudice and discrimination. The task is not hopeless. Look at the history of the United States starting with the extermination of the native Indians and the enslavement of the Africans. Today there is a President with the middle name of Hussain. It needs people of the calibre of Martin Luther King to travel this road of healing. Look at the history of South Africa where decades of brutal exploitation of the natives has given way to a reconciliation under the guidance of Nelson Mandela. It is indeed ironic that both King and Mandela take their inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi.

  • Bala Krishnan
    Posted at 04:38h, 30 January Reply

    Dear SouthAsian,

    I appreciate your moderate approach to every issue. Yes you are right – we must hope for a better future of co-existence. I am a post graduate in History and had more liberal views than you until I start to live in an islamic country. I intereact wtih Muslims from Indonesia to Algeria and I found them, individually taken, very nice persons devoid of any extremist thoughts expressed in daily interactions. That matter gives us hope, as you professed, for a great change as happened in Christian world. Fanatism among Christians is not eliminated in mind and thought and it is shown whenever they got a chance to express it. But in the modern secular world, Christians have learnt to love and accommodate persons other religions unlike Muslims.

    This does not preclude us to ignore the current realities – if we ignore, it means ‘deliberate suspension of disbelief’ and it is very dangerous for our (if we both are Hindus otherwise read my religion’s) future survival.

    Somehow or other I must wish you all the best for your chosen middle path which may shed some light to those who drift to extremisim and enable them to go back to more humane society.

    Thanks again

    Bala Krishnan

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 15:48h, 30 January

      Bala Krishnan: I see human beings as bundles of contradictory passions that, most of the time, keep each other in check. Once in a while, some one passion takes control of their lives to the exclusion of others – and these are the dangerous times. These passions are so raw and so close to the surface that it seems the very idea of a match can set them afire – and this makes instigators so dangerous. If one reads Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan (in English) or Qurratulayn Hyder’s Aag ka Darya (in Urdu) or Yashpal’s Jhutha Sach (in Hindi) one can get a sense of how people can live together for years and then one day have no compunction in the most brutal carnage.

      This is the problem of induction (that you cannot always infer the future from observations of the past) that Bertrand Russell illustrated with his fable of the benevolent farmer. In his book, The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb has used this fable to reflect on the fate of the increasingly integrated German Jews in the 1930s.

      A good book that has been mentioned on this blog is Secularism Confronts Islam by Olivier Roy. Roy describes how Christianity was dragged kicking and screaming into the secular world and then asks: “But if Christianity has been able to recast itself as one religion among others in a secular space, why would this be impossible for Islam?”

      His answer is worth reading but a point he makes is that one would be led completely astray if one started the argument from dogma (Christian or Islamic). He strongly recommends a sociological approach based on a concrete analysis of Muslim practices that is often at variance with dogma just as the practices of many Catholics are at variance with the dogma regarding contraception. If one focuses on practice, Olivier claims, one would find that the majority of Muslims in countries with non-Muslim majorities have already adjusted to a secular world. And he makes an important point in describing his book: “Fundamentalism touches only a minority of believers, and many people defined sociologically as Muslims have no religious practices. But I have deliberately concentrated on what has caused problems.” Overlooking this fact carries “the risk of an obvious distortion.”

      I see our task as keeping individuals from inflaming human passions and progressing to a stage where differences of opinions can be resolved through debates and discussions. This forum is intended as a contribution to that effort.

  • Arun Pillai
    Posted at 00:24h, 31 January Reply

    If I may intervene in this one on one conversation, the last couple of posts by Bala Krishnan and South Asian are very heartwarming and also conceptually deep. Bala Krishnan shows a tremendous control of his bundle of passions and I like South Asian’s description of a human being as such a bundle.

    I would like to add a political dimension to this in two ways. If one divides all political thought into conservative, liberal, and radical in terms of the kinds of thinking they portray rather than the substance of their thought, then liberal thought stands out as that thought which is able to reason about things in parts rather than wholes. It breaks the whole problem down into parts and then analyzes the parts and their relationships to each other and to the whole. On the other hand, conservative thought and radical thought treat wholes very much as totalities. This does not mean there are no parts in such systems but rather that the parts are not given their due. (Some liberal strands give too much weight to the individual and not enough to the social whole for example and then this also veers away from abstract liberal thinking.) This part-whole relationship (the study of which is called mereology in philosophy) in liberalism – as opposed to that in conservative and radical thought – is crucial to the moderateness of liberalism. That is why liberalism exists between the two extreme poles of political thought.

    The other dimension about liberalism is its “meta” nature. This is that it houses many different subsystems under it and is a highly abstract principle unlike conservative principles or radical principles. This abstractness is both a strength and a weakness. The strength is that it does not prejudge human nature much because it has very little content. The weakness is that people find it difficult to live with such an abstract system, they need more concreteness which both conservative and radical thought offer.

    I include all religions as well as conservative economic theories within conservatism and I include all extreme leftist and rightist movements and theories under radicalism. The truth about human beings lies somewhere in between. However, this simple unilinear classification is a bit awkward because political thought actually requires a multidimensional space to classify it. In any case, this will suffice for my purposes.

    To conclude, I would add that the posts above exemplify liberal thought even if the people who posted them may not be liberals.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 14:16h, 31 January

      Arun: This is a very insightful and useful perspective. I would add two things. First, the liberal strands that give too much weight to the individual and not enough to the social whole fall in the category of libertarianism and begin to trend into the type of radicalism you have defined. Second, you have described pure modes of thought. Obviously the situation becomes more complex when we are dealing with individuals. The sociologist Daniel Bell who died earlier this month had an interesting “triune” characterization of himself: “a socialist in economics, a liberal in politics, and a conservative in culture.” As we agree, individuals are a complex bundle not only of passions but of modes of thinking. This makes it all the more important to capture more accurately the essence of the various segments of the South Asian population.

  • Bala Krishnan
    Posted at 07:30h, 31 January Reply

    Arun Pillai in his brilliant analysis of the theoritcal thought process and its classifications looks to our subject from another plane. The strange thing I notice that it is impossible to visualize the mindset of a non-Muslim living in a Muslim countries (all the 47 Islamic countries are fanatical in nature except little moderate Turkey and Malasia). Non-Muslims’ subdued existence in Islamic ambience is to be experienced rather than studied.

    Once I had an argument with the IndianMuslim office boy over the work matters totally unrelated to any religions, suddenly I found him shouting all over the vast office saying “if anybody insult my prophet, I will kill him even if he is my son” – all the muslim staff had the impression I had insulted the prophet. Everyone knows what is the punishment of insulting prophet or Islam – here where I live is 10 years jail after namesake trial and in Pakistan death penalty, only two witness required which is easy to get. This is the way nonmuslims are subdued all over the islamic world. Somehow I escaped that ordeal, but the threat is always dangling over a non-muslim’s head all over the islamic world.

    Regarding the possibility of transformation of mind of an islamic extremist to liberal or moderate, I had one Egyptian fanatic ( an engineer !!) came to my office as newly appointed. He refused sit in my large room saying I am a Hindu hence not a human being – equal to monkey or pig (he told it to another muslim colleague). Gradually over months I had discussions opening up his mind and mine too, and he was surprised to find that many other ideas exist in the world. He said to me that 35 years of his life in Egypt, he had not seen any such idea or books to make him understand other cultures. This means 47 islamic countries are closed societies, strictlycontrolled by their autocratic governments. My engineer friend had a metamorphosis, now he does’t follow Islam, doesn’t do daily prayers, eventhough I intended only to make him moderate. Now he says that all religions are fake, only psycho therapies. Now he is of the opinion that Islam inevitably heavily impairs intelligence, it deadens imagination and hinders logical thinking and produces as the end result a general mental degradation in the believer.

    Regarding the Hindus’ position in the face of growing Muslim extremism in India, Hindus should take the teaching of The Art of War by Lao Tsu. The Art of war teaches us to rely not on the liklihood of the enemy not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him, not on the chance of his not attacking but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 12:55h, 31 January

      Bala Krishnan: As I said before the scenario you have described is accurate – it is not much fun to be a non-Muslim in a Muslim majority country; for many it is not even much fun to be a Muslim in a Muslim-majority country. This is a fact. My interest is in how one generalizes from this fact. Two options are open. One can say that the situation results from something that is intrinsic in Islam which has existed from the day of its birth – one would then find some explanations for the exceptions of Turkey and Malaysia you have mentioned.

      Alternatively, one can look for a more historical explanation. One could argue that the social situation in Egypt was quite different under King Farouk, Gamal Nasser and Hosni Mobarak, respectively, although the majority was Muslim throughout. Ditto for the Shah in Iran, Zahir Shah in Afghanistan, Bourguiba in Tunisia, etc. The task would then be to explain what happened in the post-colonial era that gave rise to fundamentalism and to Islamism as a political ideology.

      A comparison can illustrate the point I am making. Till the 1960s in the US South, Blacks and Whites did not eat at the same counter, did not sit in the same bus, did not attend the same schools, and did not us the same toilets. Blacks were deprived of the vote and could readily be accused of rape and lynched with or without recourse to the law. Would it have been correct to generalize from these facts that they were due to something intrinsic in Whiteness or Christianity that had persisted for ever? If so, how would one explain the election of Barack Obama half a century later?

      As for Muslims in India, the perspective you recommend can very easily turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Americans had a choice after 9/11 to treat the incident as a crime committed by people who were Muslims or to launch a War on Terror whose main proponents were Muslims. The latter alternative suited a pre-existing agenda of the neo-conservatives but it has not served either the Americans or the rest of the world well. I am not sure Lao Tsu’s The Art of War is the right approach. Idealistic as it may sound, I would prefer Dale Carnegie’s The Art of Making Friends and Winning People.

  • Anil Kala
    Posted at 17:07h, 31 January Reply

    Bala Krishnan: You succeeded in converting a fanatic into a liberal.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 15:22h, 01 February

      Anil: Can the individual be classified as a liberal? It seems to me he swung from one extreme position to another. A person cannot be liberal while holding such blanket opinions like “all religions are fake, only psycho therapies” or that “Islam inevitably heavily impairs intelligence, it deadens imagination and hinders logical thinking and produces as the end result a general mental degradation in the believer.” This reflects an inability to think through issues and a tendency to take refuge in some overarching belief. There are literally millions of people who defy this stereotype. Religion is a part of this world that cannot be wished away. What is to be avoided is the desire of some to impose their faith on others and secular laws ought to be employed for that purpose.

    • Anil Kala
      Posted at 16:07h, 01 February


      Actually I also think all religions are fake and comic. I thought I was liberal so assumed this fellow is liberal too. Now I realize I am a fanatic.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 16:35h, 01 February

      Anil: You can believe whatever you want but if you believe that people holding other views are mentally impaired then there is a problem. Liberalism doesn’t have much to do with belief or lack of belief in religion – it is an attitude of mind. Atheists and agnostics can be liberal, conservative or radical. So a person who believes all religions are fake does not automatically become a liberal by virtue of that position – it is possible that you are a liberal while the individual under discussion is not. I was commenting on the individual’s perspective that “Islam inevitably heavily impairs intelligence, it deadens imagination and hinders logical thinking and produces as the end result a general mental degradation in the believer.” This flies in the face of evidence – surely there are many Muslims who are just as intelligent and imaginative as anybody else. Are those who do not believe in religion more intelligent as a group than those who do?

    • Anil Kala
      Posted at 11:52h, 03 February


      Apparently holding extreme view is fanaticism. Why? If some arrives at a view after much thought, not in sync with politically correct wisdom do we regard this fellow a fanatic? Even if this fellow has an open mind and willing to change his views on hearing counter arguments?

      I don’t think so. Important thing is to have an open mind and willingness to tolerate and respect other person’s contrary views. Holding extreme view alone does not make some one extremist until he begins to impose his views on others.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 15:13h, 03 February

      Anil: I agree with what you are saying but there are some terms that need to be defined with more clarity. Someone holding extreme views is, by definition, an extremist but an extremist is not necessarily a fanatic. At the same time, it is possible to be a fanatic without holding extreme views at all. The following description from Wikipedia is useful in making the distinctions:

      Fanaticism is a belief or behavior involving uncritical zeal, particularly for an extreme religious or political cause or in some cases sports, or with an obsessive enthusiasm for a pastime or hobby. Philosopher George Santayana defines fanaticism as “redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim”; according to Winston Churchill, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject”. By either description the fanatic displays very strict standards and little tolerance for contrary ideas or opinions.

      The behavior of a fan with overwhelming enthusiasm for a given subject is differentiated from the behavior of a fanatic by the fanatic’s violation of prevailing social norms. Though the fan’s behavior may be judged as odd or eccentric, it does not violate such norms. A fanatic differs from a crank, in that a crank is defined as a person who holds a position or opinion which is so far from the norm as to appear ludicrous and/or probably wrong, such as a belief in a Flat Earth. In contrast, the subject of the fanatic’s obsession may be “normal”, such as an interest in religion or politics, except that the scale of the person’s involvement, devotion, or obsession with the activity or cause is abnormal or disproportionate.

  • Anil Kala
    Posted at 17:12h, 31 January Reply

    There is a tendency to generalize when it suits us. I remember in office when a Dalit does something silly, the refrain would be ‘ye log kabhi nahiiN sudherenge’ while for the same stupidity by an upper caste, the individual will be cursed.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 01:39h, 01 February

      Anil: If one is prejudiced against a group any untoward act of a member of that group is automatically attributed to some genetic characteristic of the group. Where no such prior prejudice exists the act of an individual is seen as no more than the act of an individual. Two things are needed to fight against this virtual auto-response. First, one should consciously refrain from generalizing from the individual to the group. Second, one must subject one’s prior prejudices to critical examination.

  • Bala Krishnan
    Posted at 06:39h, 01 February Reply

    Well said, southasian, your approach is laudable, your argument convincing. However, when facing the realities, human being tends to drift towards formation of more prejudices and join extreme ideologies. Sometimes such experiences injure even the secular minds and force him to take sides.

    At a Christian church function at the Church compound in the Gulf, Indian classical Bharatanatyam dance by young girls was scheduled. As everone knows, almost all Bharatanatyam themes are based on Hindu mythology and on that day some Lord Siva theme was chosen. Halfway through the beautiful performance by many girls, a Christian father angrily appeared on the stage and told to stop the dance. He shouted, why you praise Siva while Jesus Christ is the saviour of the world? – Everyone there looked the scene in disbelief. The girls on the stage started crying and they left the stage in great humiliation.

    What generalizations should we get from that scene? An isolated incident or expression of Christian fanatism that pervades among the priests and his followers!! How do we fight such extremist ideas? Following Dale Carnegie or Lao Tsu?

    As Anil Kala mentioned about the attitude towards Dalits, I must admit that the greatest injustice to any human beings is done in the name of caste among Hindus in India. This attitude is changing among Hindus, but before it gradual death, it should be accelerated, othewise Hindus has no right to speak about injustices happening around the world.

    Yesterday I had long discussion with an Iranian sunni Muslim, he said that being a sunni in Shia Iran is a hell life. He says that before any conversation begin, a shia will ask – are you a sunni, if yes, they turn their face and stop talking further. He talked a lot about injustices in Islam. Here comes the point made by Southasian. Generalizations are often misleading which means human psychology has a tendency to see the forest but not individual trees.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 15:40h, 01 February

      Bala Krishnan: In my view no generalizations can be made based on that scene – it would not make sense to argue that the problem derives from Christianity or is latent in all Christians. One person wished to impose his personal preference over that of the collective and he should have been restrained by the organizers (who had given permission for the event to be performed in a Church) or charged with disrupting order. Neither Dale Carnegie nor Lao Tsu are needed in this case, just the application of social norms or the law.

      In my view humans have a very hard time seeing the forest. They just see individual trees and project them onto an imagined forest. Where the imagined forest gives rise to negative feelings, they do not really see the individual either – they see an image of the individual that conforms to the image of the forest. The conception of the forest in most cases is a outcome of early childhood socialization that is never challenged by any kind of mature and objective investigation.

      You are a recent participant on this blog and have probably missed the discussion that took place on this topic earlier. One illustrative text was a research report by Latika Gupta (I am Hindu, You are Muslim). Another example can be the typical reaction of South Asians newly arrived in the US towards African-Americans.

  • Vinod
    Posted at 15:33h, 01 February Reply

    I believe that the reason we generalize is that at the pscychological level we need to find something to lasso emotions. Incidents such as the one Balakrishnan described generate a lot of anger. This anger triggers the rational mind to find an explanation very quickly to explain and justify it. Under the influence of such strong emotions the rational mind cannot do a good job. It will be unable to engage in the exercise of making distinctions. Hence it latches on the easiest generalization that is available in our instincts (a storehouse of “emotional ideas”). A truthful and patient approach requires immense control over emotional behaviour.

  • Bala Krishnan
    Posted at 10:26h, 02 February Reply

    It is easy to hold dispassionaate views so far as one’s life is not affected. One incident may not be representing the whole and generalizations often ignore individual positives. This is really utopian approach – it will not cause any social change for the better. This is equivalent to an anecdote of an Ayurveda doctor or vaidyan sent to plot for removing the exisitng bushes and weeds for preparing the ground for cultivation of some vegetable. The Ayurveda doctor returned without doing anything because he could not cut any plants or weeds saying that all the plants and vegetation growth there have some kind of medicinal value in Ayurveda. How can an ayurveda doctor destroy medicinal plants. Too much neutrality by the onlookers will help the evil to grow only.

    I will mention some more incidents. The Arab or Muslim mentality is of hate or degrade to other religions. Say 99% Muslims hate other cultures – that leaves 16 millions muslims being moderate, tolerant or allowing mentality. How do we conclude? siding with the 16 million or condemning 1584 millions? If we find excuse for all evil things, it is not conducive to human civilizations.

    For example, from where do they get teachings or inspiration to have this attitude for the below mentioned actions? should it not be condemned? or fought against?

    All know about the plight of labourers in the gulf area. I happened to meet one Egyptian engineer carrying a stick on he back, under the shirt, and while supervising the building construction work, he will beat randomly to the workers buttocks with the stick, hardly of course, to push them to work harder. Severe beatings only to non-muslim labourers. I came to know about the incident, and I asked him, pretending I am a Muslim, he told me that ‘we should beat kafirs whenever we get a chance. Prophet told us llike that and heaven is assured for whoever punish kafirs. That Egyptian is an engineer, not ordinary person and his belief is not fake, he genuinely believe so.

    Another incident experienced by me. I was little raising my voice to a cleaning man (a Hindu from Tamil Nadu) because he was looking offensively, staying frozen at passing ladies in that huge shopping complex where I was on duty of supervision. Suddently a Syrian guy from a shop (he is very friendly to me) and we had the following conversation.
    Syrian – dont shout him – he doesn’t know what is right and wrong
    me – what you mean by that.
    Syrian – he has no relilgion – so how can he know right and wrong?
    me – He is a Hindu – Hindus know what is right and wrong – they have a lot of teaching available from childhood.
    Syrian – No No – Hinduism is not a religion – they worship trees, fire, cows, stone etc. That cannot be a religion.
    me – then what is religions
    Syrian – The only true religion is Islam – through Islam only one can know right and wrong and learn how to live as human beings
    me – what about Christian and Jews
    Syrian – they were revealed religions of course – but they were corrupted – By coming of Islam, Christian and Jews religions became obsolete, unwanted.

    me – Oh I see – like that – ok ok (knowing that more argument is dangerous for me I stopped the conversation)

    The Syrian guy was a graduate from Damascus university. I could not find a single Syrian or palestinians or jordanians, sudanese etc having a liberal, hateless views whether he be labourer, doctor, engineer, or Phd holder.

    This Muslim mentality is widespread – what should be conclude – Should we enlighten them enmasse or condone as exception and continue our moderate journey. This mentality in a different form is with the Hindus – in matters of hating Muslims – hate of Muslims in Hindus may be due to the stubborn attitude of Muslims to hate other religions.

    My opinion is we should fight idelogically even if the ideals are restricted to a small minority and we should treat as a whole because then only we can prevent the minority becomes a majority attitude.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 16:13h, 02 February Reply

    Bala Krishnan: Your objective is to decide what steps to take to prevent a negative minority attitude becoming a majority attitude. But the situation of Islam you are concerned with is different from the above. In your estimation 99% of Muslims are already affected. So the real question should be: What is to be done now that the disease is so far advanced? I would be interested in hearing your recommendation.

    Personally, I have to keep going back to taking a historical perspective. Even if one accepts your claim that 99% Muslims are affected today there is still the dimension of time – has it always been like this since the birth of Islam?

    The comparison is again with the American South – there was a time when 99% of the Southern Whites thought of the Blacks as subhumans to be treated as such with whipping, sexual abuse, buying and selling, etc. But that culture no longer exists now or, even if it does, those kinds of practices are impossible today.

    The British colonialists held exactly the same opinion of Hinduism that your Syrian friend does. But they don’t do so any more. Generalizations across space and time have to be made with care.

    The human tendency to generalize cannot be helped but we should make sure that the generalizations stand up not just against contemporary facts but also against historical evidence and reasoned analysis.

  • Bala Krishnan
    Posted at 05:00h, 03 February Reply

    I may conclude this topic from side with the following comments. If we compare with current realilties of the Islamic world with that of whites-blacks or British-Hindus attitude, we would still be evading the main issue. Whites-black or British-Hindu polarities have no ideological basis like Nazis had one for hating jews. British on Hindu treatments has no religious connotation, it was rather political and whites never spoke of any solid ideological base for their treatment.

    I am lucky to be able to learn Arabic and thereby able to read the Quran word by word with root meanings and many of Hadiths. Islam has defined as Allah’s wish or order explained very clearly their ultimate aim to be achieved in this world and beyond, and also defined how to achieve this goal and it is very very harmful to the existence of other religions and noreligious peoples as well. We cannot say it is wrong from their viewpoint and they believe that if it is Allah’s order, all human beings should obey. It becomes harmful when majority of humans are in the other side of the river – inevitable bloodbath is predicted if Muslims have the means to do it because they have the will based on solid ideological foundation and they have a very clear hierarchy to execute their ultimate goal. This goal was with all the Muslim invaders all over the world but the concentrated on personal pleasures instead of sustained efforts to achieve the goal, but in the recent history the ordinary Muslim people helped with their literacy took over the responsibiltiy to achieve the aim.

    Lessons from the history defy any such eventuality as you rightly pointed out, and history is supposed and surely will, progress to a perfect system of peaceful coexistence. To release the steam from the swollen egos of the ordinary Muslims, and this misguided goal (from non-muslim perspective) is soley perpetuated by the dictatorial rulers of the Islamic countries, the other side of the world should relentlessly contest idelogically, even not to shun forceful battles if necessary to win the war.

    The current situation in the islamic world is a pointer that the progress of history from bad to good, worst to best cannot be stopped. The flow of history could be blocked for a while, but it will find its way to escape the stagnant lake that human beings occasionally make like the current islamic world. However historical progress is manmade, and everyone should in his own way contribute his share individually and collectively in harmony with peaceful existence as far as possible, just like Southasian is tirelessly working on.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 16:17h, 03 February

      Bala Krishnan: A few points in your comment need elaboration:

      1. I feel you are using the term ‘ideological’ too narrowly; anything the derives from a central idea is ideological by definition. The attitude of Whites towards Blacks during the period of slavery was based on the idea of racial superiority just as the attitude of Europeans towards Jews during the period of anti-Semitism was also a statement of racial superiority. While the objective of the British colonialists was economic, the political domination of India was justified by the ideology that found expression in the notion of the White Man’s Burden – the divinely ordained mission to civilize the half-savage, idolatrous natives living in the dark ages and unable to govern themselves. If you look at the Christian missionary literature of that time you will see the characterizations of Hindus flowing from the ideology of religious superiority.

      2. I feel it is an error to infer the behavior of a people by a line-by-line reading of their religious dogma. If you read the Bible in the same way you will run into similar problems. This is a characteristic of the monotheistic religions all of which claim to be the ‘true’ religion of the ‘chosen’ people. There are fundamentalists in each of these faiths who wish to interpret the texts literally but they are in the minority. There are also times in history when there are upsurges of such fundamentalism – historians of Christianity would readily point to the Crusades, the Inquisition, the forced conversions of native Americans, the burning of witches, the expulsion of Jews, etc. But all such episodes are now a part of the past.

      3. One has to give more weight to evidence than to assumptions. If Muslim invaders all over the world did not pursue the goal that you attribute to them, perhaps the goal was not important to them. To continue to hold to your assumption in the face of so much evidence and to attribute the outcome to everyone pursuing personal pleasure is a logically weak position. This reiterates the problem of inferring goals, objectives and behavior from dogma.

      4. The task of social scientists is to explain such episodes contextually and to prevent the spread of racial, ethnic or religious stereotypes that claim to be true across time and space. We cannot solve problems by stereotyping.

  • Yogesh
    Posted at 08:21h, 20 March Reply

    If India had not been partitioned then sub-continent would have been like Sudan. Communal riots would have been a norm because both islamist and hindu fascists cannot live under totally different cultures and values. Thank God it happened and both nations can now concentrate on uplifting their people.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 16:07h, 20 March

      Yogesh: Yes, it could have been like that but was it inevitable, the only outcome possible? That is the real question of interest. A number of thoughts come to mind:

      1. It is intriguing that the country (India) that still has significant religious diversity is doing much better than the one (Pakistan) where such diversity has been eliminated.

      2. If one draws the parallel of religious diversity with racial and ethnic diversity one can look at the example of the US. The racial antagonism was far worse in the US (with one group being enslaved and segregation being legal ) than religious antagonism in India. Yet, today a mixed race person is the president of the country and the racial divide is being eroded (see attached link for the most recent evidence). This suggests that there is an alternative (albeit difficult) to work at such problems and not to opt for the easy and populist solution of radical surgery.

      3. Regarding your point of “totally different cultures,” the US example remains pertinent. One could have said that the black and white cultures were totally different and drawn a line on that basis. But the evolution of race relations shows that would have been a simplistic interpretation of culture. It is a coincidence that one of the recent posts on this blog (On Culture and the Clash of Cultures) is about this very topic:

    • Yogesh
      Posted at 17:17h, 20 March

      1. I would say India is doing so well ONLY because it is too diverse, no group is absolute majority to rule the others in a bias manner. Hindus may be 80% but they are themselves into groups like castes, north-south-marathi-bengali etc. State wise no state has its diktat in policies of whole country whatever be size of state or its economy. Thus any central government has to take into account considerations for all sates. (Its not perfect as some governments have been biased towards states run by their own governments)

      2. As far as comparison with US is concerned, blacks have been accustomed to culture of whites. There is only north-south differences in terms of culture. For India such peace would have come only if Hindus were islamisized because if you take example of India, muslims still have it their way and they are not going to mend “anything” about themselves. Call me biased or whatever but muslims as theists are very different from any other religions. Christianity has reformed but not islam. So I am sure that a united India was a terrible idea for Hindus. You can see this from treatment of Hindus in pakistan and bangladesh where still force conversions are taking place in 21st century, so I would say good that we got rid of them and they got a seperate country for themselves.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 21:49h, 20 March

      Yogesh: I agree with you that India’s strength is its diversity. But an unpartitioned India would not have lost this diversity.

      Re the US, the issue is whether a problem is posed by the occurrence of “totally different cultures” (as you had mentioned earlier) or not being accustomed to different cultures (as you are now suggesting). If the latter, it would be difficult to argue that Muslims and Hindus were not accustomed to each other’s culture after over a thousand years of coexistence and given that the majority of Muslims were converts from Hinduism.

      Partition has still left a very large number of Muslims in India, larger than the population of most other countries. But India is at peace (if there is a war it is with the Naxalites) despite the fact that Hindus have not had to Islamize. What exactly is it that Muslims are not “mending”?

    • Yogesh
      Posted at 22:26h, 20 March

      India is at Peace – but I would say that is because of Hindus/Sikhs etc not because of muslims. And I am afraid situation is not going to be same when muslim population will outnumber Hindu population, it will either result in 2nd partition (as asked by Imam Bokhari of jama masjid yrs ago) or slowly Hindus are going to be persecuted in India itself. I am not saying majority of them are extremists nor I am questioning their patriotism but majority of them are muslims first and Indian second.

      Try to implement uniform civil code in India and you will see whether muslims will accept/mend or not. Try to break a Temple for development for city and you wont notice it in any news but break a masjid for development whole country will come to standstill.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 00:54h, 21 March

      Yogesh: I see what you mean. But if the two foregone outcomes of Muslims outnumbering Hindus (when is that projected to happen?) are equally bad (another partition or persecution of Hindus), it would be a folly not to take preemptive steps to forestall the outcomes. What is the solution you have in mind?

  • Yogesh
    Posted at 02:53h, 21 March Reply

    I dont see a easy solution, all what can be done is to educate the muslims and implement reforms that are required, Their modernization is imperative. There are many muslims who are liberal but a significant portion is not which is the root problem anywhere.

    Situation would have been less alarming had muslims from North India would have been asked to leave to East and West pakistan while all non-muslims in India, in my opinion it would have been unfair to ask South Indians muslims to leave due to cultural differences. Before you confirm me as some sort of Hindu extremists, you should note that Sardar Patel was also of similar opinion. Sounds hard but would have resulted in better stability for both nations and their people, you dont see riots in Greece and Turkey which did such population exchange after WWI.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 13:12h, 21 March

      Yogesh: Are you recommending something that goes beyond the 2006 Sachar Committee Report? (The official report is here and the quick summary can be accessed here on the Wikipedia site.)

      I am intrigued by your observation about South Indian Muslims. Does that imply that what is at issue is not religion per se but cultural differences between North and South? If so, do these differences affect all Indians or just Muslims?

      Also, you have left the situation very vague in this sentence: “There are many muslims who are liberal but a significant portion is not which is the root problem anywhere.” What would be your best guess about the breakdown between liberals and others amongst Muslims? And to what extent do you think it differs from the breakdown amongst non-Muslims?

      Another thing to be a bit careful about is that not being a liberal is not necessarily a problem – conservatives are a part of every society and often constitute the majority and do not pose any problem. You are making the transition from liberals to illiberals to extremists – these are a much smaller subset of non-liberals.

    • Yogesh
      Posted at 06:06h, 23 March

      Here is whats going on and what will continue in India once their population gets more than Hindus

      Am I being paranoid, or just learning from history and present ? Whats your take, you “really” think India can remain peaceful with so many muslims ? What do you think is the difference in Indian muslims that they wont go same route as their pakistani and bangladeshi brethen.

      All sub-continent muslims were not force converted during mughal rule but a significant portion of them did convert because of presecution. Infact with exception to Indonesia and Malaysia islam had spread only to those areas which were under muslim rule, other than that it could not impress the masses. Take for example Nepal and Sri Lanka, both have mere 7% muslim population while areas next to them were highly islamisized. What do you think is the reason that Awadh and Bengal had such high portion of muslim population while Nepal doesnt, mountains ? then how about Kashmir. I hope you have read something about case of Kashmir too. With this I rest my case.


    • Vinod
      Posted at 10:59h, 23 March

      Yogesh, before you rest your case I’d like to see you answer the questions that SouthAsian has raised in the comment above. Thanks

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 12:43h, 05 April Reply

    Vinod: We have not heard back from Yogesh and I am not pursuing the argument further since it needs the prior questions to be answered to make sense.

    Yogesh has repeated the claim that the population of Muslims will exceed that of Muslims in India. He has not given the basis for this claim. I had provided the link to the Sachar Report and it summary for this purpose. In the section ‘Removal of Common Stereotypes’ it has the following bullet point:

    “That there is “substantial demand from the community for fertility regulation and for modern contraceptives” and over 20 million couples are already using contraceptives. “Muslim population growth has slowed down as fertility has declined substantially”. This does away with the concern that Muslim population growth would be able to outnumber Hindus or change the religious demography in any meaningful way.”

    This is just to keep the discussion in the realm of reality but the real point is more complex. It is one that Professor Nivedita Menon has raised in her writings: Why should it matter even if the claim were really accurate and Muslim population were to exceed Hindu population? India is a secular democracy, not a religious majoritarian state. Why should the religion of citizens be an issue?

    This thought came back to me when I read a column in the NY Times that non-Hispanic Whites would become a minority in the US by 2050. The author, a well-known professor at Harvard University, characterizes the scenario as “an even more wonderfully diverse America.”


    Clearly, what one sees depends upon the glasses one wears. And also one should not forget self-fulfilling prophecies – if one sees diversity as a problem, it is very likely to turn into one.

    • Vinod
      Posted at 15:57h, 05 April

      SA, hard questions and conversations are difficult to take for those who want to hold on to simplified digestible versions of the complexity that reality presents.

  • Tanveer Ahmed
    Posted at 13:54h, 02 July Reply

    A great resource for South Asians and a great platform for academic freedom in the region. I wonder if you could comment on the following supposition: That the twin occupation and division of Kashmir was a direct consequence of the division of India? Bearing in mind that the two-nation theory of Pakistan and the secular reasoning of India continue to drive both countries’ continued occupation.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 07:56h, 05 July

      Tanveer: I feel there can be little doubt that Kashmir becoming a problem is a direct consequence of the division of India. On his recent visit to the subcontinent, PM Cameron said as much in plain words. Once it became a prize of war, everyone forgot about the welfare of the Kashmiris themselves or, to be more generous, couldn’t figure out how to reconcile it with their own narrow interests.

  • himanshu bagaria
    Posted at 10:28h, 30 September Reply

    whatever it is but one thing for sure indian cricket team would have been the strongest in the world with the lights of sachin, waqar younis, wasim akram, imran khan, kapil dev, saeed anwar…just imagine!!!

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 18:47h, 01 October

      Himanshu: I see no reason why India and Pakistan separately cannot have strong cricket teams given their large populations and the fact that cricket is such a passion in both countries. There is something fundamentally wrong with the organization of the game in both countries that comes in the way of better performances.

      The real cost of the separation, in my view, has been the division of natural eco-systems that could conceivably lead to conflict over water in the not-too-distant future. The shrinking of trade and the separation of families have been other major losses. On top of these, a great cost has been imposed by the continuing conflict that has diverted resources from welfare to war to the extent that almost three-fourths of the populations in both countries continue to live in poverty.

      I find it impossible to justify these outcomes in any kind of humanistic or moral perspective nor can I see how they could be justified.

  • sree
    Posted at 12:17h, 02 October Reply

    You have pointed out to the diversion of resources towards war or military expenditure as a cost of partition. Even if partition had not happened wouldn’t India have to spend on its defense expenditure vis-a-vis China.
    Do you really believe that the partition and the bad relations between the two countries is the cause or the most significant cause for poverty in the subcontinent?

    Another statement you made, which I don’t understand is “India lacked a statesman of the caliber of Mandela who could see beyond the immediate political gains and losses”. I don’t think there is any autonomous whites majority region in South Africa, or there exists any form of power structure whereby whites have any sort of independence separately from the rest.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 15:37h, 02 October

      sree: I am looking at the issue in an incremental perspective. We can assume that the Partition would have made no difference to the allocation of resources vis-a-vis China. But the additional resources needed to defend hostile borders created by partition would have been avoided. Therefore the total allocation to defense expenditures would have been lower in the absence of partition. That is the argument in theory.

      One cannot say if something is the definitive cause or the most significance cause of something else outside the world of controlled experiments. What I am suggesting is that if the additional resources allocated to defense expenditures had not been necessary they would have been potentially available for allocation to welfare. Whether they would have been actually used for the purpose is impossible to say. At least, the argument that poverty is due to lack of resources would have been less credible.

      The argument about leadership does not depend on color. It is a general point about conflict resolution. Sometimes the collective welfare is enhanced if the parties to the conflict agree to settle for less than their maximum demands. Mandela could have pressed for a complete marginalization of the Whites – justice and morality were on his side – but he gave up some of his claims in the greater interest of South Africa. My argument was that the same vision and level of statesmanship was not seen in pre-Partition India.

  • sree
    Posted at 06:13h, 03 October Reply

    Without partition the overall defense expenditure might have been lesser, but the gains would have been offset by increased cost in maintaining internal security and law and order.

    Regarding the point on “the lack of a statesman of Mandela’s calibre”, my question was not about color of the leader. My point is, as far as I know, there is no structure of government or provinces in South Africa whereby whites (the minority) enjoy any form of autonomy or independence from the rest. I don’t know if they asked for any separate powers or for the creation of any autonomous province from a region with white majority. Mandela’s vision was for a South Africa with all the communities as equal stakeholders. I don’t think it is any different from what the Indian leaders desired prior to partition or how they charted the country’s path after partition.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 13:19h, 03 October

      sree: These comments are better addressed by switching the order of the two points. The comparison with South Africa is a general one not related to specifics. The point I am making is that both places involved a conflict between two communities. In one place an arguably better resolution was achieved because the parties were willing to compromise, to each give up something for the greater good of the collective. The subsequent costs of internal security are an outcome of how the conflict is resolved. If a mutually satisfactory arrangement is achieved, the costs would be minimal. However, if the collective is maintained without a satisfactory resolution, the costs would indeed be very high. The counterfactual under consideration in this post that the Partition would not have occurred if the conflict had been satisfactorily resolved.

  • ahmed
    Posted at 18:01h, 17 October Reply

    i do not know how many of my friends who have narrated their views above has survived during painfull times of partition of india. on that it is pain giving to read muslims are intolerant. if so was the situation than how it became non-muslims who survived in india in majority and with freedom and rights during the approximately 300 years rule of muslims over india. of course a muslim can not tolerate an act which is against the nature. one more thing to be discussed here is it was not the muslim league or any muslim leader who spoke regarding two nation formula. it were them who at that time were paid workers of British East India Company. who open fired on the beloved father of the nation SRI MAHATMA GANDHI. they with intensions well known to them put the entire country on fire and still people like them do not want peace in our heaven land INDIA.


  • YogeshYogesh
    Posted at 06:33h, 18 October Reply

    Non-muslims are majority in India because muslims refused to live as a single country and got a separate country otherwise they form approx 1/3 the population of sub-continent. Also Hindus were not absolutely meek whom muslims could butcher at their will, they faced constant opposition from various Hindu and Sikh kings time to time. As far as tolerance of muslims of concerned, perhaps pakistan is a brilliant example.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 17:38h, 19 October

      Yogesh: I feel this discussion would benefit from being placed in a larger context.

      First, it is useful to separate religion from politics. All religion is not about politics and all politics is not about religion. Christianity came to India almost 2000 years ago as a religion that had very little to do with politics. The British colonialists came much later to trade and not to spread religion. Similarly Islam came to India with trade almost 1500 years ago, not to conquer. The invaders came much later to conquer but not to bring religion. If religion had been the motive Babar would not have unseated Lodhi; they would have joined forces to fight non-Muslims. Nor would Nadir Shah and Abdali attacked Muslim kingdoms in India and Aurangzeb would not have spent half his life in conflict with Muslim rulers in the Deccan. The generals of Akbar’s army would not have been Rajputs. The Nizam would not have sided with the British against Tipu. The history of those events was not driven by religion.

      Second, it is useful to make a distinction between the age of empires and the age of nation-states. In the former, territorial expansion was the norm. Alexander, Changez Khan, Babur all belonged to the age of empire. It would not have made any sense to them to be told that they were breaking some international treaty by crossing some non-existent border. It is a mistake to morally judge one age by the rules of another.

      Third, tolerance is a multi-dimensional concept. One can imagine a thought experiment in which, say, a Swedish human rights lawyer is asked to rank the countries of South Asia on a scale of tolerance. What would comprise that scale and what do you predict would be the outcome? Then suppose, he/she is asked to do the same for provinces within India. What would be the ranking? What conclusions would one derive from this exercise?

  • sochta hoon
    Posted at 00:26h, 19 October Reply

    Here is a Pakistani muslim who wishes there was one united India but realizes that it is way to late to turn back now. Jinnah did not wish for the Pakistan in front of our eyes today. Forget about Muslims versus Hindus and Sikhs, there are muslims killing other muslims in a country founded on the basis of “Islam”. It’s disgusting really and I hope someone gets the courage to revolt to bring about change. But I know no one will. Anyway… I just wanted to say that I, as an individual, consider all Indian’s, whether Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, etc. as my brothers and sisters and wish them the best; even if I do not get the same treatment in return. It is ok.

  • reader
    Posted at 17:18h, 03 October Reply

    In your argument you mention the Nizam-e-mustafa, but you don’t give enough detail to back up your argument. Why did the people want the Nizam-e-Mustafa when the countries split? Why was it thought to be a good idea and supported?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 17:53h, 04 October

      Reader: Nizam-e-Mustafa was mentioned in Aakar Patel’s original op-ed to which the post on this blog was a rejoinder. In support of the creation of Pakistan, he had written: “But Pakistan was formed out of a positive desire, not a hatred of India. Allama Iqbal articulated something that the majority of the subcontinent’s Muslims felt and feel: the desire to live under Nizam-e-Mustafa. This was not possible without Partition, which did not change the demography of what was to become Pakistan. Hindus would never have been able to rule Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan or the Frontier. Partition was not about that. It was about what kind of rule these places would have. The politics of Pakistan are about how to capture this desire and turn it into a constitution.”

      Frankly, I don’t know what the term means. I can only guess it is a synonym for an imagined ideal world that existed at some earlier time, a kind of garden of Eden. And I really doubt Muslims felt the need for that kind of world. They had been living in India for a thousand years without feeling that need. And, even when Pakistan was created, the majority of the Muslims in what is now India did not go over to the garden of Eden. Furthermore, Muslim religious groups were largely opposed to the creation of Pakistan which undermines the entire hypothesis.

      As far as I can make out, it was a hollow religious slogan used for political purposes. The fact that it was a hollow slogan was proved by the fact that no Nizam-e-Mustafa emerged in Pakistan – it was the same old exploitation of the powerless by the powerful. In real terms, religion turned out to be irrelevant as was to have been expected.

      You can read more coherent explanations (hopefully) of why Pakistan was created here:


  • Manoj
    Posted at 21:54h, 05 February Reply

    Methinks thou protesteth too much, Balakrishnan & Ganpat Ram.

    SA, compliments on a blog that touches the raw nerves left behind by the tearing up of India abruptly, painfully, into 3 parts. That neither Hindus, Muslims, Indians and Pakistanis wanted it, suspected it or have been able to get over it half century later, is proved by the cognitive dissonance I see up here.

    Please dont think this mega-disaster was about welfare of people.

    It was about politics, and power lay with leaders. As history tells us, no player – Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah, Golwalker, MA Azaad – expected freedom early, nor did any want a broken-up india – freedom had been promised 25 years earlier and not given – Churchill declared India unfit for self-rule.

    So, why did British withdraw, despite US no longer supporting India’s independence after 1940?
    1. Gandhi had strategically crippled India’s imports as also it’s trade through civil disobedience. What use is a colony that does’nt earn?
    2. Murderous attacks on ~100,00 Brits – Calcutta presidency (Bose) – Punjab (Mashriqui) and starting in Bombay presidency.
    3. UK’s crying need to rebuild it’s economy and society post WWII.

    The allies’ concerns in a post WWII context were :
    1. India’s (Bose) growing links with enemies – Germany & Japan
    2. Growing belligerence and closeness between Muslims in USSR and ME
    3. Shutdown of trade interests by a fortress india

    So the solutions were –
    1. Weaken india to enable continuing military and trade interests,
    2. Create a buffer of secular Muslims between the radical Muslims in Baltics & Arabia. Thats why it needed to be where it is, though the demand for a Muslim state (not country) arose from Bengal, not Punjab.
    3. Install leaders who were natives but western in mindset, (Nehru & Jinnah – weak, resurrected leaders, amenable to West)

    Indians fell into the trap. Mountbatten knew, and escaped quikcly thereafter to ensure no late-stage reconciliations surface, leaving both countries tending to their colossal losses.

    Today, interest is falling in the buffer state that served it’s purpose well in the past 50 years, as the new threat is China

    The geopolitics will realign soon, however whether India and Pakistan will act strategically and in their own interests remains doubtful. Both countries have weak, corrupt leaders presiding over thinly veiled colonial systems.

  • rated r
    Posted at 20:04h, 13 February Reply

    no i am not agree with u. un partition india is new power in army airforce and navy. we can rate our gdp rate up to 8-9% like china. we have wast area something 40,00,000sqkms. and + tibeat 12,50,000 + hindu state napel 1,44,000 + bhutan 38,000. it is batter for super power like china. we can bild wast army and bild big airforce and navy so we can abale to counter china. pooraity is lost in unpartition india after sez’s. so i think it is batter world for india.

  • Lexie
    Posted at 16:43h, 14 February Reply

    Can someon just tell me if it was a good or bad thing?!?

    • Vikram
      Posted at 01:00h, 16 February

      Hey Lexie. I dont think that question can really have any answer. We cant turn the clock back and press play again with a different track.

      Whatever has happened has happened, and we can only look to build a more peaceful future.

      My 2 cents.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 05:58h, 16 February

      Vikram: That was not the question Lexie asked. He didn’t ask if a different track could be played now. He asked whether the track that was played was better or worse than the one that was not played. Of course, this does not have a simple answer. Different people would answer it differently based on what impact the choice had on their lives. Some who thought what happened was good now feel it was actually bad; some who thought it bad are now quite happy with how things turned out. To some, it made no difference either way.

      Some people use a particularly simple measure: Anything that caused one million deaths, ten million homeless, separated families, and perpetual conflict in the region could not have been good in any real sense. Surely, better resolutions were possible.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 17:22h, 16 February

      Thanks SA. When I said the question cant really have an answer, I was actually half thinking along the same lines as you have stated, that different people will have different perspectives. Now that you have put it down, it makes a lot more sense.

  • Vishnu Sharma
    Posted at 21:05h, 28 March Reply

    Partition was completely unnecessary and wasteful of lives and resources. People would not have been displaced and Muslims would have been more modern and progressive in a United India. The Muslim Majority provinces of Punjab, Sindh, NWFP, Balochistan, East Bengal and Kashmir would have had Muslim chief Ministers and more Muslims in their legislatures.

    Urdu and Hindu would have been official Languages of India. Indian strength in Sports and India’s power would have been greater. Indian economy would have enjoy a boost.

    There would have been no nuclear arms race in the region and all efforts would have gone into improving the standards of living of the people and the infrastructure. Women would have greatly benefited and would have been educated and modern in outlook. It would have allowed more freedom for individual Indian families to settle in any part of India and call it home or go on vacations to different parts of United India.

    There would have been a melting pot of ideas and customs. Islam would not have been in any danger because in Muslim majority provinces, Islamic practices would always have been respected since Islam is respected in the India which came after 1947. The Indian Army would have been non political and professional and would have been the guardian of India’s large borders.

    Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah and Liaqat Ali should not have been born.

    Instead we needed leaders like RajaGopalachari, Patel, Ghaffar Khan, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Allama Mashriqi, at the helm to decide the future of Greater India with care, responsibility, even temperament and wisdom.
    People who never brought religion into politics and make a stern tradition of it.

  • Vikram
    Posted at 06:06h, 07 July Reply

    I think one country that would have been almost certainly better off had their been no partition would be Afghanistan. I am certain that the Soviet Union would not have thought about attacking Afghanistan had they been neighbors of undivided India. Almost all the Indo-Aryan populations share an admiration for the Pathans and a soft corner for Afghanistan. They are different from us, but the people most similar to us than the rest of the world. Undivided India would have formed a great partnership with them, in contrast to the current battle for influence.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 05:36h, 11 July

      Vikram: My reply would be that Afghanistan, in all likelihood, would also have been better off.

  • aman
    Posted at 11:01h, 16 July Reply

    This is an excellent discussion forum. I have gone through most posts. By opinion I can safely categorize them as hard liner Hindus, Liberal Hindus Atheists, Nationalists, fundamental Muslims, Liberal Muslims, Indian Muslims Pakistani Muslims (Just my View). But irrespective of your differences all opinion posts have some degree of logic. And no one out here is driven by sheer hatred. ( Trace of xenophobia in here and there though). Keep posting more logical and informative posts brothers..

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 17:04h, 17 July

      aman: Thanks for the frank evaluation. Please keep us on our toes by pointing out any trace of xenophobia whenever you come across it on this forum. It is worrying that you can match a person’s opinions with dimensions of his/her personality. It suggests the identity interests not facts are driving opinions. Also, that facts are interpreted in a way to be compatible with prior positions. We need to overcome such prejudices if we wish to grow intellectually.

  • KTShamim
    Posted at 12:01h, 10 February Reply

    Hindus believe in a caste system. Their books preach the same and many Hindu leaders practiced the same. Muslims are worst than Shooders. That Hindu leaders decided to abandon their religious teachings of caste and adopted democracy is fact and excellent. That Muslims decided to abandon Qur’an and adopt religious caste is also sad.

    But the principle reason for creating Pakistan, a secular Pakistan, given Hindu religious dogmas and practices of 1940s was very much right.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 17:42h, 10 February

      KT Shamim: Castes exist in the subcontinent. Effectively, all religions there comprise castes in one form or another. Among Muslims, there are the ashraf and the ajlaf; the syeds do not like to marry among the non-syeds; the fair do not like to marry among the dark, etc.

      Hindu religious dogmas and practices did not emerge as a surprise in the 1940s. As you state, they have existed for centuries. So one can ask, why the demand for Pakistan arose only in the 1940s? Something else must have been going on that you have ignored.

  • Yousuf
    Posted at 16:01h, 03 March Reply

    I’m a Muslim living in Pakistan. I support the undivided India .because in today’s Pakistan the real power is in the hand of Americans and Saudis while the Pakistanis themselves are killed everyday by jihadists of America .and I’m pretty sure that Pakistanis themselves are as well fed up of partitions and Islamists .

  • A hindu
    Posted at 07:11h, 24 March Reply

    partition was a blessing for hindus. if the partition not happened, india’s neighbor would have been afghanistan. and Fata would have been in india. pious muslims were then doing their jehad in indian cities without any control. hindu girls would have been chased as jannat hoor.
    anarchy had been prevailing and india could be in place of sudan and pakistan.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 15:28h, 24 March

      By this logic it might make sense to partition India even further. Then messy Pakistan and Bangladesh would also not be neighbors. Also, I don’t see the connection with the welfare of girls – it doesn’t look like they are having a very good time anyway.

  • A hindu
    Posted at 04:59h, 27 March Reply

    south asian
    united india would have 33 % muslims with independence to move anywhere. poor, uneducated and hungry mobs of muslims from afghanistan and bangladesh would have come to indian cities without any control. continuous rioting could happened as a norm. what kind of development can be thought in that condition.
    partition thinned the muslims, it separated their strength in three parts and now in india we hindus could manage them effectively. border controls mean that poor and uneducated muslims can be stopped from entering and spoiling indian atmosphere.
    proof of my statement is that even today thousands of muslims try to sneak into india from bangladesh and our border guards have to work hard to stop them.
    for girls also, islamic society could have been worse than a hindu dominated society. some cultural issues are same for girls on both side but overall see indian women/girls, they are conquering every field. paki girls, they are in burqa or if for some time out of burqa than wait, sharia can come any time in near future.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 18:36h, 30 March

      A hindu: You are entitled to your hypotheses. I am not entirely convinced by the logic of the arguments.

      First, that Hindus could not ‘handle’ 33% Muslims but only 11%. That logic also suggests that things would be better with even fewer Muslims. So why not make separate countries out of some Muslim majority areas?

      Second, continuous rioting is taking place in many parts of India even now and has nothing to do with Muslims. Why not make separate countries out of those areas?

      Third, if thousands of poor people streaming into places is such a big problem, why not make Bihar independent and put border guards around it. Thousands of poor people from there are streaming into all parts of India and are not welcome in many of them.

      Fourth, Paki women are indeed in trouble but Paki women do not represent all Muslim women. Do read Amartya Sen to note that Bangladeshi women are doing better than Indian women on many social indicators.

      Fifth, Sharia can come any time in the future but so could the Sri Ram Sena.

    • A hindu
      Posted at 02:38h, 11 April

      south asian
      let me be clear about your idea of further dividing india that we hindus will not let it happen because-
      i. those areas which became pak were not stronghold of ancient aryan religion and u find very few holy places of hindus there. while in mainland every inch was contested with muslims and taken back by heroes like marathas, jats etc. Before coming of English , India was dominated by hindus. so no question of giving it to few muslim pockets now.
      ii. we know how to tackle few muslim pockets and when the time comes a solution will be devised for this problem. so no need to divide india further.
      iii. things would certainly be better without muslims but not by giving land to them. hindus of this generation have learnt their lessons well. we have a grand army and we have seen from israel that how to tackle islam. we will follow the same route.

      now, about rioting. out of every 100 riots in the world muslims are involved in about 80- 90. see pakistan (land of pure islam). it is the prime example of real character of muslims. we hindus have no problem with few muslims who can be used as cheap labor but a united india with muslims everywhere, would have been a hell for peaceful people like hindus.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 16:03h, 11 April

      All this geography and history you are citing is new to me but let others comment on its veracity.

    • A hindu
      Posted at 04:42h, 15 April

      south asian, u have asked a question that should india be partitioned further. i answered it.
      keep in mind that these are complicated issues so answers can not be politically correct ones.
      now in place of debating u just ducked these. possibly because answering these will show ur ideological side, which i guess somewhat but will comment later.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 08:06h, 16 April

      A Hindu: We are too far apart in our understanding of the situation to have a useful discussion. However, this is an open forum and I am hoping someone else would step into the debate.

    • Anil Kala
      Posted at 12:06h, 16 April

      A hindu: I am not saying you are right or wrong but your arguments don’t make sense.

      Present day Pakistan is the cradle of Vedic civilization. No mention of Ganga in Rig Veda, it either did not exist or was inconsequential, the most important river was Saraswati ( now disappeared) followed by Indus so you are wrong that the land occupied by Pakistan was not stronghold of ancient Aryan religion. Marathas(Shivaji) did not fight Muslims but supposedly tyrannical ruler why else he had Muslims generals (Ibrahim Khan as Navy chief and Siddi Ibrahim as artillery chief? Later Marathas were fighting each other and and everyone for purely political gains.

      Question is were Hindus at peace prior to arrival of Muslims or swelling of Muslim numbers?

      You say that these are complicated issues so do complicated issues must have politically incorrect answer? Why would disagreeing with you would be due to ideological reasons alone?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 12:22h, 23 April

      Anil: Yes, that part of the old India is indeed the cradle of the Vedic civilization, central to Buddhism, and contains within its boundaries the Mecca and Medina of Sikhism.

      You will find the following about the Sri Maata Hinglaj mandir of interest:

      “To still the divine dance, Tandava, of Lord Shiva following the death of Dakshayani, Lord Vishnu scattered the remains of her embodiment over various places of the Indian subcontinent. It is said that the head fell at Hingula or Hinglaj and is thus considered the most important of the 51 Shakti Peeths. At each of the Peeths, Bhairava (a manifestation of Shiva) accompanies the relics. The Bhairava at Hinglaj is called Bhimalochana, located in Koteshwar, Kutch. The Sanskrit texts mention the part as ‘Brahmadreya’ or vital essence.”



      And read this to see what connects these geographies:


    • Ahsan Ahmed Pitafi
      Posted at 13:48h, 31 December

      sorry to say that but I want to tell you that as i am living in Pakistan there are women’s in each type of works.They are in forces ,in politics,and in each department of government or private sectors and they are not forced to wear burqa and the area in which I am living there are 30% hindus who are totally free to do whatever they want .

  • rediff
    Posted at 21:28h, 05 April Reply

    I think at the end of the day, the order in which people in general see their identity is different from a Hindu and a Muslim. I might see myself first as a human, then as an Indian by culture/geography/civilization/etc, then as a Bengali by sub-culture/geography/language, and finally as a Hindu by religion. On the other hand, my Muslim neighbor sees himself as a human first, an Indian second, a Muslim third and fourth as a Bengali. In fact, for him #3 might also supersede #2. While I am an Indian Bengali Hindu in that order, he is a Muslim who happens to be Indian by geography and Bengali-speaking. This ultimately depends on his level of immersion into Islam as a religion. In the modern globalizing world, there is a trend that globalization is creating a stronger pan-universal Islamic identity, while for Hindus we don’t know ABC of Vedas or anything (not speaking for all Hindus, but talking of urban educated middle class in general). The strength of a Muslim in faith is very universal, this is not a bad thing by the way. They have their Ummah, Buddhists had their Sangha, Vaishnavs also have a very similar outlook out of the Hindus. In a united India, the Muslim 35% voting block would have remained intact. The non-Muslims would be hapless politically. South Asian Muslims are sorting out their ethno-linguistic identity issues after they have secured themselves homogeneous religion-based states. Hindus see caste and language as superseding the religious identity. During the Nellie massacre in Assam, the RSS lamented that the Assamese were not distinguishing between Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims. RSS is a lame attempt from the Hindu side to inculcate the type of organic unity that Muslims have by faith.
    So overall, Hindus have been saved by Partition and will be better off with even less Muslim percentage within India. See the political power that Muslims have in India by being only 15%. They can indulge in tactical voting to ensure Modi wins least possible seats. This unity would have persisted even if Muslims were 35%.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 06:10h, 06 April

      Rediff: These generalizations are much too broad. There are all sorts of people in all religions – they see the various dimensions of their identity in different orders and even these orders change over time. One glance at history will show show the orders of the Indian identity changed from 1857 and 1914 (the birth of the Ghadar movement) to 1937. A timeless and frozen representation is worse than useless.

      When I read your comment: “In a united India, the Muslim 35% voting block would have remained intact. The non-Muslims would be hapless politically,” I can just wonder how many subscribe to this sentiment and who they think they are insulting by expressing it.

      And, in conclusion, I just have to repeat the question I have asked in response to an earlier comment: “If Hindus have been saved by Partition and will be better off with even less Muslim percentage within India” then why hang on to areas with a large percentage of Muslims? Whey not reduce the percentage of Muslims in India even further?

    • man0jm
      Posted at 12:06h, 14 January

      SouthAsian: Not sure what you really mean by these comments. The facts are that minorities (Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadiya, now Shias) have shrunk in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and grown or stayed stable in India.

      Dont think it is debatable who chose the right way from a human perspective.

      Does that mean muslims are evil? To me, it doesnt – it just means radicals among them overpower the rest, and their religious-social systems do not safeguard conscientious objectors within. This is not a happy state of affairs either for Muslims, or the country.

      To suggest more partitions will solve this problem is luducrious, as if the 2 partitions of 1947 worked out so well. All that the partition achieved was isolating the larger peaceful communities from interacting with others at huge costs, and growing power to radical elements within.

  • A hindu
    Posted at 05:13h, 17 April Reply

    Anil kala
    just for your information Rig Veda 6.45.31 mentions ganga also in the nadistuti (Rig Veda 10.75). i will answer rest in detail.

    • Anil Kala
      Posted at 06:30h, 19 April

      Yes you are right about ‘nadistuti’ mentioning both Ganga and Yamuna but still it is dominated by rivers flowing in to present day Pakistan.

  • Makarand
    Posted at 19:36h, 07 May Reply

    What are all you guys? expert historians? I am truely impressed by every contributer on this blog… btw I only read the first few responses from 2009… All of you sounded very knowledgeable and very respectful of each other even while disagreeing with each others views… also got a lot of insight into the partition era through this reading…. thank you all for a nice blog.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 09:30h, 08 May

      Makarand: Thanks. This is the kindest comment I have seen in six years. No one here is an expert on history. We are all ordinary folks – tinkerers, tailors, soldiers, and (the occasional) spies – trying to learn from each other while respecting each other’s often quite different opinions. Some of the people who have been around since the beginning feel they know each other well enough to be quite open in what they say. We try and simulate a coffee house conversation – start with something quite off-the-wall and see if we can make sense of it through discussion. The secret of this blog is that most of the time the commentary is much more useful than the post that was the trigger.

  • Amit
    Posted at 15:22h, 16 May Reply

    If India were not partitioned “Osama Bin Laden” would have been caught in india , not Pakistan ,
    sooner or later Islam will show its colour , the less of it , better ,

    Instead I will say there is no way India could have remained united till this time , demand of partition came from muslims , and it happened again in Kashmir , a “Freedom Struggle for Islamik nation ” , it happened in Chechenya , it is happening worldwide , in some way or other ,

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 18:00h, 16 May

      Amit: Right now all we can see is saffron – the more of it the better, I suppose.

      There was a freedom struggle in India as well against the British. Where ever there is oppression there will be a freedom struggle. I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

    • Amit
      Posted at 18:55h, 16 May

      if you support so called ” freedom struggle ” based on muslim identity ,that starts with slogans of “Yahan chalega kya ,Nizam A Mustafa ” ( Law of Prophet will rule here ) , and Hindus r asked to leave valley , 3 days continuously Mosque play same tape through there loudspeakers asking pandits to leave Kashmir , 1000s are killed , temples burnt , then
      how you even ask the question “If India were not divided ” ,

      “A freedom struggle against Oppression” that’s very illusive term , problem is Islam can assume oppression when there is none, Islamik religion is so much mixed with politics that failure to establish an Islamik state can be seen as Oppression in Islam , because there is a concept of “Islamik state” , world is divided between Darul Islam and Darul harb ,
      there is no Parallel of this in any other religion ,there will always be candidates willing to finish unfinished business of centuries to convert the whole world to ” Darul Islam ” and so a freedom struggle for Muslim identity is inherently dangerous , will be violent always , because killing kafirs is good , and Islamik state will be hell for Kafir , how much religious freedom minorities get in Islamik state is well known ,

      but that’s not all , where is peace in Islamik world , when there is no Kafir to fight , shea – sunni kill each other .

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 05:44h, 17 May

      Amit: Are you against violence or just against green violence? All violence of the oppressors against the oppressed is to be condemned but there are few places in the world where such violence has not occurred. There is little need to revisit the violence against blacks in America or against Jews in Europe. Dr. Ambedkar’s The Annihilation of Caste has just come out in a new edition. Do read it, you might see closer to home some other forms of violence and parallels with Shia-Sunni killings. If every incident of violence were to lead to a partition we would all be living in kingdoms of one.

      As for religion and politics, there is a long history of Christianity to learn from. And, isn’t that what is idolized by the RSS – just arriving late to the party.

      There are two types of thought processes. In one, you start with a conclusion and look for selective evidence to support it. In the other, you start with all the evidence and reach a conclusion even if it challenges your prior beliefs. Which process is to be preferred is a choice we all have to make for ourselves.

    • Amit
      Posted at 12:42h, 17 May

      Well you have not answered it yet , “oppressed” ? in what sense ? as I have pointed out Muslims don’t need “oppression ” to start Freedom struggle , Its all there in Political Ideology of Islam ,

      There is much difference between “caste Violence ” and ” Shia -Sunni or violence against Kafirs “, Fact is that “caste discrimination ” can be eliminated , its a social phenomenon and its on its way out ,

      while root of “Shia Sunni” differences lies in hardcore Islamik Beliefs , which even permit annihilation of others ,this is not something curable .

      Yes RSS has a political cultural Ideology , but that is not the one of establishing Sharia Courts and giving death punishment to Non believer , something many muslim countries are doing now , in 21st century, the Magnitude of Islamik Fanaticism sets it apart from any kind of fanaticism that exist now .

      But most important question is , struggle against Caste discrimination started from within , it was Hindus like Raja Rammohan ,Jyotiba who started these social reforms ,

      It was Christian nations who opposed Hitler and fought him ,

      where is such reform in Islam ? you people don’t even accept valid criticism , but try to silence the critic , a mob controlled by Maulavi and Mulla’s , it has not changed a bit in 1400 years and this way it will not change in next 1000 years .

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 14:49h, 17 May

      Amit: Instances of oppression are not difficult to figure out. I gave two historical examples – blacks in the US and Jews in Europe. Palestinians ‘(Sunni, Shia or Christian) are oppressed in Israel; presently, all minorities are oppressed in Pakistan.

      I have an objective question for all readers:

      Shias and Sunnis have been in India for a thousand years. Over these thousand years how many killings can be attributed to Shia-Sunni violence and how many to inter-caste violence? Estimate a very rough number per year – suppose it is X for the former and Y for the latter. Then normalize it for the different population bases. Assume that Shias and Sunnis together were a quarter of the population of pre-partition India. Therefore, if the populations had been similar the comparative numbers would have been 4X and Y.

      Now compare 4X and Y. Which do you think, based on hard statistics, would come out greater?

      This should not become a test of loyalty so that ‘you’ identify with ‘your’ people and ‘we’ identify with ‘our’ people. This is not a ‘you’ versus ‘us’ forum.

      What would you conclude from this exercise? A blanket condemnation of ‘some’ people and a weak defense of ‘other’ people or an understanding of the roots of violence? If violence were so clearly associated with religion would one see the very similar violence against women in both groups?

      For the people at the wrong end of violence it is little comfort that the violence is social or is on its way out. Are Jews supposed to feel good that it was Christian nations who fought against Hitler?

      Whether things change or not I don’t know. In the midst of sectarian killings in Christianity, it would have seemed to observers that it would never end but it did. Even caste discrimination that has existed for thousand of years and is a part of hardcore beliefs is finally fading away. Things change.

  • Amit
    Posted at 20:36h, 17 May Reply

    Hindu dalit caste were treated very badly , that’s for sure , but it has not been a tradition of violence and killing against any caste , some incidents might have happened ,
    but that’s nothing comparable to the Violence that has happened in the name of Islam , against the Infidel and among muslims,
    and what is happening in Nizeria right now , whats happening in Kenya , in Pakistan , Iraq , Iran,
    killing are carried out daily and “civilized world ” does not even takes time to react , “oh Allaho Akbar bombing is a daily act of muslims” people think across world , no need to react ,
    this needs a deep Introspection ,within Islamik world .

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 05:48h, 18 May

      Amit: Some incidents might have happened, no need to react. This needs a deep introspection within (and without) the ‘Islamik’ world.

    • Amit
      Posted at 08:41h, 18 May

      visit http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ the number of “some incidents ” is “75 ” for last week only , although this is anti islamik propaganda site , but all credit for these high numbers goes to ” believers ” .

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 11:32h, 18 May

      Amit: I am afraid you missed the irony re “some incidents.” We are still looking for that comparison of 4X and Y in India. If violence were related to religion, the objective numbers would tell the story and speculative discussion would become unnecessary. There is not much to be gained by referring to propaganda sites. Here is a link to Human Rights Watch which is a lot more credible: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a83f0.html

      “Between 1994 and 1996, a total of 98,349 cases were registered with the police nationwide as crimes and atrocities against scheduled castes. Of these, 38,483 were registered under the Atrocities Act for the sorts of offenses enumerated above. A further 1,660 were for murder, 2,814 for rape, and 13,671 for hurt.”

      Looking for a simple theory attributing violence to religion cannot explain long periods of very different levels of violence over time or great variations across space. For example, Shias are being oppressed in Pakistan but not in India. Should one attribute the problem to Pakistan or to Islam? And why so much more in Pakistan now than 50 years ago? Those are the really interesting questions.

    • Amit
      Posted at 12:24h, 18 May

      Propaganda does not means that they lie , instead they give source of all info and that info is available from elsewhere too like cnn or telegraph.co.uk ,
      in india or elsewhere murder is done for personal rivalry , land , wealth etc , rape because of lust , these r not done because somebody is dalit , you will find such cases against people of all caste , including Dalit ,they too do such crimes 4 times more Rape happens in USA which has 4 times less population than india (effectively 16 times) , but no body says that they are doing this because they r dalit or Thakur or Brahmin or christian ,but when it is categorized like Dalit or Brahmin it can be given any hue , but same logic does not apply to Islamik Violence

      Islamists r doing it on name of religion , you can hear it from there own mouth ok ,

      I am astonished at this denial of Islam being source of Violence , when Terrorist themselves accept it what more proof is needed ,
      its simple why Shia Sunni Don’t fight in india , Hindus constitute more than 82% of country and muslims r simply not allowed ( or free ) to go on Rampage whenever they like , also muslims r living in a Kafir majority nation so obviously they will like to unite among themselves , yet Shia Sunni riot do happen in india ,http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/the-lucknow-connection/

      One should attribute the Shia Persecution to Sunni Islam , because it has been allowed to flourish in Pakistan not in india for reason I stated above , so the problem is Islam .

    • Amit
      Posted at 12:51h, 18 May

      Secondly in India a SC/ST atrocity case can be registered for using “foul language” , calling “Caste related words” etc etc , and many times a large number of such cases r false,

      there is no point in comparing crimes of general nature with Violence that is does in name of Islam or other Religion ,
      I am sure murder and Rape happen in Pak and Bangladesh too and if they r categorized they can be presented as “against shia ” “against sunni” etc , and they can be added to my list of Islamik violence , I am not talking about that , but of those violence when the terrorist themselves r accepting it that they r doing it for Glory of Islam , or for establishing an Islamik Sharia nation ,

  • Vikram
    Posted at 20:53h, 18 May Reply

    Amit, per my knowledge, every religion that has come into being leaves room for some kind of violence. There was a time when Shaivite kings would fight Buddhist and Jains in India. And even Jains have some legends of violence against Buddhists ! See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madurai_massacre

    Regarding violence in the Muslim world and India today, the major difference is that at a key moment India had an enlightened that enacted many laws (often contrary to orthodox Hindu doctrine) to check Hindu on Hindu violence (be it caste or gender or linguistic group related). Also, political institutions were created so that all different groups of Hindus have a voice in the government. Therefore, the markedly less Hindu on Hindu violence in India.

    If there is more violence in the Muslim world, it is due to political circumstances and not some inherent feature of Islam. Note that there are Muslim majority countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey that have far lower levels of violence than India does.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 04:21h, 20 May

      Vikram: Thanks for the input. We have been stressing on this blog the perspective that there is an intimate relationship between politics and religion.

      The simple point to be considered is the following:

      If one locates the roots of violence in religion, it is impossible to explains very significant variations in violence across time and space (as you have also noted).
      If one locates the roots of violence in politics, it becomes much more possible to explain the variations. Religion then emerges as one of the instruments of politically motivated violence.

      It is quite true that there is a huge upsurge of violence in a large swath of the contemporary Muslim world. The interesting question is why now? That takes us to rewarding explorations of contemporary politics and its historical antecedents.

      If one were to take a recent case in India, I would consider Muzaffarnagar. Did some dormant religious passions come alive all of a sudden or was there electoral politics underlying the incident? What is the objective verdict?

      It is also true that religious passions once inflamed tend to get out of control and take on an autonomous life of their own. People actually do start believing in divine responsibility to purify the world even if that involves killing others. It happened in the Crusades and it is happening in parts of the Islamic world today.

  • Waleed Noor
    Posted at 00:34h, 28 June Reply

    The issue of land reforms, or lack thereof in Pakistan as opposed to India, gets very little attention in Pakistani debates. Was the preservation of feudal structures not the single most potent reason for Muslim League (ML) to push for partition? After all ML was essentially a party of feudal lords. This raises some questions:

    Did Jinnah believe that a ruling class of feudal lords would bring about modern social capitalist development in Pakistan? Did he not clearly see the “class” interests involved behind the “Two-Nation” façade? Or did he just hope that the feudal lords could be subordinated as was done by the British?

    • Vikram
      Posted at 19:28h, 28 June

      I believe that up until the 1946 Punjab election, the ML was mostly a party of urbanites and bourgeois from the Muslim minority regions of India, especially Delhi and UP. The nature of the party changed dramatically after the 46 elections, with the influx of Punjabi zamindars. This was driven by the exigency of winning the elections, and post election calculations.

      I believe the note by Prof. Ralph Russell elsewhere on this blog also hints that the League did not have much of a base amongst the lower class Muslim population, and had to resort to heightened religious rhetoric to bring them on board.

      Therefore, I would say that it is unlikely that Jinnah thought in the way you are suggesting. He was tangled up in a web of his own (and Congress’s) making by then.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 06:08h, 29 June

      Waleed Noor: In my opinion, Vikram is correct in his observation. The ideas that became Pakistan originated with Muslim elites in areas where they were in a minority, primarily UP and Bengal. The fear was that they would lose in relative terms if and when power was allocated on the basis of votes. Jinnah was a lawyer – his primary interest was to preserve as much representation in power for the Muslim elites as he could once the British left. He tried first as a member of Congress and failed; he then switched to become an advocate for an exclusively Muslim party. Jinnah was not an economist. There is no evidence that he ever thought about economic development or its nature or who would lead it. Part of it may have been because, frankly, it doesn’t seem Jinnah ever felt Pakistan would really come into being. In that sense, Pakistan was the failure of Jinnah’s gamble.

  • Veronica
    Posted at 00:26h, 12 November Reply

    What happened after the partition? Was there violence of peace?

    • Vikram
      Posted at 18:42h, 12 November

      Veronica, partition failed to resolve the political conflicts in the erstwhile British India to the satisfaction of all parties. That this was the case in the newly formed state of Pakistan is clear by looking at the events of the Bangladesh Liberation struggle and the eventual secession of Bengali speaking areas.

      In India, partition only served to marginalize the Muslim populations further, and left a lasting legacy of doubt and hostility between Hindus and Muslims.

      There is certainly no peace to be found in South Asia after partition.

    • Kabir Mohan Altaf
      Posted at 09:20h, 14 November


      Vikram’s answer is basically acceptable. However, from the Pakistani point of view there are a few issues:

      1) “the newly formed state of Pakistan”: Pakistan and India were formed at the exact same time out of British India. “India” and “Pakistan” are exactly the same age.

      2) In Pakistan, we do not use the phrase “Bangladesh Liberation Struggle”. This phrase is too closely aligned with the Indian and Bangladeshi POV. In Pakistan, we refer to 1971 as the “Fall of Dhaka”. There was a civil war between West Pakistan and East Pakistan, which resulted in the secession of the Eastern Wing.

      3) Vikram neglected to mention that Kashmir is the unfinished business of Partition. As a Muslim-majority state, it should logically have gone with Pakistan. However, since it was not part of British India and the ruler was a Hindu, he chose to accede to India. India and Pakistan have fought 4 wars over Kashmir, territory that both of them control in part but claim in full.

      I fully endorse Vikram’s conclusion, but I wanted to put across the Pakistani point of view as well.

    • man0jm
      Posted at 15:08h, 31 December

      Your comment on No 3 is exactly the expansionism that Muslims believe in that creates disharmony. You do know that India had and has a far bigger muslim population than Pak. So by your logic, all of India should belong to Pakistan? Please learn to accept that India & Pak do NOT represent Hindu & Muslim religions but political entities, like all nation states are.

      Had Jinnah & Nehru not fallen into the divisive and bloody trap set by Brits at the time of leaving, there would not have been the horrendous loss of lives started with Moplahs, led to partition and still continued in Kashmir, now in Assam, and that has taken untold lives of people in Pak.

    • Kabir Mohan Altaf
      Posted at 19:00h, 31 December

      No, my point # 3 is not “expansionism”. It is simply an acknowledgement of the reality that there is a dispute regarding Kashmir. Kashmir is Muslim-majority and as such logically should have been Pakistan. The Partition of British India (NOT “India”) was carried out on the basis of the Two Nation Theory with Muslim-majority districts going to Pakistan. The complicating factor was that Kashmir was a princely state ruled by a Hindu Dogra king.

      And of course “all of India” should not belong to Pakistan. The Muslim-majority areas in the Northwest and the Northeast went to Pakistan. Nowhere else in British India was there such a concentration of Muslim-majority areas.

      Your conclusion that modern “India” and “Pakistan” are political entities is true. On that, we agree.

  • Ahsan Ahmed Pitafi
    Posted at 13:18h, 31 December Reply

    it was not necessary to partition India because Hindu and Muslims were living with each other from centuries..
    As United India we might become super power country..
    As United India we may be most prosperous area of earth..the problem was with our leaders who have took a very difficult way which is still creating big problems..
    As United India we can save several lives who are dying on borders to defence their nation..

    • man0jm
      Posted at 15:00h, 31 December

      I like the way you think. Rather than remain stuck in what might have happened in the past, you are concerned about lives of people here and now. Kudos. I agree with your observations, and it is only through constructive dialogue that we can disengage from the destructive cycle set in motion 75 years ago by a withdrawing colonial power, and hope to create a brighter future for our children.

  • Vikram
    Posted at 19:00h, 01 January Reply

    I find the use of the term ‘logical’ in the context of ethnic/territorial disputes unsatisfactory. In such disputes, what can seem eminently logical to one person might seem completely illogical to another.

    In the specific matter of partition and Kashmir, I would like to remind you that the partition agreement did not agree to any general ‘logic’. It merely established three principles:

    1) There would be independent states of India and Pakistan created out of British India.
    2) Princely states had the option of joining either of them, or remaining independent.
    3) Provincial assemblies (with the exception of Punjab and Bengal) would vote to either join India or Pakistan. The Punjab and Bengal would vote on a plan of partitioning along religious lines or joining India or Pakistan in their entirety.

    As Jammu and Kashmir was a princely state, it was well within its rights (as per the partition agreement) to stay independent. There is no provision for any reorganization of a princely state along religious lines.

    The question then was what the general population of the state desired, and the reality is that we simply dont know. The political organization that could claim to be the most representative of Jammu and Kashmir was the National Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah. And there is certainly no indication that the NC and Abdullah were interested in a merger with Pakistan. Indeed, the Pakistani government at the time denounced him and did not recognize him in any way. On the contrary, NC workers assisted the Indian army during the 1947-48 war.

    So the question of Kashmiri accession to Pakistan simply doesnt arise, much less being ‘logical’ as you are asserting.

    • Kabir Mohan Altaf
      Posted at 00:02h, 02 January


      Princely states may theoretically have had the option of remaining independent. In reality, they were forced to join either Pakistan or India. The Nawab of Hyderabad did not want to join India. The Indian government forcefully conquered that state. The Nawab of Junagadh acceded to Pakistan. But because the state was Hindu-majority, India insisted on a plebiscite. It is quite curious that in the case of the only Muslim-majority state that is in India, the Hindu Dogra king was allowed to choose for the Kashmiri Muslim people.

      Partition was done on the basis of Muslim areas going to Pakistan. Kashmir bordered both new domains and could have gone either way. But as a Muslim-majority region it would have made sense for it to become Pakistan.

      I suppose we will just have to agree to disagree.

    • man0jm
      Posted at 14:10h, 04 January

      Kabir, what is being argued is the antithesis of any multi-cultural democratic people. Specifically, please re-consider why you assume that Muslim-majority states should have gone to Pakistan and that would have made the Partition the best thing that could happen? Extending your ‘logic’, India should have become a Hindu country post-partition with Muslims left behind as second class, not responsible citizens. It didnt and thank god it didnt go that route.

      I believe everyone agreed (at least some time) that it was a power struggle among leaders to fill the shoes of retreating colonial power, not theological – the ambition of a few well-off muslims to preserve their fiefdom even if it costed lives of a million Muslims and non-believers. It’s so sad to see educated people failing to see such a colossal human tragedy we should have resolved never again have to, but are suggesting how it should have been more ‘fair’ to their side??

      Please, this is not a personal attack but a challenge to remove cognitive biases many of us seem to suffer from, when we should have learnt better, and become better people. Sadly we have not, and seem destined to repeat our history.

    • Kabir Altaf
      Posted at 20:12h, 04 January

      We will have to agree to disagree. You think you are right. I believe that a Muslim-majority state was necessary if British India’s Muslims were to be free of Hindu domination. Given that the logic of Partition was the Two-Nation Theory, Kashmir as a Muslim-majority state should have been part of Pakistan. For various reasons that did not happen and many Kashmiris feel that they are still Occupied by India.

      This view may not be palatable to you, but it is the Pakistani nationalist viewpoint.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 18:42h, 05 January

      “Partition was done on the basis of Muslim areas going to Pakistan.”

      No such condition was agreed to by the Congress and Indian nationalists. One could argue that partition was agreed to as a settlement to create a Muslim majority nation state in the subcontinent. Then it was up to the various political entities in the British Indian empire to join this nation state, join India or stay independent.

      Let us not forget that the vast majority of princely states did join India or Pakistan without overwhelming pressure. Many did not, and these have to looked at on a case by case basis. States like Kalat and Manipur were forced into joining the new South Asian republics, and these disagreements form the basis of the long running insurgencies there.

      In Hyderabad, the ruler unleashed a private militia on the people of Telangana, with some parallel to the Bangladesh genocide. Indian intervention was absolutely essential, and once Telangana was secured, the vast majority desired to be part of India.

      In Junagadh, 99% of the population voted to join India.

      In Kashmir, the situation was totally different. First of all, demographically the state was not a simple ‘Muslim majority’. It had various regions with differing ethnic makeups. The valley was overwhelmingly Muslim majority. The Chenab valley in between Kashmir and Jammu was 60-40 Muslim- Hindu. And then Jammu was overwhelmingly Hindu majority. Ladakh was Buddhist majority. Pakistan forcibly tried to take over the state (a policy it has continued to this day) and failed.

      Again, I dont really see what the Pakistani argument regarding Kashmir is, especially given that Pakistan is now not the only Muslim majority state in South Asia.

    • Kabir Altaf
      Posted at 08:57h, 06 January

      Once again we have to agree to disagree. You clearly have an Indian nationalist perspective, which for obvious reasons, I cannot agree with. Why is it that Hyderabad Deccan was an “insurgency” and in Junagadh the choice of the Muslim Nawab can be ignored, but in Kashmir, the decision of the Hindu Dogra king is sacred? This smacks of double standards. Either the ruler decided in all cases, in which case Kashmir “acceded” to India and Pakistan should stop complaining. Or the people decided in all cases, in which case Kashmiri Muslims have still not been able to exercise their right to self-determination.

      And Partition was done on the basis of the Two Nation Theory (You may not like it, but this was the case). The idea was that Muslim-majority areas would go to Pakistan NOT remain in the Hindu-majority Republic of India. This is why Punjab and Bengal were split. Kashmir is (and was) solidly Muslim-majority. As such it should have been part of the Islamic Republic. Kashmir remains the unfinished business of Partition.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 17:53h, 06 January

      What point does ‘agreeing to disagree’ when one side is continuously sending terrorists and murderers to the other side, firing on villages on the other side ?

      This is either naivety, or a tacit approval of the Pakistani army’s policies.

    • man0jm
      Posted at 19:01h, 06 January

      Kabir, you may not agree with an indian nationalist ‘perspective’ but what exactly is your perspective? To me it seems filled with dichotomy.

      If you claim the idea was a homeland for Muslims, then you are being most unfair to Muslims, Christians etc who stayed in divided India, because you accept they are not citizens but aliens living in india at the pleasure of Hindus.

      Make up your mind please.

    • Anil Kalai
      Posted at 08:54h, 02 January

      I am curious that Nehru was alive till 1964, why didn’t Pakistan insisted on Plebiscite when he was alive? After all he was the one who agreed for plebiscite.

  • Kabir Altaf
    Posted at 12:54h, 07 January Reply


    Of course those Muslims who chose to stay behind in India are Indian citizens. India claims to a secular state, so they are not living there at the “pleasure of Hindus”. That does not change the fact that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was formed as a homeland for all British India’s Muslims, according to the Two-Nation Theory.

    Vikram: Please let’s not get into whose “side” is doing what. If you read well-reputed Pakistani newspapers such as DAWN, you find that Indian troops have killed four civilians so far in the Sialkot sector. The story as reported in India is something else. Obviously, as a Pakistani I will trust my own news sources more than anything coming out of the rival country.
    My contention is that all of this is cross-border hostility is a symptom of the underlying Kashmir dispute, which must be solved through diplomacy and by taking the Kashmiri people (from both sides of the LOC) on board. That’s all I’m going to say, lest you accuse me again of “siding with the Pakistani Army”.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 16:32h, 07 January

      Kabir, what does firing in Jammu, in the Samba sector have anything to do with Kashmiri Muslims ? And I ask you again, on what basis is Pakistan a party to the Kashmir dispute ?

      Since you have talked a lot about ‘logic’, please use some yourself. Does it make sense for the Indian army to start firing across the LOC ?

      Regarding your claims about Pakistan being a homeland for all of British India’s Muslims, please refer to Vazira Zamindar’s work on how quickly the new Pakistani state moved to stop Muslims moving from India to Pakistan. And neither Pakistan, nor Bangladesh (both states for Muslims) are ready to accept the stranded Urdu speakers in Bangladesh. What are the conditions of Indian migrants in Karachi ? They are still officially called Muhajirs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qasba_Aligarh_Massacre

    • Kabir Altaf
      Posted at 16:56h, 07 January


      Pakistan is a party to the Kashmir dispute because it controls 1/3 of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Any map published outside of India shows the LOC as distinct from a permanent border.

      Indian troops are killing Pakistani civilians in Sialkot. I’m sure Indian media accuses Pakistan of starting the firing. Our media says the exact opposite. You are free to believe the version that suits you.

      At a time when Pakistan is fighting domestic terror and is busy at the Afghan border, India may have decided that it will take advantage of Pakistan’s “weakness” by heightening tension on the astern border.

      I see no point in further engaging with you. You are an Indian nationalist and I am a Pakistani nationalist. Our worldviews on this issue will never converge.

    • man0jm
      Posted at 08:44h, 10 January

      I’m sorry but this is not a response based on fact or analysis discussions. From all the comments one can see Muslims speak about partition with pride and a deep hurt at not being able to gain a bigger land area, (which is why I called it expansionism earlier) and others speak of it as a tragedy that hurt unity, and convenient references are sought to justify their stances

      There can be no settlement if the 2 parties cannot listen to each other, re-examine their positions, and explore a middle ground to align with present realities.

      With the tinker, tailors, soldiers (& spies) thinking this way, I now understand better why there was a partition, since these exact same positions were exploited by the powerful for themselves, while people lost everything they had & were killed horrendously.

      I also believe that neither Pakistanis nor Indians have learnt any lessons from this massive human tragedy (much bigger than the holocaust) and the history will continue to repeat itself.

      Subscribing to this blog has been a real eye-opener to bigotry, and I thank the authors and the commentators for helping me see that everyone DOES NOT want peace or prosperity. But there’s very little to be gained by continuing, hence I wish you all a good year ahead, and unsusbscribe from this blog.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 12:29h, 10 January

      man0jm: That is a cruel beginning to 2015. It is devastating to be labeled a bigoted blog after eight years of trying to provide a space for reasoned discussion.

      We do not choose our world – there are people with differing views out there which makes our life difficult. We can choose to ignore them at the cost of existing in a cocoon of like-minded persons or we can engage them in the hope of contributing to change. It is a frustrating process especially when people do not wish to engage in debate and sometimes we also feel like giving up.

      We cannot grudge you your choice except to say that you would be sorely missed. We need participants like you in the difficult task on which we have embarked.

    • man0jm
      Posted at 14:06h, 10 January

      I apologize for not being clear. My use of “bigotry” does apply, but not intended for the creators of this blog. It was to describe the level to which discussions, if they can be called that, have sunk to. If I hurt your feelings by making a blanket statement, I am truly sorry.

      My view is, while we cannot and should not ignore the tragic past, let us draw lessons which help us move beyond the conflicts to secure a better life for people in India and Pakistan – an objective I believe you shared in one of your comments. I have been following this blog for a year plus, but the acrimony & tendency to “dig into” stereotypical positions is really sad.

      And thank you for the gracious message to stay. I will and try to contribute to the blog in whatever small way I can.

  • Anil Kala
    Posted at 15:45h, 08 January Reply

    This discussion is sliding into emotional ground. I personally think J & K should have gone to Pakistan due to large Muslim majority. If a new state was carved out of India, rightly or wrongly, on the basis of Muslim self rule then J & K logically goes to them. The question however is would that have made the two neighbors less hostile to each other?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 12:54h, 09 January

      Anil: This is a regional forum not beholden to nation-states or political parties. It also aspires to cater to a learning community. Therefore, our primary focus is on facts that are documented. I am extracting a long passage from a book which I feel states the facts quite accurately and objectively. They can form the basis for a useful discussion if we wish to carry it forward.

      The book is The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia (Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia, London/New York, 2000) by Tai Yong Tan and Gyanesh Kudaisya. There is no evident reason to accuse the authors of any particular bias. The extracted text is from pp. 218 to 220 in this version of the book on the Internet:

      “On 15 August 1947, the princely states were advised by Mountbatten to choose between India and Pakistan. By July 1947, a newly established Department of States set out the procedures for transfer of power to take effect for the princely states. As an interim measure, these states were to initially sign a ‘stand still agreement’ with the Dominions of India and Pakistan. This was to enable the princely states to continue ‘business as usual’ in areas such as transport and trade and communications until each individual princely state signed a permanent ‘Instrument of Accession’ with either India or Pakistan.

      In deciding whether to accede to Pakistan or India, the princely states were advised by the British to proceed on the basis of geographical contiguity. As they were excluded from the 3 June Plan (which had required the Muslim majority provinces to decide whether to join Pakistan as a whole or be partitioned) the choice of whether to accede to India or Pakistan could not be determined on the basis of the religious composition of the minority population in the princely state. The option of a boundary demarcation, as the Radcliffe Commission was implementing for the international boundary between India and Pakistan, was therefore not applicable for the princely states. In any case, to impose boundaries on the princely states was simply impossible, given their haphazard geographical spread across the subcontinent. Furthermore, the situation in many princely states was compounded by the fact that Hindu rulers often presided over Muslim populations and vice versa.

      Although the British had advised the rulers to consult their populations before signing the ‘Instrument of Accession’, they were none the less concerned that the decisions of some princely states might jeopardize the territorial integrity of India and Pakistan. The neatest solution, according to the British, was for the princely states to join the Dominion with which their territories were contiguous. Such a prospect created a conundrum for Kashmir, which had the singular advantage of being geographically contiguous with both India and Pakistan and, on that basis, could accede to either.

      By 15 August 1947, most princely states, except Hyderabad, Junagadh and Kashmir, had acceded to India. Hyderabad and Junagadh, both with Muslim rulers and Hindu majority populations, did not hold out for long and were forcibly ‘integrated’ within months of independence as a result of police action started by the Congress-led Indian government. In the case of Kashmir, its Hindu ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, showed open reluctance to accede to either of the two new dominions. Although he was caught in the unenviable situation of being the Hindu ruler of a Muslim majority state, he still entertained thoughts of making his kingdom an independent country in its own right. Following the ‘logic’ of partition, Kashmir, with a Muslim population outnumbering the Hindus three to one, should have gone of Pakistan. Yet, Hari Singh as a Hindu ruler naturally felt a greater sense of affinity with India. Therefore in 1947 he found himself in a difficult position, having to decide upon the future of his state by joining either India or Pakistan. Prem Shankar Jha, a political analyst, offers the following explanation for the difficulty of the Maharaja’s position:

      Prior to July-August 1947, Hari Singh was unable to make up his mind not so much because he was indolent or weak, but because he was being pushed powerfully in two opposite directions. He was drawn to India by his own religion and antecedents, but was being impelled towards Pakistan not only by preponderance of Muslims in the state, and its close geographical and economic links with that dominion, but by everything that was important to him personally – power, status, and prestige.

      In the prevailing circumstances the Maharaja held out. As he weighed his options, Hari Singh worked out a ‘stand still’ agreement with Pakistan, but delayed signing the ‘Instrument of Accession’. For its part, India decided against entering into any agreement with Kashmir, perhaps not wishing to have its hands tied by a ‘stand still’ agreement. However, the situation changed dramatically in October 1947 as trouble broke out in the district of Poonch close to the Pakistani border when Pathan tribesmen invaded Kashmir. Thinking that this was a Pakistani plot to start a rebellion in his state to overthrow him, the Maharaja panicked and turned to India for help. On 26 October 1947, in return for India’s assurance for military aid to help stem the tribal attack, the Maharaja signed the ‘Instrument of Accession’ and, as a result, Kashmir joined the Indian Union. Pakistan protested by sending its troops which challenged the Indian army on Kashmiri soil, therefore starting the first armed conflict between the two countries.

      This sequence of events (which led to Kashmir’s merger with India) has been challenged endlessly by Pakistani interpretations which argue that the so-called tribal invasion was actually an internal popular revolt against the Maharaja, evidently in protest against the actions of his troops involved in ‘ethnic cleansing’ against the Muslims. Some other non-Pakistani scholars have also lent support to this interpretation. For instance, Alastair Lamb has argued that Kashmir’s accession was the result of connivance between Mountbatten and Nehru. Lamb has asserted that the British were keen to keep Kashmir within India for geo-strategic reasons. He has cited the Radcliffe Commission’s award of three Muslim majority tehsils of Gurdaspur district to India as proof of British complicity in preventing Kashmir from acceding to Pakistan. The Gurdaspur award gave a land link to Kashmir, making its accession to India possible. The validity of the ‘Instrument of Accession’ signed between India and Kashmir has also been questioned. It has been alleged that the document was fraudulent, as the Maharaja had been forced to sign it under duress.

      There remains no doubt that political leaders in both India and Pakistan regarded Kashmir as a territorial prize too important to be lost to the other side. To both the countries the option of an independent Kashmir was simply unacceptable. The Maharaja’s right to independently decide the future of his state was given little heed, as both countries harboured their own territorial ambitions for Kashmir. As Robert Wirsing explains:

      It is clear…that the contention that India’s intervention in Kashmir at the end of October was entirely reactive, unpremeditated and entailed no territorial ambitions whatsoever – and that it was implied in the White Paper (which India published on Jammu and Kashmir soon after her intervention in the state) essentially an afterthought – is not worth a moment’s consideration. Neither, however, is the contention that Pakistan was an innocent bystander, the unfortunate victim of an Indian plot.

      Eventually, Indian troops were flown into Kashmir after signing of the ‘Instrument of Accession’. They were able to quell the rebellion and push the armed tribesmen out of Srinagar, the capital. The Pakistani troops, however, retained control over a thin slice of the valley in the west as well as large tracts of mountainous wasteland in the north along the borders of Afghanistan and China. Kashmir was therefore divided along the ‘line of control’ where the troops stood when a ‘cease-fire’ agreement was imposed by the United Nations on 31 December 1948 in response to growing international pressure. At present these ‘lines of control’, instead of formally demarcated and internationally recognized borders, held by Indian, Pakistani and Chinese troops, determine the geography of Kashmir as well as the fragile peace which exists there.

      The stalemate that was created in 1948 has defied a solution over the past fifty years, despite endless rounds of diplomacy, repeated attempts at mediation and constant international pressure. Ideological constraints and domestic politics within India and Pakistan have conspired against a compromise on this issue. While India maintains that the relinquishing of the predominantly Muslim territory would weaken her secular polity, Pakistan fears that giving up its claims over Kashmir would be tantamount to compromising the very ideological basis of Pakistan as the homeland of Muslims in South Asia.

      India has continued to maintain her hold over Kashmir on legal grounds, citing the ‘Instrument of Accession’ signed by the Maharaja in 1947 as an irrevocable and final settlement of the issue. The validity of this claim has, however, been challenged as the ‘Instrument of Accession’ was conditional upon a plebiscite which was promised but never took place. Pakistan thus considers Kashmir as an ‘unfinished business of partition’, arguing that if Hyderabad and Junagadh, both Hindu-majority states with Muslim rulers, had gone to India, it was only logical that Kashmir, a Muslim-majority state with a Hindu ruler, should have come to Pakistan.

      The refusal of the either country to concede has created a virtual deadlock which belies hopes for a peaceful solution at least in the foreseeable future. Kashmir continues to remain a stark and poignant reminder that after half a century the ‘unfinished business of partition’ continues to exact a heavy toll on peace and stability in the region.”

    • Anil Kala
      Posted at 07:16h, 10 January

      SA: It really doesn’t matter now who was right concerning J & K. This article is about speculating, so I was merely thinking if Kashmir had gone to Pakistan without any quarrel then may be the hostility between India and Pakistan would not have been so pronounced. In such an event political trajectory followed by Pakistan hardly gets affected. This would leads to very bleak scenario concerning Bangladesh.The scale of tragedy there would be unimaginable without India’s intervention.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 12:34h, 10 January

      Anil: Thanks for reminding us that the article was intended to open up the space for speculation not for stating hard and fast positions that were non-negotiable.

      I don’t quite follow the point you are making. Clearly, if there had been no dispute over Kashmir, hostilities between India and Pakistan would not have been so pronounced if there had been any at all. But why would that leave the political trajectory followed by Pakistan unaffected? That is not clear to me.

    • Anil Kala
      Posted at 14:58h, 10 January

      SA: I am not very good at History so may be I am wrong. I don’t think coup staged by Ayub Khan had anything to with India or Kashmir so Pakistan would still have martial law, may be no war with India in 1965 but again Kashmir or India did not play any role in West Pakistan’s disdain and neglect for East Pakistan so it is likely that political set up in Pakistan would have been similar to as it really was, that is West part alone would have wielded political power. It appears unlikely that a ,militarily and economically strong West Pakistan would have allowed a Bengali from East Pakistan to become prime minister so events unfolding in East Pakistan would have been exactly the same as it really happened except an indifferent India would have shut door on exodus from East Pakistan and not have meddled with Mukti Bahini. Pakistani army would have easily slaughtered Mukti Bahini therefore the scale of misery there would have been many times more grotesque. Today East Pakistan would still be around but rife with insurgency.

  • Righ Wing
    Posted at 19:42h, 10 January Reply

    Great knowledge of history is shown by all of you. But I prsnly feel that if Kashmir is an integrated part of India, you can see & judge situation of both POK & Indian Kashmir. It is pretty much clear that Indian govt. developed Kashmir a lot while Pakis just spread terror & terror camp.. also in recent elections in J & K, heavy turnout shows people of Kashmir have faith in Indian democracy.

    • Kabir Altaf
      Posted at 20:14h, 10 January

      First of all, please realize that “POK” is an extremely offensive term. What you call “POK” is properly known as Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Second of all, the Pakistani military presence in Azad Kashmir is nothing like the amount of troops in Indian Kashmir. By and large there has been no uprising in Pakistani Kashmir, with people demonstrating their desire to be rid of Pakistan.

      On the issue of the elections in Jammu and Kashmir, one can argue that the reason people in the Valley voted in such huge numbers was to keep the BJP out. Also even the mainstream “pro-India” parties have always said that the elections are for development and not a substitute for a political resolution to the Kashmir problem.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 05:18h, 11 January

      Kabir/Right Wing:

      I am closing this discussion as it is beginning to lose readership for the blog. As Anil reminded us, the original article was intended to speculate on what might have happened if India had not been partitioned. The intention was never to decide the rightness or wrongness of the Kashmir accession. Having stumbled into that we have given enough space but the discussion has not resulted in much light. I hope you will accept this editorial decision in the right spirit.

  • Vikram
    Posted at 21:22h, 10 January Reply

    “Clearly, if there had been no dispute over Kashmir, hostilities between India and Pakistan would not have been so pronounced if there had been any at all.”

    I am surprised with this statement. The roots of extremism, manifesting ‘unofficially’ as terror groups and officially as not allowing trade relations to develop etc lie deep inside the Pakistan movement, with the Hindu vs Muslim reasoning at the core of mass appeal of the Pakistan movement, which has been pointed out many times on this blog.

    Kashmir is merely a site for Pakistan to deploy its extremist machinery. If it wasnt Kashmir it might have been some other region in India, where the bogey of discrimination against Muslims would have been used. Indeed this has already been the case, else why did the Pakistani military orchestrate the Mumbai massacre ?

    Things in Kashmir were undoubtedly magnified by India’s broken promises and political machinations in the valley. Had India not resorted to political repression in the valley, there probably would have been no popularly supported insurgency in Kashmir. But had Pakistan not been inclined to enter into the Kashmir conflict, it is more than likely that the Indian state and Kashmiris would have found a less bloody solution to the conflict, as had happened in Mizoram.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 05:35h, 11 January

      Vikram: Your response seems contradictory to me. In the first part you say that even if there had been no dispute over Kashmir, Pakistan would have found some other excuse for conflict since extremism was built into its character – this is a genetic argument to which there can be no answer. In the concluding part you say that had Pakistan not been inclined to enter into the Kashmir conflict (which would have been the case if there had been no dispute over it), there would have been a more peaceful scenario.

      in my view, your understanding of what led to the Pakistan movement is incomplete. Re-reading the first two chapters of Sunil Khilnani’s The Idea of India should add the necessary nuances.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 09:45h, 11 January

      SA, I can post this comment elsewhere if its not suitable for the discussion but I am really interested in understanding your perspective here.

      My claim was not based so much on the reasons for the Pakistan movement, but more on the mechanics and ground level consequences it had, quoting from the post ‘Governance in Pakistan: A Good Analysis’,
      “It hardly needs to be said that if appeal to sentiments of this kind helped to mobilize the mass support without which Pakistan could not have been won, it also strengthened the religious (or pseudo-religious) fanaticism which Jinnah had opposed.”

      By the late stages of the Pakistan movement Jinnah was already being sidelined by the more extreme sections of the movement, take for example, the blacking out of his August 11 speech. It would also be interesting to see the makeup of the Constituent Assembly he was addressing.

      But it seems obvious to me that a Pakistan in which religious fanaticism had gained the upper hand so quickly would end up in conflict with its largely Hindu neighbor. Pakistan ended up in conflict with its own eastern wing which was accused, among other things of being ‘too Hindu’, and there was certainly no Kashmir conflict there. It helped install and sustain a fundamentalist government in Afghanistan, and that had nothing to do with Kashmir.

      If the Pakistani military’s conflict with India is only about Kashmir, why did the Mumbai massacre happen ? Why the ISI support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which clearly has as its goals to destroy the Indian Republic and annihilate Hinduism and Judaism.

    • man0jm
      Posted at 10:15h, 11 January

      A good idea to stop this bickering over Kashmir. I find it surprising that northern UP, which had the most muslims at the time, but noone ever discusses why they were’nt in a Muslim Homeland. This is how powerful agenda setting works, I guess.

      2. A quick study of the history of Cyprus, South Africa, Malaysia, India, Israel, Persia, Poland, Ireland, Sudan all show that after the colonial rule ended, all went through a partition, which were followed by at least a war and/or a partition, sometimes more. India has been no different. It’s the ideological justifications created for the partition that made it so bloody, and it continues to fester three quarters of a century later.

    • Kabir Altaf
      Posted at 15:18h, 11 January


      I agree with you that the “bickering” over Kashmir is not getting us anywhere. Deeply entrenched nationalist positions will prevent us from looking at the issue with whatever “objectivity” we can find.

      I do have two points about this last comment of yours though:

      1) UP was always a Muslim-minority province. The backbone of the Pakistan movement was there because they were the most concerned about how they would deal with the Hindu majority in an undivided India. The provinces that today make up Pakistan were solidly Muslim-majority and so weren’t too invested in the Pakistan movement until relatively late. Recall that in undivided Punjab, the Unionist Party was mostly in power and they didn’t have any particular “Muslim” agenda. It is one of the ironies of history that those who were most committed to creating a Muslim homeland didn’t realize that they would lose their own actual homeland if their ideological project ever came to fruition. The whole UP scenario has been explored by Qurrutulain Hyder in “Meray Bhi Sanam Khane” and “Aag Ka Dariya”.

      2) Israel/Palestine was perhaps an unfortunate example to add in this list of countries partitioned after decolonization. Unlike British India where the Indian National Congress, The Muslim League and the British agreed that Partition was the best (or the “least-worst” option), the Palestinian Arabs never consented to give 50% of their land to a small Jewish minority. Israel unilaterally declared independence which led to a war. Then again in 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. That land is still today internationally considered Occupied Palestinian Territory. In the India/Pakistan scenario, there is no international consensus that either party is occupying the other’s land (despite what both sides feel). Palestine remains one of the most important unresolved human rights issues of our time.

      Anyway, I absolutely agree with you that we should not forget the millions who lost their lives or were made homeless by Partition. The bloody nature of that Partition as well as the four wars fought between India and Pakistan and the ongoing territorial disputes have created an atmosphere of such distrust that when it comes to the current cross-border firing most Pakistanis are not willing to believe a single thing coming out of Indian newspapers and vice versa. The whole saga of the “Pak Terror Boat” is another example.

      The question is how do we get over that distrust? I believe that on an individual level, Indians and Pakistanis can be friends (as long as we don’t start arguing over contentious issues) but our national governments are really not interested in “Aman” despite whatever lip-service they give to it from time to time. It seems to me that as of now the best option the two countries have is a cold peace such as Israel has with Jordan or Egypt, which is really just the absence of war. Perhaps this is too cynical.

    • man0jm
      Posted at 07:58h, 12 January

      On 1, Nationalism as long as it means pride and working for one’s country, it’s all good. Sadly, both in India & Pak, it appears to have come to mean warring with others !! On the facts, look at an interesting set of maps and draw your own conclusions http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00maplinks/modern/maps1947/maps1947.html. Note the province of Khulna & Murshidabad for example.

      On 2. I agree a cold peace is the start point. The real risk to Pak & india people is the building of military complexes by their governments – Pak has completed this, leading to economic drain, armed violence and military regimes. India seems to be building it. Once these complexes are in place, they must fund war-mongering propaganda, like US – WMD’s, extending democracy etc – everything becomes grist for the mill.

      In my opinion, indians and pakistanis, instead of falling for jingoism like “the unfinished agenda” etc, should push their governments to do more for their citizens, rather than war with others – covertly or overtly. Let it become a healthy competition between the 2 nations, not a destruction theme.

  • Vikram
    Posted at 21:43h, 10 January Reply

    SA, there is a big problem with the narrative you have presented on Kashmir. The Nawab of Junagadh (a state with an overwhelming Hindu majority) was courted by the Pakistani authorities and even acceded to Pakistan on 15 September 1947. How was the acceptance of this accession consistent with the ‘logic’ of the two nation theory that had been frequently been alluded to above ?

    Junagadh was neither contiguous to Pakistan nor a Muslim majority state. So why was this accession accepted ?

    It is quite clear what was going on. Two new states were born, and like any state both tried to gain as much territory for themselves as possible. Pakistan made a move and did not get the outcome it wanted, and has been unable to reconcile with this reality ever since.

    The narrative you have presented also claims that the invasion of the Pathan tribesmen from Pakistan was a ‘spontaneous uprising’, this view has been firmly discredited by military historians like Christine Fair.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 05:25h, 11 January

      Vikram: That was not my narrative in that it was not written by me. The book is part of the Routledge series which has global credibility. As I said, there seems no reason to accuse the authors of any particular bias.

      The reason to present the narrative from a respected source was to remove doubts about the clear choice given to the rulers of the princely states and the non-binding guidelines that were suggested to them. What comes across very clearly is that when it came to the test, both countries acted in unprincipled ways to maximize their territories. Much suffering has ensued from this unprincipled behavior. Any subsequent attempts to find justifications for the behaviors cannot ignore that starting point.

      As mentioned in my response to Kabir/Right Wing, discussion on the rightness or wrongness of the Kashmir accession is closed as it is hurting the blog.

  • Fa Xian
    Posted at 13:49h, 13 January Reply

    I am Chinese, and even I am saddened when reading about the Partition of India. Surely unity would ever be preferable to disunity? Even most mainlanders and Taiwanese people would put aside differences and come together — if it meant averting the possibility of war forever. Do you truly have no regrets? Have none of you wondered, “What if?”

    • Kabir Altaf
      Posted at 16:05h, 13 January

      Fa Xian,

      I think all South Asians have at some point wondered “what if?”. Partition was a huge tragedy for those who lost their lives and their homes. At the same time, as a Pakistani, I am glad that I have my own nation-state and my own identity separate from India. There were many reasons (some good and some not) why Muslims in British India felt they could not live in a Hindu-majority country where they would be at a perpetual disadvantage under a one-man-one-vote democratic system. Also, please remember that there were many attempts over more than two decades to find a compromise that would have left India united. For various reasons, a workable solution was not found.

      Anyway, it has now been over six decades and most Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are (I assume) quite happy to live in independent nation-states. We can be good neighbors, but there is now need to give up our own identities.

      Finally, there were wars in India even when it was “united”. Some would argue that it was the British that really made India one country. Even then, there were over 500 princely states that were nominally independent.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 19:02h, 13 January

      Kabir, South Asia includes Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, all of whom were not party to the partition or involved in it in any way. So your claim of ‘all South Asians’ pondering ‘what if’ cannot be correct.

    • Kabir Altaf
      Posted at 12:59h, 14 January

      Vikram, of course you are right. I was using “South Asia” to mean “British India”.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 19:19h, 13 January

      Fa Xian, I think the situation between mainland Han Chinese and those on Taiwan cannot be compared to that between Pakistanis and Indians.

      Between the Kuomintang that succeeded the Qing dynasty, and the CPC, the dispute was primarily was one of the economic system to be adopted in a modern China, and the foreign backers of each party. There were also disputes regarding the political system to be adopted, although these really became salient only after Taiwan became a full fledged democracy.

      Most importantly, the CPC and the Kuomintang did not have differing definitions of the Chinese nation they claimed to speak in the name of.

      If today, reconciliation is possible between the CPC and Taiwan, one big reason is that the CPC has practically abandoned the CPC economic system, and moved towards a more capitalist one. State owned enterprises still control most upstream industries and play a major role in the PRC economy. However, this extensive role of the state in the PRC’s economy is a structural consequence of the CPC’s political system, and not the result of widely held belief among the Chinese about the state’s role in the economy.

      Also, I doubt if any real unification between the PRC and Taiwan can take place unless mainland China becomes a democracy like Taiwan (i.e. the CPC abandons both its economic and political ideology), or the US withdraws from the region and the PRC can take over Taiwan by force.

    • man0jm
      Posted at 11:50h, 14 January

      Vikram you are right, the situation in PRC and Taiwan cannot be compared – after all they didnt kill a million and displace 10 million.

      75 years after this tragic events, I see on this blog 2 kinds of comments – 1. Parition justified our ideology & we regret we didnt kill and displace more 2. Partition was a shameful event and we should learn from it and resolve never to have anything like this again.

      Take your pick.

    • Kabir Altaf
      Posted at 13:06h, 14 January

      man0jm, I hope you don’t place me in the “we regret we didn’t kill more” category. That would be really unfair. While I don’t want Pakistan to not exist as a nation-state, I’m certainly not happy about the human cost of that decision. Many members of my own family lost their homes in what is now India.

      Perhaps an equivalent feeling could be that of those “liberal Zionists” who acknowledge the Palestinian “Nakba” but still believe that there was a need for Israel to exist. I think Pakistan needed to exist but of course Partition was a tragedy.

      Partitions are messy events but realistically most nation-states were formed through some such events.

    • man0jm
      Posted at 20:03h, 14 January

      Kabir, that was put very well. And I really meant ‘categories of comments’, not persons – it would be too pretentious to judge people by what they write on a blog. Peace !

    • Vikram
      Posted at 18:19h, 16 January

      Manoj, I am not sure what you mean. The Chinese Civil war (between the KMT and CPC) killed 8 million people, almost the entire population of Taiwan consists of Han Chinese displaced from China’s southern provinces.

      I also think you need to revise your understanding of partition violence. The roots of the intense sectarian violence, especially in Punjab go back a long way into colonial policies of land allocation and militarization of the Punjabi peasantry. If anyone’s conduct was shameful, it was the British colonialists, who after manipulating and exploiting Indian (especially Punjabi) communities for so long to entrench and prolong their rule, showed no interest in maintaining order during the transfer of power.

      There was a political disagreement between the principal politically active agents in British India, and no resolution that could have maintained the unity of British India could be agreed upon. There is nothing to feel ashamed about here and there is no point in blaming this and that person.

      Had the colonial authorities fulfilled their duties, the non-Muslim population of Pakistan would not have shrunk so dramatically from nearly 20% in 1941 to 1.5% in 1951. It might have gone down to 15% perhaps, with the urban Hindus of Punjab leaving (many of whom did leave before the bulk of the violence), just like it was mainly the urban Muslims of Delhi and UP left. The memories of migration would have been of seeking a new life and cultural security, but without the bitterness and animosity that has come to characterize it.

      I will argue that despite the increasingly Islamist nature of the Pakistan movement in its later years, this 15% minority, would have been an important bulwark against fundamentalism, much like Indian Muslims were crucial for Indian secularism in its early years and even today.

  • Kabir Altaf
    Posted at 18:06h, 17 January Reply

    Anyone who is at all interested in the Partition and the creation of two new dominions out of British India should perhaps watch the series “Pradhan Mantri” available on Youtube. Though it is Indian Nationalist in presentation– a fact made amply clear in the opening moments of Episode 1 where Jinnah is depicted as a classic soap opera villain– the events depicted seem to me to be quite real. The series covers the history of the Republic of India from 3 June 1947 to the present day. There are episodes on the wars with Pakistan, The Babri Masjid demolition, the Gujarat pogroms, etc. Honestly, in the later episodes it’s a bit anti-BJP. So if you can separate out the program’s bias, it is an interesting refresher course on history and current events.

    • man0jm
      Posted at 13:31h, 19 January

      I agree with you – the series gives an accurate and comprehensive picture of major events in 40’s and 50’s, from the leaders’ perspective.

  • Prabhjot Singh
    Posted at 14:37h, 20 January Reply

    Only Indian and Pakistan govt fight ,people still love each other.I don’t know the name of a single person from Pakistan whom I hate,So I even don’t have a reason to hate Pakistan and its same with the Pakistani people too. I don’t know what would have happened if India was not partitioned but i know that I could have more friends than I have now.

Post A Reply to ModerateIndianHindu Cancel Reply