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.

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  • Vikram
    Posted at 19:08h, 02 February Reply

    I wonder if this entire discussion is premised on the right assumptions. Starting with the title of the post (and the general label of ‘Partition of India’), I feel that we predispose the discussion towards a negative evaluation of the fact that two, not one sovereign political entities emerged from the British Indian Empire (BIE). We also forget that even after ‘partition’ the border between India and Pakistan was open, and it was only in 1965 that we started having the kinds of restrictions that we have today.

    But most importantly, we fail to separate the violence that accompanied the political emergence of India and Pakistan from the BIE from the political arrangement itself. This violence, a dark spot on human history was the fault of the British authorities abandoning their duty to uphold order and their intense miltarization of the Punjab during the century of their rule.

    Pratap Bhanu Mehta has also noted in a recent column that we should stop looking at the political actor’s of the 1940’s in terms of heroes and villains in the context of partition. Instead we should look at the various aspirations of the communities that resided in the BIE that lead to the Indian Independence and Pakistan movement.

    A recent book by Venkat Dhulipala presents a rich history of the Pakistan movement, in particular how the Urdu speaking Muslims of North India, who had a major impact on Pakistan in its early years saw the demand for Pakistan.


    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 09:53h, 03 February

      Vikram: The original post was not premised on any assumptions. It posed the standard counterfactual question: What would have happened if India had not been partitioned? Of course, there are positive and negative opinions and the idea was to provide a space to articulate them. Even Dhulipala, in the review you have linked, has a perspective on the question: “In fact, so fixated have we been on the idea that the bad guys were the ones who wanted territorial Partition that we often forget that the cost of territorial unity was always going to be religious conservatism. Territorial unity required the partitioning of social orders; not the modern ideas of citizenship”.

      I believe the argument is contestable because post-partition India did not become free of different social orders and, more damaging to the hypothesis, post-partition Pakistan that did become much more free of social differences, did not become religiously liberal – in fact it became even more conservative.

      It is true that the commentary on the post drifted into unrelated issues of the genesis of the partition and the attribution of responsibility but commentary is never in control of the author. This blog is in agreement with Pratap Mehta that there is not much to be gained by looking for heroes and villians. Just as a reminder, the following was posted on the blog quite some time back: https://thesouthasianidea.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/jaswant-singh-the-road-to-partition/

      I do feel that looking at the aspirations of communities is not sufficient because the aspirations are shaped by events. It is the events that need to be focus of analysis.

      Note: Dhulipala’s article is archived in the Best from Elsewhere section of the blog:


  • Param Siddharth
    Posted at 11:31h, 17 February Reply

    I am an Indian, and let me tell you, there is no discrimitnation here.
    The creation of Pakistan was a big mistake.
    I am an Indian, and I am telling you that Muslims live happily in my country.
    Those who think that Muslims are discriminated here have false thoughts.
    Hope people will understand it someday.

  • Australian
    Posted at 09:44h, 18 February Reply

    Appreciate the article, Indian Hindus are equally responsible for creating a country Pakistan, so called upper caste Hindus were treating Muslims as bad as untouchables, Jinnah has realised this well in advance, once India becomes independent country then the Muslims minority will not be treated well by upper caste Hindus, they (Hindus) will never give an equal opportunity to Muslims in terms of education and other opportunities, certain extent this is true.

    Hindus were vegetarians and they don’t like to see other people eating meat, secondly Muslims were creating problems for Hindus such as throwing meat bones on Hindu majority streets, purposely praying on the street and creating an unpleasant situation to Hindus.

    We cannot look back to the past what has happened and there is no point in turning back to history pages, rather we should look forward to patch up the relations, Pakistan is still an underdog country and they should work to heal the wounds and look for an economic development, health and education with the help of its neighbours than finding ways to take revenge in the name of Kashmir. Creating a separate country or Kashmir becoming part of Pakistan will not solve the problem in fact this will further escalate the problem, it is too bad for China, who will have more Muslim neighbours in the western part of the country and the current situation in China will lead to bigger problem.

    Muslims per se are the most conservative in the current world and undemocratic society with very stringent one-sided rules, severe punishments and with highest level of human right violations. thanks

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 07:30h, 19 February

      Australian: I am intrigued by your closing comment: “Muslims per se are the most conservative in the current world and undemocratic society with very stringent one-sided rules, severe punishments and with highest level of human right violations.”

      First, how does one arrive at this conclusion? For example, what are the stringent one-sided rules under consideration and how do they compare to rules in other religions? Second, is there need to see democracy in a global geopolitical perspective? For example, Iran was a democracy in 1953 which was toppled by the US and replaced by an undemocratic system (Obama has now apologized for that). The Saudi regime is the dearest ally of the US and has been protected all along. Do these aspects relate to religion or the politics of oil? Third, is there a table of human right violations per 100,000 population by country? Here is one list I found showing the ten most extreme violators:

  • Shivatejas Bettadapura
    Posted at 23:51h, 21 February Reply

    Interesting and informative article.What hasn’t been discussed is that a unitary country like modern India with a strong center was not on the table. The choice in 1947 was between accepting the Cabinet Mission plan and Partition. If Partition had been avoided and CMP adopted, then some princely states would have seceded. The young nation would have quickly balkanized, within a decade or so.

    Secondly, a single South Asian country would have got dragged into the turbulence of the greater Middle-east. Delhi would have been unable to handle this without some measure of devolution or decentralization (unacceptable to Nehru and Patel at the time).

    All of you have framed it in terms of Hindu-Muslim relations, most arguing that they would have equilibrated over time and some arguing that they would have continued to remain bitter. While the rhetoric of the Muslim League certainly invoked imagined Muslim greatness in the past and how that could be realized in Pakistan, what people have ignored is the strong zamindari angle to the opposition of the ML to the egalitarian impulses of the Congress. In undivided India, Congress would have found it impossible to enact land reform in large swathes of territory that forms Pakistan today.Witness how Pakistan has been unable to enact land reform to this day. Without land reform, the country would have struggled with continued poverty on account of entrenched caste equations and inequalities.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 17:04h, 22 February

      Shivatejas: Thanks for an intellectually stimulating comment, precisely the kind the post was intended to elicit.

      As you mention, devolution or decentralization was not acceptable to Congress at that time while the League was in favor of it. One wonders if no compromise could have been found short of partition? Regarding your argument about the princely states, even following partition India could only retain territories in the northwest and northeast by recourse to force so the problem you allude to wasn’t exactly avoided by partition. As for balkanization, Europe can be considered balkanized but does that make it particularly disadvantaged compared to South Asia. According to some, the competition amongst smaller states is a spur to innovation and progress.

      It is not clear to me what would have led an undivided India to be dragged into the turbulence of the middle east. Would it have been because of its large Muslim population? India still has a very large Muslim population that is not pressing it to be involved in the turbulence of the middle east.

      Your point about land reform is plausible except for the fact that there does not seem much difference in the continued poverty in both India and Pakistan. It is not as if land reforms in India have had much of an impact on poverty. Was partition a price worth paying for such minimal impact?

    • Shivatejas Bettadapura
      Posted at 18:43h, 22 February

      Speaking as a young south Indian, I would say Partition served us. The first generation of Partition refugees lost a lot and they feel a nostalgia for an undivided country.
      India as it is is much much stronger than a fragmented south asia could ever have been: with a common market, with free transport of goods and people across the length and breadth of the country and allegiance to a liberal Constitution. The combined strength of Rajasthanis,Gujaratis and Malayalis is far bigger than Junagadh,Kathiawar and Travancore.

      The point about Muslims is worth talking about. The mistake most Pakistanis make is that they “homogenize” India’s Muslims. Tamil Muslims are proud of their Tamilness, Malayali Muslims are Malayali first and many Kannada Muslims have made valuable contributions to Kannada literature. Pakistanis’ view of India is dominated by North India and the Muslims of the Gangetic plains. Here too, the fact that today, UP and Bihar Muslims aren’t interested in the events of the greater Middle east owes probably to the fact that after 67 years, we in India have been able to build a civic identity owing largely to a highly liberal and non-sectarian definition of nationalism(the originality of the Congress version of Indian nationalism has to be thanked for this). Without Partition, I feel we would have continued to think of ourselves as Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, etc. I for one would never want to live in a confessional state.

      India has progressed from a “ship-to-mouth” existence to being a food grain exporter. Of course, agricultural research is responsible for this but in large measure, productivity in farms was boosted by land reform. Lazy, city-based zamindar elites were replaced by hard-working peasants. India has been able to build a substantial rural farming elite. You hear about farmer suicides and get the impression that Indian farmers are struggling, but the bigger story is that farmers today want to send their children to the best schools and get into debt for that.

      In short, to quote MJ Akbar, the idea of India is a modern idea, the idea of Pakistan is an outdated idea. It would not have died even if Partition were averted.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 06:16h, 23 February

      Shivatejas: You are assuming that if India had not been partitioned it would have fragmented into dozens of states like Junagadh, Kathiawar, and Travancore, etc. No such tendencies were in evidence during the years leading up to 1947.

      I agree on the problem of homogenization but you can appreciate that this was precisely what happened in the years leading up to 1947 creating the impression that all “Muslims” wanted to separate whereas that was clearly not the case. Also, do consider where the categories of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs came from. Last week Professor Romila Thapar was at the Lahore Literary Festival and was reported as follows – http://www.dawn.com/news/1165001:

      “In fact, till the British conducted their first census, there was no concept of religious minorities and majority in the subcontinent. The census purely divided the people on the basis of their religious identity without taking sects into consideration. If this had been done, she said, the Bhakti-Sufi sects would have come up as a majority. Most people only followed the popular folk traditions and did not push religious identity till the colonial thought process pushed them to do so.”

      Whether India is an importer or exporter of grains has very little impact on poverty – the statistics on rural child malnourishment are shocking. See this report:

      I repeat the point that partition did not contribute sufficiently to poverty reduction in India to justify its human costs.

      As for MJ Akbar, this blog considers his book to be bad history: https://thesouthasianidea.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/tinderbox-the-past-and-future-of-pakistan-%E2%80%93-a-review/

  • Asian
    Posted at 21:16h, 18 March Reply

    Be one again. Please.

  • LeGrand
    Posted at 05:32h, 11 April Reply

    In the last 5000 years, India (subcontinent) remained as one country for only 500 years. So the concept of partition seems too natural to India

    • kpr
      Posted at 23:08h, 23 April

      Im an 18 year old northern indian hindu …first and foremost let me congratulate you on this blog .!!….
      Im proud of my patriotic indian muslim brethren who chose to stay back in india during the partition… It goes to show that the idea of pakistan is not as strong as some pakistanis may think.. hindu numbers have dwindled there while muslims numbers in india have grown here.. nd just becoz i am secular does not mean i forget the way abrahamic relegions treat hindus . Dirty words like kaafir … My god …. Let me make it very clear to you here on this blog HINDUS ARE NOT IDOLTORS AND POLYTHEISTS.
      I think its important to mention tthis as ive read reports online and watched clips of pakistani talkshows on youtube where people speak of being taught anti hindu hate in school textbooks and whatnot…
      All abrahamic relegions have this view .
      1)we dont worship idols rather we worship through idols… See it like this .. you love your mother … And say you have a photograph of her and someone asked you to spit on it .. would you? YOU wouldnt ,saying that it would be disrespectful … Lets get logical here .. the photograph is paper and plastic and cant think, move, speak ,see and feel emotions the way your mother does … So insulting the photo ,an inanimate object, shouldnt be such a big deal . Yet it is …. Becoz you see the shadow of your mother and maybe the photograph offers you solace and comfort when you are away from her, miss her and only wish to be with her… So much emotion for a mortal being , then how can i disrespect the image of my god , becoz even in the lifeless stone metal and wood idols … I see him … Do i love the photograph more than my mother .. no way!! i dont look at it when im with her .. same goes for hinduism .. the idols are a way for us to concentrate in prayer ..
      2)hinduism is essentially a relegion with one god only -brahma – all the others are extensions of him in various forms.
      Hindus dont worship cows like a god but since in our scriptures they are seen as pure,sacrificing, maternal& innocent figures ..they are placed on a pedestal and so are all of gods creation .. think about it how can i praise him and not appreciate this world he created .
      Anyways …that was that … It bothers me that hinduism and some eastern religions freak people out so much?? I dont see hinduism as pagan but even if it was … What is it to you … Live and let live .. unless you thrive on expansionism and proselytizing.
      anyway back to the topic … Since we dont live in an ideal world id say- no, i dont think the india and pakistan shoould merge … Atleast not for another 30yrs or so
      … Let the scars of partition scab over and let the two countries develop &evolve and then if there is still longing for each other then maybe just maybe .. who knows ..
      But plz rein in your radical islam .. id rather die than see myself or the future generations live under the the vitriol filled atmosphere of a religion that hasnt evolved with the centuries and continues to be oppressive in this day and age .. proof is all over the world ..
      We in india are fighting against caste system with the help of our constitution , reservations in schools colleges and offices ,reformation drives etc
      Id like to see a similar change in the muslim world .. im in no way saying that all muslims are like this .. infact we have muslims family friends that are we so close with that i call them mamu mami ( uncle & aunt ) . Some members of my extended family came from lahore during partition and one of them even studied medicine at lahore medical college .. and she regales us with stories of pakistan sometimes… So No hate here .. bt i cannot and will not stand anti hindu sentiments ..

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 05:58h, 25 April

      kpr: Welcome to the blog and thanks for the appreciative words. In response to your comments, I would like to raise a few points for discussion in the spirit of this blog.

      1. I don’t believe it is justifiable to attribute the decision of many Muslims to stay in India to patriotism and by implication that of those who left to lack of patriotism. There were very violent riots on both sides of the border, especially in Punjab and Bengal from where the majority of the migrations took place, and many who left their homes had no option but to flee to save their lives.

      Patriotism is not a good touchstone in any case for such decisions. Many South Asians have migrated to the West to better their lives. Should we attribute a lack of patriotism to them?

      Finally, Muslims in India ought to be seen as Indian citizens like all other citizens. Implicit arguments pertaining to their patriotism are a subtle form of discrimination – the ‘othering’ of a group not quite considered at par with the majority.

      2. I don’t believe you need to defend Hinduism vis a vis the Abrahamic faiths. It’s an ancient tradition that has no need to comply with the norms of Abrahamic faiths. As for ‘dirty words’ they are floating all over the place on every side and need to be ignored if we are to move forward.

      3. I am most concerned about your last sentence: “I cannot and will not stand anti Hindu sentiments.” This puts you in the same category as the angry Muslims who cannot stand anti Muslim sentiments. If that is the case, the critique of angry Muslims loses force. Unless we develop the ability not to be provoked we will always remain at the mercy of those who benefit by inflaming our emotions.

      4. Your sentence “plz rein in your radical Islam” is problematic. Why is it mine? What is the basis for that claim?

    • LeGrand
      Posted at 22:38h, 25 April

      Historically, India was like a small continent comprised of many countries/nations/states. That’s why India was called the Subcontinent also.

  • Vikram
    Posted at 13:21h, 26 April Reply

    “Historically, India was like a small continent comprised of many countries/nations/states. That’s why India was called the Subcontinent also.”

    Historically, every part of the world that had the economy to generate enough surplus and establish a state (which was not forcibly taken over by another) was a country. National consciousness only arrived in post enlightenment Europe in the 18th century as people sought a new source of sovereignty following the delegitimization of monarchies. Due to the various twists and turns of history, and the preexisting demographics of religion, it culminated in monolingual nation states. These monolingual nation states, the borders of most of which defied natural logic set the stage for the two Great Wars in Europe.

    In India, the history of nationalism begins with the 1857 war. Most nationalist movements in India, evolving as they were under a multilingual, multireligious empire took on a more broad based definition of the nation than religion or language. It is the events from 1857 to 1947, that form the core of nationalist memory in India today. The independence movement still shapes how Indians think about politics.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 08:11h, 27 April

      Vikram: This is a very important subject you have touched upon. I would like to move it forward by submitting the following observations:

      “Historically, every part of the world that had the economy to generate enough surplus and establish a state (which was not forcibly taken over by another) was a country.”

      The concept of ‘country’ is a very late arrival. Historically, there were states of different forms but they cannot be classified as countries the way we know them today. They were either city-states, principalities, kingdoms, or empires.

      “National consciousness only arrived in post enlightenment Europe in the 18th century as people sought a new source of sovereignty following the delegitimization of monarchies.”

      This may not be strictly correct. For example, the city-states of Athens and Sparta exhibited quite a fierce ‘nationalism’ over two thousand years ago. The 14th and 15th century city-states of Milan, Florence, Venice, etc., were at war with each other and are well known. Machiavelli is the best-known name associated with this period.

      Also, many empires only disintegrated after WW1. The Russian Empire even later.

      “Due to the various twists and turns of history, and the preexisting demographics of religion, it culminated in monolingual nation states.”

      Monolingual nation-states did not emerge out of a natural process. A lot of ethnic cleansing was involved in creating linguistic homogeneity. The Slavic episode is still fresh in our memories. We should remain aware of how European nation-states came into being. A little bit of that is discussed in a review of Tony Judt’s monumental work Post-War: “He also observes that because war, genocide, and ethnic cleansing had separated the fractious, ethnically diverse regions of Eastern Europe into tidy, homogeneous nation-states, “the stability of postwar Europe rested upon the accomplishments of Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler.”” (http://nymag.com/news/features/64626/)

      Also, there are still a number of nation-states in Europe that are not monolingual – Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, UK, among them. Even the US is not monolingual. Also, some city-states have survived into the present era, e.g., Monaco, San Marino, etc. These are sub-national states – surrounded by nation-states in which people are of the same ethnicity and speak the same language.

      “In India, the history of nationalism begins with the 1857 war.”

      We tend to refer to this as nationalism but it was more an anti-colonial movement.

      “Most nationalist movements in India, evolving as they were under a multilingual, multireligious empire took on a more broad based definition of the nation than religion or language.”

      I wish that had been the case. The Indian Western-educated elite was unable to think beyond the European nation-state as the norm. This was what led to Muslims suddenly beginning to think of themselves as a separate ‘nation.’ The same trend continues today with the desire of some to transform India into a Hindu state.

      India was and still is a civilizational-state and that is the way it should have been imagined.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 18:01h, 27 April

      “Monolingual nation-states did not emerge out of a natural process. A lot of ethnic cleansing was involved in creating linguistic homogeneity. The Slavic episode is still fresh in our memories. We should remain aware of how European nation-states came into being.”

      I was including all the nastiness in the ‘twists and turns of history’, I should have a more deliberate word. But the key point I want to emphasize here is the religious demographics. Medieval Europe was overwhelmingly Christian (with a splattering of Jews), and the various denominations of Christianity played a key role in the formation of national identities.

      The nation states that emerged in Europe, were thus not only monolingual, but monoreligious (at the level of Christian denomination) as well. There were exceptions as you point out, but this was the norm. A similar process seems to be underway in the Middle East as well.

      “India was and still is a civilizational-state and that is the way it should have been imagined.”

      Both modern day Indian nationalism and even Hindu nationalism essentially imagine India as a civilization state. Indeed, so does Muslim nationalism in modern South Asia. Its just that they refer to different civilizations.

      With the establishment of the first Persianate state by the Ghaznavids in Lahore, a policy continued by future Turkic/Iranic rulers in the Delhi Sultanate, Deccan Sultanate and the Mughal Empire a decidedly Persianate Muslim identity emerged in the Northern regions of the subcontinent. The surplus generated in these states was appropriated to develop a Persian based culture in South Asia.

      I dont think this attempt to create a Persianate culture would be such a problematic historical memory given that India was plural long before the establishment of these states. But the fact that it was accompanied by wanton destruction of the existing heritage and the removal of Sanskrit and other Indian languages from the court and literary circles created a very different impression of this period among different groups. Support to native traditions seems to have been sporadic and token. (I would be interested to know how Richard Eaton explains Aurangzeb’s artillery bombardment of the Bamiyan Buddhas.)

      Perhaps for a lot of the Muslim elite, the roots of the demands for Pakistan can be found in the desire to see this Perso-Islamic culture form the basis for a modern Muslim (or even secular) culture in South Asia. This can be seen for example, in the elevation of Urdu to a ‘sweet’ ,’beautiful’ inclusive language, even though its vocabulary and modes of expression are overwhelmingly Persian.

      It is ironic then that the key modern expression of the culture Persianate Muslims in South Asia came from Mumbai in India rather than Pakistan. But in India, there is not contradiction between the growth of this culture and the rendering of Indian epics on the modern medium of television. See any Indian channel, and you will see a seamless blend of shows based on the stories of the Buddha, Mahabharata and Akbar-Birbal. Turn on Indian radio, and you will hear mushairas and bhajans. The Indian state supports AIR Akashvaani in Hindi and AIR Urdu.

      So how then is India not a civilization state ?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 09:08h, 28 April

      Vikram: Thanks for the response. Here are some further comments:

      On religious demographics: It is not clear how various denominations of Christianity played a key role in the formation of national identities. When the English Protestants and Catholics were in conflict they were both English. It was similar in the other countries of Europe. In the Middle East today, if Sunnis ad Shias are arrayed against each other in Iraq, they are both Iraqis.

      On India as a civilizational-state: One can imagine India as a civilization but as soon as one begins thinking in terms of Hindu or Muslim nationalism, one has transitioned in real terms to the paradigm of the nation-state.

      A civilizational-state, if it had been imagined, would have been a different model, one accepting its composite Indian-ness without making exceptions. But the thinking you have outlined, one of grievances, whether justified or not, precluded that outcome and led naturally in the direction of the nation-state model. From there followed the construction of different civilizations each glorifying its own nation-state.

      As for the grievances, you have to cite more evidence for the wanton destruction of existing heritage and the removal of Indian languages from literary circles. If Muslim identity emerged in the northern areas of the subcontinent, how did it manage to eliminate Indian languages all over India? If the destruction happened sequentially, one has to provide the sequential evidence of the measures that eliminated Indian languages. To take a more recent example: Are Indians abandoning mastery of their own languages for English voluntarily or was/is there a systematic design to eliminate Indian languages from offices, courts, and literature?

      There can be a quite different perspective on the phenomenon you have mentioned. It is but natural for a foreign group coming from outside India to bring along its own traditions. But it is remarkable how quickly the Muslim foreigners were Indianized giving rise to what is referred to as the Ganga-Jamni tehzeeb (civilization) in Northern India. This is not to say that there were no political conflicts but it would be hard to argue that political conflicts did not exist in India before the arrival of the foreigners.

      William Dalrymple provides one example of this Indianization in his research on the tradition of erotic literature in India (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/jun/26/india-the-place-of-sex/):

      “It was not, therefore, during the Islamic period that the dramatic break with India’s erotic traditions occurred; instead that change took place during the colonial period with the arrival of evangelical Christian missionaries in the mid-nineteenth century.”

      This, despite the fact that, in Dalrymple’s words:

      “Islam brought with it to India a very different attitude toward sexuality, which was much closer to Eastern Christian notions—the environment in which so many early Islamic attitudes developed—and which divided the mind from the body, and the sensual from the metaphysical. Like much early Christian thought, Islam emphasized the sinfulness of the flesh, the dangers of sexuality, and, in extreme cases, the idealization of sexual renunciation and virginity…. Yet, remarkably, Islamic rule did not disturb the long Indian tradition of erotic writing. The Kamasutra survived and in time even helped to convert to the life of pleasure India’s initially puritanical Muslim rulers.”

      The same was the case with music, language, religion, lifestyles. The syncretism of the period was quite remarkable – what Dara Shikoh described in his Majma-ul-Baharain: The Commingling of Two Oceans.

      However, if you are arguing that the foreigners should never have come to India in the first place you are being ahistorical. There were no ‘countries’ at that time, only empires with no fixed borders. Just read the history of England to see how many different foreign groups went and ruled there and became English in turn – even the present royal house is German in origin.

  • Kabir Altaf
    Posted at 19:39h, 26 April Reply

    There was no “India” before August 15, 1947. Before that, there was British India and a bunch of princely states. Before the British, there was Hindustan (which did not include all of what is today India). This idea that “India” was always one united country and its boundaries were recognized as such is completely ahistorical.

    The Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan are exactly the same age. Both are socially constructed entities. Neither was ever inevitable.

  • A Pung
    Posted at 14:29h, 28 April Reply

    India and China are great nations but greatness is not automatic. It requires quality leadership during important moments in history. Unfortunately, Indian leadership of the forties was short-sighted and lacked quality. China seized its moment by emerging as one giant nation after its communist revolution and has never looked back. India missed its opportunity when the British left. Instead of having one voice to represent the Indian nation, it got two and later, three. Three voices to represent the opinion of one nation – that is ridiculous and self-defeating as more often than not, they drown each other out. The partition of India was a monumental failure of the prevalent Indian leadership and a historical error which, unfortunately, will probably never be undone. India is not great anymore and will not be until it’s division is undone. Instead competing with nations such as China and the United States, India has been reduced to a ‘regional power’. China makes sure that the distraction of Pakistan keeps India too busy to compete with it – a distraction which would not have existed in a united India.

  • Vikram
    Posted at 20:17h, 28 April Reply

    The evidence for the damage done to native traditions by the invasion and subsequent policies of Turko-Iranian invaders is overwhelming.

    1) Change of official languages. Before replacement by Persianate dynasties, North India was ruled by the Shahis (Sanskrit), Gurjara-Pratihara/Vaghela (Sanskrit, Gujarati), Pala (Sanskrit, Pali) dynasties. Central India was ruled by Yadava dynasty (Kannada, Sanskrit). None of the invading dynasties (Delhi/Gujarat/Bahmani/Bengal sultanate) retained these official languages. In South India, which was under the Vijaynagar Empire (Kannada, Telugu) neither the Qutb Shahi nor the Adil Shahis maintained continuity.

    Sanskrit, Marathi and Kannada did not return as official languages until the Maratha Empire and Wodeyar kingdoms were established. And Tipu Sultan changed the official language of the Wodeyar to Persian again.

    The pattern is clear.

    2) Loss of patronage for native artists. The example of Vidyapati illustrates this. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/627989/Vidyapati

    “Many of these love songs were written in the court of Shiva Simha, grandson of Vidyapati’s first patron. When in 1406 Muslim armies routed the court, Shiva Simha, Vidyapati’s friend and patron, disappeared, and Vidyapati’s golden age was over.”

    2) Contrast with the policies of similar invaders in Central Asia. The Samanids, Ghaznavids, Seljuks who were Turkic maintained Persian as the official language of the Iranian lands they conquered. In Iranian history, they are renowned for being Persianate states who restored Persian to a high status after Arab conquest. This is what allowed folks like Rumi (surplus of Seljuks), Hafiz (Timur, Muzzafarids) etc to thrive.

    By contrast, native Indian poets like Kabir, Tulsidas and Surdas had to make their own living. Narsinh Mehta had to live in poverty.

    4) Destruction of architectural legacy. Koenraad Elst has an adequate response here to Eaton’s thesis. http://www.outlookindia.com/article/vandalism-sanctified-by-scripture/213030

    I do not accept Elst’s thesis that temples were destroyed because of Islamic scripture, there are plenty of examples of the original Muslims not harming the holy buildings of other religions. The real reason was more likely Turko-Iranian contempt for Indic traditions.

    But it is clear that there was no norm of temple destruction in India. No Hindu/Buddhist/Jain scripture talks about it, and the example in the Ramayana is the very opposite. The handful of examples Eaton are not enough.

    And then, there is just the simple fact that in North India, where Hindus are the overwhelming majority, and were an even bigger majority a hundred years ago, not a single major temple of the kind found in South India survives.

    5) Behaviour of other Muslim communities in India. Contrast the Muslims of Kerala, Dawoodi Bohras and Ismailis to the Persianate Muslims.

    I would like to remind of you of your own words where you once mentioned that Muslims in the Middle East do not want to suffer the same fate as the native Americans. Neither did the native Indians. Persian culture may have a lot to be admired, and Indian traditions may have many flaws, but I doubt the vast majority of Indians wanted to become Persianized.

  • Vikram
    Posted at 04:50h, 29 April Reply

    “However, if you are arguing that the foreigners should never have come to India in the first place you are being ahistorical.”

    Lest I be misunderstood, this is not my argument at all. Given the experience of the Parsis, the Arab Muslim communities on the west coast, a syncrectic Indo-Islamic culture would have emerged in the North in any case with the migration of sufis, artists and noble men from Central Asia.

    It is only the actions and policies of the Turkic rulers and the inability to look at them objectively which is the stumbling block.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 08:02h, 02 May

      Vikram: Let us accept all the facts you have mentioned. But facts have to be interpreted in some framework. The framework you are employing seems problematic to me for the following reasons:

      1. Surely you cannot be arguing that there is a moment in time before which a pristine culture exists and after which traditions are wantonly destroyed. The Turkic invaders were not the first invaders of the Indian subcontinent. Before them there were the Huns and before them the Kushans. These invasions too must have caused some destruction of traditions. And there were constant expansions of empires within the subcontinent simply because there was no united Indian entity in those times. You must definitely have read about the Kalinga War nothing like which has reputedly happened in India before or after.

      What might be called the natives of India (the first settlers) were driven into the forests where they survive today not very different from Native Americans and where their indigenous languages are dying out. Sanskrit was replaced by Pali when Buddhism emerged as the ruling religion. At some point, the tradition of varna was imposed, the consumption of beef was curtailed, whole segments of society were declared untouchables. All these can be considered wanton destruction of preceding traditions. One only has to refer to Dr. Ambedkar’s The Annihilation of Caste to accept that radical interventions in tradition were the norm, not the exception, in the times we are talking about.

      And such interventions are not limited to olden times. After 1947, the attempts to impose Hindi on other languages – a displacement of tradition – were curtailed only after fierce resistance. Similar was the case of the attempt to impose Urdu in Pakistan.

      2. One cannot compare Parsis and Arab communities on the west coast with the Turkic invaders. The first arrived as refugees, the second as traders; it is natural for such groups to assimilate rapidly within the host communities on whose goodwill they survive. The Turkic invaders arrived as rulers of small kingdoms; you would expect some differences in their behavior. Your comparison with invaders in Central Asia is also problematic. Persian was the dominant language of that region. Even the Turkic invaders to India did not bring their own language with them but the dominant Persian language. This need not be all that surprising. The language adopted by the Russian nobility was French though no one seems to have imposed it on them.

      3. It was to highlight these comparisons that I mentioned the analogous history of Britain. It was invaded continuously from Europe and was under Roman, Danish, Saxon, and Norman rule for periods extending over centuries. The Normans made French the language of the court and the British Royal Coat of Arms even today has its mottos in French (See here: http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/motto.html). Latin came to Britain with the Romans, feudalism with the Normans. All these could be considered major destructions of preceding traditions. See the timeline and facts of British history here: http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/history.html

      4. The really relevant point is that after all these invasions, impositions, and destructions, there emerged an English identity that went on to create the biggest empire in the world instead of lamenting wanton destruction of some pristine culture of the Britons. The analogous question is: Did the Turkic dynasty ever become Indian in a similar sense? There were continuous intermarriages and as early as Jehangir many of the Mughal rulers had Rajput mothers. If one argues that the lineage can never be accepted as Indian then one is indirectly arguing that India can only be a nation-state of and for Hindus. But that is not what Indians would own up to asserting. So, there is a contradiction in the argument that needs to be resolved. And this unresolved contradiction would, in my opinion, stand in the way of Indian civilization achieving its potential.

      5. This brings us to your concluding sentence: “It is only the actions and policies of the Turkic rulers and the inability to look at them objectively which is the stumbling block.” It is not clear what it is a stumbling block to? As I said in the beginning, let us accept all the facts you have enumerated and conclude objectively that in comparison to all other invaders in history the Turks were the worst, then what? What would be the implication of that for the India of today?

    • Vikram
      Posted at 05:49h, 04 May

      1. SA, no disagreement over the fact that Central Asia (esp. its South-East) has always been part of the political matrix of the subcontinent. And invasions and incursions have gone both ways, and my framework is certainly not one of the corruption of a pristine culture. My stress was on the policies of Turko-Iranian rulers, particularly their linguistic and religious policies. In particular, since these policies seem to be relevant to people’s political and social views even today.

      2. Regarding language, I have some new information from Dr. Audrey Truschko that indicates that my previous views were incorrect. Perso-Islamic rulers (as she calls them) did mostly adopt local languages for administration. It was not really until Akbar that Persian was declared and firmly became the official language of the Delhi polity. Sanskrit was never used as an official language by South Indian kingdoms, the Gupta’s and Harsha did use it in the North but it was gradually restricted to literary and religious purposes in subsequent Indic kingdoms.

      Truschko in fact mentions that when Shivaji made Sanskrit the official language, it had been so long since Sanskrit was used for such mundane purposes that his officials had to invent Sanskrit equivalents for many Persian words in use.

      3. We are now left with religious policies, particularly temple desecration. Structures like Nalanda and Somnath become institutions and enduring parts of people’s identity. Nalanda especially was patronized by a succession of Indian kings (both Hindus and Buddhists from its inception till its destruction by Khilji, and no Muslim king revived this institution). Sites like these were not only for Hindus and Buddhists inside India, but also maintained enduring networks between India and South East and East Asia, which became linked spiritually and materially.

      In this matter, the record of India’s Turkic rulers, with the exception of Akbar seems very problematic. Add to this the fact that the overwhelming majority of structures built by Muslim emperors were mosques and other Persian inspired architecture (with Indian embellishments) and we can start seeing why the attitudes towards those rulers are often hostile. Wrongly or rightly, temple desecrations are a reminder of how helpless and powerless Hindus were.

      It is quite possible that my understanding of the temple issue is also incomplete, but I find Eaton’s explanation very unsatisfactory. If the destruction of your opponents prestige religious structures was such a big part of Indian politics, why didnt the Marathas and Sikhs go around destroying Mughal mosques ?

      Since identities are intimately connected to history, it is quite clear that if Muslims regard political control of India by Turkic families as their high point in India (although this view has now started to be questioned by Muslims themselves), and Hindus see it the same period as one of helplessness, a civilization state project based on the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb will not succeed (not to mention the regional limitations of such a strategy).

      Instead, a nationalist strategy where Indians jointly resist a colonizer, and the entire idea of the strong dominating the weak seems much more promising. And when one resists through a political strategy which allows the weakest member of the society to take part in the struggle, and politicizes each section of society, preparing the grounds of democracy, the chances of success increase dramatically.

      A nationalist movement of this kind will produce a civilization state that allows cultures within itself to express themselves. And this is what has happened in India, notwithstanding the intense politicization of linguistic and religious identity, most groups in modern India has been able to express themselves and develop further.

  • brqp
    Posted at 14:26h, 01 May Reply

    Backtracking from the Cabinet Mission Plan was a blunder committed by Nehru which led to the Partition. Azad writes in India wins Freedom

  • birla
    Posted at 21:11h, 10 May Reply

    Azad was not very influential. Nehru & Patel were. Once Nehru rejected the 1946 Cabinet Mission Plan, all hopes to avoid the Partition were gone. Jinnah had accepted the Plan.

  • Vikram
    Posted at 23:36h, 14 May Reply

    SA, let me reposit my question in a simpler form.

    Why was the Congress definition of Indian nationalism not reflective of India’s composite civilization ? And subsequently, how do the theoretical underpinnings of the modern Indian nation state not reflect the ideal composite nationalism you describe ?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 10:51h, 08 June

      Vikram: Sorry for a very delayed response. I have done fairly extensive reading so as to make what I believe is an accurate assessment of the historical record.

      I believe one can say that there was no one definition of Indian nationalism that reflected the Congress position. It is fair to say that the top INC leadership (Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Azad) were keen on the INC standing for a composite nationalism. However, the lower tiers of leadership and the majority of Congress rank and file were much more inclined to the Hindu revivalist position. One indicator of this was the struggle over the language supported by the INC. Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and Azad tried their best to advocate Hindustani but the factions headed by PD Tandon, Govind Das and others succeeded in their campaign for Hindi as part of their Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan platform. The pressure that was built for Hindi persistently described Urdu as an alien language and insisted that Hindi be cleansed of all foreign contaminants. The extremely rapid Sanskritization of Hindi that followed on All India Radio, much to the annoyance of Nehru, was the result of the success of this campaign. Language policy was one concrete manifestation of how the desire for a composite nationalism expressed by the top leadership was negated by INC rank and file.

      This probably also explains why so many Muslim leaders including Jinnah, Iqbal, and Maududi who started off aligned with Congress or parties allied with Congress broke away over time once the weight of the lower tiers of INC leadership became obvious.

      As far as the modern Indian nation state is concerned, it has moved a long distance from the the commitment of the early leadership to composite nationalism. Theoretical underpinnings are not the best barometer of the state of play. Rather, one should look at concrete manifestations. Any time a senior minister can divide the nation into Ramzadas and Haramzadas without any censure or penalty, it should be obvious that composite nationalism is dead, at least for the moment.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 07:27h, 16 June

      Vikram: Here is a tantalizing glimpse of contours and possibility of a composite culture and also of its fragility which Dalrymple labels ‘heartbreaking’. It is not really the religion or ethnicity of the ruler that determines the outcome but the spirit of the enterprise. The question for us today is whether we want a composite culture in which everyone has an equal sense of belonging and respect or do we want ‘our’ side, however we define it, to be calling the shots while being nice to the ‘others’. The two are not equivalent.


    • Vikram
      Posted at 15:50h, 16 June

      “The question for us today is whether we want a composite culture in which everyone has an equal sense of belonging and respect or do we want ‘our’ side, however we define it, to be calling the shots while being nice to the ‘others’.”

      If this is indeed the case in India, it is because the vision of the Constitution has not been achieved and the ideals of the freedom fighters forgotten. The communally biased freedom fighter is the exception, not the norm.

      The culture produced and practiced by the majority of Indians is still a composite one, with even more influences than before. But yes, a major section of the middle class that has embraced political Hindutva, and Western materialist mores.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 09:59h, 17 June

      Vikram: I feel the key point to grasp is that the vision of the Constitution was not singular. The leadership championed a vision that was not owned by the majority. There is nothing wrong with that except to note that the nature of the contestation widened the divisions in society – Gandhi was murdered for being ‘pro-Muslim.’

    • Vikram
      Posted at 16:01h, 16 June

      “The extremely rapid Sanskritization of Hindi that followed on All India Radio, much to the annoyance of Nehru, was the result of the success of this campaign. Language policy was one concrete manifestation of how the desire for a composite nationalism expressed by the top leadership was negated by INC rank and file.”

      SA, this debate was about the official language of the Indian Union government, it has nothing to do with nationalism per se. If the INC rank and file expressed a desire for a Sanskritized Hindi as the official language, it perhaps reflected the desires of their constituents. If it doesnt, the official language can be changed (as indeed it has).

      The decision about what should be the official language of a modern nation state should be made by the majority, no matter how lofty the goals of the minority that oppose it.

      I would agree with your argument here if the Congress rank and file overruled the top leadership on matters of religious equality and freedom, and giving religion a presence in the nationalism. The negation of the vote on including God in the Preamble and the affirmation of religious freedom as a fundamental right clearly indicate that the rank of file shared the basic values of the Congress leadership.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 09:47h, 17 June

      Vikram: I was not pointing to the debate over the official language of the Indian Union government. My reference was to the contestation over the language in which the official transactions of the INC were to be conducted and recorded. Gandhi convinced the INC in 1925 to employ Hindustani as official language for the conduct of its proceedings. The top leadership supported this position but it triggered an ultimately successful resistance led by the second tier leadership.

      The debate over the official language of the Union government came in the twilight of the struggle for composite nationalism. The Constituent Assembly was formed in December 1946. At its initial session the Rules Committee decided that the Assembly proceedings would be in Hindustani or in English. By the fourth session in July 1947, this position was abandoned in favor of Hindi.

      I have no problem with the adoption of Sanskritized Hindi as the official language of India. My aim was to highlight the struggle between composite nationalism and religious nationalism as reflected in the struggle over the particular register of language to be adopted. One cannot subscribe to composite nationalism and majoritarianism at the same time.

      Also, it is impossible to separate nationalism from language in the Indian context both in the first half of the 20th Century when languages were assigned religions and in the second half when linguistic identities served as the basis for articulating sub-national demands which were accommodated by the reorganization of states along linguistic lines.

      A reference I consulted is Language Conflict and National Development: Group Politics and National Language Policy in India by Jyotirindra Das Gupta. It is availabe on the Internet at: https://books.google.com.pk/books?id=qGACL5YJRjEC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

      For a more recent example from Europe of the intertwining of nationalism and language, seehttp://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2012/11/language-and-nationalism

    • Vikram
      Posted at 20:06h, 17 June

      There seems to be an insistence on seeing the composite Indian nationalism in the Hindustani language which was heavily, heavily Persianized. It was spoken as a link language by many due to economic and political compulsions, much like English is today. Maybe the majority simply had an aspiration to speak a language that was more rooted in their soil, and saw the making of Hindi as official language part of that goal. There was no summary removal of Persian and Arabic words from the Hindi language. Its just that proportion of Sanskrit words has increased.

      I see the composite Indian nationalism in the language Aamir Khan uses in his introduction in the show Satyameva Jayate and Bollywood cinema uses in general.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 14:02h, 18 June

      Vikram: Surely the point is not what you or I or the majority desires as the official language of India. It is a matter of historical record that the leadership of the INC voted for Hindustani as the language of record of the INC as also of the Constituent Assembly. Is this an incorrect statement? If not, what was the reason for that choice? Surely, the leaders of the freedom movement had the intelligence to see whether it was a language used mainly due to economic and political compulsions on top of being heavily, heavily Persianized. Why did the great freedom fighters make such an obviously ridiculous choice?

    • Vikram
      Posted at 22:11h, 18 June

      SA, the discussion started with a original claim was that the demand for a Sanskritized Hindi versus Hindustani reflected the communally prejudiced nature of the majority of Congress members.

      That is the claim I am contesting, not whether Hindustani was the language of record for the INC. There are many reasons why Hindustani could have been chosen, perhaps the leadership genuinely thought it could have brought more politically powerful Muslims into the party.

      However, if we say that even an aspiration to use more Sanskrit vocabulary is communally biased then there isnt much room for negotiation. In your opening argument, you equated this aspiration to Hindu revivalism. Sure, some extreme arguments might have been used in the language debates, but that surely doesnt mean that the bulk of Sanskrit proponents were Muslim haters. You further extended this to claim that Jinnah, Iqbal and Maududi might have left Congress because it was filled with such people.

      Please find me the prominent Congress leaders who:
      1) Claimed Hindus and Muslims were completely distinct and could never live together.
      2) Proclaimed a man convicted of murdering a Muslim as a ‘matchless warrior of Hindus’.
      3) Advocated the creation of an Indian state with Hinduism as an official religion where all other religions would have inferior status.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 07:53h, 19 June

      Vikram: The claim was that the adoption of Hindustani was an attempt by the INC leadership at a composite nationalism. The resistance in favor of Sankritized Hindi was a part of the Hindu revivalist movement and is described as such in books on the language controversy. The record also shows that the campaign was carried out not on linguistic terms but on those of purification. There is no argument with the rights or wrongs of such a political campaign except that it was not compatible with composite nationalism. There is no necessity to have a composite nationalism.

  • Vikram
    Posted at 19:46h, 17 June Reply

    “The leadership championed a vision that was not owned by the majority.”

    SA, I have already mentioned that the Constituent Assembly decisively negated the proposals by the right-wing lobby to give religion a major say in national organs, and to give preferential status to any particular religion. This shows that the majority was with the leadership on this issue, but not on the language issue.

    If indeed the majority did not share a secular vision for the Indian state, it could have voted in the appropriate party and gotten the Constitution amended. In fact, the Constitution became even more clearly secular in the 1974, a non Congress party with a leadership more right wing was voted in, major amendments to the Constitution were made, but the secular aspect was untouched.

    Now a right wing party is in power, but the PM only reaffirms the Constitutional commitment to religious equality. So how does the majority not agree with the leadership on these matters ?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 14:10h, 18 June

      Vikram: “the PM only reaffirms the Constitutional commitment to religious equality.” I wonder if someone can design an interesting study to validate that claim.

  • Vikram
    Posted at 00:13h, 19 June Reply

    One can see how the equation of more Sanskrit vocabulary as opposed to Perso-Arabic as Hindu extremism, falls into the trend line of denouncing ‘Satyagraha’ as a ‘Hindu’ word alienating to Muslims, yoga as something unIslamic, the singing of Vande Mataram as anti-Muslim, i.e. anything with any Indian roots is unMuslim.

    Why is this is the case ? N. Hanif points out that Islam entered India more as “empire and culture, than spiritual message”. (Islam and Modernity: Pg. 260). So the constitutional guarantee of professing and practicing Islam freely did not mean much to many of the Muslim leaders of the time. What was more important to them was the preservation of Muslim political power and supremacy of the high Muslim culture of North India, even at the expense of the culture of the other Muslim communities of the subcontinent.

    One can see here the key difference between leaders like Azad and Khan Abdul Ghaffar who emphasized the spiritual dimension of Islam and its impact on and blending with subcontinental traditions, versus leaders like Iqbal and Jinnah who stressed more on political power and the Persianate culture of North Indian Muslims.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 08:21h, 19 June

      Vikram: You are reversing the situation here. Place it in the historical context in which anything with Muslim associations was anti-Indian requiring purification (like Ghar Wapsi). Given the demographics, one claim had much more latent power than the other with all its political implications. Read the note on Shuddhi on the Arya Samaj website: http://www.aryasamaj.com/enews/2012/jan/4.htm

      Both sides had cosmopolitans and communalists in their ranks and the communalists carried more weight in the end. That can be read as a democratic majoritarian outcome which is fine. It would be good to go back and re-read the first chapter of Sunil Khilnani’s Idea of India. There were a number of competing ideas at the outset and one of them emerged dominant. That too has lost its hold over time. The objective here is not to assign blame just to record the transition.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 21:16h, 21 June

      I am sure there were people who felt (and who still feel) that anything with Muslim association was anti-Indian requiring purification, and the Arya Samaj was one of them. But it is incorrect to ascribe this view to the majority of Hindus, otherwise they would not spend millions of dollars supporting a film industry in which Indo-Islamic culture is pervasive and Muslim artists ubiquitous.

      On the contrary, the idea that anything that happened in India before the establishment of Muslim political dominance is either seen as communal or inferior by a much larger proportion of the Muslim elite. This is why even the Islam in South India and Bengal, which did not have the political dimension is not seen as authentic by them.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 13:01h, 02 July

      Vikram: I am sorry I have fallen behind but I do intend to reply to your excellent comments. In the meantime, I am thankful to Kabir for forwarding a link to a very rich debate organized by the Asia Society on the legacy of partition. This should prove useful to all the participants on our forum:


    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 09:20h, 04 July

      Vikram: The psychology of human beings is complex – they can hold seemingly contradictory positions. Thus, Pakistanis can enjoy Indian movies and be anti-Indian at the same time. But, of course, what is the view of the majority (or of a minority) is an empirical question that cannot be presumed.

      I couldn’t figure out your second paragraph.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 14:20h, 07 July

      SA, I doubt Pakistanis watch ‘Indian’ movies. It is more likely ‘Urdu’ movies with Muslim stars ?

      I would actually like some solid data on how popular Hindi movies are in Pakistan. My thesis would be that even though some sections of urban Pakistanis watch both American and Indian movies, they employ various justifications to see the Indian movies as essentially Muslim products.

      Regarding my second paragraph, it is an observation I have made before. There is immense confusion among the Muslims of North SA regarding attitudes to SA history before the establishment of Muslim led polities. The very identity of Muslims in this region has become tied to political power and purported Iranian/Arabic origins. The Islam in Bengal was very different, and the Bengali Muslims were not seen as authentically Muslim by the Pakistani elite.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 07:32h, 08 July

      Vikram: I can only attribute such gross misperceptions to the lack of communication between the two countries.

      Some of the links below will be of help:


      The entertainment pages of Pakistani newspapers are full of the comings and goings of Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, and Hrithik Roshan because these stars have fans in Pakistan.

      Incidentally, Indian TV is even more popular with the middle class especially with women. This has none of the Urdu/Muslim links of Bollywood that you mention.


    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 08:58h, 08 July

      Vikram: As for your second paragraph, I feel the generalization about North South Asia is too broad. Muslims in NWFP were with the INC almost till 1947, those in Punjab were happy with their Unionist coalition, those in Balochistan were uninvolved. The movement for Pakistan was dominated by Muslims in Bengal and UP. So, it is not clear how “Islam in Bengal was very different.”

      It was only after political differences arose between West and East Pakistan that the West Pakistani elite began to denigrate all aspects of Bengaliness including the authenticity of its religion.

      As a general point, regional chauvinism is widespread. The stereotype of the Bengalis has them considering themselves much more intellectual than other sub-nationalities in South Asia. At one time the attitude of North Indians towards South Indians was also quite problematic. It is reassuring that this has changed significantly as the Indian economy has integrated. But note the attitudes towards people from regions that are less integrated, e.g., the Northeast.

  • Vikram
    Posted at 21:07h, 20 June Reply

    SA, it is important to note that the debate between Persianate Hindustani and ‘purified’ Hindi as the national language was an elite one. I havent heard of too many pro-Hindi or pro-Sanskrit mass agitations, certainly nowhere near the scale of pro Telugu/Bengali/Tamil movements.

    The nationalism of the Congress Command, and the Hindu right were among the myriad other nationalist movements (communist, Dravidian, Dalit) active in the anti-colonial movements and the eventual outcome in the Constitution was a compromise between these movements. Granville Austin’s book details these deliberations and compromises.

    The point of disagreement remains that you ascribe the desire for a Sanskritised Hindi to a *mass based* Hindu revivalist movement. It is not at all clear that the Hindu revivalist movement had mass appeal. Remember that the Arya Samaj only really gained prominence in Punjab where Hindus were a minority. In the first election after independence (1951), the largest political formation after the Congress was the left with about 20% of the vote, the Jana Sangh managing only 3%.This trend remains in subsequent elections. It is not clear why a Hindu revivalist electorate would continue supporting the secular Congress and not migrate to the Jana Sangh.

    And if indeed we accept the argument that the majority on both sides was communally inclined, it puts into focus into the nature of religious syncretism in the subcontinent. It seems that it was unable to withstand the test of modernization and mass politics. Why was this the case ?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 08:53h, 04 July

      Vikram: The answer to most of these questions is best articulated by Sunil Khilnani and Pratap Bhanu Mehta. The fact is the the pre-1947 nationalist movement was very elitist. It could not be classified as a mass movement from below in any way. In this context, the relevant observation is that not the masses but the leadership of the INC, leaving aside those at the very top, were motivated by revivalist sentiments. This leadership then aroused people, by playing on their prejudices and fears, for particular outcomes that accorded with their preferences. The language movement, orchestrated from above, was one example of this. Khilnani goes so far as to say: “Hindu nationalism was a real mover in the agitation for Partition, both directly through the organization and action of Hindu communalists, and through its influence within Congress” (The Idea of India, pp. 161-2). And he also articulated the divisions with the leadership: “But its [Hindu nationalism’s] definition of an Indian nation was an ever-present imaginative magnet, the pole against which men like Gandhi and Nehru constantly had to act” (op cit, p. 161).

      In this framework, the claim is not that the people on both sides were communally inclined. Rather, that the leadership on both sides opted to push communal buttons at various points in time. This practice continues to this day.

      Your comment that there couldn’t be a Hindu revivalist electorate because the Jana Sangh managed only 3% of the vote is commonly made but requires unpacking. The best counter-example is from Pakistan. It is readily believed that all Pakistanis are infused by an Islamist sentiments, yet the religious parties hardly ever get more that 5% of the seats in parliament. How and and on what basis people vote is a complex matter involving as it does a tradeoff between material interests and psychological satisfaction. The theory of the rational voter can explain this seeming conundrum.

      Also, for the sake of general interest, there should be clarity about what is meant by Hindustani. It was not that a Persianate Hindustani and and a Sankritized Hindi existed at the same time and a choice had to be made between the two. Professor Frances Pritchett who taught Urdu and Hindi at Columbia has a very useful page on issues of language: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00urduhindilinks/hu_history_books.html

      In this list, there is a particularly good history of Hindustani by Dr. Tara Chand (1944). He clarifies that the term Hindustani referred to Khari Boli which was the lingua franca of the Upper Ganjetic Doab: “Hindustani is thus no new-fangled name, invented to replace Hindi and Urdu, but a well-recognized and old established term for the speech which is the common basis of its two divergent forms, Hindi and Urdu.”


    • Vikram
      Posted at 13:57h, 07 July

      “Your comment that there couldn’t be a Hindu revivalist electorate because the Jana Sangh managed only 3% of the vote is commonly made but requires unpacking. The best counter-example is from Pakistan. It is readily believed that all Pakistanis are infused by an Islamist sentiments, yet the religious parties hardly ever get more that 5% of the seats in parliament.”

      SA, there can hardly be any comparison between the Jana Sangh and the Islamist parties of Pakistan. The Jana Sangh from the start accepted democratic and constitutional politics, and agitated on specific issues like cattle slaughter, uniform civil code and language. Even if defined India as a culturally Hindu country, there was no proposal from it to usher in a Hindu state.

      The comparison with Pakistan’s Islamist parties is improper because they are demanding the implementation of an Islamic state, while the state already claims to do this as it has declared itself to be an ‘Islamic Republic’ and the constitution gives Islam a position of primacy in the country.

      If Pakistanis are not infused by Islamist sentiments, why not give equal citizenship to the Ahmedis and the Hindus ?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 06:53h, 08 July

      Vikram: You misunderstood the argument and also made an incorrect assumption.

      There are exclusively Islamic parties in Pakistan that accept democratic and constitutional politics and participate regularly in electoral politics. These include the Jamaat-e Islami and various factions of the Jamiat-e Ulama-e Pakistan. Pakistanis are infused with Islamic sentiments, therefore, according to your logic, they should vote for such parties so that the country has a more religiously oriented leadership than it has now. The fact is that they don’t. That shows that voting behavior is not simplistic and that the vote is not entirely determined by religious inclination or preference.

      Yes, there are Islamist groups in Pakistan that are not part of electoral politics like the various lashkars but it is not that case that there are no religious parties committed to electoral politics and offering voters a choice.

  • khemesh
    Posted at 13:21h, 24 June Reply

    undivided india will be more beautiful country of mixed several cultures and united nation will be a message for the world how to live unite together. it will just like a garden of several beautiful flower. and its constitution consist of secularism equality democratic value helps to stable and develope the country. but this stupid partition was injustice and illiterate decision. which gave only problems to both the country like terrorism, war etc
    undivided india could have very large area and population recources etc.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 22:49h, 04 July

      khemesh: What has happened has happened and in terms of human cost it was an immense tragedy. But there is nothing that prevents each country in South Asia from striving to be an example of how to live together internally and externally. Unfortunately, most of them have failed to do so and it is useful to think about the possible causes.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 22:44h, 04 July Reply

    Vikram: An amusing example of what is considered shuddh Hindi in India – involves Christine Fair. There seems a lot of confusion at the level of the masses!


    • Vikram
      Posted at 13:33h, 07 July

      SA, there is no confusion. In India, Hindi is understood to be a dialect continuum, i.e. there are many Hindi’s. Of these, the masses are most influenced by the Hindi of Bollywood, Hindi television and increasingly advertisements. But most speak a combination of Hindi and English, or Hinglish.

      Shuddh Hindi here just means Hindi without any English words.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 07:03h, 08 July

      Vikram: Perhaps post-1947 Shuddh Hindi means Hindi without any English words but earlier it was very much focused on purifying the local vernacular of Persian and Arabic accretions. All histories of that period document that. A good reference is Religious Controversy in British India: Dialogues in South Asian Languages edited by Kenneth W. Jones (SUNY, Albany, 1992).

  • Moulin
    Posted at 03:38h, 14 July Reply

    Partition of India wasn’t something totally new. Partition of Bengal was a fair precursor

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 17:31h, 14 July

      Moulin: Bengal was reunited after the partition you mention. Should that also be taken as a fair precursor for the future?

  • Vikram
    Posted at 17:06h, 14 July Reply

    SA, regarding the popularity of Indian movies in Pakistan, my specific claim is that ‘Muslimness’ plays an important part in how these entertainment products are consumed. I doubt a movie like ‘Baahubali’ would get any audience in Pakistan. So Pakistanis arent really watching these movies under an ‘Indian cinema’ umbrella, but picking and choosing specific movies based on a variety of factors, the Muslimness of the product being a major one. I am sure the same applies vis-a-vis Hollywood products (by both Indians and Pakistani), but the filters there are very different and much more limited.

    My perception here has developed by following articles on Pakistani newspapers and social media trends.

    Regarding the attitudes of Muslim elites in North India, I wouldnt include NWFP elites in that category and I very much doubt they would like to be called ‘Indian’. I specifically include first the UP elite and the Punjabi elite in this category. Ajmal Kamal provides a good perspective on this,

    “After dealing with the 1857 Mutiny (or the War of Independence if you like), the British colonial authorities decided to replace Persian with English at the higher levels of education, administration and judiciary and with the local vernaculars at the lower levels of primary education, thana, kutchery, post office, land revenue, irrigation etc. At most places this did not create a problem, for example in Sindh and Bengal, respectively Sindhi and Bengali were adopted for this purpose. But it did create a problem in that portion of the ‘Hindi Belt’ which was later designated as United Provinces (called North West Provinces and Oudh then). A huge ruckus ensued as a result of associating the language to this or that script, although the public (which was till then referred to as ryot or subjects) was mostly illiterate and had nothing to do with either the Persian or the Nagri script. But since the area was close to Delhi, where the post-Mutiny Muslim elites still had economic and cultural clout, the knowledge of the Persian script was made compulsory for those wishing to be employed at different lower levels of administration etc. However, a vast part of the area’s population was learning the Nagri script. They too aspired for those sarkari jobs and found the doors shut to them because of the script condition. This led to a campaign which demanded that the knowledge of the Nagri script be also made a criterion of eligibility.

    In 1900 an order was issued by the Lt. Governor of the NWP&O, Anthony McDonnel, which accepted this demand. The order did not remove the Persian script or replace it with Nagri, but the spectre of erosion of the Muslim elite’s monopoly over government jobs made this into a big political controversy within the province, and government jobs and ‘patronage’ came to be known as the means for ‘survival’ of the Urdu language. A strange phrase of ‘Urdu ki khidmat’ (service to Urdu) was invented, which is still current. (Have you ever heard a boatman claim that he is serving the river, or the boat?) The immediate purpose of this identity campaign was to make more jobs available to those who were proficient in reading and writing Urdu in the Persian script. The linguistic community was divided into the Urdu-walas and Hindi-walas and both camps began to make extravagant claims about their separate ‘languages’. Both bragged about their language being spoken in the whole subcontinent; a claim which was fraudulent from the point of view of those speaking Bengali, Tamil, Sindhi, Gujarati and so on.”


    Note that in 1900, the use of Devanagri was not acceptable to the Muslim elite of UP, despite the fact that they were a minority and most of the population did not understand the Arabic script. Attitudes like these form the background of later conflicts over language in the subcontinent which we have been discussing.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 10:15h, 15 July

      Vikram: The notion of a Muslimness filter is truly amusing. Believe me people in Pakistan can keep their politics and entertainment separate. There is lot of Anti-Americanism yet Hollywood films remain very popular. China is Pakistan’s best friend yet no one watches Chinese movies unless they are pornographic. You can only verify your suppositions with a visit – seeing is believing. One contra-indication to your hypothesis is the immense popularity of Indian soap-operas on TV. There is no Muslimness there to serve as a justification.

      As for Baahubali, I don’t know much about it but looking it up on Wikipedia tells me it is a Telegu movie. If so, it will not be a surprise if it is less watched in Pakistan. People wish to understand what is being said and at the very least want to have the script dubbed. My sense is most people watch Indian movies for the ‘item songs’ (nothing could be more anti-Islamic) and savor the double-meanings. If they don’t understand the language the pleasure is lost.

      It is unfortunate that you quote Ajmal Kamal to support your argument on language. That is like quoting Huma Yusuf to make a point about Ibne Sina’s science. Ajmal Kamal is not a scholar. He just has a hypothesis like you and me and many historians have dismissed it as incorrect. You would be much better off reading a scholarly account of the language controversies. I had linked one in an earlier email. Here is the link again: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00urduhindilinks/king/king.html.

      In particular, look at Chapter III. You will note many interesting facts and realize your mistake of conflating scripts with religion – not all Hindus favored Nagari and not all Muslims favored the Persian script. The key decisions were being made by the British and not by either Hindus or Muslims. The British were partial to the Persian script for their own reasons that the book explains. Also, the Nagari script was opposed not just by many Muslims but also by many Hindus. In Bengal, with a very significant Muslim minority, there was no demand for either Persian or Bengali in a Persianized script.

      The language issue was complex and one can’t leave it to the mercy of newspaper columnists like Ajmal Kamal.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 16:05h, 16 July

      SA, yes of course, not ‘all’ Hindus supported Nagari and vice versa. But the reasons for the opposition were instrumental (as the book you linked clearly points out), in the sense, that they would lose an advantage. I understand how the ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ differences crystallized and got accentuated as the Raj went about setting itself up and recruting/interfacing with the locals. In fact, even caste divisions crystallized much in the same way in that time, and have sharpened even more since independence.


      I am not sure why Ajmal Kamal’s argument is much different from that in the book. Kamal is thorough with his references. His argument is presented in a different way, putting a spotlight on the attitudes of elite Muslims who dominated ‘Muslim’ political activism. You mentioned Bengali, and that asks the question, why was the Bengali script acceptable to Bengali Muslims, but Nagari not to UP Muslims. Like I said earlier, the main reason for this has to be that Islam in the North Indian Muslim elite was a political and social identity. The language and script of administration is an important sign of who is in power, and hence the reluctance to let go of it.

      I hope you understand the immense confusion and frustration such attitudes lead to among the majority. Nobody can justify the tyranny of a majority, but on matters like the official language, the majority point of view has to hold, and then others accommodated. It is quite clear that the majority in UP desire Hindi in the Nagari script to be the official language. A logical compromise would have been to use both Hindi and Urdu in the Devanagari script, but it is the elite Muslims who associated script and religion.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 23:55h, 27 July

      Vikram: You are making an elementary mistake by conflating interest group politics with religion. Interest group politics is the universal norm. Whenever a group has power it is not willing to relinquish it. It has nothing to do with religion accept by coincidence. You associate the difference between Bengal and UP to a special kind of Islam. A more convincing explanation would emerge by examining the gains and losses of a particular stance. The gains that were at stake in the UP were not so in Bengal. That is also why there were people of both religions on both sides of the political conflict.

      To push this further, on can say that the majority in UP or India desire social justice. Does that convince those who hold economic power to concede it to them. In this case there is no religious complication since the majority on both sides belongs to the same religion.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 02:28h, 28 July

      SA, hardly a couple of CM’s in India are from the so called ‘high caste’ families. The overwhelming majority come from the peasant communities and OBC’s who form the plurality of the Indian electorate and commander the vote of farm labourers due to their economic dependence on them.

      The ‘high castes’ (Brahmin, Bania and Kshatriya) hardly make up 15 % of the Indian population and the establishment of democracy by a Constituent Assembly where members of such groups were in a majority would be tantamount to a relinquishment of political power according to me. Similar things could be said of post apartheid South Africa.

      I dont think people in India desire social justice, although they are not opposed to it. In fact this conversation points us to why this might be the case. The very nature of politicization in the subcontinent has been identity based, starting with Hindu-Muslim and then later on after independence with caste. Where there has been political mobilization based on economic justice, there has been land redistribution. Actually, most of India has since quite a bit of land reform (see Table 4 in this paper http://www.agrarianstudies.org/UserFiles/File/1Bakshi_Social_Inequality_in_Land_Ownership_in_India.pdf) and the high levels of inequality are more a consequence of an urban rural divide and general population increase.

      So all in all, yes a lot of Indians have given up unfair economic power (starting with the abolishment of zamindari) when confronted with an articulate political movement.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 02:30h, 28 July

      Another example of a group willingly relinquishing power and becoming part of a democratic order,

  • anton
    Posted at 13:52h, 31 July Reply

    might I add that whitehall already decided to divide India because they did not want a powerful coloured country, the same as they european powers did to the Arabs and created Isreal, nothing against Jews but these were the same people who turned back Jewish refugees and alerted the Nazis to their Jewish communities.

    Jinnah wanted autonomy not a separate country. This was the work of the Colonial Government and yet the sub-continent still cannot see that!

  • Maryam
    Posted at 01:48h, 05 February Reply

    I too agree with the author, some other solution would have definitely worked out if India was not partitioned. But it was something that was bound to happen as a result of de-colonization, as it happened everywhere else in the world. We can sit here ask this question because more then half a century later we now understand what happened in British India and every where else in the world.

    Here’s something else to ponder about, what would have happened if Pakistan was formed, but for some reason, the Indian Muslims changed thier minds at the last moment and had decided to stay where they were?

    • Vikram
      Posted at 04:32h, 05 February

      Maryam, partition ultimately was the result of the specific modes of politicization of first the educated elite and then the masses of British India, and the inability or disinterest of leaders to check this mode of politicization. I think demographic trends also played a part, with the proportion of Muslims in the entire subcontinent rising from 19% in 1871 to 25% in 1941, with particularly sharp increases in Punjab (40% to 60%) and Bengal (50% to 56%).

      Other colonized areas of course went through a similar process, but the question could be asked if India can include Hindu Tamils, Bengali Christians and Rajasthani Muslims, why not Punjabi and Sindhi Muslims ?

      Regarding the question you have put forward to think about, I feel that your premise is incorrect. The overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims stayed where they were. The Muslim population of the current day India decreased only slightly from 13.4 % to 10.4%. Most of those who left were forced to do so. Today the Indian Muslim population is back to 14%.

      The far more dramatic change has been in the Hindu population of Pakistan and Bangladesh. In Pakistan, the Hindu population dropped from 19.7% in 1941 to 1.6% in 1951. In Bangladesh, the change has been more gradual, but just as decisive, 29.61% in 1941 to 22.89% in 1951, and just 9% as of 2011.

  • Dehlavi
    Posted at 12:11h, 21 February Reply

    A perfect article, Altaf! Couldn’t agree more. Partition sowed the seeds of the worst ever family feud ever!

  • Raman Sehgal
    Posted at 10:26h, 23 May Reply

    I must appreciate South Asian for patiently replying to comments (I just read few of them) and wishing for united India.

    In the hindsight – we all r wise. My analysis is that Partition was a god send gift to Hindus (minus the tragedy of millions killed in ’47 riots). The terms of the partition as set by Jinnah (or British) were impractical. You have mentioned the example of Malaysia, Lebanon and S. Africa. Lebanon is no example to follow and S. African division r racial not religious. The only relevant example is that of Malaysia. Well in Malaysia i dont think Chinese or Indian came to that country as conquerors or destroyed their heritage or culture. Their past is not soaked with blood – moreover it is the Indians and Chinese who earn money and provide for the welfare for the Malayans ( I am no expert on Malaysia – correct me in case i am wrong).

    But in case of Hindus and Muslims in India – the history is socked in blood since the first arrival of muslims. The old wounds would have opened sooner or later. We could not resolve the Hindu-Muslim conflict till past is not acknowledged and forgiven / forgotten.

    To know the root of Hindu Muslim divide – read the following : http://ramansaigal.blogspot.in/2016_03_01_archive.html

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 18:34h, 23 May

      Raman: What can I say except that beliefs, especially strongly-held ones, need to be cross-checked against facts. You want to believe that the Muslim-Hindu past is “soaked in blood”. Perhaps the entire sum of casualties in the Muslim-Hindu interaction was less than the total casualties in the Kalinga war alone. Do look it up.

      That period of history, whichever part of the globe you look at, was one of warfare. Do you believe when the Aryans or Alexander or the White Huns or the Mongols or the British came to India there was no bloodshed? Have you boycotted Britishers or Christians (who came as conquerors and ridiculed Indians as uncivilized) because of that? But the incredible part is that in today’s era when civil war has disappeared from most of the world, it is still going on in India between the state and the Adivasis and there is no lack of violence between the upper and lower castes. If you cannot resolve what you call the Hindu-Muslim ‘conflict’, can you resolve the inter-caste ‘conflict’ over which Dr. Ambedkar tore up a major text? I agree that the resolution of all conflicts requires forgiving and forgetting but it seems that you believe some are exempted from the requirement.

      I can’t understand how you believe Partition was a “god-sent gift to Hindus”. I suppose you mean in the sense of getting rid of Muslims. But there are still more Muslims in India than there are in Pakistan. Not only that, India has had to divert considerable resources to fighting wars and protecting itself from terrorism. This is a strange gift indeed.

      You claim Lebanon is no example to follow. Well, it handled its religious complexities without killing a million people and making ten million homeless. To me that makes it a worthwhile example. Regarding South Africa, it is also a better example of handling differences than India – it doesn’t matter whether the difference was religious or racial. As far as Malaysia is concerned, the majority could very well have decided to decimate those who were earning all the money (as happened in Indonesia) and holding all the government jobs. They succeeded in finding a power-sharing formula which the Indian leaders failed to do. All these are facts that you can read up.

  • Raman Sehgal
    Posted at 07:41h, 26 May Reply

    South Asian,

    1. Fights between humans had been going on since ages and will continue till eternity. Hoping for a peaceful world is a wishful thinking.

    2. Pre-abrahmic fights were secular – for which there can be a solution or the solution can be found by the passing of the main protagonist – whose ego would have been the cause of the fight.

    3. But the scriptural hatred has no solution – it will continue from one generation to another. The muslims have been fighting non-muslims since mohammed’s time and will continue doing so till the time islam exists.

    4. The hindu genocide is the greatest in history – read : https://themuslimissue.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/islamic-invasion-of-india-the-greatest-genocide-in-history/

    5. muslims hatred towards hindus is scriptural and no one can erase it – read my above link.

    6. muslims with 25% population wanted parity with hindus – but r muslims of malaysia willing to provide parity to heir non-muslims subjects when they constitute around 40% of population.

    7. We on the hindsight are all wise – india with strong centre is still not able to resolve inter state issues – how do u think weaker centre would have resolved issue with hindu-muslim states having separate constitutions – we need to be practical and not dreamers.

    8. partition was blessing for Hindus – as hindus got united and muslims turned weaker in all three states. there was no blame game for the failure of hindu or muslim state – which otherwise would have been the case.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 12:49h, 31 May

      Raman: Re your claim that “The hindu genocide is the greatest in history,” I believe this will become the accepted truth in India because of majoritarianism. Unlike you, I don’t think this will be good for India in the long term. In the rest of the world, ordinary people have very little interest in Hindu-Muslim issues. The only people who reflect on it seriously are scholars with a specialization in South Asia. I doubt if they would come to the same conclusion. If you have read any reputed scholar supporting this claim, do let me know.

  • Raman Sehgal
    Posted at 07:07h, 01 June Reply


    1. I had posted the links on the details of the temple destruction – I do not find the post – I presume u might have deleted it by mistake – for i am sure u r not a believer in censorship.


    ‘The Moslem Conquest of India’ from ‘Story of Civilization’ by Will & Ariel Durant [Volume 1, Chapter 16]

    The Mohammedan Conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precarious thing, whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace may at any time be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.

    The Hindus had allowed their strength to be wasted in internal division and war; they had adopted religions like Buddhism and Jainism, which unnerved them for the tasks of life; they had failed to organize their forces for the protection of their frontiers and their capitals, their wealth and their freedom, from the hordes of Scythians, Huns, Afghans and Turks hovering about India’s boundaries and waiting for national weakness to let them in.

    For four hundred years (600-1000 A.D.) India invited conquest; and at last it came. The first Moslem attack was a passing raid upon Multan, in the western Punjab (664 A.D.) Similar raids occurred at the convenience of the invaders during the next three centuries, with the result that the Moslems established themselves in the Indus valley about the same time that their Arab co-religionists in the West were fighting the battle of Tours (732 A.D.) for the mastery of Europe.

    But the real Moslem conquest of India did not come till the turn of the first millennium after Christ.

    In the year 997 a Turkish chieftain by the name of Mahmud became sultan of the little estate of Ghazni, in eastern Afghanistan. Mahmud knew that his throne was young and poor, and saw that India, across the border, was old and rich; the conclusion was obvious. Pretending a holy zeal for destroying Hindu idolatry, he swept across the frontier with a force inspired by a pious aspiration for booty. He met the unprepared Hindus at Bhimnagar,slaughtered them, pillaged their cities, destroyed their temples, and carried away the accumulated treasures of centuries.

    Returning to Ghazni he astonished the ambassadors of foreign powers by displaying “jewels and unbored pearls and rubies shining like sparks, or like wine congealed with ice, and emeralds like fresh sprigs of myrtle, and diamonds in size and weight like pomegranates.”

    Each winter Mahmud descended into India, filled his treasure chest with spoils, and amused his men with full freedom to pillage and kill; each spring he returned to his capital richer than before.

    At Mathura (on the Jumna) he took from the temple its statues of gold encrusted with precious stones, and emptied its coffers of a vast quantity of gold, silver and jewellery; he expressed his admiration for the architecture of the great shrine, judged that its duplication would cost one hundred million dinars and the labour of two hundred years, and then ordered it to be soaked with naphtha and burnt to the ground. Six years later he sacked another opulent city of northern India, Somnath, killed all its fifty thousand inhabitants, and dragged its wealth to Ghazni.

    In the end he became, perhaps, the richest king that history has ever known. Sometimes he spared the population of the ravaged cities, and took them home to be sold as slaves; but so great was the number of such captives that after some years no one could be found to offer more than a few shillings for a slave. Before every important engagement Mahmud knelt in prayer, and asked the blessing of God upon his arms. He reigned for a third of a century; and when he died, full of years and honours, Moslem historians ranked him as the greatest monarch of his time, and one of the greatest sovereigns of any age.

    Seeing the canonization that success had brought to this magnificent thief, other Moslem rulers profited by his example, though none succeeded in bettering his instruction. .In 1186 the Ghuri, a Turkish tribe of Afghanistan, invaded India, captured the city of Delhi,destroyed its temples, confiscated its wealth, and settled down in its palaces to establish the Sultanate of Delhi- an alien despotism fastened upon northern India for three centuries, and checked only by assassination and revolt.

    The first of these bloody sultans, Kutb-ud-Din Aibak, was a normal specimen of his kind -fanatical, ferocious and merciless. His gifts, as the Mohammedan historian tells us, “were bestowed by hundreds of thousands, and his slaughters likewise were by hundreds of thousands.. “In one victory of this warrior (who had been purchased as a slave), “fifty thousand men came under the collar of slavery, and the plain became black as pitch with Hindus.”

    Another sultan, Balban, punished rebels and brigands by casting them under the feet of elephants, removing their skins, stuffing these with straw and hanging them from the gates of Delhi. When some Mongolian habitants who had settled in Delhi, and had been converted to Islam, attempted arising, Sultan Ala-ud-din (the conqueror of Chitor) had all the males -from fifteen to thirty thousand of them – slaughtered in one day.

    Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlak acquired the throne by murdering his father, became a great scholar and an elegant writer, dabbled in mathematics, physics and Greek philosophy,surpassed his predecessors in bloodshed and brutality, fed the flesh of a rebel nephew to the rebel’s wife and children, ruined the country with reckless inflation, and laid it waste with pillage and murder till the inhabitants fled to the jungle.

    He killed so many Hindus that, in the words of a Moslem historian, “there was constantly in front of his royal pavilion and his Civil Court a mound of dead bodies and a heap of corpses, while the sweepers and executioners were wearied out by their work of dragging” the victims” and putting them to death in crowds.”

    In order to found a new capital at Daulatabad he drove every inhabitant from Delhi and left it a desert; and hearing that a blind man had stayed behind in Delhi, he ordered him to be dragged from the old to the new capital, so that only a leg remained of the wretch when his last journey was finished.

    The Sultan complained that the people did not love him, or recognize his undeviating justice. .He ruled India for a quarter of a century, and died in bed. His successor, Firoz Shah, invaded Bengal, offered a reward for every Hindu head, paid for 180,000 of them, raided Hindu villages for slaves, and died at the ripe age of eighty. Sultan Ahmad Shah feasted for three days whenever the number of defenseless Hindus slain in his territories in one day reached twenty thousand.

    These rulers were often men of ability, and their followers were gifted with fierce courage and industry; only so can we understand how they could have maintained their rule among a hostile people so overwhelmingly outnumbering them. All of them were armed with a religion militaristic in operation, but far superior in its stoical monotheism to any of the popular cults of India; they concealed its attractiveness by making the public exercise of the Hindu religions illegal, and thereby driving them more deeply into the Hindu soul.

    Some of these thirsty despots had culture as well as ability; they patronized the arts, and engaged artists and artisans–usually of Hindu origin– to build for them magnificent mosques and tombs; some of them were scholars, and delighted in converse with historians, poets and scientists. One of the greatest scholars of Asia, Alberuni, accompanied Mahmud of Ghazni to India,and wrote a scientific survey of India comparable to Pliny’s “Natural History” and Humboldt’s “Cosmos”.

    The Moslem historians were almost as numerous as the generals, and yielded nothing to them in the enjoyment of bloodshed and war. The Sultans drew from the people every rupee of tribute that could be exacted by the ancient art of taxation, as well as by straightforward robbery; but they stayed in India, spent their spoils in India, and thereby turned them back into India’s economic life.

    Nevertheless, their terrorism and exploitation advanced that weakening of Hindu physique and morale, which had been begun by an exhausting climate, an inadequate diet, political disunity, and pessimistic religions. The usual policy of the Sultans was clearly sketched by Ala-ud-din, who required his advisers to draw up “rules and regulations for grinding down the Hindus, and for depriving them of that wealth and property which fosters disaffection and rebellion.”

    Half of the gross produce of the soil was collected by the government; native rulers had taken one-sixth. “No Hindu,” says a Moslem historian, “could hold up his head, and in their houses no sign of gold or silver…or of any superfluity was to be seen…. Blows, confinement in the stocks, imprisonment and chains, were all employed to enforce payment.”

    When one of his own advisers protested against this policy, Alauddin answered: “Oh,Doctor, thou art a learned man, but thou hast no experience; I am an unlettered man, but I have a great deal. Be assured, then, that the Hindus will never become submissive and obedient till they are reduced to poverty. I have therefore given orders that just sufficient shall be left to them from year to year of corn, milk and curds, but that they shall not be allowed to accumulate and property.”

    This is the secret of the political history of modern India. Weakened by division, it succumbed to invaders; impoverished by invaders, it lost all power of resistance, and took refuge in supernatural consolations; it argued that both mastery and slavery were superficial delusions, and concluded that freedom of the body or the nation was hardly worth defending in so brief a life. The bitter lesson that may be drawn from this tragedy is that eternal vigilance is the price of civilization. A nation must love peace, but keep its powder dry.

    3. In case u want to have more detailed information – kindly read Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 20:06h, 01 June

      Mr. Sehgal, the reasoning methods involved in the study of historical and social realities have to be more subjective and accommodating of varied perspectives.

      One of the principal reasons is that data are hard to come by, and even when present are highly subjective, given that they represent a particular person’s beliefs and interests. Therefore, relying on a single account is bound to lead to a limited understanding.

      The account you have quoted from, comes from a particular historian, who had a strong position in general, against religions, and thus was inclined to see the role of religions in history and the information from his sources in a negative light. This is not ‘wrong’ but it is only one perspective.

      The same holds for Ram Swarup, Sita Ram Goel, and Romila Thapar as well. There is no ‘right’ answer in history, we can only try and interpret our already limited, biased and inaccurate sources in myriad ways, and put together a point of view.

      This is why I find the term history very limited, histories is a better term in my opinion.

      To put things more directly, if being Muslim automatically meant such a deep hatred of India and its traditions, then people like Mohamed Rafi and A.R. Rahman would not exist, much less be pillars of our culture today.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 11:22h, 03 June

      Raman: I would like to mention two points. First, Will Durant is not considered a scholar of South Asia. At the end of the narrative you have quoted he arrives at the grand generalization: “This is the secret of the political history of modern India. Weakened by division, it succumbed to invaders; impoverished by invaders, it lost all power of resistance, and took refuge in supernatural consolations; it argued that both mastery and slavery were superficial delusions, and concluded that freedom of the body or the nation was hardly worth defending in so brief a life.” Do you subscribe to this? Is it possible that some may still be afflicted by “supernatural consolations?”

      Durant’s history is like that James Mill, who, by the way, has a much greater reputation. Have you read his History of British India, especially the long essay “Of the Hindus?” Would you cite that as acceptable history? If not, why not?

      Second, the facts you state in terms of the number of deaths may well be correct but it would still not constitute genocide. You have to be careful with the use of the term which is defined as follows: “Genocide is the intentional action to systematically eliminate an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group.” The emphasis is on the word ‘intentional.’ Hitler’s extermination of Jews constitutes genocide; so does a number of massacres in Bosnia. However, despite many deaths in the two World Wars, and in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, these do not fall under the category of genocide.

    • Raman Sehgal
      Posted at 06:37h, 04 June


      Who the writer is not important – important are the facts presented – and then we can interpret the facts based on our biases.

      That is y I am mentioning SR Goel and Ram Swarup – they have collected the facts from court records of muslims emprerors, muslim writers, inscriptions, etc. These have not been challenged (to the best of my knowledge – in case u know of study that refutes their study – do let me know) – so we take it as true.

      Genocide : let us not go into semantics – the facts is Islamic murderers have obliterated all other religions, cultures of west and central asia, north africa – u can choose whatever word to describe it – bu the facts will remain the same.

      My suggestion is y dont muslims acknowledge these facts. U were not responsible for the massacre and most likely nor were your ancestors (they are likely to be converts from hindusim) – once facts r acknowledged – and appropriate apology made – one can find a solution for peaceful co-existence in present and future. But muslims r so brainwashed with lies that they r told muslim invasion was god sent opportunity to make us civilized people.

      Can u elaborate how Mohammed bin – Quasim or Ghori or Ghazanavi r projected in Pak books?

      Let us face the harsh truth and move on.

  • Raman Sehgal
    Posted at 06:59h, 02 June Reply


    I presume you r as much of the armature historian as I am. We rely on scholars words – who have spent their life unearthing truth. But how do we know whose version is true as any person will tend to put his/her bias into the study and twist the facts to suit their own conclusion? The answer is above is let them debate – this way we will come to know who stands on strong or weak wicket.

    To give you an example on temple destruction – Richard M Eaton professor of history, University of Arizona (a marxist) has written a well researched book on temple destruction in India.

    Lot of seculars give reference to Eaton’s book in order to downplay the Hindu voices on destruction of thousands of temples. You can find lot of articles referenced to Eaton.

    Now Dr. Elst – a camp follower of Ram Swarup and SR Goel has written a rebuttal to Eaton’s book – here is the link : http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/articles/ayodhya/eaton.html

    Now – a normal inquisitive person (which I am) would like to read a rebuttal to Dr. Elst write-up so that we know the bottom of the truth.

    There was an article by an American Scholar (Stanford University) -Audrey Truschke – stating the same thing as other seculars that temple destruction – as imagined by hindu right – is a myth.

    I wrote to her asking for the rebuttal to Dr. Elst’s write-up. I did get few replies but when i kept on insisting on her reply to Dr. Elst – she went silent.

    From above what conclusion would a lay person like me draw – that Dr. Elst is speaking the truth – but in case tomorrow – someone comes with better replies and nails Dr. Elst study – I will change my stand.

    This is a normal process.

    The scholarly study of Ram Swarup and SR Goel has not been refuted by any of the secular scholars.



    There r documentary and other evidences to the above list – so no secular scholar dare refute the above – instead these so called scholars label RS and SRG as hindutva ideologues without bothering to counter them scholarly.

    The remains of Ram Temple at Ayodhya were found during excavation – what better proof u want. recently a road side mosque in Karnataka was partly demolished for widening of road – at its foundation – the pillars of hindu temple were found – where is bias in this study.

    I have written on Hindu- Muslim divide / hate – what r the causes and how to bridge the divide :


    your comment would be appreciated.

  • Raman Sehgal
    Posted at 07:01h, 02 June Reply

    Mohammed Rafi, AR Rehman etc – i will write on them and post link here in few days.

  • Raman Sehgal
    Posted at 06:55h, 03 June Reply

    This explains AR Rehman, Mohammed Rafi and millions of other good muslims :

    If Islam is Evil then how come majority of muslims are normal people like non-muslims?

    The core / centre of Islam is Koran and complementing it are Hadiths and Sira. In reality, we do not know what happened in Arabia in 7th century but the picture drawn from hadith and sira (though written around 200 years from Mohammed’s death) is evil, at least towards non-muslims and females.
    The history of islam testifies its spread through sword, destruction of various religions and cultures that came in way of Islamic juggernaut but there have also been great muslim scientist, musicians, poets, humanists, sufis, etc. – who vouch for truthfulness of islam and are proud of being muslim. How can we explain the goodness if Islam is evil?
    The best way to explain the above dichotomy is allegorically through the transverse concentric waves that emanates when a heavy object is dropped in water.

    The origin / center of the wave is Koran, Hadith and Sira – it produces the concentric wave pattern of crests and troughs. Crest (high point) being visible part of islam is political Islamism as practiced and preached during medianian era while trough (low point) is invisible part is a spiritual Islam as preached during the meccan era.
    As the wave travels further from its center it gets weaker and in case some other light object is dropped in water the main wave’s intensity gets weaker and sometimes the effect of the main wave vanishes and only the wave of the lighter object is felt (depending on how further the object is dropped from the main center and how heavy the object is in comparison to the main object).
    Wahabism / Deobandi only believe in the main wave emanating from Koran, Hadith & Sira and that too only the crust part of Islam (since trough part has been abrogated in Koran). Their objective is to destroy any other smaller waves that originates in the Islamic spread from the presence any Sufis (Baravelvi), Shias (Ali, Hussien, Hassan), Ahmadi, etc. The closer they get to the center of the concentric wave ie 7th century Islam – more evil their ideology becomes. Further they r from the core – more moderate they are.
    Now large number of muslims, even deobandis, who believe only in the original wave and no other sect (smaller waves) too are nice people – this can be explained by the fact that these people mainly believe in the trough (meccan) part of the wave and not the crust (medinian) part.
    Now the other sects of Islam like Shias, Ahmadi, Ismali, Baravelli, etc can be allegorized as being independent centers that emanates their own waves within the large spread of Islam. The ones that are closer to the main core eg Shias are only little bit less evil than wahabism Islam since the effect of the original wave is too strong. But the ones that form the independent core having their own waves at the periphery of the Islamic spread like Ahmadi or Sufi sects have very less element of the original evil wave since it has been superimposed by the waves of their own sects. These people though calling themselves muslims – are moderates, nice normal people like any average non-muslims.
    The above allegory can be put to test in the following cases :
    Akbar initially was a die hard islamist (closer to the Islamic core) killed several innocents just because of their different faith, once he started getting away from the main Islamic center , he started getting liberal to such an extent that he started a new faith Din-e-elahi and in true sense laid the foundation of mughal empire in India
    And opposite happened to Aurangzeb, he was initially liberal but soon started getting closer to the Islamic core – imposed Jaziya, started converting non-muslims and fought with them all his life – thus was instrumental in demise of mughals.
    All scholars of Islamic golden age were rationalist who considered Koran as created and not divine ie away from its evil center even Dr. Abus Salam – a devout muslim was a Ahmadi – who have their own philosophy and are thus away from the main core plus have their own waves that nullify the evil waves of main Islam.
    Baghdadi, Osama-bin-laden, etc are the ones who are closer to the center of islam as they want to bring back 7th century Islam – hence they r pure evil.

    Similar examples can be seen in nation states – the ones who r closer to the evil center r worst in human rights and treatment of minorities whereas those who r at the periphery of the Islamic spread r better
    So in conclusion – the closer one is within the concentric circles to real islam the more evil he will be and farther one is from the core and under the influence of the divergent waves (sects) – better the person will be.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 11:57h, 03 June

      Raman: Your comment “If Islam is Evil then how come majority of muslims are normal people like non-muslims?” triggers the following thought:

      Let me break this into two parts: (1) Islam is Evil and (2) the majority of muslims are normal people like non-muslims.

      First, are all non-muslims normal people? If not, is the ratio of normal to abnormal people different in different religions? If so, what is the evidence for that claim?

      Second, if the majority of muslims are normal people, why does it matter whether Islam is evil or not? It seems to have no impact on the majority of muslims.

      I recommend reading Olivier Roy’s Secularism confronts Islam. He explains why one should start with the lived reality of people rather than from scriptural texts in order to arrive at sensible conclusions.

  • Raman Sehgal
    Posted at 06:10h, 04 June Reply

    SA : Islam is evil :

    We all have characteristic of grey – none of us (that includes holy saints or hardened criminals) is pure black or white. But it requires an evil ideology to turn an otherwise sober person into a criminal. The more one is attracted towards Islam (the trough portion) – the more evil he/ she becomes. There r umpteen examples. The the reason for this is exclusivity and hatred towards non-muslims – and it is scriptural.

    have u ever wondered y muslims cannot live in peace with any other non-muslim community – start from Philippines and end in US. – it is the same story everywhere. The only only common element among diverse people is Islam – so the blame has to go to Islam

    Leave aside non-muslims – muslims cannot live peacefully among themselves. Have u ever wondered y? What reason do u give yourself? Do u blame all others except Islam – as is the norm of the muslims.

    Yes – one need to form an opinion with the lived reality of people – but muslims fail in this respect. This can be applicable to Jews and Christians – whose scripture is as evil as koran or hadith – but they have moved on from these scriptures and formed a new narrative – which sadly muslims have not.

    Let me know what wrong you found in my write-up.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 16:59h, 07 June

      Raman: I have no issue with your position. You are entitled to your conclusion and can defend it if you have ascertained your facts from a reliable source and verified and cross-checked them.

      On this blog the emphasis is on logic and on that score I still have some questions:

      First, if “the majority of muslims are normal like non-muslims” what exactly is the problem? Why does it matter that Islam is evil if it has no impact on the majority?

      Second, If the Torah, Bible and Koran are equally evil but Jews and Christians have moved on why do you believe muslims are different and will never do so? Suppose you had lived at the height of the Christian Inquisitions, would you have predicted that Christians would move on? If not, how can you be absolutely sure that muslims won’t? That is a non-scientific attitude because one can never predict the future with complete certainty. You would have to ask if you are being dogmatic because you don’t want to concede a possibility that contradicts your present beliefs.

  • Raman Sehgal
    Posted at 09:25h, 08 June Reply


    Having ones own Position : It is obvious every person is entitled to have his/her own opinion but the purpose of debate is to challenge the opinion of the other person – not for one up-man-ship, but to delve into truth. Every person has limited range to look at the things – but it can be widened but the perspective of various people. So I have given my facts / opinion – I can be wrong – so it is your intellectual duty to either accept my facts / opinion or to reject or alter them by providing different facts or opinion. With honesty we can come to the same conclusion.

    Even 1% of muslims – if affected my the evilness of islam will make a huge number ie 15 million – just imagine 15 million jihadist planning to kill infidels and establish khalifa-u-din rashida where sharia rule the supreme.

    The problem is that if the evil ideology is kept intact – it can entice an otherwise normal muslim into a killing machine – so the only solution is to tamper with the ideology so that no one kills others because of the scriptures.

    Torah : Jews r a closed group – they dont want to push their ideology down your throat – they think they r chosen people – they have right to think whatever they want – as long as they do not interfere in my life – equally i have the right to think i am the only chosen person created by God – as long as I do not make you change your ways and do not interfere in your life.

    Bible : Christians did have a problem – and the way out of the problem resulted in killing of million of innocents just because they did not agree on which type of same god they should worship.

    Looking back – Christians had the advantage of benign image of christ – who was not a political figure – though their scriptures r as evil as koran and hadiths.

    Islamic hope – similar tinkering can be done in islam – in fact one sudanese mulla suggested that only meccan islam should be taken as eternal and medianian islam should be considered to be relevant to mohammed’s perisod only. This can be a solution to the islamic scriptural problem.

    But sadly that mulla was killed – I dont see any islamic intellectual speak in a way to find scriptural solution.

    I do have an idea – but that is too radical.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 19:31h, 08 June

      Raman: I don’t hold a brief for Islams and Muslims. My interest is only in the logic of the argumentation. So, for example, I find problematic your retrospective explanation for the reform of Christianity. If “Christians had the advantage of a benign image of Christ,” how come they killed “millions of innocents”?

  • Raman Sehgal
    Posted at 07:19h, 09 June Reply

    SA, the problem with christianity and islam is exclusivity.

    read the complete analysis here : http://ramansaigal.blogspot.in/2016/02/abrahamism-andhinduism-can-they-adapt.html

    Till reformation Christians took literal meaning of bible resulting in a situation similar to that of today’s Islam. But Christianity has survived reforms only due to the benign image of christ. Every now and then u can hear pope alter their stand on long standing issues like homosexuality, abortion, contraceptive, etc. This change will enable Christianity to move with times. I often say to myself that the day Pope announces that salvation can be attained by different means ie it is not exclusive to Christ – I will turn myself Christian – because its exclusivity will be dead.

    Muslims need to get more honest about Islam and at least start debating on reformation in Islam – how and what can be reformed – only then muslims can think of moving with times.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 12:14h, 09 June

      Raman: In my view, the “benign image of Christ” seems to be an irrelevant variable in your equation. Were the pre- and post-reform images of Christ different? If not, then what it did have to do with the reform?

  • Raman Sehgal
    Posted at 07:20h, 10 June Reply

    SA – apart from the difference in the image of the respective founders (Mohammed and Jesus) – there is not much difference between Islam and Christianity :

    Read the verses from Torah, Bible, Koran and Hadith – u will not be able to distinguish to which book a particular verse belongs :


    But looking in hindsight – we can say that Christianity survived close scrutiny of its scriptures because of benign image of Jesus. Islam does not have this escape valve.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 13:44h, 11 June

      Raman: You have simply repeated the statement you had made earlier: “Christianity survived close scrutiny of its scriptures because of benign image of Jesus.” You have not responded to the logical challenge posed to this claim: Was the image of Christ different before and after the reform?

  • Raman Sehgal
    Posted at 10:46h, 13 June Reply

    I think Christ remained the same – since he surely is depicted as a selfless person (turn other cheek) but the Judaistic philosophy surrounding Christ got demolished and is still in process of getting demolished. I think most Christians in west – do not read or follow bible but do have a nice image of christ plus there r cultural reasons to remain within the community. I have not seen anyone defend objectionable verses of bible – they try to wriggle out of it or r simply embarrassed.

    Sadly, islam does not have the luxury of christianity.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 15:22h, 13 June

      Raman: What does it mean that “Islam does not have the luxury of Christianity.” What is the “luxury” of Christianity now that the image of Christ is accepted as an irrelevant variable?

      I have asked this earlier: If you had been living during the middle of the Christian Inquisition would you have predicted with certainty that the Biblical philosophy would get demolished? If not, how can you make the same prediction about Islam with so much certainty?

  • Raman Sehgal
    Posted at 08:31h, 14 June Reply

    SA, Where is Jesus irrelevant – take an example of a fruit – where pulp is judaistic theology and jesus is seed. Pulp got vitiated but seed remained healthy. So pulp was discarded and seed gave birth to a new Christian theology.

    Whereas in Islam the pulp (Islamic theology) and seed (mohammed) both r rotten.

    Every religion had its share of reforms. Christianity went back to its New Testament or rather jesus and is healthy and reforming or trying to reform with each passing day.

    Islam too had its age of reform in the form of Wahabism – where Wahab wanted to take islam to its pristine past to the days of mohammed and sahaba. He preached the removal of all the impurities of sufis, shias, baravelli, etc. from Islam. ISIS or Al Queda r the reformist movements of the islam – taking it to its original roots.

    But let us imagine – u have some theoretical ways to reform Islam – what would that be – can u change koran or reject hadith (as some koran only muslims r doing) ?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 13:47h, 15 June

      Raman: We have now exhausted this subject and should let it rest. Thank you for your contributions.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 15:29h, 23 July Reply
  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 17:38h, 24 July Reply

    These are great BBC documentaries about India’s frontier railways. You can view them to think over the implications of partition or the romance of rail travel. What struck me was the stark reality of poverty and the struggle to survive. Surely all development should be focused on individuals and communities and not on the achievement of abstract ideas and objectives:




    • Vikram
      Posted at 17:41h, 24 July

      The second episode (connection with Nepal) also illustrates how different the lived realities of religion in Indic lands were/are from the compartmentalized thinking that were imposed from above.

  • Rehan Khan
    Posted at 05:30h, 26 October Reply

    kashmir is a integral part of india so stop assuming about that whether they want to live with india or with na-paki.

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