Why and what for did the Dalai Lama sing paeans to Muhammad Ali Jinnah? Was there any rationale for his remarks? Jinnah forced the country’s Partition on the two-nation theory — India for Hindus and Pakistan for Muslims. But that was not to be. Will the 14th Dalai Lama explain Jinnah’s fiasco?
Basic human wisdom suggests that individuals should check if their next step will take them into any sprawling quagmire. Highly evolved human beings like the Tibetan spiritual leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, who give sermons to millions the world over through distant transmission systems every day and, understandably, rejuvenate their lives, ordinarily need not take lessons from anyone on what to speak and how to speak. However, in the midst of his own frustrations, now spread over some 59 years, the ageing Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama seems to have lost his firm ground, having failed to deliver to Tibetans, even an emotional respite, what to speak of the “respectable freedom” he had promised.
Fighting a strong, oppressive regime like China’s is no mean task, especially when the combatant himself is pitiably under India’s benign, liberal shelter. During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama and his entourage fled Tibet, escaping death, with the help of CIA agents, crossing into India on March 30, 1959, reaching Tezpur in Assam on April 18. He began his permanent exile in India as a refugee, settling in Dharamshala in then Punjab, where he established a shadow Tibetan government, even as the Chinese adopted brutal repressive measures against the Tibetans, inviting charges of genocide from the Dalai Lama.
Since his exile, the Dalai Lama has hopelessly watched China recklessly impose its totalitarian regime in Tibet, snatching away even the remotest possibility of its liberation. Apparently, the failure of his leadership vis-à-vis his people’s soaring aspirations has, to a great extent, robbed his ability to think, speak and act his feelings within the bounds of dignity, sobriety and composure. Else, he would not have raked up a controversy, stating that India and Pakistan would have remained one and united, and by implication, without any major hurdles and problems, had Muhammad Ali Jinnah — instead of Jawaharlal Nehru — been appointed the country’s first Prime Minister.
Well, the Dalai Lama here needs a message: Don’t wade into areas that touch off needless controversies. Is he then getting senile? Yes, perhaps! Though widely known for promoting tolerance, patience and forgiveness, he still gets angry over trivial things — as trifling as a minor goof-up by his staff. Was it in a similar fit of anger that the Tibetan leader chose to put the grand old Indian leadership in poor light, that too a few days before India’s Independence Day? Although to assuage the Indian masses, the Dalai Lama has felt ‘sorry’, the dent has been forced right on the intended place.
All Pakistan regimes cheated India
At a time when inimical Pakistan gets another rogue regime, the so-called “democratically elected government”, through the good offices of the military Generals — one headed by cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan — whose venomous rants against India ever since he secured a majority in Pakistan’s National Assembly and even earlier during the campaigning, has virtually drilled nasty holes in the eardrums of all thoughtful people on this side of the border. Courtesy demands that the newly anointed leaders must at least show some semblance of initial restraint even against theirs sworn enemies, while taking charges of high offices, and stay away from wild outbursts and charges. Imran Khan and party have done nothing of the short. Rather, they have managed to dig far deeper, roughing up the sensibilities of the Indian rulers who had expected “some change for the better” from the former cricketer who has a lot of intimate friends in India.
But yes, Imran Khan can’t possibly help, given his total subordination to his Generals. In fact, no Pakistani ruler ever cared to improve ties with India and, instead, chose to bedevil it with all forms of machinations. Pervez Musharraf was one of the worst.
In fact, the Dalai Lama made this fleeting statement, without explaining how Jinnah’s unexpected rise to power on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s suggestion would have kept the country united indefinitely for all times to come. Interacting with the students of the Goa Institute of Management, where he spoke on “Today’s Relevance of India’s Ancient Knowledge”, the Dalai Lama blamed Nehru for not letting Jinnah become Prime Minister: “Nehru was self-centred… he believed only he should become India’s first Prime Minister.” Because of his stubbornness, he stumped Gandhi. That, by nature, Nehru was self-centred, arrogant and non-compromising and that he attempted to build his dynasty ever since he assumed power is widely known. It’s because of Nehru’s special love for Sheikh Abdullah and the uncalled for, unequal concessions he extended to him and to Kashmir, that India has progressively faced bloody communal strife, the Kashmir imbroglio, including the internecine proxy war with Pakistan over decades.
Also, a major part of Jammu and Kashmir would not have been under Pakistan’s control today if the country’s first Prime Minister had been alive to India’s national interests and had listened to the saner advice of his Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who had warned him of “terrific times ahead” and “extremely bad neighborhood”, if India failed to quickly recapture the Pakistan-held Kashmir territory. Patel insisted that the entire Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India, with absolutely no scope for any compromises on any part of this landmass. But his strong views had become known to everyone after India and Pakistan became separate entities. Before Partition, Sardar Patel focussed on national unity where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and others, all had great responsibility in nation-building.
Why did Dalai Lama ‘forget’ Sardar Patel?
The Dalai Lama is not known to have ever uttered a word in disapproval of Sardar Patel’s either “too nationalistic views”, nor had he ever seen him as a “divisive force” within the Congress organisation or in the government set-up. Yet, it sounds pretty strange that he omitted Patel’s name in the context of the top national leadership of the day that had the mettle and guts to drive India to new horizons, new strength and a newer place of glory. Contrary to what Nehru thought of Patel in terms of Hindu-Muslim ‘kinship and bondage’, variously conveyed to Gandhi in negative terms, albeit in total privacy, many believe that Patel could have been a real cementing force for the unity that he had envisaged early on for the country that had passed though the history’s innumerable trials and tribulations.
Patel effectively fought against the obduracy of the rulers of princely states. Referring to the states of Hyderabad, Bhopal and Junagadh, Sardar had made it clear that “we can’t have cancer in the belly of India”. It was due to the untiring efforts of Lord Mountbatten, Sardar Patel and VP Menon, the administrative head of the State Department, that some 565 princely states, including five that strongly resisted the merger initiative, were finally integrated into the Indian dominion.
In the early years of his political career, Jinnah pleaded for Hindu-Muslim unity, helping to shape the 1916 Lucknow Pact between the Congress and his party, All-India Muslim League, through which he became popular and nationally famous. After he proposed a 14-point constitutional reform plan to safeguard the political rights of Muslims, he earned overnight prominence within his community. He won quick recognition in All India Home Rule League. Even in a campaign like satyagraha, Jinnah saw seeds of political anarchy growing. That explains why he quit the Congress in 1920.
Despite some positive sides of his personality and his spirit of ‘selective’ accommodation, Jinnah had developed a firm belief that Muslims of the Indian subcontinent needed their own state. Thus, in 1940, seven years before India’s Independence, the Jinnah-led Muslim League passed the Lahore Resolution, demanding a separate nation for the followers of Islam. Fortunately for the League, the Second World War came along, giving the Muslim organisation immediate strength, as most of the Congress leaders had been put behind the bars by the British. That resulted in his party winning most of the seats reserved for Muslims in the post-War elections.
Jinnah’s bloody Direct Action Day
It was because of Jinnah’s gradually gathered intransigence that the INC and the League failed to work out a power-sharing formula for ‘one Indian state’. If Jinnah was so intensely selective and communal in his thinking, not ready to make common cause with the much more liberal, accommodating Hindu community, then how come, Gandhi named Jinnah in 1946 for the prime ministership and now in 2018, the Dalai Lama, chooses to sing paeans for Jinnah as the most suitable, non-controversial leader of the 1947 combined Hindu- Muslim community? No doubt, Gandhi, ever expressed his extra care and empathy for Muslims, because he wanted their support for staying united with the Hindus for the subcontinent’s single state rule, where all stake-holders could participate under a democratic set-up.
In fact, Jinnah was a very shrewd and vicious planner. The ML and the INC were the two big political parties in the Constituent Assembly in the 1940s. The 1946 Cabinet Mission to India, to transfer power from the British to the Indian leadership, proposed an initial plan for the new Dominion of India and its government. This was not acceptable to Jinnah, who proposed an alternative plan to divide the British Raj into a ‘Hindu-majority India’ and a ‘Muslim-majority Pakistan’. And to bring pressure on the British government and the INC, Jinnah planned ‘Direct Action Day’ on August 16, 1946, stoutly rejecting the new ‘Dominion of India’ proposal and asserting its demand for a ‘separate Muslim homeland’. The ‘Direct Action’ triggered massive riots in Calcutta (now Kolkata) that took a toll of over 4,000 lives. More than 1,00,000 people were rendered homeless.
This large-scale violence further gave rise to, what was called, the “Week of The Long Knives”. The protest was intended to show the “strength of Muslim feelings”, both to the British and INC. Muslims feared that if the British just pulled out, they would be left to suffer at the hands of the Hindu majority. That Jinnah demonstrated the Muslim power through extensive violence shows his violent character, who could never control a government of Hindus and Muslims. And why did he think of “Direct Day’? He knew that in the Bengal province, Muslims with 56%, represented the majority, as against Hindus being just 42%, and those too mostly concentrated in the eastern part. This violence touched off communal riots in Bihar, UP, Punjab and in North Western Frontier Province, which ultimately led to the Partition of India.
But Jinnah obviously was terribly upset with Gandhi’s proposal. Why? As an intelligent, shrewd politician, he knew he could not rule a predominantly Hindu-majority India. He apprehended also communal violence over every major government decision, where he would be on the target of hard-core Hindus as his presence as PM would certainly do favor for Muslims, wherever possible. That, he felt, would be reason enough to infuriate the majority community leading to anarchy and disorder. Jinnah clearly feared that his life would be in danger. Therefore, he quietly chose to wriggle out of the “messy Gandhian offer”, simultaneously choosing to play patriarch in a Muslim-majority state of Pakistan. Jinnah had, by then, already picked up the merit of the two-nation theory from Chaudhary Rahmat Ali, a Pakistani Punjabi Muslim Gujjar, a nationalist, who conceived the idea of Pakistan. He is credited with creating the name “Pakistan” for a separate Muslim homeland in South Asia. He brought out a famous 1933 pamphlet, titled “Now or Never; Are We to Live or Perish Forever?” That message came in handy to Jinnah.
Who was right: Gandhi, Jinnah or Patel?
Now, 71 years later, when these two neighbouring countries continue to be haunted by Partition and its large-scale bloodshed, questions are still being asked: Were Gandhi and Nehru right to cling to a one-state idea? Or, was Jinnah right to insist on a two-state theory? Or, was Patel right on a neat demarcation of two separate Hindu, Muslim states to conclusively get rid of the communal venom? While India and Pakistan have fought four wars since Independence over the Kashmir dispute, resulting in mass bloodshed of soldiers and civilians, in the ongoing proxy war, too, thousands of more, including security men and civilians, have lost their lives. Despite deadly wars and several dialogues across the table, no solution of the tangle came to sight. The imbroglio remains intractable, because both the warring countries separately claim that the entire Kashmir belongs to them.
However, the whole of Kashmir became part of India by virtue of the Instrument of Accession, which is a legal document that was executed by Maharaja Hari Singh, ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, on October 26, 1947. By executing this document under the provisions of the Indian Independence Act 1947, the Maharaja agreed to accede to the Dominion of India.
Hari Singh, under the Instrument of Accession, came looking for India’s protection when Pakistan attempted to annex Kashmir. However, Pakistan lays its claim on Kashmir erroneously and without any valid ground. How funny is the argument that Kashmir is its territory just because it’s a Muslim-majority land! Does this genuinely establish Pakistan’s claim that “whole of Kashmir is our territory?”
Gandhi’s move was mysterious
It still continues to be a riddle why Gandhi wanted Jinnah, a Muslim, to become the ruler of Hindu-majority India, especially when he knew that the Muslim leader was almost terminally suffering from tuberculosis, the deadly, infectious bacterial disease. No Congress leader of the time seemed to have an inkling about what kind of plan exactly Gandhi had up his sleeve. Did he plan to propose another Muslim leader if something bad happened to the ailing leader after he took over as Prime Minister? It is said Nehru took early note of Gandhi’s “intense Muslim love” and quickly moved to forestall Gandhi’s game plan, which otherwise, too, was a fanciful, unattainable hope.
Subsequently, as the first Governor-General of Pakistan, Jinnah worked to establish the new nation's government and policies and took into his country millions of Muslim migrants who had emigrated from nascent India to Pakistan after Independence. But most of Muslims still preferred to live in the Hindu-majority India. Though he was never vocal about it, he wanted many Muslims to stay back in India, so that in times to come, they could manage to rule ‘Hindu India’ as well, taking advantage of their extraordinary growth in numbers. Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah was a man of wild, outrageous dreams. While referring to him, Dalai Lama must have talked, at least of his irresistible communal, divisive intentions against New Delhi. Jinnah died aged 71, in September 1948, about a year after India and Pakistan gained their respective Independence from the British Empire. But after the formation of Pakistan, Jinnah never sought dialogue on resolution of the Kashmir problem. Perhaps, he was convinced that Kashmir belonged to the sovereign independent Indian state!
Last Updated 9:24 AM IST