Wednesday, January 31, 2018

How easy it is to divide..

Yesterday was the 70th death anniversary of Gandhiji, the father of my nation. It was on January 30th 1948 that Gandhiji was killed by  Nathuram Godse. Godse must have killled Gandhii because he did not like the idea of ahimsa. Although one associates Indian independence with Gandhiji’s ahimsa, I think this nation was born out of the blood of innocents and it was not only the blood of Gandhiji. This worst bloodshed happened during the partition.
The Indian independence movement must have started with Gandhiji’s idea of ahimsa which led to the Quit India Movement or the Civil Disobedience Movement but it is time we remembered the partition.
An excerpt from Gandhiji’s speech on the Quit India Movement
I believe that in the history of the world, there has not been a more genuinely democratic struggle for freedom than ours. I read Carlyle’s French Revolution while I was in prison, and Pandit Jawaharlal has told me something about the Russian revolution. But it is my conviction that inasmuch as these struggles were fought with the weapon of violence they failed to realize the democratic ideal. In the democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by non-violence, there will be equal freedom for all. Everybody will be his own master. It is to join a struggle for such democracy that I invite you today. Once you realize this you will forget the differences between the Hindus and Muslims, and think of yourselves as Indians only, engaged in the common struggle for independence.

Maybe it is out of pain or even shame that the subcontinent fails to acknowledge the bloody partition that gave birth to two nations. It is said that 1–2 million people died during the partition of British India. This should actually make everyone very, very angry since a few leaders took decisions so casually that it led to the killing of so many innocents. This anger should have made everyone pledge that it will never happen again. But tension simmers.. between the two nation and within India.
I think even in our school books we skip or skim through the partition maybe since it was an utter failure of our founding fathers. But this nation should have allotted an entire textbook to this topic to make everyone very angry. Angry enough not to divide the nation again on religious grounds.
Gandhiji was against the whole idea of partition, yet he had to take a bullet.

Why Pakistan and India remain in denial 70 years on from partition

The division of British India was poorly planned and brutally carried out, as fear and revenge attacks led to a bloody sectarian ‘cleansing’

On 3 June 1947, only six weeks before British India was carved up, a group of eight men sat around a table in New Delhi and agreed to partition the south Asian subcontinent.

Photographs taken at that moment reveal the haunted and nervous faces of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian National Congress leader soon to become independent India’s first prime minister, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, head of the Muslim League and Pakistan’s first governor-general and Louis Mountbatten,the last British viceroy.

There is still a mystery at the dark heart of partition. Ultimately, it remains a history layered with absence and silences, even while many mourn and talk about their own trauma. Nearly every Punjabi family – Indian and Pakistani – can tell a tale about a relative uprooted in the night, the old friends and servants left behind, the nostalgia for a cherished house now fallen into new hands. Far fewer are willing to discuss the role of their own locality in contributing to the violence. Rarely, oral histories tell of culpability and betrayal; more often, guilt and silences stalk the archive.

Who were the killers? Why did they kill? Much evidence points not to the crazy and inexplicable actions of mad, uneducated peasants with sticks and stones, but to well-organised and well-motivated groups of young men, who went out – particularly in Punjab – to carry out ethnic cleansing. These men, often recently demobilised from the second world war, had been trained in gangs and militias, were in the pay of shopkeepers and landlords, and had often been well drilled and well equipped. They took on the police and even armed soldiers on some occasions
The politics of an assassination: Who killed Gandhi and why?

Historians and scholars have written extensively on “who killed Gandhi and why?” and the answer, obviously, doesn’t end with Godse. What Godse told the court in an attempt to explain why he chose to pump three bullets into Gandhi’s chest at point-blank range provides a glimpse into the politics of the assassination, writes Abhishek Saha

people were whipped up by demonisation of the other, encouraged by the rhetoric of politicians and a feverish media"

India and Pakistan teaches partition or the birth of the two nations differently. But to be fair, I think India is more balanced in its approach. 
If I am right, partition gets an entire chapter only in Class XII of CBSE as follows:

NCERT ClassXII History Part 3: Theme 14 – Understanding Partition 

3. Why and How Did Partition Happen?

3.1 Culminating point of a long history? Some historians, both Indian and Pakistani, suggest that Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s theory that the Hindus and Muslims in colonial India constituted two separate nations can be projected back into medieval history. They emphasise that the events of 1947 were intimately connected to the long history of Hindu-Muslim conflict throughout medieval and modern times. Such an argument does not recognise that the history of conflict between communities has coexisted with a long history of sharing, and of mutual cultural exchange. It also does not take into account the changing circumstances that shape people’s thinking.
I think it is not enough. It needs to be stressed again and again to the future generation that religion can divide brutally. It is up to them to change it. The older ones are tired.

Further Reading:


  1. A good well-researched post. A number of valid points in your post. It's such a tragic fact, that our country was born in such a violent manner. And the person who played such a crucial role in the birth of our nation too had a violent death. And, worse, the wounds haven't healed even after seven decades.

    1. Thank you very much for your words.

      Wounds fester when it is not opened up for healing? Maybe it was an aftermath of the scramble for power or maybe it was something else. But let us discuss the same. Let us remind ourselves that we can be cruel as well as kind. The Germans never hid their shame. They teach them to their children so that they never repeat the same mistake. I think we have conveniently forgotten this bloody chapter in our history.


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