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The Character of a Nation (Part II)

The character of an undivided India was a weak one - the leadership composed of Gandhi-Nehru-Jinnah took a decision to divide the country on religious lines [1][2][3]:
On 3 June 1947, he (Lord Moutbatten) presented his plan [to partition India into India and Pakistan] to Nehru and Jinnah. They both accepted it.

Gandhi, was fearful about partition but even more fearful of civil war. The AICC adopted the resolution in June, 1947. Nehru served on the Partition Council that finalized the separation of government institutions and provincial resources between the two new dominions.
However, the leadership of Independent India composed of Nehru-Menon-Patel had a different character. When faced by a situation similar to partition because of reluctance of princely states to integrate their domains into independent India - the trio adopted a cunning, pragmatic yet bold and steadfast stance. 
In July 1946, Nehru pointedly observed that no princely state could prevail militarily against the army of independent India. In January 1947, he said that independent India would not accept the Divine Right of Kings, and in May 1947, he declared that any princely state which refused to join the Constituent Assembly would be treated as an enemy state.
Patel and Menon - the two figures in charge of the Integration of India used diplomacy and force to coerce all princely states to merge with India. For example, with states where populations were strongly in support of accession (Jodhpur / Jaisalmer), they used the public support to force the local princes to sign the "Instrument of Accession"; where they felt that the prince was weak and the territory small, they used the carrot of privy purse and merged the provinces with other larger ones.

And where matters got worse as in case of Hyderabad, military force was used. Another case in point was Junagadh where a Muslim ruler acceded the state to Pakistan without consideration to the Hindu majority populace in his state. Here, Patel sent armed forces to occupy suzerainties of Junagadh—Mangrol and Babariawad and then forced the prince to conduct plebiscite in his state and finally obey the decision of the plebiscite to accede to India.
Many people argue that Kashmir, was Junagadh reversed - which it indeed was; a Hindu ruler acceding the state of majority muslim population to India. And so a plebiscite would have been Iustitia omnibus. However, one of the perquisites for a plebiscite was absence of external forces on Kashmiri soil; which the state machinery of Pakistan was unable to (or did not want to) fulfil. And thus, the matter of Kashmir's accession dangles till date.
These steps along with later military actions taken in case of French and Portuguese territories within India and state of Sikkim laid a strong foundation for a nation which was united by a common purpose and spirit, yet diversified in culture and traditions. Later steps such as democratization of princely provinces and ultimate states re-organization further strengthened the spirit of unity-in-diversity which prevails in this country to this date. As Ramchandra Guha writes [HT editorial - 26th January 2009]:
The Indian Republic, the 59th Anniversary of whose founding we celebrate today, is different from other republics ... it is not based on a single national 'essence' (whereby people of a certain faith or speaking a certain tongue are deemed superior to others), and that it does not imply the demonization of other nations.
As against the above is Pakistan which never attempted any reorganization or shifting of power in its territory which was anyway far less divided than the ones which lay in India. As a result, the nation reflects a divided character and plagued with multiple factions some of which today cause a threat to its own existence. 

As a nation, Pakistan was founded on a theory whose failure is imminent in a secular India's success and hence Pakistan today is united by just one cause - its hatred for India. And due to its own misgivings of having harboured fundamentalist organizations in its goal to harm India, it has created a monster of terrorism which may eat up the peace and security of the whole world let alone its own mentor.

Concluded. Read Part I


  1. Nikhil, that is an excellent writeup. And a very good contrast drawn between the decisions pre-independence and those post-independence without going into the usual Gandhi and Nehru bashing.

    I dropped by via some comments you posted on TCP. Are you still into comics? or outgrown it?


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