Saturday, 11 July 2015

Not a Surgeon's Scalpel but a Butcher's Hatchet II

In my post ‘Not aSurgeon’s Scalpel but a Butcher’s Hatchet’ dated 23.09.2014, i have narrated the story of drawing of boundaries of India and Pakistan at the time of Partition in 1947. This is a sequel to that.

Recently, i came across an extract from the book ‘Midnight Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition’ by Nisid Hajari.  This appears to be a wishful thinking, but here it is:

What would have happened if India had been partitioned amicably without the rancour that preceded it?

1.     History shows that whoever had invaded India, be it Alexander or the Mughals or others, had done it through land which is now Pakistan (West Pakistan in 1947). This land would have served as a buffer against any invasion of India on the land-route.

2.     The fertile land that is now Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) produces 75% of world’s jute supply. Before Partition, eastern part (now Bangladesh) of undivided Bengal was producing jute and this raw material was being used by jute mills in Kolkata (then Calcutta) in the western part of Bengal. Soon after Partition, the jute produced in the then East Pakistan lost its market and the jute mills in Calcutta were starved of raw materials. Thus both jute-producing agriculture and jute-processing industry in India and Pakistan started facing problems soon after Partition.

3.     At the time of food-shortages in pre-Partition India, areas now known as Pakistan were supplying food-grains to mitigate the situation.

4.     The pre-Partition Indian Army had been trained together and had fought as one for a century, with a spirit of comradeship. None of its members looked at any other member as enemy.

5.     Many politicians in both parts had once together fought the British, shoulder-to-shoulder with brotherly feeling.

6. India and Pakistan are culturally similar like U S A and Canada.

So, had India and Pakistan been partitioned without ill will or bitterness, what a wonderful situation of co-operation and mutual help and mutual benefit would have been ushered in!

But – and this is a big BUT – had this been the situation, would there have been a need for Partition of the then India? 

Post Script:

As a rising Congress leader, Jinnah was originally against mixing religion with politics - specifically Islam with politics. Later, he underwent a religious re-incarnation and demanded a separate State for Muslims. Nehru and Patel wanted a strong Centre which Jinnah opposed.


  1. It is narrated in e.g., Jaswant Singh's book - Gandhi told Jinnah, if we must partition, let us do so with the attitude of brothers deciding to divide the ancestral property, rather than this insistence that we are two separate nations of incompatible people. Jinnah rejected that.

    Then there is also stuff like this, at the very beginning of the Cabinet Mission Plan negotiations:

    Jinnah: I don't regard myself as Indian.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you for adding reinforcing facts to the issue.

      Somewhere I had read that in the Interim Government formed in 1946, the Finance portfolio had been given to a member of Muslim League. This Finance Minister put hurdles to each and every action by Ministers from Congress. So much so that a Congress Minister is said to have despaired, "I cannot appoint even a peon as payment of salary to him is blocked by the Finance Minister!"

  3. Yes, Sir, you remember right! The Finance Minister was Liaquat Ali Khan, and it was Sardar Patel that exclaimed that he could not appoint a peon without Liaquat's permission.

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