In 1947 the Indian sub continent was divided into India and Pakistan. To Hindu nationalist it was a great blow , a wound that has never healed.Several factors beyond their control led to this tragedy. The question is relevant today because though Pakistan was created as an alternate home for Indian Muslims , India today has the world’s second largest Muslim population. So why was India partitioned?
Western Strategic Interest.
At the end of the Second World War the British military withdrew from India and other bases East of Suez while the US-Soviet Union rivalry shifted from Europe to the Global stage. The vulnerability of Middle East Oil fields and Persian Gulf shipping lanes, strategically vital to western economy and military might, to a sudden invasion by Soviet forces from Central Asia, alarmed western Statesmen and Generals. They looked for an alternative foothold somewhere close that could help stall an invading soviet army till the arrival of western reinforcement. The Indian North West, located on the underbelly of Soviet Russia and close to the Oil fields, would be an ideal one. Pakistan was created here and has remained loyal to western interests in the past seventy years.
Antagonism for Hindu Nationalism.
The West in general and British colonizers in particular, did not believe that the Hindus ever constituted a nation and had even contemplated creating several nation states in the Indian sub continent. This attitude played a very important role in the creation of Pakistan.
Mindset of Indian Muslims.
Before partition ,the Muslim League fought the January 1946 provincial election on the demand for Pakistan and majority of the Indian Muslims voted for the Muslim league and hence Pakistan. Indian Muslims who call themselves Yamini after the dynasty of Ghazni , the first Muslim invader of India, lacked a sense of nationalism. This helped the British in the partitioning of the Indian Subcontinent.
Best available options
Hindu leaders had few options. They were powerless against the British attempt to bolster the Muslims and Indian Kings against Hindu nationalism. Of these two challenges it was the Muslim leadership that was considered the most formidable and dangerous to a united India. By creating Pakistan the challenge by these hardcore Muslim elements from within India would be eliminated forever. It would provide Hindu leaders the opportunity to consolidate the remaining parts and concentrate on nation building. Thus after Independence the Home Minister V. Patel managed to convince, cajole and coerce the Indian Kings to join India. In the past 68 years Hindu leaders managed to build an India that is today the world’s second fastest growing economy.
Direct Action Day
When the Indian National Congress rejected the Muslim League proposal to divide the Indian sub-Continent, the Muslim League launched the Direct Action Day on 16th August 1946 in the province of Bengal which was under its rule. It saw widespread riots in which Hindus were attacked by Muslim mobs with the Police standing neutral and more interested in protecting the European Quarters. The riots sparked counter riots in other parts of north India but above all it sent a message to the Hindu leaders of what they could expect if the demand for Pakistan was not accepted. The British too argued that they would leave the sub continent to its fate. All these forced the hands of Hindu political leaders including Nehru, Gandhi and Patel.
Today the Pakistan that the West created overiding Hindu nationalism has become the epicentre of Jihad and Islamic terrorism has come to haunt the streets of Western countries. What impact this will have on Hindus whose back is to the Ocean , only time will tell.