Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The British hand in Dividing India

“For decades after 1885 communalism served as a second line
of defence of both imperialism and the reactionary forces.
But with the passage of time it became their chief
political and ideological instrument.”
(Bipan Chandra – one of the foremost historians of modern India)

British can be held responsible to a large extent for the partition of Indian subcontinent in 1947.It were they, who if did not fan the fire of communalism, did not even try to control it. Imperialists never acknowledged the responsibility and even some of the Indian historians don’t believe in it. According to them this theme was only used by the nationalists to rouse the people against the British.
To a certain extent they are right. British could not have been successful in sowing the seed of communal hatred if there would not have been something within the Indian society to provide the fertile soil. But it is also a fact that if there would have been a nationalist government in power than they would certainly had checked its growth. It did not happen so because British were in power and they wanted that Indians should continue to fight among themselves.
It was in the 19th century that the country witnessed a rise in the nationalist movement and also a nation in the making. Britishers were afraid because it produced a serious threat to their rule. Back home in Britain the number of people who questioned the British rule over India were increasing. In the beginning Britishers used to justify by using the terms such as --- White man’s burden, civilizing mission etc. With the passage of time these things lost their shine and the Britishers began looking for some other reason so as to justify their rule. So they fanned communal hatred and declared that they must continue to rule for the protection of the minorities.(If this was the reason why they did nothing to provide a safe passage to nearly 14.5 million people who had to migrate to the other side of the border during partition, out of which nearly 1 million died )
 If Hindus and Muslims would have been united then it would have been difficult for the british to continue their rule over India
 If they supported Muslim communalists this doesn’t mean that they were anti-Hindu. They only wanted to divide the Indians.
 After creating a wedge between Hindus and Muslims then they tried to bring regional communalism. Punjabis vs Bengali vs Bihari etc.
 They did not support Hindu communalism not because they had sympathy with the Muslims because support to the hindu communalism meant uniting nearly 80% of the population. This would have certainly strengthened the Indian National Congress(I.N.C.)
 The Britishers created following divisions :

• Hindus , Muslims and Sikhs
• Agricultural and non-agricultural classes
• Martial and non martial races
• Punjabi, Bengalis, Biharis etc.
• To divide Hindus they invented the term The Depressed classes
• Created divisions between the rural and urban population

When the things went out of control they decided to divide and quit, leaving all the mess to be cleared by the Indians themselves.

I would like to end with a couplet from a poem written on the plight of women during the partition days.

Ik royee si dhee Punjab di, tu likh maaray wein
Aj lakhaan Dhiyan rondiyan, Waris Shah noon Kehn…….

[When one daughter of Punjab cried, you cried a river over her
(by writing Heer)-Today thousands of them are crying – in vain –for your attention]
Amrita Pritam (One of the best known Punjabi Poetess)


Stepterix said...

Nice article

However, to take a slightly alternate view:

The use of English as the lingua franca in India has enabled a degree of cohesion in a country of many different languages.

The sport of cricket, which the people of the subcontinent took to their hearts, has had a beneficial effect in creating Indian and Pakistani senses of identity.

So, despite all the bad that the British brought, they also brought things that the people of Pakistan and India have made the best of.

Harneet Singh said...

first make the people fight, get millions killed, same amount displaced, give wounds which cannot be cured and then give English and Cricket to unite the people. It is not the cricket but the eternal bond between Indians and Pakistanis which which is helping to make an identity - not Cricket