Pork-eating Jinnah was least religious and cared little for Islamic practices. He wanted to be the head of the country, but found no chance when Nehru was the favourite of Gandhi and other Congress leaders. He organized Muslims telling them they would be second class citizens in a united free India and got from the British a country to rule, Pakistan.
Once he attained his goal, he wanted to go back to his secular self. Inaugurating the Pak Constituent Assembly, on Aug 11, 1947, he said: “You may belong to any religion, caste or creed, -- that is nothing to do with the state… We are starting with the fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state… Now I think we should keep that in mind as our ideal and you will find that in the course of time, Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is personal faith of each individual, but in a political sense as the citizens of the state…”
But the Jinn of communalism Jinnah unleashed refused to go back into the bottle and Pakistan slid back more and more into Islamic fundamentalism to become a failed state.
India too is facing such a crisis today.
When the BJP came to power under Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, a radical change in the idea of India has been attempted. The first sign of it is to denigrate Jawaharlal Nehru who was the embodiment of secularism and progress. All the ills of the nation has been placed on him – disregarding Indian (Hindutva) culture, history and encouraging minorities to be equal partners in the government. He is blamed for perpetuating his dynasty rule through the Congress party and Modi’s declared aim was to make Bharat Congress-Mukt and restore the ancient glory of Hindu India. The efforts to this end is not elaborated here, but only to say that it has increased with renewed force after Modi won in 2019 with a bigger majority.
Some people ask: “Christians have their states. Muslims have their states. Why can’t Hindus have their one state?”
Yes, Christians have their states. USA, UK and France have Christian majorities, but they do not allow religion to interfere in their politics. There are Muslim states, but their progress and prosperity are proportional to their religious tolerance.
The idea if India is secularism and democracy. Independent India’s governments including Vajpayee’s BJP Government were adhering to these principles. It could be partially corrupt, inefficient, infighting and divisive. But they could retain secularism and democracy as its fundamentals.
Once the communal Jinn is out of the pot, containing it is difficult. Pakistan that aspired to revive the Mughal glory has ended up as a failed state. India that aspires to revive Hindu glory of Ramrajya and Manusmriti may not have another fate. Secularism and democracy combined is India’s soul.
Safeguard the idea of India.
(Published on 09th September 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 37)