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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Gandhi Jinnah Talks

Gandhi Jinnah Talks



  India's History : Modern India : Gandhi-Jinnah Talks break down on Pakistan issue : 1944

Gandhi vs Jinnah

The Round Table Conference of 1929 was Gandhi’s Waterloo. He erred in going to London as the sole spokesperson of the Congress, pinning hopes on the appeals from British statesmen. There he was cornered by the chosen few from among the Muslims who asked him to justify how he could speak on behalf of their community, while Mauna Shasta Ali, former Khilafat leader, warned the Hindus: "If the Hindus don’t meet our demands this time, we’re going to make war on them. We ruled the Hindus once. We at least don’t intend to be ruled by them now." The British Government planned to announce the Communal Award B this time the Scheduled Castes were to be favored, as were the Muslims in 1909. In disgust, Gandhi returned home empty-handed, while the government armed itself for letting loose repression.

Gandhi failed to checkmate Jinnah’s dangerous moves. Jinnah had no influence with the Muslim Premiers of Punjab, Sind and Bengal. Even when Fall Hue from Bengal had proposed the Pakistan resolution, he had later turned anti-Jinnah; while Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullaha, Sind Premier, had opposed the resolution. Gandhi did not capture an opportunity to form an anti-Jinnah front along with them. That was against his spirit of compromise as against confrontation. He ploughed his lonely furrow. The landed Gandhi in a complex situation in 1942, which exerted pressure on him for action. There were the Communists and other Leftists who favored support for the war in view of Russia and Britain having become allies. On the other hand, there were lurking fears that Japan might occupy India. In April 1942, the first Japanese bombing of India took place and there was seizure of the Andaman Islands.

On his release from prison in 1944, Gandhi committed a great blunder in his talks with Jinnah, when all his colleagues were in jail. This boosted Jinnah’s prestige amongst the Muslims in two ways: as a wrecker, and as the Quaid-e Azam, Jinnah came on level with Gandhi, the Mahatma. The Gandhi-Jinnah talks had serious repercussions. Immediately Jinnah acquired the status of sole spokesmanship.



Mutiny in Royal Indian Navy



  India's History : Modern India : Mutiny in Royal Indian Navy; Cabinet Mission's plan announced; Muslim League decides to participate in the Interim Government; Interim Government formed; Constituent Assembly's first meeting : 1946

The Indian Navy Mutiny

On the 21st of February 1946, mutiny broke out on board the Royal Indian Navy sloop, H.M.I.S. Hindustan. The 2nd Battalion of the Black watch was called from their barracks in Karachi to deal with this mutiny on Manora Island. Several ratings from shore establishments had taken over the Hindustan and refused to leave and began firing on anyone who tried to board the ship. At midnight, the 2nd Battalion was ordered to proceed to Manora as trouble was expected from the Indian naval ratings who had taken over the shore establishments H M I S Bahadur, Chamak and Himalaya and from the Royal Naval AA School on the island. The Battalion was ferried silently across in launches and landing craft. D company was the first across, and they immediately proceeded to the southern end of the island to Chamak. The remainder of the Battalion stayed at the southern end of the Island. Next morning the astonished to residents woke to find British soldiers had once again secured the island. No one had heard them arrive in the night.

The first priority was to deal with the Indian naval ratings on board the Hindustan that was armed with 4-in. guns. During the morning three guns (caliber unknown) from the Royal Artillery C. Troop arrived on the island. The Royal Artillery positioned the battery within point blank range of the Hindustan on the dockside. An ultimatum was delivered to the mutineers aboard Hindustan, stating that if they did not the leave the ship and put down their weapons by a 10:30 a.m. They would have to face the consequences. The deadline came and went and there was no message from the ship or any movement. Orders were given to open fire at 10:33 a.m. The RAs first round was on target. On board the Hindustan the Indian naval ratings began to return gunfire and several shells whistled over the Royal Artillery guns, fortunately without hitting anyone. Most of the shells fired by the Indian ratings went harmlessly overhead and fell on Karachi itself. They had not been primed so there were no civilian casualties. At 10:51 a.m. a white flag suddenly appeared from a hatch aboard the Hindustan. British naval personnel boarded the ship to remove casualties and the remainder of the mutinous crew. Extensive damage had been done to Hindustan's superstructure and there were many casualties among the Indian sailors. These young Indian ratings, many of them still in their teens, had paid a heavy price for allowing them to be misguided into mutiny.

Soon more trouble broke out on the Bahadur. Several Indian naval officers were thrown off the ship by ratings and the situation became serious. Soon after midday the 2nd Battalion was ordered to storm Bahadur, and then the other establishments on the island. This was achieved and all Indian naval personnel returned to their barracks. By the evening D company was in possession of the A A school and Chamak, B company had taken the Himalaya, while the rest of the Battalion had secured Bahadur. The mutiny was over.

The 1946 Cabinet Mission

When the Cabinet mission arrived in Delhi in March, it had three members, Cripps, A.V. Alexander and Pethick-Lawrence. They would work in close conjunction with the Viceroy who was assured that it was not intended that he should be treated as a lay figure.

The Mission's task was to try to bring the leaders of the principle Indian political parties to agreement on two matters: The method of framing a constitution for a self-governing, independent India The setting up of a new Executive Council or interim government that would hold office while the constitution was being hammered out.

The main problem was, as it always had been, the Hindu-Muslim partition. Congress wanted a unified India and the Muslim League wanted a separate, independent Pakistan. The Mission set to work at once, spending two weeks in lengthy discussions with representatives of all the principal political parties, the Indian States, the Sikhs, Scheduled Castes and other communities, and with Gandhi and several other prominent individuals. But at the end of these discussions there was still no prospect of an agreement between the parties and the mission decided to put forward the two possible solutions for consideration. A truncated Pakistan, which Wavell had wanted to tell Jinnah was all he would get if he kept insisting on a sovereign Pakistan.

A loose federation with a three-tier constitution - provinces, group of provinces and an all-India union embracing both British India and the Indian States, which Cripps had devised with the help of two Indian officials, V.P. Menon and Sir B.N. Rau. The Union would be limited to three subjects, foreign affairs, defence and communications, with powers to raise funds for all three; all other subjects would vest in the provinces, but the provinces would be free to form groups, with their own executives and legislatures, that would deal with such subjects as the provinces within the group might assign them. In this way the Provinces that Jinnah claimed for Pakistan could form Groups or sub-federations and enjoy a large measure of autonomy thus approximating to Pakistan.

After some demur, Jinnah agreed to the federation plan, Congress also reluctantly agreeing and both parties were invited to send representatives to discuss it with the Mission at Simla. A week of discussions led to no agreement and the Mission decided to refurbish the plan to meet the views of the parties as far as possible that had been expressed at Simla. The final statement of the plan was published on May 16th.

The statement rejected decisively a wholly sovereign Pakistan of the larger or the smaller truncated variety. It went on to commend the plan for an all-India Union, with a three-tier constitution and went on to indicate the method how it should be brought about. A Constituent Assembly was to be elected by members of the Provincial Legislatures and after a preliminary full meeting, at which an advisory committee would be set up on fundamental rights, minorities and tribal areas, would divide into three Sections - Section A consisting of the representatives of the six Hindu-majority provinces; Section B of the representatives of the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province and Sind; and Section C of the representatives of Bengal and Assam. These sections would draw up constitutions for the provinces included in them and would also decide whether a group should be formed and, if so, with what subjects; but a province would have the option to opt out of a group by a vote of its legislature after the new constitutional arrangements had come into operation. Finally the Constituent Assembly was to meet again as a whole, this time along with representatives of the Indian States in appropriate numbers to settle the Union Constitution.

The Statement was well received and was widely accepted as clear evidence of the British Government's genuine desire to bring British rule in India to a peaceful end. Gandhi pronounced it 'the best document the British Government could have produced in the circumstances.' Jinnah was less enthusiastic, but both sides gave it consideration. Congress wanted to interpret the statement as meaning that provinces could choose whether or not to belong to the section in which they had been placed, but the Mission countered this with a further Statement on 25th May, in that the provinces in each section were an essential feature of the scheme.

Wavell and the mission wrote to the Indian states rulers, warning them that when Britain quit India it would cease to exercise the powers or shoulder the obligations of paramountcy. They would not in any circumstances transfer paramountcy to an Indian Government, but the ending of the relationship would leave a void, and it was suggested, would be best filled by entering into a federal relationship with the new Government of India as units in the proposed Union. They would retain their internal sovereignty and all their powers save those ceded to the Union in connection with the three subjects of foreign affairs, defence and communications. The Princes were reasonably content with this.

While the League and Congress were giving thought to the Statement of May 16th, the Mission went about the formation of a new executive council or interim government, but they also prepared and sent home a breakdown plan. The plan followed the premise that one of the main parties would reject the proposals. If the Muslim League rejected the proposals, Congress would go ahead on the premise that parts of the country not willing would be left out of the union. If Congress dismissed the proposals, it might be followed by a threat to seize power in another 'Quit India' movement. Wavell proposed that the British should then withdraw from the six Hindu-majority provinces and allow them to become entirely independent but retain control of the other provinces until fresh arrangements acceptable to their population could be made.

However, he opened discussion regarding the formation of an interim government, which the Mission decided should be initiated by Wavell, with the party leaders while they and the mission were still in Simla. The members of the interim government, except the Viceroy, would all be Indian and it would be, as far as possible, like a dominion government, but the Viceroy, in light of the existing constitution, would still retain overriding powers. Congress accepted these stipulations with a bad grace, but pleased Jinnah and the League who were happy to accept any check to Congress dominance of the interim government.

Discussions were still in progress when, on 6th June, the Muslim League voted to accept the constitutional proposals. The acceptance was said to be 'in the hope that it would ultimately result in the establishment of a complete sovereign Pakistan'. The Congress working committee delayed giving their verdict, and further discussions about the interim government failed to bring about agreement as the League wanted parity with Congress and the exclusive right to nominate all Muslim members, both of which had been rejected by Congress.

The Mission, who was impatient to end their work and head home, decided to put forward compromise proposals. On June 16th, the Viceroy announced that discussion with the parties would not be further prolonged and that he was issuing invitations to fourteen named persons to serve as members of an interim government, Six were Hindu members of Congress including one member of the Scheduled castes, five were members of the Muslim League, and the remaining three a Sikh, a Parsee and an Indian Christian. The message also included a statement that stated:

'In the event of the two major parties or either of them proving unwilling to join in setting up a coalition government on the above lines, it is the intention of the Viceroy to proceed with the formation of an interim government which will be as representative as possible of those willing to accept the Statement of May 16th.'

With the Muslim League ready to accept, Congress appeared to be on the verge of accepting until Gandhi intervened. Gandhi took his stand on principle, regardless of practical consequences. He said that acquiescence by Congress in the non-inclusion of a Congress Muslim in the interim government would be, he argued, the sacrifice of a vital principle to which Congress, as a national party with a Muslim president, could never agree at any time or place or in any circumstances. They rejected the interim government proposals. The Mission took the statement of June 16th to mean that Congress had agreed with the May 16th Statement that it was no longer possible to proceed with the formation of an interim government. Jinnah was infuriated by this interpretation, and now felt outwitted by Congress and tricked by Cripps. He declared the Mission's interpretation had been dishonestly 'concocted by the legalistic talents of the Cabinet Mission and charged the Mission and the Viceroy with breach of faith. He also stated that the Congress acceptance of the May 16th Statement had not been genuine.

Wavell agreed with this view, but the mission wanted to try and salvage something and in a valedictory statement they expressed they gladness that 'Constitution-making can now proceed with the two major parties and their regret at the failure to form an interim coalition government, but said that after the elections to the Constituent Assembly had finished, the Viceroy would make fresh efforts to bring one into being. Meanwhile, a temporary caretaker government would be set up. The mission left bearing a note from Wavell that the government should be prepared for a crisis in India and must therefore have a breakdown policy in readiness.

The Interim Government

Wavell wrote identical letters to Nehru and Jinnah on July 22, 1946 asking them whether the Congress and the Muslim League would be prepared to enter an interim government on the basis that six members (including one Scheduled Caste representative) would be nominated by the Congress and five by the Muslim League. The Viceroy would nominate three representatives of the minorities. Jinnah replied that the proposal was not acceptable to the Muslim League because it destroyed the principal of parity. At Nehru's invitation, he and Jinnah conferred together on August 15 but could not come to an agreement on the question of the Congress joining the interim government.

The Working Committee of the Muslim League had decided in the meantime that Friday 16 August, 1946 would be marked as the 'Direct Action Day".There was serious trouble in Calcutta and some rioting in Sylhet on that day. The casualty figures in Calcutta during the period of 16-19 August were 4,000 dead and 10,000 injured. In his letter to Pethick-Lawrence, Wavell had reported that appreciably more Muslims than Hindus had been killed. The "Great Calcutta Killing" marked the start of the bloodiest phase of the "war of succession" between the Hindus and the Muslims and it became increasingly difficult for the British to retain control. Now, they had to cope with the Congress civil disobedience movement as well as furious Muslims that had also come out in the streets in thousands.

The negotiations with the League reached a deadlock and the Viceroy decided to form an interim government with the Congress alone, leaving the door open for the League to come in later. A communiqué was issued on August 24, which announced that the existing members of the Governor General's Executive Council had resigned and that on their places new persons had been appointed. It was stated that the interim government would be installed on September 2.

Jinnah declared two days later that the Viceroy had struck a severe blow to Indian Muslims and had added insult to injury by nominating three Muslims who did not command the confidence of Muslims of India. He reiterated that the only solution to Indian problem was the division of India into Pakistan and Hindustan. The formation of an interim government consisting only of the Congress nominees added further fuel to the communal fire. The Muslims regarded the formation of the interim government as an unconditional surrender of power to the Hindus, and feared that the Governor General would be unable to prevent the Hindus from using their newly acquired power of suppressing Muslims all over India.

After the Congress had taken the reins at the Center on September 2, Jinnah faced a desperate situation. The armed forces were predominantly Hindu and Sikh and the Indian members of the other services were also predominantly Hindu. The British were preparing to concede independence to India if they withdrew the Congress was to be in undisputed control, the Congress was to be free to deal with the Muslims as it wished. Wavell too, felt unhappy at the purely Congress interim government. He genuinely desired a Hindu-Muslim settlement and united India, and had worked hard for that end. Wavell pleaded with Nehru and Gandhi, in separate interviews, that it would help him to persuade Jinnah to cooperate if they could give him an assurance that the Congress would not insist on nominating a Nationalist Muslim. Both of them refused to give way on that issue.Wavell informed Jinnah two days later that he had not succeeded in persuading the Congress leaders to make a gesture by not appointing a Nationalist Muslim. Jinnah realized that the Congress would not give up the right to nominate a Nationalist Muslim and that he would have to accept the position if he did not wish to leave the interim government solely in the hands of the Congress. On October 13, he wrote to Wavell that, though the Muslim League did not agree with much that had happened, "in the interests of the Muslims and other communities it will be fatal to leave the entire field of administration of the Central Government in the hands of the Congress". The League had therefore decided to nominate five members for the interim government. On October 15, he gave the Viceroy the following five names:

Liaquat Ali Khan, I.I Chundrigar, Abdur Rab Nishtar, Ghazanfar Ali Khan and Jogindar Nath Mandal. The last name was a Scheduled Caste Hindu and was obviously a tit-for-tat for the Congress insistence upon including a Nationalist Muslim in its own quota.

Interim Government
External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations Jawaharlal Nehru
Defence Baldev Singh
Home (including Information and Broadcasting) Vallahbhai Patel
Finance Liaquat Ali Khan
Posts and Air Abdur Rab Nishtar
Food and Agriculture Rajendra Parsad
Labor Ragjivan Ram
Transport and Railways M.Asaf Ali
Industries and Supplies John Matthai
Education and Arts C. Rajgopalacharia
Works, Mines and Power C.H. Babha
Commerce I.I. Chundrigar
Law Jogindar Nath Mandal
Health Ghazanfar Ali Khan



Indian Flag



  India's History : Modern India : History of Indian Flag - (1904 - 1947)

Indian Flag

Indian flag means tiranga has many interesting attributes creating it unique. Indian flag represents India's long freedom struggle. It shows the status of India and Independent republic. India's constituent assembly adopted the design of the National Flag on 22nd July, 1947. The code regulates display and use of the Idian flag. The late Prime Minister Pandit Nehru called it as a symbol of feedom not only for ourselves but for all people.

Indian flag

History of Indian Flag

1904

Indian flag history started from the 20th century to pre-independence period. Irish disciple of Swami Vivekananda made the first national flag in 1904. Her name was sister Nivedita and then after the flag came to be known as sister Nivedita's flag. This flag was designed using colors yellow and red. Yellow color signified symbol of success and red color shows freedom struggle. Bengali word "Bonde Matoram" was written on it. The flag contained figure of 'Vajra', weapon for god 'Indra' and a white lotus in the center. The Vajra signified strength and lotus shows depicts purity.

1906

In 1906, another Indian flag was designed after Sister Nivedita's flag. It was designed using three colors: blue, yellow and red. This flag blue strip had 8 stars of slightly various shapes, red strip had 2 symbols. The first one symbol was the sun and second symbol was the star. The yellow strip color had 'Vande Mataram' written on Devnagiri script.

Again in 1906 only another version of this flag came into existence that contained orange, yellow and green colors. This flag was known as 'Lotus flag' or Calcutta flag'. This flag signified the Indian unity and capacity of freedom struggle.

1907

In 22 August 1907, Shyamji Krishna Varma, Madam Bhikaji Cama and Veer Savarkar had designed a new flag. This flag was called as Madam Bhikaji Cama flag. This flag was similar to flag in 1906 with the exemption colors and the flower closest to hoist. In 1907, the flag was hosted in foreign country Germany first time. Thus this flag was also referred as Berlin Committee flag. This flag was made up of three colors green followed by golden saffron and the red color at the bottom. It had "Vande Mataram" written on it.

1916

Indian flagIn 1916, the new flag was designed by Lokamanya Tilak and Dr. Annie Besant's. Congress session hosted this flag in Calcutta. Colors used for this flag are white, green, blue and red. Each color was used in striped manner. The five red and four green strips represents Singh and Nair, the white strip color signified seven stars of Saptarishi.

1917

In 1917, the new flag was adopted by Bal Ganga Dhar Tilak. Bal Ganga Dhar Tilak was the leader of the Home Rule League. This flag had union jack at top, near hoist. At that time the status of Dominion was being demanded for India. This flag signified seven stars of "Saptashi". This flag contains four blue and five red strips. It had a semi-circular moon and a star on the top fly end. This flag did not become popular in masses.

1921

In 1921, Mahatma Gandhi designed the new flag containing three colors: white, green and red. White color on the top of this flag signified truth. In the middle of this flag green color shows the earth and Indian agriculture. Red color on the bottom of this flag signified spirit and freedom struggle. This flag pattern was based on the flag of Ireland.

1931

In 1931, Pingali Venkayya was designed a new flag. It also has three colors white, green and saffron. Saffron color was at the top of this flag, white in the middle and the green at the bottom. The saffron color signified the strength. The white color shows truth and the green color signified the earth and the Indian agriculture. In the center of this flag there was 'Charkha' in blue color.

1947

In 1947, the flag with three colors was accepted by Indian and the whole country. A National flag of India was adopted by the three colors in 1947. While a result, the flag in 1931 was adopted as Indian flag but 'Charkha' in the center was replaced by 'Wheel' (Chakra). In this way our National flag came into being.

Description of Indian Flag (Tiranga)

Indian flag In 22nd July 1947, the National flag of India was adopted by Indian constituent assembly. Its use of the flag is regulated by a certain regulations. Pingali Venkayya designed the National flag of India. The flag signified struggle for freedom for every people.

The National flag of India is designed with horizontal strips of three colors (Tiranga) of deep kesari (saffron) at the top, white in the center and dark green on the bottom in equal proportions. The saffron color shows sacrifice, courage and strength, the white color signified truth and purity; the green color shows fertility and faith. On white band at the center, there is Chakra in navy blue to show the Dharma Chakra, the charka of law in the Sarnath lion capital. The charka is known as 'Ashoka Chakra. It has 24 spokes. It shows that there is life in movement and death in stagnation. The center symbol the Chakra (wheel) was a Buddhist symbol in back to 200th century B.C.

Manufacturing of Indian flag

Indian flag manufacturing is put up by committee. This committee is called as 'Bureau of Indian Standards'. It also lays our rules regarding flag hosting. It specifies the color, cloth, dye, thread count and everything on the flag. The Indian flag (tiranga) can only be made up of 'Khadi'. It is manufactured from two kinds of khadi one for its major part and the second part for the cloth which holds flag to the staff.



Mountbatten's plan of Partition



  India's History : Modern India : Announcement of Lord Mountbatten's plan for partition of India : 3 June 1947

The Plan

The British government sent a Cabinet Mission to India in March 1946 to negotiate with Indian leaders and agree to the terms of the transfer of power.

After difficult negotiations a federal solution was proposed. Despite initial agreement, both sides eventually rejected the plan.

An interim government with representatives of all the Indian parties was proposed and implemented. However, it soon collapsed through lack of agreement. While the Muslim League consented to join the interim government the Indian National Congress refused. By the end of 1946 communal violence was escalating and the British began to fear that India would descend into civil war. The British government's representative, Lord Wavell, put forward a breakdown plan as a safeguard in the event of political deadlock. Wavell, however, believed that once the disadvantages of the Pakistan scheme were exposed, Jinnah would see the advantages of working for the best possible terms inside a united India. He wrote:

'Unfortunately the fact that Pakistan, when soberly and realistically examined, is found to be a very unattractive proposition, will place the Moslems in a very disadvantageous position for making satisfactory terms with India for a Federal Union.' This view was based on a report, which claimed that a future Pakistan would have no manufacturing or industrial areas of importance: no ports, except Karachi, or rail centres. It was also argued that the connection between East and West Pakistan would be difficult to defend and maintain. The report concluded:

'It is hard to resist the conclusion that taking all considerations into account the splitting up of India will be the reverse of beneficial as far as the livelihood of its people is concerned'.

Lord Mountbatten replaced Lord Wavell as Viceroy of India in 1947.

Mountbatten's first proposed solution for the Indian subcontinent, known as the 'May Plan', was rejected by Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru on the grounds it would cause the 'balkanisation of India'. The following month the 'May Plan' was substituted for the 'June Plan', in which provinces would have to choose between India and Pakistan. Bengal and Punjab both voted for partition.

On 3 June 1947, Lord Mountbatten announced his plan. The salient features were:-

  1. Mountbatten's formula was to divide India but retain maximum unity. The country would be partitioned but so would Punjab and Bengal, so that the limited Pakistan that emerged would meet both the Congress and League's position to some extent. The League's position on Pakistan was conceded to the extent that it would be created, but the Congress position on unity would be taken into account to make Pakistan as small as possible. Whether it was ruling out independence for the princes or unity for Bengal or Hyderabad's joining up with Pakistan instead of India, Mountbatten firmly supported Congress on these issues.

  2. The Mountbatten Plan sought to effect an early transfer of power on the basis of Dominion status to two successor states, India and Pakistan. For Britain, Dominion Status offered a chance of keeping India in the commonwealth for India's economic strength and defence potential were deemed sounder and Britain had a greater value of trade and investment there.

  3. The rationale for the early date for transfer of power was securing Congress agreement to Dominion status. The additional benefit was that the British could escape responsibility for the rapidly deteriorating communal situation.

  4. A referendum was to be held in NWEP to ascertain whether the people in the area wanted to join India or not. The princely states would have the option of joining either of the two dominions or to remain independent. The Provinces of Assam, Punjab and Bengal were also to be divided. A boundary commission was to be set up to determine the boundaries of these states.

Reasons for the acceptance of "Partition" by the Congress

By accepting the Mountbatten Plan/Partition, the Congress was only accepting what had become inevitable because of the long-term failure of the Congress to draw in the Muslim masses into the national movement and stem the surging waves of Muslim communalism, which, especially since 1937, had been beating with increasing fury.

The Congress leaders felt by June, 1947 that only an immediate transfer of power could forestall the spread of Direct Action and communal disturbances. Sardar Patel rightly said, "a united India even if it was smaller in size was better than a disorganised and troubled and weak bigger India."

Difficulties created by the obstructionist policies and tactics of the League proved to the Congress that the leaders of the Muslim League were concerned only with their own interests and the future of India would not be safe with them in the government. They would act as a stumbling block in the path of India's progress. The Congress leaders also felt that the continuance of British rule never was and never could be in the good interest of Indians. Sooner they quit, the better it would be.



1947 : Partition of India



  India's History : Modern India : Partition of India and Independence : 15 Aug 1947

The Partition of India

Sentiments of Indian nationalism were expressed as early as 1885 at the Indian National Congress, which was predominantly Hindu. In 1906 the All-India Muslim League formed with favorable relations towards British rule, but by 1913 that changed when the League shifted its focus and began to view Indian self-government as its goal. It continued to favor Hindu-Muslim unity towards that end for several decades but in 1940 the League began to call for a separate Muslim state from the projected independent India. The league was concerned that a united independent India would be dominated by Hindus. In the winter of 1945-46 Mohammed Ali Jinnah's Muslim League members won all thirty seats reserved for Muslims in the Central Legislative Assembly and most of the reserved provincial seats as well.

In an effort to resolve deadlock between Congress and the Muslim League in order to transfer British power "to a single Indian administration", a three-man Cabinet Mission formed in 1946 which drafted plans for a "three-tier federation for India." According to those plans, the region would be divided into three groups of provinces, with Group A including the Hindu-populated provinces that would eventually comprise the majority of the independent India. Groups B and C were comprised of largely Muslim-populated provinces. Each group would be governed separately with a great degree of autonomy except for the handling of "foreign affairs, communications, defense, and only those finances required for such nationwide matters." These issues would be addressed by a minimal central government located in Dehli.

The plan, however, did not take into account the fate of a large Sikh population living in Punjab, part of the B-group of provinces. Mughal emperors' persecution of Sikh gurus in the 17th century had infused the Sikh culture with a lasting anti-Muslim element that promised to erupt if the Punjab Sikhs were to be partitioned off as part of a Muslim-dominated province group. Although they did not make up more than two per cent of the Indian population, the Sikhs had since 1942 been moving for a separate Azad Punjab of their own, and by 1946 they were demanding a free Sikh nation-state.

As leader of the Muslim League, Jinnah accepted the Cabinet Mission's proposal. However, when Nehru announced at his first press conference as the reelected president of Congress that "no constituent assembly could be bound by any prearranged constitutional formula," Jinnah took this to be a repudiation of the plan, which was necessarily a case of all or nothing. The Muslim Leagueís Working Committee withdrew its consent and called upon the Muslim nation to launch direct action in mid-August 1946. A frenzy of rioting between Hindus and Muslims ensued.

In March of 1947 Lord Mountbatten was sent to take over the viceroy, and encountered a situation in which he feared a forced evacuation of British troops. He recommended a partition of Punjab and Bengal in the face of raging civil war. Gandhi was very opposed to the idea of partition, and urged Mountbatten to offer Jinnah leadership of a united India instead of the creation of a separate Muslim state. However, Nehru would not agree to that suggestion. In July Britain's Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act, which set a deadline of midnight on August 14-15, 1947 for "demarcation of the dominions of India." As a result, at least 10 million Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs fled their homes to seek sanctuary on whichever side of the line was favorable to them. The ensuing communal massacres left at least one million dead, with the brunt of the suffering borne by the Sikhs who had been caught in the middle. Most of them eventually settled in Punjab.

Jinnah presided as the governor-general of Pakistan, which was geographically divided into East Pakistan and West Pakistan and separated by Indian territory (including half of Punjab and half of Bengal). However, ownership of Kashmir remained in dispute until it came to a head and war broke out once again in 1965. The unrest did not end there; in 1971 tensions between East and West Pakistan over Bengali autonomy developed into another civil war, with the result that Bangladesh became an independent country in 1972 and West Pakistan remained Pakistan.

Indian Independence

Between 1940 and 1942, the Congress launched two abortive agitations against the British, and 60,000 Congress members were arrested, including Gandhi and Nehru. Unlike the uncooperative and belligerent Congress, the Muslim League supported the British during World War II. Belated but perhaps sincere British attempts to accommodate the demands of the two rival parties, while preserving the unitary state in India, seemed unacceptable to both as they alternately rejected whatever proposal was put forward during the war years. As a result, a three-way impasse settled in: the Congress and the Muslim League doubted British motives in handing over power to Indians, while the British struggled to retain some hold on India while offering to give greater autonomy.

The Congress wasted precious time denouncing the British rather than allaying Muslim fears during the highly charged election campaign of 1946. Even the more mature Congress leaders, especially Gandhi and Nehru, failed to see how genuinely afraid the Muslims were and how exhausted and weak the British had become in the aftermath of the war. When it appeared that the Congress had no desire to share power with the Muslim League at the center, Jinnah declared August 16, 1946, Direct Action Day, which brought communal rioting and massacre in many places in the north. Partition seemed preferable to civil war. On June 3, 1947, Viscount Louis Mountbatten, the viceroy (1947) and governor-general (1947-48), announced plans for partition of the British Indian Empire into the nations of India and Pakistan, which itself was divided into east and west wings on either side of India. At midnight, on August 15, 1947, India strode to freedom amidst ecstatic shouting of "Jai Hind" , when Nehru delivered a memorable and moving speech on India's "tryst with destiny."

Jawaharlal Nehru : Speech On the Granting of Indian Independence, August 14, 1947

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long supressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of Inida and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.

At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her success and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals, which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?

Freedom and power bring responsibility. The responsibility rests upon this Assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.

That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.

And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for any one of them to imagine that it can live apart Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this One World that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.

To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill-will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.

II

The appointed day has come-the day appointed by destiny-and India stands forth again, after long slumber and struggle, awake, vital, free and independent. The past clings on to us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the pledges we have so often taken. Yet the turning-point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about.

It is a fateful moment for us in India, for all Asia and for the world. A new star rises, the star of freedom in the East, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished materializes. May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed!

We rejoice in that freedom, even though clouds surround us, and many of our people are sorrowstricken and difficult problems encompass us. But freedom brings responsibilities and burdens and we have to face them in the spirit of a free and disciplined people.

On this day our first thoughts go to the architect of this freedom, the Father of our Nation [Gandhi], who, embodying the old spirit of India, held aloft the torch of freedom and lighted up the darkness that surrounded us. We have often been unworthy followers of his and have strayed from his message, but not only we but also succeeding generations will remember this message and bear the imprint in their hearts of this great son of India, magnificent in his faith and strength and courage and humility. We shall never allow that torch of freedom to be blown out, however high the wind or stormy the tempest.

Our next thoughts must be of the unknown volunteers and soldiers of freedom who, without praise or reward, have served India even unto death.

We think also of our brothers and sisters who have been cut off from us by political boundaries and who unhappily cannot share at present in the freedom that has come. They are of us and will remain of us whatever may happen, and we shall be sharers in their good [or] ill fortune alike.

The future beckons to us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavour? To bring freedom and opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of India; to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman.

We have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of India what destiny intended them to be. We are citizens of a great country on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action.

To the nations and peoples of the world we send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with them in furthering peace, freedom and democracy.

And to India, our much-loved motherland, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our reverent homage and we bind ourselves afresh to her service.

JAI HIND.


Attached: Gandhi Jinnah Talks
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