Dr.Rajkumar SinghThe British Policy towards the Indian Muslims had also gone a gradual change. This change was essentially due to the policy of balance and counterpoise which the British had pursued. Especially after the formation of Indian National Congress in 1885, British Policy became definitely pro-Muslim, or rather in favour of those elements among the Muslims who were opposed to the national movement. The unequal development of the two communities, the fact that for a long time the nationalist and social reform movements were dominated by Hindus and the discriminatory and often non-secular approach of the British-all sowed the seeds of the problem of national integration. Background of partitioned mind-set The early years of the twentieth century witnessed two types of trend among the Muslim intelligentsia: one chiefly among the younger element, was towards nationalism, the other was a deviation from India’s past and even, to some extent her present, and a greater interest in Islamic countries and its faith. The old religion was based on the low level of economic and cultural development of the old society. It had to be remodelled to meet the needs of the new society. It had to be revised in the spirit of the principles of nationalism, democracy, an optimistic and positive attitude to life, and even rationalist philosophy. The national progress became the main objective of these reconstructed religions. When religion itself was not repudiated or reformed, nationalism became identified with religion. As the religious reforms in Islam took place on a very small scale, the tendency towards nationalism was identified with religion itself. It became noticeable among the younger generation of Muslims. The British Government incashed this Muslim sentiment and it was under the inspiration of the former that the Muslim League was started in 1906. The League had two Principal objects: loyalty to the British Government and the safeguarding of Muslim interests. Although it was formed to isolate Muslims from nationalist currents and programmes of the Indian National Congress, it could not ignore the pressure of the younger generation coming nearer to the Congress. One of the reasons why the Muslims did not join the nationalist movement was perhaps, because Indian nationalism was openly based by its leaders on the Hindu ideology. Bipin Chandra Pal, Aurobindo, and other leaders sought to build on a basis of Hindu religion for their agitation and to identify the national awakening with a revival of Hinduism. The insistence on orthodox religion as the heart of the national movement, and the proclamation of the supposed spiritual superiority of the ancient Hindu civilization to modern “Western” civilization inevitably retarded and weakened the real advance of the national movement and of political consciousness, while the emphasis on Hinduism must bear a share of the responsibility for the alienation of wide sections of Muslim opinion from the national movement. The feelings prevailed so far, in the long run, prepared the background, out of which, arose the cry for a division of India. There were many reasons, many contributory causes, errors and mistakes on everyside, and especially the deliberate separatist policy of the British Government. The development of Hindu middle class had been completed so far but due to the delay in the development of a Muslim middle class in India was one of the reasons of this divided mind. There has been a difference of a generation or more in the development of the Hindu and Muslim middle classes. It not only showed differences in their attitude on political and economic issues, but produced a psychology of fear among the Muslims. Birth of League and British policy However, the birth of the Muslim League in 1906 might not let to the division of the country. The logic of communal representation lay in the accommodation of the minority by the majority community in the framework of a single nation. There were continuous efforts on both sides to agree upon a solution. A section of the League who represented new generation reacted its attitude of servility and demanded that the League should take a full part in the struggle for national freedom. In 1913 it adopted as its objectives the attainment of self-government under the British. The understanding between the two remained for years to come when they signed the famous “Lucknow Pact” of 1916. In response Congress supported the “Khilafat Movement” launched after World War I, and in support of the Sultan of Turkey. Mahatma Gandhi used this opportunity to unite Hindus and Muslims in India and he got full support of the Muslims when the first major non-cooperation movement was started against the British. The ill-motivated British policy of representation was first introduced politically in 1909 but quite early in their rule they recognised chambers of commerce and municipalities for representation in councils. The Morley-Minto Reforms of 1909 provided for a minority of elected members to the Central and Provincial Legislative Council. A political barrier was created around them isolating them from the rest of India and reversing the unifying and amalgamating process which had been going on for centuries, and which was inevitably being speeded up by technological development. At first this barrier seemed small one but with every extension of the franchise it grew and affected the whole structure of public and social life. It created divisions and ill-feeling where there had been none previously. This provision of separate electorate was made enlarged in Montagu-Chemsford Reforms of 1918. Implementation of ‘two nation theory’ At the close of the thirties the communal problem had reached an impass. It grew from a simple problem in group accommodation to a major issue of political integration. Countless factors contributed to the worsening of the situation. The British government of the day although partly sensitive to the “minorities problem”, was also manipulating it for installing large political concessions. It played a dubious role. In the Act of 1935, and in the negotiations for Indian independence, communal representation and the principle of “Weightage” in allocating seats to minority communities were the chief instruments through which the British tried to solve the communal problem. Very soon the Muslim League adopted Jinnah’s “two-nation theory”. Its frustration with democratic politics did not contribute less to the new militancy and extremism. In contrast to the Indian National Congress democracy had not been a part of the political culture of the post-1937 Muslim League. It asserted repeatedly that democracy was not suited to India as it would led to a permanent domination of Hindu majority. The conception of a separate state for Muslims in place of demands for special protection was the result of a radical reappraisal of the political situation on the part of the League leaders and altered the whole context of Hindu-Muslim relations in India. Congress at first vehemently opposed the idea of partition but when it became apparent that the other alternative would be communal riots at regular intervals, the Congress leadership felt compelled to accept division as a peaceful and rapid solution of the independence issue. Thus, the subcontinent was divided in two sovereign, independent nations – India and Pakistan, having definite share in each other’s cultural and historical traditions.
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