The Muslim League's Resolution on Pakistan has called forth different reactions. There are some who look upon it as a case of political measles to which a people in the infancy of their conscious unity and power are very liable. Others have taken it as a permanent frame of the Muslim mind and not merely a passing phase and have in consequence been greatly perturbed.
The question is undoubtedly controversial. The issue is vital and there is no argument which has not been used in the controversy by one side to silence the other. Some argue that this demand for partitioning India into two political entities under separate national states staggers their imagination; others are so choked with a sense of righteous indignation at this wanton attempt to break the unity of a country, which, it is claimed, has stood as one for centuries, that their rage prevents them from giving expression to their thoughts. Others think that it need not be taken seriously. They treat it as a trifle and try to destroy it by shooting into it similes and metaphors. "You don't cut your head to cure your headache," "you don't cut a baby into two because two women are engaged in fighting out a claim as to who its mother is," are some of the analogies which are used to prove the absurdity of Pakistan. In a controversy carried on the plane of pure sentiment, there is nothing surprising if a dispassionate student finds more stupefaction and less understanding, more heat and less light, more ridicule and less seriousness.
My position in this behalf is definite, if not singular. I do not think the demand for Pakistan is the result of mere political distemper, which will pass away with the efflux of time. As I read the situation, it seems to me that it is a characteristic in the biological sense of the term, which the Muslim body politic has developed in the same manner as an organism develops a characteristic. Whether it will survive or not, in the process of natural selection, must depend upon the forces that may become operative in the struggle for existence between Hindus and Musalmans. I am not staggered by Pakistan; I am not indignant about it; nor do I believe that it can be smashed by shooting into it similes and metaphors. Those who believe in shooting it by similes should remember that nonsense does not cease to be nonsense because it is put in rhyme, and that a metaphor is no argument though it be sometimes the gunpowder to drive one home and imbed it in memory. I believe that it would be neither wise nor possible to reject summarily a scheme if it has behind it the sentiment, if not the passionate support, of 90 p.c. Muslims of India. I have no doubt that the only proper attitude to Pakistan is to study it in all its aspects, to understand its implications and to form an intelligent judgement about it.
With all this, a reader is sure to ask: Is this book on Pakistan seasonable in the sense that one must read it, as one must eat the fruits of the season to keep oneself in health? If it is seasonable, is it readable? These are natural queries and an author, whose object is to attract readers, may well make use of the introduction to meet them.
As to the seasonableness of the book there can be no doubt. The way of looking at India by Indians themselves must be admitted to have undergone a complete change during the last 20 years. Referring to India Prof. Arnold Toynbee wrote in 1915—
"British statesmanship in the nineteenth century regarded India as a 'Sleeping Beauty,' whom Britain had a prescriptive right to woo when she awoke; so it hedged with thorns the garden where she lay, to safeguard her from marauders prowling in the desert without. Now the princess is awake, and is claiming the right to dispose of her own hand, while the marauders have transformed themselves into respectable gentlemen diligently occupied in turning the desert into a garden too, but grievously impeded by the British thorn-hedge. When they politely request us to remove it, we shall do well to consent, for they will not make the demand till they feel themselves strong enough to enforce it, and in the tussle that will follow if we refuse, the sympathies of the Indian princess will not be on our side. Now that she is awake, she wishes to walk abroad among her neighbours; she feels herself capable of rebuffing without our countenance any blandishments or threats they may offer her, and she is becoming as weary as they of the thorn-hedge that confines her to her garden.Although the writer is an Englishman, the view expressed by him in 1915 was the view commonly held by all Indians irrespective of caste or creed. Now that India the "Sleeping Beauty" of Prof. Toynbee is awake, what is the view of the Indians about her? On this question, there can be no manner of doubt that those who have observed this Sleeping Beauty behave in recent years, feel she is a strange being quite different from the angelic princess that she was supposed to be. She is a mad maiden having a dual personality, half human, half animal, always in convulsions because of her two natures in perpetual conflict. If there is any doubt about her dual personality, it has now been dispelled by the Resolution of the Muslim League demanding the cutting up of India into two, Pakistan and Hindustan, so that these conflicts and convulsions due to a dual personality having been bound in one may cease forever, and so freed from each other, may dwell in separate homes congenial to their respective cultures, Hindu and Muslim.
"If we treat her with tact, India will never wish to secede from the spiritual brotherhood of the British Empire, but it is inevitable that she should lead a more and more independent life of her own, and follow the example of Anglo-Saxon Commowealths by establishing direct relations with her neighbours. . . ."
It is beyond question that Pakistan is a scheme which will have to be taken into account. The Muslims will insist upon the scheme being considered. The British will insist upon some kind of settlement being reached between the Hindus and the Muslims before they consent to any devolution of political power. There is no use blaming the British for insisting upon such a settlement as a condition precedent to the transfer of power. The British cannot consent to settle power upon an aggressive Hindu majority and make it its heir, leaving it to deal with the minorities at its sweet pleasure. That would not be ending imperialism. It would be creating another imperialism. The Hindus, therefore, cannot avoid coming to grips with Pakistan, much as they would like to do.
If the scheme of Pakistan has to be considered, and there is no escape from it, then there are certain points which must be borne in mind.
The first point to note is that the Hindus and Muslims must decide the question themselves. They cannot invoke the aid of anyone else. Certainly, they cannot expect the British to decide it for them. From the point of view of the Empire, it matters very little to the British whether India remains one undivided whole, or is partitioned into two parts, Pakistan and Hindustan, or into twenty linguistic fragments as planned by the Congress, so long as all of them are content to live within the Empire. The British need not interfere for the simple reason that they are not affected by such territorial divisions.
Further, if the Hindus are hoping that the British will use force to put down Pakistan, that is impossible. In the first place, coercion is no remedy. The futility of force and resistance was pointed out by Burke long ago in his speeches relating to the coercion of the American colonies. His memorable words may be quoted not only for the benefit of the Hindu Maha Sabha but also for the benefit of all. This is what he said:
"The use of force alone is temporary. It may endure a moment but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again: a nation is not governed which is perpetually to be conquered. The next objection to force is its uncertainty. Terror is not always the effect of force, and an armament is not a victory. If you do not succeed you are without resource; for conciliation failing, force remains; but force failing, no further hope of reconciliation is left. Power and Authority are sometimes bought by kindness, but they can never be begged as alms by an impoverished and defeated violence. A further objection to force is that you impair the object by your very endeavours to preserve it. The thing you fought for (to wit the loyalty of the people) is not the thing you recover, but depreciated, sunk, wasted and consumed in the contest."Coercion, as an alternative to Pakistan, is therefore unthinkable.
Again, the Muslims cannot be deprived of the benefit of the principle of self-determination. The Hindu Nationalists who rely on self-determination and ask how Britain can refuse India what the conscience of the world has conceded to the smallest of the European nations, cannot in the same breath ask the British to deny it to other minorities. The Hindu Nationalist who hopes that Britain will coerce the Muslims into abandoning Pakistan, forgets that the right of nationalism to freedom from an aggressive foreign imperialism and the right of a minority to freedom from an aggressive majority's nationalism are not two different things; nor does the former stand on a more sacred footing than the latter. They are merely two aspects of the struggle for freedom and as such equal in their moral import. Nationalists, fighting for freedom from aggressive imperialism, cannot well ask the help of the British imperialists to thwart the right of a minority to freedom from the nationalism of an aggressive majority. The matter must, therefore, be decided upon by the Muslims and the Hindus alone. The British cannot decide the issue for them. This is the first important point to note.
The essence of Pakistan is the opposition to the establishment of one Central Government having supremacy over the whole of India. Pakistan contemplates two Central Governments, one for Pakistan and the other for Hindustan. This gives rise to the second important point which Indians must take note of. That point is that the issue of Pakistan shall have to be decided upon before the plans for a new constitution are drawn and its foundations are laid. If there is to be one Central Government for India, the design of the constitutional structure would be different from what it would be if there is to be one Central Government for Hindustan and another for Pakistan. That being so, it will be most unwise to postpone the decision. Either the scheme should be abandoned and another substituted by mutual agreement or it should be decided upon. It will be the greatest folly to suppose that if Pakistan is buried for the moment, it will never raise its head again. I am sure, burying Pakistan is not the same thing as burying the ghost of Pakistan. So long as the hostility to one Central Government for India, which is the ideology underlying Pakistan, persists, the ghost of Pakistan will be there, casting its ominous shadow upon the political future of India. Neither will it be prudent to make some kind of a make-shift arrangement for the time being, leaving the permanent solution to some future day. To do so would be something like curing the symptoms without removing the disease. But, as often happens in such cases, the disease is driven in, thereby making certain its recurrence, perhaps in a more virulent form.
I feel certain that whether India should have one Central Government is not a matter which can betaken as settled; it is a matter in issue and although it may not be a live issue now, some day it will be.
The Muslims have openly declared that they do not want to have any Central Government in India and they have given their reasons in the most unambiguous terms. They have succeeded in bringing into being five provinces which are predominantly Muslim in population. In these provinces, they see the possibility of the Muslims forming a government and they are anxious to see that the independence of the Muslim Governments in these provinces is preserved. Actuated by these considerations, the Central Government is an eyesore to the Muslims of India. As they visualize the scene, they see their Muslim Provinces made subject to a Central Government predominantly Hindu and endowed with powers of supervision over, and even of interference in, the administration of these Muslim Provinces. The Muslims feel that to accept one Central Government for the whole of India is to consent to place the Muslim Provincial Governments under a Hindu Central Government and to see the gain secured by the creation of Muslim Provinces lost by subjecting them to a Hindu Government at the Centre. The Muslim way of escape from this tyranny of a Hindu Centre is to have no Central Government in India at all./1/
Are the Musalmans alone opposed to the existence of a Central Government? What about the Hindus? There seems to be a silent premise underlying all political discussions that are going on among the Hindus that there will always be in India a Central Government as a permanent part of her political constitution. How far such a premise can be taken for granted is more than I can say. I may, however, point out that there are two factors which are dormant for the present but which some day may become dominant and turn the Hindus away from the idea of a Central Government.
The first is the cultural antipathy between the Hindu Provinces. The Hindu Provinces are by no means a happy family. It cannot be pretended that the Sikhs have any tenderness for the Bengalees or the Rajputs or the Madrasis. The Bengalee loves only himself. The Madrasi is.bound by his own world. As to the Mahratta, who does not recall that the Mahrattas, who set out to destroy the Muslim Empire in India, became a menace to the rest of the Hindus whom they harassed and kept under their yoke for nearly a century. The Hindu Provinces have no common traditions and no interests to bind them. On the other hand, the differences of language, race, and the conflicts of the past have been the most powerful forces tending to divide them. It is true that the Hindus are getting together and the spirit moving them to become one united nation is working on them. But it must not be forgotten that they have not yet become a nation. They are in the process of becoming a nation and before the process is completed, there may be a setback which may destroy the work of a whole century.
In the second place, there is the financial factor. It is not sufficiently known what it costs the people of India to maintain the Central Government and the proportionate burden each Province has to bear.
The total revenue of British India comes to Rs. 194,64,17,926 per annum. Of this sum, the amount raised by the Provincial Governments from provincial sources, comes annually to Rs. 73,57,50,125 and that raised by the Central Government from central sources of revenue comes to Rs. 121,06,67,801. This will show what the Central Government costs the people of India. When one considers that the Central Government is concerned only with maintaining peace and does not discharge any functions which have relation to the progress of the people, it should cause no surprise if people begin to ask whether it is necessary that they should pay annually such an enormous price to purchase peace. In this connection, it must be borne in mind that the people in the provinces are literally starving and there is no source left to the provinces to increase their revenue.
This burden of maintaining the Central Government,
which the people of India have to bear, is most unevenly distributed over
the different provinces. The sources of central revenues are (1) Customs,
(2) Excise, (3) Salt, (4) Currency, (5) Posts and Telegraphs, (6) Income
Tax and (7) Railways. It is not possible from the accounts published by
the Government of India to work out the distribution of the three sources
of central revenue, namely Currency, Posts and Telegraphs, and Railways.
Only the revenue raised from other sources can be worked out province by
province. The result is shown in the following table :—
|REVENUE RAISED BY PROVINCIAL AND CENTRAL GOVERNMENTS|
It will be seen from this table that the burden of maintaining the Central Government is not only heavy but falls unequally upon the different provinces. The Bombay Provincial Government raises Rs. 12,44,59,553; as against this, the Central Government raises Rs. 22,53,44,247 from Bombay. The Bengal Government raises Rs. 12,76,60,892; as against this, the Central Government raises Rs. 23,79,01,583 from Bengal. The Sind Government raises Rs. 3,70,29,354; as against this, the Central Government raises Rs. 5,66,46,915 from Sind. The Assam Government raises nearly Rs. 2 1/2 crores; but the Central Government raises nearly Rs. 2 crores from Assam. While such is the burden of the Central Government on these provinces, the rest of the provinces contribute next to nothing to the Central Government. The Punjab raises Rs. 11 crores for itself but contributes only Rs. 1 crore to the Central Government. In the N.W.F.P. the provincial revenue is Rs. 1,80,83,548; its total contribution to the Central Government however is only Rs. 9,28,294. U.P. raises Rs. 13 crores but contributes only Rs. 4 crores to the Centre. Bihar collects Rs. 5 crores for itself; she gives only 1 1/2 crores to the Centre. C.P. and Berar levy a total of 4 crores and pay to the Centre 31 lakhs.
This financial factor has so far passed without notice. But time may come when even to the Hindus, who are the strongest supporters of a Central Government in India, the financial considerations may make a greater appeal than what purely patriotic considerations do now. So, it is possible that some day the Muslims, for communal considerations, and the Hindus, for financial considerations, may join hands to abolish the Central Government.
If this were to happen, it is better if it happens before the foundation of a new constitution is laid down. If it happens after the foundation of the new constitution envisaging one Central Government were laid down, it would be the greatest disaster. Out of the general wreck, not only India as an entity will vanish, but it will not be possible to save even the Hindu unity. As I have pointed out, there is not much cement even among the Hindu Provinces, and once that little cement which exists is lost, there will be nothing with which to build up even the unity of the Hindu Provinces. It is because of this that Indians must decide, before preparing the plans and laying the foundations, for whom the constitutional structure is to be raised and whether it is temporary or permanent. After the structure is built as one whole, on one single foundation, with girders running through from one end to the other; if, thereafter, a part is to be severed from the rest, the knocking out of the rivets will shake the whole building and produce cracks in other parts of the structure which are intended to remain as one whole. The danger of cracks is greater, if the cement which binds them is, as in the case of India, of a poor quality. If the new constitution is designed for India as one whole and a structure is raised on that basis, and thereafter the question of separation of Pakistan from Hindustan is raised and the Hindus have to yield, the alterations that may become necessary to give effect to this severance may bring about the collapse of the whole structure. The desire of the Muslim Provinces may easily infect the Hindu Provinces and the spirit of disruption generated by the Muslim Provinces may cause all round disintegration.
History is not wanting in instances of constitutions threatened with disruption. There is the instance of the Southern States of the American Union. Natal has always been anxious to get out from the Union of South Africa and Western Australia recently applied, though unsuccessfully, to secede from the Australian Commonwealth.
In these cases actual disruption has not taken place and where it did, it was soon healed. Indians, however, cannot hope to be so fortunate. Theirs may be the fate of Czechoslovakia. In the first place, it would be futile to entertain the hope that if a disruption of the Indian constitution took place by the Muslim Provinces separating from the Hindu Provinces, it would be possible to win back the seceding provinces as was done in the U.S.A. after the Civil War. Secondly, if the new Indian constitution is a Dominion Constitution, even the British may find themselves powerless to save the constitution from such a disruption, if it takes place after its foundations are laid. It seems to be, therefore, imperative that the issue of Pakistan should be decided upon before the new constitution is devised.
If there can be no doubt that Pakistan is a scheme which Indians will have to resolve upon at the next revision of the constitution and if there is no escape from deciding upon it, then it would be a fatal mistake for the people to approach it without a proper understanding of the question. The ignorance of some of the Indian delegates to the Round Table Conference of constitutional law, I remember, led Mr. Garvin of the Observer to remark that it would have been much better if the Simon Commission, instead of writing a report on India, had made a report on constitutional problems of India and how they were met by the constitutions of the different countries of the world. Such a report I know was prepared for the use of the delegates who framed the constitution of South Africa. This is an attempt to make good that deficiency and as such I believe it will be welcomed as a seasonable piece.
So much for the question whether the book is seasonable. As to the second question, whether the book is readable no writer can forget the words of Augustine Birrell when he said:
"Cooks, warriors, and authors must be judged by the effects they produce; toothsome dishes, glorious victories, pleasant books, these are our demands. We have nothing to do with ingredients, tactics, or methods. We have no desire to be admitted into the kitchen, the council, or the study. The cook may use her saucepans how she pleases, the warrior place his men as he likes, the author handle his material or weave his plot as best he can; when the dish is served we only ask. Is it good?; when the battle has been fought, Who won?; when the book comes out, Does it read?I am fully aware of this. But I am not worried about it. That may well apply to other books but not to a book on Pakistan. Every Indian must read a book on Pakistan, if not this, then some other, if he wants to help his country to steer a clear path.
"Authors ought not to be above being reminded that it is their first duty to write agreeably. Some very disagreeable men have succeeded in doing so, and there is, therefore, no need for anyone to despair. Every author, be he grave or gay, should try to make his book as ingratiating as possible. Reading is not a duty, and has consequently no business to be made disagreeable. Nobody is under any obligation to read any other man's book."
If the book does not read well, i.e., its taste be not good, the reader will find two things in it which, I am sure, are good.
The first thing he will find is that the ingredients are good. There is in the book material which will be helpful and to gain access to which he will have to labour a great deal. Indeed, the reader will find that the book contains an epitome of India's political and social history during the last twenty years, which it is necessary for every Indian to know.
The second thing he will find is that there is no partisanship. The aim is to expound the scheme of Pakistan in all its aspects and not to advocate it. The aim is to explain and not to convert. It would, however, be a pretence to say that I have no views on Pakistan. Views I have. Some of them are expressed, others may have to be gathered. Two things, however, may well be said about my views. In the first place, wherever they are expressed, they have been reasoned out. Secondly, whatever the views, they have certainly not the fixity of a popular prejudice. They are really thoughts and not views. In other words, I have an open mind, though not an empty mind. A person with an open mind is always the subject of congratulations. While this may be so, it must, at the same time, be realized that an open mind may also be an empty mind and that such an open mind, if it is a happy condition, is also a very dangerous condition for a man to be in. A disaster may easily overtake a man with an empty mind. Such a person is like a ship without ballast and without a rudder. It can have no direction. It may float but may also suffer a shipwreck against a rock for want of direction. While aiming to help the reader by placing before him all the material, relevant and important, the reader will find that I have not sought to impose my views on him. I have placed before him both sides of the question and have left him to form his own opinion.
The reader may complain that I have been provocative
in stating the relevant facts. I am conscious that .such a charge may be
levelled against me. I apologize freely and gladly for the same. My excuse
is that I have no intention to hurt. I had only one purpose, that is, to
force the attention of the indifferent and casual reader to the issue that
is dealt with in the book. I ask the reader to put aside any irritation
that he may feel with me and concentrate his thoughts on this tremendous
issu : Which is to be, Pakistan or no Pakistan?
/1/ This point of view was
put forth by Sir Muhammad lqbal at the Third Round Table Conference.