PART 11 -- [Some suggestions for political improvements]
[A] I have so far touched [on] the past history of Hindu-Muslim relations and given a picture of how matters stand at present. I will now offer a few observations on how the present situation can be improved, in the political field.
[B] It is suggested on behalf of Muslim leaders that–
(a) Communal representation with separate electorates in all the legislatures, local bodies, Universities, and other official or semi-official bodies should be provided.
Mr. M. A. Jinnah is the latest recruit to this party, and I really cannot understand how he calls himself a nationalist still./25/ The euphemism that this is only tentative, and that a time will come when the Muslims will be ready to give up communal representation, should deceive no one. Once you accept communal representation with separate electorates, there is no chance of its being ever abolished, without a civil war. A civil war will, again, actually mean the supremacy of one of the communities over the other. This lends weight to the fear entertained by some Hindus that some, at least, of the Muslim leaders are counting on the help of foreign Muslim states to establish Muslim rule throughout Hindustan. Whether this fear is [or is] not well-founded, it is only natural that those who entertain it should oppose communal representation with all the strength they can command. Their opposition, however, cannot be effective, [] as the Government seems determined to adopt their [this?] course. Therein they see the best guarantee of the permanence of the present conditions.
Communal representation with separate electorate is the most effective reply to the demand for Swaraj, and the surest way of India never getting it. I have never been able to appreciate the mentality of those who constantly talk of turning out the British, and at the same time insist on communal representation with separate electorates. I really don't understand what they mean. The second is the surest way of the first being never realized. The experience of the last three years is the most conclusive proof of it. The Muslim demand strengthens the position of antiSwarajists both among the Hindus and the Muslims, and supplies an effective reply to the contention that India is ripe for Swaraj. Communal representation by itself is a sufficiently bad principle, destructive of, and antagonistic to, the idea of a common nationhood, but separate electorates make this vicious principle immeasurably worse. If our Muslim countrymen are really earnest in their belief in nationalism and in their demand for Swaraj, the least they can do is not to insist on separate electorates.
(b) Representation in provincial legislatures and local bodies should be on the basis of population, in provinces and places where the Mussalmans are in a majority. In other provinces and places, they should have "effective" minority representation.
(c) Posts and offices under Govermnent should also be distributed on the principle stated in clause (b).
(d) In the provinces where the Muslims are in a minority, as well as m the All-India Departments, the Muslims ought to have 25 percent to 33 percent of the total posts.
[C] We will take these clauses one by one, in their serial order.
The principle of clause (a) is both theoretically and practically a negation of the united nationhood. It provides for a complete division of India, as it is, into two sections: a Muslim India and a non-Muslim India. I say deliberately non-Muslim India, because all that the Muslims are anxious for, is a guarantee of their own rights. All the other communities they lump into one as non-Mushms. Let those who demand communal representation with separate electorates in all the representative institutions of [] the land, honestly confess that they do not believe in nationalism or in a united India. The two things are absolutely irreconcilable.
(b) The demand for proportionate representation in the Legislatures is perfectly reasonable, provided the principle is accepted through and through. The plea for "effective" minority representation is, however, untenable. Mr. Jinnah has placed a special interpretation of his own on this term. Let us examine it in the light of facts. In Bengal and the Punjab, the Mussalmans are in a majority, and if this principle is accepted, they will rule over these Provinces. The Hindus in these Provinces, according to the interpretation of Mr. Jinnah are an effective minority already, so they are not entitled to any special representation. But what about the Sikhs? Are they or are not entitled to special representation? And from whose share are they to get it? From the share of the Hindus or that of the Muslims? Under no principle can they get it from the share of the Hindus. They must get it, if they must, from the Muslims' share, on the same principle on which the Muslims themselves claim it in the U. P., or the other Provinces where they are in a minority. This will interfere with the absolute majority which Muslims demand over the Hindus and Sikhs combined.
Some Mussalmans realize this, and contend that they will be content with a bare majority of one or two. But it is obvious that they cannot have everything in their own way. Assuming, however, that they are allowed their own way, do they imagine that they will be able to make their rule effective in the Punjab? The Punjab occupies a unique position among the Provinces of India. It is the home of a community who were the rulers of the Province when the British took possession of it. That community is virile, strong, and united. Will this community readily consent to occupy the entirely subservient position which this arrangement involves? If nothing else helps them, they may oppose Swaraj, as they did not long ago.
Under the circumstances, I would suggest that a remedy should be sought by which the Muslims might get a decisive majority without trampling on the sensitiveness of the Hindus and the Sikhs. My suggestion is that the Punjab should be partitioned. into two provinces, the Western Punjab with a large Muslim majority, to be a Muslim-governed Province; and the Eastern Punjab, with a large Hindu-Sikhs majority, to be a non-Muslim-[]governed Province. I do not discuss Bengal. To me it is unimaginable that the rich and highly progressive and alive Hindus of Bengal will ever work out the Pact agreed to by Mr. Das./26/ I will make the same suggestion in their case, but if Bengal is prepared to accept Mr. Das's Pact, I have nothing to say. It is its own look-out.
Maulana Hasrat Mohani/27/ has recently said that the Muslims will never agree to India's having Dominion status under the British. What they aim at are separate Muslim States in India, united with Hiudu States under a National Federal Government. He is also in favour of smaller States containing compact Hindu and Muslim populations. If communal representation with separate electorates is to be the rule, then Maulana Hasrat's scheme as to smaller provinces seems to be the only workable proposition. Under my scheme the Muslims will have four Muslim States: (1) The Pathan Province or the North-West Frontier, (2) Western Punjab, (3) Sindh, and (4) Eastern Bengal. If there are compact Muslim communities in any other part of India, sufficiently large to form a Province, they should be similarly constituted. But it should be distinctly understood that this is not a united India. It means a clear partition of India into a Muslim India and a non-Muslim India.
(c) From a national point of view, I strongly object to any communal distinction being adopted for Government service or in the Universities. Yet it cannot be denied that Muslim dissatisfaction at the present condition of things is well-founded and genuine. Hindus must make up their mind to concede to the Muslims their fair share of the loaves and fishes obtainable from Government. They must put themselves into the position of the Muslims and see the things from their point of view. Mian Fazl-i-Husain embodies in his person a real grievance. Only he has been hopelessly wrong in his method of removing this grievance. He ought to have appreciated the Hindu point of view, and proceeded in a way to make the seemingly bitter pill easily swallowable by the Hindus. The thing ought to have been done gradually.
Mian Fazl-i-Husain's rule in the Punjab,/28/ and that of Chaudhri Shahabuddin in Lahore, have given the Hindus a sample of what they are likely to have under Muslim rule. To provide them with the sample was perhaps a moving spring of Sir E. Maclagan's and Sir John [] Maynard's/29/ policy during the last five years. They have gained their object. But is that a fact of which Mian Fazl-i-Husain, as an Indian patriot, can be proud? If I had been in Mian Fazl-i Husain's position, I would have tried to gain the same object in a different way, and only resorted to open attacks in the last resort. What the Muslims of the Punjab (I say Muslims as distinguished from Muslim landlords, Muslim lawyers, and Muslim graduates) stand in the greatest need of, is educational and economic openings. There are Muslim districts where illiteracy is more widespread than anywhere else in the Province.
There are millions of Muslims who are exclusively at the mercy of their Muslim and Hindu landlords. What have the Muslim leaders done to improve their educational and economic position? Providing posts under the Government for a few educated Muslims is no remedy for the present condition. Safeguarding the interests of the few, and neglecting the interests of the many, is hardly a laudable thing, but that is exactly what Mian Fazl-i-Husain has achieved, and at such tremendous cost!
The Muslims all over the world have yet to learn that there are other
ways of making money and thriving economically than through and by Muslim
rule. Those who are doing nothing to place modern progressive ideals before
the Muslims, and simply emphasize ingenious dogmas, hair-splitting doctrines,
and reliance on Government, can hardly be called good friends of the Muslims.
If the Muslims of India were to link their fate indissolubly with that
of the Hindus, it would be the religious duty of the Hindus to help them
towards progress in all spheres of life, but if the present communal ideals
are to prevail, then they can scarcely complain of Hindu apathy towards
their alleged backwardness. The present communal struggle, with the atmosphere
of violence and coercion that has been created throughout Upper India,
can only produce a reaction in the minds of the Hindus.
/25/ M. A. Jinnah demanded
in 1924 separate electorates for Muslims with a fixed number of seats in
every legislature in the country. Speaking under the auspices of the Bombay
Provincial Muslim League in October 1924 on Hindu-Muslim Unity, M. A. Jinnah
urged the extension of communal representation to Municipalities, Local
Boards, and Public Services.
/26/ A Hindu-Muslim pact in respect of Bengal was made in 1923 by C. R. Das and Muslim Leaders. Its main provisions were:
1. Representation in the Legislative Council on the population basis with separate electorates.
2. Representation to local bodies to be in proportion of 60 to 40 in every district–60 to the community which was in majority and 40 to the minority.
3. Fifty-five percent of the Government posts to be reserved for Muslims.
4. No music to be allowed before mosques.
5. No interference with cow killing for religious sacrifices but cows to be killed in such a manner as not to wound the religious feelings of the Hindus.
There was strong opposition to the Pact even in the Congress.
/27/ Maulana Hasrat Mohani was an extremist leader of the Khilafat party. He presided over the annual session of the Muslim League held at Ahmedabad in December 1921.
/28/ Fazl-i-Husain as Education Minister in the Punjab Government, 1921-25, adopted various measures to advance specially education of Muslims and provide posts in the public services irrespective of merit. This caused resentment among the educated Hindu community of the Punjab, as its members suffered a good deal.
/29/ Sir Edward D. Maclagan was the Governor of the Punjab from 27 May 1919 to 30 May 1924. Sir John Maynard was a member of the Executive Council of the Governor, Punjab, from 1921 to 1926. He was the Financial Commissioner, Punjab, prior to his appointment as a member of the Council.