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Zareer Masani’s article What if Attlee Hadn’t Partitioned India in the I-Day special (Aug 19) pushes the naive idea that Nehru’s ambition was the driving impulse for Partition that forced even Jinnah into a corner. Actually, Pakistan was the ultimate triumph of the concept of ‘Muslim India’ enunciated by poet Mohammed Iqbal at the Allahabad convention of the Muslim League in 1930. There was mass Muslim support for the idea, as evident from the 1945-46 election results. Jinnah was desperate for Partition and suggested in December 1946 itself that an exchange of populations on communal lines take place. This is something biased writers tend to suppress. Let us not blame Nehru, who was secular to the core, or his alleged ambition.
S.K. Datta, Delhi
I’d say it’s not history that repeats itself but historians who do so. And their views are subjective. Partition was the result of the greed of two politicians, Nehru and Jinnah. The nation has paid, continues to pay, a price for their actions.
A.S. Raj, on e-mail
One thing is sure: whether or not Partition took place, the subcontinent would still have been governed by an elite who had received the oligarchic benefits of western education, had access to well-paying jobs and accumulated wealth.
DC, New York
Given the mess that is Pakistan today, I shudder to think what would have happened to us if Partition hadn’t taken place. The world would have had a big bad boy in India, not a small bad boy in Pakistan.
Arun Maheshwari, Bangalore
Till 1920, Jinnah was a reformist Congressman. The Khilafat movement, led by conservative Muslims, changed that. Gandhi supported Khilafat so as to promote Hindu-Muslim unity. But a very secular Jinnah opposed it, dubbing its leaders religious zealots. He then resigned from the party. It was years later that he drifted towards the idea of Pakistan, floated by well-to-do Muslims of United Provinces and Bihar who yearned for power, in Pakistan if not in united India.
R.V. Subramanian, Gurgaon
Imagine, if Pakistan and India had been together, the Taliban would have spread its poison all across India. Partition is probably one of the best things to have happened.
G. Natrajan, Isere, France
Partition was a blessing in disguise. If it hadn’t happened, we’d have had a 40 per cent Muslim population. With just 15 per cent Muslims now, our parties have allowed them to dictate politics; with 40 per cent, what a state we’d have been in! Of course, there were serious internal conflicts in India and they continue to this day. In fact, as Ramachandra Guha has pointed out, it’s a surprise that India remains united despite the conflicts. If India has stayed together, it’s because of a proactive policy of conflict management and prevention—the creation of states based on linguistic identity was an important element of this policy. Essentially, this channelled emotional energies into a strengthened linguistic identity to tide over the time till an Indian identity was developed. And the fact is, a linguistic identity supports pan-Indian stability more than religious identity does.
Shyamal Barua, Calcutta
If Attlee hadn’t partitioned India, there would have been no Bangladesh and no isi to needle us. China wouldn’t have had access to Gwadar port. And India, not having to spend so much on defence, would have developed further.
S. Raghunatha Prabhu, Alappuzha