M.J. Akbar's Books & Reviews: India: The Siege Within
Traces the history of India since the Partition in 1947, and analyzes the current political situation and India's future : Amazon.com Synopsis
India: The Siege Within is the account of achievements of India’s secular democracy as well as its vulnerability and failures. I've elaborated the origins and nature of the strains on Indian unity which have deep roots in history.
The name India derives from Indus, the great river born in the Himalayas which sweeps down the north-west on its way to the Arabian Sea. ‘Indus’ itself is a variation of the Sanskrit word sindhu, meaning river. The Oxford English Dictionary. pointing out that King Alfred mentioned India in his manuscripts. notes that the name has, from before the birth of Christ, defined ‘a large country or territory of southern Asia, lying east of the river Indus and south of the Himalaya mountains' In 1947. The British left this large country free but divided And the Indus which gave this land its name was now in the new nation of Pakistan.
It took more than five decades of struggle, sacrifice and determination to persuade the British to grant Indians their freedom. It took just seven years to create the country called Pakistan;. Before 1940, even the hard— liners in the Muslim leadership used to stress that all they all wanted was coexistence with honour, not a separate country. The idea that Muslims were a separate nation was dismissed as absurd over kind over again by Muslim leaders of all shades of opinion. In December 1915 the man who presided over the Muslim League session, Mazharul Huq, put it succinctly: We are Indian Muslims. These words, "Indian Muslims’’. convey the ideas of our nationality and of our religion ... When a question concerning the welfare of India and of justice to Indians arises. I am not only an Indian. but an Indian alone. an Indian next and an Indian last, an Indian and an Indian alone The famous Mohammad Ali told the first round-table conference. Where God commands I am a Muslim first, a Muslim second and a Muslim last, and nothing but a Muslim . . . But where India is concerned, where India’s freedom is concerned . I am an Indian first, an Indian second, and an Indian last. 'Or to quote the President of the Muslim league in 1931, Khan Sahib Mohammad Abdulla. addressing the 22nd session which commenced on 26 December: At the outset I must frankly state that we claim to be and are as much Indians as any other community in India and are as keen to see our country achieve freedom .. . Troubles really begin when we are accused of Pan Islamism or for planning Muslim rule in India merely because we demand certain safeguards ... I take this opportunity to assure my Hindu brethren that we the Mussalmans belong to Indian soil and that our outlook is essentially Indian... We must strive in unity to develop a common Indian culture and build a happy and progressive Indian nation, which should be composed of all that is best in the varied cultures that have found their way into India. But so long as one community strives for domination over the other and dreams of Hindu or Moslem Raj . . . there is little hope for speedy realization of our legitimate aspirations to become a great. and tree nation.' Pakistan was the dream of but a handful of commited theocrats.
A strong section of the Muslims remained.In fact,with Gandhi and the nationalist mainstream till the bitter end. The greatest of them was Abul Kalam, whose scholarship in theology enabled him to use the title Maulana and whose spirit was such that he to on the honorific ‘Azad (meaning free). The quintessence of his philosophy was summed up in the moving speech he gave to the Ramgarh session of the Congress it; 1940, where he was elected president of the party in the same week that the Muslim League passed its Pakistan resolution in Lahore: I cannot quarrel with my own convictions: I cannot stifle my own conscience ... I am a Mussalman and am proud of the fact. Islam’s splendid tradition of 1,300 years Is my Inheritance. The spirit of Islam guides and helps me forward. lam proud of being an Indian. I am part of that indivisible unity that is the Indian nationality. I am indispensable to this noble edifice and without me this splendid structure of India is incomplete. I am an essential element which has gone to build India. I can never surrender this claim.
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