I am reading a lot about Indian history these days. More specifically, about the period of India between 1857 and 1947. When I am done with this, I will go back to the history of ancient India.
History is a strange thing. It is a very strange beast indeed, and the history that we know, is the version that schools and historians want us to know. When I was growing up, we were taught about India’s Independence, the Great Partition, and how Jinnah was such a power obsessed bastard that he drove the Partition of India into India and Pakistan.
As I read more and more about these years, the more I am forced to reassess my understanding of Jinnah, and history. Jinnah did indeed drive the partition of India. Yet, as it transpires, this was not his intention. It seems that, for over 30 years, he was a champion of nationhood and Hindu-Muslim unity.
While there were indeed differences between the Hindus and the Muslims, they fought together during the Mutiny of 1857. People at that time identified themselves more with their region than with the differences of religion.
After 1857, the British started to play their game of divide and rule between the Hindus and the Muslims, and the gap started to widen.
When the Congress Party started to push for independence, our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, driven by his view of how India should adopt Western models; driven by his desire for power; and, driven by his personal antipathy towards Jinnah, pushed him further and further away from the centre of the Congress.
Gandhi was, it seems, erratic in his stand, and tended to give the reins to God to resolve this issue.
It was in 1937 that Jinnah finally realised that he had no hope with Nehru, broke away and started to think of a Muslim homeland. Talks of Pakistan first started in 1940, gained momentum bur, it was not until the end of 1946 that Pakistan became a reality. Great Britain, broken by the spends on World War II, wanted out and rushed the Independence of India faster than envisaged.
And so it was that a line was drawn on the map of India. On one side lay the future land of Pakistan, and on the other lay India.
Hundreds of thousands died in the conflagration of Independence, and millions were displaced.
The leaders gained the seats of power that they so desired, but at a huge cost.
People once united, were now divided. The wounds of Partition and Independence have not yet healed.
The line, drawn shakily one night in India, became a line of destiny and a line of hate.
The leaders did indeed gain the seats of power that they so desired, but at a cost that they had never envisaged.