Friday, 20 July 2012

Why Partition?- More howlers from Perry Anderson

What caused the Partition of India? 
The answer, today, is blindingly obvious. Islam, independent of local conditions, has the potential to set the establishment of a purely Confessional State as the Political horizon par excellence for its followers. This, by itself, militates for the demand for Partition of any developing  country such that Muslim majority areas have a choice as to the degree of Islamization they wish to embrace. The alternative- viz. that Islam essentially quit the political arena without a fight- is closely associated, in living memory, with the tyranny of Kings or Military cliques and the chauvinism of dominant clans. Both One Party Socialism and Globalized Capitalism have proved themselves unable to inculcate Civil Society with Rational and Humane values, never mind endowing it with a countervailing power against arbitrary dispossession or immiseration.
 Since Islam's political agenda, at least in countries with large pre-modern sectors, remains hazy and contested, Rationality and Humanism are valorized as regulative principles within its own noisy, internecine, discourse and the corollary is that every sort of prescriptivism or partisanship within Islam tends to cash out as a vision of what the ideal Islamic Republic might look like.  
In other words, discourse within Islam, in a developing country, is always going to take the establishment of an Islamic state as its reference point or 'first-best' equilibrium. In a sense, even for secularists, it may appear that Islam first needs to take Power in order to then give it back and function as part of a wider system of Checks and Balances. Azad as an anti-Aligarh ultramontane Muslim gains power through Khilafat but, precisely because he was accepted as a sort of Imam ul Hind- at least by Gandhi- he can then cede Power back to the Secular realm. 
However, given Islam's historical record, this sort of discourse is going to scare non-Muslims shitless which by itself might be enough to set off a chain reaction of polarization ending in Partition and ethnic cleansing. The alternative is that Mullahs concentrate on denouncing each other as heretics and fighting over who gets to control which Mosque- still scary but less linear in leading to the same end result.

All conjecture aside, the simple truth is- the Partition of India occurred because one section either wanted, or was susceptible to a preference falsification bandwagon towards an Islamic state and another did not, for the best of reasons, wish to live under any such regime. But, since the non-Muslims were not prepared to fight to the bitter end to prevent the setting up of such a State- though they may have been prepared to fight the continuance of European rule upon the territory of the sub-continent- Partition was inevitable.

Perry Anderson misses this obvious point in  his recent follow up  article in the London Review of Books, in which, with an added virulence of pi jaw, he affirms various foolish academic availability cascades about Partition only to end up making Nehru, and not just Nehru, even Gandhi, look intelligent- or, at least, more intelligent than himself. 
Anderson does not know much about India, so it is inevitable he will perpetrate some howlers.
These are some of them.
1) Nehru came from a much higher social class than Gandhi. Nonsense. Both were barristers and Gandhi was by far the more eminent man. Indeed, he was offered the Congress Presidentship before Motilal Nehru who was merely a pleader who came up by his own efforts. Gandhi's dad was a Dewan. Had Gandhi followed his father's footsteps, his position would have been similar to his old friend Sir Prabhashankar Pattani. 
Moreover, from the point of view of Hindu orthopraxy, the Gujerati Bania of Jain/Vaishnava background is not lower than the heterodox Kashmiri Kaula. Indeed, the former's Vegetarianism gives him the edge. The Kaula, being followers of Kapalika Tantrism, even have a saying- 'in Religion, claim to follow Saivism; in behavior, appear Vaishnava'. Gandhi's ancestors had been Dewans (Chief Ministers).  Nehru's ancestors had reached no higher position than that of kotwal (Police Station House Officer) in Delhi- that too after its decline had begun. Those members of his extended family who gained positions as Dewans had a lower, bird-of-passage type, position in the thymotic scheme of things- being Estate Managers merely rather than reputable local Men of Substance with a hereditary claim to office-  than that enjoyed by Gandhi's ancestors.  Indeed the old Thakore of Rajkot saw nothing improper in becoming a disciple of his erstwhile subject, whereas the Nehru clan remained hirelings merely, possessing less moral authority than the Court Purohit.
One last point- Gandhi's sub caste had been on an upward trajectory for hundreds of years, indeed their mores are now normative in much of Hindu India, whereas Nehru's ancestors have been on a downward trajectory for a thousand- many now being homeless refugees. 
On what basis, then, can Anderson say Nehru was 'much higher class' than Gandhi?
Gandhi could have taken a degree while in London- he just wasn't particularly gifted academically. Perry Anderson seems to think that going to Harrow makes one a gentleman. That may have been true about England, it wasn't true of India- especially Hindu India.

Why does Anderson- who has access to Wikipedia or at least Yahoo Answers- insist that Nehru was higher class than Gandhi? He wants to blame Nehru for partition. Apparently there is some iron law which says Higher Class people get to decide what happens's like a law of Nature- right? Just suppose, Nehru had been swapped at birth with Jinnah. Then the movie 'Gandhi' would have ended quite differently.  Edwina would have embraced that cadaverous old scarecrow- 'Darling, I now see it is you who are truly higher class. Thus, I must conspire to make you Prime Minister of Hindustan.' Gandhi would have said with tears in his eyes- 'beta, is budhe ko maaf karo! You are higher class. I should have seen it and made you my heir'. Mountbatten then confesses to being the dacoit who stole the Crown Jewels & Joseph Stalin sings a qawwali as the credits roll.
2) Nehru was emotionally dependent on Gandhi in an infantile manner- as opposed to showing reverence for him in typical Hindu Guru- Shishya style.
Since Anderson believes Nehru was higher class than Gandhi and since higher class people are just so much better and more powerful than lower class people, the mystery remains as to why Nehru was subservient to Gandhi. Turns out, Nehru was a big baby and Gandhi breast-fed him.
Is this true?
 The Brits had cracked down on Radical students in England a couple of years before young Nehru graduated. Still, Nehru did have his own political ideas but, like other men of his generation, he was skeptical about them. The age of enthusiasm had ended and the era of careerist political engagement still lay in the future.  In the interregnum, only a, G.E. Moore type, non cognitive Elite relationism could 
underpin Ethical prescriptivism's participation mystique- i.e. pi jaw's Passion & Transfiguration . Far from having no interest in metaphysical or mystical philosophy, Nehru had been tutored at home by a Theosophist and, though studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge, was influenced by the vitalist notions current at that time. His preference for Gandhi over Annie Beasant- though her Mum had been a House Matron at Harrow- is explainable by the fact that she claimed to be in contact with Spiritual Masters on the Astral plane and to have found the new Universal Messiah- some dark skinned Tam Bram urchin.
 Nehru's choosing Gandhi reflects the fact that his generation's affectation of blas√©  skepticism masked a deep and abiding spiritual thirst.  Motilal, it seems, was not mistaken in his choice of a bride for his son.

In any case, Nehru was a well brought up young man from the super-polite intelligentsia of Allahabad. At that time, virtually every well established family had a Pir-Murid or Guru-Shishya relationship with a Spiritual personality. Nehru may have been hot tempered but he was not ignorantly jahil or boorishly beadaab. People of our generation may find his writings about Indian History smack too much off 'Hindutva', but it was a pardonable fault at that time. Azad was a rabid 'takfiri' but later turned into a Secularist.
3)  as Gandhi’s favourite, Nehru could count on prevailing over rivals to head Congress`- heading Congress wasn't a big deal. He'd have got that feather in his cap simply for being his father's son and having put in jail time.  The truth is, Nehru didn't believe India would really become independent in his life-time. He read Atlee's plan in 1938 and said, when he came down to breakfast, 'well, you're giving us everything we wanted!' but then forgot the entire episode and never mentioned it again even after Atlee came to power.
4) The contrast with Subhas Chandra Bose, a brilliant student of philosophy at Cambridge, who was the first native to pass the exams into the elite ranks of the Indian civil service and then decline entry to it on patriotic grounds, is striking. 
 Actually, Aurobindo's failure to present himself for the horse riding test is generally considered a patriotic non serviam. That was 30 years before Bose.
 Aurobindo, who could have headed up the I.N.C if he  wanted, initially took a more, not less, radical path than Bose. But, ultimately, his embrace of Spirituality was far more extreme than Gandhi. 
Why does Anderson say 'the contrast (between Nehru and Bose) was striking'? Nehru was a little older. Politically, there wasn't much difference between them. Bose trusted the Capitalists, like Tata, more. He broke a strike at Tata's led by an Parsi engineer on the grounds that the Tatas were Nationalists. Nehru was suspicious of the industrialists and didn't like the Modi-Lee pact. Communists like Saklatvala and Rajni Palme Dutt found Nehru more congenial. Bose's writing is fuckwitted 'dialectical' Marxism for shitheads which could easily shade into Left adventurism or Trotskyism or some other such theological heresy. M.N Roy's escape from Stalin's assassins to the safety of a British Jail cell showed the dangers of lining up behind a clever-too-clever Bengali. Nehru's  belletristic guff, on the other hand, was perfectly safe. The fact is, it was Bose who revived the Jugantar idiocy of a German pact with the help of the Indian Nazi Party.  But, in any case, neither Bose nor Aurobindo nor any other politician of the period- including Ambedkar, who revived some antiquated Dalits-were-Buddhists nonsense of Ayothi Dasa- made any original, as opposed to totally fuckwitted, contribution to Indian public discourse. 
5) Nehru didn't care about Untouchability-
'When Gandhi was blackmailing Ambedkar to submit to the demand that Untouchables be treated as loyal Hindus within the caste system rather than pariahs excluded from it, Nehru uttered not a word in solidarity or support for Ambedkar
Anderson is being disingenuous. Gandhi fasted to prevent the granting of separate electorates- a mistake on his part because it might have allayed Muslim fears. But Nehru didn't support Ambedkar for the best of reasons. Firstly, the senior most and most popular Dalit leader, the cricketer, Palwankar Baloo- whom Ambedkar took as his inspiration- supported Gandhi as did the Dalits of Madras. The Rajah-Moonje pact had cut the ground under Ambedkar's feet- ground he did not recover till Gandhi's attempted to monopolize the 'Harijan' issue and run it into the ground, like he did Handloom Weaving and Basic Education and so on, in the crackpot belief that all Dalits were Bhangis and since he himself cleaned toilets, he was one himself- indeed, he was the only true Dalit. Incidentally, the Hindu Mahasabha leader, Dr. Moonje, like Gandhi, had served in the Boer War but with higher rank. In fact, Ambedkar's decision to become a Buddhist was in line with Hindu Mahasabha thinking. 
Anderson ignores all such nuances to paint Nehru as an Oxbridge High Caste/Class snob guilty of a faux pas involving lack of noblesse oblige towards some Lower Class/Caste LSE type. Yet, Nehru being a non-vegetarian himself, had less rather than more visceral motivation to cling to Untouchability.
Under the circumstances, the only reason for him to support Ambedkar would have been if it really was objectively true that only British officials, supported in the Legislature by Dalit reperesentatives, could advance that community.
This was flagrantly untrue.
The British had failed to remove Untouchability when their power was at its height. Indeed, the Court judgement which sparked off the Vaikom agitation showed their readiness to reintroduce it in a more virulent form because it chimed with the Eugenic nonsense popular at the time. Gandhi gave Ambedkar a larger number of reserved seats than they would otherwise have got. Separate electorates appeared at the time to merely yield power to British officials as opposed to elected representatives. Nehru had every reason to believe that the British would not use this power to end Untouchability because their recent trajectory had been retrograde in this regard.
Anderson continues-
Gandhi was fasting, and even though the lot of the Untouchables was a ‘side-issue’, as Nehru significantly dismissed it, that was enough. Separate electorates really were a 'side-issue' in the sense that their provision couldn't help Dalits and might harm them compared to what Gandhi was offering.
More was involved here, however, than simple unwillingness to differ with Gandhi on any issue on which he chose to take a political stand. 
Yes, more was involved. Once the Legislature was packed with representatives elected by different castes and interest groups- representatives for the Zamindars (landlords), others for the Ryots (tenants), others for Labor constituencies, others for women and so on- it would operate pretty much like the old Legislative Councils with nominated members. If the British were serious about abolishing Untouchability- they could use their existing powers. Separate electorates were a red herring.
Nehru, as he often confessed, was no believer: the doctrines of Hinduism meant little or nothing to him. But, in much the same artless way as Gandhi, he identified the religion with the nation, explaining that ‘Hinduism became the symbol of nationalism. It was indeed a national religion, with its appeal to all those deep instincts, racial and cultural, which form the basis everywhere of nationalism today.’ By contrast Buddhism, though born in India, had lost out there because it was ‘essentially international’. Islam, not even born in India, was inevitably even less national.
Hinduism- as defined by the British- did indeed have a national character. It also had a transcendental aspect- which is why some passionate Nationalists like Aurobindo retreated from Politics- but there can be no question that it was a source of National Identity, Social Cohesion and motivator to make patriotic sacrifices. As a leader, Nehru needed to convince others that he represented something more than his Daddy's son or a costly foreign education. The sentimental guff in his books and speeches, far from being artless, was nicely calculated to shore up his credentials as following in the footsteps of 'Bal, Pal & Lal'. 
Even so, Iqbal was suspicious of him. This is what he wrote to Jinnah in 1937- 
The Muslim has begun to feel that he has been going down and down during the last 200 years. Ordinarily he believes that his poverty is due to Hindu money-lending or capitalism. The perception that equality [is (?)] due to foreign rule has not yet fully come to him. But it is bound to come. The atheistic socialism of Jawahar Lal [Nehru] is not likely to receive much response from the Muslims. The question therefore is: how is it possible to solve the problem of Muslim poverty? And the whole future of the League depends on the League's activity to solve this question. If the League can give no such promises I am sure the Muslim masses will remain indifferent to it as before.
Happily there is a solution in the enforcement of the Law of Islam and its further development in the light of modern ideas. After a long and careful study of Islamic Law I have come to the conclusion that if this system of Law is properly understood and applied, at last the right to subsistence is secured to every body. But the enforcement and development of the Shariat of Islam is impossible in this country without a free Muslim state or states. This has been my honest conviction for many years and I still believe this to be the only way to solve the problem of bread for Muslims as well as to secure a peaceful India.
If such a thing is impossible in India the only other alternative is a civil war which as a matter of fact has been going on for some time in the shape of Hindu Muslim riots. I fear that in certain parts of the country, e.g. N.W. India, Palestine may be repeated..Also the insertion of Jawarhar Lal's socialism into the body-politic of Hinduism is likely to cause much bloodshed among the Hindus themselves. The issue between social democracy and Brahmanism is not dissimilar to the one between Brahmanism and Buddhism. Whether the fate of socialism will be the same as the fate of Buddhism in India I cannot say. But it is clear to my mind that if Hinduism accepts social democracy it must necessarily cease to be Hinduism. '
So Iqbal, a contemporary of Nehru, thought he was a Socialist. He predicted that there would be a struggle to the death between Socialism and Brahmanism. Anderson, however, knows better. Nehru must be some sort of Brahmanist because ...urm... otherwise the following sentence is just a bunch of stupid lies-
'It followed that the system Gandhi had always insisted was the foundation on which Hinduism rested, historically preserving it from disintegration, had to be presented in a roseate light. Caste had its tares, of course, as Gandhi too conceded. But in the larger view of things, Nehru explained, India had no reason to hang its head. ‘Caste was a group system based on services and functions. It was meant to be an all-inclusive order without any common dogma and allowing the fullest latitude to each group.’ Mercifully free from what had handicapped the Greeks, it was ‘infinitely better than slavery even for those lowest in the scale. Within each caste there was equality and a measure of freedom; each caste was occupational and applied itself to its own particular work. This led to a high degree of specialisation and skill in handicrafts and craftsmanship’, in a social order that was ‘non-competitive and non-acquisitive’. Indeed, far from embodying any principle of hierarchy, caste ‘kept up the democratic habit in each group’. Later generations, hard put to take in that Nehru could have composed such enormities, can point to other passages in which he added that ‘in the context of society today’ – as opposed to the (undated) past – caste had become a ‘barrier to progress’ that was no longer compatible with democracy, political or economic. Untouchability, as Ambedkar would note bitterly, Nehru never so much as mentioned.'
Anderson's mistake is to confuse stuff Nehru wrote with what he actually thought. Bolsheviks could pretend that the Russian 'mir' was actually Communism avant la lettre. Why shouldn't Indian leftists pretend that the Rg Vedic 'kavi' means 'proletarian' and that Castes were all originally highly egalitarian institutions? Ambedkar pretended Buddhism hadn't been casteist and this is now a well established Academic availability cascade which bien pensant Western Professors keep trundling down the road.  
Nehru, like Ambedkar,  knew Technological Industrialization, Scientific Education, Modern Medicine,  the emancipation of women, urbanization and so on were what would kill off Untouchability and Caste discrimination.  Neither separate electorates nor religious conversion would do the trick. Ambedkar's widow- a Doctor whom he had married to safeguard his health- was accused of poisoning him by his son and ostracized by the Dalit Community. Why? She was a Brahmin and Brahmins are untouchable to the Mahars. Clearly, even if she didn't actually put something in his food, just by being of a caste inauspicious to his own, she had hastened his demise.
The sad thing about both Ambedkar and Nehru is that they ended up slowing Industrialization and the spread of Scientific education and so on. In Ambedkar's case it was because he suddenly got it into his head that Buddhism- which had spread untouchability to Japan and Korea- was a panacea. It wasn't. Burma's 'Buddhist Socialism' destroyed its economy and empowered a brutal military Junta. In Ceylon, Buddhist monks like Budharakshita- 'Buddy racketeer'- wrecked the polity and set it on the path to Ethnic Cleansing.
Nehru's culpability, but also his capability, was somewhat less. He let himself be captured by those who controlled access to him, aware but unable to do anything about the corruption of even his own kith and kin, and went along with a corrupt sort of Agency Captured 'Socialistic' license-permit Raj which was nothing but the Modi-Lee agreement writ large.

Still, the fact remains, Ambedkar and Nehru and Gandhi and other politicians born after Gokhale were all stupid fuckwits because that is the job of politicians during a transition to democracy. 
 IN A NUTSHELL, THIS IS WHY PERRY ANDERSON GETS INDIA WRONG. He thinks people like Gandhi and Nehru were supposed to be intellectual pioneers leading their benighted people out of the swamp of superstition. This is nonsense. The first Indian I.C.S officers and Oxbridge graduates and barristers and Doctors and Mathematicians and so on dated from BEFORE any of these guys WERE BORN. Gandhi and Nehru  were always considered intellectually second rate by educated Indians. They were barristers, but wouldn't have made the cut to be appointed High Court Judges.  Still, they were relatively clean and not raving sodomites, so perfectly good Jail fodder.  Furthermore, at crucial moments, they signed the papers put in front of them by clever bureaucrats like V.P Menon.
No country in the Twenties and Thirties chose its political leaders on the basis of intellect and education. Nehru certainly wasn't egregiously more stupid than politicians of comparable stature in other countries.  Bose had done better in his exams. So what? He studied philosophy. That's another word for shite. 
In any case, Bose was Hindu- that would have kept him from the Premiership of Bengal because it was Muslim majority. Nehru, a Hindi speaking Hindu, on the other hand could be a Hindi belt leader.

Gandhi believed he was a Man of God- and okay many people took him at his word, when it suited them. He wasn't a worse Godman than many others, though no doubt he too had his little fads and fancies. Similarly Nehru was just one of a large number of sons or nephews or grandsons of prominent barristers who acted as their Political Aide de Camps, and made up the numbers at Congress tamashas. Nehru, to his credit, kept his nose clean. After his father died, he didn't take money from the odious Dalmia but paid his own way by writing books while in prison. True, he was stupid. Politicians usually are. True, his books are fairly crappy- so what? They served the cause, earned him money- thus keeping him out of the clutches of  crooked Capitalists or Enemy Agents- and, moreover, his books express sentiments which, by their very meaninglessness, conform to the approved belletristic pattern of the Urdu or Hindi of the period. Incidentally, his 'Discovery of India', translated into Farsi, was found inspiring by young people in Mossadegh's Iran. 

Perry Anderson, persisting in treating Nehru as an intellectual as opposed to a popular writer, quotes this harmless piece of fluff from Nehru- behind which we can easily hear the Hindi or Urdu- 
'Perhaps we may still sense the mystery of nature, listen to its song of life and beauty, and draw vitality from her. That song is not sung in the chosen spots only, and we can hear it, if we have the ears for it, almost everywhere. But there are some places where it charms even those who are unprepared for it and comes like the deep notes of a distant and powerful organ. Among those favoured spots is Kashmir, where loveliness dwells and an enchantment steals over the senses.
and draws this conclusion-
A mind capable of prose like this was unlikely to show much realism about the difficulties facing the national movement.
This is quite mad. Nehru wrote books which served his cause and made him financially independent. To his credit he hadn't taken money from the Birlas and Tatas in the Twenties and refused Dalmia's money after his father died. He wrote gentlemanly nonsense because nonsense sells and all he wanted was to remain a gentleman rather than a paid lackey of the crooked Capitalists. There is absolutely no evidence that he took himself seriously as a stylist or thinker. In fact he mocks the notion. 
The style and subject matter of his books were perfectly in harmony with his objectives and what's more sound like Hindi or Urdu translated, actually quite gracefully, into English. But then he was a politician from U.P- that's where he won elections from. 
Had Nehru written in the style of an Akbar Illahabadi or a Lu Hsun- not to mention a Kazi Nazrul or Miraji- he'd have scared off the straights. Even a Firaq was too strong for the taste of the times.
The remainder of Anderson's essay is in keeping with the howlers listed above. He does not understand that Nehru had little power of his own. Had he joined the Leftists he'd have been rendered even more irrelevant.  Some far-sighted Hindus had already begun to see what is now obvious to all the world- viz. emigration is better than minority status in a Muslim country. This is not because Muslims are inherently intolerant but that preference falsification under democratic or quasi-democratic regimes in Muslim majority states tends to bandwagon towards second class status for non-Muslims- but also ethnic cleansing if Law & Order breaks down. 
It is noteworthy that the position of Christians in Iraq and Eygpt and now Syria has got worse, not better, in recent years. 
Nehru had little power, Wavell had some- but told Whitehall that the quantum of power he had left was only enough to get the Whites out of the country safely, nothing more. Mountbatten was able to play a bluff but only for a very short time. He told people he was the King's cousin so war-weary Britain would be obliged to send troops to get him out of a jam. Still, to be on the safe side, he also pretended he was in a hurry to get out of India so as to get the top job at the Admiralty and that was the reason he was bringing forward Independence. 
The notion that the British Army had the strength, or the British Economy the wealth, to prevent the nightmare scenario Wavell had outlined- in other words, the myth that the Brits could have averted the slaughter of Partition when they were lucky to save their own skins- is one which makes for good headlines and bien pensant breast beating in holier than thou circles. It is a dangerous myth. I recall attending a dinner party some years ago where an earnest young gentleman, of the colored persuasion, kept going on about how we have to send troops into Somalia and everybody agreed till I suddenly recalled I'm black- not the good sort of black, but Tamil black- and I cut in to explain why this would be a disaster. Somalis, on average, are smarter and tougher than other people. The Americans- with April Glaspie, no seriously, April Glaspie!- hovering in the background blundered into a minefield till finally they had the sense to just up-sticks and run away. Running away, incidentally, is true Military Intelligence.
Partition happened. Why? Some Muslims and non-Muslims wanted to kill each other. But many Muslim politicians and administrators and smaller land-lords had an incentive for ethnic cleansing against non-Muslims. Preference falsification did the rest. In East Pakistan, Partition did not end ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims. The Hindu proportion of the population has declined decade on decade. If the same isn't true of Muslims or Christians in Hindu majority states in India, it is because Hindu politicians and administrators and land-lords and businessmen have no similar incentive and, in any case, Caste trumps Creed. Some Hindu castes- notably in districts where a demographic change is imminent- may have an incentive and a preference falsification mechanism to do ethnic cleansing but those incentives and that mechanism don't have more than regional currency.
The British had to leave because they weren't in control. They secured their main objective- India stayed in the Sterling zone- and got out without a scratch on their skin. Congress was around to catch the thali they had let fall from their hands. This wasn't greed so much as fear of what would happen if the thali smashed to pieces on the ground. Meanwhile, an Indianized administration made pragmatic decisions and found pragmatic 'Netas' to sign off on those decisions.  At this juncture Nehru's guff about the essential unity of India actually turned into a reality. The Tamil and the Punjabi were able to get along at the Cabinet table. The previous trend towards Provincial autonomy was reversed. Most importantly, the Congress leaders- thanks to the esprit de corps they'd built up in prison- didn't try to roast and eat each other. The Army- apart from one moment of madness on the part of Cariappa- stayed out of politics. Nehru continued on the conservative path which Gandhi had accustomed him to. India didn't lurch to the left to the extent of Burma. It muddled along. However, it was in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's Emergency that Gandhi and Nehru's Congress showed its true strength. Unlike Bangladesh, where the very people who had liberated the country from Pakistan turned upon each other, like rabid dogs, killing whole families and stringing up comrades in arms; unlike Pakistan, where a General hanged the very man who had appointed him, unlike Sri Lanka where Mother and daughter were rivals for power; in India dog did not eat dog. Filial piety was maintained. Appearances kept up. The masses muddled along somewhat more purposefully than before. The British could and can take a certain quiet pride in the achievements of their ancestors but for whom the English language would not echo, with an equal meaninglessness, in the Law Courts and Parliamentary Chambers of Ind's coral strand.
All of this is common sense. Anderson raises the straw-man of British responsibility for Partition simply to take a dig at Mountbatten. Yet, he later presents evidence that there was absolutely nothing Mountbatten could have done differently. The fact is, Wavell was planning to evacuate Whites from Hindu areas first. If Hindus were the greater threat to Whites, it makes sense for Mountbatten to appease the Hindus. His job was to get the Whites out and he managed to do that- though maybe some nuns were raped in Kashmir by the invaders or something like that.
Anderson's logic is warped. He tells us the Congress had only 3% Muslim membership. What percentage of non-Muslims did the Muslim League have? He tells us that Nehru was from Kashmir. That means, if the invaders took the Valley, Nehru's own people would be killed. (In fact this did happen later on). Why was it wrong for him to seek to defend his own people? What was he supposed to do? Say 'well, Muslims are in the majority in the Valley. Some other Muslims are invading the valley and though killing and raping and looting both Muslims and Hindus- it is only the latter they want to wipe out as a matter of principle. Since I am a Hindu I must let it happen...because...urm...well the Law says invaders should get to murder minorities because...urm... dunno but Perry Anderson thinks its a good idea and he's a Professor of Law at Cambridge...what? he's a Professor of History? That too in America? Oh fuck, I'd better send in the Army.'
The fact is, Nehru did not establish Hindu rule in the Valley. His Muslim friend, Sheikh Abdullah, ruled and took land away from people of Nehru's caste. He was cool with that.

The truth is, if the doctrine of Command Responsibility- established at Nuremberg- applies, then it is Jinnah and Suhrawardy and Liaqat and so on who stand condemned for genocide. Nehru is vindicated.
Jinnah, whom Anderson holds up as a great legal luminary and respecter of laws made the mistake of giving the Maharaja of Kashmir the option of acceding to India. Yet he did not prevent the invasion which caused the Maharaja to jump into Delhi's lap.
Similarly, it was Jinnah who put forward the utterly mad 'hostage theory' whereby the majority would not kill the minority for fear of reprisals against their own people somewhere else.  Was he utterly ignorant of Islamic history?Jinnah did not protect minorities in Pakistan. Even personal friends of his had to flee. Nehru did, to a certain extent, protect Muslims and, certainly, those close to him like Azad and Kidwai- or Chaghla who abandoned his old mentor, Jinnah- got a seat at the top table after Independence.
Anderson mentions Muslims killed in Hyderabad but not the Rezakar massacres which preceded this. How is it Nehru's fault if some idiots in Hyderabad thought they could kill the Hindu majority with impunity simply because God was on their side?

One cause of the massive bloodshed of Partition- also an exacerbating factor in the Bengal famine- was that the British had given too much power to the Provinces and Native states. Both Punjab and Bengal were Muslim majority states whose bosses had jointly issued the Lahore declaration favoring Pakistan. Did Punjab send food to Bengal? No, even though all the traders who stood to make a windfall profit were Muslims, not Hindus.
Later, the Premier of Bengal could use his power to precipitate the bloodshed of the 'Day of Action'. The Center was too weak to bring him to book. Similarly, during Partition, some of the Princely States were arming and sending out irregulars for ethnic cleansing.
Anderson, of course, either doesn't know or doesn't care about details like that. He wants to blame Nehru for Partition just because he rejected the stupid and unworkable Cabinet Mission Proposal.
Nehru wasn't doing something underhand in rejecting a weak federation. The right thing to do was blindingly obvious. That's why Nehru received support from the people who mattered for his strong Center policy- the alternative was a hundred Partitions- but Anderson thinks this makes him the bad guy. Why? Well,  Anderson tells us, Nehru must have known that he himself would become Prime Minister so he wanted to rule over as big and powerful State as possible. But how did Nehru know he'd be Prime Minister? Did he have a crystal ball? Did he believe in astrology? No.  Anderson's argument is mean spirited simply.

Anderson continually attacks Nehru for saying things which it was convenient, or incumbent, on him to say. That's what happens in Politics, Anderson baba. People make empty speeches.  Yet, even Nehru- not the sharpest tool in the box by any means- is not as fucking stupid as you Perry baby. You are criticizing Nehru for things he got right. Common sense things. Why?

P.S- funniest thing in the article- ' When in the summer of 1945 an emissary of the Communist Party, the one other force in the subcontinent that understood something of the principles of self-determination...'
The Communist Party! In 1945! Understood the principle of self-determination!
You couldn't make it up if you tried.


  1. 'Some far-sighted Hindus had already begun to see what is now obvious to all the world- viz. emigration is better than minority status in a Muslim country.'
    This is the main point you are making. You think Partition was inevitable because Muslims won't live as minority but insist on having their own State.
    It seems you are not aware there are many countries where Muslim minority has been living peacefully. Even Poland had a Muslim minority which was living peacefully there. Many African countries like Kenya and Tanzania have Muslim minority which is living peacefully.
    It is incorrect to say Muslims would break India only to be a majority. Were Indian Muslims different from Muslims in East Africa? According to Genetic Science, ancestors of Indians emigrated from East Africa.
    Mainly Hindus and Sikhs wished to stay in their own place and not to migrate. Even now, there are many Hindus living peacefully in Sindh and Baluchistan even in interior villages.

    Prof. Anderson shows how greed for power of politicians caused Partition. British also played a part by divide and rule. Nehru was short sighted and impatient. He also must share blame.

  2. Fair point- especially the mention of Tanzania. I never understood why Zanzibar didn't break away. I guess an effective one-party state can squash sectarian sentiment. But sooner or later, the ruling party either splits or becomes too corrupt or goes soft.
    Still, I have to admit my gut feeling is that one should emigrate away from Muslim majority countries- or at least secure a bolt hole somewhere else if those countries still have Natural Resources or a stable government- if one is non-Muslim just to be on the safe side. I know some Muslims too would want to emigrate but the penalty for failing to do so should be less for them.

    I honestly don't think the Muslims of the sub-continent could have prevented the emergence of a confessional state in Muslim majority areas. The will to protect non-Muslim caste fellows simply did not exist. Hindus have an incentive to protect non-Hindu caste fellows because that sort of thing is part of their cultural d.n.a and that puts Hindutva at a disadvantage.

  3. Liaqat Ali Khan was the true architect of Partition because, as Finance Minister, he proposed to punitively tax the Hindu industrialists who supported Congress.
    Furthermore, Liaqat's strategy put Congress Muslims like Azad and Kidwai in a difficult position. They could be outflanked by the Muslim League if it allied with the Communists in order to attack the Hindu Capitalists.

  4. Loved your article; informative, incisive and wicked in just the right places, a perfect rebuttal to Perry Anderson. Loved the last para, I had missed it myself reading PA's 50,000 word essay!
    Excellent. Waiting for more