Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jinnah, India-Partition, Jaswanth Singh's Book, A Critical Look.4

So he writes "The advent of Islam (Muslims) into India was in three broad waves,spread over almost eight centuries."Arabs in the seventh nd eighth Sindh...fought a fe skirmishes and left...Muhammad Bin Qasim also left after initial entry.....Nadir Shah and other (Turkic-Mongols) and some Afghans ,of which some stayed back."The advent of Persianised Turks into inndia is routinely characterised by historians as 'Muslim conquest'.This to my mind , is an oddity,for to term this entire period from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century as a 'Muslim Era' is wrong ,also, simplistic.Principally, because there is a significant conceptual and terminological error here, which over the centuries has got embedded.The query bieng: are we to term an invasion,any invasion for that matter by the faith or religious beliefs of the invader: Islamic/pagan/ancestor-worshipper/shamanistic or whatever; or establish identity by ethnicity and the place of origin of the invader?When we relate these invasions of India with comparable historical encounters elsewhere,then the oddity....Why do we not speak of 'Christian conquest ' of America?"

He then goes to explain that the "recordings of most 'Indo -Persian' chroniclers of medieval India identified Islam with the fortunes of their royal patrons.....and these 'sycophants' then reduced accounts of those reigns into such 'hagiographical nonsense' ".

Two questions arise here in my mind: Mr Singh is obsessed with the fact that the historical writings of those times always refer as 'Mulim invasion' and not the other way round. To this a rather simplistic answer maybe,the writers ,sycophantic or otherwise ,even European historians are studying or recording this in the context of 'Muslim' history.

The other objection I have to the use of the term 'hagiographical nonsense' and he has written earlier that "is this acccount merely a recapitulation of those happenings; a linear narrative of events simply recounted?" 'Or is it to be what the great Arab historian Ibn Khaldun reflected history to be,rather ought to be, in his epic treatise 'The Muqadammah'.Is all recording of history done in the form of "correct" historical writings. Are there not various methods of recording history ? When is historical writings or treatises consider authentic? When is the earliest record of historical writing first seen? Do recordings of events in holy books such as the Bible, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayan not a part of 'historical knowledge'

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jinnah, India-Partition, Jaswanth Singh's Book, A Critical Look.3

The image of Jinnah is bieng formed in Mr. Jaswanth Singh's mind in the introductory paras as "the Muslim League in that sense truimphed under Jinnah's leadership, for he achieved what he had set out to" , "carving out for himself a Pakistan,even if 'moth-eaten' and from birth". "For this ,in essence, was also Muhammad Ali Jinnah's political journey. How could or rather why did , a person of such central importance to the front rank of India's political leadership for almost the first forty-seven years of the twentieth century relegate himself to a finge of it?"
Two questions arise here on reading this; first exactly what was the 'central role' Jinnah that he did play in India uptil this time? Here the basic question of the true 'leadership' identity question or 'shanakht' of Muhammad Ali Jinnah is the most pertinent one. We will read Mr. Jaswanth's assesment of why and how Jinnah became ' the Quaid -e Azam ' later on.
The second issue is regarding the 'fringe' of India concept that he refers to frequently. He seems obsessed with the geographical division of India and other areas that became Pakistan as 'peripheral' or 'fringe'. this labelling in itself appears to impart as a 'lowly' status to the new geographical entity.The concept of bieng 'mainstream',does it actually mean 'central' in the geographical sense or acceptable ideologically?And if acceptable then why and how does a 'fringe' community becomes a new geographical entity and the 'peripheral minority' becomes a central majority in the 'new' state.
Mr Jaswanth Singh clearly has raised the "spectre" for his generation of Indians of the logic or 'reality' of the formation of Pakistan.It seems to me that a scene is bieng created in his reader's mind almost reminiscent of the last coals bieng inflammed before the final die out. I hope a real winter comes on this chapter as enough violence and useless buildup of arms against each other deluding real peace and a prosperous peaceful coexistence has engulfed the two nations since birth.(Continued)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jinnah, India -Partition, Independance, Jaswanth Singh's Book...A Critical View 2

He writes painfully "How did Islam with ease first become Indian, then struggled to become a geographical supernumerary to it, to this great spread of what was their own home. And..."It became the faith of the "separator" of those that divided the land" And...."The League had claimed that it was the true upholder of of Islam's ideological authentication...therefore demanded just a single Muslim medium...and asserting it's identity as a different conceptual 'nation',claimed a separate land for itself which is why this agonising question continues to grate against our sensibilities......tragically Nehru and Patel and the Congress party had assented, Jinnah in any event having demanded adopting to just such a recourse.
The pain, the agony ,the sense of bieng utterly let down by Nehru and Sardar Patel is clearly evident in this para, which to me explains the crux of the writing of this book, probing the historical context, the mindsets, the fights as in that moment which he describes as a vivisection. He asks painfully as to why..."how do you divide a geographic (also geopolitical) unity?

There are several questions in this painful why.India has never really accepted division and the existence of Pakistan . At least this generation that Jaswanth Singh belongs to. The mindset of holding on to this notion of "Akhand Bharat" has led to the massive buildup of armies so much so that nuclearisation of Pakistan has resulted although the Indian bomb was primarily against China.The new generation of Indian needs to move on, accept the existence of Pakistan but is this going to be possible now, earlier? Post 9/11, post Mumbai and now the latest ideas in militant Pakistan paint a bad omen , picture for the future of India -Pakistan relations.
Pakistan itself questions this "Islamic" existence now as the extremist violent groups are creating havoc in it's cities. Just as Jaswanth Singh asks..."relegating such of faith that remained within India to a life of perpetual self questioning and doubt about their true identity."
The agonising reality of partition seems lost on the people as now more and more evidence in the behaviour of "Muslim"groups in Pakistan appears to make the call for a seperate homeland questionable for Indian Muslims. Why was the Bangladesh created? He will ask later. The answer seems apparent! The sociopolitical divide is mainly of economic and empowerment struggle. Race, tribalism, religion, ethnicity are the rallying points of struggling groups in order to distinguish themselves and assert their identity and existence.A very clear example is to become "American" even of such diverse people as Chinese, Mexican or Indian.
I still do not understand what Mr. Singh means by "Indianisation"of Islam. Is this a cultural context or what?(Continued)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jinnah, India-Partition, Jaswanth Singh's Book, A Critical Look.

Yeh tera bayan Ghalib, Khushi se mar na jate agar aitbar hota!
The words of Mirza Ghalib resonate in my mind as I attempt to write a sociopolitical critique of Mr Jaswanth Singh's surprising book, to which the Bharatya Janata Party reacted in undue, uninformed and purely prejudical haste.As I had suspected,and intuitively felt there is nothing in the book which really makes Jinnah an hero, at least in the beginning chapters. I intend to write the views in serialized form as I read the book. I do hope the readers will enjoy my perspective. I must admit I am a novice at this but I felt the strong need to express my views as an ordinary terrorist bitten, secular, female from Pakistan.As the "New" paradigm of the "ordinary citizen" shifts from something lowly to a "global existence and importance", everyone appears to be important.
Back in the subcontinent of "passion,division, yet love and Shakti" the peoples across the divide ? Still dilemma for Mr Jaswanth Singh , seek to understand and then finally reach out to each other.
When this book was due to be out, many in Pakistan wited anxiously to read his take on Jinnah. Well some maybe disappointed, some bewildered, but I was not of either.
He writes in his introduction that "This phase transformed over time....over centuries evolved into frequently repeated forays, primarily for loot of the inestimable wealth of the land" then he goes on to say " Some came in those centuries in a frenzy of Islamic zeal destroying whatever non-Islamic symbol, structure or image....they were iconoclasts of Islam destroying what for them were 'symbols of Satan'.He says " accompanying these invasions , came a new experience for India,conversion of the unbelievers to Islam, until a time arrived when,finally Islam got transformed by India, intermeshing with it and ultimately bieng absorbed by it as an integer".
He then goes to explain how Islam was "Indianised" in the sub continent. My question here is ...How do we "Indianise" a religious belief? this was according to him a variety of beliefs in Islam which were "Indianised". This maybe true in the context of belief as in "belief" context but what does he mean by "Indianising" these varied beliefs? Is it as "giving them a label? a title? This in context of the " Muslim seperate identity in India which he questions later in the chapter.Was it in cultural context? But the India has such varied cultural entities. There is no unity,monolithic,insipid "Indian culture".
The other question that comes to mind is why does he start the depiction of invasion by "Muslims" as looters, plunderers and greedy people of another nation or cultures? He will repeat this again and agin in this chapter and I will qoute.The idea of integration defies the "other" identity of any peoples.When his whole idea of writing this book is as to why and how did Muslims become "the other nation" justifying partition of India and creation of independant Pakistan, then why this initial "labelling" and repeated at that as more of looters, plunderers and not as people who migrated which happens in history so often and also as recently as the 21st century. Is that not what is now known as "economic opportunity migration"?
Maybe this was the mindset of "labelling the Other muslims who invaded India that explains and answers his question itself. (Continued)