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)

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