Jinnah and Gandhiji - British India

Jinnah with Mahatma Gandhi in Bombay, 1944.en.wikipedia.org

. Muhammad Ali Jinnah.www.flickr.com

In the annals of Indian History  leading to freedom from the British yoke,  two prominent  Indian personalities hogged the lime light in the last final phases before the declaration of freedom in August, 1947 -  Mohammad Ali Jinnah (25 December, 1876 – 11 September, 1948)  and Gandhiji (2 October 1869 – 30 January,1948). The former, the  founder of Pakistan was a disappointed person after the inevitable partition  and died with a heavy heart; the latter, a dejected man over the partition of the Indian sub continent and loss of innumerable innocent people on both sides  during the transition period between two countries and the prevalence of disunity among the Hindus and Muslims. Unfortunately, Gandhi was felled by an assassin in 1948 as he had a soft corner for the Muslim minorities. Thus, the newly carved nations of Pakistan and India in the late 1940s began their arduous journey as free countries from the scratch on a sad note. 

Free India, May 20, 1947. sites.google.com

Above image: Because of religion and politics, besides Britin's divea nd rule policy, the subcontinent of India was dived. Pakistan became a Muslim counmtry.  .......

On top of it, when the leaders of the two nations took the reins respectively, the treasury was  almost empty with bottom dollars!! The British emptied the coffers before leaving the Indian soil because,  by 1947, having been clobbered in the WW II during the Churchill administration, Britain's financial woes were up to the neck and the Crown decided to exit the Indian scene as quickly as possible.

socialistudiesexploration blogpot.com
Above image: The British happily leaving Indian shores after splitting India into India and Pakistan. It was a riotous situation after rartition. They made  the Muslims and Hindus hold each other's throat. ........

Before leaving India for good, the British did two unsavory things - encouraging reserved electorate for the Muslims based on religion as demanded by majority of Muslims  and for scheduled caste and tribes as demanded by Ambedkar, a prominent leader of SC and ST. The Indian leaders' intention was to protect them from the Hindu majority.  Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru's father, thought "Separate Electorate" based on Geography would bind all the communities, not so in the case of religion or caste.  Ultimately, as predicted, it had only negative impact on the people after the  implementation of reserved electorate.

Making comparison between two stalwarts - Mr. Jinnah and Gandhiji, who were against  the harsh British rule and their exit from the Indian soil is an exercise in futility.

The families of both Jinnah and Gandhi  hailed from the same  region just bout 40 miles or so apart in Kathiawar (Gujarat). Since Gandhi's father happened to be a Dewan, he had a smooth and comfortable childhood. Whereas Jinnah's father was a textile merchant who changed his residency frequently and Jinnah had to adopt himself to the new places. His childhood life was not a comfortable one.

Sister Fatima Jinnah..arynews.tv
 Gandhi and other residents of Tolstoy Farm, South Africa, 1910.en.wikipedia.org

Both  Gandhiji and Jinnah were British Barristers, having studied at Lincoln's Inn in London. Gandhiji joined Indian  Politics after his long stint in S. Africa where he gained all the necessary political experiences, while practicing as a lawyer.

South Africa was then an apartheid country dividedand classified on the basis of race and color. Gandhiji himself was a victim of racial discrimination and tasted it right under his very nose. In S. Africa he had close contacts with the Hindu as well as Muslim population and became their voice. He experimented with satyagraha for 7 yeras to deal with the passage of the Asiatic Registration Act in Transvaal in 1907. Earlier his  other methods failed to yield expected results.. During this period, on his own, he developed sheer courage, organization skill, patience to pit the small Indian community against the powerful white majority government.  He started  Tolstoy farm  - 1000 acre spread for Sathyagrahis for meager sustenance and  successfully ran it with the help of like minded people from different races, includind whites. His experiments with sathyagraha - peacefully disobeying government rules  bore favorable results. The autocratic white South African regime, at last had to listen to him.

Jinnah was a rationalist in politics -  though kind hearted, he was cold and committed to his ideology. He never joked. Nor did he ever laugh.  He was not a crowd puller. On the other hand, Gandhiji was a down to earth idealist, committed to his ideology - peaceful  disobedience  of  government-  non- cooperation to achieve his political goal. He  became part of the crowd and knew the language that simple folks could understand.  He helped the squalid poor without reservation. But Jinnah never had close rapport with the poor masses, in particular, Muslims. Being efficient as he was, he was more comfortable with a top position with the Indian National Congress  that  had lots of experienced leaders.  For the new entrant Gandhi, backed by his political exposure  in S. Africa, ascendancy in the INC was not an issue. Jinnah didn't like being pushed to the outer corridor of the party.  Basically he was a democrat  and wanted to deal with the problems as they were and did not toe the line of Gandhiji with respect to non-cooperation or Sathyagraha.  At Nagpur session in 1920 when Congress endorsed Gandhi's  Satyagraha, as a weapon for freedom struggle, Jinnah. resigned from the Congress. He thought Gandhiji's Satyagraha would lead to political anarchy and self -government could be achieved only through constitutional means.

Personally, Jinnah was not religious and  was more comfortable with the English language than Urdu. His parents  spoke Gujarati and Katchi.  He never liked the Mullahs and saints nor did he say his 'Namaz' daily and read the holy book 'Quran' like other Muslims. However, it was Jinnah in 1911 introduced the Wakf Validation Act to place Muslim religious trusts on a sound legal footing under British Indian law; later it was enacted by  Viceroy Minto. 

The provincial elections of 1937 had  almost a traumatic effect upon Jinnah". The belief that Muslims could protect their rights in a united India through separate electorates proved to be wrong as  the Congress formed a government, with almost all of the Muslim MLAs sitting on the Opposition benches.  As for  non-Congress Muslims  members, they were  relegated to the backbench, facing a total political powerlessness.

In 1940, having no other recourse, he wanted a separate land / country for the Muslims within the frame work of a democratic secularism. It is a puzzle - being a  secularist, how come Jinnah gradually had changed his political ideology to the point of  pushing religion as a basic factor to form a Muslim nation? Like Gandhi, he was against religious fanaticism that would lead to political chaos. He used the Muslim League meeting at Lahore as a main platform and passed a resolution in 1940, demanding a separate nation. So, the two nation theory took its roots and Jinnah became its torch bearer. Gandhiji and other leaders asked him to give it up and Gandhiji, at last, implored him not to divide the Indian sub continent. Unmoved, Jinnah stuck to his gun, but, unfortunately, he never planned how to shape up the new  nation - whether purely based on religion or secularism and how to lead it in the near future.

Unlike Gandhi who identified himself with the poor masses after his trip  on 21.09.1921 down south to Madurai city in Tamil Nadu by wearing his famous "loin clothes," worn by the peasants there, Jinnah was highly formal in every aspect - manners, western  dress, behavior, etc. He was fond of cigar and whiskey and married a Parsi woman (his second wife) and not a Muslim woman. As a lawyer he was well dedicated, sincere and could argue a case with persuasive skill in a logical way. He began his law practice in Bombay  at the age of 20. He gained popularity and won the esteem of the bar council. Jinnah helped Tilak get acquitted in the seduction case on account of his clear presentation of case with proper legal evidences. Incidentally. he was a follower of Goplakrishna Gokhale, who in a way, was mentor to him as well as  to Gandhiji. At core, he was liberal despite being a Muslim.

When asked about the new country’s constitution, Jinnah added,  "Of course, it will be a democratic constitution; Islam is a democratic religion.… Our Islamic ideas have been based on democracy and social justice since the 13th century. The constitution would be democratic because the soil is perfectly fertile for democracy."  Unfortunately, not so, after partition  Pakistan did not get a Constitution for another decade. Unlike India, Pakistan did not see land reforms and vast tracks of lands were owned by the elite who supported Jinnah. For the poor Muslims, financially there was no room for upward mobility in the new state of Pakistan. 

Propped up Pakistan. Cartoon by Zahoor Daily Times, Pakistan2ndlook.wordpress.com

Gandhi wanted a united India with no divisive politics. He never sought any office of power and was closely associated himself with the India's poor masses. He acted according to his conscience within the democratic frame work, not taking refuge either in violence or in part politics. His main obsession was India and not western thoughts. Both Gujaratis - Jinnah and Gandhiji, who themselves saw a divided India and its effects in the aftermath, died with their dreams unfulfilled in 1948s, a democratic, secular and strong Pakistan as visioned by the former, and  united strong Indian subcontinent as envisaged by Gandhiji never happened. 

However,  now  India has become one of the top economies in the world  and continues to enjoy being the largest democracy in the world in spite of its inherent internal problems.