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Recall what Ambedkar said

Recall what Ambedkar said

Author: Prafull Goradia
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 29, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/179279/Recall-what-Ambedkar-said.html

Which is better for Hindus, BR Ambedkar asked: Should Muslims be without and against or should they be within and against? He preferred without and against

The Taliban closing in on Islamabad is an ominous portent. Evidently the mujahideen tried to cross the Indus in strength. Could their eventual target be to cross the Ichhogil canal? If it were to be so, what would be the inspiration reinforcing India's answer? The way Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone captured terrorist in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, is being tried like an ordinary criminal is an indication that the present Government and its secular fundamentalism will not counter the threat. Normally, a sovereign state would have treated Kasab as an enemy of the state, given him a summary trial and executed him. With the Muslim League, a coalition partner of the UPA, and Mr AR Antulay, a leading member of the Government, the likes of the present Government could hardly be expected to move heaven and earth in order to resist a Talibani invasion.

India must fall back on its own nationalist ideology, that of Hindutva. Rather than recalling Veer Savarkar's definition, it would be better to take the help of BR Ambedkar's version of the patriotic ideology. For one, the acceptability of what Babasaheb wrote would be much higher across the classes and castes of India. For another, what he wrote was issue specific and not merely in the realm of concept.

His viewpoint was supported by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who while proposing the Pakistan Resolution at the Lahore session of the Muslim League, had said how and why Hindus and Muslims could not co-exist in the same country. Ambedkar's was not unilaterally a Hindu proposition which was in his words: That the transfer of minorities is the only lasting remedy for communal peace is beyond doubt (Volume 8 Writings and Speeches, Government of Maharashtra). Ambedkar not only endorsed the partition and an exchange of populations but also analysed in detail the geopolitical, military and financial implications of the separation. He admitted that India would have no natural land frontier especially in the north. He, however, argued in his book The Partition of India, which he wrote immediately after Jinnah's historic Lahore Resolution of 1940, that the deficiency could be off-set by creating fortifications which might be far more impregnable than natural barriers.

Coming to the armed forces, Babasaheb pointed out that the fighting forces available for the defence of pre-partition India mostly hailed from areas which were to become Pakistan. As things stood, Hindustan could not be defended without the help of the Pakistani provinces. Recruitment was based on the arbitrary theory that some communities were martial while others did not have fighting qualities. Perhaps the inadvertent effect of this excuse was that the Indian infantry was numerically dominated by Punjabi Musalmans and Pathans. How far could Hindus depend upon these gate-keepers to hold the gate and protect the freedom of India, was the question raised by Ambedkar. He went on to say that if a Muslim country were to invade India, would these gate-keepers stop the invaders or would they open the gate and let them in?

Moreover, it was doubtful that a Regiment of Musalmans would accept the authority of Hindu officers if placed under them. Incidentally, in 1919, the Khilafat movement, led by the Ali Brothers, had endorsed the Islamic viewpoint that a Muslim soldier would be justified in not resisting a Muslim invader. This view was subsequently endorsed by the Muslim League. Ambedkar concluded this problem lucidly: Hindus have a difficult choice to make - to have a safe army or a safe border. If they desire to have a ready-made safe border they would have to insist on Muslims remaining a part of India. On the other hand, if the Muslims go out, India would at least have a safe army. Which is better for the Hindus, he asked? Should the Muslims be without and against or should they be within and against. He preferred without and against.

The financial questions that Ambedkar raised were equally important. He discovered that the dominantly Muslim provinces contributed less than 14 per cent of the revenue to the Central exchequer contrasted with 86 per cent by the dominantly Hindu areas. At the time 43 per cent of the total Central Government revenue was spent on the army which comprised a dominant majority of Muslim soldiers. Babasaheb's conclusion was that the Hindus were paying for employing Muslim soldiers. He called this a paradox which fully justified the partition.


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