|Sunday, April 16, 2000,
A liberal in the
constituency of fanatics
Cricket icons fall from
Ambedkars birthday row
75 years ago
General Election Were Held
P. H. Vaishnav
in an interview with the BBC on April 1, 2000, Benazir Bhutto described General Pervez Musharraf as a "confused liberal" in a constituency that is fanatic. With a little objectivity, she might as well have described her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as perhaps a cynical liberal in the constituency of bigotry. She would of course not commit the blasphemy of describing Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in any critical terms for that is forbidden in Pakistan.
In what terms could Jinnah be fairly described? A liberal finding himself reduced to dependence on a following that could be aroused on slogans of intolerance into creating a Pakistan that was soaked in blood in the very process of its birth? Was he naive enough to think that the terror of "direct action" and its divisiveness would end with the creation of Pakistan? Or that from an overweening self-confidence, he could mould Pakistan into a liberal state not dependent on Islamic fundamentalism as the basis of political legitimacy?
Apparently, with all his perceptiveness, he let himself be blinded to the possibility of further strife, secession and an unceasing reliance on hydra-headed monsters such as the Lashkar-e-Toibas, the Talibans, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideens and above all the Jamiat-e-Islami, a force in favour of Shariat no government can disregard. Still less did he anticipate that Pakistan would become an exporter of terrorism to a point where even Muslim countries would shun it.
Jinnah was a Gujarati Khoja Muslim whose grandfather was a Hindu convert to Islam. His father's name was Jinnahbhai which the son altered into the anglicised Jinnah to sound like a surname. Culturally and by outlook the Gujarati Khojas have a lot in common with Hindu Banias and Lohanas. Jinnah's time limit for Urdu speech was hardly one minute after which he switched to English, was in every way a non-practising Muslim with little knowledge of the Qoran, did not respect Muslim taboos against pork and alcohol, and chose to marry a Parsee girl 25 years younger to him. If there was anyone whose Islamic credentials were so patently weak and who was the complete anti-thesis of a Pakistani politician, it was Jinnah.
Jinnah's political career started in 1904 as an ardent nationalist and a dedicated Congressman. In the India of those days, Muslim separatist consciousness was gathering and was being fostered consciously by the British. A majority of India's twenty five percent Muslims were either orthodox Sunnis or the modernists of the Sir Syed Ahmed school of Aligarh. Both wanted their community's advancement under British patronage, questioned the Congress's claim to exclusive leadership and generally subscribed to the idea of being a separate nationality.
The British decision to partition Bengal in 1905 led to the birth of the Muslim League in 1906. The reversal of this partition in 1911 intensified this consciousness. Lord Minto's promise of separate electorates for the Muslims in 1906 had achieved what Minto's Secretary called "the pulling back of 62 millions from joining the seditious opposition" (read Congress). The Reform Act of 1909 wrote into law the principle of communal reservations.
Not at all affected by this environment, Jinnah remained a liberal, a nationalist and a Congressman.
His role models were Dadabhai Naoroji, Pherozeshah Mehta and Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Indeed his ambition was to be a "Muslim Gokhale". No wonder, the Aga Khan regretted that Jinnah was the Muslim League's "doughtiest opponent" who regarded separate electorates as divisive.
Ironically, Jinnah got elected to the Imperial Legislative Council on a reserved seat from Bombay but consistently refused to accept the Muslim League ideology. He worked closely with Gokhale and strove to help the Indian cause before the British Parliamentary Council on India and the White Hall Committee on India.
He was invited to the annual meetings of the Muslim League as a Congressman and when eventually asked to join the League, put a condition that "loyalty to the Muslim League and the Muslim interest would in no way and at any time imply even a shadow of disloyalty to the larger national cause".
As he distinguished himself in the Council and outside, he acquired a unique position both in the Congress and the League which he used to bring the two organisations closer. His efforts culminated in the Lucknow Pact of 1916 in which the principle of communal reservation for Muslims at the Centre and in the Provinces was accepted by the Congress.
In the evolving political scenario of India, Muslim separatism had not yet become strong and widespread and the liberal constituency was sufficiently large to give Jinnah space. He operated from this constituency on the twin assumptions that Muslim identity and separatist aspirations would be taken care of by reservation. Thereafter nothing could stop India from getting responsible Government.
Equally strong was his conviction that the British would better respond to constitutional rather than agitational methods. Indeed at that point of time, after the death of Pherozeshah Mehta, Gokhale and Dadabhai Naoroji, Jinnah was the most luminous star of the Congress and the leading light of the Home Rule League of Mrs Annie Besant.
His liberal-constitutional constituency began shrinking, however, with the emergence of Gandhi and his mass mobilisation of Hindus and Muslims through the Non-cooperation and Khilafat movements against the British. The Muslims and the Hindus were thus galvanised into a struggle that was anathema to Jinnah who regarded it as a recipe for disaster.
He forcefully expressed his opposition at the Nagpur Session of the Congress in 1920, but was humiliated and hooted out. He lost caste with Congressmen and the Muslims who saw him as a traitor to the cause of Khilafat.
The unprovoked British repression against the opposition to the Rowlatt Act, culminating in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, enhanced Gandhi's mass appeal. Gandhi also came to dominate the Home Rule League. Annie Besant, followed by Jinnah, resigned from the League.
Nevertheless Jinnah persevered with his usual tenacity and tried to organise as an alternative to Gandhi's Congress, a moderate party with Motilal Nehru and Jayakar. Undaunted by failure, he again tried in 1924; this time successfully, to form a formidable block jointly with the 42 Swarajists of Motilal Nehru and carried through, by 76 to 48 votes, a resolution recommending that "steps be taken to have the Government of India Act of 1919 in order to establish full responsible government of India".
An unhappy Lord Reading was forced to appoint a Reforms Enquiry Committee with Jinnah as one of its members. Jinnah drew up his minority report separately. But Lord Reading was cold to both the official and the minority report of Jinnah.
He then presided over a special session of the Muslim League in 1924 to get the League to vote and work for a joint Hindu-Muslim struggle. But to his ill luck, in the wake of the abolition of the Caliphate, Muslim anger in India turned against the Hindus, leading to country-wide communal riots and a Hindu backlash.
The 1921 census revealed an absolute majority of Muslims in Punjab and Bengal. This further drove a wedge between the two communities. And finally in response to Gandhi's appeal, Motilal Nehru took to non-cooperation within the National Assembly and separated from Jinnah.
Jinnah's space was thus getting reduced with the Congress locked in an active and nation-wide anti-British struggle, while Hindu-Muslim relations deteriorated to his disadvantage as a middleman between the two.
Right till the late 20's he continued working for his liberal line. When the British Government appointed an all-white commission called the Simon Commission to review the Government of India Act of 1919, the country was temporarily united into a telling boycott of which Jinnah was a front-rank leader.
Birkenhead, the Secretary of State for India, singled out Jinnah for being undermined and blatantly asked Simon to grant widely publicised interviews to as many non-boycotting Muslims as possible so that an impression could be created that Jinnah was isolated.
As a counter to the Simon Commission, the Congress called an all-parties conference to draw up a single Indian alternative. The Motilal Nehru Committee set up for the purpose repudiated the Lucknow Pact with its separate electorates and projected the demand for complete independence.
With this, Jinnah's hopes of strengthening liberal-constitutional forces ended. Even so he tried for the last time with his friend Ramsay MacDonald, the Labour Prime Minister, urging him to make "an immediate declaration of government's commitment of granting full responsible government with dominion status in order to prevent a decisive swing in favour of complete independence".
Such a declaration did come from the British Government, leading to the three Round Table Conferences that followed.
The Congress, however, was committed to its demand for full independence and urged the British Government to leave the Indians to settle their own problems. In the event, the British Government gave its Communal Award which lead to the passing of the Government of India Act, 1935.
A bitter and marginalised Jinnah withdrew to his lawyer's chambers in London. He tried for some accommodation with the Congress within the framework of the 1935 Act. He did not succeed. In the elections of 1937, the Muslim League fared poorly.
It was then that Muslim separatist consciousness assumed an explosive proportion. The Muslim community was groping in search of a leader. And Jinnah, with his liberal constituency having evaporated, was in search of a community that would follow him unquestioningly.
Jinnah was now firmly committed to the idea of Pakistan with a near-unanimous support from the Muslims and the British who did not fail to recognise him as the sole spokesman of the Muslims. Between 1940 and 1946 the Muslim League engaged in a virulent campaign for partition. The metamorphosis of Jinnah was so complete that he gave a call for "direct action" which touched off a communal storm of violence and bloodshed and led eventually to partition.
And then in a stunning reversal of his ideology, on August 11, 1947, three days before the birth of Pakistan, he proclaimed that religion was not the business of the State.
The following words from his stirring address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan which, like many of his speeches to the Muslims during his earlier nationalist days, remain an embarrassment to his diehard successors, bear recall:
"Now, if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.
"I cannot emphasise it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalees, Madrasis, and so on will vanish......
"You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan..... You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State....
"We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.... We should keep (this) in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State....
To the ill luck alike of Pakistan and India, he died within a year.
But even if he had lived longer, he would have realised that the disastrous consequences of using sectarian forces are too terrible and cannot be reversed.
With each passing day his Mohajir status would have embittered him even more than what the Congress could do as happened to his sister Fatima, the Madar-e-Millat who failed to win the Presidential elections in Pakistan.
The Muslim League that he was seeking to install in power had all the essentials of a feudal, fundamentalist and violent outfit, ripe for a dictator to ride on. The shape of Pakistan to come was, therefore, not difficult for him to visualise.
Jinnah's life and the character that Pakistan has assumed is an illustration of what happens when liberals, be it Jinnah or Bhutto or Musharraf, enlist the support of fanatical forces. It has a lesson for the Congressmen in our own country and the so-called moderate Akalis who cynically manipulated Bhindrawale. The "liberals" among the Sangh Parivar will also inevitably have to reckon with the Bajrang Dal, the VHP, the Shiv Sena and the other diehards of the Parivar.
If they do not assert themselves, they too will go under to the lasting tragedy of a splintering India.
A distinguished former
civil servant, the author writes frequently and
forthrightly on matters of public concern. The present
piece draws heavily on Stanley Wolpert's "Jinnah of
Pakistan", published in 1984 by Oxford University
"To me no one is greater than the game"
Former India off-spinner Erapalli Prasanna.
"Pakistan is a country that survives only on anti-India campaign. No country could prosper if it lived only on hatred without trying to develop on its own"
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
"We must not hesitate on reforms for the new era".
Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori
China's dangerous expansion in Tibet and meddling in South Asia has brought the region to the brink of a nuclear catastrophe"
Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Benjamin Gilman.
"The decision not to seek the death penalty (for Nawaz Sharif) is a positive step, but Pakistan has a long way to go in establishing a fair and transparent judicial system".
Mike Jendrezejezyk, Washington director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Asia division.
"The candidate forfeiting the deposit should be debarred from contesting the election to any statutory body from Panchayat level onwards to the post of President of India for six years".
Former President R. Venkataraman, said in his address on "Electoral Reforms".
"We need to hope and work for the best, while remaining prepared for the worst".
Joseph Prucher, American Ambassador to Beijing
"This is most definitely an engineered verdict".
Former Pakistan P.M Nawaz Sharif.
"Let Prime Minister Vajpayee ask Advani and Joshi to resign".
Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, turning tables on the BJP for demanding Rabri Devi's resignation.
We are very keen to establish sister-city relations with leading Indian cities so that officials and people of these cities would get an opportunity to meet each other and learn from each other".
China International Friendship Cities Association vice-president, Su Guang.
"Talking is essential and one cannot go without dialogue.... what matters is who talks to whom".
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Chairman, Hurriyat Conference.
"For decades, Pakistan has run a global ring for buying, copying and stealing nuclear weapons technology".
The New York Times.
"I wish to join an non-governmental organisation to serve the society and god when you (people) will not require me anymore".
Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling at a Panchayat member's conference.
"South Asia cannot afford this dangerous confrontation. We need to build bridges between the two countries (India and Pakistan), focussing on issues that divide us".
Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Abdul Sattar.
"It is time that the movement also committed itself uncompromisingly to rules of democracy, the rule of law and the preservation of fundamental rights and liberties".
External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh, addressing the 13th NAM Foreign Minister's conference.
"Tony Blair is a young man I like very much. But, I am resentful about the type of thing that America and Britain are doing together. They want to be policemen of the world and I'm sorry that British has joined the US in this regard".
Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, in an interview to the Guardian.
"Anandgarh will be a millennium city with an IT focus. Its infrastructure will be comparable with the best in the world".
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
"Friendship with New Delhi is in the best interests of Islamabad.
J&K CM Farooq Abdullah.
"It is clear that globalisation has cut into a nerve many people want more say and they should get it"
James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank.
We think, by rejecting dialogue (offer, they (India) are going against the trend of the times and against the will of the international community".
by Harihar Swarup
Cricket icons fall from grace
NO sportsman hit the headlines for so many days nor hogged so much damning publicity as Hansie Cronje, cricket celebrity, ranked among one of worlds best. So high was his reputation and standing that nobody in the cricket world, when the first report of match-fixing came in, would believe he was involved in such nefarious activities. May be he is condemned at the moment but he has a conscience and his confession of the guilt shows it was for nothing that he came to be known as the most respected cricketer in South Africa.Only the chaplain to the South African team, McCauley, knows the full story. Pricked by conscience, Cronje was, apparently, not able to sleep the whole night and he rang up the chaplain at three in the morning to unburden himself, explaining his part of the story and repenting I have made a terrible mistake. Traumatised by the charge made by the Delhi police and public scrutiny, he faxed a nine-page letter to Dr. Ali Bacher, Managing Director of the United Cricket Board of South Africa admitting that, except him, none of his team members were responsible for the unsavoury incident. Only a probe would reveal the whole truth.
Why has wealthy enough Cronje, having the reputation of being the most revered cricket icon, gone to fix a match. The deal was, apparently, clinched when the South African team was staying in a Delhi hotel and preparing for the one-day international of the five-match series against India at Faridabad. One does not know if to thank or curse that communication marvel, which has come to be known as the cellular phone, for the expose. The cops, by sheer coincidence, bumped upon what was a conversation between Cronje and a London-based Indian bookie.
One does not know if certain developments, which had disillusioned the South African cricket skipper, has anything to do with the match-fixing. Since failing to win the World Cup semi-final at Edgbaston last year, he has reportedly become disillusioned. He has fallen out with the persons who matter over numerous issues and that included the powerful United Cricket Board of South Africa. He developed differences with the selectors and with Dr Ali Bacher, who considered Cronje as the key to South Africas cricket.
Cronje kept a closely guarded secret his decision to accept Glamorgans coaching offer, known as a prestige assignment with good monetatory return. He even kept, Dr Ali Bacher, in the dark till the story was broken by the Daily Telegraph. Deeply embarrassed Bacher was, evidently, hurt by this secretiveness, seen as duplicity in the cricket world. The authorities, however, persuaded Cronje to have the assignment cancelled. Seeds of discord between them were sown a year back when Cronje walked out of a team meeting threatening to resign as captain even as Bacher was trying to explain what was known to be a discriminatory selection policy.
According to Mark Nicholas, noted sports commentator, Cronjes play has suffered, runs have dried up and he has been a reluctant bowler. Perhaps, his mind has been elsewhere, perhaps, a battle with his conscience had begun. Apparently, he spent yesterday morning (April 11 after report of match fixing came into open) at confession. Having put great store in his faith, he will need it now as never before.
Cronje has been a highly successful and much acclaimed captain, batsman and bowler an all rounder and his magical control over the game pitchforked him to glory as well as riches. The fallen skipper was the most profiled sportsman in South Africa; sponsors vied with each other for rights to his good looks, intelligent opinion and athletic talent. Only two years back his talents enabled the sponsors raise a hefty amount of three million rand (local currency). He is known to have built a holiday home on the affluent Fancourt golfing estate along the coast of the Western Cape which attracts rich and influential people.
The 30-year-old disgraced skipper has widely built up the reputation of a decent man with strong Christian faith and proud Afrikaner heritage, possessing a spirited sense of humour. Having earned both fame and wealth, he married five years back at a quiet and simple ceremony. Cronjes inspiration and mentor in the field of cricket was his father, known to be a delightful man, who excelled as a cricket commentator on Afrikaans-speaking radio.
Cronje is prominent among those who have brought the cultured game that breaks for tea and lunch into the hearts of the Afrikaners. Sadly, the sport loved by Britain and many of its erstwhile colonies including India, played over 250 years has been stumped by gambling corruption.
Match-fixing has lately become a menace and it has to be stopped at all cost. Four years back, Australian Shane Warne, recently honoured as one of the top five players of the 20th century, and team mate, Mark Waugh, were fined for providing team information to bookmaker during Australias tour of Sri Lanka in 1994-95.
Three Australian players accused Pakistan batsman Salim Malik of offering them money to throw matches. The results of a year-long inquiry were not made public. Last year, Englands Chris Lewis said he was offered $ 480,000 to influence two other players to throw a match against New Zealand. New Zealand captain, Stephen Fleming, said he was offered money to throw the third match of a series against England last year. Both Lewis and Fleming reported the matter to the police.
Ambedkars birthday row
AS the nation celebrated the 109th birth anniversary of the architect of the Indian Constitution last week, Dr B.R. Ambedkar, it was a time for a game of upmanship between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.Taking the lead, the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, addressed a large gathering of party workers at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium in the Capital and instead of focusing on the good work done by Dr Ambedkar and paying tributes to him, launched a tirade against the BJP. She said the decision to review the Constitution was a conspiracy to finish democracy and impose a communal and fascist agenda on the country and her party would not allow such designs to succeed.
The BJP was taken aback by the Congress strategy to capitalise on Dr Ambedkars birth anniversary as it had not planned any major counter reaction. The only saving grace was that the Government had scheduled the 36th Indian Labour Conference to coincide with the birthday of Dr Ambedkar as he was the countrys first Labour Minister.
The BJP has released a factsheet to expose several amendments to the Constitution introduced during the Congress regime. The party is also planning a rally in the Capital in the coming week which would be addressed by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee. However, it remains to be seen whether the BJP strategy would pay off as their event would coincide with Parliament session and much of its thunder would be taken away by the happenings in the two Houses.
Ramas golden age
Lord Rama has considerable significance for the Bharatiya Janata Party and it makes no bones about it. Perhaps, this is why few perons were surprised when the Petroleum Ministry scheduled signing of 25 production sharing contracts with public and private sector companies on Ram Navami day.
The Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr Ram Naik, went a step ahead to explain to the large gathering of delegates, India and foreign, the importance of the day. He said the day of Ram Navami, signifying the birth date of Lord Rama, was one of the most auspicious days of the year. Just as the reign of Lord Rama was reckoned as the golden age, the contracts signed that day would enable them strike black gold.
Moreover, invoking the Lords blessing was necessary as the exploration work to be undertaken by the companies required some element of luck. He also pointed out that the agreements were being signed at 1200 hours as that was the time Rama was born 12,000 years ago.
Child adoption is an old concept, but, ever heard of children adopting grannies. Well, this is what students of a public school in the Capital did last week. They adopted 35 old women and took it upon themselves to look after their needs. This initiative, it is understood, would contribute a great deal in solving the problems of the elderly in our country.
The problems of aged have acquired serious proportions in India. There are an estimated 70 million aged people in the country and about 90 per cent of them are in the unorganised sector. About 40 per cent of them are living below the poverty line in inhuman conditions. Increase in longevity from 20 years in the beginning of the century to 62 years, has made the elderly the fastest growing segment of the population in India. The number of those beyond the age of 60 is expected to touch 177 million in 2025.
Under the novel scheme, initiated by HelpAge India, the students would be taught to be patient listeners to the problems of the elderly and assure them that they are wanted. Help is provided under the scheme in the form of food, clothing, medical care, bedding, articles of personal use and pocket allowance.
Party politics often determines the public lives of politicians and Mr Jairam Ramesh, in charge of economic affairs in the All India Congress Committe learnt this the hard way.
An adviser to the Finance Minister, Mr P.Chidambaram, in the United Front Government, Mr Jairam Ramesh apparently has a good rapport with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Chandrababu Naidu. So when Mr Naidu invited the now Congress functionary to join his Economic Advisory Council, Mr Ramesh was only too willing to oblige. His move, however, sparked off protests in the Andhra Pradesh Congress unit and Mr Ramesh was forced to decline the offer.
In a letter to the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Ramesh said that he should not have committed anything without consulting the party President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi and senior leader, Dr Manmohan Singh. He however, made his displeasure over party politics known. He wrote: I wish our public life was less partisan and that some common ground can be evolved on crucial economic and social issues. I will continue to strive for consensus. Now is this wishful thinking?
Guru of prisoners
Kiran Bedi, the countrys first woman police officer has never ceased to make news right from the day she joined the Indian Police Service in 1972. Known for her revolutionary ideas in traffic management and prison reforms, Dr Bedi will now be available on the net as the peoples cop at the click of a mouse. She has promised to aid, facilitate and forward all grievances for quick redressal to police stations concerned. The site apprises surfers of her work and helps them know their legal rights. And what more, she has the blessings of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, who complimented her wonderful work in introducing prison reforms. After launching the site here last week, the Dalai Lama addressed her as the guru of prisoners and asked her to remain humble. A recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Kiran reassured the Dalai Lama that she would remain humble till her last day.
If a General Election Were Held
THERE is one point in regard to which all sections of opinion of Bengal, official, Swarajist, Independent and Liberal, seem to be agreed; and that is as to what would happen if a general election were held in that Province now.
What the Swarajists and their allies, the Independents, think we know already. The Government has borne testimony to the correctness of that view by deliberately avoiding the only strictly constitutional course open to it.
Now we have such a man as Sir Surendranath, who has made no secret of his rooted antipathy to the Swarajists, expressing the same view.
If a general election were not held, he says I have no doubt that they would be in a clear majority, able to enforce their will upon a House now brought completely under their sway.
Of course, Sir
Surendranath lays the flattering unction to his soul that
this may not happen eighteen months hence. But there is
more of the wish that is the father to the thought than
of sound political calculation in such prophecy.
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