Saturday, January 13, 2001
M A I L  B O X

The exodus of 1947

MOST of us would agree with V.N.Datta that far from solving any problem, the Indian Partition of 1947 has created new problems (Exodus of 1947, December 30). No doubt, divide and rule was the motto of the British. They encouraged separation in every possible way, which ultimately resulted in the clamour for division of India along religious lines. They knew that such a division would create more problems than it would solve. Communal Muslims welcomed Partition, as, thereby, they achieved their goal. It is inexplicable why national leaders accepted Partition.

Partition has not solved the communal problem, has not brought security to the masses nor has it brought peace to the subcontinent. All problems facing the country before Partition are very much there. In addition, both India and Pakistan are spending beyond their means in augmenting their defence capabilities. They have already fought four wars. Both countries are spending money which could and should have been spent to eradicate poverty, spread education, provide medical facilities and implement a number of nation-building programmes. In both countries the masses are becoming poorer and poorer, divisive forces are rearing their head and the law and order situation is in shambles.

More than 25 years before the day we first celebrated our freedom, the leader of another country thousands of miles away, faced with a similar situation, reacted differently. That country is the United States of America, and the leader Abraham Lincoln, who did not falter in his resolve to prevent division of the country even in the face of a civil war in which the secessionists were defeated and compelled to surrender.

With this lesson of history before them our leaders who were accomplished men of learning, chose the easiest solution ó the Partition of India. The irony of the whole thing is that even by conceding the demand for Partition, they could not prevent the death of millions of innocent men, women and children of both communities.




I do not agree with view of the writer that Partition was the result of the failure of the Indian statesmanship. However, the writer is right in his assertion that the Indian National Congress during 1930-40 did not acknowledge the existence of a Hindu-Muslim rift. Here two questions arise. One, why was Partition accepted by the Congress? Two, whether the Punjab massacre could have been averted?

Why the Congress, wedded to a belief in one nation, accepted the division of the country remains a question very difficult to answer. The apparent reply lies in accepting the fact that Congress had always denied the existence of a Hindu-Muslim rift since its inception. The Congress failed to involve the Muslim masses in the national movement. That is why Nehru and Patel accepted Partition. Most surprising of all, Gandhi also agreed. Under the circumstances Partition was inevitable.

As an answer to the second question, I quote two military authorities who believed that this tragedy could have been avoided. A senior Army official, Brigadier Brishow, posted in Punjab in 1947, was of the view that the Punjab tragedy would not have occurred had Partition been deferred for a year or so. Two Lockhart, Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army from August 15 to December 31 1947, endorsed this view: "Had officials in every grade in the civil services and all the personnel of the armed services, been in position in their respective new countries before Independence, it seems there would have been better chance of preventing widespread disorder".

In the final analysis, history will record that the greatest mistake of the Indian Republic in the first forty years of Independence was to make far less investment in human resources than brick and mortar, plants and factories. That is why we have quantitative growth without qualitative development. The fact of the matter is this that the quality of life cannot improve in India so long as the population keeps increasing at the present rate.


The grand old seer

The article "The grand old seer" by Sanjay Austa (December 23) sustained my interest throughout. I marvel at Swami Kalyan Devís indomitable spirit, strength, stamina, determination, self-discipline, sheer will-power and austere life, spanning over three centuries. His selfless service of humanity is a unique example in a country which abounds in pseudo swamis who, by befooling the gullible masses, love to be treated as gods. Such swamis roll in wealth, lead a luxurious life and have all the materialistic comforts at their disposal. Their primary concern is their own self, the service of mankind is secondary.

But Swami Kalyan Dev is a rare and real swami who has devoted his entire life to helping the poor. He is indeed a god-like figure whose philanthropic activities have rarely been paralleled by other swamis. If one must worship, one should worship a person like Dev Swami who has sacrificed his life to serve the poor and the underprivileged. At 124 he is still active in his noble mission. His simplicity, service of the have-nots and no love for money speak volumes for his divine virtues. The government has rightly conferred on him Padmashree and Padmabhushan in recognition of his enormous contribution in the spheres of education and social service.

Tarsem S.Bumrah

Giving to receive

This refers to the article "Giving to receive" by Raj K. Machhan (December 23) in which the writer discusses at length the way in which the very concept of giving gifts has undergone a complete transformation, in effect becoming a well calculated and hypocritically carried our ritual. True, instead of being a spontaneous expression of generosity and gentle feelings, it has become a compulsory gesture, being remote-controlled by selfish calculation of what short-term or long-term benefits the gesture would bring in return.

True, it has become an exercise in public relations, the bigger and more socially significant the receiver, the more expensive the gift. Hardly anyone bothers to gauge the feeling behind it. All we usually calculate is its cost and what it is likely to multiply into, in terms of favours expected to accrue from it. The receiver also calculates its monetary value and reacts accordingly.

But there is nothing surprising about it. We are only the products of our times. Since materialism has engulfed us in all spheres of life nowadays, how can we expect the people to be above this commercialisation and materialism in this area?