Perspective | Oped


A Tribune Special
What led to Partition?
Divided by issues, not just personalities, says Anita Inder Singh
Jaswant Singh (Jinnah: India-Partition Independence) is not the first to ignore the main issues that divided the pre-1947 Congress and Muslim League, or to blame Nehru’s arrogant attitude towards the Muslim League for the partition of British India.


Learning outside classroom
A vehicle to develop one’s capacity to learn
VERY young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstances.


Power and grief
September 5, 2009
Death on the hilltop
September 4, 2009
Looking ahead with hope
September 3, 2009
CRPF in the Valley
September 2, 2009
Pak designs against India
September 1, 2009
You did it, Mr Advani
August 31, 2009
Mayawati in a tight spot
August 30, 2009
More power for women
August 29, 2009
Saying ‘yes’ to disclosure
August 28, 2009
Undercurrents of terror
August 27, 2009

Bhagwat known for his pragmatic approach to issues
by Harihar Swarup
HE Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat is not a scholar like Prof Rajendra Singh, popularly known as “Rajju Bhiaya”, nor is he, like his immediate predecessor, K S Sudharshan, an engineer.

On Record
Make NGOs partners in growth, says Joshi
by Sunit Dhawan
OURTH among the seven children of a farmer family belonging to a non-descript village of Uttarakhand, Deep Joshi (62) won this year’s Ramon Magsaysay award for community service.



A Tribune Special
What led to Partition?
Divided by issues, not just personalities, says Anita Inder Singh

Illustration: Kuldeep DhimanJaswant Singh (Jinnah: India-Partition Independence) is not the first to ignore the main issues that divided the pre-1947 Congress and Muslim League, or to blame Nehru’s arrogant attitude towards the Muslim League for the partition of British India.

He is merely following the footsteps of a long line of Indian, Pakistani and British writers — as well as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru’s own colleague in the Congress Working Committee. And if his book is based on any outstanding new primary sources, they are remarkably well concealed. That is why it is quite difficult to understand the headlines inspired by his account.

Admittedly, Jaswant Singh’s favourable judgement of Jinnah and condemnation of Nehru is of interest, since he belonged to a Hindu communal party – and his former colleagues in the BJP are not admirers of Jinnah, the Muslim League and Pakistan. (Nor can they stand Nehru’s idea of a secular democratic India. ‘Hindutva’ and Pakistan are two sides of the same poisoned communal coin; both Hindu and Muslim communalists refuse to believe that different communities can coexist peacefully and both stoke communalism to achieve political ends).

Perhaps that is a reason why the book has aroused such great interest in Pakistan. Pakistanis are probably pleasantly surprised to find a Hindu communalist praising Jinnah. Especially at a time when the western branding of extremist-nurturing Pakistan as a failed state has led some people of Pakistani origin (mostly living in Britain and the US) to think that the very idea of Pakistan was unsound, it must be comforting to feel that if the “bad” or inchoate idea of Pakistan “succeeded” in 1947, it was because of Nehru’s high-handedness.

The inference is that Jinnah did nothing wrong, ignoring the facts that he demanded an independent Muslim homeland in the subcontinent; that his Muslim League resorted to force to achieve Pakistan, and that on his own admission, he refused to discuss ethics as Muslim Leaguers planned Direct Action in Calcutta in August 1946.

And then, as communal violence raged through northern India after March 1947, he told the British that all talk of the unity of India was “part of machinations for destruction and bloodshed after their departure”.

What then was the main issue that divided the Congress and League? One aspect of the personalities of Nehru and Jinnah which might reflect something about their politics — or vice versa — is that Nehru spent nine years in jail (and Mahatma Gandhi 11) simply because he did not want the Congress to collaborate with India’s British rulers. Therefore, the Congress frequently broke the laws of the Raj — and its leaders ended up in prison — because those laws implied acceptance of indefinite imperial rule.

At no time did Jinnah go to prison for his brand of nationalism — which, in its opposition to the Congress was recognised, in 1941, by the then Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, as thwarting the success of “a great political party which represents unquestionably the spearhead of nationalism in this country.”

Jinnah’s Muslim League was, therefore, useful to the British. The League was dependent on political handouts from the British, the outstanding one being the maimed, moth-eaten Pakistan which Jinnah finally extracted from them in 1947. “I do not care how little you give me”, he told Lord Mountbatten in April 1947, “as long as you give it to me completely.”

The first strand in the anti-Nehru argument is that Nehru’s ideological rigidity and arrogance led him to dismiss the prospect of a coalition with the UP Muslim League in 1937. Embittered Leaguers concluded that they would not be able to collaborate with the high-handed Congress and, in March 1940, demanded a sovereign Pakistan.

In fact, the basic difference between the League and the Congress lay in their attitude to the British Raj and their vision of an independent India. That schism was highlighted and deepened during political negotiations in 1937 and 1946, but it did not alone make for Partition. In the 1937 provincial elections the League won 4.8 per cent of the total Muslim vote in India under an electoral system based on separate representation for Hindus and Muslims. It was not in a position to form a government in any Muslim majority province where regional parties swept the board. Clearly, even in its chosen Muslim constituency the League had little popular appeal.

Talks for a coalition took place between the UP Congress led by G.B. Pant and Chaudhury Khaliquzzaman. Jinnah opposed the negotiations from the outset and carried most provincial Leaguers with him. So, the failure of the negotiations for a coalition could not have been the reason for his demand for a sovereign Pakistan in 1940.

Nehru only came to know about the parleys later and he rightly thought that a coalition should have a common programme or basis for agreement. But Khaliquzzaman made clear that the provincial League would not join forces with the Congress in its attempts to overthrow the Act of 1935 or do anything disliked by the British. The UP League passed a resolution reiterating this stance.

The Congress fared worse than the League in Muslim constituencies but sought to improve its standing by launching a Muslim Mass Contact Programme (MMCP) in 1937. Seeking to expand his own political constituency, Jinnah perceived the MMCP as hostile to the League and advised Nehru to confine himself “to his own people, the Hindus”.

Nehru made it clear that the Congress was entitled to campaign among any community. So was the League — and Nehru invited Jinnah to campaign among Hindus. The Congress had no intention of becoming a communal party and, in 1938, distanced itself from the League and the Hindu Mahasabha by branding both as communal organisations. The point was the secular nature of the Congress and its wish to represent all communities.

Having failed to win a majority of Muslim votes in the 1937 provincial elections, Jinnah knew that he could only survive politically by securing Muslim support for a separate state. That calculation lay behind his attempt, after March 1940, to mobilise Muslims on the platform of a sovereign Pakistan.

The British came to his aid. Needing him as a counterpoise against the Congress after the outbreak of World War II in October 1939, the British recognised him as the sole leader of the Muslims although he had no popular base.

However, a determined Jinnah made good the League’s claim in elections held in the winter of 1945-46 by campaigning among Muslims on the promise of a sovereign Pakistan. The tactic worked: the League won more than 80 per cent of the vote in the elections.

The Congress fared badly, yet again, in the Muslim-majority provinces. Having recognised Muslims as an all-India minority, it had “Minorities Departments” in the Muslim-minority provinces but not in the Muslim-majority provinces where the case for Pakistan was decided.

This may have been a psychological barrier to its ability to make a bid for Muslim support in the provinces which were to form the backbone of Pakistan.

Consequently, it never presented in a sustained way its secular programme to the Muslims in the provinces where they were in a majority – and its case went by default.

Even then, the League did not win enough votes to form governments on its own in all the Muslim-majority provinces. For example, in Punjab, the Unionists, led by Khizar Hyat Khan Tiwana, formed a government excluding the League.

It is in relation to this background that the British began negotiations for a transfer of power with the Congress and the League in March 1946. In private discussions the British told the Muslim League that groups of Hindu and Muslim majority provinces would frame their own constitutions and that the British would only transfer power after a constitution had been crafted in accordance with the Cabinet Mission Plan.

This meant that Pakistan could become a reality under the British, before they withdrew. Congress leaders were told just the opposite: that the Constituent Assembly would be a sovereign body. Neither of the Indian parties was aware that the British had given contradictory assurances to the other.

Nehru made clear his opposition to grouping, and to British dictation to the Constituent Assembly. The Leaguers demanded a British response to his statement but there was none. What for the League was a British guarantee against Congress domination was, for the Congress, British dictation to the Assembly.

The Congress-League differences were not new: it was the realisation that the British would not implement the Mission Plan in the way they had assured the League, that the League might get nothing from the British, that proved, in August 1946, to be the catalyst for the Jinnah’s call for Direct Action.

Direct Action triggered widespread communal riots in Bengal, Bihar and Punjab. In Bengal, the League ministry connived in the organisation of the violence, while the Hindu-majority province of Bihar presented the largest butcher’s bill.

After August 1946, the communal conflagration resulted in tens of thousands of casualties. This was the breaking point. A handful of riots would not have led to it. As the British realised their administrative weakness, the “inevitability” of Partition seemed imminent.

So, on February 20, 1947, the Labour government announced its intention to withdraw from India by June 1948. But violence had broken out in Punjab before Mountbatten took up his post as Viceroy in March 1947. Mountbatten tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade Jinnah against Partition.

As communal violence spread through Punjab in March and April 1947, Mountbatten realised that there was little possibility of an agreement with a leader whom he regarded as “a psychopathic case…with…such a complete lack of administrative knowledge or sense of responsibility…”

Administrative breakdown prompted the British to divide and quit in August 1947. Jinnah got what he had always wanted — a sovereign Pakistan.

If the British and the Congress had been able to cooperate they could have outsmarted Jinnah in negotiations. But having used him as a counterpoise for several years against their arch-enemy, the Congress, the British could not swing over suddenly, in 1946-47, to the Congress against him. What was politically possible was psychologically impossible.

The good intentions of the Congress were not backed up by Muslim mass support: its acceptance of Partition only pointed to its lack of organisation in the Muslim-majority provinces.

If Nehru’s Congress is to be blamed for anything, it is its failure to win over Muslim voters. With Muslim mass backing, it could have routed the Muslim League. Independence without Partition would then have been possible.

To say, as Jaswant Singh and others have done, that an event of the magnitude of British India’s partition, which resulted in more causalities and refugees than any other partition in history, was triggered by an arrogant Nehru’s refusal to do business with Jinnah, is to ignore a host of complex and intertwined facts and to avoid discussion of the issues that created the gulf between them.

In 1947 India paid a heavy price for freedom, not because Nehru refused to kow-tow to Jinnah’s communalism, but because the Congress failed to defeat Muslim — and Hindu — communal forces.

The writer’s books include her Oxford doctoral thesis The Origins of the Partition of India, 1936-1947 (Oxford University Press, 1987, 1989). In 2002, it was published in The Partition Omnibus, comprising the four classic works on the Partition by OUP; paperback 2004)



Learning outside classroom
A vehicle to develop one’s capacity to learn

EVERY young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstances.

We define learning outside the classroom as: “The use of places other than the classroom for teaching and learning.” These, often the most memorable learning experiences, help us to make sense of the world around us by making links between feelings and learning.

They stay with us into adulthood and affect our behaviour, lifestyle and work. They influence our values and the decisions we make. They allow us to transfer learning experienced outside to the classroom and vice versa.

Education is more than the acquisition of knowledge. Improving young people’s understanding, skills, values and personal development can significantly enhance learning and achievement. Learning outside the classroom is not an end in itself. Rather we see it as a vehicle to develop the capacity to learn.

There is strong evidence that good quality learning outside the classroom adds much value to classroom learning. It can lead to a deeper understanding of the concepts that span traditional subject boundaries and which are frequently difficult to teach effectively using classroom methods alone.

It provides a context for learning in many areas: general and subject-based knowledge; thinking and problem-solving skills; life skills such as co-operation and interpersonal communication.

In recent years, teachers have been exploring ‘learning how to learn’ to raise achievement. What we see, hear, taste, touch, smell and do give us six main “pathways to learning”. Young people are intensely curious and should be given the opportunity to explore the world around them.

The potential for learning is maximised if we use the powerful combination of physical, visual and naturalistic ways of learning as well as our linguistic and mathematical intelligence.

It is clear that to be successful and meaningful, better provision needs to be made for learning through experience in the world outside the classroom.

We use ‘teachers’ here to denote all those that lead and support learning outside the classroom, for example, school support staff and practitioners in many different venues.

By helping young people apply their knowledge across a range of challenges, learning outside the classroom builds bridges between theory and reality, schools and communities, young people and their futures. Quality learning experiences in ‘real’ situations have the capacity to raise achievement across a range of subjects and to develop better personal and social skills.

When these experiences are well planned, safely managed and personalised to meet the needs of every child they can:

  • Improve academic achievement. Provide a bridge to higher order learning.
  • Develop skills and independence in a widening range of environments. *Make learning more engaging and relevant to young people.
  • Develop active citizens and stewards of the environment.
  • Nurture creativity.
  • Provide opportunities for informal learning through play.
  • Reduce behaviour problems and improve attendance.
  • Stimulate, inspire and improve motivation.
  • Develop the ability to deal with uncertainty.
  • Provide challenge and the opportunity to take acceptable levels of risk.
  • Improve young people’s attitudes to learning.

Giving young people responsibility for achieving these outcomes helps them to learn from their successes and failures. Learning outside the classroom provides support for many different curriculum areas. For example, all young people have an entitlement to do fieldwork as part of their geographical studies. Linked to the curriculum, these activities provide direct and relevant experiences that deepen and enrich learning.

Learning outside the classroom provides a powerful route to the ‘Every Child Matters’ outcomes, in particular enjoying and achieving, staying safe and being healthy. Much learning outside the classroom will take place as part of programmes that support personalised learning and complement the strategy for young people set out in ‘Youth Matters’.

When does learning outside the classroom take place? It can happen at any time – in the normal school day, before and after school, during weekends and holidays.

Where does it take place? The simple answer is that a wide range of environments can be used anywhere outside the classroom. Some commonly used places are: the school grounds, the local environment, places further afield and residential places.

Who should be involved? A recent public consultation has highlighted the value of learning outside the classroom. This can involve everyone who sees the benefits to young people. That means government, headteachers, governors, teachers and support staff, parents, local authorities, community and voluntary organisations, curriculum subject bodies, businesses and all those agencies that provide external support to schools.

Our shared vision is open for anyone to sign up to — schools, early years settings, youth groups, clubs, local authorities and children’s services, parents, and young people, and all those that support them. Its purpose is to:

  • Act as a statement of common intent that will make better use of our individual and collective resources.
  • Encourage more widespread use of educational opportunities outside the classroom.
  • Inspire schools and those organisations that support learning outside the classroom to provide high quality experiences for all young people.
  • Set out a shared agenda for future activity which recognises that real progress will depend on the co-operation and collaboration of all signatories.
  • Make it easier for more organisations and individuals to see how they can best contribute.
  • Inform the development of government policy and
  • Call on others in the public, private, voluntary and community sectors to work in partnership with us to deliver our aims.

Excerpts from Manifesto, Shikshantar, The People’s Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, Udaipur, Rajasthan



Bhagwat known for his pragmatic approach to issues
by Harihar Swarup

THE Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat is not a scholar like Prof Rajendra Singh, popularly known as “Rajju Bhiaya”, nor is he, like his immediate predecessor, K S Sudharshan, an engineer. A veterinary doctor by education, Bhagawat is known more as an able organiser, a mass mobiliser and a hardliner. He is also the youngest-ever ‘Sar-sangh-sanchalak’, only 58, while Sudarshan has turned 78.

His significant achievement within months of taking over the reigns of the RSS has been regaining the Sangh’s supremacy that existed during the Jan Sangh period. His deft handling of the current political crisis in the BJP during his five-day stay in Delhi is manifestation of his tactful ways to defuse sensitive matters.

Thick snow-white moustache and a firm, confident voice make him different than other Sangh Parivar leaders. He reflected these traits at his crowded press conference in Delhi, handling questions, even tricky ones, with confidence and tact, not evading a single one. What Bhagwat repeatedly indicated at his press meet, L K Advani has now publicly stated, “the RSS chief has asked me to oversee the transition process to the younger generation”.

Incidentally, Advani, now 81, was trained by the RSS Chief’s father, Madhukar Bhagwat, who, at that time, was President of Chandrapur zone and Pracharak of Gujarat. The present BJP leaders, including Advani, look up to much younger Bhagwat, having no experience in politics, to provide solution to their problems.

Bhagwat is known to make a pragmatic approach to an issue but would not compromise on discipline, spirit and ideals of the organisation. Insiders have been reported as saying that Bhagwat keeps open an informal channel to keep tab on the developments, something that the third RSS Chief Balasaheb Deoras would do.

Bhagwat’s importance lies in his personality and style of functioning. Many in the BJP and the RSS think that his style is modelled on the lines of Deoras who ran the Sangh from 1974 to 1994 and died two years later. Bhagwat will not limit himself to the BJP but will support any political party or group that is in line with the Sangh’s ideals and goal, say insiders.

Senior BJP leaders admit that despite all the disclaimers the BJP as a body cannot do without the RSS but, at the same time, yearn for flexibility to function as a political party. Bhagwat, like Deoras, grants that flexibility with the only condition that no one can denigrate the ideology, at least, publicly.

Deoras, under whose term the RSS’ influence grew in politics, worked out a system where the BJP and the Sangh complimented one another but never stepped into each other’s toes. Bhagwat insists on a complete generational change in the BJP. He wants every BJP leader, who makes it to the top, to satisfy the RSS’ demand that he be different in thought and conduct for “better and cleaner” politics.

In keeping with the RSS tradition, Bhagwat remained a bachelor. He comes from a distinguished family of RSS activists. He left his masters’ course in veterinary sciences and became a full-time RSS volunteer towards the end of 1975 when the country was under the Emergency. After working underground during the Emergency, he became a Pracharak in 1977 in Aklola district and rose subsequently to become Pracharak of Nagpur and Vidharba region.

Rising further up in the ladder, Bhagwat became in-charge of physical training of the RSS cadres across the country in 1991, a post he held till 1999. That year, he was made in charge for one year of RSS volunteers working full time all over the country. In 2000 when Rajju Bhiaya and H.V. Seshadri decided to step down as RSS chief and general secretary respectively, Sudharshan was nominated the new chief and Bhagwat rose to the post of general secretary. He got re-elected to the post in 2003 and 2006.

In March, he was nominated the Sar-sangh-sanchalak of the RSS. Bhagwat believes that the Sangh should keep pace with changing times, while keeping the organisation’s foundation firm in the rich and old Indian values.



On Record
Make NGOs partners in growth, says Joshi
by Sunit Dhawan

Deep JoshiFOURTH among the seven children of a farmer family belonging to a non-descript village of Uttarakhand, Deep Joshi (62) won this year’s Ramon Magsaysay award for community service. An alumnus of Motilal Nehru Engineering College, Allahabad, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, Joshi preferred community development to his personal progress. His NGO, Professional Assistance for Development Action (Pradan), of which Joshi is co-founder, has been engaged in social service for the past nearly 30 years. He speaks to The Tribune in an exclusive interview.


Q: How does it feel on being honoured with Magsaysay Award?

A: I am delighted…it is a great feeling. However, it is not for an individual, but for an idea. It is an acknowledgement of the fact that with commitment, sympathy and motivation, one can create a positive difference in the lives of the underprivileged.

Q: Tell us something about your family and childhood.

A: I was born in a farmers’ family at Puriyag village in Berinag sub-division of Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand. We were five brothers and two sisters. We used to go out to take the cattle out for grazing, besides collecting firewood and doing other such chores. I remember sharing one quilt among several of us and putting paddy straw under our bed for warmth.

Q: What about your education?

A: I used to study in a small village school in the beginning. I did my engineering from Motilal Nehru Engineering College, Allahabad, where I got a scholarship. I also taught at the same college. Then, I went to the MIT for higher studies.

Q: How were you drawn towards social service?

A: In 1977, I came across a doctor couple, Raj and Mable Arole, who were working on a community health project in Pune. I saw them teaching and serving the villagers with utmost dedication. Inspired by them, I also realised what a professional having specialised knowledge and empathy can do for society.

Q: What kind of social welfare projects have you undertaken?

A:  I, along with my friend Vijay Mahajan, founded Pradan some 30 years ago. The organisation works for the development of rural communities, including the uplift of the rural and tribal poor, promoting self-help groups, encouraging locally suitable economic activities and introducing systems to improve livelihoods of rural people. Its primary area is to induce social change by empowering women in the rural and tribal parts of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Q: What challenges you faced as a social worker?

A: All of us have some degree of compassion towards our fellow beings. However, we must carry on with the job with a missionary zeal. The social work sector is demanding and needs a great deal of patience and perseverance. The tribals live in a world of their own, cut off from the mainland. The government has not been able to frame polices tailored to cater to their special needs.

Q: How would you evaluate Pradan’s performance?

A: We worked in the field of community development through sound livelihood generation. Empowerment of women followed automatically. We worked in far-off areas untouched by modern development. In hindsight, it gives me satisfaction and contentment. 

Q: What is your take on the social service sector in India?

A: Things have improved quite a lot from my time. Many educated and talented people, especially youth, are joining the stream these days. And with the kind of professional training they now have, they are expected to do well.

Q: What is the future of the NGO sector?

A: There is so much work to be done and we definitely require many more hands. Hence, instead of hiding behind excuses like the credibility of a given set of NGOs, the government should make NGOs partners in development.

Q: What is your message to youth aspiring to join the sector?

A: I would exhort them to take charge of their own country and contribute their mite in bridging the ever-increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots. As they say, it’s better to light a candle than to curse darkness.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |