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Source: Sir Syed Ahmed on the Present State of Indian Politics, Consisting of Speeches and Letters Reprinted from the "Pioneer" (Allahabad: The Pioneer Press, 1888), pp. 29-53. Modern facsimile version (Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications, 1982). Translator unknown. The text presented here has been slightly edited for classroom use, and its punctuation slightly improved, by FWP. Paragraph numbers, and some paragraph breaks, and annotations in square brackets have been added by FWP. The original spelling have been retained; all the footnotes are original. NOTE: In virtually every place where the Pioneer's translation says "nation," the Urdu word is actually "qaum," or "community."
*Sir Sayyid's introductory speech on these issues: Lucknow, 1887*
*The Urdu text of this 1888 speech*
SPEECH OF SIR SYED AHMED
AT MEERUT 
At the invitation of the Mahomedans of Meerut, Sir Syed Ahmed went to that town on the 14th of March , and delivered two lectures, one on education and one on politics. He was met at the station by the leading Mahomedan gentlemen of Meerut, who raised a cheer as the train drew up at the platform, and threw flowers over him when he alighted. Carpets and red cloth were at once spread along the ground from the railway-carriage to the road. The first lecture was given at 8 A.M. in the durbar tent of the Meerut fair. Four hundred and fifty chairs had been placed in the tent, and not only were all filled, but a large number of people had to stand. The audience rose as the Syed entered. An address was first read, after which Sir Syed Ahmed delivered his first lecture which lasted an hour and twenty minutes, and was received with rapt attention. It was devoted to the condition of the Mahomedans and to the need of education; and was very effective, the audience being, at times, moved to tears. Next day in the evening he gave his second lecture on politics. As the Nauchandi Fair was at its height, the audience was very crowded, not less than seven or eight hundred being present, including many people belonging to the Delhi, [] Saharanpur, Moradabad, and other districts. The audience was mainly Mahomedan, all the great Raïses being present, and great appreciation of the speech was manifested. At the close three cheers were given for the lecturer, and then the people adjourned to another tent where a tea-party was held in honour of Sir Syed, some hundred and fifty people sitting down to the repast. The utmost enthusiasm prevailed, and at the close Maulvi Hashmat Ullah, Statutory Civilian, made a speech, expressing the prevailing sentiment, and thanking the Syed for the great service he had rendered the Mahomedans. The political speech was as follows:--
I think it expedient that I should first of all tell you the reason why I am about to address you on the subject of tonight's discourse. You know, gentlemen, that, from a long time, our friends the Bengalis have shown very warm feeling on political matters. Three years ago they founded a very big assembly, which holds its sittings in various places, and they have given it the name "National Congress." We and our nation gave no thought to the matter. And we should be very glad for our friends the Bengalis to be successful, if we were of the opinion that they had by their education and ability made such progress as rendered them fit for the claims they put forward. But although they are superior to us in education, yet we have never admitted that they have reached that level to which they lay claim to have attained. Nevertheless I have never, in any article, or in any speech, or even in conversation [] in any place, put difficulties or desired to put difficulties in the way of any of their undertakings. It has never been my wish to oppose any people or any nation who wish to make progress, and who have raised themselves up to that rank to which they wish to attain and for which they are qualified. But my friends the Bengalis have made a most unfair and unwarrantable interference with my nation, and therefore it is my duty to show clearly what this unwarrantable interference has been, and to protect my nation from the evils that may arise from it. It is quite wrong to suppose that I have girded up my loins for the purpose of fighting my friends the Bengalis; my object is only to make my nation understand what I consider conducive to its prosperity. It is incumbent on me to show what evils would befall my nation from joining in the opinions of the Bengalis: I have no other purpose in view.
The unfair interference of these people is this — that they have tried to produce a false impression that the Mahomedans of these Provinces agree with their opinions. But we also are inhabitants of this country, and we cannot be ignorant of the real nature of the events that are taking place in our own North-West Provinces and Oudh, however their colour may be painted in newspapers, and whatever aspect they may be made to assume. It is possible that the people of England, who are ignorant of the real facts, may be deceived on seeing their false representations; but we and the [] people of our country, who know all the circumstances, can never be thus imposed on. Our Mahomedan nation has hitherto sat silent. It was quite indifferent as to what the Babus of Bengal, the Hindus of these Provinces, and the English and Eurasian inhabitants of India, might be doing. But they have now been wrongly tampering with our nation. In some districts they have brought pressure to bear on Mahomedans to make them join the Congress. I am sorry to say that they never said anything to those people who are powerful and are actually Raïses [nobles] and are counted the leaders of the nation; but they brought unfair pressure to bear on such people as could be subjected to their influence.
In some districts they pressed men by the weight of authority, in others they forced them in this way — saying that the business they had at heart could not prosper unless they took part; or they led them to suppose that they could not get bread if they held aloof. They even did not hold back from offering the temptation of money. Where is the man that does not know this? Who does not know who were the three or four Mahomedans of the North-West Provinces who took part with them, and why they took part? The simple truth is they were nothing more than hired men. (Cheers.) Such people they took to Madras, and having got them there, said, "These are the sons of Nawabs, and these are Raïses of such-and-such districts, and these are such-and-such great Mahomedans," whilst everybody knows how the men were bought. We [] know very well the people of our own nation, and that they have been induced to go either by pressure, or by folly, or by love of notoriety, or by poverty. If any Raïs on his own inclination and opinion join them, we do not care a lot. By one man's leaving us our crowd is not diminished. But this telling of lies that their men are landlords and Nawabas of such-and-such places; and their attempt to give a false impression that the Mahomedans have joined them — this is a most unwarrantable interference with our nation. When matters took such a turn, then it was necessary that I should warn my nation of their misrepresentations, in order that others should not fall into the trap; and that I should point out to my nation that the few who went to Madras, went by pressure, or from some temptation, or in order to help their profession, or to gain notoriety; or were bought. (Cheers.) No Raïs from here took part in it.
This was the cause of my giving a speech at Lucknow [in 1887], contrary to my wont, on the evils of the National Congress; and this is the cause also of today's speech. And I want to show this: that except Badruddin Tyabji, who is a gentleman of very high position and for whom I have great respect, no leading Mahomedan took part in it. He did take part, but I think he made a mistake. He has written me two letters, one of which was after the publication of my Lucknow speech. I think that he wants me to point out those things in the Congress which are opposed to the interests of Mahomedans, in order that he may exclude them [] from the discussion. But in reality the whole affair is bad for Mahomedans. However, let us grant that Badruddin Tyabji's opinion is different from ours; yet it cannot be said that his opinion is the opinion of the whole nation, or that his sympathy with the Congress implies the sympathy of the whole community. My friend there, Mirza Ismail Khan, who has just come from Madras, told me that no Mahomedan Raïs of Madras took part in the Congress. It is said that Prince Humayun Jah joined it. Let us suppose that Humayun Jah, whom I do not know, took part in it; yet our position as a nation will not suffer simply because two men stand aside. No one can say that because these two Raïses took part in it, that therefore the whole nation has joined it. To say that the Mahomedans have joined it is quite wrong, and is a false accusation against our nation. If my Bengali friends had not adopted this wrong course of action, I should have had nothing to do with the National Congress, nor with its members, nor with the wrong aspirations for which they have raised such an uproar. Let the delegates of the National Congress become the stars of heaven, or the sun itself — I am delighted. But it was necessary and incumbent on me to show the falsity of the impression which, by taking a few Mahomedans with them by pressure or by temptation, they wished to spread, that the whole Mahomedan nation had joined them. (Cheers.)
Gentlemen, what I am about to say is not only useful for my own nation, but also for my Hindu [] brothers of these Provinces, who from some wrong notions have taken part in this Congress. At last they also will be sorry for it — although perhaps they will never have occasion to be sorry; for it is beyond the region of possibility that the proposals of the Congress should be carried out fully. These wrong notions which have grown up in our Hindu fellow-countrymen, and on account of which they think it expedient to join the Congress, depend upon two things. The first thing is this: that they think that as both they themselves and the Bengalis are Hindus, they have nothing to fear from the growth of their influence. The second thing is this: that some Hindus — I do not speak of all the Hindus but only of some — think that by joining the Congress and by increasing the power of the Hindus, they will perhaps be able to suppress those Mahomedan religious rites which are opposed to their own, and, by all uniting, annihilate them. But I frankly advise my Hindu friends that if they wish to cherish their religious rites, they can never be successful in this way. If they are to be successful, it can only be by friendship and agreement. The business cannot be done by force; and the greater the enmity and animosity, the greater will be their loss. I will take Aligarh as an example. There Mahomedans and Hindus are in agreement. The Dasehra/1/ and Moharrum/2/ fell together for three years, and no one knows what took place [that is, things remained quiet]. It is worth notice how, when an agitation was started against cow-killing, the [] sacrifice of cows increased enormously, and religious animosity grew on both sides, as all who live in India well know. They should understand that those things that can be done by friendship and affection, cannot be done by any pressure or force.
If these ideas which I have expressed about the Hindus of these provinces be correct, and their condition be similar to that of the Mahomedans, then they ought to continue to cultivate friendship with us. Let those who live in Bengal 'eat up their own heads' [that is, involve themselves in difficulties]. What they want to do, let them do it. What they don't want to do, let them not do it. Neither their disposition nor their general condition resembles that of the people of this country. Then what connection have the people of this country with them? As regards Bengal, there is, as far as I am aware, in Lower Bengal a much larger proportion of Mahomedans than Bengalis. And if you take the population of the whole of Bengal, nearly half are Mahomedans and something over half are Bengalis. Those Mahomedans are quite unaware of what sort of thing the National Congress is. No Mahomedan Raïs of Bengal took part in it, and the ordinary Bengalis who live in the districts are also as ignorant of it as the Mahomedans. In Bengal the Mahomedan population is so great that if the aspirations of those Bengalis who are making so loud an agitation be fulfilled, it will be extremely difficult for the Bengalis to remain in peace even in Bengal. These proposals of the Congress are extremely inexpedient for the country, which is inhabited [] by two different nations — who drink from the same well, breathe the air of the same city, and depend on each other for its life. To create animosity between them is good neither for peace, nor for the country, nor for the town.
After this long preface I wish to explain what method my nation — nay, rather the whole people of this country — ought to pursue in political matters. I will treat in regular sequence of the political questions of India, in order that you may have full opportunity of giving your attention to them. The first of all is this — In whose hands shall the administration and the Empire of India rest? Now, suppose that all English, and the whole English army, were to leave India, taking with them all their cannon and their splendid weapons and everything, then who would be rulers of India? Is it possible that under these circumstances two nations — the Mahomedans and the Hindus — could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other and thrust it down. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable. At the same time you must remember that although the number of Mahomedans is less than that of the Hindus, and although they contain far fewer people who have received a high English education, yet they must not be thought insignificant or weak. Probably they would be by themselves enough to maintain their own position. But suppose they were not. [] Then our Mussalman brothers, the Pathans, would come out as a swarm of locusts from their mountain valleys, and make rivers of blood to flow from their frontier in the north to the extreme end of Bengal. This thing — who, after the departure of the English, would be conquerors — would rest on the will of God. But until one nation had conquered the other and made it obedient, peace could not reign in the land. This conclusion is based on proofs so absolute that no one can deny it.
Now, suppose that the English are not in India, and that one of the nations of India has conquered the other, whether the Hindus the Mahomedans, or the Mahomedans the Hindus. At once some other nation of Europe, such as the French, the Germans, the Portuguese, or the Russians, will attack India. Their ships of war, covered with iron and loaded with flashing cannon and weapons, will surround her on all sides. At that time who will protect India? Neither Hindus can save nor Mahomedans; neither the Rajputs nor my brave brothers the Pathans. And what will be the result? The result will be this: that foreigners will rule India, because the state of India is such that if foreign Powers attack her, no one has the power to oppose them. From this reasoning it follows of necessity that an empire not of any Indian race, but of foreigners, will be established in India. Now, will you please decide which of the nations of Europe you would like to rule over India? I ask if you would like Germany; whose subjects weep for heavy taxation and the stringency of their military [] service? Would you like the rule of France? Stop! I fancy you would perhaps like the rule of the Russians, who are very great friends of India and of Mahomedans, and under whom the Hindus will live in great comfort, and who will protect with the tenderest care the wealth and property which they have acquired under English rule? (Laughter.) Everybody knows something or other about these powerful kingdoms of Europe. Everyone will admit that their governments are far worse — nay, beyond comparison worse — than the British Government. It is, therefore, necessary that for the peace of India and for the progress of everything in India, the English Government should remain for many ycars — in fact forever!
When it is granted that the maintenance of the British Government, and of no other, is necessary for the progress of our country, then I ask whether there is any example in the world of one nation having conquered and ruled over another nation, and that conquered nation claiming it as a right that they should have representative government. The principle of representative government is that it is government by a nation, and that the nation in question rules over its own people and its own land. Can you tell me of any case in the world's history in which any foreign nation, after conquering another and establishing its empire over it, has given representative government to the conquered people? Such a thing has never taken place. It is necessary for those who have [] conquered us to maintain their Empire on a strong basis. When rulers and ruled are one nation, representative government is possible. For example, in Afghanistan, of which Amir Abdur Rahman Khan is the ruler, where all the people are brother-Afghans, it might be possible. If they want, they can have representative government. But to think that representative government can be established in a country over which a foreign race rules, is utterly vain, nor can a trace of such a state of things be discovered in the history of the world. Therefore to ask that we should be appointed by election to the Legislative Council is opposed to the true principles of government, and no government whatever, whether English or German or French or Russian or Musalman, could accept this principle. The meaning of it is this: "Abandon the rule of the country and put it in our hands." Hence, it is in no way expedient that our nation should join in and echo these monstrous proposals.
The next question is about the Budget. They say: "Give us power to vote on the Budget. Whatever expenses we may grant shall be granted, whatever expenses we do not grant shall not be granted." Now, consider to what sort of government this principle is applicable. It is suited to such a country as is, according to the fundamental principles of politics, adapted also for representative government. The rulers and the ruled must be of the same nation. In such a country the people have also the right of deciding matters of peace and war. [] But this principle is not adapted to a country in which one foreign race has conquered another. The English have conquered India, and all of us along with it. And just as we made the country obedient and our slave, so the English have done with us. Is it then consonant with the principles of empire that they should ask us whether they should fight Burma or not? Is it consistent with any principle of empire? In the times of the Mahomedan empire, would it have been consistent with the principles of rule that, when the Emperor was about to make war on a Province of India, he should have asked his subject-peoples whether he should conquer that country or not? Whom should he have asked? Should he have asked those whom he had conquered and had made slaves, and whose brothers he also wanted to make his slaves? Our nation has itself wielded empire, and people of our nation are even now ruling. Is there any principle of empire by which rule over foreign races may be maintained in this manner?
The right to give an opinion on the Budget depends also on another principle, which is this: that in a country in which the people accept the responsibility for all the expenses of government, and are ready with their lives and property to discharge it — in such a country they have a right to give their opinion on the Budget. They can say; "Undertake this expense," or "Leave that alone." And whatever the expense of the State affairs, it is then their duty to pay it. For example in England, in [] a time of necessity the whole wealth and property of everyone, from the Duke to the cobbler, is at the disposal of the Government. It is the duty of the people to give all their money and all their property to the Government, because they are responsible for giving Government all that it may require. And they say: "Yes, yes; take it! Yes; take it. Spend the money. Beat the enemy. Beat the enemy." These are conditions under which people have a right to decide matters about the Budget.
The principle that underlies the Government of India is of a wholly different nature. In India, the Government has itself to bear the responsibility of maintaining its authority; and it must, in the way that seems to it fittest, raise money for its army and for the expense of the empire. Government has a right to take a fixed proportion of the produce of the land as land-revenue, and is like a contractor who bargains on this income to maintain the empire. It has not the power to increase the amount settled as land-revenue. However great its necessity, it cannot say to the zamindars, "increase your contributions." Nor do the zemindars think that even in a time of necessity, Government has any right to increase its fixed tax on land. If at this time there were a war with Russia, would all the zemindars and taluqdars/3/ be willing to give double their assessment to Government? They would not give a pice/4/ more. Then what right have they to interfere and say, "So much should [] be spent, and so much should not be spent"? The method of the British Government is that of all Kings and Asiatic Empires. When you will not, even in time of war, give a pice more of your land-revenue, what right have you to interfere in the Budget?
The real motive for scrutinising the Budget is economy. Economy is a thing of such a nature that everyone has a regard for it in his household arrangements. It is a crude notion that Government has no regard for economy and squanders its money; Government practises economy as far as possible. Our Government is so extremely miserly that it will not uselessly give anyone a single pice. Until great necessity arise and great pressure be brought to bear on it, it will not spend a pice. It has completely forgotten the generosity of the former Emperors. The Kings of later times presented poets and authors with estates and lakhs [hundreds of thousands] of rupees. Our Government does not spend a pice in that way. What greater economy can there be than this? Instead of rewards it gives authors copyright. That also it does after taking two rupees for registering. It writes a letter as a sanad [warrant], and says that for forty years, no other man may print the book. Print it, sell it, and make your profit: this is a reward to you from Government.
People look at the income of the Government and say it is much greater than that of former empires, but they don't think of the expenses of Government, and how much they have increased. [] In the old days, a sword of fifteen or twenty rupees, a gun of ten or fifteen rupees, a card-board ammunition bag, and a coil of fuse was enough equipment for a soldier. Now look and see how the expenses of the army have increased in modern times, and what progress has been made in arms, and how they are daily improving, and the old ones becoming useless. If a new kind of gun or cannon be invented in France or Germany, is it possible for Government not to abandon all its old kinds of guns or cannon and adopt the new? When the expenses have grown so much, the wonder is how on earth Government manages to carry on its business on the small tax which it raises. (Cheers.) Perhaps many people will not like what I am going to say, but I will tell them openly a thing which took place. When after the Mutiny, the Hon'ble Mr. Wilson was Financial Minister, he brought forward a law for imposing a tax, and said in his speech that this tax would remain for five years only. An honourable English friend of mine showed me the speech and asked me if I liked it. I read it and said that I had never seen so foolish a Financial Minister as the Hon'ble Mr. Wilson. He was surprised. I said that it was wrong to restrict it to five years. The condition of India was such that it ought to be imposed forever. Consider for a moment that Government has to protect its friends the Afghans, and their protection is necessary. It is necessary for Government to strengthen the frontier. If in England there had been any need for strength[]ening a frontier, then the people would themselves have doubled or trebled their taxes to meet the necessity. In Burma there are expenses to be borne, although we hope that in the future it will be a source of income. If under such circumstances, Government increase the salt-tax by eight annas per maund, is this thing such that we ought to make complaints? If this increase of tax be spread over everybody, it will not amount to half or quarter of a pice. On this to raise an uproar, to oppose Government, to accuse it of oppression — what utter nonsense and injustice! And in spite of this they claim the right to decide matters about the Budget!
When it has been settled that the English Government is necessary, then it is useful for India that its rule should be established on the firmest possible basis. And it is desirable for Government that for its stability it should maintain an army of such a size as it may think expedient, with a proper equipment of officers; and that it should in every district appoint officials in whom it can place complete confidence, in order that if a conspiracy arise in any place they may apply the remedy. I ask you, is it the duty of Government or not, to appoint European officers in its empire, to stop conspiracies and rebellions? Be just, and examine your hearts, and tell me if it is not a natural law that people should confide more in men of their own nation. If any Englishman tells you anything which is true, yet you remain doubtful. But when a man of your [] own nation, or your family; tells you a thing privately in your house, you believe it at once. What reason can you then give why Government, in the administration of so big an empire, should not appoint, as custodians of secrets and as givers of every kind of information, men of her own nationality; but must leave all these matters to you, and say, "Do what you like"? These things which I have said are such necessary matters of State administration that whatever nation may be holding the empire, they cannot be left out of sight. It is the business of a good and just Government, after having secured the above-mentioned essentials, to give honour to the people of the land over which it rules, and to give them as high appointments as it can. But, in reality; there are certain appointments to which we can claim no right; we cannot claim the post of head executive authority in any zila./5/ There are hundreds of secrets which Government cannot disclose. If Government appoint us to such responsible and confidential posts, it is her favour. We will certainly discharge the duties faithfully and without divulging her secrets. But it is one thing to claim it as a right, and another for Government, believing us to be faithful and worthy of confidence, to give us the posts. Between these two things there is the difference between Heaven and Earth.
How can we possibly claim as a right those things on which the very existence and [] strength of the Government depends? We most certainly have not the right to put those people in the Council whom we want, and to keep out those whom we don't want; to pass those laws that we want, and to veto those laws that we dislike. If we have the right to elect members for the Legislative Council, there is no reason why we should not have the right to elect members for the Imperial Council. In the Imperial Council thousands of matters of foreign policy and State secrets are discussed. Can you with justice say that we Indians have a right to claim those things? To make an agitation for such things can only bring misfortune on us and on the country. It is opposed to the true principles of government, and is harmful for the peace of the country. The aspirations of our friends the Bengalis have made such progress that they want to scale a height to which it is beyond their powers to attain. But if I am not in error, I believe that the Bengalis have never at any period held sway over a particle of land. They are altogether ignorant of the method by which a foreign race can maintain its rule over other races. Therefore reflect on the doings of your ancestors, and be not unjust to the British Government to whom God has given the rule of India; and look honestly and see what is necessary for it to do, to maintain its empire and its hold on the country. You can appreciate these matters; but they cannot who have never held a country in their hands nor won a victory.
Oh! my brother Musalmans! I again remind you that you have ruled [] nations, and have for centuries held different countries in your grasp. For seven hundred years in India you have had Imperial sway. You know what it is to rule. Be not unjust to that nation which is ruling over you, and think also on this: how upright is her rule. Of such benevolence as the English Government shows to the foreign nations under her, there is no example in the history of the world. See what freedom she has given in her laws, and how careful she is to protect the rights of her subjects. She has not been backward in promoting the progress of the natives of India and in throwing open to them high appointments. At the commencement of her rule, except clerkships and kaziships [judgeships] there was nothing. The kazis of the pargana, who were called commissioners, decided small civil suits and received very small pay. Up to 1832 or 1833 this state of things lasted.
If my memory is not wrong, it was in the time of Lord William Bentinck that natives of India began to get honourable posts. The positions of Munsif, Subordinate Judge, and Deputy Collector, on respectable pay, were given to natives, and progress has been steadily going on ever since. In the Calcutta High Court a Kashmiri Pandit was first appointed equal to the English Judges. After him Bengalis have been appointed as High Court Judges. At this time there are perhaps three Bengalis in the Calcutta High Court, and in the same way some Hindus in Bombay and Madras. It was your bad fortune that there was for a long time no Mahomedan High Court Judge, but now [] there is one in the Allahabad High court. (Cheers.) Native High Court Judges can cancel the decision of English Judges and Collectors. They can ask them for explanations. The subordinate native officers also have full authority in their posts. A Deputy Collector, a Sub-Judge, or a Munsif decides cases according to his opinion, and is independent of the opinion of the Judge or Collector. None of these things have been acquired by fighting or opposition. As far as you have made yourselves worthy of the confidence of Government, to that extent you have received high positions. Make yourselves her friends, and prove to her that your friendship with her is like that of the English and the Scotch. After this what you have to claim, claim — on condition that you are qualified for it.
About this political controversy, in which my Hindu brothers of this Province — to whom I have given some advice, and who have, I think, joined from some wrong notions — have taken part, I wish to give some advice to my Mahomedan brothers. I do not think the Bengali politics useful for my brother Mussalmans. Our Hindu brothers of these provinces are leaving us and are joining the Bengalis. Then we ought to unite with that nation with whom we can unite. No Mahomedan can say that the English are not "People of the Book." No Mahomedan can deny this: that God has said that no people of other religions can be friends of Mahomedans except the Christians. He who had read the Koran and believes it, he can know that our nation cannot expect [] friendship and affection from any other people./6/ At this time our nation is in a bad state as regards education and wealth, but God has given us the light of religion, and the Koran is present for our guidance, which has ordained them and us to be friends.
Now God has made them rulers over us. Therefore we should cultivate friendship with them, and should adopt that method by which their rule may remain permanent and firm in India, and may not pass into the hands of the Bengalis. This is our true friendship with our Christian rulers, and we should not join those people who wish to see us thrown into a ditch. If we join the political movement of the Bengalis our narion will reap loss, for we do not want to become subjects of the Hindus instead of the subjects of the "People of the Book." And as far as we can we should remain faithful to the English Government. By this my meaning is not that I am inclined towards their religion. Perhaps no one has written such severe books as I have against their religion, of which I am an enemy. But whatever their religion, God has called men of that religion our friends. We ought — not on account of their religion, but because of the order of God — to be friendly and faithful to them. If our Hindu brothers of these Provinces, and the Bengalis of Bengal, and the Brahmans of Bombay, and the Hindu Madrasis [] of Madras, wish to separate themselves from us, let them go, and trouble yourself about it not one whit. We can mix with the English in a social way. We can eat with them, they can eat with us. Whatever hope we have of progress is from them. The Bengalis can in no way assist our progress. And when the Koran itself directs us to be friends with them, then there is no reason why we should not be their friends. But it is necessary for us to act as God has said. Besides this, God has made them rulers over us. Our Prophet has said that if God place over you a black negro slave as ruler, you must obey him. See, there is here in the meeting a European, Mr. Beck. He is not black. He is very white. (Laughter.) Then why should we not be obedient and faithful to those white-faced men whom God has put over us, and why should we disobey the order of God?
I do not say that in the British Government all things are good. Nobody can say that there is any Government in the world, or has ever been, in which there is nothing bad, be the Government Mahomedan, Hindu, or Christian. There is now the Sultan of Turkey; who is a Mahomedan Emperor, and of whom we are proud. Even his Mahomedan subjects make complaints of his government. This is the condition of the Khedive of Egypt. Look at the Governments of Europe, and examine the condition of the Government of London itself. Thousands of men complain against Government. There is no Government with which everybody is satisfied.
[] If we also have some complaints against the English Government, it is no wonderful thing. People are not even grateful to God for His government. I do not tell you to ask nothing from Government. I will myself fight on your behalf for legitimate objects. But ask for such things as they can give you, or such things to which, having due regard to the administration of the country, you can claim a right. If you ask for such things as Government cannot give you, then it is not the fault of Government, but the folly of the askers. But what you ask, do it not in this fashion — that you accuse Government in very action of oppression, abuse the highest officials, use the hardest words you can find for Lord Lytton and Lord Dufferin, call all Englishmen tyrants, and blacken columns on columns of newspapers with these subjects. You can gain nothing this way. God had made them your rulers. This is the will of God. We should be content with the will of God. And in obedience to the will of God, you should remain friendly and faithful to them. Do not do this: bring false accusations against them and give birth to enmity. This is neither wisdom nor in accordance with our holy religion.
Therefore the method we ought to adopt is this: that we should hold ourselves aloof from this political uproar, and reflect on our condition — that we are behindhand in education and are deficient in wealth. Then we should try to improve the education of our nation. Now our condition is this: that the Hindus, if they wish, can ruin us in an hour. [] The internal trade is entirely in their hands. The external trade is in possession of the English. Let the trade which is with the Hindus remain with them. But try to snatch from their hands the trade in the produce of the county which the English now enjoy and draw profit from. Tell them: "Take no further trouble. We will ourselves take the leather of our country to England and sell it there. Leave off picking up the bones of our country's animals. We will ourselves collect them and take them to America. Do not fill ships with the corn and cotton of our country. We will fill our own ships and will take it ourselves to Europe!" Never imagine that Government will put difficulties in your way in trade. But the acquisition of all these things depends on education. When you shall have fully acquired education, and true education shall have made its home in your hearts, then you will know what rights you can legitimately demand of the British Government. And the result of this will be that you will also obtain honourable positions in the Government, and will acquire wealth in the higher ranks of trade. But to make friendship with the Bengalis in their mischievous political proposals, and join in them, can bring only harm. If my nation follow my advice they will draw benefit from trade and education. Otherwise, remember that Government will keep a very sharp eye on you because you are very quarrelsome, very brave, great soldiers, and great fighters.
World War 1 Casualties As A Percentage of Pre-War Population
June 14, 2015
Map created by reddit user lanson15
The map above reveals a rather shocking aspect of the First World War. While most people in Western Europe and North America focus on the trench warfare in Northern France and Belgium, it shows that Western European countries were nowhere close to suffering the worst casualty rates in the war.
Instead, you have to look south to the country where the fighting began, Serbia. Depending on sources, Serbia’s death rate during the war could have been as high as 27.78% or up to 1.25 million people.
To put that into comparison here some World War I casualty figures as a percentage of prewar population from other countries (source: Wikipedia – note ranges given when sources do not agree):
In terms of absolute numbers, both the Russia and the Ottoman Empires fared the worst, with potential deaths of over 3 million apiece and the end of both Empires. The German and Austro-Hungarian Empires would also cease to exist at the end of the conflict.
Overall, the war resulted in a combined 37 million military and civilian casualties of which 17 million were killed and a further 20 million wounded. A pointless conflict that need not have happened, yet had been predicted 36 years earlier by German’s then Chancellor Otto Von Bismark (1878):
Europe today is a powder keg and the leaders are like men smoking in an arsenal … A single spark will set off an explosion that will consume us all … I cannot tell you when that explosion will occur, but I can tell you where … Some fluffy teddy bear without eyesed foolish thing in the Balkans will set it off.
You can learn more about the First World War from the following books:
The Guns of August: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic About the Outbreak of World War I
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World
WE must not doubt the ability of the 1.2 million-strong Indian army to fight wars on two fronts, because one of its top commanders has told us so. Nor should we doubt that India has more Muslims than all of Pakistan, since the statement is routinely broadcast from New Delhi.
And no one should doubt India's secular democracy, since that has been its credo since independence. But we are unable to conclude that Muslims are well represented in the Indian army, because the official silence on this important issue is deafening. Omar Khalidi, an independent scholar at MIT who hails from India, probes this mystery deftly and lucidly.
In his new book, Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India, Khalidi points out that not only is the number of Muslims wearing Indian army fatigues not proportional to the share of Muslims in the Indian population, it is politically indeterminate and potentially minuscule.
Khalidi meticulously narrates the history of attempts to force the defence ministry to provide the number of Muslims in uniform to parliament. He says they have all been met with derision. At one point, a former defence minister, George Fernandes, said it was “anti-national” to count Muslims in the armed forces. Fernandes charged that anyone asking for such information was not only an enemy of India but a person who had failed to grasp the complexity of India's security concerns.
To make sure that no one would ever again raise that issue, he said the very act of asking the question would be an act of sedition. Another former defence minister, Pranab Mukherjee, stated in 2006 that military recruitment was based on merit and there was no discrimination in the services based on caste or religion. He added that no survey had been conducted to determine the religious identity of the soldiers nor would one be done in the future.
One wonders why questions about religion are asked in the census. Are they not an act of sedition?
When asked about the role of Muslims in the Indian army, two former army chiefs, Field Marshal Manekshaw and Gen Sundarji, reiterated the same 'party line'. Recruitment is based on merit and there is no discrimination in the ranks. In an interview with Khalidi, Manekshaw seemed to concede that Muslims were not proportionately represented in the army but said that was because they lagged in educational attainment, not because they were not sought out in recruitment.
No official statistics are available on the number of Muslims in the Indian army. However, Khalidi says that former Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav stated in the late 1990s that only one per cent of the Indian soldiers were Muslims. Maybe that is an underestimate. But even if we quintuple it, it is still a far cry from the number that existed once.
As twilight descended on the British Raj, the number of Muslims in the Indian Army was about 30 per cent. Just six years later, it had come down to two per cent, according to the minister of state for defence of the time. Prime Minister Nehru was very concerned and sought to boost the recruitment of Muslims.
To put things in perspective, according to the 1941 census, 23 per cent of Indians were Muslims. After partition in 1947, two-thirds of the Muslims resided in Pakistan but a third resided in India. The 1951 Indian census showed that there were 8.3 million Christians, 35 million Muslims and 304 million Hindus, making the share of Muslims about 10 per cent. By the time of the 2001 census, that share had risen to 13.4 per cent.
The presence of Muslims in the Indian army went in the opposite direction, from roughly two per cent in 1953 to roughly one per cent in the late 1990s. The first Indian army chief, Gen K.K. Cariappa, did not believe that Muslims would ever be loyal to India. Admittedly, most of the Muslims in the Indian army had opted for Pakistan. But over time that number should have risen. The decision of Maj-Gen Anis Ahmad Khan to migrate to Pakistan in the mid-1950s was entirely apolitical. But it was used by the hardliners in India to question the loyalty of all Muslims in uniform.
Contrary evidence was provided during the war of 1965 when Indian Muslims in the army received some of the highest military awards for gallantry. However, no Muslim in the Indian army ever made it past the rank of major-general and only eight ever made it that far. During the British Raj, Muslims and Sikhs were over-represented in the army compared to their shares in the population due to the martial races theory. That theory was shelved after Indian soldiers mutinied in 1857.
Since Muslim soldiers were in the vanguard of the revolt, the British had begun to distrust Muslims. However, the demands of the time during the First and Second World Wars once again opened the gates to recruiting them. Since soldiery had long been the dominant occupation of people living in the northwestern regions of India and since most of them were Muslims, the share of Muslims rose once again in the British Indian army.
However, the fear of the Muslims never fully receded from the colonial psyche. No Muslim regiment was allowed to come into being even though there were plenty of other ethnic regiments. That tradition of not having Muslim regiments continues today in the Indian army. Perhaps the tradition of distrust has outlived the British. In contrast to the slim share of Muslims in the Indian army, there are the Sikhs who account for about two per cent of the population. At partition, their share in the army was eight per cent. By the 1980s, it had risen to 13 per cent. Many rose to three-star rank and one became the army chief. Sikhs account for as much as 20 per cent of the officers.
And then there are the two microscopic minorities which account for less than a tenth of a million people in the population but which have produced as many two-star generals as the 150 million Muslims. It is hard to prove that the presence of the Muslims in the Indian army is low because of anti-Muslim sentiment in the Indian military establishment. But the evidence marshalled by Khalidi is very disturbing. The reluctance of the Indian authorities to investigate the issue only validates his concerns.
The Balfour Declaration Promised Lebanon and Jordan to the Jews, Too
As the First World War raged, the imperial powers raced to recognize Jewish self-determination. France put out its pro-Zionist statement five months before Balfour, while Britain worried that enemy Germany would also pre-empt it
Oct 25, 2017 2:22 PM
Mr. and Mrs. Winston Churchill at Government House reception on March 28th 1921, Jerusalem with Emir Abdullah of Transjordan and Sir Herbert Samuel on steps at left of Churchill. Churchill, Lawrence & the Emir Abdullah. Mr. and Mrs. Winston Churchill at Government House reception on March 28th 1921, Jerusalem with Emir Abdullah of Transjordan and Sir Herbert Samuel on steps at left of Churchill. Library of Congress/Colony Photographer (Jerusalem)/Wikimedia Commons
The story of the Balfour Declaration is well-known: On 2 November 1917, in the midst of World War I, Britain's Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour, signed a letter promising Jews a "national home" in Palestine.
That short letter is now celebrated by Jews and mourned by Arabs. Little-known, but recorded in scholarly books (notably by Benny Morris, in "Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999") are the intense intrigues of the time, with France five months ahead of Britain in issuing a pro-Zionist statement and Britain worried that the enemy, Germany, was going to do the same.
The war in Europe was bogged down in bloody and mud-filled trenches. But in the Middle East, the centuries-old Ottoman Empire, fighting alongside Germany, was coming apart. That November, British and other forces were driving Turkish soldiers and their German advisers out of Palestine.
The Middle East was crucial to Britain – both the oil in the emerging new states and also the Suez Canal, giving access to India and other colonies. Together with France, Britain was already deciding which new Middle East countries to create and control, leaving only Turkey as the rump of the empire.
At the same time, influential Jews in Britain were pressing their government to support Zionism, 20 years after Theodor Herzl gave voice to the goal of a state for Jews, to end the centuries of persecution.
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They were aided by fortuitous circumstances: Dr Chaim Weizmann was not only an eminent Russian-born scientist at Manchester University who gave inestimable help to Britain’s war effort by developing chemicals for munitions, but he was also president of the World Zionist Congress.
Lord Balfour Lord BalfourAgence RoI
A man of striking ability and charismatic personality, he was a friend and trusted confidant of the elite in Britain, ranging from C.P. Scott, editor of The Manchester Guardian (now The Guardian) who backed Zionist aspirations, to David Lloyd George, who became prime minister in December 1916, and Lord Balfour, his foreign secretary.
Across the Channel, the French foreign ministry thought Jews were influential in Russia, in the collapsing Tsarist regime, and also wanted Jewish support for a post-war French presence in Palestine.
On 4 June 1917 the French foreign ministry issued a statement that it approved a text presented to it by Zionists that "circumstances permitting, and the independence of the Holy Places being safeguarded... it would be a deed of justice and of reparation to assist, by the protection of the Allied Powers, in the renaissance of the Jewish nationality in the land from which the people of Israel were exiled so many centuries ago." It went on: "The French government cannot but feel sympathy for your cause, the triumph of which is bound up that of the Allies."
The French perhaps meant the statement to be mere words without a commitment to action. But the fact of it opened the way to Britain issuing its own statement of support for Zionism, especially as Lloyd George, with British imperialist interests at heart and determined to protect the Suez Canal area, wanted to keep out the French.
Palestine under British control or protection was desirable. He and other colleagues were also devout Christians who had fundamental beliefs derived from the Old Testament about the justice of the Jewish cause. Lord Balfour later explained that he and Lloyd George had been influenced "by the desire to give Jews their rightful place in the world; a great nation without a home is not right".
Not everyone agreed. Important contrary voices were heard: Lord Curzon told a Cabinet meeting that Palestine was mostly "barren and desolate... a less propitious seat for the future Jewish race could not be imagined". He did not seem to have said this out of concern for Jews for, as he also said, Zionism was "sentimental idealism, which would never be realised" and anyway "how could the Jews ever overcome the far more and stronger Arabs".
People gather in the streets of Tel Aviv after radio broadcasts announce UN plan for partition of Palestine and the new Jewish state, November 30, 1947. People gather in the streets of Tel Aviv after radio broadcasts announce UN plan for partition of Palestine and the new Jewish state, November 30, 1947.AP
The pro-Zionists, in the Cabinet and the foreign office, insisted on following on France’s example. They were joined by another highly influential leader, Jan Christiaan Smuts from South Africa. A general in the Boer forces fighting the British army in the Anglo-Boer War at the turn of the century, he now had the unusual distinction of being a colonial in the inner recesses of the British government, as a member of the Imperial War Cabinet.
Lloyd George and Balfour and others such as Winston Churchill, the Colonial Secretary, also believed that a declaration in favour of a Jewish state would bring Jewish influence and power worldwide to bear on the side of the Allies. They were concerned about keeping Russia on their side and thought Jewish influence in that country could help do this – which, given the violent anti-Semitism of the Tsarist regime, reveals their remarkable ignorance, or at best, naivete.
Also, in an astonishing irony in history, Britain's leaders were worried that Germany was about to issue a statement in support of a Jewish state in Palestine. This, they feared, could push German-born Jews in the United States, who had no allegiance to the Allied Powers, to influence the U.S. not to enter the war (this factor disappeared on 7 April 1917 when the US entered the war on the side of the Allies). They were, too, thoroughly alarmed at any prospect that Germany might gain a foothold in the Middle East area so vital to British strategic interests.
Out of this medley of factors came the Balfour Declaration, actually a brief letter. It was first submitted to President Woodrow Wilson of the United States, who did not object to it. Lord Balfour then sent it to Lord Rothschild, the head of Britain’s Zionist Federation:
"His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
Immediately, this became the charter of the Zionist movement, to transform the words of promise into reality. Success took less than 31 years: the state of Israel was created on 14 May 1948.
Later, in 1922, the League of Nations, the world body set up to ensure peace forever – that was the intention – sanctified the Middle East carve-up.
Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with Jordanian King Abdullah II Jordan's King Abdullah meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the royal palace in Amman, Jordan on July 27, 2010.Avi Ohayon
Britain was given a mandate for Palestine, with the aim of fulfilling the Balfour Declaration. But Winston Churchill was also negotiating with Arab leaders about their demands for land, and so he had the details redrafted: Britain was no longer obliged to foster a Jewish state east of the Jordan River. At the same time, Britain also surrendered land in the north of Palestine, handing it to France, which had been given a mandate for Lebanon.
The upshot was that in 1921 the land east of the Jordan River – forming 75 percent of Palestine – was hived off as Transjordan. It was meant to be temporary, to provide a haven for Abdullah, one of the Arabian princes at war with each other.
Weizmann protested, writing to Churchill to note that "the fields of Gilead, Moab and Edom, with the rivers Arnon and Jabbok are historically and geographically and economically linked to Palestine, and it is upon these fields, now that the rich plains of the north have been taken from Palestine and given to France, that the success of the Jewish National Home must largely rest..."
Yet other Zionist leaders did not campaign strongly against it. They believed it was only temporary. However, Transjordan went its own way, and under British tutelage.
In 1946, Britain asked the new United Nations Organisation to end its mandate and the territory became today’s Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The remaining 25 percent of Palestine remained under British mandate rule, until 1948, when it became today's Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
This is not a history but an attempt to understand what probably happened in those last years that led to the demise of Hyderabad as an independent country and its annexation by the newly independent India. It is speculation; perhaps informed speculation; I hope, intelligent speculation, but speculation nevertheless.
I am not speaking chronologically or relating incidents but attempting to understand why the Nizam of Hyderabad took the decisions he did, which led to the calamity called Police Action (Operation Polo of the Indian Army).
Calamity not because it was the end of the Asif Jahi Dynasty because all dynasties end. But calamity because, as is reported, thousands of innocent people died as a result of Police Action. They died in what we would today call, Collateral Damage; killed not by the Indian Army but by their opportunistic neighbors who used the period of transition to grab their land, by making them vanish.
Entire families were murdered, entire villages were depopulated in a massive ethnic cleansing before the term was invented. I know that the figures range from 15,000 to ten times that and more. The reality is that exact figures are impossible to get. And the death of even one innocent person is highly deplorable and tragic, so numbers mean nothing. Whether it was 15,000 or 150,000 is immaterial when the truth is that not a single one deserved to die.
I am saying this because I don’t want you to get mired in discussing incidents, numbers of dead, who killed whom but try to look at why all this happened and what if anything can be learnt from this to be applied today. What is clear is that we are a nation which seems to be cursed with internecine conflict, brother killing brother, with or without pretext.
I am saying to you that it is time this stopped. Stopped totally and completely. It is not difficult to find examples of how such things were stopped. Until 100 years ago, there was blood in the streets in Europe. Both World War I and II were essentially European wars, with Europeans killing each other. Yet out of that emerged a universal, silent, shared and solid pact, that European blood will not be shed by Europeans ever again.
One wishes that this could have been extended to non-Europeans also but be that as it may, the fact remains that today in Europe, even the thought of a mob lynching an individual or attacking a neighborhood in which a certain religious or ethnic group lives, is simply unthinkable. It is high time we in India changed our direction 180 degrees and walked the same path before we reach a point of no return on our present path. We like to talk about India’s potential.
The reality is that if we want that potential to be translated into actual development and economic growth, we must deal with social strife and lay it to rest. If we use religious and ethnic difference to constantly fan the flames of communalism and xenophobia and have our nation embark on periodic bloodletting sprees, then the result can only be one thing; civil war and total collapse. It is amazing how otherwise intelligent people seem to fail to read the writing on the wall.
My assessment of the situation at that time leading to the demise of Hyderabad as an independent country was that India had just become independent paying a huge price in human life in the partition of British India into India and Pakistan. That resulted in India having a hostile neighbor on two sides, East and West Pakistan and Kashmir, still in a state of limbo in the North. It simply couldn’t afford another independent state in its center, ruled by a Muslim king, even though he was not hostile and even though the majority population of the state was Hindu. Hyderabad had to become a part of the Indian Union, come what may. Also since Hyderabad was the biggest, wealthiest and most influential of the Princely States, what happened to it would be salutary for the others. If Hyderabad retained independence and sovereignty, then it would open the doors for similar aspirations of many other ruling princes. If Hyderabad joined the Indian Union, then others would also fall in line.
So, if Hyderabad didn’t join the Indian Union willingly, it would have to be made to do so, unwillingly. Attempts were made to persuade the Nizam to accede to the Indian Union but when these failed, covert attempts to subvert his government were undoubtedly made by encouraging communal elements to create unrest. Religion is a very easy way to gain mass support and in an atmosphere where the Hindu-Muslim equation was badly vitiated after the formation of Pakistan, this was easy to do. Flames were fanned and new fires were set and in time, they did what all fires do – burn everything they came into contact with. Three hundred years of common Hindu-Muslim history was reduced to ashes. No doubt it helped some people to come to power, but at the cost of a great many. But history is written by victors, while those who die, tell no tales and the world goes on.
The tendency when speaking about any monarchy is to speak in terms of its king alone. Usually this is a mistake because whatever the king may think of himself, he is a man and is influenced by his times and the people around him. Some of this influence is overt but a lot of it is hidden and covert. Included in this are his own feelings, aspirations, anxieties, insecurities.
At a time of transition which may result in a fall of the monarchy all these fears are hugely enhanced, because in most cases, a fall of the monarchy usually means death for the king or at least life in enormously reduced circumstances. To be able to still think with a cool head and take decisions that are morally and ethically right while being strategically wise, is no mean task. For this it is not only essential for the king to have the guidance of wise people around him, but even more importantly, for him to listen to them.
In the case of the Nizam of Hyderabad, Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, I believe we have a case where, to put it mildly, things went awry.
My understanding of the factors at the time, from my reasonably extensive reading of different books on this subject as well as having known some of those who were present at the time of Police Action, and were close to the Nizam, is as follows:
The Nizam of Hyderabad was an absolute monarch. A very good one, who never took a single day’s vacation in his life and not given to the playboy lifestyle of his other counterparts in the Princely States of India, but still an absolute monarch. The hierarchy was feudal, which meant that, as in any other feudal system, the only way anyone aspiring to high position could get it was by birth into the right family or by special Royal Dispensation. This in turn would necessitate the attention of and promotion by one of the high Nobles so that one would get noticed. Needless to say, the number of positions at the top are very limited and usually taken.
The ‘evils’ of a feudal system, even a very benign and benevolent one like the rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad was, can’t be overemphasized. Its biggest evil being the death of aspiration of youth. This was one of the major reasons for the migration of the youth of Europe to America and the eventual break with Europe altogether. A new nation was born, not because people in the old country were being physically tortured or murdered, but because their hopes and dreams were stillborn in a system that didn’t permit them to live and grow by their ability. That is the problem with all feudal systems and the reason why democracy, with all its faults, is the best form of government that humankind has created for itself, to date.
Any ordinary young person not born into a noble family but aspiring for high office in Hyderabad (the country), especially political power, had little chance of attaining it, except through exceptional circumstances and luck, irrespective of his qualifications. For such people, a time of turmoil and turbulence is a godsend. It shakes the foundations of the structures of society and briefly opens a window of opportunity to change the rules of the game. What added to this was the fact that the State was the biggest employer. Though there were businesses and industry, rather more than in other Princely States or British India, their influence and the opportunities they presented were still very limited, especially at the managerial level. Opportunities of realizing one’s aspirations outside the State’s influence were therefore very limited. This always leads to frustration for which a situation of turmoil which shakes the foundations of the State and official hierarchy is a great opportunity.
To give the time its due, this was not due to any backwardness of Hyderabad but because that was the nature of the world at the time. The industrial boom of manufacture and later of IT was still about a century away. Opportunities for careers in the corporate world were limited because the corporate world as we know it, didn’t exist. There were traders, small manufacturers, almost all of them family owned, who followed in effect the same feudal rules of employment and career development. If you were born into the family or related to it in some way, you could never get into top management.
With Indian Independence looming on the horizon and in effect inevitable, there was an atmosphere of change in the air. An atmosphere of high political aspirations, of ambitions of power and influence. Feudalism in India was dying, in its formal sense of hereditary rulers and nobles and leadership positions would fall vacant, ready to be occupied with those who had the vision to see the writing on the wall and the grit to work for it. Sad to see that seventy years after this time, feudalism in terms of attitudes, which really deserved to die, remains alive and well, with the new elected leaders having taken the place of hereditary rulers on the throne. But that is an aside. For our story, the world was changing and fast in which like in all times of change, you either change or die. Incumbency is the single biggest crime in a revolution as you become the logical target of attack. If you change your stripes and start running with the hounds, like the British monarchy did very successfully by converting the ruling family into Hollywood stars, then you survive and prosper. If you remain static, like the Nizam did, you become a statistic.
The other factor that was in play in these times was the anxiety of the Nizam and his nobility about their own fate in the new world order which was dawning. In this context they had Jinnah’s divisive rhetoric on one hand and the assurance of the British Empire on the other guaranteeing the Nizam that the territorial integrity of his kingdom as well as his sovereignty as a monarch would be defended and maintained. In my opinion, the Nizam and his nobility’s biggest mistake was to believe both these narratives. It raised their anxiety to a level where their minds stopped working and had them grabbing at straws (promises of the British Empire) to save themselves from drowning. Ask anyone if a straw can save a drowning man and you know what happened to the Nizam and Hyderabad State was ine
Qasim Rizvi and his Razakars. Qasim Rizvi was an opportunist who took advantage of a nebulous situation and tried to play ‘King Maker’. The fact that he ran away when things didn’t go as planned and left those who allowed him his time in the sun to face the music, is proof that he had no commitment either to Hyderabad or the Nizam. He was in it for himself and escaped when things fell apart. What he had going for him was demagoguery that capitalized on the anxieties of the ruling class as well as the Muslims in Hyderabad who were already affected by the demagoguery of Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Add in a heady mixture of fantasy, distorted historical references and people’s own ignorance of history as well as their inability to critically analyze what was being presented to them by QR and you can see how and why his rhetoric was remarkably rabble rousing. Religion as they say is the last resort of the scoundrel, an analogy that fits QR like a glove.
Finally, the demise of Hyderabad was also the most colossal collective failure of leadership that one can imagine. If you look at the nobles and notables around the Nizam, you have a list of luminaries that can hardly be bettered. Yet they failed as a group to guide their king and country in a direction leading to safety and progress. Instead they all seem to have collectively become victims of Qasim Rizvi’s crazy rhetoric either actively or passively to a point of no return. The fact that the Nizam was himself in QR’s thrall, would have, I suppose, stopped many from openly disagreeing. All these are the price of a feudal, autocratic system wherein dissent is dangerous and severely restricted. All autocratic systems fall prey to this and so did Hyderabad State.
What should the Nizam have done?
I think that is fairly clear and I don’t really need to write this but am doing so in the interest of closing the loop as it were. Here is what should have happened:
The Nizam and his advisors should have realized the reality of Hyderabad and its future in the context of the Indian Union. For details please refer to Point No. 1 above i.e. my assessment of the situation at the time. They should have seen that remaining independent was out of the question and so should have bargained for the best deal and joined the Indian Union. That single action would have avoided all the bloodshed and turmoil.
They should have realized that the British have a very famous history of telling lies to those they rule and work only with one interest in mind; their own. The history of the British in India was no secret to anyone with eyes to see. As it was, the British were leaving India in a great hurry and really didn’t care a hoot about what happened to India or Indians. What value can the assurance of such an ally have? Once again, that meant, the joining the Indian Union was the not just the best option but the only one.
Qasim Rizvi should have been shown the door. His kind of rhetoric was so alien to the history of the Nizams of Hyderabad and their treatment of their subjects irrespective of religion that it is almost impossible to believe that not only did QR get a foothold but that to all intents and purposes, he became the defacto ruler. Furthermore, especially given the recent formation of Pakistan and the massacres that happened as a result, it was suicidal to allow the very same rhetoric to become dominant in Hyderabad. To allow Hyderabad’s long history of harmonious relationships between the two major communities of Hindus and Muslims to be destroyed was totally tragic and inexplicable. It was like an onset of momentary insanity from which a man awakens to witness the destruction that he had wrought while insane.
Hyderabad (Nizam and nobility and the State) should have invested heavily in industry and invited the Tatas and Birlas to set up manufacturing plants. Both were in operation having started in the 1800’s. This would have had three beneficial effects.
a. It would have created massive employment opportunities for youth, the best way to deal with all kinds of social unrest, give them something to lose.
b. It would have increased the personal wealth of the Nizam and his nobility and made them free from dependence on Privy Purses and State charity.
c. It would have acted as a shield against any political adventurism, just as the presence of Trump business interest in Middle Eastern countries has kept them safe from his travel ban on Muslims. The travel ban as you know, applies only to countries where Trump has no business interests.
(Mirza Awar Baig is an author and columnist based in Hyderabad. The views are personal)
Muslims opposed the British rulers. The Sangh Parivar collaborated with them. Who is “anti-national”?
By A.G. NOORANI
Gandhi ne asj jang ka ailan kar diya,/
Baatil se haq ko dast-o-garebaan kar diya.
Hindustaan mein ek nai rooh phoonk kar/
Azadi-e-hayaat ka samaan kar diya.
Parwurdigaar ne ke woh hai aadmi shinnas,/
Gandhi ko bhi yeh martaba pahchaan kar diya
(Gandhi has made a declaration of war…
Betwixt Truth and Falsehood a deadly battle starts.
Infusing a new spirit into the Indian hearts,/
For independence complete he has prepared the path.
God, who is the judge of men, in His wisdom great,/ Has rightly chosen the mahatma as the shepherd of our flock.)
THIS stirring poem was written by Maulana Zafar Ali Khan during India’s movement for independence. He predicted accurately: “Woh din aane ko hai azad jab Hindustan hoga,/Mubarkbaad isko de raha saara jahan hoga.” The day is fast approaching when India will be free,/The whole world will greet her on this triumphal feast.” (K.C. Kanda, Masterpieces of Patriotic Urdu Poetry, Sterling Publishers, New Delhi, pages 449, Rs.350.)
Can the Sangh Parivar, in all its varied outfits—the Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)—cite a single poem, by a member or supporter, on India’s inclusive nationalism with its rich composite culture?
India’s freedom movement was enriched by the enthusiastic participation of all its communities: Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis and some others. All spoke for India amid voices of separate rights and even religious revivalism. The Sangh Parivar was not a movement for religious revivalism but for political ascendancy and power over all others—in the name of religion.
The RSS was established by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, a former Congressman, at Nagpur in September 1925 on Vijaya Dasami Day. Enough is known about its chequered career since. But one fundamental question concerning its very raison d’etre has not been addressed as pointedly and in as much depth as it deserves. Why on earth was the RSS set up at all? The answer to this question explains its entire career to this day. Remember, the freedom movement led by the Congress under Gandhi’s leadership was at its height in 1925. The Liberals of old disagreed with the new technique of civil disobedience and insisted on constitutional methods. Patriots like Bhagat Singh rejected both and opted for violence.
The RSS was not set up because it disagreed with the three—Gandhi, Liberals and terrorists—or with the methods they advocated. Its aim was not to provide vigour and speed to the freedom movement. It was to promote the cause of a Hindu state at the end of British rule. Its technique was to collaborate with the British, meanwhile, and carefully avoid a confrontation with the alien rulers. In doing so, it did not merely part company with the freedom movement. The RSS opposed it, as did the Hindu Mahasabha. Both rejected Indian nationalism at the very outset. Its themes, its ideology, and its secular, democratic ideals were rejected and sneered at, especially its flag.
It was inherent in its ideology and its techniques, while distinguishing itself from Indian nationalism, not only to espouse Hindu nationalism but to belittle other communities, chiefly Muslims and Christians, and spread hate against others. This technique continues with fanatical zeal to this day. The RSS was never banned by the British. It was banned three times after Independence by the government of India.
This explains the futility of those who expected the RSS or its political outfits—the Jana Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party—to moderate and turn Indian. They would lose the very reason for their existence.
Which brings us back to the crucial question—why was the RSS set up at all? Pralay Kanungo, a painstaking scholar, has ably recorded the atmosphere in which the venomous RSS was born: “The period from 1923 to 1928 has been described as ‘an era of Hindu communal resurgence’ in North India in which Arya Samaj played an important role. Shuddhi had been a part of Arya Samaj activities during the late nineteenth century. But now under the leadership of Swami Shraddhanand, the campaign became intense. His proselytising mission was aimed at those Hindus who were converted to Islam or other groups of borderline Muslims who had retained many Hindu customs. …In this charged atmosphere of communal confrontation, a new organisation of the Hindus was established at Nagpur on the Vijaya Dashmi day of 1925, upholding the spirit of sangathan ideology. The founder was Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. The four other persons present on the occasion were Dr B.S. Moonje, Dr L.V. Paranjape, Dr B.B. Thalkar and Babarao Savarkar. The name given subsequently to this organisation was Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)” (RSS’s Tryst with Politics, Manohar, pages 35, 36 and 38).
“A major influence on Hedgewar’s thinking was a handwritten manuscript of V.D. Savarkar’s Hindutva, which advanced the thesis that the Hindus were a nation” (Walter K. Andersen and Sridhar D. Damle, The Brotherhood in Saffron, page 33). Hedgewar had a guru, Moonje. Significantly, he had met Savarkar in March 1925, shortly before launching the RSS, for lengthy discussions.
RSS never an adversary of the British
In his carefully documented Hindu Nationalism (Oxford, New York), Chetan Bhatt of the University of London notes: “Whereas Congress and allied movements and activities were violently repressed, banned or imprisoned in huge numbers, the RSS was not considered an adversary by the British. On the contrary, it gave loyal consent to the British to be part of the Civic Guard. The RSS was not proscribed by the British, but was banned three times by Indian governments. Both Hedgewar and Golwalkar (its second leader) actively opposed joining the anti-colonial movement in favour of ‘character-building’ work in the service of the Hindu Nation.
“Similarly, the RSS, as a matter of explicit organisational policy, refused to join the non-cooperation movement and anti-colonial satyagrahas in the 1920s and 1940s, including the anti-Rowlatt agitations, the Civil Disobedience and Quit India movements, and the Naval mutiny in Bombay.…
“The RSS is quite explicit that one of the reasons for its formation was Hedgewar’s view that whereas Muslims were organised and strong, Hindus were disaggregated and weak and hence had to be consolidated into a militant, unified and aggressive force. Hedgewar’s diagnosis of the political situation in the early 1920s was as follows: ‘The upsurge witnessed during the days of non-cooperation movement has died down. The various evils accompanying the movement are now having a heyday. Mutual distrust and ill will, personal and caste rivalries, Brahmin and non-Brahmin controversy have all raised their ugly heads. No institution or organisation seems to be free from these internal squabbles and utter lack of discipline. The snake of Muslim fanaticism, having been fed on the milk of non-cooperation, is now baring its poisonous fangs and spreading the venom of violence and riots all over the country.’”
Chetan Bhatt adds: “Hedgewar also believed that it was the ‘lack of cohesion and self-respect’ among Hindus that was the key problem facing Hindu society during this ‘dark night of self-oblivion’, which, for him, characterised Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement” (pages 115 and 117). This idea, instilling an inferiority complex in a great community, is still being propagated by the RSS.
The RSS was duly set on its course. A biography records: “After establishing the Sangh, Doctor Saheb in his speeches used to talk only of Hindu organisation. Direct comment on government used to be nil.” (C.P. Bhislikar, Sanghavariksh Ke Beej/ Dr. Kashaavrao Hedgewar. This official biography in Hindi deserves translation into English. Excerpts in English are quoted in Dr Shamsul Islam’s Hindu Nationalism and Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh published by Media House, Delhi, 2015, and his pamphlet Know the RSS, published by Pharos Media, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi, 2017.)
Another biography records: “It is clear that Gandhiji worked constantly with one eye on Hindu-Muslim unity. … But Doctorji sensed danger in that move. In fact he did not even relish the new-fangled slogan of ‘Hindu-Muslim Unity’” (Quoted in Shamsul Islam, Hindu Nationalism and RSS, page 207).
This is most revealing. No struggle for freedom would be waged against the British in unity with Muslims. The RSS would parley directly with the British; keep the rulers in good humour; secure transfer of power; and establish a Hindu Rashtra.
What the RSS pracharak Narendra Modi has sought to do since he came to power in 2014 is to make up for lost time (1947-2014) and move systematically, step by step, towards that ignoble end. Hence his eloquent silence on the misdeeds of his followers. Barack and Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton were friends of Harvey Weinstein. They publicly denounced him to signify their dissociation from his crimes. Modi cannot do that to his followers. The RSS and he need each other badly, locked as they are in a deadly embrace.
A near century’s record has made the RSS what it is now. The prayer in Sanskrit which was introduced in 1939 to replace the Hindi-Marathi prayer is more explicit: “Affectionate Motherland, I eternally bow to you./ Land of Hindus, you have reared me in comfort./ Sacred Land, the Great Creator of Good, may this body of mine be dedicated to you/ I again and again bow before you./ God Almighty, we the integral parts of Hindu Rashtra salute you in reverence.”
The oath that every member has to take reads: “Before the All-Powerful God and my ancestors, I most solemnly take this oath, that I have become a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh in order to achieve all-round greatness of Bharatvarsh by fostering the growth of my sacred Hindu religion, Hindu society and Hindu culture. I shall perform the work of the Sangh honestly, disinterestedly, with my heart and soul, and I shall adhere to this oath all my life. Bharat Mata ki Jai” (D.R. Goyal, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, Radhakrishna Prakashan, Daryaganj, New Delhi, pages 247-249; an able work). Instruction in the use of the lathi was part of the “group prayers” (Andersen and Damle, page 35).
The five who set up the body in 1925 did not even have a name in mind for the newborn. It was adopted on April 17 (Ram Navami Day) in 1926. Hedgewar was formally designated chief organiser (Chalak) on December 19, 1926. Appetite whetted, three years later he made himself the RSS’ dictator.
“In a meeting with the Sanghachalaks in Nagpur [November 9-10,1929], Hedgewar as chief once again personally declared that ‘from the point of view of internal discipline, the organisation should work under one leader who would mastermind the programmes’. For Hedgewar it became the sole principle of organisation as can be seen reiterated in an official circular in 1933, which he himself wrote: It is essential that the Swayamsewaks should implicitly obey the command of Sarsanghachalak. The Sangh should not reach a stage when tail should wag the body. That is the secret of the success of the Sangh. This obedience to the sole leader was soon turned into leader worship. In fact, it got institutionalised as early as 10 November, 1929, when in a full-fledged organisational meeting of RSS in Nagpur, Hedgewar was offered pranam or salutation in a true military style by the Swayamsewaks present” (Shamsul Islam, page 213). This fascist tradition has been continued to this day.
collaboration with the british
If the Congress was to be condemned and the Muslims excoriated, the Sangh Parivar (that is, the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS) plumped for the obvious third choice—collaborate with the British.
“Golwalkar believed that the British should not be given any excuse to ban the RSS. When the British banned military drill and the use of uniforms in all non-official organisations, the RSS complied. On 29 April 1943 Golwalkar distributed a circular to senior RSS figures, announcing the termination of the RSS military department. The wording of the circular reveals his apprehensions regarding the possibility of a ban on the RSS: ‘We discontinued practices included in the government’s early order on military drill and uniforms… to keep our work clearly within bounds of law, as every law abiding institution should. …Hoping that circumstances would ease early, we had in a sense only suspended that part of our training. Now, however, we decide to stop it altogether and abolish the department without waiting for the time to change.’
“Golwalkar was not a revolutionary in the conventional sense of the term. The British understood this. In an official report on RSS activity, prepared in 1943, the Home Department concluded that ‘it would be difficult to argue that the RSS constitutes an immediate menace to law and order…’. Commenting on the violence that accompanied the 1942 Quit India Movement, the Bombay Home Department observed, ‘The Sangh has scrupulously kept itself within the law, and in particular, has refrained from taking part in the disturbances that broke out in August, 1942…’” (Andersen and Damle, page 44).
Savarkar’s many and abject apologies are well known: 1. Brought to the Andamans on July 4, 1911, he pleaded for clemency before the year ended.
2. In 1913, he offered to serve the government in any capacity it liked. He repeated this in 1914 and 1917.
3. On March 30, 1920, he filed another mercy petition (Frontline, April 8, 2005).
4. He was released on January 6, 1924, on the condition that “he will not engage publicly or privately in any manner of political activities without the consent of the government” for five years. It was extended until 1937 when Home Minister K.M. Munshi released him.
5. On February 22, 1948, he gave an undertaking to the Commissioner of Police, Bombay to renounce politics in order to avert arrest for Gandhi’s murder.
6. On July 13, 1950, he gave another undertaking, this time to the Bombay High Court, saying he would not participate in politics.
The Second World War exposed the Parivar’s two top men in their true colours. Savarkar met the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow in Bombay on October 9, 1939, who duly recorded his offer. “The situation, he [Savarkar] said, was that His Majesty’s Government must now turn to the Hindus and work with their support. After all, though we and the Hindus have had a good deal of difficulty with one another in the past, that was equally true of the relations between Great Britain and the French and, as recent events had shown, of relations between Russia and Germany. Our interests were now the same and we must therefore work together. Even though now the most moderate of men, he had himself been in the past an adherent of a revolutionary party, as possibly, I might be aware. (I confirmed that I was.) But now that our interests were so closely bound together the essential thing was for Hinduism and Great Britain to be friends, and the old antagonism was no longer necessary” (Marzia Casolari, The Shade of the Swastika, page 172).
S.P. Mookerjee’s letter
The prize goes to Syama Prasad Mookerjee, erstwhile president of the Mahasabha and founder of the Jana Sangh under a pact with the RSS. In December 1941 he became a Minister in the Bengal Cabinet headed by Fazlul Haq, who had moved the Pakistan Resolution at the Muslim League’s session at Lahore in March 1940. On the eve of the Congress’ Quit India movement he wrote to the arch imperialist the Governor of Bengal Sir John Herbert in these fulsome terms: “Let me now refer to the situation that may be created in the province as a result of any widespread movement launched by the Congress. Anybody, who during the war, plans to stir up mass feelings, resulting in internal disturbances or insecurity, must be resisted by any government that may function for the time being. …as regards India’s attitude towards England, the struggle between them, if any, should not take place at this juncture. The present war is being fought not for perpetuation of British domination over India. Old ideas of imperialism must be buried underground, and they are not going to revive, whatever the result of the present war may be.…
“The question is how to combat this movement in Bengal? The administration of the province should be carried on in such a manner that in spite of the best efforts of the Congress, this movement will fail to take root in the province. It should be possible for us, specially responsible ministers, to be able to tell the public that the freedom for which the Congress has started the movement, already belongs to the representatives of the people. In some spheres it might be limited during the emergency. Indians have to trust the British” (S.P. Mookerjee, Leaves from a Diary, pages 179 and 183). The Mahasabha had a representative in the Viceroy’s Executive Council, Sir Jwala Prasad Srivastava.
Bankim Chandra’s bias
The collaboration had an ideological besides a tactical basis. In his Autobiography of An Unknown Indian, Nirad C. Chaudhuri has aptly described the atmosphere of the times in which the song Bande Mataram was written. “The historical romances of Bankim Chatterjee and Romesh Chandra Dutt glorified Hindu rebellion against Muslim rule and showed the Muslims in a correspondingly poor light. Chatterjee was positively and fiercely anti-Muslim. We were eager readers of these romances and we readily absorbed their spirit.”
The historian R.C. Majumdar pithily puts it: “Bankimchandra converted patriotism into religion and religion into patriotism.” The novel Ananda Math, for which Bande Mataram was written, was not anti-British. In the last chapter, we find a supernatural figure persuading the leader of the sanyasis, Satyananda, to stop fighting. The dialogue that follows is interesting: “He: Your task is accomplished. The Muslim power is destroyed. There is nothing else for you to do. No good can come of needless slaughter.”
Anti-Muslim references are spread all over the work. Jivananda with sword in hand, at the gate of the temple, exhorts the children of Kali: “We have often thought to break up this bird’s nest of Muslim rule, to pull down the city of the renegades and throw it into the river—to turn this pigsty to ashes and make Mother earth free from evil again. Friends, that day has come.”
The use of the song “Bande Mataram” in the novel is not adventitious. It is essentially a religious homage to the country conceived as a deity, “a form of worship” as Majumdar aptly called it. The motherland is “conceived as the Goddess Kali, the source of all power and glory”.
This, in the song itself. The context makes it worse. “The land of Bengal, and by extension all of India, became identified with the female aspect of Hindu deity, and the result was a concept of divine Motherland” (India as a Secular State by Donald Eugene Smith, 1963, Princeton University Press). How secular is such a song?
The refrain was picked up by Lajpat Rai, Madan Mohan Malaviya and others. In 1925, the year the RSS was born, Lala Hardyal wrote in the Pratap of Lahore: “I declare that the future of the Hindu race, of Hindustan and of the Punjab rests on those four pillars: 1. Hindu Sanghathan. 2. Hindu Raj. 3. Shuddhi of Muslims, and 4. Conquest and Shuddhi of Afghanistan and the Frontiers.” Savarkar and Hedgewar inherited that heritage, which successors like Modi & Co. are now carrying forward.
Repression of Muslims
Asoka Mehta wrote of the 1857 Mutiny: “When the rebellion began Hindus and Muslims participated in it in large numbers. …The hand of repression fell heavily on the Muslims. They were tattooed with terror” (1857, The Great Rebellion).
Muslims suffered the most, as Asoka Mehta acknowledged in his history. The British singled them out for hostile treatment, which was documented in the classic The Indian Musalmans (1871) by W.W. Hunter of the Bengal Civil Service. These lines give the flavour of the times: “The first of them, the Army, is now completely closed. No Muhammadan gentleman of birth can enter our Regiments; …Musalman element in the public services has gone on growing weaker every year, just as before. …There is now scarcely a government office in Calcutta in which a Muhammadan can hope for any post above the rank of porter, messenger, and filler of ink-pots and menders of pens. …Among the judges of Her Majesty’s High Court of Judicature in Bengal are two Hindus but no Musalman. Indeed, the idea of a High Court judge being taken from the race that once monopolised the whole administration of justice is inconceivable alike to Anglo-Indians and to Hindus at the present day. …In short, the Muhammadans have now sunk so low, that, even when qualified for government employment, they are studiously kept out of it by government notifications. Nobody takes any notice of their helpless condition, and the higher authorities do not deign even to acknowledge their existence. …Had the Musalmans been wise, they would have perceived the change, and accepted their fate.”
Thus the Muslims had no incentive or desire to collaborate with the British. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan advised them to shun politics and take to education. Others like Badruddin Tyabji and Jinnah joined the Congress and enriched the freedom movement. The first resolution for complete independence was moved in the Congress session of 1921 by the great poet Maulana Hasrat Mohani, a great admirer of Tilak. It said: “The object of the Indian National Congress is the attainment of Swaraj or complete independence free from all foreign control by the people of India by all legitimate and peaceful methods”. Gandhi strongly opposed it accusing the supporters of the motion of “levity”. It was defeated.
Dr K.C. Kanda’s volume has poems galore by Muslims and, of course, Hindus on independence, including a poem by Ashfaqullah Khan who was hanged in 1927 for his role in the Kakori train robbery case.
Dr Shamsul Islam has compiled a documented record in Muslims against Partition of India (Pharos Media, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi, pages 249, Rs.280). It has a foreword by the distinguished historian Harbans Makhia.
Muslims opposed the British rulers. The Sangh Parivar collaborated with them. Who is “anti-national”? The record speaks for itself. The betrayal of Indian nationalism by the Parivar continues still, as its pracharak Narendra Modi ousts it to spread Hindu nationalism, longing all the time for American support. They replaced the British.
Okay. So here is Poona University too, succumbing to the Zeitgeist.
‘Indianisation of education’ is need of the hour: Gujarat governor Kohli
Governor Says, India resisted Muslims culturally, but surrendered to Western onslaught on our values over the years
Brajesh Choudhary : Interesting discussion. What the Governor (a retired faculty of DU) said is largely true but it also implies that some rewriting of history will be done. It is true that even educated people in India don't know about Kautilya's "Arthashastra" but they know of "The Prince" by Machievelle. The same about history of grammar, mathematics, algebra, trigonometry, astronomy.
Sudhir Raniwala : There is only one problem. Most of the people who advocate this.....their children are studying in the West :-)
Naveen Gaur : Hon'ble O. P. Kohli had a interesting record in DU,
The same person recently gave nod to draconian Gujarat State Higher Education bill (one of the implications would be the power of syllabus / curriculum is effectively taken away from universities, here goes the claimed autonomy that people argue about out of the window) and hopefully being a former teacher in a DU college knows well the bill and it's implications.
Sudhir Raniwala : Naveen Gaur Another one of the gems that I learnt from Prof. S Lokanathan: "The problem with our country is that policies are made by those whose future remains unaffected by it" !
Naveen Gaur : Interestingly Hon'ble Governor few months back came to our Evening college. Inspite of my reservations I thought of attending the activity in the expectation of getting a opportunity to question him on the issue. Not surprisingly I was warned of action (in case I try to pose a simple academic question) and virtually not allowed to go to the hall of my own institution. He is a frequent visitor to DU and none questions him even on such bill. Probably all this must be the part of "Indianisation of education".
The problem is not only about the people who formulate / approve policies but also with those who are reluctant to pose simple questions to such people.
Sudhir Raniwala : Is asking questions to elders against our culture?
Naveen Gaur : Oh, completely forgot, you are absolutely correct. I was indeed wrong.
Tarun Deep Saini : After watching NDTV India's multipart series on the state of Indian universities, especially those that have tertiary Sanskrit education, it is hard to take such talk seriously. Rather than change syllabi, their purpose would be better served if they put money into existing universities where such education is provided. They should also put money into making some of these texts modern through good translations and annotations to put things in context. I once read an outstanding Hindi translation of Panchatantra, which really made it so much easier to read it. As a child I had to work my way through Ramcharitmanas, and I can tell you it caused me much pain.
Sreerup Raychaudhuri : Brajesh, have you read the Arthasastra and/or The Prince? I have read both (in translation, alas!) and found the Arthasastra extremely boring, like reading a legal document, whereas The Prince is full of interesting anecdotes which illustrate the author's points. And none of these books make good reading for children, for they are far too cynical. In fact, Machiavelli at least had an ideal, which was to free Italy from foreign invaders, whereas Kautilya only tells his king how to cling on to power.
Sudhir Raniwala : Your thoughts indicate that you may be anti-national :-(
Govindarajan Thupil : True, you are becoming slowly anti national, but I have read Lilavati, Aryabhatiyam, Yukti basha, Tantrasangraha all in translations (which have been authenticated by people who knew sanskrit and english or malayalam and english) and they are beautiful...But they may help in improving knowledge of history of science, but will not help in current contents of education....we have moved far away....now..
Patrick Das Gupta : Very kuteel and Machiavellian thoughts :)
Sreerup Raychaudhuri : No no, I am very national. I know the national anthem by heart, all five stanzas in fact.
Sudhir Raniwala : Just like all 23 letters of the english alphabet :-)
Sreerup Raychaudhuri : Actually I know 3 more than that.
Tarun Deep Saini : If so many seemingly westernised people already read these books, then who are they aiming at? We do need good writers to write history in an engaging manner. For example, these ten recommended books on Indian history were all written by foreigners or ...See More
Sudhir Raniwala : Sreerup Raychaudhuri you mean 23 + GST ?
Sreerup Raychaudhuri : Must check in my copy of Arthasastra.
Sreerup Raychaudhuri : The problem is that serious history in India - as apart from mythmaking - started with the colonial period. In that sense, all Indian history is by 'westernised people', even those by strong nationalists like R.C.Majumdar and Pt. Ishwari Prasad.
Brajesh Choudhary : Sreerup Raychaudhuri, wouldn't have quoted those books without reading them. I agree with your assessment on readability of those two books, but it also tells you that translation of many ancient Indian books are not what they should be. Having read Gita in Sanskrit followed by explanation in Hindi (and also explained to me by my Grandfather who knew Sanskrit) tells you that a good book when translated properly can be very interesting. As far as Chanakya is concerned he doesn't tell his King to cling to the power but how a benovelent King should rule and what should be his duties.
Brajesh Choudhary : Tarun Deep Saini, you must be joking Professor to refer those 10 books as "must read". At least books at number 4, 6, 7, and 8 can make good light reading but a must read. Wow.
Tarun Deep Saini : Brajesh Choudhary, where did you see 'must read'? These are books recommended by some people on Twitter and Facebook. But because popular books are eventually going to be read by such people, I posted it as a representative of the books that ordinary people like to read. I would much appreciate if you could post your own list here so I could read them. I’m not so much into history, but I did enjoy quite a lot Dalrymple's City of Djinns. And no serious text books please ☺️
Brajesh Choudhary : Bhaiya Tarun Deep Saini Saheb, it says "10 Indian History Books You Must Read". I just quoted from what is in your post BhaiSaheb.
Tarun Deep Saini : And I just now told you recommended by whom. It is written quite clearly there. I’m not the one peddling these books. I find most history books exceedingly boring because I am really ignorant about the subject, but am willing to learn if it is made int...See More
Brajesh Choudhary : Born in Hindu Rao. My delayed neighbor. I live in Maurice Nagar.
Tarun Deep Saini : I also spent much of my early childhood in old Delhi. I have rather spooky memories of my childhood in the midst of havelis and tehkhanas ☺️
Sreerup Raychaudhuri : Brajesh, I think the translation of Chanakya which I read was pretty accurate, as it was in Bangla, which is a Sanskrit derivative. No amount of good translation can make what is really a handbook into a good read. As for benevolence, you will surely remember that Chanakya has the following advice for his king to make some quick bucks - Pay an astrologer to predict a great calamity or a war, and pretend to believe it. Then collect a lot of taxes in the name of relief or defence. People will pay, as they are frightened. Then when nothing materialises, feign great wrath and execute the astrologer. When the people see your mood, they will not dare to ask their money back. And they will feel content the astrologer has been punished and justice done. Thus you keep all the gold.... and this is what you want young kids to be taught.
Krishnendu Sengupta : i would prefer reading dan brown to kautilya 😊😊😆
Tarun Deep Saini : Sreerup Raychaudhuri, in India we don’t kid our children. This may be good advice for a future con man or politician. But it should be modernised by replacing calamity with terror attack or some such modern thing. Astrologers could be modernised to media, perhaps.
Krishnendu Sengupta : ok, i haven;t really read arthashastra or even anything close to it = had its mention in history book as a text === but this story probably shows that we should really be careful about what we ask our kids to read. and as far as the governer's comment, may be he should have said that saving infants (so that they can have an education) is the need of the hour in today;s India.
Pratap Raychaudhuri : Group Admin Krishnendu Sengupta One should ask the governor if he has read the texts :)
Sreerup Raychaudhuri : Tarun Deep Saini, do you think our politicians - of all hues - need any advice on these counts? They are laughing all the way to the bank while we poor fools expend our frustrations on
Krishnendu Sengupta Pratap Raychaudhuri you are actually asking a politician to read? really?
Pratap Raychaudhuri: Group Admin Krishnendu Sengupta This politician also happens to be a former professor!
Sreerup Raychaudhuri : What does he profess?
Balasubramanian Ananthanarayan : The reasons are clear. Machiavelli loved his wine.
Sudhir Raniwala : Spoken like a wise man !
Manas Maity : A wine man is a wise man. QED.
Sreerup Raychaudhuri : Actually Machiavelli was dyspeptic and drank only vinegar in warm water - or so Somerset Maugham claims... 😁
Sudhir Raniwala : I am an ignoramus about this. Trust Balasubramanian Ananthanarayan to come with such examples :-)
Balasubramanian Ananthanarayan : Well, I read an article on BBC about his visits to pubs. Maybe he only drank water with vinegar...
Sudhir Raniwala : No need to explain....since you had not expressed your usual sentiment towards me for long, I was suffering withdrawal effects, and hence provoked. Alas, it went a waste :-)
Sreerup Raychaudhuri : What else did he have in the pubs? Fish and chips?
Manas Maity : Wise men visit the pub when the chips are down and down a pint or two.
Dinesh Srivastava : One of the advices Arthashastra gives is to open many pubs and brothels so as to increase the tax collection. The first shpuld definitely endear the author of Arthashastra to Prof. Dr. Sudhir Raniwala!
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