A tryst with destiny

The political and interpersonal nuances that led to the Partition.

This is the first part of a monthly series.

One can find many interesting things in a second-hand bookshop.

For example, many years ago, randomly browsing the shelves of such a shop.

I came across a 500-page hardcover volume called Wonderful India and Three of Her Beautiful Neighbours.

This book of hundreds of black and white photographs was published.

The Times of India and Statesman and Book Department in 1938. 

Of course, I snatched the book right away. Over two decades and multiple life-changing events later.

The book is one of the most treasured volumes on my shelves.

In addition to the photos, the book is also a statement of how India’s literate class.

The country as the 1930s drew to a close. 

Next to a photo of the mighty Himalayas is the inside cover on the left.

On the right, next to a portrait of Pandit Nehru, is the inside cover from the back.

Which is of course front in Urdu because it’s written from right to left.

Clearly, the three major languages in India in the late 1930s were English, Bangla, and Urdu. 

To the extent that the importance of a language reflects underlying political and economic dynamics.

How have the speakers of Bangla and Urdu fared in the decades since the book was published?  

Bangladesh’s economic success in recent decades is well known.

But this had come after several decades of stagnation, punctuated by a devastating war in 1971.

The neighboring states of eastern India have not exactly been economic powerhouses.

Might things have been different had history played out differently? 

The recent political turns in India seem to suggest a smashing validation of Jinnah.

A friend recently quipped in a political and. Ah, indeed.

But which Jinnah, I wondered.

There is a clip in the four-decade-old Oscar-winning biopic of the Mahatma involving Jinnah, Nehru.

Jinnah tells Gandhi about his concerns about the “slavery of the Muslims,” noting the real world is not full.

“In the real India, there are Hindus and Muslims in every village, and every town.

How do you propose to separate?” an angry Jinnah interrupts.

“Where there is a Muslim majority, it will be Pakistan, the rest is your India,” Jinnah retorts.

“But there are Muslim majorities on two sides of India!” exclaims Patel.

“You worry about India, and let us worry about Pakistan,” is the reply. 

Movies are rarely the best guides to history, but that scene does capture the complexities of our shared.

However, the past 75 years show that the Partition and Pakistan have not resulted in lasting political.

Most of the Muslims of the sub-continent, no matter the color of their passport.

That is, Jinnah, as played by Alyque Padamsee, has been thoroughly repudiated by history.

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