Sir Syed Ahmad Khan had declared in 1875 AD Hindus and Muslims as separate nations and having different and conflicting socio-political interests. Much later, on 22 March 1940 during Muslim League’s discussion on Lahore resolution on Pakistan, Jinnah explained the Two Nation theory,
“The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, litterateurs. They neither intermarry nor interdine together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspect on life and of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Muslims derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes, and different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other and, likewise, their victories and defeats overlap.”
This excerpt of his speech is available on the website of Nazaria-E-Pakistan Foundation’s website. In contrast to that Gandhi supported for Hindu Muslim unity throughout the freedom struggle. For that he gave undue importance to Muslim League and unilaterally conceded many unreasonable demands of Muslims. But, Muslim community failed to reciprocate his goodwill and faith in the community. For example, there are various instances where he insisted on Qu’ran recital in the temple but he could not make Muslims to allow Hindus singing devotional song in any mosque or make them to give up cow slaughtering.
After independence, it was reasonably expected that the Indian Muslims will discard the Two Nation Theory and they will assimilate with rest of the society with equal rights. But after partition, Maulana Azad wanted the reservation for Muslims in the Legislature. Similarly, Nehru insisted for using Urdu as official language for Delhi and United Province, but seeing the stiff resistance from G.B.Pant, Nehru did not insist. The contemporary renowned journalist Durga Das has detailed this incident in his book, India from Curzon to Nehru and After.
Even after independence, there are many instances confirming that many Muslims continued to subscribe the Two Nation Theory as explained by Jinnah in 1940, they continued to revere different heroes, different source of inspirations and glorification of different victories. Their such stubborn approach was inconsistent with the thesis that these are the nationalistic attributes and not the personal beliefs, traditions, religious literature. The political patronage of their vote bank and appeasement politics made them to publicly insult the national attributes and violate the law. They opposed the Tiranga Yatra, refused to sing national song or utter Vande Mataram, showed disrespect to the national song and national anthem violating the code, raising pro Pakistan and Anti India slogans like ‘Bharat Tere Tukde Honge’ while challenging the sovereignty and integrity of India, demanding public display of Jinnah’s portrait in Aligarh Muslim university, publicly supporting cow slaughtering, violating the law and supporting Pakistan during cricket matches. These are not any aberrations but the normal trends which can be easily seen by ordinary people all around. After many decades of independence, it has reached to the level where they started promoting each and every thing that shows India in poor light and disliking everything that could be remotely linked to the Indian traditions or culture.
The above incidents are being repeated without any fear for law or deterrent due to protective wings of the politicians as a part appeasement politics under camouflage of secularism. This is a classic model based on Nehruvian politics. This political model of confusion and chaos where on contentious issues, no side has any clarity or visibility about the position of the leaders and the party. However, this confusion worked as camouflage for Muslim appeasement. This type of politics encourages politicians to take better dividend while avoiding to take a clear stand on certain burning issues and defer the decision making, with the hope that the appropriate decision will be taken at favorable time.
Because of this model of politics, many issues cropped up immediately after independence on which Nehru government did not take any decisive stand. It started with Ayodhya dispute where the main issue was that whether Mosque was built after demolishing a temple which was at the birthplace of Lord Ram or not. In December 1949, the statues of Lord Ram and Sita were placed by some Hindu activists, inside the structure. Muslims filed civil suits in local court. After this, Nehru and the Congress did not take any clear and decisive position on the issue. In 1986, to contain the Hindu reaction to nullify the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shah Bano case, the Congress government only enabled the local court to open the lock. Till the time the issue was finally decided by the Supreme Court in November 2019, the Congress guided by Nehruvian model of politics did not take any decisive and clear stand on the issue.
Kashmir was another problem that India encountered immediately after independence. Later, it became a chronic problem due to appeasement politics flourishing on the Nehruvian model. The ruler of Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh decided to stay independent because he expected that the State’s Muslims would be unhappy with accession to India, and the Hindus and Sikhs would become vulnerable if he joined Pakistan. But, Jinnah’s fanatic followers were hell bent on taking Kashmir. Pakistani army disguised as tribal invaded Kashmir which was defended by Indian army when the Maharaja signed the instrument of accession with India.
Nehru took the matter to the United Nations and also promised plebiscite. At Nehru’s insistence, Article 370 was incorporated in the Constitution conferring the special status. Because of this special status only, in 1990 Kashmir valley was made free from Hindus by Pakistan backed Kashmiri terrorists causing exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. One year before, on 5th August 2019 Modi government abolished the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Technically, Kashmir problem was a state level issue in which Pakistan was interested. Surprisingly, many Muslims at pan India level, were opposed to withdrawal of special status of Jammu and Kashmir state. This was contrary to popular demand of Indians across all sections.
Two Nation Theory was never given up because when Uniform Civil Code was being discussed in the Constituent Assembly Muslim members like Muhammad Ismail (Madras), Naziruddin Ahmad (West Bengal), Mahboob Ali Baig (Madras) opposed the same and suggested to retain the personal law based on the religion. However, the tough position taken by the K.M. Munshi and Ambedkar, with the support of other members of the Constituent Assembly, ensured that the Uniform Civil Code is included in the Constitution without any condition attached.
Later, Nehru government brought in Hindu Code Bill, which highly opposed with Congress and also in the Parliament. Many of them did see it against the spirit of the Uniform Civil Code as desired under Article 44 of the Constitution. The main objection was that, if the reforms are important to ensure the justice to women then why to categorize Hindus as separate group and it must be implemented across all religions. Nehru was apprehensive about potential risk of Muslim dissidence in accepting the Uniform Civil Code and he did not want to offend them. Due to appeasement politics, Uniform Civil Code is still not enacted. Later, this gave a cue to Muslims about the political thinking that in future they could show resentment on the pretext of their religious doctrines.
Aligarh Muslim University(AMU) is a master piece of appeasement politics nourishing the Two Nation Theory. It was founded by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and guided by his Two Nation Theory, became the incubator of separatist Pakistan Movement. After independence, in a legal case the Supreme Court of India decided in 1968 that AMU was not any minority institution. In 1981, the Congress government in which Sheela Kaul was the Education Minister, brought an amendment in the law to do away the technicalities restricting in making AMU a minority institution. In February 2005, the Congress government in which Arjun Singh was the HRD Minister issued a notification permitting AMU, as a minority institution, to reserve 50 per cent seats for Muslim students during admissions. This was stuck down by Allahabad High Court and the matter is currently pending with the Supreme Court.
Need Corrective Measures
Thus, we have seen that even after seven decades of independence, the Two Nation Theory has been flourishing with appeasement politics. The appeasement politics in short term, may be fetching dividend for some political parties but effectively its posing a grave threat to the nation, society and culture of India. There is a need that the government monitor and regulate the institutions like AMU, Deoband, Barelvi and Tablighi etc; which harbinger the sentiments nourishing this secessionist ideology and cultural alienation. To avoid the misuse of the word minority and minority rights, as enshrined in the Constitution, the government must clearly define the definition of minority and the scope of such rights which should not infringe the safety of the citizens, security and sovereignty of the state.