India’s undemocratic partition – instigated by Jinnah, accepted by Gandhi and the Congress Party, and midwifed by the British – was a traumatic, epoch-making event that vivisected the world’s oldest civilization. It opened wounds that have never healed. Its effects reverberate to this day, in the form of “the idea of Pakistan” and calls for “Jinnah wali azaadi” in India.
Partition did not solve anything. The nation was broken up, and India still finds itself in a state of undeclared war with Pakistan over seven decades later. What caused Partition? What forces impelled it? Who were the principal actors? The answer is surprisingly complex.
In this talk, Abhijit Chavda shows how a sequence of seemingly unrelated events set in motion centuries ago in Arabia, Central Asia, and Turkey, eventually culminated in India’s partition and the unspeakable violence and atrocities that accompanied it.
Abhijit Chavda is a theoretical physicist, technologist, and writer. His work in theoretical physics involves research on the topics of dark matter, dark energy, black hole physics, quantum gravity and physical cosmology. He has authored and co-authored several, (View More)
Ataturk’s legacy is that he single handedly first saved and then transformed the country by the sheer force of his will. He forced Turkey to modernize, he forced the people to give up Islamic culture and the Islamic way of life. He single handedly built out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire a modern secular, powerful and prosperous Turkey, a Turkey for the Turks… Now Mohandas Gandhi strongly and whole heartedly supported the Khilafat Movement, he grew personally closed to the Khilafat leader’s, he exhorted the people of India to support the Khilafat movement. Gandhi’s championing of the Khilafat movement unified and brought together Indian Muslims from across the nation, it unified them in service of a foreign cause that had nothing to do with Indian freedom movement. It unified them in allegiance to a foreign ruler, an Islamic system of governance and Sharia law. It legitimized the idea that Indian Muslims allegiance elsewhere and have interest that do not align with India’s. It planted the idea of otherhood of separateness that their cause and their destinies were separate from those Indian non-muslims.
Before I begin I would like to thanks Srijan Foundation for inviting me here to give this talk.
So I’m going to speak about The Turkish Origins of India’s Partitions. So this is the story about India, but it begins a long time ago in a land, that’s very far away and this is the land of modern nation of Turkey. So in this map we can see where Turkey is located in the context of Asia and Europe. Its approximately 2000 km from the western borders of India and to the west of Turkey you have Europe and to the right of Turkey you have Asia and to the north you have the Caucasus region and to the south you have the sea, the Mediterranean sea. So Turkey have borders with Greece and Bulgaria it also share borders with Georgia, Armenia and in Asia Turkey shares with Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Now Turkey straddle, an imaginary line between Europe and Asia. 97% of Turkey is located in the Peninsula of Anatonia which lies in Asia and 3% of the Turkey on the other side is in Europe in the Balkan Peninsula. Now European and Asian portion of Turkey are divided, they are separated by two narrow passage sea which are strait of Bosphorus and the straits of the Dardanelles. But Turkey occupies a key strategic transcontinental location between Europe and Asia and as a result, over the Millennia it is conquered and ruled by Awhoju of ancient civilization. So these included the Assyrians, the Hittites, the Mitani, the Persians, the Greek, the Romans, various European Crusaders and the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish ottoman Empire.
Now among this the most significant, the Greeks were had a presence in Anatolia since around 2000 BCE which is around 4000 years before now. The Greek writer Herodotus who is considered among the western world to be the father of History was born in Anatolia and the ruins of the ancient city of Troy are also located in Anatolia. Now in 667 BCE, the Greek founded a city called Byzantium or Byzantian on the western bank of the Bosphorus Straits. Anatolia becomes part of the expanding Roman Empire sometime after 200 BCE and 500 years later when the western Roman empire was in terminal decline, Byzantine Empire started prospering. So the western Roman Empire fell in around the 5th century CE and millions of people continue to live in the Roman Empire in the east up to the middle age.
This Byzantine Empire began around 330 CE when the emperor Constatine rebuilt and refounded the ancient of Byzantium and he name the city as new Roman. So Constantine was the first emperor to officially adopt Christianity as its official state religion, which would have far-reaching consequences. So the Eastern Roman Empire came to be known as the Byzantine Empire based on the Capital City’s old name and after this emperor Constantine death the city came to be known as Constantinople, the city of Constantine. The Byzantine Empire went on to have a very long interesting and tumultuous history and finally in 1453 the ottoman Sultan Muhammad the Conqueror captured Constantinople and brought a conclusive end to the Byzantine Empire. When the Byzantine empire fell its inhabitants were mostly Christians. They were of Greek Romanian, a Roman Armenian and Georgian ethnicity and there were lots of Jews as well.
Now one of the most significant events of the first Millennium after the birth of Christ was the emergence of Islam as a driving force of Conquest after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 CE and institution called the Caliphate was founded. It is called Khilafah in Arabic. The caliphate is an Islamic State under the leadership of a ruler called the Caliph. The Caliph is considered to be the supreme religious leader and of the Muslims and the religious successor of the Prophet Muhammad. He is regarded as the defender of Islam and the supreme leader of the Islamic ummah, which is the worldwide Islamic community. The first Caliphate called the Rashidun Caliphate was established immediately after Muhammad’s death in 632 CE. The four Rashidun Caliph are called the Orthodox Caliphs because they were selected from the circle of friends of the Prophet Muhammad and they ruled from Arabia. So the Rashidun caliphate lasted from 632 CE to 661 CE and these are the four Rashidun caliph – Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali.
So the Rashidun caliphate was characterized by a 25-year period of Rapid military expansion. By the 650s the caliphate in addition to the Arabian Peninsula had subjugated West Asia the trans-caucasus region, which is to the north of the region of turkey. It had conquered parts of North Africa from Egypt, after Tunisia is a conquered, the entire Iranian plateau and it had even conquered some parts of ancient India including Afghanistan and some parts of Central Asia in the East.
The second caliphate is the Umayyad caliphate, it would from Damascus in Syria between 661 CE and 750 CE. The Umayyads continued the Muslim conquests incorporating more of Central Asia, Sindh, Northwest Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, which is today Spain all of these parts into the Muslim world at its greatest extent the umayyad caliphate covered more than 11 million square kilometers and it had more than 33 million subjects among its population, which makes it one of the world’s largest Empire in history both in terms of area and the proportion of the world’s population.
The third caliphate is the Abbasid caliphate. It ruled from Baghdad from 750 CE to 1258 CE. During the Abbasid caliphate most of India, much of India fell to the Islamic invasions. Those Islamic invasions were not part of the caliphate, they came from the north. So, in this period Muslim scholars began to discover Indian works of mathematics, science, art, etc. These were translated from Sanskrit into Arabic and as a result the Islamic world discovered concepts such as toxicology, pharmacology, surgery, astronomy, the decimal system algebra and trigonometry and for a few centuries while India fell into decline, the Islamic world enjoyed a golden age where mathematics, science and astronomy prospered and flourished.
This golden age of Islam came to an abrupt halt in 1258 CE when the Mongol Empire captured sacked and depopulated the city of Baghdad and nearly obliterated the Islamic world. So by the time, some of the knowledge which these which the Islamic world acquired from India had made its way to the west to Europe and very soon Europe’s own golden age, the scientific revolution began approximately 500 years before today.
After the Mongol conquest of Baghdad, the Mamluk sultanate of Egypt claimed the title of caliph and declare the re-establishment of the caliphate in Cairo. So the Mamluk caliphate had rather shrunk and it rule between 1261CE and 1517 CE and it came to an end when the ottoman Sultan Selim the first conquered Egypt and made it part of the Ottoman Empire. So the fifth and the final caliphate is the ottoman caliphate which rule out of Constantinople from 1517 CE to 1924 CE the previous century.
Now during this second and the third caliphate that is the Umayyad caliphate and the Abbasid caliphate large parts of Central Asia began to be incorporated into the Islamic world and this is when Islam first came into contact with the turkic people, that’s what they look like Central Asian nomads. So the earliest record of the Turkic people go back to around 200 BCE when they were present in eastern central Asia and Siberia in the north of Asia. The turkic people originally practiced the religion called Tengrism. So Tengrism is a Central Asian religion characterized by animism, Shamanism, ancestor worship and polytheism. Animism is the belief that all objects, all places, all Creatures possessed a distinct spiritual Essence and Shamanism involves religious practitioners called shamans who interact with the spirit world.
And later on the Turks also Incorporated elements of Buddhism in the religious practices. So to make a long story short as a result of the Islamic expansion into Central Asia. The various turkic tribes ended up converting to Islam and this began, this became the starting point of an age of turkic expansion and conquest. So soon after that Northern India came to be invaded conquered and ruled by three successive Turkic dynasties. These were the Mamluk dynasty from 1206 to 1290. Its founder was Qutb ud-Din Aibak. The Khilji Dynasty 1290-1320, one of its most prominent rulers was Alauddin Khalji and the Tughlaq Dynasty from 1320 to 1413. Muhammad bin tughlaq is quite famous among this dynasty. So these were relatively short-lived dynasties and the rule was marked with massacres, torture, cruelty, forcible conversion to Islam and rebellions. The Islamic invader Taimur also known as Taimur in India was of turkic ethnicity. He’s Infamous for massacring over a hundred thousand people in just one day in 1398 right here in the Delhi. Taymor is estimated to have massacred a total of more than 17 million people over the course of his career in India, in Iran, in Anatolia, in the Caucasus and the Middle East.
Now in the 13th century the Mongol Empire led by Genghis Khan and his descendants rampaged across Asia and Europe and smashed every King, country and Empire that stood in its way. So, the Turks of Central Asia fled for the lives in all directions. Among them was a turkic tribe led by a man called Sulaiman Shah. So for centuries, they had pitched through their tents among along the shores and on the edge of the Gobi desert, which is north of China present day China. But now they found the Mongol conquerors pressing into them coming from the north and threatening their lives. So Sulaiman Shah fled South and came via Armenia in to Anatolia and that’s where that’s the first presence of the Turks in the region which is known as Turkey.
So Suleyman Shah died and his son Ertuğrul ruled in his stead and after him came Osman after whom the Ottoman Empire is named and from father to son, ten generations of Ottoman Sultans came the followed each other. There were often vicious and brutal, often unjust and bestial. But they were rulers, leaders of men and Generals. They found in front of them a world of dying Empire, the decades seljuk Empire, the worn-out Arab Empire of Baghdad and the corrupt Byzantine Empire, these days smashed and conquered within 300 years of the death of Sulaiman Shah, his 10th descendant Sulaiman, the Magnificent, the lawgiver ruled an immense Empire that stretched across three continents from Albania to the Adriatic coast and to the Persian Frontier and from Egypt to the Caucasus, Hungary and the Crimea, the Crimea is up north of the Black Sea. So hungary and Crimea where his vassals.
The kings of Europe came to him with gifts asking for help in the corals. His armies stood across the road to the east which means that the road to India was cut off. And his Fleet sailed Supreme in the entire Mediterranean region. North Africa was beholden to him and also Constantinople was his. So Sulaiman the Magnificent made one big bid at world domination. He hammered on the gates of Vienna and seized the Christian World by the throat. He failed and Venus arrived. Sulaiman the Magnificent died in 1566 and the Ottoman Empire reached its greatest territorial extent during the rule of Sultan Muhammad the fourth around 1683 CE.
Now during this time, a curious thing happened. The original Turkish Invaders look like proper Central Asian nomads. What a couple of centuries later their descendants looked more like the local people of Anatolia and the Balkans. So how did that happen? So according to a turkic custom that stretches back to the centuries back to the day of when they were Nomads in Central Asia when a boy reaches the cusp of adulthood is required to prove his bravery and valor. One of the ways of doing this is for him to sneak into the camp of another tribe capture a girl of marriageable age, fight over father Brothers relatives if required, bring it back to his camp and taken his wife. This ancient turkic custom this called bride kidnapping. It is still widely practiced in the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan. It is also practiced in the Caucasus region even today. These places Degestan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, chechnya and similar customs are practiced wherever you have people of turkic and even Islamic demographics such as Cyprus, but also Pakistan.
So when these Central Asian turkic Nomads conquered Anatolia, they found themselves in a prosperous fertile well populated land and there was no shortage of women to kidnap his brides. It wasn’t even hard to kidnap the womenfolk of a subjugated and conquered people and so in Anatolia, in Greece, in the Balkans and other conquered territories, the Turks went on a kidnapping spree. They policy of systematically abducting, converting and marrying local girls and women and as a result of that over the course of a few generations the Turks went from looking like Central Asian Nomads to Europeans.
Now ottoman rule was brutal. It was characterized by massacres, by ethnic cleansing, by systematic bride kidnapping, by large scale conversion to Islam, the imposition of sharia law and the imposition of jizya tax on non-muslims. Another distinctive ottoman practice was called the blood tax. This was a practice in which the Ottoman Empire sent military officers to take Christian boys ages 8 and above, from their families in Eastern and Southeastern Europe in order that they be raised to serve the state. So this tax of son’s was imposed only on the Christian subjects of the empire in the villages of the Balkans and Anatolia. The boys were converted and indoctrinated into a Islam with the primary objective of training them for the military or the Civil Service of the Empire and the most capable among them were enlisted in elite infantry units called the janissaries that formed the ottoman Sultans household troops and bodyguards.
Now after Sulaiman the magnificent’s death, his son Selim II became Sultan and with Selim II came corruption. The 1911 Britannica Encyclopedia article on selim II remarks that he was the first Sultan entirely devoid of military virtues and willing to abandon all power to his ministers provided that he was left free to pursue his orgies and debauchery. So after Selim II, with only one exception, there came 27 Sultan’s each more degenerate than the last. The palace Harem and the eunuchs took control the empire. So without leaders the Turks went the Way of all flesh. The steel fiber went out of them, their energy, their resilience, their Vitality, all disappeared. They became lazy apathetic and corrupt.
And as a consequence of that, their long oppressed subject people revolted against them. Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria declared their independence. And within 300 years of the dying of Sulaiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire lay bankrupt, decrepit and dying. So it was around this time, in the mid to late 18th and 19th century that the Ottoman Empire came to be called the ‘sick man of Europe’. Convinced that the Ottoman Empire must break up the European powers, Russian eager to grab and annex whatever they could and wherever the dare. So Russia sees the Crimea and the Caucasus and Russia also lead claims to Constantinople and the road which went to the Mediterranean Sea. France captured Syria and Tunisia each, England occupied Egypt and Cyprus and the new and expanding Germany championed the ottoman Sultan the Khalif Abdul hamid against the rest of Europe. His intention was obviously to Annex his territories as soon as the, as the other powers of beaten off.
So all these great a powerful European nations claimed special rights and privileges and the greedy as their meal as far as like vultures this they set waiting for the end. They will or they were all afraid of each other and they were all anticipating a great War which indeed did happen soon enough. But none of them at this point dare to rush in and so the dying Ottoman Empire lived on and the sultan Abdul Hamid from his Palace on the Bosphorus cunningly played all this Powers one against the other. In 1870 Russia invaded, declared war and advanced up to more than 10 miles of Constantinople. But the rest of Europe world Russia not to proceed any further.
So four years later, after the invasion by Russia in 1881, there was born in the town of Thessaloniki, which is now in Greece, those born of a Turk named Ali Riza and Zübeyda his wife, a boy whom the named Mustafa. So, Ali Riza was a timber dealer and a former government employee and Zübeyde came from a long-established family of Albanian stock. Now Ali Riza died when Mustafa was seven years old. So Mustafa grew up in fairly modest circumstances and had five siblings only one of which survived childhood it was a sister. After the death of the father the family moved to the countryside with to live with one of Mustafa uncle and Mustafa did not attend school regularly until you move back to Thessaloniki at the age of nearly 10 and he wasn’t there for long. He dropped out of school again, but at the age of around 15, he applied to a middle school, was accepted and graduated in 1895 as one of the top students. This is where his mathematics teacher gave him the surname Kemal In Praise of his skills. Kemal means perfection in Arabic.
In 1889 the first Armenian massacres took place in Turkey followed by others in 1894, 1896, 1915 and 1920 which ended in the complete disappearance of the Armenians from Turkey. After graduation Mustafa attended Cadet School in Macedonia. In 1899 he moved to Constantinople capital of the Empire and became an officer in the military academy over there. In 1908 as an army Chief of Staff. He supported the Young Turk Rebellion which deposed the sultan and restored a constitutional government. In 1911 and 1912 he fought as a major in the Italian – Turkish war. In 1912, Greece, Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria formed an alliance and attacked the Ottoman Empire. This was the first Balkan war and Mustafa Kemal fought in it as well.
In 1914, turkey took its obsolescent Army into the first world war as an alley of Germany. In February, 1915 a large British naval fleet comprising battleships, destroyers and transport Fleet, a transport ships entered the Straits of the Dardanelles. Their plan conceived by Winston Churchill was to enter the narrow straight smash the ottoman defensive forces using the enormous Firepower of their battleships, land a large occupation force of about 80,000 soldiers and take Constantinople. At this time, Mustafa Kemal was an unknown officer. He commanded a feeble, ill-equipped and outmatched Turkish division at the Gallipoli Peninsula. Yet His Brilliant strategy and ferocious personal leadership change the course of the battle and the war. Day after day, week after week, month after month, his forces beat back the British, Indian French, Australian and New Zealand troops time of the time and for them to a vicious and brutal stalemate after 10 months the British signal defeat and sail back leaving behind a new hero in Turkey.
Mustafa Kemal gained worldwide acclaim and prestige for role in serving Turkey. But yet, just one victory and one great General was not enough for turkey. The world war was lost and the end of this war in 1918 brought with it the end of the old Ottoman Empire. In one of the suburbs of Paris, Sevres, the Ottoman Empire was dismembered, its largest chunks for handed over to the British and the French. Other valuable possessions were assigned to the Italians and the Greeks. Constantinople and the Straits way internationalized. Constantinople was occupied by British and French troops and the parts of the former Ottoman Empire inhabited by Arabs were placed under great power tutelage. Other former Turkish possessions, like Armenia and Kurdistan were to gain independence.
Under the treaty of Sevres, the Turks were cut off not only from the Mediterranean Sea, all they were given was a small region in the highlands of Anatolia. The Khalif eager to Retain his power his title and his privileges, extended his full cooperation to the British, to the occupiers. He ordered the Turkish Army to stamp out all opposition to the foreign occupation. He drew upon his authority as the leader of the Islamic world and called upon his subjects to stand by the Khalif and the throne. Priests throughout Turkey repeated his message and exhorted the people to support the Khalif. So many towns and villages rose up in support of the caliph and others rose up against the occupation.
So what happened was that the town was divided against down family against family, father against son, brother against brother and from end-to-end Turkey was drawn, was torn in the hideous nightmare of Civil War. Meanwhile Greece prepared for a new invention of Turkey, confident that the Allied armies would not prevent it from doing so and on May 5th 1919 the Greeks landed their troops on the shores of Anatolia. At this time when this happened most of a Kemal was in the town of Ankara in Anatolia. He organized a Turkish Liberation movement and raise the free Turkish Army. His goal was to create a modern Turkish Republic exclusively for the Turkish people and he was constantly in danger of being captured and executed by the caliph forces. Mustafa Kemal quickly gathered the troops of an occupied Turkey and went to war with Greece, the war with the Greeks lasted three years from 1919 to 1922. This was a war of extermination across justice and no mercy was asked or given.
In September 1922 the Greeks were driven back to the Agean sea. Thousands of Greeks poured into the town of Smyrna on the western shore of Anatolia. They were fleeing from Mustafa kemal’s armies. So offshore Allied ships or stood by and watched, while Mustafa kemal’s forces entered the city and then they took vengeance, brutal massacres were committed, unspeakable atrocities were committed and then the city was burned. The final atrocity of the Great War the final atrocity that ended the war. The outcome of the Great Fire of Smyrna was the complete Exotics of the Greek and Armenian population of the city to Greece. So that was the end of the war.
After winning the war, Mustafa Kemal remove his uniform never don, never wear it again. He was given the title of Ghazi which means holy Warrior and he was granted dictatorial powers by the elected National Assembly. The foreign occupation forces were evacuated from Constantinople and Khalif Muhammad the sixth whose family had reigned over turkey for seven centuries feared for his life and went into Exile as crowds cheered is going. The war ended with a compulsory population exchange between Greece and Turkey based on religious identity. This resulted in a near complete expulsion of Christians from Turkey and a similar exposure of Muslims from Greece. In 1914 non-muslims made up more than 19 percent of Turkish population. By 1927, there are only 2.5% of turkeys population and in 2005 this figure had dropped to just 0.2 percent.
Ataturks dream of a Turkish Republic exclusively for the Turkish people came true. In 1924, the ottoman caliphate was abolished. So as the first president of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal kept his Limitless wartime powers and his command of the army. He renamed Constantinople to Istanbul and he made Ankara the capital of Turkey. He established Turkey as a truly secular Republic. He abolished the use of the Arabic script in turkey, and he adopted the Latin script instead. Instead of Friday, which is the day sacred to Islam, he proclaimed the Western Sunday as the official day of rest. He banned the burqa and the Hijab, he abolished polygamy. He gave women equal rights under the law and opened all trades and professions to women and he ordered Turkish citizens men as well as women to adopt western clothes and western style family names. He himself accepted the title of Ataturk, which means father of the Turks.
Ataturk adopted six young orphan girls. One of his adoptive daughters went on to become the world’s first female fighter pilot. In 1938 Ataturk died at the age of 58. He spent 13 years of his life in active warfare fighting for turkey after that for 15 years till his death, he was Turkeys first president and absolute ruler. Other thoughts Legacy is that he single-handedly first saved and then transformed the country by the sheer force of his will, he forced turkey to modernize, he forced the people to give up Islamic culture and the Islamic way of life. He single-handedly built out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire a modern secular powerful and prosperous Turkey a Turkey for the Turks. So now over story moves East towards to India.
In 1915, after about 21 years in South Africa, Mohandas Gandhi sailed to India and upon arriving he joined the Indian National Congress. He quickly became an enormously influential powerful and popular leader. Now in 1919 as we saw the ottoman caliph supposition was greatly weakened and made ineffectual by Mustafa kemal’s Turkish Liberation movement. This raised the very real possibility that the caliphate could be abolished. Now these events were happening in a far off country 2000 kilometers away from India. They had nothing to do with India or with India’s Freedom Movement. No one in India even knew about these things except for India’s British educated English-speaking Elite.
So, in 1919 several of these British educated Indian Muslim leaders formed the all India Khilafat committee and launched what come to be known as the Khilafat movement. They included people such as Muhammad Ali Johar his brother Shaukat Ali, Abul Kalam Azad and Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari who happens to be a former vice president Hamid Ansari grand uncle. They aim to build political Unity among Indian Muslims and use that influence to protect the caliphate. They also founded the Jamia millia islamia in 1920 to promote independent education and unity for Indian Muslims. Now Mohandas Gandhi strongly and wholeheartedly supported the khilafat movement. He grew personally closed the Khilafat leaders. He exhorted people the people of India to support the khilafat movement. Now a question how many of you have Twitter accounts? please raise your hands. So quite a few right? So the average Twitter user I would say would have about a couple of hundred followers approximately now everybody who’s on Twitter has strong opinions and passionate beliefs about various things about politics, especially and the tweet the views and opinions passionately the problem though for the average Twitter user is that they don’t have much traction their views and opinions don’t reach a big or a wider audience because only a handful of people follow them. Now let’s say that you have a Twitter account which has 100 followers and you tweet all the time, but you don’t get very much interaction.
Now what if and influencers of a big Twitter account with say a million followers were to follow you and start retweeting your tweets. So what would happen then? So in that case what will happen is that you will get thousands of new followers overnight and your followers will keep growing as this influencer keeps repeating your your Tweets, the number of people interacting with you will grow exponentially you will start connecting with an entire community of like-minded people and more and more people will join the community and pretty soon you will find that you no longer need the momentum of the retweets of the big influencer to influence others. So essentially what happens is that you become an influence of yourself and your ideas opinions and your voice reins traction. It gain currency your opinions gained currency.
Now imagine that Twitter existed in 1919 and everybody had Twitter accounts. So if that were true then who would have the biggest Twitter account. Mahatama Gandhi because he was the most influential and popular leader of the time not just India, but worldwide. So let’s say he has a hundred billion followers or two for five. She was very popular, very popular and very influential and these obscure and unknown khilafat leaders. There would have just a handful of Twitter followers. right thousand two thousand five thousand. So that’s not nearly enough to build any kind of traction. Now what if Gandhi followed The khilafat leaders Twitter account and begin retweeting the tweets and opinions regularly daily. So what will happen is that these Khilafat leaders would quickly become powerful influencers themselves, they would gain a big fellow following themselves and soon they would not need done is help anymore to build the following and pursue their political agenda.
So this thought experiment illustrates the effect that Gandhi’s championing of the khilafat movement had in 1919 or 1920 it gave enormous publicity to this cause to this to an obscure movement in support of a foreign cause a movement that was irrelevant to India and indifferent to the cause of India’s independence. Nobody in India know about the movement or the cause Gandhi gave it importance and brought it right into the national Center Stage. So Gandhi championing of the khilafat movement unified and brought together Indian Muslims from across the Nation, it unified them in service of a foreign cause that had nothing to do with India’s Freedom Movement and unified them in allegiance to a foreign ruler and Islamic system of governance and Sharia law. It legitimized the idea that Indian Muslims Allegiance elsewhere and have interests that do not align with India’s. It planted the idea of other hood of separateness. That their interests and causes and their Destinies were separate from those of India’s non-muslims. Gandhi’s trumpeting of the khilafat movement also led to millions of Hindus and sikhs and others participating the in the movement.
So the impression was that the word Khilafat has something to do with the Arabic word Khilaf which means ‘opposition’, it means ‘dissent’. That word obviously, we know, it’s quite widely used in Hindi. And if I’m not mistaken, this false notion was also taught in India’s history textbooks after independence. Khilafat movement wasn’t was a movement against the British, a moment to oppose the British. So what happened was that millions of Hindus and Sikhs and Buddhists, Jains and others took part in the khilafat movement. So what happened was that millions of Hindus and Sikhs and others they took part of the khilafat movement, in the belief that it was about opposing the British when in reality. They were agitating in favor of restoring and Islamic system of governance and Sharia law.
In 1922 the khilafat movement leaders criticized Gandhi’s commitment to non-violence and broke their ties with him and after 1924 when Ataturk abolished the caliphate, interest in the movement faded away. But however the khilafat movement had a powerful cascading effect on the Indian Freedom struggle. It became the catalyst for the demand for an Islamic Pakistan separate from India. It’s principal leaders The Ali Brothers joined the Muslim League and the went on the play a major role in the growth of the Muslim leagues popular appeal and the subsequent Pakistan movement which culminated in the partition of India.
Now curiously enough Muhammad Ali Jinnah was highly critical of Gandhi’s support for the khilafat movement. He saw it as an endorsement of religious fanaticism. Jinnah was a member of the Indian National Congress since 1906. He was a member of the so-called moderate group in the Congress which favored hindu-muslim unity in achieving self-government. Jinnah even opposed the formation of the all India Muslim League in 1906. At that time he said that the principle of separate electorates for Hindus and Muslims was dividing the nation against itself. So these were the views of Jannah.
Now Jinnah was a prominent Congress leader during the decade of the first world war. He led the Congress delegation to London in 1914.
By 1920, Gandhi whose methods and policies Jinnah strongly disagreed with had taken over the Congress leadership and Jinnah found himself marginalized. Disillusioned and frustrated he resigned from the Congress that year. He spent much of the next 14 years in political wilderness spending much of the time in England. In 1932, Jinnah read Ataturk’s biography. This had a profound effect on Jinnah. He became obsessed with Ataturks. For a while, it was all that he talked about even at home, even to his daughter Dina, who was about 13 years old at the time. Ataturk’s life story gave Jinnah a new purpose in life.
Jinnah return to India in 1934 and set out to work for a separate Homeland for India’s Muslims using Ataturk’s career and actions as a template. So when the British eventually partitioned India the compulsory population exchange between Greece and Turkey was replicated in a one-sided way in the form of Pakistan’s expulsion and eradication of its Hindu and Sikh population. Events such as the Armenian Genocide and the burning of the City of Smyrna were replicated in the violence and Terror that Jinnah Unleashed during the so-called direct-action day and also in the unspeakable violence and atrocities perpetrated during partition. Those tactics were seen again in the Kashmir Valley in 1989, in the genocide, in occupation of the Kashmiri pandits and Customs such as bride kidnapping that we spoke about earlier, are still rampant in Pakistan and they are used exclusively on young Hindu girls.
Jinnah died in 1948. This is his mausoleum. This is Ataturk’s mausoleum. So Jinnah was inspired by Ataturk’s in life and in his death. Now, let’s be realistic. Jinnah was no Ataturk. Ataturk’s was an absolute Colossus of a man. He was a truly great military commander and an equally great reformer of his country. Jinnah had no comparable qualities. Jinnah was fortunate that his Ambitions aligned perfectly well with the British plan to partition India. So the credit for ideas partition does not go to Jinnah, it goes to the British and the Indians who helped them.
Now the theme of this talk is to show how a sequence of events that was set the precedent, set in motion in Turkey a long time ago, eventually ended up culminating in India’s partition. The other theme of this talk is that since we have covered the careers of Ataturk and Gandhi in some detail, these are two extremely different leaders were both regarded as the fathers of their Nation. Why not compare and contrast them and see what the throws up.
So we can do that by asking the following questions. Was Gandhi a good leader? Was he a strong leader? Was he successful was he or was he a bad leader of poor leader, a weak leader? Did you feel as a leader? And what about Ataturk’s, he a good leader? Was he a strong leader? Was it successful or was he a bad leader? So how do we determine this answer? Do we go by gut feeling or is there a more rigorous way of evaluating a leaders leadership qualities? So what if we ask this question in the, instead as a leader, what was Gandhi’s constituency? In other words whom did Gandhi represent as a leader? whom they deserve?
So this question reveals two things. First the essence of leadership is service and second one cannot be a leader without having a constituency. So what’s a constituency? It’s a finite set of people whose interests or leader protects and promotes. It’s a finite set of people whom the leader represent and serves. So the essence of leadership is service. The service on one’s constituency, a leaders constituency is always finite. So we all recognize these words. We know what they mean. But do we know what they represent? These words represent a leader promised to his constituency, to his people, the people he serves, the leader is obviously Lord Krishna as we know and who are the people whom he serves? They are the people who follow the path of righteousness of Dharma and there is a finite group of people. It’s not infinite because not everybody follows Dharma or wants Dharma to prevail and therefore this shows us that the essence of leadership is the service of a finite number of people, a finite constituency.
So if you take if you think of any great leader, you will be immediately able to identify who is their constituency. For example, whom did Julius Caesar serve? The people of Rome. right? What about Napoleon? The people of France. What about Abraham Lincoln – the United States. Ataturk’s? And so it’s immediately clear, isn’t it?
So what about this gentleman, who does it serve himself? Whom does the prime minister of Pakistan serve? Does he serve the people or he served the army and whom does the Pakistan army serve? Whom did this gentleman serve? Whom did Gandhi serve? Did he serve the people of India the entire undivided population of India? Did he serve the Indian civilization? Did he or did he serve a subset of the population, the Hindus, Sikhs, etc. Did he served the Muslims or did he serve the British? So that’s a question. We need to ponder both.
Now what about the Good Shepherd and his flock of sheep? Whom does the shepherd serve? See the shepherd ensures that his flock is well taken care of. It has the best grass to graze upon, ensures that they have enough water to drink. It takes care of his flocks security. It keeps the big bad wolf away. He provides his flock with a safe comfortable secure place to stay at night. In other words he dedicates his entire existence to the service of his flock. So he serves his flock, right? So who did he serve? He serves whoever owns the flock of sheep, right. He served the sheep’s owners, the flock’s owner. So this is not service right? He’s serving the person who owns the Sheep. So the shepherd is not the Sheep’s leader, he is the prison guard, he is the slave driver, isn’t he? The ship’s owner is the Shepherd boss and sheep are the shepherd’s subordinates. The shepherd’s service extends upwards not downwards. So that is not leadership that is merely providing service for a fee. The shepherd may look like a great leader and a great servant to his flock, but he is not so, appearances can deceive.
Now do we have any corporate project managers here? Nobody, okay. So let’s say we have a corporate project manager who manages let’s say 20 people whom does she serve? She serves the company, right? She doesn’t serve those people. She’s just managing them. So that is not leadership. That is not leadership. So let’s dig a little bit deeper. That Gandhi actions aligned with India’s national interest and what about Ataturk’s where his actions aligned with? the national interest of Turkey. So once again to answer these questions, we need to ask ourselves. What is the national interest? Is it some vague arbitrary undefinable concept or is it something that we can actually Define in a more precise manner? So, how about we Define the national interest as ensuring the long-term security prosperity and territorial Integrity of the nation and its people.
So we can test that out by applying the definition to the nation of the sheep. The sheep have a small nation a small territory within which they graze and live. The shepherd takes care of the long-term security of the sheep as well as that of the children and descendants for the long term foreseeable future forever basically. The shepherd also ensures that the sheep are well fed, well-watered and that they never have to do a day’s work in their life. In other words, the sheep our assured long-term prosperity for themselves and for their descendants, the shepherd also takes care of the sheep’s territorial Integrity. No other predator animal is allowed to intrude. So we have a situation where the sheep’s long-term security is assured their long-term prosperity is assured and the territorial Integrity is also assured and yet they are nothing but slaves. So these sheep are born into a world of Illusion. A world of apparent never-ending comfort and security they live their entire lives under this illusion of security prosperity and comfort.
They see that friends and family taken away from time to time, but they don’t think much of it. They trust the good Shepherd. So when is this beautiful illusion shattered, but it’s too late when they reach the slaughterhouse, right? So what was missing in our definition of the national interest, it is self determination and cultural Integrity. You see the Sheep don’t have any self determination, they just follow the shepherd’s orders. They’re happy and they’re comfortable and they enjoy having somebody to tell them what to do. That’s why they’re enslaved. And also the shepherd has imposed his own preferred culture and lifestyle upon the sheep. Its a culture and lifestyle that’s foreign to the sheep to the species. They are not allowed to practice their natural indigenous culture and lifestyle which is roaming around and climbing hills and all that and the sheep are blissfully unaware of this.
They think that they live the way things ought to be. So over improve definition of the national interest could be. Ensuring the long-term security, prosperity, general territory Integrity self-determination and cultural Integrity of a nation and its people. So that’s not a very bad definition and we can use this definition to answer that question, which you asked earlier. Yes, where Gandhi’s actions are aligned with India’s national interest based on that definition that we just saw and what about Ataturk’s? So there is something that we can think about and one more question. What If instead of Ataturk’s, Turkey had a leader who had Gandhi’s qualities and what if instead of Gandhi India had a leader of Ataturk’s qualities. Would history have turned out differently?