Saturday, May 01, 2010

Partition of India - Part 2 - Historical Origins

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In part 1 of this series
, the reasons which made it easy for British to use the political Islam in India and middle east were discussed. Partition of India, although happened to maintain the strategic interests of British in the region, it materialized only because of active support to this idea from proponents of Political Islam. Hence, it becomes necessary to study why did the elite muslims from Gangetic regions became the most vocal supporters of partition.

Partition was proposed when Najib invited Abdali in 1757 and the process actually began on 14th January 1761 on the plains of Panipat. One really needs to understand the Mughal-Maratha Power dynamics for complete grasp of the phenomenon of partition. 

The key figures here are Mughals (and last of them, Aurangzeb); Pathan lobby from upper gangetic plains, Punjab, AFG and Iran); Mullahs like Shah Wali and Sirhindi; Marathas; other Hindus in the region (Jats, Sikhs, Rajputs etc). The antagonism between Pashtoons and Central Asians is legendary. Even today, the local saying goes like,"where anger and revenge of pathan ends, love of a tajik begins". This says a lot about their interactions. Central asians are the true "Bete Noir" of Indian civlization throughout the history's current. 

There are three blocks of populations which we must understand here.

a. Outer tier - Central asian block - Turks, Tajiks, Mongols, Kazaks etc. I like to talk in terms of river basins, hence the region beyond the Bakshu river (Oxus/Amu darya).

b. Third tier - Pathans (southern afghanistan and NWFP - the lands between Sindhu and Kubha (Kabul) rivers (Or some times Amudarya).

c. Punjab - Attock to Delhi and Jammu to Multan.

d. Gangetic plains 

When we speak of foreign invasions on India, it refers to people from the Outer tiers (Iran and trans Oxus regions) invading India. That means, the attack of Central Asians on Pathans is considered as foreign invasion. Hence Greeks, Bactrians, Scythians, Kushans, Huns, Arabs, Mongols, Mughals, Persians, British were undoubtedly "foreign in origin" and so was their incursion of subsequent tiers of India.

It turns out to be not more than 800 years in the course of documented 5000 years of Indian history since times of IVC (not considering MBH as history just for sake of argument), that India was under foreign domination. Out of those 800 years, 500 are in past millennium. That is, only 18% of time, Indic core was under foreign domination. 

The problem arose with Islamization of Afghanistan. Afghanistan resisted islamization for 250 years after fall of Iran. It was within 20 years of fall of Gazni (which was being ruled by Raja Shiladitya), Mehmood invaded the core and consolidated frontier of India along with outer regions.However, it is the trait of power-centre of frontiers to periodically seek expansion into Sindhu basin and vice-versa. Following that trait, Mehmood of Gazni, Muhammad Ghori, subsequent sultans of Delhi until Babar followed that tradition. The rule of the "core" was in hands of people who were ethnically Indians but culturally alienated. This is popularly known as "The Pathan Lobby".

The game-changer was First Battle of Panipat when an outsider displaced this entrenched Pathan lobby and consolidated the power of the core. The lobby of Pathans and Rajputs struck back and overthrew this foreign domination. There was internal dynamics to this struggle as well. Pathans (of Babur and Humayun's era) were alienated Hindus. Rajputs were defenders of Indic culture. Just as Rajput-Pathan lobby threw out ethnic outsider (Mughal/Mongol), Rajputs later overthrew the cultural outsiders too (Hemu Vikramaditya taming Lodis). Here we see the power-dynamics between Indians and foreigners and amongst Indians themselves (Indics and alienated Indics). The Mongols/Mughals struck back in Second Battle of Panipat, this time successfully acquiring the throne and consolidating vast stretches of lands for long time period keeping the traditional aspirants of the power, away from the power. The Pathan lobby and Rajput lobby is beautifully handled by Akbar, Jahangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb and played against each other, keeping them preoccupied.

In 1681, when Aurangzeb descended on Deccan with full might of Mughal empire, the entrenched lobby of Pathans saw their chance to win what was rightfully theirs. Rajputs were deracinated by then and were out of power-struggle. It is here when the dynamics of "Islam" comes into picture.The traditional habit of Ulema to stay close to power-centre of region paid off when the regions of Awadh, Rohilkhand and Braj started making tremendous profits out of Deccan war of 27 years, when rest of India was suffering and revenues plummeting. The revenue and produce of Bengal and Odisha dropped by sharp 70% from 1690 to 1700, that is within 10 years. In same 10 years, the war-profits of western UP and Awadh (mostly dominated by Pathan lobby) increased by 67%.

Thus, after death of Aurangzeb in 1707, within few years of confusion, the chance begins to appear before Pathan lobby to usurp the long lost power. Ulema was quiet and indifferent as they do not care who the ruler is, as long as he is Islamic and is patronizing them and their quest of conversion.The first move was made by Sayyid Brothers to dethrone the Mughal successor of Aurangzeb to much more pliable successor. These brothers were the working towards restoration of Mughal (and their own) domination on north India. They managed to quell the discontent in Rajputana and rest of India, they had to give entry to an unlikely player in the game - The Marathas.

The events of similar to those prior to Second Battle of Panipat - just like Rajput-Pathan lobby tried to overthrow Mongol influence out of India, Maratha-Pathan lobby did actually manage that. After Mughals were overthrown, the internal Maratha-Pathan dynamics unravelled just like Rajput-Pathan dynamics of Hemu era. If Hemu were victorious at Panipat, he would have had to fight off Pathans just like Marathas did.

Almost all the regions which was previously under Mughal empire smoothly passed on to Marathas as protectorate. This however does not include the Braj, Awadh and eastern Bengal and Punjab, Sindh and NWFP. This is when Shah Wali started making noises about the danger that Islam will be in.

While Marathas were waiting to establish their legitimacy as natural successors to Mughals, the Pathan lobby was busy organizing their own revival. The opportunity came in 1740 when Nadir Shah invaded India. Bajirao-1 was in south, hence no army which was big enough to stop Nadir shah, was stationed in Punjab. Ahmadshah Abdali was one of the commanders of Nadir Shah in this campaign. After Nadir's assassination, and Abdali's ascension, pathans of gangetic plains contacted abdali to invade and occupy the land so as to create a continuous pathan ruled state. By Shah Waliullah, this was given a religious overtone as "jihad" against kafir Marathas.

One has to understand the global perspective of the decade of 1750's to see the roots of partition of India. The kingdom of Pathans from Caspian sea to Bengal was in making. The kingdom from Punjab to Tamil-nadu of Marathas was in making. EIC was a small force then. This chance of establishment of Pathan kingdom was antagonistic to India and Marathas and vice versa. 

Panipat (as a strategic campaign) ended in stalemate. All the dreams of Pathan lobby and Ulema were vanished. Marathas continued to expand but not with earlier zeal and power. Sikhs rose but could not give a sustainable dynasty to consolidate Punjab and NWFP. Eventually British took over the administration of India in 1818 and after 150 years, India was partitioned.

To fill the gaps in between, one has to understand this lost dream of Ulema (primarily based in westen UP) which was using Pathan lobby's political ambition to establish earlier Islamic dominance of Mughal era. This dejected Ulema mobilized the funds, influence, private armies and support of zamindars and local power-satraps of Indo-Gangetic plains under Muslim league, when chips were down. The dream was truly shattered on plains of Panipat and ironically, that heart-break came in form of victoryHence the need to reclaim this victory and establish islamic state so fondly cherished by many people from this region. This need of alienated Indics and foreign ideology using them to find a incubator to relaunch their efforts which were stalled at Panipat, marks the beginning of partition

Figures say that since Islamization of Afghanistan, Pathans and later Pakjabis (which are ethnically Indians) were more detrimental to India and Indic civilization than foreign rulers (Mughals except Aurangzeb and British). The inner Vibhishana has been more detrimental to India than outer Vaanaras.

Successor of Hemu's India and Maratha's India is modern Republic of India. The aim which Hemu (Rajputs) and Marathas tried to achieve was five-fold.

1. to overthrow the influence of a visible foreign power (with or without the help of alienated Indians (Pathans, Pakjabis) - Done

2. to defeat alienated Indians and overthrow their influence on policies of India and her core.

3. To reconquer the territory currently occupied by alienated Indians

4. To establish Indic system of socio-political and economics in reconquered/consolidated territory.

5. To bring alienated Indians back to Indian fold.

The fourth and fifth point has to happen simultaneously along with first three, which happen in the given order.

Hemu succeeded in overthrowing foreign power temporarily.

Marathas succeeded in overthrowing the foreign power permanently and overthrow the influence of alienated Indians on the territories and policies of India. Marathas tried to win back territory (Attock campaign) but not for long (only 19 months). They tried to implement Indic system of governance and remove foreign influence but not uniformly.

INC (with help of other nationalists) overthrew a visible foreign power. Republic of India (ROI) overthrew the influence of alienated Indians from core territory and policy-making of ROI. ROI has established a system of governance which is largely Indic and partially Western (Similar to Marathas). ROI has partially quarantined the alienated Indian lobby in its western and north-western regions like Marathas had it quarantined in Western UP. So, ROI stands at position where Marathas were in 1760. Thankfully, owing to democracy, the early deaths of good leaders won't harm ROI in a way it harmed Maratha-India.

Just like the global politics of 1750's, the internal lobby of alienated Indians (in current Pakistani Punjab) trying to establish a continuous state. That lobby is being used by a foreign ideology which aims for uniform society without state and class. ROI is the only player which stands in its way.

Uttishtha Bharata!