Is the Indian State validating the Two Nation Theory?
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad with his erudite and scholarly views on composite nationhood, has not been a favourite with too many Delhi dispensations. In fact, though India’s first Education Minister ( he served as India’s first education minister of independent India, who served from 15 August 1947 until 2 February 1958), the Indian government’s decision to celebrate his birth anniversary as National Education Day (India) came only in 2008. Before that, Azad was conferred the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1992. The BJP now wants the highest civilian honour to be awarded to Savarkar.
But today Delhi’s ultra supremacist regime wishes to obliterate even this delayed celebration by now “celebrating” November 11 not as National Education Day but with a Conference on Vikram Savarkar. The Sangh parivar’s validation of Savarkar, despite his abject plea for clemency written to the British while he was in prison, is fundamentally his espousal of an exclusivist Hindutva, that is premised on an othering –bordering on demonization –of Muslims, Christians and more.
Who is Maulana Azad ?
Azad was not only this century’s most articulate votary of Hindu-Muslim unity but also the only one erudite aalim (Islamic scholar) who claimed Quranic sanction for his faith in that unity and the freedom of the nation. MaulanaAbulKalam Azad is, by any reckoning, a major figure in twentieth-century Indian history. He was a scholar thoroughly trained in the traditional Islamic sciences, with great intellectual abilities and eloquence of pen and speech. He had, in addition, a remarkable openness to modern western knowledge even as he opposed the western rule over India.
But this year, his birth anniversary will be “celebrated”, as per a circular of the MHRD with a conference on Savarkar, the infamous votary of a two nation theory himself, Hindutva. The Telegraph reports that two steps — taken by two Union ministries and the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), respectively — mark the latest instances of the “reinvention” of memorable days associated with national icons and others. Now, the ICHR has decided to organise a conference to discuss “Veer (Vinayak) DamodarSavarkar: Life and mission” on November 11.
Azad, who spent his formative years in Calcutta, was highly respected throughout his life for his moral integrity. Opposed to Partition, Azad had advocated a single India where Hindus and Muslims lived in harmony. In his presidential address to the Congress in 1923, he said that the ability of Hindus and Muslims “to live together was essential to primary principles of humanity within ourselves.”
”मैं यह बताना चाहता हूं कि मैंने अपना सबसे पहला लक्ष्य हिंदू-मुस्लिम एकता रखा है. मैं दृढ़ता के साथ मुसलमानों से कहना चाहूंगा कि यह उनका कर्तव्य है कि वे हिंदुओं के साथ प्रेम और भाईचारे का रिश्ता कायम करें जिससे हम एक सफल राष्ट्र का निर्माण कर सकेंगे.”
~ 1921 को आगरा ,मौलाना अबुल कलाम आज़ाद
मौलाना आज़ाद के लिए स्वतंत्रता से भी ज़्यादा महत्वपूर्ण थी राष्ट्र की एकता. साल 1923 में कांग्रेस के विशेष अधिवेशन में अपने अध्यक्षीय संबोधन में उन्हों ने कहा, ”आज अगर कोई देवी स्वर्ग से उतर कर भी यह कहे कि वह हमें हिंदू-मुस्लिम एकता की कीमत पर 24 घंटे के भीतर स्वतंत्रता दे देगी, तो मैं ऐसी स्वतंत्रता को त्यागना बेहतर समझूंगा. स्वतंत्रता मिलने में होने वाली देरी से हमें थोड़ा नुकसान तो ज़रूर होगा लेकिन अगर हमारी एकता टूट गई तो इस से पूरी मानवता का नुकसान होगा.”
एक ऐसे दौर में जब राष्ट्रीयता और सांस्कृतिक पहचान को धर्म के साथ जोड़ कर देखा जा रहा था, उस समय मौलाना आज़ाद एक ऐसे राष्ट्र की परिकल्पना कर रहे थे जहां धर्म, जाति, सम्प्रदाय और लिंग किसी के अधिकारों में आड़े न आने पाए.
Maulana Azad’s words at the Ramgarh session of the Congress party in 1940, when he was President of the grand old party resonate
“…Islam has now as great a claim on the soil of India as Hinduism. If Hinduism has been the religion of the people here for several thousands of years, Islam also has been their religion for a thousand years. Just as a Hindu can say with pride that he is an Indian and follows Hinduism, so also we can say with equal pride that we are Indians and follow Islam… The Indian Christian is equally entitled to say with pride that he is an Indian and is following a religion of India, namely Christianity…”
His moving address to Indian Muslims at the time of India’s vivisection and bloody partition are memorable. Spoken from the steps of the Jama Masjid in Delhi, he emotionally appeals to Muslims not to migrate to Pakistan.
Maulana Azad’s Opposition to Jinnah
Maulana Azad was an outspoken opponent of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Partition and a symbol of collective will of Muslims to co-exist in a secular India. In a press statement on April 15, 1946 as Congress President Maulana said, “I have considered from every possible point of view the scheme of Pakistan as formulated by the Muslim League. As an Indian, I have examined the implication for the future of India as a whole. As a Muslim I have examined its likely effects upon the futures of Muslims of India. Considering the scheme in all its aspects I have come to conclusion that it is harmful not only for India as a whole but for Muslims in particular. And infact it creates more problems than it solves.”
Maulana Azad as Congress President tried to convince Jinnah to change his rigid attitude and sent him a confidential telegram: “I have read your statement of 9 July. Delhi resolution is genuine about national government which would mean a coalition not confined to any single party. But the League not prepared to agree to any transnational scheme which is not based on Two-Nation scheme.”
Jinnah’s response to this was not only negative but positively insulting. “I do not want your confidence. You have totally lost confidence of Muslim India. Don’t you feel that the Congress has made you a show boy President to hoodwink non –Congress parties and other Countries of the world? You represent neither Muslims nor Hindus. This Congress is a Hindu organisation and if you have any self respect you should resign forthwith.”
It is a measure of Maulana Azad’s generosity and commitment to the cause of unity that inspite of this impudence he did not oppose Mahatma Gandhi’s efforts to persuade Jinnah. Gandhi could not bring about a change of heart in Jinnah. His response to Gandhi was no different. Ignoring all pleadings of Gandhi, he reasserted his Two–Nation theory saying: “we can confidentially affirm that according to all standards and definitions Muslims and Hindus are two major nations. We are a nation in terms of all international measures and principles.”
Maulana Azad did his best to convince the Congress leaders to wait till a correct solution was found, but he was not successful. Maulana attributed it to “blindness of Congress leaders to facts, and their anger and frustration clouding their vision.” The publication of his work, India Wins Freedom, first in abridged form, and then in its entirety on his thirtieth death anniversary, February 22, 1988, documents these historical disagreements.
How prophetic Maulana Azad was, when he said, “Even within West Pakistan, the three provinces of Sind, Punjab and the Frontier have internal incompatibility and are working for separate aims and interests. A year before Pakistan was created Maulana Azad in an interview to Lahore based Urdu magazine “Chattan” predicted the darkness that engulfs Pakistan today.
“History alone will decide whether we have acted wisely and correctly in accepting partition”. Maulana was himself conscious of the fact that not many people went along with him. He said, “In religion, in literature, in politics on the path of philosophy, wherever I went I went alone. The Caravans of the times did not support me on any of my journeys.”
Why is it crucial for the ruling regime to obliterate historical figures like Maulana Azad and replace them with those who sang a Hindutva separatist and supremacist tune?
In 2014, the Modi I government announced that December 25, which is celebrated as Christmas day, would henceforth be celebrated in India as Good Governance Day. Similarly, October 31 was earmarked as National Unity Day to celebrate Congress leader Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary.
Constitutionalist and first law minister Bhimrao Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, 14 April, as Samrasta Divas. Samrasta reflects the ideological position of the Hindutva Right on the caste system. Instead of preaching equality of citizens based on the Constitution, it preaches harmony within the established caste hierarchy based on traditional Hindu caste divisions.
Clearly the present regime has no respect either for history or the Indian Constitution.