One State Solution.

Exploring themes: Partition October 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Big Momma @ 2:44 pm

Continuing a larger debate on the One State Solution idea.

1) The notion that the partition was a forceful act of culling performed by one religious group on another is factually incorrect.
2) If the partition was a bad idea 60 years ago, that still doesn’t make the one state solution a good idea today. We need more compelling reasons than that it was a bad idea when it happened.
3) The reason I’m saying this is because if you’re hoping to start a debate on this subject in any serious way, I feel that you need to better articulate the case for why the one state solution works given our situation today and list with little ambiguity the problems it will solve and how it will solve them.

Personally, I’m not closed to considering the possibility of a one state solution if I can be made to understand the case for it. And IMHO, the counter arguments you hear from me will likely be the mildest of what you will hear if/when this becomes a larger debate.

– Mukund Srigopal.


I never said that the Partition was a forceful act of culling by one religious group.I said that it was a mistake in all that it was, and what it led to.

Gandhiji was of course morally and ideologically opposed to it, so were the Secular Leaders on either side.But it looks like separatist forces on both sides won, as they continue to do today.

‘Partition was accompanied by the largest and most rapid population transfer in history, with 17.9 million people leaving their homes. Of these, only 14.5 million arrived, suggesting that 3.4 million went “missing”[4].’ (Wiki entry)

Historians of this period fail or are disputed at pointing fingers as to what actually led to it.Some say that Jinnah’s demands were for more power at the hands of the Muslim League and in Muslim dominated provinces.The actual call for a separate State is a shoddy one, and fraught with hazy complexities.But of course the life and work of Mohommed Ali Jinnah is crucial to a wholistic reading of this time.

Whatever be the case, it is evident that communal harmony and co-existance were the most necessary precincts to survival, along with economic growth. All three nations had huge minorities and have not succeeded at providing them with equal rights or dignity.

And this, I think is the biggest reason for us to seek a One State Solution.

– Screen Sifar.


18 Responses to “Exploring themes: Partition”

  1. Mukund Says:

    Thanks for the invite, Raheema.

    Continuing the discussion – you say that your motivation for a One State Solution is the fact that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh all have minority populations that do not have equal rights and dignity. I think there is an order of magnitudes difference between the situation in India and the situation in Pakistan and Bangladesh, in the rights and political clout/representation that minorities have, but I won’t dwell on this point.

    More importantly, your case for a One State Solution to me is only a problem statement. The problem being that you have 3 countries that have minorities that have suffered and continue to.

    As an Indian, the problem statement for me is – Ensuring equal rights, opportunity and quality of life to all communities in India. Bangladesh and Pakistan to me are secondary, even if not unimportant.

    Your proposed solution is – Well, combine Pakistan and Bangladesh and India, and the problem will somehow be solved.

    My question is, how? You make no comments on how the dynamic will change when the three states merge into one. Will hindus and muslim’s really stop killing each other because there are now more Muslims in the combined state? If that is your argument, I think its extremely naive.

    And then, what about Christians being killed in places Orissa by Hindu extremists? How does the One state solution help them? Does “minority” only mean muslim to you? And do you really believe that only minorities have suffered in India? Does the One State solution address the issues of massive termination and forced exodus of Hindus from Kashmir or the brutalities meted out on the Sikh community after Indira Gandhi’s assassination?

    My interest is talking about how the conditions in India can improve for everyone – minority, majority et al. And when speaking of minorities – all minorities. Everyone has been scarred by India’s segregationist politics and every community needs reform. And this view by no means undermines the appreciation of the scale of misery and the lack of humanity the Muslim community has suffered in the Gujrat pogrom.

    Almost everywhere in the world, minority communities have been beaten up by a majority. Classic case in point – Afro Americans in the United States and Jews in pre world-war Europe. In the Afro-American case, no one believes that the solution to the problem is in integrating Africa with America so that the addition of more blacks will create a greater strength of number for Afro Americans. That is never going to happen and even if it did, it will not alter the racist tendencies of *some* white Americans an iota.

    There will always be majorities and minorities. The solution to me is in striving to create harmony between communities – not by blindly merging nations in the hope that this will somehow solve the problem.

  2. Where do I begin?

    I don’t think that you are any more Indian than I am, because you have a Hindu name and I have(also) a Muslim one.

    But if you remember we started this discussion from the stand point of democracy.

    Let’s try looking at the issue as Hindus.Perhaps it doesn’t make any sense why we would want more Muslims in our country or what good it would do.India is definitely bigger and stronger and as Indians we have enough on our heads already to ponder over things such as minorities in Pakistan.

    Why talk about a merger between India and Pakistan, why not Sri Lanka? I mean, there are Hindus there too.All this sometimes doesn’t make any sense to me.But if you will see then that our culture has been very composite.

    Hindus and Muslims have always fought and also co-existed because they are different.That’s how difference is sustained.The British however fed and thrived on these animosities between cultures because it served their purpose of domination to keep us dissatisfied with each other.

    But when Partition happened things aggravated to a very grand scale.Seeing Pakistan as a Muslim State meant that(for a large number of people) India was a Hindu State.And in a State where religion has been used as a unifying force, you are not going to have a democracy.Try as we may to sustain difference in a democratic India, the process is bound to be very complex as well as traumatic.

    And a homogeneous society is always inclined towards fascism as we are seeing in India.

  3. rajendra Says:

    After going thru the response the one feel that crops up in my mind is that we are all intolerent individuals living in tolerent society, who have not understood the concept of self governance with rule of laws in democratic life. Also, we have not understood the sacrifices made by forefathers for the freedom and we simply glorify few individuals like a gandhi, nehru and a jinah whereas we are overlooking many thousands of common man who have lost their life, property and families for this hard earned freedom.Entire history of freedom struggle is re written with few individuals in focus, loosing the focus on many a common men and women who have sacrificed even more than these so called leaders. Atleast the fact to be remembered is that hindus and muslims fought for the freedom together, made sacrifices together, and those converts to a faith, christianity were never in this struggle, busy with chamchafying the british for lands for bible society, school and missionary works. true, early missionaries did good service to the common man and his children with education, health care and ofcourse conversion, without allurements. But the present day bishops have only one issue in focus, to be in power with proxy rule because of numerical strengths of converted as the society has also got its share to blame, all faiths have discrimination based on birth and gender, thus these bishops use it to preach that their faith is best and has no discrimination. But truth is somewhere else. Look at Bush, a devout, who is the worst war criminal, who wants to secure the assets of all the other nations by hok or crook, how he can be devout when he is soo inhuman.? Look at the situations in our own state, kerala, where the nuns and priests are churned out of seminaries and are paid to work at remote places like khandamal, incentives given for conversion, allurements used for the same, these next generation priests and nuns have no morals or ethics as we have seen in the many cases that have come into focus, – murder of sister Abhaya bu a nun and priest because she saw them in compromising position.! A bishop adopting a 26 year old female at his age of 56 years to get “divine” child, where is celibacy that is been the hallmark of priests and nuns of missionary zeal.? Today the bishops and followers of faith are taking desparate gamble to be in power, a bishop exhorting the followers to stone the public from rooftops of church as in mangalore but sermonising that christians are peace loving, does it eplain the crusade.?
    Let us be clear about one issue, good governance is the only need of the nation, with leaders of vision for the entire nation. faith has no role in democratic governance as it is often misused to discriminate the sections of society to dole out appeasements on the basis of caste, faith and region. All citizens must get good governance without favour or fear, that is possible in one state solution as in the slavery, it was hindus and muslims who worked together, culturally bound in music, festivals and celebrations of life. ambitious few who were chamchas of british changed the faith to christianity for the sake of favours, let us not forget.When all are treated equal by rule of laws in democratic life, bishops, mullas or archaks have no space to bargain with their vote banks for the favours.

  4. Haseeb Jatoi Says:

    what i feel is that all of us speak about the one state solution like we read something in a book. the people who had been through this partition-channel know the crucial places and the hardships of this channel and why they were so determined to go through this channel that they lost great number of friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and children. All they had in mind was, AN IDEOLOGY that drew the line between the two nations and separated India and Pakistan. This ideology stills remains there, because the religions are the same. Seeing, what is happening in Kashmir, and in other riots in India, its a clear proof that partition was the ultimate solution, which proves Jinnah as a great leader for all the times to come. Looking today, Pakistan and India, two nations at that time, now the two nuclear powers with a great population and having huge share in the worl economics, its a very bad idea that they should have a single state. They are two nations, distinct and thriving. All we need to do is to enhance and create an atmosphere of trust and good relations between the two nations. This is the need of the hour. And this is only possible that we should give due respect to each other, not talking like minority or majority, because the partition has been done and both of these nations have their own charters of how to deal with their minorities. We should show an air of compromise and friendship in the region. Thank you.

  5. Screen Sifar Says:

    Thank You for your comments.I will respond shortly.

  6. Screen Sifar Says:

    Dear Haseeb,

    After reading you comments both, I gather that you are a nationalist.Thanks for commenting and allowing us to converse.

    There seems to be a problem with the way you tend to connect ideology with religion.Can you tell me if there is such a thing as an Islamic ideology?

    This has been a main cause for contention, because a lot of the ‘ideological’ apparatus for the Partition movement is said to have been from the work of who Sabahat calls our common national poet, Allama Iqbal, who is respected on both sides of the border and gave us ‘Saare Jahaan se Accha’, among other landmark works in Urdu poetry and Islamic thought.

    So, Bismillah.

    I’m a big fan of his work and cannot claim to understand all of it. ‘Shikwa’ and ‘Jawab-e-Shikwa’ are masterpieces that reflect on the Muslim predicament in today’s times.

    Allama Iqbal is said to have advocated a State for Indian Muslims in North Western India in a lecture for the Muslim League in 1930.

    What could he have meant, and is it valid to attribute the Partition movement movement to this call?

    Allama Iqbal’s work is an amalgamation of existentialist discourse with the Islamic world-view.And we must remember that Pakistan, like India is a Secular state( at least in theory). Then why are we making him a partisan figure?

    What is this ideology that you have and how is it separate from mine? And drawing from what Rajendra has to say, how has this ‘ideology’ helped you in governance?

  7. Mukund Srigopal Says:

    After reading all of these comments, I’m a bit lost. I get the feeling that the commentators are opposing the notion of the the One State Solution, but I’m not entirely sure.

    My original question (one I’ve repeated several times now) remains unanswered. So let me put it down point by point and see if I can get some insight into your (Screen Sifar)’s rationale behind the one state solution:

    1) How will the dynamics obtain/change if the 3 states of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh merged?

    2) Can you state a coherent argument that links the new dynamic to social/political progress for the people in all three nations?

    You are only saying that these three nations have minorities that have suffered, and THAT is the case for the OSS. That isn’t a case. Thats just a statement of fact.

    So what is the case?

  8. Dear Mukund,

    Thanks again for flagging it off again.

    Um, There needs to be a lot of more work done in this direction and this blog is just a start.

    ‘STATEMENT OF FACT’=> argument.


    Premise a: Partition was a horror that needs to be dealt with.

    Premise b: Alliances between Governance and religious leaning need to be considered very carefully.Does the case that a homogenous group of people is easier to govern hold any weight?

    Premise c: Minorities are disempowered in all three states, as a result of the bifurcation of territory based on religious grounds.

  9. Screen Sifar Says:

    I’m glad we see eye to eye on some things.

    Now, Islam and the contentious issue of governance.This is a big argument.

    Legal injunctions on various issues such as marriage and women’s rights, inheritance etc are all prescribed in the doctrine of law that finds its roots in the Quran, called the Shariah.This is not an unchanging body of interpretation , but in many instances like the Shah Bano Case in India , there has been a dispute between the State’s legal understanding and the understanding and legal course of action vis a vis the Shariah.

    Surely , one of the reasons for the demand for a separate State was that the Muslim League felt that the legal rights of the Muslims needed to be protected.

    Why then did huge portions of the population stay back?

    Probably because it was just not practical to separate populations that had been thriving for centuries in co-existence and mutual sustenance.Maybe the modern legal and socio-political frameworks that our leaders were working with failed to encompass our intrinsic secularism and it’s modalities.

  10. Screen Sifar Says:

    The real case I’m trying to make is that the failure of secularism in the three States needs to be addressed
    a. In the light of Partition and the Partition Violence.
    b. as urgently as possible

    And when you do, it becomes clear that the three States cannot survive in peaceful co-existence unless a more equable and just climate is created, unless a tighter political unity is forged.

    The issue of religion and sectarian identity cannot be ignored.

  11. I think the problem is that of culture as much as it is of politics.If the Secular movement had it’s heyday in the 70’s with the progressive arts movements then it’s time to relearn those lessons, with our understanding of globalisation, and contemporary realities.

  12. kaustubh Says:

    i’m reminded of this quote i read in the paper…
    “the love of one’s nation is indeed a noble sentiment. but then why should love stop at the border”
    democracy is the rule of the infirm and the idiots
    there will be no peace in such a system
    the democratic state claims to be secular but only recognizes a citizen on criteria of religion, gender, caste , region, creed etc

    how’s about a no state solution?

    as akhilesh says. .. there is no such thing as a solution to a problem there are only newr problems to replace the earlier ones

  13. Mukund Srigopal Says:


    “…The real case I’m trying to make is that the failure of secularism in the three States needs to be addressed
    a. In the light of Partition and the Partition Violence.
    b. as urgently as possible

    And when you do, it becomes clear that the three States cannot survive in peaceful co-existence unless a more equable and just climate is created, unless a tighter political unity is forged.”
    Is merging the 3 states the only way to forge tighter political unity? And you’re somehow certain that forging them will indeed create a more equitable situation for the people of the 3 nations? What is the basis for this argument? We’re still talking romantic and not nuts and bolts.

    When you speak of the “failure of secularism” in the 3 states, perhaps you’re willfully ignoring the fact that two of those three states are not even secular on paper? In India, minorities have representation in politics and some major political parties like the Congress pander to the worst controlling elements in the minority groups for their vote banks. Everyone in India is playing divisive politics, be it by religion or cast or region, but each of these entities has some voice. Now I admit things here are far from Ideal, but I still think there is a big difference a limping secular society and absolutely non-secular socities that we now want to integrate with ours.

    India, while having to deal with filthy politics and terrorism internally, will now open it gates to welcome the vicious Pakistani and Bangladeshi terrorist groups that are already destabilizing this country, if the One State Solution becomes a reality. These groups arent going to disappear even if there is indeed equity among majorities and minorities in the 3 states. They’re not going to stop until they usher in radical Islam across the three states.

    If you think I’m over-dramatizing the situation, look at the situation in Pakistan today. Al-Qaeda is now stronger there than ever and the prevailing government is but a sham. The Pakistani government has virtually no control over hyper-fundamentalist Islamic entities in the border with Afganistan. Are you even considering the ramifications of opening our doors up to Pakistan and Bangladesh?

    India’s response to terrorism (from both the local right wing entities and external units from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal) is already apathetic. Lets unite these states, and we’ll end up becoming something between present day Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

    Perhaps we need to focus this conversation more on ground realities and leave romance to the books.

    in response to:

    “…The real case I’m trying to make is that the failure of secularism in the three States needs to be addressed
    a. In the light of Partition and the Partition Violence.
    b. as urgently as possible

    And when you do, it becomes clear that the three States cannot survive in peaceful co-existence unless a more equable and just climate is created, unless a tighter political unity is forged.

    The issue of religion and sectarian identity cannot be ignored. “

  14. Hi,

    The Terror attacks at Bombay have not been condemned on this blog.

    On behalf of the group of people that have supported, and led and taken part on the debates for a One State Solution, everybody who wills that this might one day be a reality, I severely condemn the terrorist carnage that began on the 26th of November, 2008.

  15. Screen Sifar Says:

    It doesn’t help to communalise our responses to terror.

    India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have to fight this together, because this isn’t solely India’s problem.The two-nation binary only creates problems for peace making and peace keeping, because religion is always going to be point of contention that takes us back into regressive politics.

    My concern starts from the fact that the terrorists didn’t see a brighter future for themselves, the fact that for a lot of youth in the subcontinent scarred by these carnages, there lies a bleak and difficult existence, the fact that the near and dear ones of those who died and everyone who incurred losses in these attacks will find it difficult to start anew. Everyone is in pain.

  16. it is actually fun to be on music festivals because i love music so much :

  17. Wet Saw Says:

    i always attend music festivals because they are quite exciting and i love music ;*:

  18. ~;; I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives useful information -`’

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