ArticlePDF Available

Reality of 'Divide and Rule' in British India

Authors:

Abstract

The policy of 'divide and rule' is seen as a mechanism used throughout history to maintain imperial rule. It identifies pre-existing ethno-religious divisions in society and then manipulates them in order to prevent subject peoples' unified challenge to rule by outsiders. Many Indian and other scholars have maintained that the British adopted this strategy in order to strengthen the Raj. Both communal conflict and Muslim separatism are seen as being created by this strategy. This understanding sidelines all the factors which forced the Muslims to seek a homeland. Even the advocates of the theory deny the fact that unrest, turmoil, communal clashes and poor condition of law and order weaken the grip of the ruling authorities over the country. Therefore, to argue for the existence of a 'divide and rule' strategy implies that the British were prepared to risk instability which went counter to their requirement for law and order. Insolent behaviour and injustice did not pave the way for harmony and cooperation. The Congress was infuriating the Muslims and their leadership although it was clear that the Britishers had been making the fullest use of the 'divide and rule' policy regarding the Muslims. It convinces to conclude, whether the Congress leadership was not aware of the British's 'divide and rule' policy or it adopted deliberately the supportive attitude towards the British in fulfilling their sinister objectives of vivisection of India.
Reality of ‘Divide and Rule’ in
British India
Akhtar Hussain Sandhu
Abstract
The policy of ‘divide and rule’ is seen as a mechanism used
throughout history to maintain imperial rule. It identifies pre-
existing ethno-religious divisions in society and then manipulates
them in order to prevent subject peoples’ unified challenge to rule
by outsiders. Many Indian and other scholars have maintained that
the British adopted this strategy in order to strengthen the Raj.
Both communal conflict and Muslim separatism are seen as being
created by this strategy. This understanding sidelines all the
factors which forced the Muslims to seek a homeland. Even the
advocates of the theory deny the fact that unrest, turmoil,
communal clashes and poor condition of law and order weaken the
grip of the ruling authorities over the country. Therefore, to argue
for the existence of a ‘divide and rule’ strategy implies that the
British were prepared to risk instability which went counter to
their requirement for law and order. Insolent behaviour and
injustice did not pave the way for harmony and co-operation. The
Congress was infuriating the Muslims and their leadership
although it was clear that the Britishers had been making the
fullest use of the ‘divide and rule’ policy regarding the Muslims. It
convinces to conclude, whether the Congress leadership was not
aware of the British’s ‘divide and rule’ policy or it adopted
deliberately the supportive attitude towards the British in fulfilling
their sinister objectives of vivisection of India. This article explores
Lecturer, Department of History, International Islamic University, Islamabad.
62 Pakistan Journal of History and Culture, Vol.XXX, No.1, 2009
different dimensions of the divide and rule policy and its
practicality in the politics of British India.
If it is assumed that the British had governed India through
‘divide and rule,’ policy, it reduces the Congress to impotency that
it was unable to challenge this strategy and prevent the
nourishment of communalism in the Subcontinent. This article
seeks revision from the writers who believe that the British ruled
over India through the policy of ‘divide and rule’ in the
administrative affairs. The very principle can be practical in a
battlefield to cut the numbers of the enemies or create rift among
the confronting forces but this strategy cannot be used by the rulers
who seek peace or law and order in the region under their
possession. Not unrest and communal clashes but regional peace
and communal or factional harmony can better serve the
aspirations of a conqueror who decides to stay and rule. Under this
situation, the British adopted the policy to maintain harmony and
peace. They valued unity and tranquillity in the British India. They
provided several opportunities to the Indian leaders to achieve
communal harmony who failed to conclude any agreed settlement.
Indian responsibility and agency of course questions the extent to
which the burden of the failure is placed on British shoulders.
Almost all the primary sources related to the colonial era have
been declassified and no document has yet been found which
reveals evidence of a deliberate and sustained ‘divide and rule’
strategy in India. Moreover, to adopt this understanding, one has to
ignore evidence of Hindu-Muslim conflict which predates the
ruling British presence. Furthermore, the post-colonial governments
have been confronting communal conflict for decades; is there still
a British push of ‘divide and rule’ behind conflicts in Kashmir,
Gujrat, Assam or elsewhere in India? The situation testifies that the
British never used such a policy in India rather their revolutionary
systemic changes and the communitarian response to the
democratic reforms caused numerous side effects in the region
which, under duress of nationalism were later interpreted as
deriving from a ‘divide and rule’ strategy.
It is an undeniable reality that the Congress leadership
concluded ‘friendly’ dialogue with the imperialists who were
projected before the masses as exploiters and enemies of India. No
Reality of ‘Divide and Rule’ in British India 63
doubt, negotiations were imperative as dialogical rationale but the
Congress leadership never treated the British as enemies in the
discussions. They had never been blunt in the dialogues uttering
Viceroys and Governors as the conspirators or hypocrites in the
case of communalism. They never refused to address the British
with His Majesty’s Government or His or Your Excellency.
Hardly, any letter from the top Congress leaders to the British
Viceroy can be presented as evidence in which they had adopted a
defiant attitude. They traditionally submitted to the British by
addressing the officials as ‘His Excellency,’ ‘His Majesty’s
Government, my dear, etc. Even the Sikh leaders used sometimes
‘your servant’ in the correspondence with Governor of the Punjab.
Although these were the recognised forms in the political
correspondence but this was an imperialistic mannerism which the
‘freedom fighters’ (as they claim or the writers present them) were
not supposed to follow such a derogatory style. They could use
other honourable words to show decency if they desired in the
correspondence.
Mostly it is argued that the rulers were dividing the Indian
communities but M. K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru never
refused to join the rulers in the negotiations on the plea of the
British conspiracy to vivisect India through the ‘divide and rule’
policy. They could permanently boycott all the affairs by arguing
that they could not talk, share, eat with the enemies of the Indian
nation. But the Hindu leadership had been enjoying friendly
relations, light talks, dinners, functions, even ‘more’ than this with
the Britishers. Do the nationalist writers believe that the Congress
leaders could not get the British who were trying to cut the
Muslims from the Hindus through the policy of ‘divide and rule’ in
India? If they were aware of the British policy then they should
have tried to take the Muslim League into confidence to repudiate
the British conspiracy. The Congress leadership never pointed out
this anti-Indian policy during the parleys with the British officials
and delegations. All this ramifies that the Congress leadership
itself was backing the British in launching the ‘divide and rule’
policy in India because despite cry from the Hindu and Muslim
exhortations to the Congress, they continued ignoring the Muslim
64 Pakistan Journal of History and Culture, Vol.XXX, No.1, 2009
League leadership throughout the British Raj which gradually
dragged them away from the Hindus.
Many Indian historians maintain that the Muslim League
played a pro-British role but never project the same aspect of the
Indian National Congress. Nobody can negate this fact that the
founding leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1885 and
India after 1947 was the British one. In the beginning, the Hindus
had no competent person to do what A. O. Hume did but what
forced them in the presence of so-called Hindu statesmen that they
had to request Lord Mountbatten to take charge as the first
Governor-General of India. The most educated community of India
seemed requesting the British officers to continue working in India
after August 1947. Pakistan, it is true, also had many British
officials in the civil administration, including the Governor of the
West Punjab, Sir Francis Mudie and army officers, but it happened
due to the fact that there was a much smaller pool of qualified
officials and army officers after partition but the Hindus did not
face the same lacking.
Woefully, after independence, Indian nationalism’s creed of
‘unity in diversity’ meant that there was a need to vilify the
Muslim League’s standpoint which had given birth to Pakistan.
Therefore, Muslim separatism was written off as not reflecting a
natural reality, but as the construction of colonial manipulative
policies of ‘divide and rule’. Thus whilst the birth of the Muslim
League was put down as due to British encouragement in a
‘command performance’, the British role in the emergence of the
Indian National Congress in 1885 was glossed over.
Allan Octavian Hume not only founded the Congress but also
exerted a lot to run its affairs successfully. Throughout the starting
years, he arranged the Congress’ annual sessions and for this
purpose tried to be in contact with different persons. He managed
things like finance and reports. There were no Hindus but only
Hume who undertook all the “political work until Gopal Krishna
Gokhale followed his example in 1901.”1 Five Britons had been
invited to preside over the annual meetings from 1885 to 1918
1 SR Mehrotra, “The Early Indian National Congress, 1885-1918: Ideals, Objectives
and Organization,” in By BR Nanda, ed., Essays in Modern Indian History (Delhi:
Oxford University Press, 1980), pp.45-48.
Reality of ‘Divide and Rule’ in British India 65
including George Yule in 1888, William Wedderburn in 1889 and
1910, Alfred Webb in 1894, Henry Cotton in 1904 and Annie
Besant in 1917. To Mehrotra, the “Congress deliberately chose
Britons as presidents in order to prove its loyal, moderate and non-
racial character.”2 Membership fee was Rs. 25 and according to
the rules, students were debarred to join the party. The Congress
president was a four-day king of the Indians. During the annual
gathering, the representatives from different areas of India were
supposed to stay at different places according to their religions or
status.3 The British intention behind the foundation of the Indian
National Congress was not the policy to divide the Indians and
rule’ over the country rather they provided a training forum for
them. But if it is accepted as a British conspiracy against the
Indians, then this policy was not secret rather open and tangible
because the British adamant in furthering the cause of the
Congress. If it was a training platform, then all Nehrus and
Gandhis were the students of the institutions which were initiated
and run by the British. Perhaps, under the same feelings, the Nehru
family was alleged to adopt the political gimmick in the post-
independence politics. Gurmit Singh writes that the Nehru family
being more experienced than the other Congressites utilised the
policy of divide and rule in India after the divide of 1947 and
exhibited it even with more barbarity than their ‘masters’ in the
East Punjab during the early 1980s. According to Gurmit Singh,
“The Central Government’s strategy was to divide Sikhs” to
maintain their political hold in the region.4
The ‘nationalist’ Congress governments till now have not
declared national day at the national level in favour of the martyrs
of the War of Independence of 1857. During the freedom
movement era, they never owned the freedom fighters of 1857
because it could displease the masters who were at good terms
with all the Congress leaders. The martyrs of this war were the
nationalists but the Congress leadership never dared to celebrate
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Dr. Gurmit Singh, History of Sikh Struggles, vol. IV (New Delhi: Atlantic
Publishers & Distributors, 1992), 34-58; see also Gurmit Singh, Failures of Akali
Leadership (Sirsa: Usha Institute, 1981), p.44.
66 Pakistan Journal of History and Culture, Vol.XXX, No.1, 2009
their days. Even Gandhi and majority of the Hindu leaders never
accepted the status of Bhagat Singh Shahid,5 Babbar Akalis,6
Ghadar party7 Kuka movement8 or the anti-British communists.
Nobody can present document that the Babbar Akali leaders had
addressed the Viceroy or Governor or British government as ‘His
Excellency or His Majesty’s Government’ or ‘your servant.’ The
Congress leaders concluded friendly deliberations with the
imperialists and many Sikhs and Hindus can be quoted who had
been working for the British in collecting information pertaining to
the political situation in different parts of India. They were
involved in the activities of convincing the Indian leaders in favour
of the British on different options.
The ‘divide and rule’ policy seems absurd when it is
implemented in the pre and post British India or even back to it.
India was a Hindu society but with the passage of time it was
divided on the religious lines; first Islam and then Sikhism secured
conversions. This division of the Indian society cannot be
attributed to the ‘divide and rule’ policy of the British. Division on
ethnic, religious, lingual and political basis was a natural
phenomenon. None can believe that the Hindus who had changed
their religion were bribed by any imperialist force. The Hindus had
Hindi language but Guru Angad (2nd Sikh Guru) invented
Gurmukhi script which provided his followers a separate identity;
5 Bhagat Singh, a Sandhu Jat from Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) who had been a
member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, Kirti Kisan Party and
Naujawan Bharat Sabha. In the Assembly Bomb case, he was sentenced to
transportation for life. Harbans Singh, The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, vol. 1
(Patiala: Punjabi University Patiala, 2002), pp.316-18.
6 The Babbar Akali movement during the 1920s was an anti-British drive under
Kishan Singh Gargajj (1886-1926) who intended to take revenge for the Sikh
killing during the Gurdwara movement. He was hanged on 27 February 1926.
Kamlesh Mohan, “The Babbar Akalis: An Experiment in Terrorism,” Journal of
Regional History 1 (Amratsar 1980): pp.142-174.
7 Ghadar movement was founded in USA in 1912 as an anti-British drive under Baba
Sohan Singh Bhakna. It worked in India in 1914. It believed in violent strategy
against the British. see detail, Sohan Singh Josh, Hindustan Gadar Party, A Short
History (New Delhi: Peoples Publishing House, 1977).
8 Kuka movement was a puritan Sikh movement started by Balak Singh (1799-1861)
from Rawalpindi nearly in 1855. Baba Ram Singh became successor who
experienced non-cooperation, boycott and swadeshi methods of protests for the first
time in India. The followers of the movement are also known as Namdhari Sikhs.
Reality of ‘Divide and Rule’ in British India 67
then Guru Arjun Dev (5th Guru) compiled Granth Sahib and lastly
Guru Gobind Singh drew a clear line between Sikhs and others.
There were no British who should be blamed for the divide of the
Hindu society. The bloody wars took place on the Indian throne
after the death of Emperor Aurangzeb; the imperial court in India
remained always divided into groups which weakened the Indian
empire. It was not provoked by the ‘British’ under the ‘divide and
rule’ policy. Disunity among the Indian communities helped the
British to establish their rule in the Subcontinent, which does not
mean that the Indians were divided by the British. The Hindu
Mahasabha was not founded with the British will to upset the
Hindu unity and to prolong their rule. Surely, the British had not
been behind all these developments rather it was all a natural
phenomenon. Indian nationalist writers however stubbornly denied
its naturalness and claimed it was willed by the British.
In 1909, the Muslims were given the right of separate
electorates which the Congress or the Indian scholars have
attributed to the ‘divide and rule’ policy of the British but their
pens seem paralysed to shed light on the same right given to the
Sikhs in 1919. Was it not a ‘divide and rule’ policy? In 1916, the
Congress conceded the separate electorates for the Muslims, which
does not mean that the Congress leadership had joined the British
conspiracy under the ‘divide and rule’ policy.
To Tuteja, when Gandhi in the early 1930s pointed out that the
Sikh demands were communal, Master Tara Singh responded that
communal politics could be dealt with the communalist politics.9
The Hindu leader should have stood for his idealism but he did not
object. But in September 1940, he wrote to Master Tara Singh that
the Akalis and Congressmen should part company as the Sikhs
believed in violence while the Congress in non-violence.10 Which
attitude of Gandhi should be attributed to the British policy and
which to the anti-British?
According to Jaswant Singh Marwah, Lala Lajpat Rai was
extremely aware of “the British game” that they were ruling over
9 KL Tuteja, “Sikhs and the Congress: 1930-40,” in Verinder Grover, ed., The Story
of Punjab, Yesterday and Today (Delhi: Deep and Deep Publications, 1995), p.453.
10 The Punjab Governor’s Report to Viceroy, L/PJ/5/243.
68 Pakistan Journal of History and Culture, Vol.XXX, No.1, 2009
the country through ‘divide and rule’ which “aimed at creating
discord amongst the various communities and religious sects to
gain maximum advantage.”11 Surprisingly Jaswant Singh skipped
Lala Lajpat Rai’s opinion that the solution to the communal
problem in the Punjab was the partition on the religious basis.12
Jaswant Singh accepted the existence of religious identity of
different communities although he opines that the British adopted
the ‘divide and rule’ policy. In the Round Table Conference,
Gandhi accepted the partition of the Punjab as a Sikh
representative with 17 points given by the Akali leadership in
which the partition of the Punjab on the religious basis had been
demanded. It is yet to be cleared whether Lala Lajpat Rai and
Gandhi were the pioneers of the partitioning movements and
responsible for this communal rift under the British dictation and
the vivisection of India. During the Round Table Conference, the
Indian leaders including MK Gandhi showed their inability to
reconcile different community demands. The Hindu and Sikh
leaders consented the British to solve the communal issue on their
own. They virtually admitted their failure and rendered a blind
trust to the enemies (British), although they were well aware of the
‘divide and rule’ strategy. It makes the point, whether they had
become a part of the British policy by handing over all powers to
the British on the very sensitive issue or some other facts moved
them to this decision. Gandhi observed fast until death when the
Communal Award conferred separate electorates upon the Achoots
which forced them to surrender the right but he never showed the
same resentment in case of the Muslims and Sikhs. He should have
protested with the same fervour when the separate electorate was
given to the Muslims and Sikhs but he never did. It creates doubt
whether he was following the British agenda or he thought the
Muslims and Sikhs as nations. He had no clear-cut standpoint
about it because he seemed ready to concede the right of self-
determination. Sometimes, he stood for territorial nationalism but
11 Jaswant Singh Marwah, “Lala Lajpat Rai and Freedom Struggle in the Punjab,”
Punjab History Conference, 20th Session (Patiala: Punjabi University, 1987)
pp.318 (316-320).
12 Kirpal Singh, The Partition of the Punjab, 2nd ed. (Patiala: Punjabi University,
1989), p.10.
Reality of ‘Divide and Rule’ in British India 69
at others he led the religious movement like Tehrik-i-Khilafat. He
also favoured the right of self-determination if some community
demanded. It means he was going to accept the Muslims a nation
on the religious basis. The Congress’ anti-war character is much
projected as revolutionary which was a constitutional rather than a
defiant nature because a big majority of the Hindus had been
fighting for the British already and even the Congress leadership
gave positive gesture to co-operate practically in the war efforts if
certain of their demands would be accepted by the government. It
is entirely against the philosophy of non-violence which demands
‘no physical reaction in any favourable situation or inducement.’ In
1940, Gandhi “reiterates that he would do nothing to embarrass the
British.”13 Why did Gandhi not want to embarrass the British? Had
he been purchased by the masters? It seems true as he became a
sign of this Hindu-British friendship. This amity can be witnessed
through the display of Gandhi’s statue in the parks of London. On
the other hand, the statues of Bhagat Singh Shahid and Udham
Singh have not exhibited in UK.14
Many historians write that the Congress committed a blunder
in 1916 and had to pay a big price of accommodating the Muslims
as a nation. But they are silent on the the Congress leaders who
seemed ready to accept the Pakistan demand.15 More than one
time, the Congress leaders like Gandhi and Rajagopalacharia
accepted the claim of the Muslim League for the separate
homeland with some reservations. No writer has blamed that these
leaders were motivated or induced by the British. According to the
Governor’s Report in September 1944 about the Jinnah-Gandhi
dialogues and the public reaction, the Hindus condemned Gandhi
that he through negotiations had revived the image of the Muslim
13 Letter from Governor-General to the Secretary of State for India, 20 May 1940,
L/PJ/8/692.
14 Udham Singh confessing the murder of M. O’ Dwyer said that he was sacrificing
the life for his country. JS Grewal and HK Puri, Letters of Udham Singh (Amritsar:
Guru Nanak Dev University, 1974), p.41.
15 Rajagopalacharia Formula according to which Rajagopalachari wrote to Quaid-i-
Azam in July 1944 that Gandhi and the other Congress leaders were ready to accept
the Pakistan demand. Tai Yong Tan and Gyanesh Kudaisya, The Aftermath of
Partition in South Asia (London: Routledge, 2000), 108; see also HN Mitra ed.,
The Indian Annual Register: An Annual Digest of Public Affairs, 1919-1947, vol. 1,
1943 (New Delhi: Gian Publishing House, 1990), p.301.
70 Pakistan Journal of History and Culture, Vol.XXX, No.1, 2009
League when it was dying. It was the same allegation which was
attributed to Sir Sikandar Hayat, the Punjab Premier, in 1937 that
he had concluded the Jinnah-Sikandar Pact just to revive the
Muslim League status. The scholars strive the best to prove that Sir
Sikandar was dictated by the British to enliven Jinnah’s image
among the Muslims. Gandhi’s position became vulnerable when he
was alleged by his own community after Gandhi-Jinnah talks. The
very point needs clarification on the part of the nationalist writers.
The Congress constantly rebuffed the Muslim League’s offers
of cooperation. The League too was a claimant to struggle for the
Indian independence from the imperialist British and this similarity
could be used as a bridging element between the two main parties
but the Hindu leadership from top to the grass root level adopted
undemocratic and immoral attitude which could never result in any
harmony. Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan said in November 1939:
The Congress Ministries, instead of settling communal differences, had
intensified them greatly. Hindus were let to believe through local Congress
committees that Hindu Raj was established in India and they really began
to behave themselves as the real rulers. Muslims were variously insulted.16
All political developments on the part of the Muslim League
were considered as dictated by the British but the major demand,
the Pakistan scheme, was not declared as the British move. In the
opinion of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad “the Pakistan scheme
accepted by the Muslim League at Lahore in March does not
represent the decision of Indian Muslims, and he has refused to
admit the possibility of Muslims elected to a constituent assembly
demanding the vivisection of India.”17 This assertion of Abul
Kalam Azad was a clear deviation from the Congress taunt to the
Muslim League. He should not have attributed the destiny of
Pakistan to the ‘Indian Muslims’ rather he should have been sure
that Pakistan move was initiated by the British under the ‘divide
and rule’ theory. He should have been sure that the Muslim League
under the British patronage would definitely succeed in achieving
Pakistan whether it owed the massive support or not. But Abul
Kalam was under the democratic principle seems to accept that
16 Times of India, 28 November, 1939.
17 Report on the situation in the Punjab for the first-half of June, 1940, L/PJ/5/243.
Reality of ‘Divide and Rule’ in British India 71
Pakistan demand would be possible if it would be backed by the
Indian Muslims.
Sir Sikander Hayat Khan joined the National Defence Council
in 1941 and then resigned from it under the League leadership
pressure. Was any or both the approaches dictated by the British?
Some authors who adhere to a ‘divide and rule’ approach have
referred to the Jinnah-Sikander Pact as evidence of its existence.
They maintain that that Sikander Hayat went to Lucknow under the
British dictation to enliven the Muslim League which had already
been hit severely by the defeat in the elections of 1937. Yet,
Sikander’s withdrawal from the National Defence Council cannot
be proved to be due to the ‘divide and rule’ policy.
The British policy of barring the Muslim League in the case of
Punjab is an empirical evidence that from a government officer to
the Governor and then to the federal government opposed the
League on the issue of Pakistan and favoured united India. Even
the British high officials used no proper language for the Muslim
Leaguers in July 1943 just to save the Punjab Unionist government
from the Muslim League. The Muslim League had a democratic
right to launch political activities or manoeuvrings but it had to
face a severe fury of the central and provincial governments and
the civil administration.18 If the Muslim League’s activities were
commanded and supported by the British, it should have been
accommodated in the Punjab. The writers raise question on the
British soft corner for the League. It was a political coercion under
the numerical strength and their importance in British India. The
British had also policy to protect minorities from majoritarianism.
The US government tried in 1942 to force the British to come to
terms with the Congress but the British simply replied that the
minorities had supported them in the war, therefore, they could
never ignore them all including the Muslim League, the most
popular Muslim party in India:
We must not on any account break with the Moslems who represent a
hundred million people and the main army elements on which we must rely
for the immediate fighting. We have also to consider our duty towards
thirty or forty million untouchables and our treaties with the Princely states
18 External Affairs Department, Government of India to Secretary of State for India,
29 July 1943, IOR: L/PJ/8/662.
72 Pakistan Journal of History and Culture, Vol.XXX, No.1, 2009
of India, perhaps eighty millions. Naturally we do not want to throw India
into chaos on the eve of invasion.19
The first recognition of the Pakistan demand by the Cripps
Mission also hinted towards the separation. But it was not a ‘divide
and rule’ policy rather the British adjusted the demands of an
important minority who had been ruling nation at the time of their
advent and who were now fighting for them. At the same time, the
British wanted to avoid the Balkanisation of India. The strategic
necessity for this policy was to increase with the later onset of the
Cold War. As early as August 1942, Mr. Amery wrote to the
Viceroy that the British must not only “avoid raising false
expectations among the Sikhs themselves but also to prevent
encouragement to separatist tendencies in other Provinces like
Madras and Bombay.”20 The evidence from the final years of
British rule is clear. United India, not Balkanisation of this region
was the creed and policy of the British. Pakistan was eventually to
be conceded, but with great reluctance. This does not accord with
the view that the British had consistently adopted a ‘divide and
rule’ policy.
Another area of clarity may be ‘honesty’ of the British
regarding the election process from the start to the results. The
scholars hardly have shown their reservations towards the fair and
honest attitude of the British regarding the 1946 elections.21 All
agree that the elections were conducted fairly then they ought to
follow the line given by many writers that the two nation theory is
a truth and Pakistan is an outcome of the popular movement by the
Indian Muslims and the constitutional struggle of Quaid-i-Azam
Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
The Akalis demanded Azad Punjab or Khalistan but these
moves never criticised by the top Congress leadership considering
them as British dictation. But the Central Akali Dal under Baba
Kharak Singh in an Akhand Hindustan conference at Rawalpindi
on 4 and 5 December 1943 opposed Azad Punjab scheme and said
19 Letter from British Foreign Office to Washington on 5 April 1942, FO/954/12A.
20 Letter from Amery to Lord Linlithgow on 20 August 1942, MSS.EUR.F. 125/11.
21 In Punjab, the League had reservations that the Governor was using his influence
through his machinery in favour of the Unionist and Akali candidates but no
complaint of rigging was reported.
Reality of ‘Divide and Rule’ in British India 73
that it was a British intrigue to divide India.22 Baba Kharak Singh,
an anti-Akali leader, therefore condemned their scheme but the
Congress high command remained silent.
To peep into the issue, a mention about the individual
character or the role of leadership is also relevant to the study.
Charles E. Trevelyan, a British civil servant in India, had already
suffocated all such discussions which are being attributed to the
imperialism and anti-imperialist Indian political parties when in
1838 he presented two models which could result in a political
change in India. The first was the Native Model which was an anti-
imperialist struggle through plots and conspiracies to throw the
British back into the sea while according to the second model, the
new generation through English education did not see the British
as enemy and aggressors rather they “hoped to regenerate India
with the help of the English through constitutional means, and
ultimately to attain self-government.”23 Leadership can be
categorised into two:
a. Violent or defiant leadership
b. Constitutionalist Leadership
Defiant Leadership:
In such a leadership, freedom fighters tried to force the
imperialists to leave their motherland with a violent strategy. They
used weapons and even attacked the pro-government elements
either they were locals or foreigners. Such attacks were justified as
a national duty. To them, the unity among the locals could push out
the imperialists therefore the co-operation of the locals with the
British meant the stability of the imperial rule. Their ultimate goal
was to wage a unified struggle against the foreign and pro-foreign
rule elements. Chandra Bose, Babbar Akali leaders, and Bhagat
Singh Shahid, can be quoted in this regard. Though many
provoked the War of 1857 under the personal benefits but even
then many freedom fighters fought under the true nature of the
22 Report on the situation in the Punjab for the first half of December 1943.
L/PJ/5/246.
23 S. R. Mehrotra, “The Early Indian National Congress, 1885-1918: Ideals,
Objectives and Organization,” in B. R. Nanda, ed., Essays in Modern Indian
History, p.43.
74 Pakistan Journal of History and Culture, Vol.XXX, No.1, 2009
nationalist passions. These violent elements were gunned down,
hanged, punished, jailed, and banished to the Andaman Islands. In
the British Punjab, Jabru, Malangi (Dakoo), Nizam Lohar and
many others are said to have adopted violent strategy to resist the
foreign rule.24 They gladly defied the British laws and looted the
pro-government rich people. They by this strategy could not
receive respect in the society because government institutions
always play decisive role in projecting personality under the state
policy. Therefore, the state declared them dakoo (dacoits) but after
winning freedom, these people were perceived as freedom fighters
in the specific circles of the nationalists and the regionists. The
government had powers, institutions, press, laws and the
implementing agencies, local supporters to launch campaign and
financial resources which projected the people according to the
government policy. Under the nationalist spirit, these defiant
people struggling for freedom with violent strategy have been
considered freedom fighters though today every violent strategy is
tantamount to terrorism.
This type of leadership considers the rulers as enemies and
uses violent strategy to push them out of the land. These defiant
individuals sacrifice their lives, continue freedom struggle and
ultimately achieve the goal. In the Punjab, Babbar Akali movement
and struggle of Baba Ram Singh, Ghadar Movement, can be
quoted which had never been acceptable by the ruling British.
According to Gurcharan Singh, Congress, Akali Dal, Sikh League
and Babbar Akali were no different as far their aims were
concerned but the main difference was the means to achieve the
objectives. The “Babbar Akalis were determined to expel the
foreigners, kill the traitors, the toadies and the friends of the
enemy.”25
24 For detail see Punjabi books, Iftekhar Waraich Kalrvi, Dais Mera Je Daran Da
(Gujrat: Rozan Publishers, 2007); also see Iqbal Asad, Punjab de Lajpal Puttar
(Lahore: Punjabi Adabi Board, n.d.) and Mehr Kachelvi, Punjab de Soormein
(Faizpur: Asar Ansari, n.d.).
25 Gurcharan Singh, “Babbar Akali Movement-A Study of Aims and Objects,” Punjab
History Conference, 20th Session (Patiala: Punjab Historical Studies, Punjabi
University, 1987), p.348.
Reality of ‘Divide and Rule’ in British India 75
Constitutional leadership
In this category, the leadership accepted the rulers’ victory
under expediency and decided to fight for the freedom through the
parameters given by the rulers. It was a matter of deal or
bargaining. The local leaders conceded the rulers’ hold and in
return the rulers accept the local leadership. Therefore, the rulers
allowed them to protest and demand their rights acceptable on
moral or other specific ground. The rulers accepted the role of the
local leadership to placate the emotions of the people because
foreign rule is never welcome by the locals. Therefore, the role of
the local leadership through the constitutional means was the only
way which could certainly satisfy the individuals. The Indian
National Congress, All-India Muslim League, Khalsa National
Party, Punjab Unionist Party and Shiromani Akali Dal can be
quoted as examples of such a political tendency.
Max Weber talks of charismatic leadership while Stephen
John Covey has a strong pen on principled leadership. Gurmit
Singh writes about three types of great leadership:
i. The born leaders
ii. Leaders by qualities, and
iii. Leaders, product of specific circumstances.26
Leadership emerges as a result of some setback, deprivation or
violation of the rights. Human beings have been struggling to go
for better pursuits of life. Struggle needs leadership; some
individuals are endowed with the quality of eloquence, response
ability, sustainable temperament, endurance, convincing power in
discussion, impressive knowledge and character that help a person
to be outstanding and accepted as leader of the people concerned.
The leader adopts common interests as his agenda, collects the
people and converts them as the followers. Sometimes, an incident
produces leadership but such leadership may follow different
attitudes:
1. after solution, the particular incident or problem, leadership
disappears;
26 Gurmit Singh Advocate, Gandhi and the Sikhs (Sirsa: Usha Institute of Religious
Studies, 1969), p.5.
76 Pakistan Journal of History and Culture, Vol.XXX, No.1, 2009
2. the incident proves a base of popularity for the leadership which
convinces him to maintain its status by taking up another issue;
3. after the incident, leadership seems neither dead nor challenging
to the existing top leadership rather it continues in normal way
and then assert influence on the local issues. On the other, it
may go up to the top with more powerful struggle.
In all the forms of leadership, a leader works as a middle man
or a bridging element between ruled and the rulers. He accepts
authority of the rulers though he does not consider them the real
and lawful ruling people.
The British to their understanding and political needs may be
said to have used a balanced approach towards all the nations
living in the Subcontinent. They tried to accommodate all the
majority and minority communities because all of them had played
friendly role in the difficult times like wars and administrative
affairs. They had accepted the British political authority in India
and adopted a constitutional role for complaints and demands. The
locals gradually gave tough time to the ruling people as they had
got much political and working confidence on the lines given by
the British education and western political philosophies. The
British always tried to honour the importance, sacrifices and
services of the local communities. In 1942, when they desperately
needed the army recruitment from the Subcontinent and the
Indians were making the fullest use to benefit from the situation,
the British adopted such a policy which could neither resent nor
provoke the peoples against the positioning at the crucial juncture
of the Indian freedom struggle. They had to keep the minorities’
demands and the Hindu importance in their mind while framing
any policy. The Viceroy writes to the Secretary of State for India
in 1942:
I may be right in thinking that your present formula is an attempt to meet
my requirement of not upsetting the Punjab or the Army. From my point of
view this formula would be fatal to declaration in Hindu eyes. They would
interpret it as a virtual promise not merely of Pakistan but of Sikhistan
also, and as containing greater possibilities of disintegrating India than
even Jinnah claims. They would observe that not even a majority in a
provincial assembly would be needed to detach some particular region
from the Union. They would regard it as still further empowering
minorities to force separation on exorbitant terms by the mere refusal to
agree. I do not object to giving the minorities a strong position in the future
Reality of ‘Divide and Rule’ in British India 77
deliberations, but if we promise too much strength now the declaration will
be reviled by Hindus.27
Every nation believes itself the bravest and civilised people.
They also negate other nations particularly the rival one. The
strange attitude is that they feel gratification in vilifying the rival
people otherwise in the modern age all can go ahead to find peace
and progress in perspective of the historical realities. Antagonism
should have no place in their policies. The facts which caused rift
and irritation for others should not be pushed forward. The
antagonistic past should not be forgotten but ought to be
overlooked for the sake of humanity and peace of the region.
Under this, the Indian writers ought to accept what forced the
Muslims to part with the Hindus including the follies on the
Congress’ part. Definitely all was not committed deliberately to
push away the Muslims from them but even then it happened
which displeased the Muslims. The Muslims ought to accept that
they did the same with the Sikhs and Hindus in the political
domains of the Punjab. The Sikhs ought to be capacious in
accepting the weak part played by their leadership. With the open
mindedness and truth, the South Asian nations can go ahead as
good neighbours. The responsible scholars should not take shelter
of the slogans like ‘divide and rule’ policy. The ‘divide and rule’ is
merely a slogan to boost the national leadership to the idealised
status. The ‘divide and rule’ was neither true nor present in the
British India. Even it is not practicable in society rather it is a
phenomenon pertaining to a battlefield. The British educational
and democratic reforms influenced the Indian society and resulted
in numerous gaps. The lack of creative political traditions, the
Indian leadership could not fill these gaps. By adopting the
theories and practices of the British masters, they achieved
independence but could not secure integrity of the region despite
their desire. The depressed saw their posterity in the chains
therefore they preferred separation to the eternal slavery. On the
eve of the partition, Quaid-i-Azam warned the Sikhs not to commit
suicide by joining the rude Hindu majority28 but they did. They are
27 Letter from the Viceroy to the Secretary of State for India on March 9, 1942, 589-S,
L/PO/610b (i) ff 1-121.
28 Kapur Singh, Sachi Sakhi (Gurmukhi) (Amritsar: Dharam Parchar Committee,
SGPC, 1993), pp.144-45.
78 Pakistan Journal of History and Culture, Vol.XXX, No.1, 2009
repenting now and will be doing the same forever for joining
united India.
Conclusion
The main aim to propagate the ‘divide and rule policy’ by the
Hindus was just to pressurize the British to abandon their pro-
minority policies. The Congress claimed to be a representative of
all the peoples living in the Subcontinent and wanted the support
of all minorities to establish its writ in the Indian affairs but the
British too needed the support of all the minorities therefore they
could never overlook the interests of the minorities. Status of the
ruling class and moral pressure of the Muslim world also played a
favourable role to be receptive to the Muslim demands.29
It is a stark reality that minority politics is a politics of
complaints and demands but the majority community ought to be
capacious to infuse confidence among minorities which can cope
with any odd situation. Story of Muslim and non-Muslim
communities revolves around the fact that the majority community
made utmost endeavour to suppress and humiliate the minority
instead of respecting their identity and due share in the polity.
Under the stress of Indian nationalism, to placate the people and to
get rid of the massive criticism, the Indian leadership gave two
points namely, Muslim League’s villainous role and ‘divide and
rule’ principle of the British nation in India. The non-Muslim
leadership declared themselves innocent and ‘ignorant’ as well
because they could not get the on-going wrongs and the
repercussions of the ‘divide and rule’ policy (if it existed) which
was pulling their sister community towards separation. Despite,
they continued the policy to segregate the Muslims and Muslim
League leadership. They should have embraced the Muslim
leadership by conceding their demands and did not give them
opportunity to go to the British ‘enemies.’ But they did not come
up with the required love and fraternity towards the Muslims.
Unfortunately, they went beyond when the Muslim League was
expecting very kind response from the Congress in the making of
the UP government in 1937. No civilised political leadership of the
29 Letter from Viceroy to the Secretary of State for India on 3 March 1946, IOR:
L/PO/6/114.
Reality of ‘Divide and Rule’ in British India 79
modern world can present example of this kind for making a
coalition ministry what conditions the Congress had presented to
the Muslim League as response to the co-operation. Even from the
very outset of the political awakening among the Hindus, the
Congress leadership adopted the Hinduised policy. Apparently the
Hindu leaders maintained the secular spirit given by the
Englishmen but in fact the objectives or political creed was
planned and pursued on the religious lines. Gandhi is said to have
been claimant of the territorial nationalism according to which all
sections living in the Subcontinent were a single nation. But his
words and actions proved he was undoubtedly a religious man. To
Gurmit Singh:
The Muslim masses became apprehensive by the strong Hindu religious
flavour of Congress propaganda. They felt that Gandhi ji was trying to
identify the national awakening with revival of Hinduism. Their
apprehensions were strengthened by Gandhi ji’s conduct. Even when
appealing for Hindu-Muslim unity, Gandhi ji made the appeal not as a
national leader appealing to both sections, but as a Hindu leader. The
Hindus were “we”; the Muslims were “they”.30
Master Sundar Singh Lyallpuri, an anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan
and anti-Jinnah man, believed that the Muslims were forcibly
converted from Hinduism to Islam therefore they ought to rejoin
Hinduism and leave M.A. Jinnah alone in the political arena
because he would drown the Muslims in the Indian ocean. One can
see the analysis of such a staunch anti-Muslim leader who writes
that “Hindus have given no equal social status to Muslims, the
result thereof is Jinnah and other separatists.”31
The cry of ‘divide and rule’ policy seems a move by the
writers rather than the Hindu politicians who rarely had projected
this phenomenon during the negotiations with the British
authorities. Rather the Indian scholars, after 1947, focused on it
and undertook to prove that the Muslim politics was commanded
under the British policy of ‘divide and rule.’ Ostensibly, the newly
emerged India required intellectual movement to promote the
nationalist passions among the Indians otherwise the Indian
30 Gurmit Singh, Gandhi and the Sikhs, pp.35-36.
31 Master Sundar Singh Lyallpuri “Challenge to Jinnah,” on 9 July 1945, File-930,
Quaid-i-Azam Papers, National Archives of Pakistan, Islamabad.
80 Pakistan Journal of History and Culture, Vol.XXX, No.1, 2009
Muslims and Sikhs could repeat the history of the Muslim League
in future. The Indian leadership also wanted to project themselves
as freedom fighters against the British imperialism. Jawaharlal
Nehru took a very prudent decision when he rejected the Cabinet
Mission Plan because by accepting this plan, India could be
divided into many independent states. Definitely the weak federal
system and prevalent powers to the units might induce them to
split which convinced him to save the rest of India by conceding
Pakistan. But to sustain this integrity, India desperately needed to
portray the Muslim League as a stooge of the British. But one
should be clear that historical realities cannot be wiped out by such
propaganda.
After the departure of the British, the fashion to portray
themselves as enemies to the imperialists was projected with more
zeal. It may be important but the newly independent nations may
project themselves as constitutionalist freedom fighters. Under this
they should have the courage to accept their submission to the
ruling authorities through the constitution given by the imperialist
nation. In the current century, such an understanding can help to
develop a friendly relationship between the nations of South Asia
because violence is taking root day by day that would be
pernicious to their future and the international peace ultimately. If
the nations accept that the imperialism was bad but they had
accepted it for the time being, avoided violence and struggled
through the constitutional means to achieve the freedom, to create
a positive link their past with the present and future without fear
and this status would be fruitful for the respective nations and the
rest of the world.
... The subcontinent between Hindus and Muslims has led to hatred and differences between the two main religions on the continent, but some researchers have dismissed this theory. (Sandhu, 2009). After the partition of both countries in 1947, India and Pakistan have been psychologically obsessed with their assorted mutual conflicts. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Films have a unique nature to reach the audience and connect with them to have a long- or short-term impact on them. Typically, the filmic atmosphere generated in its narrative form, accompanied by the visual effects, place the audience in a “virtual” position in which they share the same geography, society, psychology, and sequence of events as if they are the film’s heroes and heroines. Apart from helping the individuals to identify the self with the protagonist of the text, the film might have an immediate or delayed impact on them, resulting in specific behavior, attitude patterns, or schemata of ideas and attitudes for the observers. Thus, the ‘stars’ of the films have more responsibility regarding the social messages that could be attributed to their artistic products. The purpose of this study is to compare and contrast the filmic reality with the real reality of the world in the Indian (Bollywood) film Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), a Hindi-language comedy-drama film that Kabir Khan wrote and directed. Displaying humanity and “the power of love,” as well as widening the borders of communication and social network, the film also aims to provide some glimpses of how global citizenship could be powered and widened through social networks.
... The system of political control of British India hinged on identifying interest groups willing to collaborate, a governing style often described as "divide and rule" (divide et impera). As a matter of fact, even the partition of India into two (or three) countries is often seen as a fall out of the "divide and rule" policy (Sandhu 2009;Ahmed 2018 1 ;Rahman et al. 2018). This, to my mind, is a very simplistic analysis, though there is some element of truth in it. ...
... It was predicated on the belief that manipulating and fuelling the ethno-religious divisions in society would prevent subject peoples' unified challenge to colonial rule. Many Indian and other scholars have maintained that the British adopted this strategy in order to strengthen the Raj (Sandhu, 2009). This type of segregation/ partition was not only adopted in the Indian subcontinent but also in its other colonies. ...
... Enad knows the Arabs are one nation but the strategy of -divide and rule policy‖ (Akhtar Hussain Sandhu. 2009) is applied to maintain the fragmentation and divide the nation into several nations. Enad feels a strong sense of attachment to the Arab unity as he says: -the country of unity is the home of all Arabs alike‖ (Arrazzaz, 1982, p. 202), thus allowing him to find a new -home‖ in Lebanon as promised by Arraed. Therefore, his decision to as ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores the conflict between the Arab political strategies with its nation in order to identify the struggle of the Arab nation with the state system (nation-state) and the Arab nation's struggle for its unity. The concepts of new nationalism and old nationalism are used in the analysis in order to expose the conflict between the ethnic nationalism Haweyya Qawmeyya and the new political nationalism Haweyya Wataneyya. These two aspects of the nationalist struggles highlight the crisis, known as Arab Spring that afflicts the Arab world today. It is argued that the suppression of the political struggles to assert a new civic state identity collides with the original ethnic identity. Drawing from the novel of Munis Arrazzaz's Alive In The Dead Sea that shows the protagonist's struggle with two forms of nationalist ideals, we illustrate how the novelist foreshadows the Arab national unity crisis with its political strategies and the current conflict that beleaguers the present Arab world.
... Furthermore, for perpetuation of the rule, a ruler needs peace rather than riots and clashes and lastly the pre and post British eras confirm that 'divide' on religious basis was a local phenomenon that still persists in India and Pakistan. 53 Ironically, the anti-imperialists sometimes violate academic norms when they contend that the British introduced education to produce human resource for the offices; they built roads for their convenience of transportation and so on. Still I wait their response on electricity, gas and transport that they will say that the British introduced these to kill Indians in electric short, stove burst and road accidents. ...
Article
Full-text available
BRITISH INJUSTICE WITH THE PUNJAB British rule in Punjab is commonly perceived as an ideal in the domain of revolutionary reforms in the institution-building and good governance. Sir Robert Fulton considers 'justice' as the strong foundation of the British empire in the Subcontinent as he says, 'England retains its supremacy in India mainly by justice. Without justice we could not hold India for a moment.' 1 No tradition of 'rule of law' the Punjab had experienced before the advent of the British therefore its environment presented compatibility with the 'Authoritarian Paternalism' as enunciated by David Gilmartin. 2 The oral history accounts testify an effective working of the British government institutions and apparatus in the Punjab 3 but the region underwent injustice in several domains. Today, the political culture of Pakistan dominated by the Punjab 4 has ramified numerous ills that root in the Colonial period as many injustices were done with the Punjab by the British imperialists. The British imperialism was modern in nature but not a new phenomenon in the Punjab rather more than twenty dynasties had already ruled over this region before them which entrenched a sense of apathy, deprivation and lacking in the political wisdom among masses. Absence of genuine leadership, economic prosperity and technological development added further problems as the agriculture in modern times became outdated financial means in the absence of technical and technological advancement. Pakistan possesses no scientific capacity to utilize the natural resources buried in different areas of the country because it still lacks this blessing. Would that a creative leadership were there to cope with the situation but apparently it seems next to impossible in the near future to counter the continuity of this doom and ruination. How this paradox started and who to be held responsible for the locus of problems are the major questions to be dealt with in this article. The British introduced reforms gradually and then not dared to promulgate them in a pure sense therefore, all setbacks faced by Pakistan have direct link with the British imperialism in the Punjab. The British possessed intellectual potential and infrastructure to change the entire scenario but they left legacy in the form of weak institutions and traditions which still exist and debar every positive change because all these existing arrangements suit the stakeholders. Punjab, the land of five rivers, presents a panorama of thrilling historical accounts. Its inhabitants exhibited commendable prowess against the marauders. 5 Many of these invaders established the rule over this chunk of land which terribly injured the psyche of the urban in particular and the rural locals in general who were kept deprived of the important offices by the foreign dynasties. Absence of the creative and popular reforms by these prominent dynasties at the grassroots level aggravated the situation and suffocated the possibility to organize any faction of the masses into a group, organization, party, welfare unit, or other innovative or revolutionary move. In modern times, Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the first local ruler who secured the Sikh government 6 in the Punjab having areas from Sutlej River to Peshawar along with Kashmir. The British annexed the Sikh Punjab in 1849 and designed the boundaries of the modern Punjab which became an acceptable demarcation. The policies implemented by the British proved a base for revolutionary change in the reclassification of the society and the common people benefited inestimably from these reforms but despite all this, the Punjab was not treated and compensated justly and it was damaged by the foreign imperialism through the selfishness involved in their reforms and policies. After the capture of India, the British obliged the local supporters and loyalists and the same strategy while handling the Punjab was adopted but a deep look unveils that the British ungenerous treatment with the Punjab and its inhabitants carved pernicious impacts on the futuristic life and vision of the people of the region which spreads over the areas now called Pakistan. This
Thesis
This thesis unravels the ways in which Islamic praxis and mythology is instrumentalized as a physical, moral and social compass by first-generation internal migrants to Jamia Nagar, a Muslim enclave of South Delhi, India. Along with its educational and religious institutions, I argue that Jamia Nagar forms an socio-political ‘holding environment’ (Applegate, 2013), which enables individuals to cognitively overcome the political, cultural and ontological insecurities generated by anomie, migration, intercommunal violence and the uncertain future faced by Muslims in the “World’s Fastest Growing Free-Market Democracy” (Zakaria, 2007), through the adherence to a neo-conversion the ‘real Islam’, which seeks to equate Muslimhood with national hegemonic dis-courses on social prestige, purity and education. This adherence is exemplified through a fresh commitment to collective rituals, embodiments of the sacred and the usage of references to Islamic mythology as guidelines for ontological readjustment. The analysis seeks to put such observations into a theoretical perspective, by sketching out the implications of cognitive, symbolic and political forms of deterritorialization and the ways these are overcome through conversions (reterritorializa-tions) to simplified, orderly models of existence, which heal complexes linked to a perceived defi-ciency in social identity by means of a symbolic restoration of value.
Article
BRITISH INJUSTICE WITH THE PUNJAB British rule in Punjab is commonly perceived as an ideal in the domain of revolutionary reforms in the institution-building and good governance. Sir Robert Fulton considers 'justice' as the strong foundation of the British empire in the Subcontinent as he says, 'England retains its supremacy in India mainly by justice. Without justice we could not hold India for a moment.' 1 No tradition of 'rule of law' the Punjab had experienced before the advent of the British therefore its environment presented compatibility with the 'Authoritarian Paternalism' as enunciated by David Gilmartin. 2 The oral history accounts testify an effective working of the British government institutions and apparatus in the Punjab 3 but the region underwent injustice in several domains. Today, the political culture of Pakistan dominated by the Punjab 4 has ramified numerous ills that root in the Colonial period as many injustices were done with the Punjab by the British imperialists. The British imperialism was modern in nature but not a new phenomenon in the Punjab rather more than twenty dynasties had already ruled over this region before them which entrenched a sense of apathy, deprivation and lacking in the political wisdom among masses. Absence of genuine leadership, economic prosperity and technological development added further problems as the agriculture in modern times became outdated financial means in the absence of technical and technological advancement. Pakistan possesses no scientific capacity to utilize the natural resources buried in different areas of the country because it still lacks this blessing. Would that a creative leadership were there to cope with the situation but apparently it seems next to impossible in the near future to counter the continuity of this doom and ruination. How this paradox started and who to be held responsible for the locus of problems are the major questions to be dealt with in this article. The British introduced reforms gradually and then not dared to promulgate them in a pure sense therefore, all setbacks faced by Pakistan have direct link with the British imperialism in the Punjab. The British possessed intellectual potential and infrastructure to change the entire scenario but they left legacy in the form of weak institutions and traditions which still exist and debar every positive change because all these existing arrangements suit the stakeholders. Punjab, the land of five rivers, presents a panorama of thrilling historical accounts. Its inhabitants exhibited commendable prowess against the marauders. 5 Many of these invaders established the rule over this chunk of land which terribly injured the psyche of the urban in particular and the rural locals in general who were kept deprived of the important offices by the foreign dynasties. Absence of the creative and popular reforms by these prominent dynasties at the grassroots level aggravated the situation and suffocated the possibility to organize any faction of the masses into a group, organization, party, welfare unit, or other innovative or revolutionary move. In modern times, Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the first local ruler who secured the Sikh government 6 in the Punjab having areas from Sutlej River to Peshawar along with Kashmir. The British annexed the Sikh Punjab in 1849 and designed the boundaries of the modern Punjab which became an acceptable demarcation. The policies implemented by the British proved a base for revolutionary change in the reclassification of the society and the common people benefited inestimably from these reforms but despite all this, the Punjab was not treated and compensated justly and it was damaged by the foreign imperialism through the selfishness involved in their reforms and policies. After the capture of India, the British obliged the local supporters and loyalists and the same strategy while handling the Punjab was adopted but a deep look unveils that the British ungenerous treatment with the Punjab and its inhabitants carved pernicious impacts on the futuristic life and vision of the people of the region which spreads over the areas now called Pakistan. This
Letter from the Viceroy to the Secretary of State for India on
  • L Po
Letter from the Viceroy to the Secretary of State for India on March 9, 1942, 589-S, L/PO/610b (i) ff 1-121.
Amritsar: Dharam Parchar Committee
  • Kapur Singh
  • Sachi
  • Sakhi
Kapur Singh, Sachi Sakhi (Gurmukhi) (Amritsar: Dharam Parchar Committee, SGPC, 1993), pp.144-45.