Timeline Of The Two-Nation Theory
Much has been written about the two-nation theory, but there has been little discussion on the timeline of this theory.
Now, one can trace both Hindu and Muslim proto versions (rudimentary or first versions) of the Two Nation theory already from the second half of the 19th century. However, in logical terms it presupposes that there was a One Nation Theory in opposition to which the two nation theory appeared on the political horizon.
1. One Nation Theory: 1885 is the year when the Indian National Congress was founded. From the beginning, it made all its claims on the British government in the name of the Indian people without any discrimination of religion and so on.
2. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was quick to warn Muslims not to join the Congress which he dubbed as a Hindu organization. It is worth mentioning that in the founding years two Muslims were president of the Congress, one a Bohra, Tayabji and one a Sunni, Sayani (grandfather of famous Radio Ceylon broadcaster Amin Sayani) but these were Muslims from the commercial regions of India whereas Sir Syed was from the Muslim aristocracy of northern India which was in decline.
3. In 1906, a Muslim deputation waited upon Viceroy Lord Minto with a petition to be granted separate electorates. On 31 December 1906 the All-India Muslim League was founded as a party exclusively of Muslims.
4. In 1909 separate electorates were granted. That was the masterstroke with with the British consolidated Muslims as a separate community from other communities of India. Muslim separatism was therefore part of the system of representation that the British established.
5. In 1915 the Hindu Mahasabha (originally under a slightly different name) was founded to counter Muslim separatism.
6. The Khilafat Movement appeared as a Muslim response to the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. Gandhiji joined it in the hope of bringing the Muslims into a joint fold against British imperialism.
7. The Moplah uprising in South India in 1921 in which Muslims from the Malabar coast attacked and killed a large number of Hindus, mostly landlords, proved fatal to the unity which had been formed during the Khilafat Movement.
8. In 1923 the Shuddhi Movement was launched by the Arya Samaj to re-convert Hindus recently converted to Islam. This Shuddhi movement was a reaction to the Moplah killings. It was followed by the Sangathan movement whereas Muslims responded with the Tabligh and Tanzim movements.
9. Next was a vicious attack on Hindus and Sikhs by Muslims in Kohat in 1924 in which hundreds of Hindus and Sikhs were killed and their properties looted.
10. In 1925 the RSS was formed to what it declared was the aggression of Muslims against Hindus.
11. The Congress remained committed to its secular and democratic ideology and Mahatma Gandhi resorted to fasting and prayers to restore peace and amity between Hindus and Muslims.
12. In December 1929 the Congress in a grand manifestation at Lahore – at the Ravi in fact – declared its attention to liberate India from the tutelage of British colonialism.
13. At the end of 1930, Allama Iqbal in his presidential address to the All-India Muslim League session at Allahabad demanded a separate state for Muslims in north-western India.
14. In 1933, Choudhary Rehmat Ali and his associates published the pamphlet Now or Never at Cambridge University demanding a separate state for Muslims in north-western India.
15. Both Iqbal and Rehmat Ali based their demands on the idea of Hindus and Muslims being two separate nations.
16. In 1937, Savarkar, the Supreme leader of the Hindu Mahasabha published his theory of Hindutva in which he argued that Hindus and Muslims were two separate nations.
17. In 1938, Golwalkar, the Supreme leader of the RSS, declared that Muslims in India would be second-class citizens.
18. On 23 March 1940 the All-India Muslim League demanded Muslims states in the north-east and north-west zones of India on the basis that Hindus and Muslims were two separate nations.
What happened thereafter, we all know.
The writer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University; Visiting Professor Government College University; and, Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He has written a number of books and won many awards, he can be reached on [email protected]