Could India Have Remained an Undivided Country?

 

It would be a silly question indeed to ask why December 25th is celebrated.  On the other hand, one could ask why it is a national holiday in Pakistan, for it is not because it’s Christmas.  By an unusual coincidence it happens to be the birthday of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of the country.  Exactly how Pakistan came into being is an interesting story as it also leads to the question whether the dismemberment of the Indian subcontinent — now three countries — could have been averted.

 

Jinnah started out as a voice for Hindu-Muslim unity, although wary of majoritarianism and Hindu domination.  A highly successful lawyer with patrician tastes, he was averse to mob violence and wanted constitutional independence — the British handing over to an elected Indian government and a constitution safeguarding the rights of minorities.

 

The first step was to seek Dominion status in which Indians would run their own affairs although subject to control by the British government.  Accordingly a London conference was convened.  The Round Table Conference began in grand style on November 30, 1930 with a plenary session at the House of Lords;  after which the participants retired to St. James Palace for the talks.

 

Hindu and Muslim members sought first to agree on a united front.  His Highness The Aga Khan was leading the delegation and also spoke for the Muslims.  Sir Chimanlal Setalvad, a prominent Hindu member, has written that the Aga Khan…

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