Lecture 1 - Overview

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  27/12/2016  –  Lecture 1  –  Overview The In-existent Indian Identity The partition and the things leading up to it are the most intense moments of the last 50 years. The assumption one has to make while discussing partition is that people on either side realized that their country was being split. This implies that these people were aware of an identity of being “Indian” which was then taken away from them on the construction of Pakistan. This identity is important. The situation can be compared to Israel and Palestine. On the birth of Israel, the two scenarios can be compared. They were both British colonies, India and Israel both had Muslims living in them, hence religion wasn’t entirely enough for a separate country and identity. State Nationalism / Other Identities At the start of the 1900’s there was no talk of partition, there wasn’t even a Muslim League. At this point of time, people did not consider themselves to be Indian, but rather had state nationalism. They were known to themselves as “Bengalis” or “ Punjabis ” than Indians. The first map of India is presented to the common man in British rule. Even in India, some areas were directly under the British where as some were under nawabs. The kinds of lives people lived in these places were very different, thereby there being no common identity of being Indian, or a sense of Indian Patriotism for that matter. No such identity could have existed till 1947 when princely states were told that they could not exist independently any longer. Hence, there was no such identity in the first place. The concern wasn’t the partit ion of a country, the concern was ones home and family being endangered. There really wasn’t much patriotism in the picture. The first Indian war of independence is the sepoy mutiny, but this had behind it only thoughts of the sepoys and restoration of Mughal Rule. In fact the southern part of the country was fairly unaffected. In the same way, calling Rani Laxmibai and Indian freedom fighter is unjust, because her movement was just for Jhansi. The concept of a national identity was alien. There was nothing called Indian honour. Also, even though extensions such as Sri Lanka and Mynmar were also being ruled by the British, there were very distinctive identities. Hence, how far does this Indian-ness go? Pakistan was not created on loss of Indian identity. They are not traitors as usually portrayed. At most  –  they were separatists from the Indian subcontinent. The patriotic feeling only came about after India was created. We are often told about “divide and rule”. The assumption which comes before this is that we were united to be divided in the first place. It is in fact just silly to suggest the same because a north Indian actually had nothing in common with a south Indian. Hence, the idea of these two country’s were not based entirely on religion.  The division of the Indian subcontinent was way more complicated that just that because this was the matter of a few hundred kinds of people keeping in mind the princely states as well. They would add to the chaos. The Creation of the Indian and Muslim Identities + MAPS The first significant gesture of an Indian identity was in 1909  –  40 years before independence the British conducted a census. Suddenly people now began to get to know who part of India was. The Afghans and Burmese were not included, hence they were foreign. This began shaping some boundary. The British used colour coding to determine the same because most of the Indians were illiterate. When comes in colour coding, there comes an association with the same. All the states constituting Pakistan were either desert or mountainous regions apart from Punjab and Kashmir. The latter two are the ones which Pakistan if formed would definitely require. This is when the census maps come in. The maps were colour coded stereotypically with the saffron denot ing Hindu’s and the green standing for Muslims. The darker areas had denser populations of the respective colour. This began creating panic because if you were a Hindu living in a Muslim area of vice versa, you were not entirely safe any longer. People now began to gravitate towards their kind of people, where the colour was darker because everybody had seen the maps. This generated paranoia. Nobody ever clarified, but these maps were just relative densities. The entire colour coding was made on a comparative basis. These maps actually did not mean anything. As per these maps, Punjab showed no population of the Sikhs. That is what relative densities do. Divide and Rule Even in the conduction of this survey for the census, a lot of people gave a different angle to their identities by speaking mainly of the caste system. They knew themselves as “chamar” before they knew themselves as Hindu or Muslim. People prayed in multiple ways. The British had to use different ways to understand what religion people followed actually. It was very difficult for them because much more than religion, it was the caste system and the division of labour which created the Indian society. “God” based divisions were only made now, and this is when people began thinking of themselves in terms of being Hindu or Muslim. So now, if one landlord is Hindu, and has two slaves under him  –  1 Hindu, 1 Muslim. The landlord would be equally brutal to him, but the Hindu would have some weird sense of brotherhood towards this landlord. This justified the brutality in some odd sense. Now, people were divided amongst themselves, and were opposing each other, hence nobody was even thinking of the main oppose and oppressor i.e. the British Raj. There was no sense of camaraderie of bonhomie.  Punjab Brief [Khalistan + Blue Star + Kanishka] The irony of partition is that the idea that you were Indian/Pakistani probably did help oust the British to certain extent. 10 million people were displaced and 2 million died in Indian Partition. There was definitely something very wrong in this whole movement. A third movement of Independence came up  –  Khalistan, because what did the Sikhs get in the whole fight? Punjab in fact was not just bifurcated, given a shared capital which too was newly constructed, their language was not even given the status of a language but that of a dialect, and the Punjab hill states were made Himachal Pradesh. Punjab in fact got less than nothing. A controversy related to Punjab was that of Operation Blue Star. 3000 people were killed in the whole episode at the golden temple. 4 months later  –  Indira Gandhu who headed this was killed. North India broke into what was known as “Anti - Sikh Riots”. Thousands of Sikhs were systematically massacred. Prisoners were told to kill Sikhs openly. Their sentences were to be deducted for the same. Voter lists were used to see which house was that of a Sikh. Retaliation came in the form of two bombs on two air india jets. The first one just killed one person, but the second bomb went off in a passenger plane and killed 235 people mid air. This group of terrorists was from Canada. These are known as the Kanishka Bombings. This cycle of violence had no stop to it. Miscellaneous [Brief of everything else in syllabus] India Pakistan and Indo-China wars also have immense significance in In dian history. India’s battle with China was also caused due to India giving shelter to the Dalai Lama. Multiple aggressions happened due to the same. The emergency of the country with the PM giving herself dictatorial powers is also important. This PM had been held on corruption charges by the Supreme court. There are still clauses in the constitutions which can cause a similar mishap. This was the first national emergency declared based on the stated reason of internal violence and issues. It had had national emergencies declared before as well, but due to external aggression. Following the emergency, came the Janata party  –  the first time of a non-congress rule. India and Sri Lanka with the IPKF also have a history, following which Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated and caused the birth of the LTTE. The Babri Masjid demolition caused Bombay, Ayodhya and Godhra riots. (Important Documentary  –  Ram ke Naam). 1999 was one of India’s best covered wars where india was looking at war journalism via the kagil war was broadcasted to Indian households. An Indian airlines flight was hijacked and then landed in Kandahar then ruled by the Taliban government, before which India had declared that it does not recognize the Taliban govt. Negotiations followed the same. India had to free 3 terrorists. 1 of them went on to head the 9/11 attacks. All of the above will be discussed in detail.
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