Justice Markandey Katju: On Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy’s superficial understanding

Justice Markandey Katju

By Justice Markandey Katju–

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy is an eminent scientist of Pakistan, holding a Ph.D in nuclear physics from MIT, USA.

He is also a secular activist, and has battled against religious orthodoxy in Pakistan, and has championed freedom of speech and scientific thinking, for which he has made sacrifices. For this he must be praised.

With great respect to him, however, it must be said that when he dabbles in topics outside his sphere of physics, he reveals his superficiality and inanity.

We may consider some facts:
1. Dr Hoodbhoy has written a book titled ‘Pakistan: Origins, Identity and Future’ in which I found no depth. He no doubt rightly says therein that before the British came to India, Hindus and Muslims were living in communal harmony.

But then, he adds that people in India say that the the Two Nation theory (that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations) came with Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Iqbal and Jinnah, and do not mention Veer Savarkar, MS Golwalkar and the RSS, who introduced the Two Nation theory on the Hindu side.

To my mind Sir Syed, Iqbal, Jinnah, Savarkar, Golwalkar, the RSS and Muslim League etc were just puppets of the British rulers, who were the real force behind Partition and the creation of Pakistan.

To explain this, it is necessary to delve deep into the matter, and not rest content with the superficial understanding of Dr Hoodbhoy.

This world is really two worlds: (1) The world of the developed countries such as the US, Canada, European countries, Japan, Australia and China (the last broke into their ranks through a Revolution) and (2) The world of the underdeveloped countries such as India, Pakistan and the other countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

There is a secret, unwritten rule among the developed countries that underdeveloped countries must not be allowed to become developed countries. Why is this so? To explain this one must go into economics, for politics is concentrated economics.

The cost of labor is a big chunk of the total cost of production in an enterprise, and when the cost of labor is less the cost of production is less, and when the cost of production is less one can sell his goods at a cheaper price.

There is competition in the market, and one businessman eliminates another businessman not with guns, bombs or tanks but by underselling him. The same happens on the national and international level.

For instance, China had a revolution in 1949, and thereafter the Chinese leaders set up a massive industrial base in China. That massive industrial base, coupled with cheap labor enabled the Chinese to undersell the whole world in consumer and other goods.

If one goes to a western supermarket one will find it packed with Chinese goods, because the Chinese make the same high quality goods which the western manufacturer makes, but at a significantly lower price. This is because Chinese labor is much cheaper than Western labor.

So once a country sets up a massive industrial base everything turns on the cost of labor. Countries which have cheaper labor have a distinct advantage over countries which have expensive labor, provided they set up a massive industrial base.

Indian labor was, and is, cheap. So if we had set up a massive industrial base who would have bought the expensive goods of British industries with their expensive labor?

The British industries would have collapsed, being unable to face Indian competition, throwing millions of British workers out of employment.

That is why the British policy during their rule was not to allow Indians to set up a heavy industrial base in India. They only permitted some light industries like textiles, plantations, etc.

After Independence, the policy of preventing India from emerging as a modern industrial giant, like China, was by partitioning India on the basis of the bogus Two Nation theory, thus ensuring that Hindus and Muslims keep fighting each other, and India remains weak, and does not set up a massive industrial base.

This ensures that India and Pakistan remain big buyers of western arms, instead of spending their precious resources on their people’s welfare.

2. Dr Hoodbhoy rightly says that there was no communal problem before the advent of the British in India. But having said that he does not go deeper into the issue. So let me explain.

There was no communal problem before 1857, and no communal riots. Hindus and Muslims lived in harmony before that year, and often participated in each other’s religious functions. Hindus participates in Eid and Muharram, and Muslims in Holi and Diwali.

The Muslim rulers like the Mughals (with the exception of Aurangzeb), the Nawabs of Avadh, etc celebrated Hindu festivals, and organized Ramlilas, etc.

In 1857, the first battle of Indian Independence (called The Mutiny by the British) broke out in large parts of North India, which totally shocked the British.

After suppressing it they decided that the only way to control India was divide and rule. In his speech in the Rajya Sabha titled ‘History In the service of Imperialism’, BN Pande has given details of the letters sent by the Secretaries of State for India in London to the British Viceroys in India telling the latter that they must make Hindus and Muslims fight each other.

All communal riots began after 1857. The British Collector would secretly call the Hindu Pandit, give him some money or other benefit, and ask him to start speaking against Muslims, and similarly he would call the Muslim maulana, give him something, and tell him to speak against Hindus.

Agent provocateurs were hired to kill a cow and in the night throw the carcass into a Hindu temple, and write on the temple wall “Allaho Akbar”, or kill a pig, throw it into a mosque at night and write “Jai Hanuman” on the wall.

This would make Hindus and Muslims despise each other.

In 1909, the Minto Morley Reforms came providing for separate electorates for Hindus and Muslims. The Aligarh Muslim University and Banaras Hindu University were set up (though a University means something universal, not for any particular community).

The propaganda was done that Hindi is the language of Hindus, and Urdu of Muslims (though the truth is that Urdu was the common language of all educated people, whether Hindu, Muslim or Sikh, in large parts of India up to 1947).

This divide and rule policy was rigorously and systematically applied, and the communal poison injected into our society year after year and decade after decade in a Goebbelsian manner, ultimately resulting in the British swindle called Partition in which half a million people were brutally killed, millions displaced, and other horrors committed (see Manto’s stories in this context).

Pakistan is an artificially created country and is really part of India, to which it is bound to reunite one day.

Read my views on this here and here.

What is Pakistan? It is Punjab, Sind, Balochistan & Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. These were all part of India since Mughal times. We share the same culture, look like each other, and many of us speak the same language Hindustani (called Hindi in India and Urdu in Pakistan).

I have many Pakistani friends with whom I often speak on WhatsApp or Skype in Hindustani, and I feel no different talking with them than in talking with Indians. We are bound to reunite one day under a secular government, and the fact that we were separated a long time back is immaterial.

West and East Germany were partitioned in 1945 but were reunited in 1990. Similarly, North and South Vietnam were partitioned in 1945 but were reunited in 1975. Indians and Pakistanis living abroad socialize as if Partition had never taken place.

3. But the developed countries will not let us easily reunite, for then we will emerge as a modern industrial giant, like China, and with our cheap labor will undersell the goods of their industries, causing them to close down, throwing millions out of employment. Will they easily permit that?

No, they will oppose it tooth and nail. And how do they prevent it? They prevent it by making Indians fight each other in the name of religion, caste, etc. All Indian political leaders of all parties are really puppets of the developed countries, who polarize society and spread religious, caste, lingual or racial hatred for their vote banks.

In fact, Indian politics largely runs on the basis of caste and communal vote banks.

4. Nevertheless, we must rapidly industrialize and modernize, for that is the only way to abolish widespread poverty, unemployment, malnutrition, lack of healthcare and the other curses plaguing our society.

Thus our interest directly conflicts with the interests of the developed countries. This means a long, arduous struggle in which we have to make tremendous sacrifices.

This struggle will be led by secular modern minded patriotic leaders determined to rapidly industrialise and modernise India, raise the standard of living of our people, and give them decent lives. As to when the struggle will begin, how long will it last, and who will be the leaders no one an predict. However it is inevitable, for the present state of affairs is intolerable.

5. To make India a modern industrial giant requires three things:
(1) a huge pool of technical talent (which we have)
(2) abundant natural resources (which we also have); and
(3) unity of our people (which we lack).

Hence at this historic juncture, unity of our people is absolutely essential, and we must tear off the mask and brand as anti-nationals those who polarise our society and spread hatred on religious, caste or some other basis among our people.

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