Gandhi and The Break-Up of India

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Item Code: NAE656
Author: Rafiq Zakaria
Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
Language: English
Edition: 1999
ISBN: 8172761287
Pages: 322 (26 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 500 gm
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Book Description

About the Book

Was Gandhi responsible for the break-up of India? There has been a revival of this question in recent times among a section of people. Apart from the statement of the assasin of the Mahatma, Nathuram Godse, before the trial court, there are books and plays wherein attempts have been made to put the blame of partitioning the subcontinent on Gandhi. He has been accused of being anti-Hindu and pro-Muslim. The Marathi play Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy staged in Mumbai created a fresh controversy which has been widely highlighted by the media. Dr. Rafiq Zakaria has, therefore, unearthed all that he could to find out whether the Mahatma caused or contributed to partition. A spate of books on the division of India have appeared both in India and the United Kingdom; a lot of original source material has also become available. Unfortunately there has been no study of the role of Gandhi in the fateful decision which caused the death of one million Hindus and Muslims and the uprooting of fifteen million of them. The Mahatma's part has not been properly delineated so far; it has got lost in the tomes which are replete with the role of the two Viceroys - Wavell and Mountbatten, the Congress leaders - Nehru, Patel, C.R. and Azad and Muslim League's Jinnah on the Indian side and Churchill, Attlee, Cripps and Pethick-Lawrence on the British side. Nevertheless as the Mahatma continued to be the dominant force among the masses to his last day, he has been subjected to. attacks and innuendoes, projecting him as the original sinner. The author, after intensive research, has traced the roots of the Mahatma's approach to this vexed issue from the time of his struggle in South Africa to the various movements launched by him for India's freedom. Dr. Zakaria has sought to discover to what extent the policies and the programmers of Gandhi led to the division of India. He has, in his inimitable style and with his uncanny insight, culled out all the facts and analyzed their implications. In the result he has presented, ably and lucidly his conclusions; they throw a new light on a subject that continues to be of absorbing interest.

About the Author

Dr. Rafiq Zak aria has had a distinguished career in fields as varied as law, education, journalism, politics and Islamic studies. He is a Chancellor's gold medalist of the Bombay University and Ph.D. with distinction from London University. He was called to the Bar from Lincoln's Inn. From his student days he was active in the freedom struggle, both at home and abroad. After a successful legal career he served as a cabinet minister in Maharashtra for fifteen years. In 1978 he became deputy leader of the ruling Congress Party in Parliament. He has held important assignments including that of Prime Minister's Special Envoy to the Muslim world in 1984. He has thrice represented India at the United Nations, in 1965, 1990 and 1996.

Dr. Zakaria is a scholar of international repute. He has authored more than fifteen books, including A Study of Nehru. His rejoinder to Salman Rushdie, entitled Muhammad and the Quran, published by Penguin International, has become a world classic. His other books deal with Indian Politics and the history and jurisprudence of Islam. He has also authored two novels-one historical and the other political. An eminent educationist, he has founded a dozen educational institutions of higher learning in Mumbai and Aurangabad. He has chaired several important Government of India committees and has been a member of the National Jury for the Ambedkar Award and of National Integration Council. He has been passionately involved in the promotion of Hindu-Muslim unity and has delivered prestigious memorial lectures at various universities on the subject.


There are hundreds of books on Gandhi in every known language in the world. Is there then any need for yet another? This book deals with the Mahatma's relationship with Muslims and his role in the partition of India. So far, there has been no detailed study of how and why he became involved in the differences, the fights as well as the commonality of relations between Hindus and Muslims; whatever has been written about these, suffers from grave historical distortions. Ever since the Mahatma's assassination, there are periodical attempts in certain quarters, to hold him responsible for not only appeasing Muslims at the cost of Hindus but also bringing about the existence of Pakistan. Even earlier, as a result of his leadership of the Khilafat Movement in collaboration with the Ali Brothers, Gandhi was portrayed as an unashamed propagandist of Pan-Islamism by a certain section of Hindus especially from Maharashtra.

They contrasted him with Lokmanya Tilak who they claimed was the real custodian of Hinduism, its conventions and traditions. Veer Savarkar also gave a fillip to the anti-Gandhi tirade in a more aggressive form. Recently the play on Nathuram Godse, glorifying the motivation behind his foul act and the controversy that it created, alarmed not only the Gandhians but a large number of intellectuals of different schools of thought. The devotees of Gandhi are distressed that the Father of the Nation should be so grossly misrepresented.

Dr. Usha Mehta, one of the tallest of the living Gandhians, pressed me to delve into all the facts related to the subject and bring them out in a book. Ushaben has become a legendary figure because of her-sacrifices in the freedom struggle; she has been diligently looking after Mani Bhavan where Gandhi stayed during his visits to Mumbai. She has made it a live centre of Gandhian ideology. Her request to me was backed by S. Ramakrishnan who has been managing the worldwide network of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan as its Chief Executive with consummate tact and efficiency for many decades.

Reticent to a fault, Ramakrishnan, unknown to most of his friends and associates, had a deep involvement with the Mahatma from the time he was in his teens. He came in contact with Gandhi during his visit to Trichur in 1934 in connection with the Anti-untouchability movement. The young boy went along with Gandhi on the tour where the Mahatma stressed the importance of giving unrestricted access to the untouchables, both to the Sri Krishna temple at Guruvayur, and the Shiv a temple at Vaikom. Young Ramakrishnan was awed by the Mahatma's spiritual presence and inspired by his message. The memory never left him. Later he got the opportunity to serve him as a part-time P.A. when he came to stay at Gandhigram at Juhu in Bombay at the residence of the shipping magnate, Sumati Morarji. Every evening he took notes from Gandhi and worked for him until late at night. Ramakrishnan was, once again, called to assist the Mahatma when the momentous parleys were carried on by Gandhi during the Cabinet Mission's negotiations with the Congress and the Muslim League in 1946 at Simla. These close encounters with Gandhi moulded Ramakrishnan's thinking and approach to life. Ever since he has tried to put into action what he learnt at the Mahatma's feet. He has also, through Bhavan's numerous schools and' colleges, its seminars and conferences and its varied and prolific publications, tried to disseminate the values the Mahatma stood for.

Ramakrishnan also desired that I should present an objective analysis of the part Gandhi played - right from his activities in South Africa to the various struggles that he launched in India - giving a true picture of the crucial events that led to partition. Goaded by these friends, I undertook the task and tried to collect as much relevant material as possible on the subject.

This however is neither a biography nor a history nor even a broad survey of the work of Himalayan dimensions that Gandhi was able to put in during his long and breathtaking public life. Dozens of volumes written by highly competent persons, both Indians and non-Indians, have done more than justice to Gandhi's multi-faceted life. Mine has been a limited undertaking to find out the truth about the charges made against the Mahatma - that he was pro-Muslim, anti-Hindu and that, in reality, he was the main cause of partition. To do so I studied in depth, his thoughts, his ideas, and his work from the early days in South Africa upto his assassination. There is a silken thread running through his many splendored career which has a bearing on this three- pronged theme.

In order to make my analysis as objective and the presentation as authentic as possible, I have quoted copiously from the Mahatma's speeches and writings, rather than paraphrase or summarise them; these extracts provide factual evidence of his thinking on all the three aspects of my work. Gandhi has spoken and written so much, explaining and crystallizing his views on everything under the sun, that the best way of dealing with the charges and innuendoes against him was to rely on his own words. As Ben Johnson put it, "Language most reveals a person."

I have gone through a heap of books; Gandhi's own spoken and written material has filled 90 volumes. The experience has been both stimulating and draining. To manv authors I owe a debt; to mention each of them is not possible. I shall, however, be failing in my duty if I do not pay my homage to D.G. Tendulkar for his magnum opus - the eight-volume biography, Mahatma. The author has culled -into it everything that Gandhi said and did. His has been a remarkable achievement. I gained equally from the works of Pyarelal, the Secretary of Gandhi; in The Early Phase and the two volumes of The Last Phase, the author captured most ably and lucidly the currents and crosscurrents of politics that his master had to pass through.

I studied the selected volumes of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, published by the Government of India, The Transfer of Power volumes published by the British Government, and Mahatma Gandhi: Source material of the freedom struggle of India, published by the Government of Maharashtra. The reprint of Gandhi - for 21st Century, edited by Anand T. Hingorani and recently published in 24 volumes by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in a handy and handsome edition, were of great help to me. The other books that were useful to me, I have included in the Bibliography.

Dr. P.c. Alexander, presently the Governor of Maharashtra, has the unique reputation of managing with distinction both the administrative set-up and the intellectual arena. He has command on the written as well as the spoken word. However, his excellence as an administrator which he has demonstrated with such abundance in the various prestigious positions that he has adorned, has alas overshadowed the depth and richness of his scholarship. Last year, while releasing my book, The Price of Partition, he referred to my wife Fatma's contribution to my writing. He said her literary sensitivity, artistic insight and long editorial experience in The Times of India group of newspapers and periodicals has enabled her to turn my books into "chiselled products". I accept his verdict whole-heartedly. My present work owes no less to her editorial sledgehammer. Can a husband ever thank his wife enough especially when she has been his comrade in every venture for almost forty years? I cannot.


IEarly Stirrings1
IIMantra of Satyagraha16
IIIReturn to India34
IVNon-Cooperation Movement45
VCollapse of the United Front58
VIDespair and Hope75
VIIConstitutional Encounters.92
VIIITo London with Love109
IXIntegration of Hinduism123
XFacing New Challenges141
XIThreat of Disintegration158
XIIQuit India Movement177
XIIILast Desperate Attempt198
XIVTowards Partition220
XVThe Tragic End237
XVIWhat is the Truth?257
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