Partition of India 1947: Two-nation theory: – by Shubham Panchal

The seed of two nation theory was sowed way before the word partition was uttered. Yeah! That’s right, dividing a country in two parts only based on religion and life style, I think that was a lame idea. But it happened and we all paid the price. Yes my friends I am talking about India and Pakistan partition.

The ideology that the religion is the determining factor in defining nationalities of Indian muslims was strictly followed by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He coined it as Indian hindus and muslims are two different nation. Therefore this two nation theory was a founding principle of Pakistan movement and the partition, 1947.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah:

muhammad jinnah

Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born on 25 December 1876 in Karachi into a Kasana family of Ismaili Shia Islam. In 1891 he went to London to work with a company and to study law, In 1896 he graduated from Lincoln’s Inn. Then in 1906 he joined Indian national congress and became great leader, he then dropped INC for muslim league (another political party).


Mahatma Gandhi:

mahatma gandhi


The father of nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi studied law in London and served as lawyer in south Africa. On special request of Gopal Krishna gokhle he returned to India in 1915. He was a great leader and became active member of Indian National Congress in 1921.


Last viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten:

Bearing a German name earlier (Lord Louis Battenberg) he was born on 25 June 1900. He was charged as last viceroy of India on 20th Feb 1947, to oversee the transition of British

lord mountbattern

Lord Mountbatten

India to Independence no later than 30th June 1948. Mountbatten’s instructions were to evade partition and preserve a united India as a result of the transference of power

When, what & why it all started?

The first person to talk about to bifurcate India by Muslims and non Muslims was the Hindu Mahasabha leader, Lala lajpat rai (in 1924). If partition happened then a huge transfer of masses of people would happen and that definitely cannot happen in harmony.


In 1930, Allama Muhammad Iqbal delivered a speech at Muslim league stating there should be a ‘Pak-sthan’ where only Muslims should live. Then they started forcing to part based on Ambedkar’s demand for depressed classes which British govt. approved, but due to Gandhi’s effort to oppose such movement by fast (not to have food) Ambedkar backed off.

Here we can see how Mahatma Gandhi’s reputation and influence was at that time everyone respected and obeyed him

The Government of India act, 1935:

Then came the real game, The Government of India act, 1935, Elections. Indian national congress was able to form a government in 7 out of 11 provinces. On other hand Muslim league won seats only in some Muslim influenced area. INC became more effective and working. Now with the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939, British viceroy Lord Linlithgow, declared war on behalf of India without consulting Indian leaders. INC Protested and said that they were cheated before in the same case in world war 1 and were assured that they will be independent by war closing but never happened. INC canceled all the support to British viceroy Lord Linlithgow regarding this matter.

Here Jinnah finding opportunity consulted to the viceroy, to support British govt. in war by proposing the Idea of partition. Lord Linlithgow said they will accept it if they find its need in near future. Linlithgow supposed that what Jinnah actually wanted was a non-federal arrangement without Hindu domination. He proposed in August 1940 that India be granted a Dominion status at the conclusion of the war. Having not taken the Pakistan idea seriously.

Quit India movement, 1942:

In August 1942, the Congress launched the Quit India movement which asked for drastic constitutional changes, which the British saw as the most serious threat to their rule since the Indian rebellion of 1857 With their resources and attention already spread thin by a global war, the nervous British immediately jailed the Congress leaders and kept them in jail until August 1945. Whereas the Muslim League was now free for the next three years to spread its message. Consequently, the Muslim League’s ranks surged during the war, with Jinnah himself admitting, “The war which nobody welcomed proved to be a blessing in disguise.

Elections for partition, 1946:

In early 1946, new elections were held in India. With the announcement of the elections the line had been drawn for Muslim voters to choose between a united Indian state or Partition. Earlier, at the end of the war in 1945, the colonial government had announced the public trial of three senior officers of Subhas Chandra Bose’s defeated Indian National Army who stood accused of treason. Now as the trials began, the Congress leadership, although it never supported the INA, chose to defend the accused officers. Eventually this created positive propaganda for the Congress, which enabled it to win the party’s subsequent electoral victories in 8 of the 11 provinces. The Muslim League won the majority of the Muslim vote as well as most reserved Muslim seats in the provincial assemblies and it also secured all the Muslim seats in the Central Assembly.

Jinnah finding opportunity quickly interpreted this vote as the demand for separate homeland. He proclaimed: “The Muslims and Hindus belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, and literatures. They neither intermarry nor interdine [eat] together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilizations.”

Cabinet Mission Plan, 1946:

Britain had wanted India and its army to remain united for the purpose of keeping India in its system of ‘imperial defence’. With India’s two political parties unable to come to an agreement, Britain devised the Cabinet Mission Plan. Through this mission, Britain hoped to preserve the united India which they and the Congress desired.

cabinet mission plan

The Cabinet mission scheme covered a federal arrangement consisting of three groups of provinces. Two of these groupings would consist of predominantly Muslim provinces, while the third grouping would be made up of the predominantly Hindu regions. The provinces would be autonomous but the center would retain control over defence, foreign affairs and communications. Though the proposals did not offer independent Pakistan, the Muslim League accepted the proposals. On 10 July 1946 Nehru gave a provocative speech, rejected the idea of grouping the provinces and effectively ruined both the Cabinet mission plan and the prospect of a United India.

Direct action day, 16 August 1946:

 Jinnah declared it as the direct action day with goal of demanding separate Muslim homeland in British. Armed Muslim gangs gathered at the Ochterlony Monument in Calcutta to hear Huseyn Shaheed Shurawardy, the League’s Chief Minister of Bengal. He provoked people and that very evening Hindus were attacked by returning Muslim celebrants, who carried pamphlets distributed earlier which showed a clear connection between violence and the demand for Pakistan, and directly implicated the celebration of Direct Action Day with the outbreak of the cycle of violence that would later be called the “Great Calcutta Killing of August 1946. The next day, Hindus struck back and the violence continued for three days in which approximately total 4,000 people from both the community.

The British Prime Minister Attlee appointed Lord louis Mountbatten as India’s last viceroy, who was given the task to oversee British India’s independence by June 1948, with the instruction to avoid partition and preserve a United India. Mountbatten hoped to revive the Cabinet Mission scheme for a federal arrangement for India. But despite his initial keenness for preserving the center the tense communal situation caused him to conclude that partition had become necessary for a quicker transfer of power.

Vallabhbhai Patel was one of the first Congress leaders to accept the partition of India as a solution to the rising Muslim separatist movement led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He had been outraged by Jinnah’s Direct Action campaign, which had provoked communal violence across India. When Lord Louis Mountbatten formally proposed the plan on 3 June 1947. Patel gave his approval and lobbied Nehru and other Congress leaders to accept the proposal. Knowing Gandhi’s deep anguish regarding proposals of partition. The nationalist leaders, including Nehru and Abdul Kalam Azad on behalf of the Congress, Jinnah representing the Muslim League, Ambedkar representing the Untouchable community, and Master Tara Singh representing the Sikhs, agreed to a partition of the country along religious lines in stark opposition to Gandhi’s views.

Day of Independence:

On 14 August 1947, the new command of Pakistan came into being, with Muhammad Ali Jinnah sworn in as its first Governor General in Karachi. The following day, 15 August 1947, India, now a smaller Union of India, became an independent country with official ceremonies taking place in New Delhi, and with Jawaharlal Nehru assuming the office of prime minister, and the viceroy, Louis Mountbatten, staying on as its first governor general.


Was there any alternative?

Mahatma Gandhi already did more than enough in this tight war for Independence of India, But sometimes I think that if he did a little something extra in this partition matter, probably partition never had been take place in first place. Why I am saying such thing because with his immense influence over the Congress leadership, could have overruled Nehru but decided not to do so. That he had the power to override the Congress leadership was demonstrated two years later when he forced Subhas Chandra Bose out of his elected position as president of the Congress because Gandhi found him insufficiently flexible and too radical for his taste.

Today everyone knows about partition, 1947 and clearly knows why, when & what happened but they doesn’t know who’s suffering most. A great nation was divided, not only piece of land but also their hearts. Obviously it’s the people themselves who created such circumstances and then were forced to the detonating result like partition, the leaders where just faces who took initiative and supported people through there strong will power.



Book:- The life of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fisher


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