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21 October 2015

Partition & Muslim of India — Why Ramchandra Guha speaks too soon

In a recent newspaper article, historian Ramchandra Guha makes a case for not being "nostalgic about undivided India". He argues that, "Had there been an undivided India, the percentage of Muslims would have been closer to 33%, or one in three. The demographic balance would have been more delicate, and prone to being exploited by sectarians on either side."

Assuming that religious wars have been avoided by the percentage of Indian Muslims being reduced to "13% of the population, or one in seven", he concludes that, "the cold logic of history suggests that things would have been far worse for us if Partition had not occurred."

Since his is a counterfactual case, refuting his case is as futile as it is easy.

Nevertheless, it can be argued conversely that had the percentage of the largest religious minority - the Subcontinent's Muslims - remained at about one-third, there would have been an element of deterrence in the demographic balance. Guha's apprehension of a communal bloodbath would then not arise.

In any case, the precedent-setting Partition would not have occurred and eddies from it would not have persisted through time. The resulting peace could have been used, just as it has been in India as brought out by Guha, for democracy and development for all of South Asia.

Guha exaggerates the problem of integrating the 500 princely states posed. Sardar Patel dispatched them into history within a couple of years of independence. That would have been so even in case of undivided India, with the Nizam - possibly the only one to hold out - similarly packed off. Since contiguity would have decided the case for the rest, Kashmir would not have emerged as a bone of contention since. Keep reading 》》》》》》