The cover of Time Magazine in 1946
I am pasting below the entire cover story of the Time magazine of 22 April 1946. It is quite long but informative so you can read it in instalments. There is one error; Jinnah’s father was not a rich man. I see no relevance of the Moslem tiger or the Hindu cow in the text:
By Long Shadow
Monday, Apr. 22, 1946
India’s festering sun beat down impartially on New and Old Delhi-on the precisely geometric, grandly drab preserves of the British Raj, on the noisy, squalid, sprawling native town. A sweat-soaked British wallah might change his shirt four times before settling down to an evening burra peg of bad Australian whiskey in the garden of the Cecil Hotel. Even the calloused, naked feet of shirtless Indians burned as they padded along the teeming Chandni Chauk. In the brassy glare, the flowering trees near the Viceroy’s residence seemed to bear sparks rather than blossoms. The rind of an orange would shrivel the moment it was peeled from its fruit. Here & there an exhausted cow rested, sacred and undisturbed, in the traffic lanes of the boulevards.
Delhi in the spring heat of 1946 was not relaxed; it was taut with waiting, gravid with conflict and suspense. Two Socialist lawyers and a former Baptist lay preacher from Britain had sat for 25 days in the southeast wing of the viceregal palace, preparing to liquidate the richest portion of empire that history had ever seen-to end the British Raj, the grand and guilty edifice built and maintained by William Hawkins and Robert Clive, Warren Hastings and the Marquess Wellesley, the brawling editor James Silk Buckingham and the canny merchant Lord Inchcape, and by the great Viceroys, austere Curzon and gentle Halifax. The Raj was finished: scarcely a voice in Britain spoke against independence; scarcely an Indian wanted the British to stay; scarcely a leader in India questioned the sincerity of Britain’s intention to get out. The only questions were “when?” and “how?”
Last week the three members of the British Cabinet Mission strove to force Indians to take the ultimate step-agreement on the constitution of an independent state. Much like a judge locking a hung jury in an uncomfortable room, Ministers Lord Pethick-Lawrence, A. V. Alexander and Sir Stafford Cripps prepared for a long Easter weekend in Kashmir’s cool mountains with a message that when they returned “they hoped to find sufficient elements of agreement on which a settlement will be based.”
Inside the cream stucco Imperial Hotel, beneath the propeller-blade fans, zealots and schemers argued, intrigued and speculated in more tongues than the Ganges has mouths. When they repeated to each other (as they often did) that now at last Britain’s colonial policy had lumbered to the point where Whitehall really wanted to free India, hope revived. When they reflected (as they often did) that civil war had never been closer, despair reached .its depth. The issue seemed to turn on one man-Mohamed Ali Jinnah. Last week all India watched Jinnah’s words and actions.
Man with an Angora Cap. While the Cabinet Mission still talked with India’s leaders, a meeting was held in the courtyard of Anglo-Arabic College across Delhi from the Viceroy’s palace. Green and white banners flaunted unacademic slogans: “Pakistan or die,” “We are determined to fight.” The speeches were equally inflammatory. Said Abdul Qaiyum Khan from the North-West Frontier Province: “I hope the Moslem nation will strike swiftly before [a Hindu] government can be set up in this country. . . . The Moslems will have no alternative but to take out their swords.” Said Sirdar Shaukat Hyat Khan of the Punjab (which furnishes more than half the troops of the Indian regular army): “The Punjabi Moslems . . . will fight for you unto the death.”
One of the wealthiest of Moslem leaders, Sir Firozkhan Noon, a Punjab landowner, did not hesitate to wave the Red flag; “If neither [the Hindus nor the British] give [Pakistan] to us . . . if our own course is to fight, and if in that fight we go down, the only course for Moslems is to look to Russia. … I will be the first to lose every rupee I have in order that we may be free in this country.” Five thousand Moslems cheered. Even the women in the purdah enclosure to the left of the platform could be heard-applauding behind their screen.
The presiding officer was neither shocked nor carried away by the incendiary speeches. Mohamed Ali Jinnah, clad in black angora cap, a long black sherwani (tunic), and tight-fitting black churidar on his wire-thin legs, smiled his ice-cold smile. He was at the peak of his power. He was the man who might say whether one-fifth of the world’s people would be free. His 5 ft. 11 in. and 119 Ibs. stood between India and independence.
Man with a Monocle. After the meeting, Jinnah got out of his political costume as soon as possible, relaxed in his comfortable New Delhi home (he has a more palatial one on Bombay’s Malabar Hill). He changed quickly to a tropical grey suit, blue & black striped tie, black & white sport shoes. Later, as he read to a reporter passages from one of his past speeches, Jinnah screwed a monocle into his right eye. He wears Moslem dress only because his enemies sneer that Jinnah, head of India’s Moslem League, is lax in his religious observances. (“Jinnah does not have a beard; Jinnah does not go to the Mosque; Jinnah drinks whiskey!”) With his perfect English, which he speaks better than his native Gujerati, his slick grey hair and graceful, precise gestures, he might be a European diplomat of the old school. How such a man at a fateful moment in history came to be the spokesman for millions of Moslem peasants, small shopkeepers and soldiers, is a story of love of country and lust for power, a story that twists and turns like a bullock track in the hills.
Jinnah was born on Christmas Day, 1876, the eldest son of Jinnah Poonja, a wealthy Karachi dealer in gum arabic and hides. The boy grew up in an atmosphere of wealth among a doting family. After going to school in Bombay and Karachi, young Jinnah, “a tall thin boy in a funny long yellow coat,” as Poetess Sarojini Naidu described him, went to England. At the age of 16 he was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn to read law. Soon after Jinnah returned to India, his father lost his money. Three hard, jobless years followed, until briefs and money started coming in.
Man of Unity. In 1940 Bombay Moslems elected him to the Supreme Legislative Council. Jinnah rose steadily in the councils of the nationalists and in the courtrooms of India. He revisited England and there, in 1913, enrolled in the Moslem League. “Typical of his sense of honor,” wrote his rhapsodic biographer Naidu,* “he partook of it something like a sacrament . . . made his two sponsors take a solemn preliminary covenant that loyalty to the Moslem League . . . would in no way and at no time imply even the shadow of disloyalty to the larger national cause to which his life was dedicated.”
During World War I Jinnah was a conspicuous worker for Moslem-Hindu unity, persuaded the Congress Party and Moslem League to hold joint sessions, used as his slogan “a free and federated India.” In 1917 he could still attack the idea which later became his obsession. “This [fear of Hindu domination] is a bogey,” he told League members, “. . . to scare you away from the cooperation with the Hindus which is essential for the establishment of self-government.”
Man of Discord. The solemn dedication to the “larger national cause” began to waver after the war. The shrewd, suave Moslem saw a shrewd, complexly simple Hindu, Mohandas Gandhi, step into the leadership of the nationalist Congress
Party. When Gandhi began to turn the party, once the sounding board for polite talk about independence among a few cautious Indian leaders, into a powerful mass movement, Jinnah drifted out of the fold. Some Hindus think he lost his nationalist ardor when he lost his beautiful Parsi wife (he was 42, she 18, when they were married) after their only child, a daughter, was born. His wife had been a zealous worker for independence.
Since then he has shared his Malabar Hill and New Delhi homes with his sister, Fatima. He lives austerely, has no close friends. He disowned his daughter for marrying a rich Christian.
Even Poetess Naidu found little warmth in Jinnah: “Somewhat formal and fastidious and a little aloof and imperious of manner. . . . Tall and stately, but thin to the point of emaciation, languid and luxurious of habit, Jinnah’s attenuated form is the deceptive sheath of a spirit of exceptional vitality and endurance.”
Man of Threats. That vitality and cold intelligence were turned more & more to the Moslem cause during the late ’30s. After the sweeping Congress Party victories in the 1936-37 provincial elections, Moslems charged that Hindus were trying to monopolize the government.
At a crucial meeting in March 1940 Jinnah first publicly plumped for Pakistan.* A hundred thousand followers thronged into the shade of a huge pandal (big tent) in Lahore, where the League was meeting, overflowed into the scorching heat outside, heard Jinnah proclaim over the loudspeaker: “. . . The only course open to us all is to allow the major nations [of India] to separate to their homelands.” He warned that any democratic government in a unified India which gave Moslems a permanent minority “must lead to civil war and the raising of private armies.” An enthusiastic woman follower tore off her veil, came from behind the purdah screen, mounted the speakers’ platform. But Moslem revolutionary ardor was not ready to break with tradition; she was quietly escorted back to purdah by a uniformed guard.
When Gandhi led Congress into civil disobedience after the failure of the Cripps mission in 1942, Jinnah ordered his Moslems to take no part, promised a “state of benevolent neutrality” that would not hamper the British in fighting the Japanese. He boasted that if his followers joined Gandhi’s pacifist program, the British would have 500 times more trouble “because we have 500 times more guts than the Hindus.” He recalled past glories of the Mogul Emperor Baber (“The Tiger”) and other Moslem warriors: “The Moslems have been slaves for only 200 years but the Hindus have been slaves for a thousand.”
A historic meeting with Gandhi on Malabar Hill in 1944 ended in an impasse. Even Gandhi’s healer, Dinshaw Mehta, who massaged Jinnah for two hours daily during the meetings, could not rub out the wrinkles of obstinacy that made the skinny Moslem uncompromisingly demand Pakistan, made the skinny Hindu as uncompromisingly demand a unified India, with the Pakistan issue postponed until after independence.
Man of Pomp. Today Jinnah revels in his one-man show. Nobody in all his Moslem League can be called a No. 2 man, or even No. 8. He delights in the princely processions staged by his followers when he tours the Moslem cities of northern India. His buglers herald his arrival at railway stations. Bands play God Save the King because “that’s the only tune they know.” Victory arches go up, rose petals flutter down from the rooftops, richly bedizened elephants, camels, mounted guards of honor accompany the Hollywood float in which Jinnah rides. Today Jinnah, and not the hated Hindu Gandhi, is prima donna on India’s stage.
The gulf between Moslem and Hindu had always been real, but Jinnah dug it deeper. Last Christmas Day, Jinnah’s 69th birthday, he summed up his demand for two nations. “I want to eat the cow the Hindu worships. . . . The Moslem has nothing in common with the Hindu except his slavery to the British.”
Economic differences aggravate the irritation. Enterprising Hindus and Parsis almost monopolize banking, insurance, big business. Moslems, slower to welcome Western education, complain bitterly that Hindu factory owners rarely employ a Moslem clerk or foreman even when most workmen are Moslem. Moslems have a real fear that, in a unified India, Hindus would freeze them out of important posts in government and industry.
The British, in the years when they still hoped to hold India, gave the religious difference official standing by decreeing, in 1909, that Hindus and Moslems should vote separately. H. N. Brailsford, a sympathetic British student of India, has said: “We labeled them Hindus and Moslems till they forgot they were men.” The British policy of “divide and rule” has been turned by Jinnah to the Pakistan demand “divide and quit.”
The Poorest State. The British Raj had given India a unified defense and a unified region of internal free trade. Jinnah would destroy both. His Pakistan, in northwest and northeast India, would be an agricultural state, poor in resources and industry, unless, improbably, the Hindus agreed to turn Hindu Calcutta over to Pakistan. Between mighty Russia to the north and the main body of India to the south, Pakistan would dangle like two withered arms. Only half the population of the area claimed for Pakistan is Moslem. None could claim that to split India in twain would solve the minority problem-in Hindustan there would still be islands of Moslems, in Pakistan large Hindu minorities. Jinnah has not concealed that behind Pakistan lies the ancient Asiatic practice of taking hostages; a Hindu minority in Pakistan could, “by reprisals, be made to answer Tor persecution of Moslems in Hindu India.
To warnings that a separate Pakistan would be poor and backward, Jinnah answers: “Why are the Hindus worrying so much about us? Let us stew in our own juice if we are willing. . . . [The Hindus] would be getting rid of the poorest parts of India, so they ought to be glad. The economy would take care of itself in time.”
The Plainest Answer. The Congress Party’s position on Pakistan was just as firm as Jinnah’s. The party’s official head, goateed Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a Moslem who looks like a caricature of a Kentucky colonel, paced up & down in his Delhi quarters last week, smoking a big cigar. “Eighty percent of the Indian people live in villages where Hindus and Moslems get along well together-the only trouble is among the twenty percent living in the cities. This is basically an economic conflict, not religious.” Jawaharlal Nehru made the plainest answer: “Nothing on earth, including the United Nations, is going to bring about the Pakistan of Jinnah’s conception.” The Congress Party might compromise on some plan for a limited Pakistan within a federated India. Jinnah might change his mind-as he has so often before. But if neither gave way, the British Cabinet Mission would probably impose a constitution on India despite the threats of civil war. When a British official in Delhi last week said, “This is the most important British diplomatic effort of the century,” he had in mind the danger that a failure to settle the Indian problem would keep the whole East in turmoil and disturb international relations throughout the world by presenting Rus sia with an opportunity to increase her influence among Asia’s people.
Even if settlement of the constitutional issue resulted in an independent, unified India, the future was none too bright.
Famine was tightening its grip on the subcontinent. Sir A. Ramaswami Mudaliar warned of “ten million dead on the streets of India” unless he could buy four million tons of grain this year in the U.S.* Independence alone would not answer the food problem, which would recur until India had more irrigation, more fertilizer, better agricultural methods and more industry. Many Indian leaders looked to the U.S. for machinery and technical advice. The most practical immediate step would be a U.S. loan to Britain, which would permit London to pay off much of its wartime debt to India and to give India the dollars she needs for imports from the U.S.
Where Akbar Failed. If India, with its diverse tongues, its anachronistic princes and princelings, its millennium of dependence on the rule of outsiders, could become a nation in the Western sense, the achievement would be one of the greatest triumphs of history. In E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India, a Moslem character, Dr. Aziz, recalled that the great Mogul Emperor Akbar had worked with tolerance and wisdom to unite India, had even attempted to devise a new unifying faith. But, says Dr. Aziz: “Nothing embraces the whole of India-nothing, nothing, and that was Akbar’s mistake.”
This people without a common denominator are at the same time the most bound and the most free in the world. They are bound by poverty, by caste, by religious practices that often descend to the crassest animism, by political ignorance and by disease. Yet they have been free enough to produce great contemporary leaders and thinkers. Nobody, not even the British Raj in the days of its strength, has regimented the Indians, who wear a thousand local costumes, speak 225 languages, and follow highly individual patterns of behavior. An Indian is free to sleep on the sidewalks of Madras when he feels tired, or to declare himself a saint and sit waiting for disciples by the burning ghats of Benares; or to send out a seven-year-old child with a dead baby dangling from its hand to beg in Calcutta’s Howrah railroad station.
No one who looked at India’s anarchic scene last week could believe that Jinnah had created all the obstacles to India’s freedom, but in the present crisis he had come to symbolize them. The Indian sun cast Jinnah’s long thin shadow not only across the negotiations in Delhi but over India’s future.
* At 67 plump Madame Naidu is still a member of the Congress Party’s Working Committee, is considered India’s topmost orator. She paints her toenails bright red.
* Pakistan, a dream of Moslem students before it became a political issue, was originally concocted from P for Punjab, A for the Afghans of the North-West Frontier, K for Kashmir, S for Sind, “pure” in Tan from Urdu, with “stan” Baluchistan. means “Pak” also “Land of the means Pure.” Last week the League convention defined it to embrace Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan, North-West Frontier Province (all in northwestern In dia), Assam and most of Bengal (in the north east). Jinnah has even advocated a thousand-mile corridor across Hindustan to connect the two parts.
* In 1943’s Bengal famine 1.5 million starved.