Partition pathologies: Why keep picking at a drying scab on a wound?

Narendra Modi's Independence Day Speech at Red Fort
Modi at the Red Fort

One wonders if Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked his foreign minister S Jaishankar what he thought about his idea of India hereafter commemorating August 14 — Pakistan’s Independence Day — as ‘Partition Horrors Rememberance Day’, before he tweeted it and the Home Ministry notified it. Because it has very real, god-awful and enduring ramifications.

Partition happened, Independence followed but 74 years after that bloody bifurcation the deep wound was drying out, developing a thickened scab in the process of perhaps leaving a small scar indicating the psychological recovery of the peoples on either side of the Radcliffe Line from the trauma impacting Punjabis in particular who lived through that time of excesses committed by, and against, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, in that horrid August of 1947. Except, August 14 will now keep reminding Indians about that ghastly period when sense had left the people. It will be like periodically picking on a scab until the dried up wound is raw again, which will keep the wound from drying out.

Modi’s observation that the displacement of millions of innocent people and loss of lakhs of lives owing to the “mindless hate and violence caused by the partition” and his hope that this Day will “keep reminding us of the need to remove the poison of social divisions, disharmony and further strengthen the spirit of oneness, social harmony and human empowerment” is, in the event, somewhat disingenuous, though politically and electorally, perhaps, productive. Bad memories long since interred will thus be stirred up on a yearly basis. The Pakistan government called it a “political and publicity stunt that only seeks to divide” and called it a “hypocritical and one-sided” invocation of “the tragic events and mass migration that occurred n the wake of independence”. The opposition parties here have slammed it as “divisive and diversionary politics”.

My wife is a Punjabi. My father-in-law was from Mogha, East Punjab, on this side of the Radcliffe Line where his family owned land; my mother-in-law was from Miani, Sargodha District, West Punjab, on the other side of the R Line. Her sister was married to an Inspector in the Punjab Police and was the one most to suffer the pangs and terrors of Partition. How she and her three young sons, one virtually a babe in arms, made the perilous and palpitating journey in a train from Lahore put on it by her husband’s Muslim colleagues in Punjab Police who escorted her from Dera Ghazi Khan, and how every moment on that wretched death train in its stop and start journey with men with bloodlust in their eyes and knives and swords in their hands entering and exiting the compartments killing passengers crammed into them but somehow missing my wife’s aunt and her then very young cousins huddling terror-stricken underneath the lower berths, the mother quite literally sleeping on her baby son, hoping he won’t cry and give them away, was an unforgetable passage that passed into family lore.

So, Partition was very, very bad; emotions and memories jangling and jostling on the tip of the eye colouring the post-1947 world as it passed by for that generation of Punjabis. My father-in-law’s hate for Muslims, however, was at once visceral and sublime. This was a man who when at St. Stephen’s College (as he recalled those days) befriended Zia ul-Haq (yea, ex-Probyn’s Horse and army chief who imposed the nizam-e-mustafa on Pakistan, and finished off its future) and ribbed him incessantly, calling him “Mullah” for being a strict namazi.

Hailing from a family with roots in the pleasantly temperate and sedate environs of Dharwad (in north Karnataka), I could never make head or tail of this kind of anti-Muslim rage and hate. And still can’t.

But I see that unthinking rage against Pakistan reflected even now in some retired and serving Punjabi military officers as they tortuously try and explain to me why the Indian army, navy and air force need to prioritise taking down Pakistan militarily. For the life of me I can’t see how they don’t see the obvious that Pakistan is a small, big-talking, military nuisance and sideshow at best, and why the institutionalised antipathy towards Pakistan is a strategic liability that has dragged India down since 1971 when ironically, having reduced Pakistan to its western wing, the Indian government and the military brass rather than moving on and making preparations to take on China, gave into their base and myopic instincts and began fixating on Pakistan instead.

Little wonder India has slipped down in the world. This even as China has gone from strength to strength, taking care to keep Pakistan afloat nuclearly and otherwise, just enough to have India on edge, and all this as it laughs its way to Great Power. Whatever else Partition Horrors Remembrance Day does, it will perpetuate India’s bottom-feeder status but, hey, we will have a lowly Pakistan for company. That should make us happy and keep the world entertained with South Asia’s never ending Punch and Judy show!!

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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41 Responses to Partition pathologies: Why keep picking at a drying scab on a wound?

  1. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Modi just keeps on raising one useless slogan after another (written by his favorite Gujarati cadre bureaucrats at the PMO) besides raising irrelevant issues like the one mentioned in this article. He and his fellow RSS/BJP men keep invoking Congress and its dead leaders (Gandhi, Nehru) to hide their own incompetence/failures.

    • San Mann says:

      Mr Tyagi,
      Congress and Left are no better – much worse, in fact. Those like you who only attack Modi while proposing no solutions of your own need to learn better. Howsoever imperfect Modi is, I still find him to be the least worst option for India. Otherwise, can you tell me whom your preferred better leader is? Which better leader do you see waiting in the wings?

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @San Mann- Here you come again. I have replied to you in my previous comments that I am not a fan of Congress.

        It was a political party started by British Liberals to keep the real freedom fighters in check.

        Talking of which RSS was/is a communal organization. They were/are no better and know nothing beyond Hindu-Muslim polarization.

        The real freedom fighters of the country were guys like Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad, Sukhdev, Rajguru etc.

        Subhas Chandra Bose was more of a nationalist than your whole RSS plus Congress combined.

        It’s been seven long years since, Modi is in power except doing useless “bakchoddi” (talking unnecessarily and excessively) he hasn’t done anything.

        Your question that if not Modi than who, is absolute rubbish. India doesn’t have the U.S Presidential system. The leader of the party with maximum number of seats becomes the Prime Minister.

        It could be anyone.

  2. Tony says:

    Mr Karnad I personally know many young Indian Muslims from very rich background though outwardly modern it takes very little for them to bring their inner mullah out root cause of which is their religion DNA imbedded hatred for idol worshippers , they all are militantly anti Hindu in every respect and subtly wish death and destruction of Hindus and usually on friendly terms with leftist beef eating scotch drinking modi hating Hindus. I can fill a book about my experiences . Such tendencies in diaspora are also found among Indian Xtians and very surprisingly Sikhs ( do google vishal joot) but still is not widespread as of yet. Sadly a well read and articulate military historian like you gives them free pass is disappointing to read.

    • Tony@ — There’s no way to prove or disprove the extremist tendencies you mention even among the well-off Muslims. But the DNA aspect is too Lysenkian for my tastes (Lysenko was the Soviet-era genetecist in Russia who theorized that the worst of the exploitative capitalist aspects are gene-carried!). About wine swilling, beef-eating — please don’t conflate that with any religion. Many in India would consider themselves Vedic Hindus and conduct themselves accordingly, which involves consuming beef and alcohol. Read up on the Rg Veda — I have read parts of it in English translation — and it is a revelation, something I have pointed out in my book ‘Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security’. The vigorous and energetic beef eating race of Hindus of the Vedas were they to find themselves transported through time into present day India would be appalled to find the kind of “bovine pacifism” abroad in this land.

      • San Mann says:

        Prof Karnad, I wish you’d stop being an apologist for Pakistan. I have no desire to feel warm feelings with a country that launches terror attacks against us daily. You may wish to accompany L K Advani on another trip to Karachi to weep with him, but I have no fondness for Pakistan, which only wishes to harm us. Perhaps you can snap out of your fond memories for a moment to notice the overwhelming victory Pakistan is achieving in Afghanistan right now. Have you considered what the security implications of this are for India? Will we soon see more hijackings like Indian Airlines flight 814 which was taken to Kandahar? Or will that be used as yet another opportunity to gloat against Modi, Shah and Doval?

      • Very strange that a realistic strategic assessement of Pakistan as a nonexistent threat is seen as an apology! Any wonder that India is in the military straits it is in? Await my next post on Afghanistan. But just need to remind people that the AI 814 episode was a maha-bungle from get-go. Why was it allowed to refuel and fly out of Amritsar — ah, there’s a story!

      • Tony says:

        Sir small talk among tea or paan shop or side road hawkers or as I call from trenches in sahranpur johnpur , deoband and many other Muslim dominated mohallas might be enlightening and this is not Kashmir . My punjabi cousin had to relocate to dehradun as no punjabi girl would marry him as he was based in muzzfarpur which is M dominated. Beef eating whatever its evolution is not important but it’s perception that it’s eaten by atheist and hence de facto muslim sympathising Hindus is.
        I would recommend Nirad Babu ‘s book The Continent of Circe for the whole evolution of beef eating and its evolved perception.
        Our gods and our goddesses are openly mocked on Facebook by Indian Muslims who don’t care even to be anonymous .
        I understand your love of secular ethos of India , but then love is also blind.

      • San Mann says:

        Prof Karnad, you disdainfully declare Pakistan to be a non-existent threat despite the casualties they inflict upon us. Perhaps because your own loved ones have not been killed or otherwise affected, you see their threat as insignificant. Because one’s own head is dry, there’s a tendency to ignore those who are being drenched under the rain. Ask the displaced Pandits living in exile from their birthplace whether they feel Pakistan is a non-existent threat. I see no basis for pooh-poohing the Pakistani threat out of mere vainglorious ego. They’re a nuclear armed adversary who mean to do us in, and it’s foolish to take their threat lightly. The price of freedom is vigilance.

        My warning about Afghanistan seems lost on you. I hope you’ll pay more attention to the latest turn of events in that country to talk about their implications for ours. Otherwise we may soon face a large surge in terror attacks emanating from the “non-existent threat” Pakistan.

      • San Mann@ — Not being able to see Pakistan as those who have suffered at its hands do does not mean showing disdain. My concern is and has always been “strategic”, not with personal or communal scars — physical and psychological — which I have never questioned.

  3. Apna says:

    It is not only Punjabis who suffered from partition. Nobody talks about two partitions of Bengal – first in 1905 and then in 1947. Millions perished. Seems you are giving too much importance to vulgar punjabi culture and ignoring others. Btw, Gandhiji rightly asked Punjabis to stay put in paki land – why did they not do it? He called them “cowards”.

  4. Sunil Kumar says:

    Both my parents and both of my wife’s parents migrated from what is now Pakistan. My grandparents and my father have seen little babies skewered and publicly displayed as triumphant trophies. All this happened because of Geo-Politics and Jinnah’s Muslim League. Modi’s politics no different. What has he endured to understand this no trifling matter. Shame on him!

    Today, as you rightly said, we need to contend with China. They have captured 1000 sq-km of our land. The economy needs a boost after COVID. He can only think about next election. I’m agast!

    • Remarkably, the accounts of atrocities are exactly the same one hears in Pakistan. So, what gives?

      • Sankar says:

        @Professor Karnad:
        When you say “the same one hears from Pakistan”, have you heard anything from Pakistan for happenings on March 26 on 1971 when according to TV and all news, Pak unleashed terror in Dacca on Hindus living there from time immemorial? If not, why do you believe the Pakistanis?

      • I am merely reporting on what one has heard from Muslims who moved to Pakistan, which exactly mirrors what one hears from Hindus who moved to India.

  5. Gram Massla says:

    What is the fundamental reality of Partition? That the Muslims of Pakistan are slowly, but inexorably, raping and converting the Hindus and Christians into extinction in that country while the number of Muslims in India, despite their complaints, grow. Since there is no magic pill to establish settlements on water land is critical to human development. When people are driven out of the lands they have been living on for eons that pain can never be understood by those who have not experienced it. Perhaps the reason for the dissonance in India’s relationship with Pakistan reflects the inner fear of the majority , as Muslims grow in numbers in India, that the embers of Partition have not quite been put out. The leadership of Pakistan is Turkic; as such they reflect the contempt bred of conquests past. If ever Pakistan were to revert to the control of its native Muslims perhaps then they may come around to a more accommodating stance.

    • Gram Massla@ — Look, Partition wasn’t clean in that, other than in Punjab and Bengal, there was no mass transfer of populations. Indeed, many have sourced the subsequent India-Pakistan troubles to this fact. Nehru wanted a religiously and otherwise heterogenous India and, in any case, a clean Partition would have been physically impossible to realize. So Jinnah it was who alighted on the next best solution — use minorities in each other’s territory as mutual hostages. Except, Pakistan post-Jinnah did not live up to its side of the bargain. The question therefore is what to do about the 180 odd million Muslims now in India. They cannot be driven out in part because of the other reality — they are part of the woof and weave of Indian society. In the event, we should do what the Bangladesdh government has done — and which I have long recommended — put the maulvis on public payroll and ensure they preach at the Friday prayers and push at the madrassahs a secular nationalist agenda, bring all madrassah syllabi under central supervision, etc and so in a generation or two that incubus of extremism is leached out. In Bangladesh, the maulvis are used to promote the cause of small families and inside of 50 years Bangladesh has stabilised its burgeoning population and will reach replacement rate sooner than anybody had dreamt of! So there are ways of ameliorating the situation instead of worsening it. But without the government’s involvement none of this will happen. However, this requires enlightened and strategic-minded politics at all levels.

      About the ‘Turkic’ Pakistani leadership — well, people from ‘India’s’ North-West are taller and fairer, but that doesn’t make them Turkic. My mother-in-law’s family — Maliks, are all tall and very fair, and certainly not Turkic. Then again, in my family from peninsular India there are members who are equally fair and tall. As are Chitpavan Brahmins of Maharashtra. So the best way to account for all this is to reconcile to the obvious reality that the subcontinent is peopled by a mongrel race — which is the truth. But mongrels, as you know, are an extraordinary hardy specimen.

      • San Mann says:

        We’re hardy enough to repel colonizers and invaders — and to reply to them in the language they understand best. That Pakistanis are not part of the woof-and-weave is all too evident by their constant attempts to fight their neighbors, and to bring in outside powers to intervene in the region. This in itself shows how they aren’t organically integrated to fit into the region, and are always at loggerheads with everyone around them. Pakistan itself should be broken into pieces, if not driven out.

      • You must be joking! I have in my books time and again dwelled on the Polish sociologist Stanislaw Andreski’s apt description of India as “land of subjugations”. Ponder that. Moreover, for a weak Pakistan to ally with a powerful China to neuter a strong neighbour is verily a Chanakyan tenet!

      • Tony says:

        I think need of the hour is to do what xi jinping did to uyghurs if chinese can do it so can we , half baked measures like one did by chacha ji under the guidance of bapu ji onwards in kashmir will only lead to more problems. Even lajpat nagar in Delhi has become extension of Afghanistan and we do not have time as the current hindu city youngsters are going woke and greedy hedonistic mode thanks to internet turbocharging western cultural onslaught with all its vices and and few virtues . Sri guru nanak dev ji poem babarvani phir gayey which bemoans how society was rotting before babar came as gods punishment comes into mind.


    Wonderful article by Mr Karnad with great insight.

    I feel that Mr Nehru actually made three great errors while doing partition.

    1. It is true that Mr Jinnah wanted Pakistan but he did not want a truncated Bengal and Punjab. What he demanded was an united Punjab and united Bengal for Pakistan to ensure both the Western and Eastern wings of Pakistan remained economically viable and self-sufficient in terms of land and agricultural produce. So the partitioning of Punjab and Bengal could easily have been avoided and resulting bloodbath and displacements also could have been avoided had Mr Nehru been little more magnanimous.

    2. Mr Nehru could easily have been more magnanimous and offered the Kashmir valley to the nascent state of Pakistan to ensure its goodwill as the larger state. Mr Patel was in favor of offering Kashmir to Pakistan in exchange of Hyderabad to India. This was the second greatest blunder that Mr Nehru had committed whose legacy is still haunting all of us as out of USD 80 Billion of our annual military budget , USD 30-35 Billion is the cost of maintaining our huge troop levels in Kashmir.

    3. Mr Nehru and the succeeding Indian leadership could have easily convinced the Afghan leadership of the time to convert the Durand Line into permanent border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan has always remained alone in the World when it comes to the Durand Line question and none of the post-partition Afghan leaderships have ever accepted the Durand Line as a historical legacy. The Durand Line, is actually what protects the Subcontinent from the Afghan invaders and as the more mature leader, Indian leadership should have supported Pakistan as the frontier buffer state on the Durand Line question.

    I would love your extremely well informed and passionate views on these three above issues.

    • Apna says:

      What a lie! “Mr. Patel was ready to give kashmir away in liu of Hyderabad?. And punjab and Bengal should have gone to Pakis?

  7. By email from Lt Col Nikhil Srivastava (Retd)

    Mon, 16 Aug at 10:49 am

    It needs to be remembered so that it is not repeated. The tragedy has happened and one cannot brush it under the carpet. The families who suffered need to be remembered

    With Regards and Best Wishes
    Lt Colonel Nikhil Srivastava (Veteran)

  8. By email from former ambassador Smita Purushottam
    Mon, 16 Aug, 2021, 10:22
    Very sad step.
    Smita Purushottam
    Founder & Chairperson SITARA (Science Indigenous Technology and Research Accelerator)

  9. Pradeep Sharma says:

    A politicians art of survival remains firmly entrenched in his ability to fan the fires of caste, community, religion and pain as well as hostility with other nations.
    Remembering Nehru and Gandhi for all that ails India is also one such factor which is being used to hide their own faults.
    It’s good to blame it on Pakistan or Blame it on Nehru.
    To recall and rekindle the pain , make people re live the hostility is one such method of reviving Hindutva too.

    • San Mann says:

      If Congis and Lefties can blame COVID on Modi, then I hardly think Nehru is above blame for blunders of partition. When caste-baiters can somehow escape being called divisive, but Modi is singled out for divisiveness, then I have to roll my eyes. It’s very obvious that they started it first.

    • San Mann says:

      Furthermore, Pakistan has no significant minority community for their politicians to feel threatened by, so why is it that they are the champions of screeching communal sectarian rhetoric? Never mind just screeching against Hindus, India, Modi, they even have to screech at Jews, Israel, America, etc, etc. I feel like Modi mainly talks about development, unlike the screechers on the other side of the border. When Modi goes to UN, he makes thoughtful speeches about the future of the world, while Imran just screeches at India – yet your critique only singles out Modi. With bias like yours, it’s no wonder Modi gets such a bad rap.

  10. Krishna Soni says:

    Respected Sir@ Proffesor I have great respect for you Sir , I do not expect from a man like you to write this type of article, it is ok to criticize modi govt if they are not taking hard decision but writing such an article is not a good thing.
    I am not being anti muslim here but it is a fact that majority of muslims in India especially the uneducated and rural ones perceive their identity as muslims rather than Indians, I personally have seen this they refuse to sing vande matram calling it against islam. If I am not wrong you live in South Delhi, someday visit a muslim colony like ramganj(riot centre) in jaipur, you will realise what I am saying is true or false.
    Whenever there are riots in our country they are in the regions where muslim population percentage is high. In you book Why India is not a great power yet you told a chinese fable of a frog in pot in which water is warming and the frog does not realise the threat and eventually he dies, this is the same situation for hindus, sikhs, jains and buddhists of our country. Slowly and slowly the demographic structure of our country is changing, whenever a law is being brought for reform it is called anti-muslim,
    FIRST caa(to give citizenship to the non-muslim refugees from pakistan, afghanistan and bangladesh) and muslims can also apply but through the old procedure what problem does the Indian muslims have with this act no one can understand they have the fear that the hindu population will increase,
    SECOND nrc : the act is being planned to be passed to remove the illegal immigrants from our country which not only our a huge burden on our meagre resource but are also root cause of riots, loot and plunder in many areas,
    THIRD population control, if population control is introduced in India, it will be for people of all religions but the muslims feel threatened that their population growth will be slowed down as some maulvis sugest 4 wives 40 children formula.
    FOURTH triple talaq: if a law is passed to give rights to muslim women it is also called anti muslim
    FIFTH article 370 removal: they fear that the Kashmiri muslims will be persecuted by other Indians
    The list is infinite.
    No matter that how western media has framed modi, he has not framed a single law or taken a step that is anti muslim, if he has taken please write in the comment, no doubt the political rheotric of bjp may sound anti muslim in tv debates and rallies I agree but not a single step is taken by the present Indian govt to persecute the Indian muslims.
    Now the question of lynching which you also have written in your blogs, when hindu sadhus are lynched no one talks about it , when a muslim is lynched it is shown as a threat to democracy and secularism. Mohan Bhagwat too has said whoever is involved in lynching is not a true hindu. More hindus have been lynched than muslims in the recent years of modi govt tenure.
    I could not understand your dislike for yogi adityanath , you have called him fireband hindutva leader in your previous post who had failed as cm, sir for your information in the past 4 years of his tenure as cm UP has progressed fastest among the other states, it has beaten the states like gujarat and tamil nadu in terms of GSDP under his tenure, under his able leadership industry-friendly eco-system developed in the state as a result of which UP bagged second spot among all states in ease of doing business and among the Indian states UP hass managed the covid situtation most well despite lack of infrastructure and a huge population, no matter how much media will accuse up gove of under reporting covid case no concrete evidenvce have been found yet. His political rheotric may sound anti muslim but he has provided more welfare and prosperity to them than the casteist and minority appeasing SP, BSP and congress.

    Sir, it does not suit a man of your standard to question why India is celebrating Partition horrors remembrance day , it is an insult to all the Indians who lost their life in the brutal partition.
    And please do not hurt the sentiments of Hindus by saying that it is mentioned in rigveda that people eat beef, beef is forbideen in our religion you have read a translated version of rigveda not the original sanskritized one, so please delete that comment in which you had mentioned that hindu eat beef.

    It is written in muslim religous books whether it is kuran or hadees that if you kill a kafir(idol worshipper or one who does not believe in islam you will get heaven, in hadess it is mention to make India islamized gazeva a hind and achieve the ultimate dream of islam.
    Please read swami vivekanada speech of chicago here is an excerpt from it:”I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shat­tered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.” ”

    I am not anti muslim I do not want them to covert to my religion, I only desire from them is repect for other religion and love for nation. I hope you will delete that comment.

  11. krishna soni@ — The Aryans who wrote the Rg veda were a pastoral people, migrating here from wherever. (The latest twist in hsitorical theorizing is that there was no migration and that the Aryans were entirfely indigenous people.) As any pastoral people anywhere, they used their herds of cattle not only to denote wealth but as source of food, and cover for their bodies. While milk was an obvious food item, the meat the cattle provided was very much an item of regular consumption. Not sure what sanskrit version of the Vedas you are referring to, but there’s no essential difference between the sanskrit and English translations.

    • Deepak says:

      Sir,conclusively there was no aryan migration/invasion of any kind whatsoever but there is a definite possibility of indigenous indians migrating westwards towards iran,afghanistan,central asia etc as per battle of 10 kings of rigveda,cursed sons of yayati migrating westwards and many other defeated kings in war westwards at various points in history to establish own kingdoms outside not rely on english translation of original sanskrit verses to understand vedas or any other ancient history of india.sanskrit has many meanings for the same word based on have to study entire sanskrit vedic literature without translation to come to any conclusions about beef eating,alchohol consumption etc.hindus are left self loathing with wrong english translations by commie minded hindu hating indians and western scholars since 19th century.

  12. Ram says:

    @ Prof Karnad,

    Your words of wisdom will fall on deaf ears. With no offence to you, a disproportionate representation of the armed forces from the cow belt and partition affected states (due to lack of jobs, a false sense of honor and prestige to “fight Muslim Pakistan” and not necessarily love for the country) has resulted in the current situation.

    This government , therefore hiding behind the politicized armed forces, may look down upon a weak Kashmir but dare not confront the ruthless rebels who are running a parallel government in the northeast – including a separate constitution and possibly a more efficient taxation system than the Indian Union. For this same reason, the bravado displayed with a weak Pakistan evaporates when dealing with China.

    Germany and Israel have made up since the holocaust, Japan and China have come to terms with modern realities but as Mao put it India will learn its lessons the hard way.

  13. Deepak says:

    biggest blunder of partition is indian leadership headed by nehru,gandhi etc agreeing for partition without a basic condition of total population transfer between muslims and non muslims whether it would have taken years or decades for that to happen practically which defeated the very idea of partition as for as non muslims concerned.while.non muslims suffered huge in both bangladesh and pakistan after partition year after year with non muslim population being reduced every year after year facing daily atrocities .while here in india there population is growing quickly with uncontrolled planned breeding directed by mullas to demand for another partition of india in future again based on same idea behind creation of pakistan.
    as for as modis speech is concerned it is as usual an useless faltu speech which will not yield any benefits as we have seen year after year for last 7 years.modi lacks governance skills which he is managing though extra ordinary gifted oratory skills,non existing opposition which is reduced to tukde tukde gang headed by a retard like raga which makes feel even his most blunderous policy as a master stroke for modi is good at 3 things 1)backstabbing your supporters who votes you election after election 2)appeasing your worst enemies with repeated insults to you by them 3)hiding your governance failures through oratory skills. enough of your lengthy speeches,perform or resign should be the demand from the public.

  14. Sankar says:

    It is an absurd and gross misrepresentation of the 1947 Partition of India that gave birth to modern India today, to say the least.

    But first to Modiji.
    Modi has once again shown his great vision and statesmanship for the entire Indian nation by resurrecting the nightmare of the “massacre” of 14th August in his address and implying to acknowledge it as a Remembrance Day. I note, “those who do not learn from history, history will repeat for them”, as the wise word goes.

    “Bad memories long since interred will thus be stirred up on a yearly basis” – say that to an European and see how they react.

    “Auswitz” is remembered by the Europeans every year and will be forever. 9/11 is there in NY all the time by the candle burning at the spot so that Americans do not forget. In contrast here the message is to bury and forget what happened on 14th August 1947 if you are a Hindu – what a moral bankruptcy!

    Why do I say “gross misrepresentation”?
    The narrative is focused on the Partition of Punjab and Bengal, but Sindh has been left out why – because it went to Pakistan in its entirety and does not warrant a consideration?

    Only a tiny part of the original Bengal came to India due to the great man Shyamaprasad who incidentally also saved Kashmir for India by sacrificing his life. Otherwise, the history of Bengal would have been the same as that of Sindh to be forgotten.

    That history and Shyamaprasad was buried by Congress, but to my great amazement was resurrected by Amit Shah and Modi in their recent masterstroke on Art 370. Alas, Hindu Sindhis did not have someone like Shyamaprasad to come to their rescue.

    “Partition was very, very bad; emotions and memories jangling and jostling on the tip of the eye colouring the post-1947 world as it passed by for that generation of Punjabis.” –

    What about the Hindu Bengalis who had to flee from East Bengal (then East Pakistan), and what about the /Hindu Sindhis who had to leave Sindh and lost everything? – Obviously, they do not count here.
    It seems the writer’s mind is constrained here by his perspective as of a provincial origin, not as an Indian in an enlightened nation.

    It is amazing that Sindh which was the original cradle of India (Indus Civilization – the naming “Hindu” derives from Indus) has no mention of it here, has to be forsaken for good since it went to Pakistan and the Hindus need to patch up with Islamic Pakistan forgetting the atrocities committed on them and all their heritage.

    In my book, Hindu Sindhis deserve an unreserved apology from Professor Karnad for not considering them here as the rest of us as Indians and for not including the loss of Sindh as the centre of original Indian civilization. I wonder what is his view of Indian civilization.

    Modi, in spite of whatever his deficiencies, is at least trying his best to uphold the glory and greatness of the original Indian civilization which was of Hindu origin – it deserves admiration. To attack and denigrate him on that is moral hypocrisy. It is not in Modi’s DNA to sacrifice Kashmir to Pak. There can be no secularism or broadmindedness at the cost of Hindus in India.

    • Sankar@ — The analogy of Auschwitz is inapt. The holocaust was a one-way gigantic atrocity. Partition was a full-blown two-way mutual bloodletting fueled as much by rumour as loathing.

      • Shaurya says:

        Please add, entirely caused due to the leadership of Jinnah supported by the Ummah and conjoined at the hip by an imperial Britain.

  15. Thomas says:

    Give it one or two more generations. The democratization of information will loosen the ideological grip people have over themselves. If both major political parties loose mileage when playing the victim card, then true progress can be made.

    One thing which I wish you would address more, is the nature of asymmetric warfare vis a vis Pakistan. Even if they are not a threat, you don’t talk about how to deter a nuisance. Until India can not respond in the same coin, babus will argue for asymmetrical conventional superiority.

    Then, Good luck unifying those 3 strike corps.


    Dear Mr Karnad,

    The partition did not happen in the whole of British India. In fact according to a current Bangladeshi minister Dipu Mani who serves the present Hasina administration , only Punjab and Bengal did face partition. Therefore the sense of partition pain is distinct from different parts of India compared to Punjab and Bengal since rest of British India did not face partition. This is the most basic fact we need to consider based upon which we have to build our narrative.

    Mr Karnad is right that people from both sides of the divided Punjab(and to a lesser extent Bengal) had learnt to move beyond the unimaginable horrors of the partition with the passage of time. Pakistani state of today does not consider the Sikhs(and to a lesser extent Punjabi Hindus) as bitter enemies as they did in the 1950-s since from the 1980-s onward Pakistan army have had to fight on the Border of Afghanistan. In fact as the opening of the Kartarpur corridor (alonside other historic Gurdwaras and Mandirs in the Pakistani Punjab and KP) shows that the current Pakistani state is willing to move beyond the horrors of partition and offer reconciliation with the Sikhs of Indian Punjab. I believe this will be the historical process that can culminate in much better trade, commercial and religious interactions between the two divided Punjabs. In fact some in Pakistan are willing to even create an altogether different narrative of the Pakistani state ( in order to further accommodate the Sikhs of Indian Punjab.

    Mr Karnad I would like to know more about your frank viewpoint on this particular phenomenon. Do you feel that the Pakistani state is sincere in all these and do you think that the current Indian state should allow the two divided Punjabs to bury their past and build a newer narrative of accommodation which is different than partition ? I eagerly await your views.

    Thanks and regards with best wishes

    • Absolutely, but not as a separate West Punjab-East Punjab combo anymore than it was a West Bengal-East Bengal affair after Bangladesh emerged, but as a general return to normalcy of India-Pakistan relations.

  17. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    The alfa kids and the beta kids taking it out on the slower kid in the class who cannot get on with his miserable life because and only till he cannot get physical. Most class ignores the goings on shelled in their own cocoon. Eventually the whole class passes out to take up miserable jobs get married to equally miserable worse halves to bring up equally miserable kids. And the cycle goes on as Caste system. Sometimes a ‘charismatic’ leader with his own beta crowd, comes along trying to implement the same in the whole country.
    This is not civilization – not even if its got a bigger headcount.
    This is only a manifestation of misery seeking company.

  18. Sher says:

    Gen Zia was commissioned into the Guides Cavalry and later transferred to the 6th DCO Lancers. He never served in Probyn’s Horse.


    Dear Mr Karnad

    Thanks for your thoughtful and prompt reply. My observations are as follows :

    1. In India only the Eastern Punjab(and Kashmir) has any cultural, economic or social ties with Pakistan since it was the only region that was partitioned. Therefore it is not possible for other parts of India to appreciate or understand the feeling that Sikhs feel towards Pakistan. This is similar to the cultural ties between Bangladesh and West Bengal. Any Gujarati or Bihari cannot appreciate this phenomenon for the simple reason that he or she is not a Bengali/Punjabi.

    2. The Indian state in these times have now fixated itself on an identity that considers hatred towards Pakistan as the only element that gives it vitality and meaning. In other words, modern India in 2021 cannot survive in her present form without visualizing Pakistan as either a villain or a failed state. Therefore the Indian state will not appreciate the cultural and economic sensibilities of the Sikhs (and Bengalis for that matter).

    3. The great example of the same is that when the Bengalis from both parts of the Radcliff line consider each others equals , the average Indian considers Bangladeshis as “Ghoospethiya” , “Termite” or “Bhikhari”. This is the fact that all of us needs to appreciate if we need to move on.

    4. Based upon the above observations, it is impossible to have good relations between India and Pakistan(or for that matter Bangladesh in the long run) however both Punjabs (as both Bengals) can have good relations and bury their past if they want to in may be upcoming decades.

    I would love to have your erudite views on my observations.

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