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Pakistan

Thoughts on Linguistic States

Ambedkar begins the book by saying he wanted to come out on the topic of linguistic states sooner. He admits his views have changed over time, and some of his views contradict. However, the idea of linguistic states needs to be vetted with cold reason. Ambedkar denounced the hooliganism going on during the publication of this work in defense of linguistic states.

Linguistic states facilitate fellow-feeling that leads to cohesive democracy. When people are grouped in states based on a common language, they have a much easier time working together. Mixed states fail because it forces people of different ethnicities to work together. Ambedkar asserts there is no real reason for various ethnicities to have conflict in India. The separation into linguistic states would facilitate democracy by reducing ethnic strife.

The downside of linguistic states is the possibility of the states developing into separate nationalities. If this happened, there could be the possibility of interstate conflict and war. A strong central government could quell the threat of interstate war. So the downside of linguistic states is far smaller than mixed states.

Another way to increase social cohesion with linguistic states is to make the official language the same in all provinces. So all business and government transactions would be done in the official language. Ambedkar recommends Hindi because 48% of the country already speaks the language. At a later date, when the population is ready, India would transition to English. The use of an official language reduces bureaucracy and ensures everyone in the country has access to all levels of government. It is paramount that those that advocate for linguistics states support one central language. Ambedkar goes as far as to state that someone that is against on central language is not fit to be Indian.

The work briefly discusses the partition of Pakistan. Ambedkar says he supported it. Specifically, he says, “I was glad that India was separated from Pakistan.” He feared Muslims would dominate the rest of India. By letting the Muslims leave, it would make way from India to build a prosperous democracy. However, he felt recent developments of ethnic conflict could close the door on Indian prosperity.

Upon the establishment of linguistic states a new problem arises. The south would have much smaller states than the Indian north. How then would power be equated between the north and south? The power distribution mattered because, according to Ambedkar, the south is educationally advanced and modern. The north is superstitious and backward. The solution is to break up the largest states in the north: Utter Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh. The new states would have around 20 million people to put them at par with the southern states.

Maharashtra and Bombay

Maharashtra and Bombay were examples of failed mixed states currently in India. Both areas were plagued with ethnic conflict and violence. There were four proposals that the government was vetting to improve the area:

  1. To retain Bombay as a mixed state of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Bombay
  2. To disrupt the existing state and to separate Maharashtra and Gujarat and make them two separate states.
  3. To make united Maharashtra with Bombay as one state
  4. To separate Bombay from Maharashtra and make it a separate city state

Ambedkar believes none of these proposals go far enough. He proposes breaking the state up into four separate provinces: Maharashtra City State (Bombay), Western Maharashtra, Central Maharashtra, and Eastern Maharashtra. The state of Maharashtra as it is was too big to govern. The smaller states would be easier to administrate and facilitate young leaders emerging. The Maharathi people had few political leaders and lagged in education.

Bombay could also benefit from being independent. At this time, the Maharthi population has not developed political or economic leadership. If the transient population of Gujurathis left the economy of Maharahtra would tank. Formation of Bombay into a separate city-state would allow for those creating industry to be satisfied, while the Maharthi develop. Ambedkar also proposes changing the name of Bombay to a Maharthi name.

Caste System Hindered Political Development

There were many problems with the current political system. The treatise talked explicitly about issues of taxation and alcohol prohibition. As in America, alcohol prohibition in India led to a black market and more consumption. To solve this problem, India needed a system that could could facilitate political change.

The social structure of India based on the Caste System caused political stagnation. The Caste System led to an ascending scale of hatred and a descending scale of contempt. A caste has all the pride of a nation. Those in higher caste see themselves as superior, and that led to them not voting for people of lower caste. However, those of lower caste would vote for someone of high caste because they are used to seeing high caste people in leadership. Political reservation would be essential in developing political leadership in lower caste communities. Also, smaller states would allow for areas with concentrations of lower caste people to hold political office.

There are two types of majorities. The first is a political majority formed to push a political agenda. Entrance into this majority is open and would change as political needs change. Societal norms set communal majorities. Entrance into a communal majority is closed, the status is set at birth. If the communal majority became the political majority tyranny would overtake the country.

India is much too large to have a single capital. There was also historical precedent for two capitals in India. For example, the Moghal Empire had Delhi as one capital and Shrinagar in Kashmir as a second. Calcutta and Simla both served the British as capitals. Those in the south had access to a Central government. Ambedkar proposes consolidating Hyderabad, Secunderabad, and Bolraum into a southern capital.

Pakistan or the Partition of India

The Muslims came to India in various ethnic groups during many invasions. All the attacks shared one goal, the total eradication of native Hindu religion. Areas that maintain Hindu control violently suppressed Islam. The suppression of both faiths led to two distinct people groups inheriting what would become future India, Muslims and Hindus.

Ambedkar is clear that there are two distinct people groups must come together as a new whole. The heroes of Muslims are the villains of Hindus and vice versa. The stark differences in worldviews led to people of both ethnicities to advocate for separate homelands. Hindustan for the Hindus and Pakistan for the Muslims.

One of the things a unified India would lose if Pakistan becomes a separate state is the majority of its military. Most of the current military is native to the Northwest region of the country. The reason for the concentration of military force in the northwest was not due to an inherent trait in the people of that area. The concentration was the result of British military policies. It is because the British military had recruitment policies that favored these territories. The initiative to recruit high caste members from the northwest was politically motivated.

Supporters of the creation of Pakistan would say that its creation would end the need for separate electorates dictated in the Communal Award. Ambedkar explains how the creation of Pakistan would not absolve the demand for separate electorates. Under the current system the four northwest provinces would control a Hindu minority while the rest of India controlled a Muslim minority. The reservation of seats for minorities ensured there would be some representation for the Hindus in the Northwest and Muslims in the rest of India. If in either section of the country the majority oppresses the minority, they minority could call on his brothers in the other part of India to retaliate. Essentially, creating a mutual hostage situation. Even though the method is crude, it could cause both majorities to treat minorities with respect. If Pakistan is created, Hindus inside its borders would be vulnerable to ethnic cleansing.

In a unified India the northwest provinces could act as a national home, without the full powers of a state. The provinces could hold the cultural, religious, and communal heritage of the Muslims of India without the power of a state. The Muslims of southern India would benefit from a unified India in that, they are connected to their brothers. If Pakistan splits, southern Muslims will be alone to tend with a Hindu cultural and political majority.

As stated earlier, if Pakistan is not separated from India, the Muslims will live as a minority in a Hindu country. Even if their rights are not infringed upon they will live by Hindu cultural norms. The thirst for Muslim nationalism could increase even after political concessions. Ambedkar uses the Arabs of the Ottoman Empire and the Slovaks of former Czechoslovakia to illustrate how nationalism grows even in people that are not oppressed. If the current political climate changes to allow for a unified India, separation could be inevitable.

A genuine growth of fellow-feeling needs to be fostered between Hindus and Muslims to create a new nation. Political allegiance and expediency will not promote long-lasting unity. Both parties have to see the inherent value in solidarity and be willing to sacrifice privilege to stay together. If Britain grants India independence, and Muslims mistrust Hindus, political stability is impossible. Britain often serves as an arbitrary third party in disputes as the situation stands now. Western intervention is not always a bad thing.

One issue observed in the Muslim community by Ambedkar was the inability to advocate for social change. Most Muslims put religion at the top of their priorities. The hyper-focus on religion causes them to only seek control in the political realm. They want to be in charge, yet do not care about how the government functions or if vulnerable people are protected. To expand political power they often implore violence. In the year immediately preceding the publishing of this book, Hindus reciprocated. The current climate could lead to a civil war.

The idea that Muslims are superior and a fear of absorption into the more dominate Hindu culture leads to torpor in the field of social justice. If the Koran doesn’t specifically condemn an act, most Muslims will not advocate for change. As a result, women’s rights had been halted and once a Muslim is in charge, no one would challenge him. Also, questioning a Muslim leader could lead to a Hindu takeover. Therefore the social stagnation seen in the Muslim community is a superiority complex mixed with fear of vulnerability.

Another division in the Hindu and Muslim community is what they ideally want with independence. Muslims want full autonomy and no affiliation with the British Empire. Hindu support varies between dominion status in the British Empire similar to Australia and full independence. However, for Muslims, a significant tenet of their religion is to live in a country that they rule. Living side by side with another religion as equals is not part of the Islamic faith. It is also incumbent on Muslims to extend the rule of Islam all over the world. Therefore, if another Muslim country declares war, they are obligated to help the Muslim nation whether or not it is beneficial to India.

As a solution, Ambedkar purposes Britain granting India a limited amount of Independence as a unit. If the Muslims see they can be in a unified India with their rights not infringed upon, they can decide to become entirely independent. He also questions if the Muslim League reflects the thoughts and concerns of the entire community. It appeared to him that the league was only concerned with the elites.

Post-Script

From an Integral perspective what Ambedkar is talking about here is the dangers of fundamentalist religion. A nation can not be built with a large percentage of people identifying with their faith more than the country. Besides if they see those outside their religious community as enemies or oppressors, then national unity is impossible.

This book has a lengthy discussion on how Gandhi’s position on nationalism changed over the years.

If you enjoyed the summary and want to know more the full text can be found HERE

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