CHANGING HOMELANDS

CHANGING HOMELANDS

Neeti Nair
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Harvard University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jbtdc
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  • Book Info
    CHANGING HOMELANDS
    Book Description:

    Neeti Nair’s account of the partition in the Punjab rejects the idea that essential differences between the Hindu and Muslim communities made political settlement impossible. Far from being an inevitable solution, partition—though advocated by some powerful Hindus—was a stunning surprise to the majority of Hindus in the region.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06115-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. [Map]
    (pp. xii-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)

    Twenty years after the Partition of India, the Punjabi Hindu leader Dr. Gokul Chand Narang let loose these freely flowing thoughts: “Jinnah, in a way, was wrong in asking for Pakistan. You know he wanted parity. You understand what I mean by parity. If parity was there, Hindus would have been absolutely nowhere. I was chairman of a public meeting. I said that I would agree to Pakistan, but never to parity. Pakistan was much a lesser evil than parity. Don’t you agree with me? We all knew that Hindus would never come to unanimity.”¹ When I first read his...

  6. 1 LOYALTY AND ANTI-COLONIAL NATIONALISM
    (pp. 13-50)

    The turn of the twentieth century was a time of flux for the Hindus of the Punjab. The long shadow of the famines of the 1890s; the tension produced by rival Christian and Arya Samaji orphan relief movements; the assassination of an Arya Samaji preacher, Pt. Lekh Ram, by a Muslim followed by a momentary coming together of the otherwise divided Hindu community; the discovery of an imperial policy that aimed to redress the imbalance in government employment by favouring Muslims; and the passing of the Land Alienation Act of 1900 all seemed to suggest to Punjabi Hindus that this...

  7. 2 NEGOTIATING A MINORITY STATUS
    (pp. 51-93)

    The 1920s have long been viewed as a decade that introduced conflict between religiously defined communities all the way up until Partition. I consider anew the multiple kinds of politics this decade encompassed in the following two chapters. The backdrop was provided by the Non-cooperation-Khilafat movement (1919–1922) led by Gandhi, the Ali brothers, and a mixed cast of leaders and followers. This mass movement had been launched to protest the Rowlatt Act, the wrongs committed by the martial law regime in Punjab in the summer of 1919, and the imminent collapse of the institution of the Khilafat following the...

  8. 3 RELIGION AND NON-VIOLENCE IN PUNJABI POLITICS
    (pp. 94-132)

    The 1920s held out a plethora of possibilities both in Punjab and across India. A focus on riots and the rise of shuddhi and sangathan might suggest that the interests of the community triumphed over those of the nation all the way until Partition. But I have examined the politics of minority Hindus in the Punjab and the NWFP, and shown, with careful attention to shifts in position, how Punjabi Hindus debated amongst themselves and with Hindus in the rest of India about how best to craft their demands and to align themselves vis-à-vis minorities and majorities elsewhere.

    I focus...

  9. 4 TOWARDS AN ALL-INDIA SETTLEMENT
    (pp. 133-178)

    Chapters 1–3 reveal how Punjabis forged a consensus on questions as critical as the rights of political prisoners, laws that would govern them at a time of peace, and the right to proselytise. On what questions, then, did they disagree? The later-day fact of Partition has made religious differences appear wholly intransigent. But was this how contemporaries understood politics? On the various safeguards for religiously defined minorities in formal political arenas—including joint/separate electorates; appropriate weightages in legislatures and other local bodies; reservation in the services; and reservation for Muslims in a federal, all-India center—Punjabis belonging to different...

  10. 5 PARTITION VIOLENCE AND THE QUESTION OF RESPONSIBILITY
    (pp. 179-218)

    Manto’s questions echoed endlessly in the summer of 1947.¹ Later, historians attempted an answer. They used big words—“genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” “sectarian violence,” and “communal violence”—that sounded bulky and alien to Punjabi ears, words that hardly ventured into the contemporary archive. For contemporaries who were victims, perpetrators, as well as mere witnesses, there was fear to contend with, a strange, polarizing fear to which they were not accustomed. When, on Partition’s eve, power flew from the seemingly comprehensible instructions of ministers to the incomprehensible rumours of an uncontrollable press, from railway station to student rally, from mixed neighbourhoods to...

  11. 6 MEMORY AND THE SEARCH FOR MEANING IN POST-PARTITION DELHI
    (pp. 219-255)

    My journey to grapple with Partition began when my grandfather remarked that despite the fact of Partition, he would gladly have continued to work in Lahore. I sat there stunned, not sure if he was serious. Why, he asked, don’t people work in Dubai? And wasn’t Lahore far closer than Dubai? In post-Partition India, Lahore felt a million miles further than Dubai. His vivid memory of the desire to stay on in Lahore, despite the high politicking that had resulted in Partition and despite the long years since Partition, formed an unanalysed silence. This chapter uses oral history to think...

  12. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 256-262)

    Why did so many Punjabis insist that they never saw Partition coming? Was this the work of nostalgia or memories gone astray? Why did so many historians insist that Partition was inevitable? Were they victims of an inexorable faith in the power of historical explanation? Yet the players and writers of history often spoke the same language and frequently drifted into each other’s modes of explanation. I found the questions that were posed to me as I conducted interviews in 2002–2003 returning as I re-read my notes from the archives. I felt that a whole range of powerful emotions...

  13. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 263-266)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 267-320)
  15. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 321-326)
  16. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 327-334)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 335-343)