Thursday, 7 June 2012

Jinnah: A look at how much he loved India in his early years and how he fought for India’s Secular Principles Part-I:The Beginning 1876-1910-Reference: Jinnah of Pakistan, by Stanley Wolpert, Oxford University Press.

In Lincoln Inn :the hallowed hall of British Jurisprudence is an oil painting, hung since July 1965 on the entrance of the Great Hall and Library in London. The anonymous artist captured his upbright, unbending spirit, as well as his impeccable taste in clothes, yet Jinnah’s face is almost as enigmatic and spare as the shining brass plate beneath. His eyes, opened wide, are piercing; his lips, tightly closed, formidable. One would guess that he was a man of few words, never easily thwarted or defeated.  “M.A. Jinnah, Founder and First Governor-General of Pakistan” stares down at the students, barristers, and benchers rushing in and out of Lincoln’s Inn, nothing more is revealed of Jinnah’s history, but his birth and death date, but what should interest Indians is, that there was much more to Jinnah, including the fact that even uptill the last decade of British Raj, Jinnah remained, by and large committed to India’s unity.

Even so it must be said that Jinnah during the last decade of his life tenaciously and single mindedly fought for Pakistan.

A part of Jinnah’s personality was due to his background, Jinnah belonged to a minority community within Islam, itself a religious minority in India, the Khojas of  South Asia remained doubly conscious of their separateness and cultural difference, helping perhaps to account for the “aloofness” so often noted as a characteristic quality of Jinnah. Khojas, like other mercantile communities, however, traveled extensively, were quick to assimilate new ideas, and adjusted with relative ease to strange venvironments. They developed linguistic skills and sharp intelligence, often acquiring considerable wealth.

As an eleven year old Jinnah visited Bombay and would never forget it, although he went back to Karachi after little more than six months it was hardly out of boredom with his new environment.

As a seventeen year old Jinnah left for England, and although had some initial adjustment pangs, soon adjusted to life in London and began to like it before long.
His perfect manners and attire always assured him entry into any of England’s stately homes, clubs and palces. Jinnah became a model of fashion the world over, rivaled among his South Asian contemporaries only by Motilal Nehru.

Dadbhai Naoroji fought and narrowly won in 1892  a seat in Britian’s Parliament. During the campaign, he was characterized as a “black man” during the campaign. From that day, Jinnah was an uncompromising enemy of all bars of colour and racial prejudice. Jinnah was thrilled to hear Dadabhais maiden speech extolling the virtue of Free Speech in the House of Commons. As Jinnah noted “there he was, an Indian, who would exercise that right and demand justice for his countrymen.”

In 1893 when Jinnah enrolled in the Lincln’s Inn, John Morley was elected as a bencher and argued for placing “truth” first among any choice of “principles”. Jinnah quoted Morley to student audiences later in life, and he personally tried to adhere to the liberal ideas early imbibed from Lincoln’s great bencher.

M.P. Alfred Webb, whom Jinnah had heard from Westminister’s  Gallery, was elected to preside over the Madras Congress in 1894. “I hate tyranny and oppression wherever practiced, more especially if practiced by my own Government, for then I am in a measure responsible,” Webb said to his Indian audience that December. And until the “Irish question” was resolved, President Webb insisted, India like the rest of the British empire, would suffer, for parliament “is paralysed with…the affairs of under five millions of people, and ministries rise and fall on the question of Ireland rather than great Imperial interests.” It was an important lesson for Jinnah, one he subconsciously assimilated during those early lonely years in London, of how a small minority and its insistent demands could “paralyse” a huge empire. He learned to appreciate all the weaknesses as well of strengths of British character.

Jinnah, let go an opportunity to take u the Stage as a profession, after a letter from his father,urging him not to be a traitor to the family.He was however a born actor.Many a political opponent however made the mistake of believing, however, that Jinnah was “only acting” when he was most serious.

In 1896, Jinnah returned to the city he chose as his new permanent home, till partition i.e. Bombay.

Jinnah admired Badruddin Tyabji a secular liberal nationalist, who argued in his presidential address to the Madras Congress: “I, for one, am utterly at loss to understand why Mussulmans should not work shoulder to shoulder with their fellow-countrymen, of other races and creeds, for the common benefit of all..this is the principle on which we, in the Bombay presidency, have always acted.” Jinnah’s other closest friends and admiored elders in Bombay  were Parsis, Hindus and Christians, none of whom took their respective religions as seriously as their faith in British Law and Indian nationalism.

Jinnah’s universe at that time was law, though his singular success as an advocate was not unrelated to his acting talent.” He was what God made him,” a fellow barrister of Bombay’s high court put it, “ a great pleader. He had a sixth sense: he could see around corners. That is where his talents lay…he was a very clear thinker…but he drove his points home-points chosen with exquisite selection-slow delivery, word by word.” Another contemporary noted,”When he stood up in Court, slowly looking towards t6he judge, placing his monocle in his eye-with trhe sense of timing you would expect from an actor-he would become omnipotent. Yes, that is the word-omnipotent. Joachim Alva said he “cast a spell on the court room…head erect, unruffled by the worst circumstances. He has been our boldest advocate.” Jinnah’s most famous legal apptrentice, M.C. Chagla, the first Indian Muslim appointed chief justice of Bombay’s high court, reminisced that his leader’s “presentation of a case” was nothing less than “ a piece of art.”
In politics, Jinnah’s heroes remained Dadabhai Naoroji and another brilliant leader of Bombay’s Parsi community, Sir Pherozeshah Mehta. Sir Pherozeshah was more the Bombay model for Jinnah’s early career than Dadabhai. In 1890 he labeled the
”supposed rivalry” between Hindus and Muslijms nothing more than “a coinvenient decoy to distract attention and defer the day of reform.” Young Jinnah felt much the same way.

The 1904 Congress was Jinnah’s first meeting with Gopal Krishna Gokhale, whose wisdom, fairness and moderation he came to admire so that he soon stated his “fond ambition” in politics was to become “the Muslim Gokale.”

Jinnah left the 1906 Annual Session of the Congress in Calcutta inspired with the mission of advocating the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity, perceiving as few of his contemporaries did how indispensable such unity was to the new goal of Swaraj (“self-government) that Congress had adopted. He was politician enough to realize that his only hope of succeeding his liberal mentors and friends as leader of vthe Congress was by virtue of his seclar constitutional national appeal, not through his double-minority status. In one short decade after returning from London he had virtually emerged as heir apparent to the Bombay triumvirate.

Jinnah was to rise in the Allahabad Congress of 1910 to second a resolution that “strongly deprecates the expansion or application of the principle of Separate Communal Electorates to Municipalities, District Boards, or other Local Bodies.”
Paradoxically, Jinnah spoke at the end of his first year as the Calcutta council’s Muslim member from Bombay.

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