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Understanding the Two-Nation Theory. India, Bharat and Pakistan by J Sai Deepak. Book Review

India, Bharat and Pakistan

Author: Shri J Sai Deepak Ji

Published By: Bloomsbury India

No of Pages: 616 Pages.

MRP: Rs. 799/-

Thank you @bloomsburyindia for a media copy of the book.

After the tremendous success of the first book in the Bharat Trilogy, India, That is Bharat, Sai Deepak ji has brought the second book, India, Bharat and Pakistan. The first book talked about coloniality. Christian or European coloniality to be specific. This book majorly deals with Middle Eastern coloniality. The book also busts all the wide. lt help beliefs that the two-nation theory is only a British invention. The author successfully links Syed Ahmad Khan and the Aligarh movement, at the very least, to the modern beginnings of the two-nation thesis.

The book starts by going into several different schools-of-though in the middle eastern frameworks among these are the Barelvi SOT, The Wahabi SOT and the Dehlawi SOT. These people were basically Islam supremacists and fundamentalist who were very unhappy with the diluted Islam. They wanted the people of the faith to go back to their roots. The Aligarh Movement and Syed Ahmad Khan is also discussed, along with the popular narrative around his involvement in the Two-Nation Theory. Islamic revivalism was more of a response to the revival of the Hindu and Sikh religions than it was to Colonialism. Numerous primary sources are used to support the idea that the British and Muslims viewed each other as more compatible and deserving than the "Hindus" in terms of religion. All this is covered in the First Section of the book, which covers the time frame of 1740-1898.

The second and third sections of the book cover the events of 1899-1909 and 1910-1924 respectively. While these might seem as a small frame of time in retrospect, events of huge importance took place at these times. Moderate Nationalism is discussed here. It begins from discussing the rift in the Indian National Congress between the ‘Moderates’ and the ‘Extremists’. In a nutshell, while the latter wanted complete independence from the British, the former wanted self-governance, under the British Empire. Many of these Moderates also were under the colonial influence of the British and wanted to boot-lic them all the time, pardon the language. In fact, Raja Rammohan Roy wrote a letter dated 11 December 1823, to the then Governor General William Pitt, that is worth recollecting. In that letter—using language that would befit a present-day Marxist—Roy derided Sanskrit and indigenous knowledge systems, and implored the colonial master to shine the light of Western education on the heathen native. This was in stark contrast to the consistent efforts of the Muslim community to preserve Islamic learning, even when it was at loggerheads with scientific facts such as the rotation of the earth or its heliocentric position. Even in the anglicised Aligarh model of Syed Ahmed Khan, Western education was imparted in an Islamic environment, with equal emphasis on traditional Islamic education and the freedom to learn languages most associated with Islam, namely Arabic, Persian and Urdu…..

Western education was but a means to navigate the colonial establishment and ultimately restore Muslim state power, whereas ‘Hindoo social reformers’ seemed visibly eager to assimilate and integrate into the colonial society from the political, economic, cultural and religious perspectives. The stark differences in consciousness, goals, priorities and methods between the Hindu elite and Muslim elite of this period may explain the current state of proud deracination of the former’s successors and the unabashed rootedness of the latter’s successors. I leave it to the readers to decide if Roy’s Hindu reform agenda has strengthened Hindu indigeneity and consciousness compared with Khan’s Aligarh model, which strengthened Middle Eastern consciousness and ultimately paved the way for the creation of Pakistan.

Moderate Nationalism and Moderates vs Extremists and Reformists (the likes of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh) are discussed in quite detail and then the author discussed Muslim Nationalism. The formation of the Muslim League in 1906, the Partition of Bengal and reactions to it, the Minto-Morley reforms ETC. The fact that the Britishers were biased towards the Muslims could not have been clearer. As discussed earlier in the book, the Muslims were fine with living under the British Rule as both their faiths were interrelated in the broader scheme of things. Vice versa, the Britishers also favored the Muslims. The Minto Morley Reforms, the Montford Report and other documents clearly show us so. The different demands of the League were always granted, such as separate electorates. If it were not obvious, the Britishers preferred the Moderates to the Revolutionaries (they considered the Extremists also in the same category). And even to an extent extended support to the Moderates, eventually giving in to the demand of Self Governance through the Government of India Act 1919.

The author then discusses the Khilafat Agitation and the Non Cooperation Movement which I will not get into , considering the length of the review, and concludes the book by saying that by the end of 1924, Bharat’s consciousness was split into a dual consciousness, Indian and Western/European, and when confronted with a much ancient(in context) Middle Eastern or rather Arabic/Islamic Coloniality after surviving the decline of the Mughal Empire. We were not prepared enough to deal with the challenge given our then circumstances, already being under the heavy influence of the European Christian colonizer.

This book was a breeze to read as compared to the first one. It took me 3 months to read India, That is Bharat, and I was solely reading that one book at the time. It took me me about a month and a half to complete reading this book , while reading(and writing about) 5 other different books. So, clearly , and as mentioned in the (much briefer) introduction, the author has taken feedback.

While this book is far easier to grasp as the first book , I must say for me personally it is not that impactful in comparison. I say this not because this book is not impactful, it clearly is. But not as much as the first one. The first book talked about European coloniality and its objective was to was to present the birth of contemporary constitutionalism in Bharat as a continuum of the religious, social, political and economic structures established by the European coloniser in Bharat so that the politico-theological framework within which these structures operated became clear to the reader. The framework included the use of international law through application of the ‘Standard of Civilisation’ as the legal prerequisite for admission of countries to the international comity of ‘nations’. It was demonstrated that the reshaping of Bharat into a Constitution-driven ‘nation state’ was not an isolated product of developments within Bharat as much as it was of Europe’s (read the West’s) remodeling of the world along European/Western lines.

The first book was a wake-up call for me personally. This book also acts similarly but not to the extent of the first book. And that is understandable given that this book wasn’t even originally planned. You know this if you have been following the author through the various interviews and press tours in the past few months. I also don’t mean any disrespect to the researchers, given the amount of heavy reseach the book has taken. The book is a must read indeed. And it is much more accessible to the average reader as compared to India, That is Bharat.

In case you want to purchase the book, do purchase from this link, it will help us out.


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