From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 13, 30 March 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
Whenever the problem of India and the incessant demand of its 385,000,000 people for freedom arises, the Hindu-Moslem question is immediately brought in.
It is the most powerful and most often used argument against granting India its independence. It is most frequently employed by British imperialist officials and their apologists in America.
The argument runs as follows:
“We (the English) have India’s best interests at heart. We would like to see the country free, and standing on its own feet. But we don’t DARE to free India because of the Hindu and Moslem antagonism. Why, if we were to leave India, the country would fall into chaos and civil war; every Hindu would try to murder every Moslem, while every Moslem would try to slit every Hindu’s throat. Therefore, we, the English, must – in the name of common humanity – remain to prevent the outbreak of a Hindu-Moslem struggle. The fact that we continue to drain the country of its wealth and exploit its manpower (and, incidentally, now ask the Indians to prepare to scorch the earth of their country as the Japanese advance) is simply a coincidence. We are really remaining in India to prevent civil war between Hindu and Moslem.”
Thus speaks every spokesman and every newspaper of the United Nations.
A tissue of lies from start to finish! It is not true that the Hindu people and the Moslem people hate one another; that they are prepared to slaughter one another; that, therefore, the British must remain to prevent such a catastrophe. And we shall prove this.
What is the difference between a Moslem and a Hindu? Is it a racial difference, a color difference, a language difference?
Absolutely not! The difference between a Hindu and a Moslem is simply and solely a religious difference; a difference in religious beliefs, customs and practices. It is the same sort of difference as exists, let us say, between Catholics and Protestants, or Baptists and Lutherans in the United States. The Moslems (about one-third of the population) are not a separate and distinct race of people – as, for example, are the Negro people in America – they are a different religious community!
Hindus and Moslems live together, side by side in communities; Hindu peasants and Moslem peasants work side by side; Hindu workers and Moslem workers are in the same factories. If anyone were to suggest that America should be divided between Catholics and Protestants and that these religious communities hate one another we would say either that the man is crazy, or a Ku Klux Klanner. This holds even more true for India. Hindus and Moslems speak the same language, depending on their geographic territory (it is more British propaganda to say that 200 or 300 languages are spoken in India – there are six basic languages spoken in the country); they face exactly the same political and economic problems (namely, to improve their conditions and to obtain the land stolen from them by the English rulers); they ALL live under the same primitive and poverty-stricken conditions.
Furthermore, there has been such an enormous racial intermixing during India’s thousands of years of history that there is no such thing as a racial group in India, Hindus and Moslems look alike, act alike and follow the same general traditions and customs; they differ only on religious questions.
But what about the Indian Nationalist Congress? Isn’t that a Hindu organization? And doesn’t the Moslem League represent the Moslem people? The answer to these questions is NO.
The Congress is not a Hindu nor a religious organization of any kind. It is a POLITICAL organization standing on a POLITICAL program. It participates in political actions and elections. It has no religious program or customs and includes in its ranks members of every religious community in India (Hindus, Moslems, Sikhs, Christians, Parsees, etc.) So do the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party in the United States, but that doesn’t make them religious groups.
Naturally there are more Hindus than any other group in the Congress because Hindus are two-thirds of the population. But they are there because they are NATIONALISTS and fight for their country’s freedom, not because they are Hindus. There are also many Moslems in the organization. The president of the Congress (Azad) is a Moslem; the leader of the Congress Socialist Party (Meherally) is a Moslem. In the Northwest Frontier Province, which is 90 per cent Moslem, the Congress got 90 per cent of the votes at the last election! In a word, it is a political question, not a religious question. Hindus arid Moslems alike are united around the problem of attaining national independence.
But what about the Moslem League and its spokesman, Jinnah, the wealthy Bombay lawyer who claims to speak in the name of the entire Moslem community and who threatens to precipitate civil war if the British withdraw from India?
Here are some additional FACTS (not British propaganda) on the Hindu-Moslem question.
Hindu and Moslem workers and peasants have shown over and over again, in practice, that they recognize their REAL enemy – foreign imperialist rule. In every action involving the question of their freedom they are as one,
In Cawnpore, for example, it is reported, “the Moslem workers have joined the union and have defied all efforts to separate them from their Hindu comrades. Some time ago the communalists of the Moslem League tried to make a split in the union by bringing out a Moslem League green flag, but the workers pointed to their red flag and said that the blood which had dyed it red was not communal or religious.” (Schiff, The Present, Conditions of India, page 174)
This is THEIR answer to the Hindu-Moslem question.
Last updated: 31.5.2013