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The Dynamics Of A Relationship…

In his latest publication Gandhi’s Hinduism: The Struggle Against Jinnah’s Islam, noted Indian journalist-turned-politician Mobasher Jawed Akbar has apparently been more than correct in mentioning that for Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948) – an Indian Lawyer, Anti-Colonial Nationalist and Political Ethicist who employed Non-violent Resistance to lead the successful campaign for India’s Independence from British Rule, Religion was what could purify Personal, Eternal and Collective Life. On the other hand, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (December 25, 1876 – September 11, 1948) – a Barrister, Politician and the Founder of Pakistan – used to consider Religion as a path to meet Political Ends

Perhaps, Mahatma Gandhi, too, used to believe in the collective use of Religion. Leaving aside the much-used reference to Khilafat (also known as the Indian Muslim Movement (1919-24) against the British Rulers) and Non-Cooperation Movements, Religion had played quite an important role in Gandhi’s Politics. Many of the contemporary eminent personalities had criticised Gandhi for this. For example, the great Indian Poet and Philosopher Rabindra Nath Tagore accused India’s Father of the Nation of superstition when the latter blamed the 1934 Bihar earthquake on divine chastisement for the great sin of untouchability.

MA Jinnah with MK Gandhi

Reportedly, Tagore had shot off a rebuttal on rationalist lines, with a request for it to be published in Gandhi’s journal, Harijan, and that letter expressed “painful surprise” at “this kind of unscientific view of things”! It was simply inaccurate, Tagore argued to “associate ethical principles with cosmic phenomena”. Thanking Gandhi for inducing “a Freedom from Fear and Feebleness in the minds of his countrymen”, Tagore nevertheless felt “profoundly hurt” when Gandhi’s words strengthened the “elements of unreason” that was the “fundamental source of all the blind powers that drive us against freedom and self-respect”.

Naturally, Akbar’s views may have disheartened some of his readers. Had the author accepted the fact, his book might have provided an opportunity to discuss two completely different perspectives and beliefs on the use of Religion in Politics. However, that opportunity has not been aptly fashioned.

Still, one can consider the book as a collection of many lost moments of the Indian History. The veteran journalist deserves credit for penning a book on an interesting subject. The publication enriches its readers with various facts about the two stalwart leaders of the Indian Subcontinent. Akbar’s style of writing will prompt readers to finish the book at one go. However, the publication, seemingly, lacks in balance. Some have vociferated that it might had more appeal, had Akbar concentrated only on confrontations between the two leaders, instead of giving much stress on other contemporary characters and events in Indian Politics due to which, the author, seemingly, has lost his way, at times…

Furthermore, Akbar’s analysis of Pre-Independence Indian Politics is often touted as being one-sided. As his opinion about Jinnah becomes veritably strong at the beginning, the entire analysis tends to lose its importance. Again, the author has made the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (November 14, 1889 – May 27, 1964), almost a villain because of the one-sidedness!

MJ Akbar

Taking into account his early days, Akbar’s career in journalism and, then, his take on Politics (joining the Indian National Congress Party first and then the Bharatiya Janata Party, and then becoming a minister have, thus, shaped his Thought Process that gets partly seen in black ‘n’ white, in his latest creation!

Yet, it may be concluded that the book is a significant one due to the choice and scope of its subject matter, urging interested persons to bring forward their respective points-of-view in this matter.

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