Would a Dalit Jinnah have gotten Dalitstan?

Was Jinnah simply the right man who happened to be Muslim?

Or rather would the Muslim community have always produced a saviour to “save them?”

Addendum, Comment of the Day:

Apart from not touching untouchables or not eating with them, there was no feeling in the masses that they were separate from us.

The best analogy of the Dalits are blacks in the American South. If you won’t touch, eat or sleep with someone how can you claim any sort of kinship or connection to them?

29 thoughts on “Would a Dalit Jinnah have gotten Dalitstan?”

    1. “After 3 years of stay in Pakistan Mondal bitterly complained of religious intolerance and Hindu hatred in Pakistan and returned to India.”

      If there is one thing which i am really bitter about partition is this issue. Not pushing people who were collaborators of partition into Pakistan.

      If i would have had my way it would have been better to force Mondal and see and suffer for himself the project he helped. Allowing him back to India was giving him the easy way out. Similar to him there were many like Raja of Mahmoddabad , the Nusli wadias, Communist muslim leaders who supported Pakistan. All of them were allowed back in after they became “disillusioned” with Pakistan.

      This is because these people didn’t suffer consequences of their actions , they went on with their life as if nothing happened.

      1. If there is one thing which i am really bitter about partition is this issue. Not pushing people who were collaborators of partition into Pakistan.

        May be they were allowed back in to serve a propaganda purpose (we told you so..).

        who knows. doesn’t even matter now. all of these people who had second thoughts about pakistan became politically irrelevant. forgotten and consigned to the dustbin of history. just goes on to prove how important it is to stick to a decision once you make it.

        1. “May be they were allowed back in to serve a propaganda purpose (we told you so..).”

          Bro now don;t go all “we were playing 5D chess” on me.

          “all of these people who had second thoughts about pakistan became politically irrelevant. forgotten and consigned to the dustbin of history. ”

          Only they didn’t . The Raja of Mahmudamad still lives in his mansion. The Dina Wadias still own corporations. The Muslim league left overs in UP joined Congress and had their local fiefdom protected. Aligarh Muslim University is still standing., and so is Jinnah house in mumbai.

  1. Where would they even have gone? They were a diffusely spread population of mostly enserfed laborers.

  2. Dalit as a separate political entity ( from other Hindus). was in its formative years when ambedkar came along. This is different from political and social separation b/w hindu and Muslims which existed before partition. So notwithstanding Jinnah or any one else there would not be a Dalit-Stan at that point

    Almost every adjustment which ambedkar made with the congress ( Poona pact etc) underlines this fact that as much as ambedkar tried he could not create a separate Dalit identity even when he wanted to.

    1. When you say there was no Dalit identity, do you mean the Dalits were split across many castes and that even Ambedkar could not unite all under one umbrella ? Certainly Dalit castes had an identity separate from upper caste Hindus.

      Creating a Dalitstan was – at least then – not a practical idea even if somehow they could be geographically concentrated. Centuries of exclusion meant there weren’t enough qualified people to effectively run a country. But of course Mr. Jinnah was capable of promising many things to many people. 😉

      1. \Certainly Dalit castes had an identity separate from upper caste Hindus.\
        Each ‘dalit’ caste has also separate identity from other ‘dalit’ castes. Dalit is a convenient umbrella term for political analysis.

        1. “Each ‘dalit’ caste has also separate identity from other ‘dalit’ castes”

          Agreed. So there are many Dalit identities, not one unified one – even today. But to say Dalits are part of one big happy Hindu family requires some seriously rosy spectacles.

  3. ” Certainly Dalit castes had an identity separate from upper caste Hindus.”

    Because at that point of time , dalits notwithstanding years of humiliation still saw themselves as part of Hinduism. The majority of dalits were still with Gandhi /Congress(which is not true wrt muslims -Jinnah) .

    I would argue even with all conditions fulfilled (geographically concentrated, enough qualified people and a Jinnah) , Dalitstan in 47 would still not have been possible. Just like Khalistan wasn;t possible in 47 . There was enough commonality (even if by a thread) for either dalits, sikhs to separate themselves from India (Hindu majority). The N-East (Majority christian, different ethnicity than mainland) had more chances of separating from India

  4. I would love to hear the views of some Dalits on this.

    Would be great to have someone like Sanedo on a podcast. That was one of my favourite episodes.

  5. It was not possible earlier and won’t be possible in the future. when u say Dalits, they are not a separate identity like Muslims. Muslims dress differently, pray to a different god, have separate customs, write in the script of invaders, some even say that invaders were their ancestors. Dalits don’t have this separate identity, they are part and parcel of Hindu identity. They are not even a single caste for that matter, they don’t look alike in different parts of the India. Dalits of Himachal doesn’t look like Dalits of MP. They don’t have same traditions every where and language. they may not worship even the same deities. Apart from not touching untouchables or not eating with them, there was no feeling in the masses that they were separate from us. They were seen as people who did bad things in their past life and got birth in these castes as a result. Majority of India was illiterate at the time of freedom, no caste was 100 literate. Negative effect of partition is more towards Muslims, Hindus are better off in comparison . This Bias towards Dalits by other castes is as troublesome as Islamism of orthodox Muslims. There will be no Dalitistan or any -stan for any other caste in India. Dalits at the time of partition didn’t see themselves as different from Hindus like Muslims.

    1. “Muslims write in the script of invaders”

      As do Hindus. The Brahmi script (where all Indian scripts descend from) was likely a derivation of (gasp) early Semitic languages, brought during the invasions of Iranic peoples into South-Asia.

      1. That was written in response to Hindu- Muslim partition, quest for a separate Muslim identity by Muslims.

      2. Well the entire Subcontinent wrote in the same script.

        The irony of ironies is that all scholars of medieval Indians must learn Persian to get any primary information ..

        So this historical amnesia

        1. The irony of ironies is that all scholars of medieval Indians must learn Persian to get any primary information ..

          I guess the keyword being Medieval Indians.

          Similarly, much of primary information in last 2-3 centuries will be in English.

      3. Brahmi script’s foreign influence was by the Phoenicians not Iranians. There is no evidence that it was brought primarily by invaders over say traders. There is a debate of where Brahmi first originated, the north or the south.

        1. Karan,

          You weren’t reading carefully. I said Semitic (which includes Phoenician) languages were the precursor to Brahmi. But these were likely brought via Iranian conquests.

          There’s obviously “debate” about many things that happened so long ago, but the consensus position among academics is that Brahmi originated in modern-day Pakistan (Punjab), as a result of West-Asian incursions. That the script originated in the south via-trade isn’t really a serious position many hold.

  6. // Would a Dalit Jinnah have gotten Dalitstan ? //

    No he would not & here are the reasons why –

    1. Various communities were exploited historically there is no denying that but the reason for it were different in different periods, different regions & during different rulers. Even B.R. Ambedkar has made this point but he attacked religion because that’s how the issue of community & Identity outside of Abrahamic identities were conceptualized & claims were made during politics of his period. Also since he had Western education his understanding of India had been muddled with Orientalist claims of his period.


    Hence tribes, Caste, Hindutva as well as formalization of Hinduism, Arya samaj reformers aka Neo-Hinduism etc. born out of questions asked from objectives of conversion by missionaries & of governance via ‘divide & rule’ by colonial authorities.

    2. Dalits is a term consciously chosen for politics of ‘Oppressed’ & is not essentially a term that was relevant before Identity politics because Identity politics was not present in Indian mind before Colonizers game of ‘Divide & rule’ & to divide they used different communities & different claims of communities for resources to pit them against each other.



    So since Dalit is simply an Indigenous political term for politics of oppressed in India it has conflict with every other ideology or system as all ‘oppressed’ are being made to make claims based upon their ‘oppression’ by linking it to their primary religious/Caste identity & not on the basis of equality of Individual rights or laws.

    They also reject all other ideologies because they don’t trust any other ideology except ‘community oppression’ & emancipation claims because that’s how it has been done since independence & hence i am sure that India will certainly face civil war & decline sooner rather than later.


    Orientalism within Ambedkar’s writings esp. in “Annhiliation of Caste” –

    1) 8 [Caste prevents the uplift and incorporation of the aboriginal tribes]

    Notice the views he takes with regards to Indigenous people which are more akin to the views which colonizers had of the world with which they used to justify their actions of colonization as Civilizing missions.

    2) 24 [A true priesthood should be based on qualification, not heredity]

    Notice –
    Demand for structured true religion.
    One book.

    Important features of Abrahamic religions. Here he also acknowledges the presence of ideals like Fraternity, Liberty & Equality in Upanishads.

    3) 21 [Internal reform of the Caste System is virtually impossible] – http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/ambedkar/web/section_21.html

    He sees the reform impossible because it is religiously sanctioned {The point that has been debunked by scholars & is basically an ‘Orientalist’ construct about Indian society as i explained in my earlier post.}

    My detailed post –

  7. Now from Jinnah’s perspective –

    Since there was unity regarding Identity i.e. Muslims he could make appeals to them which have been impossible to do if he would have been dalit as i have said it is a political term for oppressed communities of India & hence is not an ‘Identity’ thus his appeals would have failed.

    The Identity & rights are interlinked in modern world – More the members of certain identity the more leniency & more rights they enjoy internationally. Also bigger & bolder claims like partition can only be asked for if there is a ‘coherent Identity’ without which every person & community is reduced to make claims on resources, mostly ‘regionally’ {Urban-Rural divide}.

  8. Or rather would the Muslim community have always produced a saviour

    It would have because it had 3 fundamental things going for it.
    The separatist movement had enough time (decades) to build up momentum and self-sustenance.
    And secondly, Muslims had many elites (on account of the pre-British post Mughal historic baggage) which afforded it more political power, Relative to other sections of equivalent scale.
    Thirdly, It wanted it.

    Hence Jinnah was just someone who happened to be at the Right Place, Right Time.

    For Dalit it didn’t happen because of the same above reasons, fundamentally.
    It lacked political unity and agency and there wasn’t enough time to generate that and they didn’t even want that (at that stage late 40s), even with Ambedkar. He wasn’t a proponent of splitting India on those lines at that stage.

    Hence the question can be framed in another way. What if British were to hand over India in 1910’s and 1920s post WW1.
    Would you say Jinnah or ML or someone like that would have resulted in getting a Pakistan or another country?
    Heck then Burma wasn’t separated by that stage.

    Meaning. IF British had a Dalit/Caste leader who had enough pull and he/they actively wanted a Separate country and there was enough(need not be anywhere close to Absolute, it just needed to be enough) consensus among the caste population it would have meant another split of some sort though then the practicality of it becomes an issue because Caste(Upper-Lower or otherwise) populations in India are everywhere and live side by side.

    But the British IF given the chance would have done this because that is what they did. It isn’t an accident. Once twice, thrice is what is accident. British have a track record of leaving places in a mess the world over. They just never got the Caste opportunity, had they stayed 2-3 decades and India gotten Independence along when African States did, possibly India would have entered a more bloodier Civil War.

    So India was lucky to have gotten it early, but unlucky to have gotten it 2-3 decades late to prevent Pakistan.

    Partition is THE greatest tragedy to befall India in the last 500 Years and it is greater than the British Conquest because of the scale of damage it is and will continue to do for decades/centuries to come.
    It has neutered India’s geo-strategic options monumentally. In the past, a United North India would just have annexed what is today Pakistan but that is not simple now.

    Partition makes us weak in ways we don’t even realize it.

    1. \Hence Jinnah was just someone who happened to be at the Right Place, Right Time.\

      You can add Jinnah was also fortunate in having Right Enemies i.e. Gandhi and Nehru who just gave in without a fight.

  9. I know I was the one who once claimed that a Dalit Jinnah would have gotten them a Dalitistan.

    This was of course a hyperbole. However, I still stand by the basic thrust of my argument that a Dalit Jinnah would have gotten them a way-way-better deal than Ambedkar.

    First and foremost, there always was an undisguised threat of violence behind the demand for Pakistan. Jinnah said as much when he made the infamous statement that “we have forged a pistol (in the form of Pakistan movement), and we are in the position to use it”. By contrast, Dalits were in no position to use violence against upper caste Hindus.

    Also, unlike the Muslims, Dalits were not concentrated in any geographical area, so the nucleus for a future Dalit state didn’t exist.

    That being said, a Dalit Jinnah would have certainly got them a constitutionally guaranteed power sharing scheme, along with a guaranteed prime-ministership every few years. Also, a Dalit Jinnah probably would have become the first chief executive (governor general, prime minister, whatever) of India.

    The problem with Ambedkar was that he was basically an academician, and lacked the deviousness and ruthlessness required in the business of politics.

  10. “The best analogy of the Dalits are blacks in the American South.”

    Zach, I went through this post of yours in the afternoon, and interestingly while surfing through some academic profiles just now, came across this book by Gyanendra Pandey ji of the Emory University, Georgia, a renowned historian on topics concerning South Asia. The book seemed apropos to what you wrote earlier. I don’t have anything to add to the topic, but thought that this might interest someone who took note of the analogy made.

    “A History of Prejudice: Race, Caste, and Difference in India and the United States”


    “This fall, he has a new book due out from Cambridge University Press, “A History of Prejudice: Race, Caste and Difference in India and the United States,” which juxtaposes the civil rights struggle of African Americans and that of India’s Dalits, formerly known as India’s “untouchables.

    This is a book about prejudice and democracy, and the prejudice of democracy. In comparing the historical struggles of two geographically disparate populations – Indian Dalits (once known as Untouchables) and African Americans – Gyanendra Pandey, the leading subaltern historian, examines the multiple dimensions of prejudice in two of the world’s leading democracies. The juxtaposition of two very different locations and histories and, within each of these, of varying public and private narratives of struggle, allows for an uncommon analysis of the limits of citizenship in modern societies and states. Pandey, with his characteristic delicacy, probes the histories of his protagonists to uncover a shadowy world where intolerance and discrimination are part of both public and private lives. This unusual and sobering book is revelatory in its exploration of the contradictory history of promise and denial that is common to the official narratives of nations such as India and the United States and the ideologies of many opposition movements.”

  11.  Brahmi script’s foreign influence was by the Phoenicians not Iranians

    Greeks also say that they got their first alphabet from Phoenicians. However, they could not explain many things, for e.g. the letter ‘Ч’ (i.e. Č, i.e. CH) for which they did not have a voice, but they had to have because letters also represented numbers (like later Roman numbers). Ч (= 90) was a part of the Serbian VinČa’s alphabet for thousands of years. Even without this example, how likely is that Greeks did not take the alphabet from people in which land they migrated and lived for hundreds of years and took some far away alphabet?

    What about Aryans? Have they brought any culture to the new world? Language? Caste system? Laws? Customs? Mythology? It seems, this is still a taboo topic. Even those who acknowledge their existence think of them as aliens who shortly visited the Earth at SA, left few genes in eprouvettes and disappeared without traces. Or, as field nomadic guys without any culture, who left their grass rich fertile land and their flocks to climb Himalayas, Tibet and Afghanistan.

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