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Conflict and Compromise: the Case of India and Pakistan

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Though they have been in existence for less than a century, India and Pakistan have enough history between them to fill several books. Tensions between Hindus and Muslims grew rapidly with the split of India and Pakistan in 1947. Before tensions were running high, but now gave way to rioting. It all started when India, then also including what is now present day Pakistan, was under British rule. The British had been ruling for roughly a century and ground the native’s faces in the dirt the entire time they were in power.

Naturally, there were dissenters who did not appreciate being told what to do and these voices grew stronger as time went along. Over the time, Britain had given more and more freedom to India until it was almost free. Around the time of World War 2, Britain asked for the assistance of Indians to fight in the war against Japan. India relented but then talks broke down and India demanded it be free. The Muslim faction of British India (or British Raj), which made up a smaller percentage of British India than Hindus did, did not want India to be free, since they felt they would be treated like second class citizens. Under British doctrine, all natives were treated equal and the Muslims thought they would be treated more fairly under British rule. To fully understand the depth of the situation, one would have to go back when the British first staked their claim in India.

On Dec. 31, 1600, Queen Elizabeth I granted permission to the British East India Company to carry out trade in the East, mainly India. In 1608, the first British traders landed in present-day Gujurat. They established a trading post (factory) and began trading with the locals. In 1612, traders fought off the Portuguese at the Battle of Swally, which won them the favor of the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir. Jahangir showed them his gratitude by granting the British traders the right to build trading posts in his land in exchange of European goods. This had a huge economic impact on the Mughal Empire and set the precedent for many of the other empires to follow. The emperor Jahangir was a benevolent man and was well respected by his subjects, but he did not realize his act was setting up the entire subcontinent for disaster. In 1670, Charles II granted the right to the Company to raise an army, acquire land, print money and do everything that would basically make it it’s own country. Not until the eighteenth century were the British taken seriously enough to be considered a threat, and by then no one was powerful enough to stop them.

They moved across the land, annexing all lands in present-day India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, parts of Bangladesh and Nepal. Some kingdoms fought valiantly against the might of the East India Trading Company but fell in the end, most notably Tippu Sultan of the Mysore Kingdom. Some small kingdoms remained but they too, were soon taken after the Lord Dalhousie, who devised the Doctrine of Lapse, which said the Company had the right to take over any kingdom whose ruler had died without a male heir. At the end of their campaign, the Company had an army of over 280,000; only 38,000 of whom were British. The rest of the 242,000 were called sepoys, (or sipiaahi in Urdu, meaning “soldier”) a mix of Hindus and Muslims some of whom served of their own free will but more were conscripted. Soon, there was a complete monopoly on British India; the Company stripped the land of precious materials like gold, silver, diamonds and silk. Indians did not make money off these since it was used to pay ridiculously high taxes.

Indians now went through one of the most difficult times in their history. At this time, much of India was hit with a huge drought that made farming very hard. What the East India Trading Company was doing to India and its economy was like what Britain was doing to the English colonies in America. They transported the raw materials, (which they bought from the farmers at rock bottom prices) back to Britain, where they were processed into goods, and sent them back to India as finished products which they sold for very high prices. The Company forced farmers who could not pay their taxes to grow crops that were in demand in Britain, such as indigo, coffee, jute and tea. Britain used India for everything and gave back nothing; for instance, they conducted the illegal opium trade through India to China since it could not trade opium directly in China because of Customs and Excise. At the height of operations, Britain exported nearly 1,400 tons of opium per year. Over the years, Indians began to feel that they were being treated unfairly and some rebellious thoughts began to form. All these emotions were jumpstarted when Mangal Pandey, a sepoy in the 34th regiment of the Bengal Native Infantry, (Appendix A, Figure 2) fired at a commanding officer and was sentenced to hang.

At his hanging, in the face of all the British officers and the 1,000 Indians who showed up to the hanging, shouted the words “Halla Bol” which means The End. Many historians thought the new Enfield P-53 rifle which used cow fat to grease the cartridge, was the instigator that led to unrest and mutiny. The cow is considered very sacred in Hindu culture even today. After hearing about the heroics of Mangal Pandey, the sepoys revolted and thus started The Rising, (also know as the Indian Rebellion of 1857). The sepoys banded together and marched toward New Delhi, where the Mughal Emperor, trying to rectify the mistake made by his ancestor, the emperor Jahangir, broke away from Company control and waged war against them. It was not much of a war, more of a hit and run event using guerrilla tactics. Although the British put down the mutineers, it caused them to rethink their policies concerning India. Before now, the Company held a tight stranglehold over India and there was no room for maneuvering.

Now Britain realized that this stranglehold was precisely what led to the mutiny and ordered the Company to loosen up its policies. Also, it ordered more social interaction between the Europeans and the Indians. This, they hoped would lead to a more open relationship and not a master-servant relationship. Also, they rewarded the sepoys and kings who stood by the Company during The Rising and also softened their stance towards rigorous religious practices such as the “suttee” which a widow climbs on to her husband’s funeral pyre and follows him to heaven. The British realized how strongly the Indians felt about their customs and tried not to intervene. Also, the British Government appointed a governor-general who was to oversee all operations. The second governor-general (or viceroy) repealed the Doctrine of Lapse, returning all the land the Company took over when the land’s native owners did not have any male heirs to take the throne. This accounted to about 25% of the land the Company controlled. There was not much economic impact due to The Rising and things were run the same way they have been for centuries. One thing that did make a difference was the Industrial Revolution; it allowed machines to do the work in hours that took farmers days to complete.

It was also at this time that the British noticed a rift between Hindus and Muslims. The two groups mainly kept to themselves and each religion denounced the other. They also disagreed on many other things, which led the British to keep them in separate regiments. In some battles, whole regiments would turn against their own army and fight those of the opposite religion. This intense dislike dated from when their ancestors would fight for the best land and food. Over the decades this dislike grew so much that it was hard to believe they could even live by each other. In the earlier part of the 19th century, the British gave an unprecedented amount of control back the Indians and the first seeds of self-government grew when it was announced the Indian community would select a group of advisors to the Viceroy. Also, Indians would be given selected roles in the central government.

After the assistance India gave in World War 1, the British government showed its gratitude by allowing the Indians to set up their own legislatures and would slowly be incorporated into the higher British legislatures. Over time, the Viceroy had come to consult the Indian leaders of the legislatures (or Congress), so when it was found he had volunteered India’s services in World War 2 without consulting the Indian leaders, there was a huge uproar. Normally, there would not been an uproar, but the people had gotten used to the freedom and control they had and did not wish to give it up. Sir Stafford Cripps started what is known now as the Cripps’ Mission, which was to convince the Indians to lend a hand to the British cause in exchange for independence after World War 2. He was successful in the beginning but talks between them began to break down. At this time, a man by the name of Mohandas K. Gandhi launched a non-violent movement known as Quit India. This movement called for the British to withdraw completely. At this same time, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, a Muslim politician, wanted a separate entity for Muslims.

He and most of the Muslim population felt that they would be treated unfairly by a purely Indian government since India was mostly populated with Hindus. Jawaharlal Nehru, the Hindu leader, who was backed by the masses and most notably, Gandhi, rejected the British offer and the British were too occupied with World War 2 and complied with the Indians’ request. This is where the conflict with Hindus and Muslims moved into high gear. Jinnah wanted to create a separate country and Hindus did not want to give up a part of the land they had lost for centuries earlier. In the region that is now Kashmir, rioting broke out between Hindus and Muslims and the two leaders, who had the utmost respect for each other and only wanted to be what was best for the people agreed to meet. They met in Kashmir, the center of the riots, so at least the violence would stop for as long as they held open conversation. They came away with the Muslims having got what they wanted, a country for themselves. (Appendix A, Figure 1) This country, officially named The Dominion of Pakistan (Pakistan in Urdu means the Land of the Pure) was in the north-west part of the former British Raj and also the eastern part.

This was where most of the Muslims were situated anyway but also a sign of how they were treated as low class citizens because that region has very bad farming conditions and the land is very rocky. The intentions of the noble leaders, Nehru and Jinnah, (Appendix A, Figure 3) were good but the leaders who followed them sullied their names by setting themselves up as enemies. Over the years, there have been many conflicts between the two countries, the last one nearly resulting in nuclear warfare. One of the reasons they hate each other is because each of the respective religions have a deep seated hatred of another. This goes back to the time of the Indus Valley Civilization (Muslims) and the barbarous brown-skinned people of the south (Hindus).

One of the main reasons the hatred has reignited over the past years is because of the province of Kashmir. Kashmir is a lush, beautiful place with majestic mountains and serene lakes which attracts thousands of tourists per year. It is over this paradise that battles are being fought. Also, adding to the effect Kashmir has on the economy, it is a strategic military base because of the mountains. There have been total of three conflicts over the past years centered on Kashmir. As of now, India controls Kashmir and the newest threat that had come out of both countries was nuclear warfare. For two days, there was a standoff to see who would blink first and the countries came to an agreement not to use nuclear weapons. This threat of nuclear warfare is huge since Pakistan is not fully democratic and has been under military rule for many years of its existence.

The theme of conflict and compromise goes very well with this topic since enmity seems to be a never ending cycle of conflicts and compromises between these two countries. There have been many conflicts in the short 60 years of these countries existence, most notably the conflict that brought the separation of India and Pakistan. There has never been in the history of mankind, two countries who fought like this for what amounts to so little. The reason as to why India and Pakistan strongly dislike each other is because each respective country does not like the other’s religion. Even before the British came to the subcontinent, Hindus and Muslims lived together in peace. The conditions may not have been harmonious, but they were good enough so Muslims and Hindus could live together. Now, by creating two separate countries, each religion had a common enemy they could spread propaganda about.

It made it easier for the people who are trying to create chaos easier to do so. The original founding father of each country had only noble intentions and only tried to stop the bloodshed. They did not imagine the hatred and enmity that would follow. It is like the Constitution of these United States, the leaders who wrote it had the right idea when writing it, but they did not realize people of future generations would be manipulating those very laws to their own ends. People have made assumptions about other people just because of their home country and they are predisposed to dislike that particular person. If the country was united, like it was under the British, people would be open and not so quick to judge based on religion. The compromises, they turned out to be quick compromises as conflicts continue to turn up, even to this very day. The biggest compromise, which was one-sided in favor of the Pakistanis, was that Pakistan was created in the first place to avoid further bloodshed. As it has been stated before, tensions between Hindus and Muslims grew rapidly with the split of India and Pakistan in 1947.

Works Cited

Baker, Mark. “The War of Sorrow in Kashmir.” WorldPress 4 June 2002, Vol. 49 No.9 ed. 1 Nov. 2007 . Banerjie, Indranil. Celebrating 50 Years of Indian Independance. 1997. SAPRI INDIA. 1 Nov. 2007 . Bollu, Nagandra. Personal interview. 17 Oct. 2007.

Bollu, Prasuna. Personal interview. 16 Oct. 2007.
“Kargil War-1965.” Armed Conflict Events Data. 11 Dec. 2000. 1 Nov. 2007 .
Kotapati, Krishnavati. Personal interview. 24 Oct. 2007.
Kotapati, Rao. Personal interview. 15 Oct. 2007.
Pike, John. “1999 Kargil Conflict.” Global Security. Ed. John Pike. 27 Apr. 2005. 1 Nov. 2007 . Rakshak, Bharat. The First Kashmir War 1947-48. Ed. Bharat Rakshak. 10 June 2007. 1 Nov. 2007 . Singh, Karam. Indian Soldier. Photograph. Tribune India. Tribune India. Ed. H.K. Dua. 1 Nov. 2007 .

Annotated Bibliography

Primary Sources

Bollu, Nagandra. Personal interview. 17 Oct. 2007.
Nagandra Bollu was a 18-year old boy at the time and was very much into the war and how it was going. This first-hand account helped me to visualize what the common people were feeling at the time.

Bollu, Prasuna. Personal interview. 16 Oct. 2007.
Prasuna Bollu was a 13-year old girl when the war started and her family had some political influence. Her insight showed me what the wealthier people of India were thinking about the war.

Kotapati, Krishnavati. Personal interview. 24 Oct. 2007.

Krishnavati Kotapati’s father was enlisted to serve in the army and he served for 2 years. Her input gives me the feelings of a soldier who actually participated in the war.

Kotapati, Rao. Personal interview. 15 Oct. 2007.
Rao Kotapati is a historian is his spare time and has helped me through some difficult parts of my paper. He is important to my paper because he has witnessed the events with his own eyes

Secondary Sources

Baker, Mark. “The War of Sorrow in Kashmir.” WorldPress 4 June 2002, Vol. 49
No.9 ed. 1 Nov. 2007 . This website gave me many facts on how the people of Kashmir acted. This source is valuble to my paper since it gave me specific quotes of what the people of Kashmir said.

Banerjie, Indranil. Celebrating 50 Years of Indian Independance. 1997. SAPRI INDIA. 1 Nov. 2007 . This website is a basic overview of everything that happened. This source is valuable to me since it provides a timeline for me to refer to.

Pike, John. “1999 Kargil Conflict.” Global Security. Ed. John Pike. 27 Apr. 2005. 1 Nov. 2007 . This website gave me a lot of my information for the Kargil War. It gave me battles sites and maps and a lot of things I will use heavily in my paper.

Rakshak, Bharat. The First Kashmir War 1947-48. Ed. Bharat Rakshak. 10 June 2007. 1 Nov. 2007 . This website was about the first Kashmir War and what caused it. This source is important to my paper since this is the source I used most for the Kashmir War.

Singh, Karam. Indian Soldier. Photograph. Tribune India. Tribune India. Ed. H.K. Dua. 1 Nov. 2007 . This picture depicts an Indian soldier dressed for combat. This picture is important to my paper because it shows how soldiers at that time went into war.

“Kargil War-1965.” Armed Conflict Events Data. 11 Dec. 2000. 1 Nov. 2007 . This website gave many tiny details about the war that I could not find in other sources. This website is important to my paper because of the intricate details it gave about the war.

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