For much of its course India’s freedom struggle spearheaded by Gandhi and Nehru had only the conditional support of the Muslim community. The community had several insecurities centered on its social and economic backwardness, historical internal differences, as well as the prospect of being rendered powerless in a Hindu dominated independent India. While Gandhi and Nehru, both strongly secular, realized that India would not have an easy freedom without Muslim support, neither was sensitive to the community to calibrate responses that would have effectively addressed its several concerns.
Notwithstanding his strong pro Muslim leanings, Gandhi was always an easy target for his seemingly Hindu ways, while many Muslims viewed Nehru’s adherence to democratic secularism as an effort to ensure Hindu domination of the sub continent. Jinnah successfully exploited his community’s fears while managing to quell its several internal differences, leading to the creation of Pakistan.
Dr.Uday Balakrishnan’s talk dwells on India’s failure to emerge into freedom as a single country, and its accommodation of Muslims in post independence India within the ambit of a secular democratic state.
While engaging with a powerful force like Islam India’s experience in religious accommodations, Dr. Balakrishnan argues, hold important lessons for the rest of the world, especially the West.