Allan Octavian Hume
It is ironic that the Indian National Congress, the body which later led India to Independence, was formed in 1885 by an Englishman named Sir Octavian Hume. The Congress was meant to be a forum where Indian leaders could meet British rulers and inform them of their problems. The major objective of the Congress was to develop harmony amongst all Indians and to improve understanding and friendship between the rulers and the ruled.
Sir Syeds belief about Hindu-Muslim unity
Sir Syed had already realized the dangers of Muslims being seen as just another part of the fabric od Indian society and strongly warned all Muslims to beware of the congress. Sir Syed’s major objection was that:
- As the Congress was overwhelmingly dominated by Hindus, the Muslims were not receive a fair hearing.
- Hindus were more advanced than the Muslims in terms of educational and political development, the Muslims should concentrate on trying to eradicate the educational gulf rather than dable in politics.
Clashes with the Congress
Chronology of Sir Syed's efforts
Sir Syed had a number of clashes with the Congress which grew more Serious with the time and confirmed Sir Syed’s earlier belief that the Hindus and Muslims were not going to agree on any major political questions.
| Congress's Demands|| Sir Syed’s Argument|
|The Congress demand for a local representative government based on a democratic vote as in Britain . || This demand was firmly rejected by Sir Syed. He argued that this principle of democracy was applicable only in states with a national identity. In a subcontinent such as India to have a similar system would mean that the numerically larger Hindus would always dominate the elections and the minorities would be discriminated against.|
| The other demand of Congress was that there should be open competitive examinations to decide government posts.||This demand was again opposed by Sir Syed who pointed out that as the Hindus had received the benefits of British education for much longer than the Muslims, the Muslims needed a fix quota of jobs to be able to compete fairly in the long run. |
Sir Syed and Urdu Language dispute
Leaders of Aligarh movement
In 1867, Sir Syed was shocked to discover that the Hindus were pressing for the replacement of Urdu written in the Arabic script by Hindi written in Devanangari script. Sir Syed later recalled that this was the first occasion when he felt it was impossible for the Hindu and Muslims to pretend to be a single nation and for anyone to serve both communities. The Muslims strongly argued that Urdu was not a religious or imported language and although originally mainly spoken by Muslims in the subcontinent, It had developed as a joint effort of both Hindus and the Muslims. The Hindus , on the other hand, claimed that Urdu was nothing more than a legacy of the days when the Muslims ruled the subcontinent and, as Urdu’s script was Arabic, it was a Muslim language. Sir Syed felt so strongly on the Language issue and its consequences that he described the proposed adoption of Hindi as second only to Muslims being deprived of their religion. The Hindu demand was eventually accepted in 1900, with Hindi given equal status to Urdu in the courts.
The above discussed events convinced Sir Syed that the Hindus and Muslims had far more diffrences than those relating to political thought and that they were nothing less than two different nationalities living in a sub-continent. This “ Two-Nation Theory” was the very basis of the later demand and creation of the state of Pakistan. The first time this view was expressed by Sir Syed was during a meeting with the governor of Benares in 1867. He stated this view more publically in two famous speeches, In January 1883 and in 1887. He stated that “ As far as European style elections and democracy was concerned, it was unsuitable in a country where different races and creeds are living together. The larger community would totally override the interests of smaller community.”
Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental Defence Association 1893
Sir Syed's political awareness
Sir Syed organized the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental Association of Upper India in December 1893. Its Objectives were:
- To protect the political intrests of Muslims by representing their views before the English people and the Indian government.
- To discourage popular political agitation among the Muslims.
- To lend support to measures calculated to increase the stability of the British government and the security of the empire.
Memorandum designed by Sir Syed
In 1896, Sir Syed prepared a memorandum for the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental Association. The demands put forwards were to be the basis of those put to the viceroy by the Agha khan. Sir Syed put forward the following demands:
- In the North-western provinces, the Muslims should be given representation equal to the more numerous Hindus because of their historic and political importance.
- The Muslims should be allowed communal electorates so only Muslims can vote for Muslim candidates.
- In the allotment of seats in councils and municipal boards, Muslims should be given added weightage.
Created By: Rubab Fatima
Edit By: nonePakpedia
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