Mohammad Ali Jinnah biography

Mohammad Ali Jinnah



        Mohammad Ali Jinnah was born in Karachi to Jinnahbhai Poonja and Mithibai. The family had moved to Karachi from Rajkot in Gujarat a generation before. Jinnah’s grandfather was a Hindu (of Bhatia caste) who got converted to Islam for unknown reasons.
They were now Khoja Muslims, a business community among Muslims who are followers of Aga Khan. Mohammad Ali was the first of six children of his parents. Surprisingly, his date jinnahof birth is still under dispute. But according to his own assertion, he was born on Christmas day (25 December) in 1876, and that is the day officially celebrated in Pakistan. His father was a hide merchant and had prospered since the arrival of the family in Karachi. When Mohammad was about six, his father arranged a tutor for him but the boy was not interested in studies. His aunt (father’s sister) Manbai tempted him to visit her in Bombay and put him in a school there. In Bombay, he studied for an uncertain but brief period at the Gokul Das Tej Primary School. Returning to Karachi in 1887, he was enrolled in Sind madarsa in December 1887 but he studied there only for a few years. Later, he studied in Christian Missionary High School. He was fond of horse riding; his father owned several horses'. Reading bored him. He was not easy to control even as a child. It is doubtful if he learnt enough of Gujarati (his mother tongue), Hindi or Urdu because we find Gandhi writing to him on 281mm 1919: “I have your promise that you would take up Gujarati and Hindi as quickly as possible”.
Jinnah’s father’s firm was closely associated with a British firm Douglas Graham & Co. The company’s general manager, Leigh Croft, developed a liking for the young energetic lad and suggested to his father that his son should be sent for an apprenticeship in the company’s head office in London. Jinnah’s father agreed but his mother insisted that her son should marry before he left for England. So in 1892 the sixteen-year-old Jinnah was married to a Khoja girl, Emibai, two years his junior. In January 1893, Jinnah left for England. Not long after arriving in London, he abandoned business for law. He shortened his name to M.A Jinnah for the convenience of his British friends and acquaintances. He was called to the Bar from the Lincoln’s Inn in 1896. While in London he used to visit the House of Commons and listened to the debates there. He also fell in love with theatre.After three and a half years in England, Jinnah sailed back to his country, reaching Karachi in 1896. “His home-coming was grim. His mother and wife had died and his father’s business was on the verge of collapse”. Instead of settling in Karachi, he decided to seek his fortune in Bombay. He had to struggle hard for some years but his law practice soon picked up. In time, he had earned a name as a brilliant barrister; his income soared and he started living in luxury and was always immaculately dressed. He lived more like a British than an Indian; wee bit a dandy.
Jinnah had two brothers and three sisters but the only sibling with whom he established a close, continuing relationship till the end was Sister Fatima, seventeen years younger than him. Jinnah defied Muslim conventions by sending Fatima to a Catholic boarding school and later encouraged her to study dentistry. But Jinnah never tried to usher in any reform movement among the Muslim community as such.
Besides his legal practice, Jinnah developed an interest in politics. He was influenced by Dadabhai Naoroji, Gokhale and Pherozeshah Mehta (in whose chambers he worked for some time when he was trying to establish himself). It was at the Calcutta session of the Congress in 1906 that Jinnah made his debut in politics. Dadabhai presided over the session and Jinnah served as his secretary. Jinnah formally joined the Congress party in that year. Gradually his flirtations with the Muslim League (which was founded in 1906 at Dhaka) started. Though not a member of the Muslim League, he addressed their sessions in 1910 and 1911. In 1910, he was elected to the Imperial Legislative Council from the Muslim constituency of Bombay .The separate constituencies for Muslims had been created under the 1909 Act. Except for 1913 when he was nominated, he was elected, often unopposed, from Muslim constituencies in 1915, 1923, 1926 and 1934. During his election in 1910 and again in 1915, he was still a member of the Congress. He had a long and brilliant career as a legislator and vied for prominence with stalwarts like Motilal Nehru, Lajpat Rai, Madan Mohan Malaviya and M. R. Jayakar. He started enjoying his political outings, and along with law, politics became his second passion. In fact, apart from law and politics, he had no other interests. He seldom, if ever, read a serious book in all his life. His staple food was newspapers, briefs and law books.
In 1913, he formally joined the Muslim League and the interest of the Muslim community became the prime concern of his life. It is true that he did not believe in Islamic taboos like eating pork and in rituals like going to the mosque for prayers and to Mecca for salvation. For him these were non-essential things. What he did during the rest of his life was to get the maximum benefits for the Muslim community, so that they could become a power to reckon with. His brilliant legal brain produced the document called Lucknow Pact in 1916, as he presided over the Lucknow session of the Muslim League at Kaisar Bagh, Lucknow. Nobody else but Jinnah could get for the Muslims what he got under the Lucknow Pact. Separate electorates for Muslims were retained; Muslims got heavy weightage in legislatures: one-third at the centre and in Bombay, one-half in the Punjab, forty per cent in Bengal, thirty per cent in the United Provinces, twenty-five per cent in Bihar and Orissa and fifteen per cent in Central Provinces and in Madras. Except for Punjab and Bengal, it was quite heavy weightage in the centre and other states. Muslims also got virtual veto during the enactment of new legislation in the assemblies. In return, the Muslim League promised to work with the Congress in their fight for Swaraj. In spite of these concessions to the Muslims in the Lucknow Pact, the loss of majority in the Punjab and Bengal rankled Jinnah for years, and he wanted to annul that clause which went against the interest of the Muslims. In 1924, he said, as a party to the Lucknow Pact, I can say that it was never intended to be permanent. I suggest that in Bengal and Punjab, Muslims should be restored to their majority"
Jinnah was a widower for more than two decades when he thought of marrying again. His choice was a beautiful, young, vivacious Parsi girl Ratanbai or Ruttie, daughter of one of the wealthiest Parsis in Bombay, Sir Dinshaw M. Petit. Jinnah was forty-two and she nineteen when they got married on 19 April 1918 against the wishes of her father. Three days earlier Jinnah got her converted to Islam. Sir Dinshaw never forgave her daughter, never saw her again and even when she died, he refused to attend the funeral or even to see her body. The couple had only one daughter Dina, born in 1919. The marriage proved a disaster. Apart from the age factor, the nature of husband and wife were distinctly different. Ruttie had married Jinnah because of the glamour of his personality, and there was nothing in common between them. Jinnah used to pore over his briefs every day, and what little time he had to spare was given to politics. Ruttie was a young woman, fond of life and frivolities of the young. They gradually drifted apart." While Jinnah found solace in his briefs and politics, Ruttie had nothing to fall back on. She became a mental wreck and tried to find solace in drugs, in Theosophy, séance, and her pets. But nothing seemed to work for her and she died in the prime of her youth in February 1929. Before she died, she had confided to her dear Parsi friend Kanji Dwarkadas that she would like to be cremated. But Jinnah ignored her last wish and got her buried under Muslim rites. Ruttie was a true nationalist and kept Jinnah on the right track so long as she was alive. After her death, Jinnah’s sole companion at home was his sister Fatima, who was even more communal minded and partly responsible for the transformation brought about in Jinnah subsequently. There is reason to believe that Jinnah rehearsed his speeches before her. She enjoyed Jinnah’s diatribes against the Hindus, and if anything, injected an extra dose of venom into them."
      The year 1920 proved to be a turning point in the life of Jinnah, and that of India. It was the year when Gandhi promised Swaraj in one year and got his non-cooperation resolution passed by the Congress. When Jinnah stood up to oppose Mr. Gandhi’s resolution' at the Nagpur session of the Congress he was howled down with cries of shame, shame. Not Mr." but say "Mahatma," the unwieldy crowd yelled. Jinnah taken a back, tried to argue but was shouted down. He left the stage in disgust and the Congress for good, the searing memory of his defeat at Nagpur permanently emblazoned on his mind. He waited for revenge. The importance of Jinnah remained outside the Congress. In 1923 and 1926, he was elected to the Central Legislature from Muslim constituencies. His community still believed in him, and he decided to serve the Muslim community with renewed vigor, as president of the Muslim League.
In 1924, he was appointed a member of the Maddiman Committee, which was to examine the working of India Act of 1919. He was also nominated a member of the Skeen Committee, along with Motilal Nehru, which was to examine the problem of Indianisation of army officers. It was evident that the government considered him as one of the most important members of the Central Assembly. When in 1928, the All-White Simon Commission visited India; the Jinnah faction of the Muslim League joined the Congress in boycotting the commission which was appointed to assess the working of the 1919 Act and to propose further legislation leading towards self-government. Simultaneously, the All-Parties Conference appointed a committee headed by Motilal Nehru in February 1928to report on the principle of a constitution for independent India. The committee submitted its report (later called Nehru Report) at the Lucknow meeting in August 1928. The main recommendations were: dominion status; joint electorates; weightage to minorities etc. The parties agreed to the proposals. But the agreement did not last long and when the conference met on 22 December 1928, Muslims under the leadership of Jinnah made four new demands in the form of amendments. These were thirty-three and a half percent representation for the Muslims in the Central Legislature; reservation of seats on population basis in Punjab and Bengal; residuary powers with the provincial governments and separation of Sind from Bombay. The amendments were turned down and Jinnah left the Conference disappointed calling it ‘parting of ways`. From Calcutta after wrecking the All-Parties Convention, he reached Delhi, to attend the All-Parties Muslim Conference. Aga Khan, who presided over the meeting, welcomed the prodigal to the Islamic fold. Jinnah's four points in Calcutta swelled to fourteen by the time he reached Delhi. The elaborate demands put forward in Jinnah’s famous ‘fourteen points’ were not yet Pakistan, “but almost its early embryo, within a Weak federal womb." He threw away his nationalist and secular mask which he was wearing since the Lucknow Pact days. “I have no future in any Hindu dominated body,” he declared. The Muslim League elected him life-long president.
Jinnah sailed for England on 4 October 1930, along with his sister Fatima and daughter Dina, to attend the Round Table Conference as a Muslim nominee. There he put forward a wide range of demands of special Muslim interests contained in his fourteen points adding a few more t0 it. The vision of Pakistan was getting clearer in his mind. It will remain a mystery why Jinnah was not invited to attend the Second and Third Round Table Conferences. But according to his own admission, “I was not invited to the later Sittings of the Conference because I was the strongest opponent of the Federal Scheme". Disappointed, Jinnah decided to stay on in England to practice before the Privy Council but without much success. However, when the Communal Award was announced in 1932, all his fourteen points had been conceded by the British government and actually more concessions to the Muslims were given than what they had asked for.
At the request of several Muslim friends and well-wishers like Iqbal and Liaqat Ali, Jinnah returned to India in to lead the Muslim community. Muslims were in need of a dynamic and cunning leader. Between 1928 and 1936 many Muslim leaders of national stature died: Ajmal Khan, Mohammad Ali, M.A. Ansari, Shafi and Fazli Hussain. Sikandar Hyat Khan in Punjab and Fazlul Haq in Bengal were busy in provincial politics. The burden of rejuvenating the moribund Muslim League fell on Jinnah’s shoulders and he seemed to like the role assigned to him. The Communal Award had given a new orientation to the communal politics in the country and Jinnah emerged as the savior of the Muslim community. In the Bombay session of the Muslim League (April 1936), a resolution was adopted rejecting the Federal Scheme of the 1935 Act while recommending the Provincial Scheme to be tried for what it is worth. Elections to the provincial legislatures were held in 1937 under the 1935 Act. The results of the elections were extremely disappointing from Jinnah’s point of view. Of the 485 Muslim seats, the League could win only 108 seats in all the eleven provinces; the remaining Muslim seats went to other Muslim groups. Congress won almost all the general seats and formed ministries in seven out of eleven provinces. The defeated Jinnah started vicious propaganda against the Congress ministries charging that inequities and injustices were being inflicted on the Muslims in the Hindu Raj. To add weight to the accusations, a committee headed by Raja of Pirpur was formed to look into the grievances of Muslims under Congress rule. Another committee was formed in Bihar to go into the details of Muslim suffering under Congress rule which was even more intemperate. At this distance of time their truth or untruth matters little. What was important is the technique adopted by Jinnah to incite the Muslim masses by making them believe that ‘Islam was in danger.’  The Muslim masses flocked to the League, the membership jumping from a few thousand to over hundred thousand in United Provinces alone. Jinnah had become a mass leader, tens of thousands of people greeting him with cries of Allah-hu-Akbar and Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad. To Jinnah’s delight, the Congress ministries decided to resign in November, 1939, after the War broke out. This, not a very wise act of Congress, left the political field entirely to be exploited by the Muslim League. Under Jinnah’s orders the Muslims observed 22 December 1939 as the Day of Deliverance. Only a few months later, Jinnah was bold enough to demand a separate area of the country for the Muslim nation in the Lahore session of the Muslim League (March 1940). Pakistan had arrived. Henceforth, Pakistan became a passion and a mania with Jinnah. He evolved a strategy to deal with the Congress, which puzzled and bewildered the Congress leaders and to a lesser degree the government. Every Congress error was irreversibly exploited by Jinnah and the Congress led by Gandhi managed to commit many such errors during 1940-1947. Never was the Gandhian leadership less relevant to practical politics; never did the Congress need more to recognise its own shortcoming”. Gandhi’s launching the Quit India campaign (1942) without proper planning and the government, putting almost all the Congress leaders behind the bars, left the political arena open for Jinnah to exploit to achieve his end. The repeated contradictory announcements by Gandhi that Muslims have a right to ask for the division did help to be adamant in demanding division of the country. The worst thing Gandhi did was to go to Jinnah’s house in Bombay daily for eighteen days in September 1944 with the offer of Pakistan contained in the Rajaji Formula. Jinnah, the superb tactician, humbled Gandhi on the last day of their meeting by pointing out that he (Gandhi) did not represent any political organization. Jinnah emerged as the most important leader to decide the destiny of the country. Even before Gandhi’s disastrous journey to Jinnah’s residence in 1944, several Congress leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad and Subhas Chandra Bose had tried to convince Jinnah about his unreasonable attitude, through correspondence and personal meetings. But Jinnah was adamant and wanted that the Congress recognize Muslim League as the sole representative of the Muslims. Congress could not accept that because it claimed to represent all Indians irrespective of caste and creed. Jinnah’s technique of getting the other man to make an offer so that he could turn it down and ask for more was difficult to counter and paid him rich dividends. His intransigence became a rewarding strategy and his Obstinacy his great asset. Through these tactics he almost got the Hindu majority reduced t0 a minority in legislature and services during the Simla Conference (1945) and Cabinet mission (1946) discussions. His greatest triumph came during the December 1945 elections for central Assembly in which Muslim League won all the Muslim seats in the Central Assembly securing eighty-seven percent of Muslim votes. There was a chance for India to remain united when the congress and the Muslim League to the proposals of the Cabinet Mission (March-June, 1946). There was some dispute about the ‘grouping’ of provinces but that was almost resolved. However, a statement by Nehru on 10 July 1946 immediately after taking over as president of the Congress, that Constituent Assembly was a sovereign body was capable of changing the accepted plan, gave Jinnah an excuse to reject the Cabinet Mission proposals. Sensing that the vast major of Muslims w with him he changed his strategy. In the last week of July, the Muslim League Council met at Bombay and passed a resolution, the significant sentence of which was, the time has come for the Muslim nation to resort to Direct Action to achieve Pakistan. When a correspondent asked Jinnah if the Direct Action would be violent or non-violent, Jinnah retorted: "I am not going to discuss ethics." Direct Action was launched in Calcutta on 16 August 1946 as planned. An orgy of violence, killings, stabbing, looting, arson and rape continued for three days, leaving five thousand dead, Gandhi’s reaction to the Calcutta carnage was typical of him: If through i deliberate courage the Hindus had died to a man that would have been deliverance of Hinduism and India and purification of Islam in this land." The riots spread to East Bengal and then to several parts of India. When Hindus retaliated in Bihar, Jinnah was unnerved and on 20 November 1946 he pleaded for complete exchange of population. But the Congress leadership ignored his proposal.
Though the Cabinet Mission proposals were rejected, formation of an Interim government and the Constituent Assembly were implemented by the Government. After initial reluctance, the Muslim League joined the Interim Government headed by Nehru but with more Muslim members than the Hindus. The League never participated in the Constituent Assembly of united India. While the Bihar riots were ruthlessly suppressed under Nehru’s guidance, riots in other parts of the country continued and Jinnah looked the other way. The worst affected area was now Punjab. By March 1947, the riots became more serious and Hindus and Sikhs started leaving many parts of Punjab. Gandhi and his creed of non-violence had made the task of Muslim League easier. Jinnah was speaking the language of Hitler. The riots were a sufficient indication that gangsterism had become a settled part of their strategy in politics. They seem to be consciously and deliberately imitating the Sudeten Germans in the means employed by them against the Czecks." Congress leaders were utterly shaken and on 8 March 1947 they passed a resolution asking for the partition of Punjab and Bengal. This was virtually accepting partition of the country. At the same time the British were in a hurry to leave the country as after the War they were in no position to hold on to India. Things moved fast after that. The British Prime Minister, Attlee, announced in Parliament that the British will be leaving India by June 19i8. They sent Lord Mountbatten as Viceroy in March 1947 to wind up. He advanced the date to 14/ 15 August 1947. The country was divided on that day and two dominions, Bharat and Pakistan emerged. Jinnah accepting ‘mutilated and motheaten’ Pakistan. The last meeting of the Muslim League was held in Delhi on 9-10june 1947 in which Jinnah had a difficult time for the first time. He was accused of for accepting partition of Punjab and Bengal. Khaksars tried to lynch him; the Muslim league National Guard coming to his rescue. But the most intriguing aspect about the creation of Pakistan is: How Jinnah could delude his co-religionists in Hindu majority provinces into believing that Pakistan was good for them. Jinnah flew to Karachi along with his sister Fatima on 7 August 1947. His daughter Dina refused to accompany him as she had married a Parsi converted to Christianity, Neville Wadia owner of Commercial and textile empire Bombay Dyeing. According to M.C. Chagla, when Jinnah learnt about his daughter`s intention to marry a non-Muslim, he was furious said: “There are thousands of Muslim boys to Choose from. Why you want to marry a non-Muslim?” The girl retorted, “Father: there were thousands of Muslim girls who would have liked to marry you, why did you marry a Parsi girl?”Jinnah had no answer to that. But he disowned his daughter and left most of his property to his sister Fatima. In poetic exuberance Sarojini Naidu had described Jinnah as an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity during the earlier decades of the last century but the label deserves scrutiny. Jinnah’s actions and his concern for Muslim interests from the very beginning of his political career cast a doubt about his ever being a nationalist or a secularist.
Jinnah had appointed himself as governor-general of Pakistan. But he was a dying man and he knew that. Doctors had told him some years earlier that tuberculosis had devoured his lungs, and he did not have many years to live. During his thirteen months as Pakistan’s governor-general, he was fighting ill health most of the time. He died on 11 September 1948 at Karachi.
What kind of man was Jinnah? People who came to know him have assessed him in different Ways. In July 1946, when Gandhi’s biographer Louis Fischer asked Gandhi, What you learned from your eighteen days with Jinnah?" (in September 1944). Gandhi replied, “I learned that he was a maniac. I could not make any headway with Jinnah because he is a maniac." Mountbatten, after a series of meetings with Jinnah reported to his staff that he considered,” Mr. Jinnah was a psychopathic case." And later added that “until he had met Mr. Jinnah, he had not thought it possible that a man with such a complete lack of sense of responsibility could hold the power which he did”. The reaction of Lord Ismay, Mountbatten’s chief of staff, was, the dominating feature in Mr. Jinnah’s mental structure was his loathing and contempt of the Hindus. He apparently thought that all Hindus were sub-human creatures with whom it was impossible for the Muslims to live. Paying a left-handed compliment to Jinnah, V.D. Savarkar said in one of his speeches, Jinnah is a true representative and custodian of Muslim rights. Hindus needed a leader like Jinnah." B.R. Ambedkar gave a detailed assessment of Jinnah, He (Jinnah) may be too self-opinionated, an egotist without the mask and has perhaps a degree of arrogance which is not compensated by any extraordinary intellect or equipment. It may be on that account he is unable to reconcile himself to a second place and work with others in that capacity for a public cause. He may not be overflowing with ideas although he is not, as his critics make him out to be, an empty headed dandy living upon the ideas of others. It may be that his fame is built up more upon art and less on substance. At the same time, it is doubtful if there is a politician in India to whom the adjective incorruptible can be more fittingly applied. No one can buy him.

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