Aga Khan

Aga Khan I
Aga Khan I

Aga Khan, the title ascribed to the imam of the Nizari Ismaili community, was first bestowed on Aga Hasan Shah by Fateh Ali, the Shah of Persia, in 1818. The Ismaili branch of Islam is the second-largest Shi'i community after the Twelvers. The Ismailis and Twelvers both accept the same initial imams from the descendants of the prophet Muhammad.

However, a dispute arose on the succession of the sixth imam, Jafar as-Sadiq. Although the Ismailis accepted the legitimacy of Jafar Sadiq's eldest son, Ismael, as the next rightful imam, the Twelvers accepted his younger son, Musa al-Kazim.

The first Aga Khan was appointed as the governor of the province of Kirman. He also aided the British during the first Anglo-Afghan War (1839–42) and in the conquest of Sind in India (1842–43). Ali Shah, who was also known as Aga Khan II, died in 1885.

Upon the death of Aga Khan II, his son, Sultan Muhammad (1877–1957), assumed the title of Aga Khan III. He played an active role in supporting the continuance of British colonial rule over the Indian subcontinent. Aga Khan III was also the founder of the All-India Muslim League, the lead political party that later demanded a separate homeland for Muslims be carved out of India.

He was also the president of the Muslim League from 1909 to 1914. In the preindependence years of India, Aga Khan III made a number of high-profile visits abroad, including the imperial conference in London in 1930–31, the Geneva Disarmament Conference in 1932, and the League of Nations in 1932 and in 1934–37. In 1937, he was appointed the president of the General Assembly of the League of Nations for his pioneering leadership role.

Aga Khan II
Aga Khan II

In 1937, Aga Khan III was succeeded by his grandson, Prince Karim, who assumed the title of Aga Khan IV. He was very committed to the promotion of Islamic architecture and instituted a series of awards for architectural excellence and artistic innovation in architecture. Aga Khan IV also donated very generously to various developmental projects in a number of countries with a sizable Ismaili population.

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan is the grandson of Aga Khan IV. He has an impressive educational record with degrees from Harvard University at the Centre of Middle Eastern Studies in 1957. Sadruddin Aga Khan worked strenuously for the ideals and programs of UNESCO, particularly for the promotion of cultural heritage sites worldwide as well as for the UN High Commission for Refugees.

Aga Khan IV
Aga Khan IV

In 1965, he was appointed the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and continued in this prestigious position until 1977. He is the founder of the Bellerive Foundation, which is an international corporate group that funds programs for the alpine environment. In 1978, the prince was made a special adviser and chargé de mission to the secretary general of the United Nations to promote the cause of universal human rights.

Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy

Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy
Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy

Emilio Aguinaldo was a revolutionary independence leader, general, statesman, and the first president of the Philippines according to many Filipinos. He played a major role in the Philippine revolution against Spain and in the Philippine-American War.

Aguinaldo's rise to notability happened early in his life. He was born into a wealthy Chinese-mestizo family that owned extensive lands and that provided benefits not readily available to many Filipinos. The young Aguinaldo overcame a near-death sickness in his youth and briefly attended Letran College in Manila, but left in order to help his family care for their extensive estate. In 1895, when only 17 years of age, he was elected to the position of capitan municipal (municipal captain), or town head, of Cavite El Viejo.

Around the same time, Aguinaldo began his revolutionary career and entered the secret Katipunan revolutionary society, an abbreviated Tagalog term for "The Highest and Most Respectable Society of the Sons of the People." The Katipunan advocated complete independence from Spain and thus aroused suspicions and opposition from the Spanish authorities.

No longer able to evade notice by the ruling Spaniards, Aguinaldo and his fellow revolutionaries fought them, overcame early setbacks, and achieved considerable victories, most notably at the Battle of Binakayan on November 10, 1896, when they defeated Spanish regular troops.

Although he won early successes and gained the leadership of his revolutionary group, Aguinaldo was forced by renewed military pressure from the Spanish to sign the Pact of Biacnabato and to accept banishment to Hong Kong in return for financial and political concessions, social reforms, and promises of autonomy of government for the Philippines.

In 1898 Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines from exile to continue his revolutionary work and to assist the efforts of the United States to defeat the Spanish during the Spanish-American War. He believed that his participation and the victory over Spain would be rewarded with a declaration of independence for the Philippines; Aguinaldo instead found that the American forces refused to allow his military to occupy Manila.

He refused to allow his troops to be replaced by American forces and withdrew to Malolos, where he and his followers declared independence on June 12, 1898. On January 23, 1899, Aguinaldo was inaugurated as the first president of the Philippines, although U.S. authorities did not recognize his government.

The Philippine-American War began on February 4, 1899, after a Filipino crossed over the San Juan Bridge and was shot by an American sentry. Aguinaldo led the resistance to American occupation and rejected the notions of gradual independence advocated by the occupiers and U.S. president William McKinley.

Although Aguinaldo's guerrilla warfare tactics posed many difficulties for the U.S. military, they implemented a "carrot and stick" approach that mitigated popular support for the insurgents.

The capture of Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela, on March 23, 1901, with the help of Filipino trackers broke the revolt, which foundered within the following year. In exchange for his life, Aguinaldo pledged loyalty to the United States and thus acknowledged its sovereignty over the Philippines.

Emilio Aguinaldo monument at Barasoain Church
Emilio Aguinaldo monument at Barasoain Church

Although no longer a revolutionary, Aguinaldo thereafter remained committed to independence and veterans' rights while staying retired from public life for many years. In 1935, when the Commonwealth of the Philippines was established, he ran for the presidency but lost to Manuel L. Quezon. During World War II the Japanese occupiers forced him to support them and to make anti-American speeches and statements.

He was later cleared of wrongdoing when Americans recaptured the Philippines and learned that the Japanese had threatened to kill his family if Aguinaldo did not comply. After the war he actively promoted nationalistic and democratic causes within his country. He died on February 6, 1964, in Quezon City.

Arturo Fortunato Alessandri Palma

Arturo Fortunato Alessandri Palma
Arturo Fortunato Alessandri Palma

Arturo Fortunato Alessandri Palma was president of Chile from 1920 to 1924, again in 1925, and then from 1932 to 1938. During that time he became known as the Lion of Tarapacá. Known initially for his strident support of the poor of Chile, he was later heavily criticized by many of his former supporters when he became far more conservative.

Arturo Alessandri was born on December 20, 1868, at Linares, south of the Chilean capital of Santiago, the son of Pedro Alessandri and Susana Palma. His father's family originally came to Chile from Italy. He was educated at the Sacred Heart School in Santiago, and then he worked at the National Library of Chile. He used his position there to study for a law degree and in 1893 was admitted to the bar.

Politically, Alessandri was connected with the Progressive Club, making him a liberal, and, in fact, he later joined the Liberal Party, becoming secretary of its executive committee in 1890. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1897 and had six terms in Congress and two terms in the Senate after successfully challenging a prominent local politician for the seat for Tarapacá.

During this time he built a major political base by supporting the nitrate workers in northern Chile. He became minister of industry and public works in 1908, minister of finance in 1913, and was appointed minister of the interior in 1918.

In 1920 Alessandri was elected president of Chile, ending a right-wing domination of Chilean politics that had started in the 1830s. Alessandri faced many problems in office, and to raise more government revenue he introduced income tax for the first time in Chilean history. However, Chile was entering a period of economic hardships, and the new tax only partially made up for the shortfall in the economy.

This came from the fall in the price of nitrate, which saw the Chilean peso fall from one for 27 cents (U.S.) to one for 9 cents. His reform moves were supported by the Liberal Alliance and the Democratic Party, but unemployment rose, and the pay for civil servants and the army fell into arrears.

Furthermore, Alessandri's attempts to spend more on public education, health, and welfare proved unpopular with some sectors of the country. During his time as president from 1920 to 1924, Alessandri had to change his government 16 times until he was finally able to secure a majority in Congress.

However, Congress moved against him, and with the Chilean peso plummeting in value and his inability to pay the army, Alessandri offered to resign. In the end a military junta staged a coup d'état on September 15, 1924. Alessandri fled to the U.S. embassy and then into exile in Europe.

General Luis Altamirano Talavera headed a military junta to run the country, but when it failed to fulfill the social reform program it had promised, junior officers overthrew it and Carlos Ibáñez del Campo headed the new junta.

He allowed Alessandri to return to Chile on March 20, 1925, the former president having been promised that the constitution would be rewritten to give the executive more powers. In 1925, when Alessandri returned from exile, a crowd of 100,000 came to greet him, and several people were trampled to death in the confusion.

However, on October 1, 1925, Alessandri was again forced to resign, and Luis Barros Borgono succeeded him. In the elections that followed, Emiliano Figueroa Larraín became president, but he resigned in May 1927 to allow Ibáñez del Campo to return to power.

Ibáñez borrowed U.S. $300 million from the United States and tried to resuscitate the economy. Initially it worked, but Ibáñez was forced from power, and Anarguía Política became president. Elections were held in 1932, and Alessandri was once again elected president.

Alessandri's new administration was totally different from that of the early 1920s. He was a strict constitutionalist, and he had also become more conservative and depended on the support of the right wing.

His economically conservative policies led to his refusing to give money to the poor, especially those hurt by the fall in the price of nitrate and copper. With the depression hurting in Chile, Alessandri tried to reorganize the nitrate industry, doubling the government's share of profits, raising it to 25 percent.

Promoting building and civil engineering projects, Alessandri still wanted to improve the provision of education. The only way of raising the extra money was by using his finance minister, Gustavo Ross Santa María, to tighten up the collecting of taxes.

In early 1937 the Nacista movement began to gain support, and on September 5, 1938, it tried to stage a coup d'état to get Ibáñez del Campo back into power. Alessandri had already alienated most of his former supporters, who then formed the Popular Front.

He used the army to arrest Ibáñez del Campo. Alessandri's term as president ended in 1938, and Pedro Aguire Cerda succeeded him. Alessandri went to Europe, endorsing Juan Antonio Ríos Morales in the 1942 elections, which he won.

Returning to Chile, in 1944 Alessandri was elected to the Senate, becoming the speaker in the following year. In the 1946 elections he endorsed Gabriel González Videla, who won. By this time Alessandri had once again become more liberal in his views.

Alessandri towered over Chilean politics, but his speech was often rough and crude. When the U.S. journalist and writer John Gunther visited him, Alessandri's office was decorated with autographed photographs of politicians from all over the world, including Hindenburg, Adolf Hitler, and Edward, prince of Wales (later the duke of Windsor).

He died on August 24, 1950, in Santiago. Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez, who was president of Chile from 1958 until 1964, was Arturo Alessandri's older son. His younger son, Fernando Alessandri Rodríguez, was also active in politics.



Algeria remained part of the French Empire throughout the first half of the 20th century, but nationalist movements for independence became increasingly more vocal and determined. Several hundred thousand Algerians fought or worked for the French military during World War I. After the war they expected reforms and changes in French policies of assimilation and favoritism toward the colons, but the colons blocked government reforms announced in 1919.

French government policies dating from the 19th century onward had gradually increased the ownership of the best land by the colons and had resulted in the impoverishment of Algerian peasants. By 1950 most Algerians owned small plots of less than 10 acres.

To survive, peasants became sharecroppers or seasonal workers or fled to the cities where they were generally either day laborers or unemployed. The growing economic and social disparity between the colons and the majority Muslim Algerian population contributed to civil unrest and nationalist discontent.

In the early 1920s, Algerian workers in Paris, led by Messali al-Hajj, established the Star of North Africa, a social action, leftist movement, which attracted considerable popular support. In the interwar years, two major approaches toward the relationship with France emerged among Algerians. The first group wanted assimilation and participation as full-fledged French citizens. The second advocated Algerian independence as a separate nation.

Ferhat Abbas, a pharmacist by profession, represented the first when he said, "If I had discovered an Algerian nation, I would be a nationalist ... I have not found it." Hadj Ben Ahmed Messali championed the second approach, asserting that "Islam is our religion, Algeria our country, Arabic our language." The French often jailed Messali for his uncompromising nationalist stances.

To minimize Algerian opposition, the French adopted a divide and rule tactic by favoring the Muslim Berber population that lived in the mountainous Kabyle region and encouraging it as a separate entity from the Muslim Arab population. These attempts failed as Berbers played key roles in the nationalist movement and were particularly attracted to Messali's approach.

The Algerian Muslim Congress drew up a list of grievances in 1936 but fell far short of advocating complete independence for Algeria. Many Muslim leaders still hoped that a form of assimilation could be devised whereby Muslims could become French citizens without abrogating Islamic law or tradition.

Messali al-Hajj
Messali al-Hajj

In response to the problem, the Blum-Violette proposals in 1937 provided for the gradual extension of suffrage whereby some 20,000 Algerians would become citizens with more to follow over time.

However, the colons adamantly opposed any reforms that widened Algerian participation and lessened their own political and economic power. The weakness and instability of French regimes in Paris prevented the implementation of reform programs that might have ameliorated the differences.

When the Vichy French regime came to power during World War II, it instituted Nazi racist policies that imperiled both Muslim Algerians and Algerian Jews, who had been granted French citizenship in the late 19th century. These decrees were abolished when the Allied-supported French committee of national liberation took power in 1943.

Ferhat Abbas
Ferhat Abbas

Encouraged by Allied support, Abbas and his supporters issued the Manifesto of Algerian People in 1943. The manifesto paid respect to French culture but noted that assimilation had failed and that reforms were needed. Some French were willing to consider reforms, but others felt that the manifesto would lead to independence and flatly rejected it.

Abbas then formed the Friends of the Manifesto and of Liberty and called for an autonomous republic in Algeria while counseling patience. His movement attracted mostly urban middle-class Algerians. The working class, far greater in numbers, supported Messali's calls for complete independence.

The leader of the Free French, Charles de Gaulle, tried to conciliate the differences by proposing that more Algerians could become French citizens without giving up their Qur'anic rights, but this compromise failed to satisfy many Muslims and infuriated the colons. In 1945 the French put Abbas under house arrest, and Messali was exiled.

In the spring of 1945 parades in Setif (southwest of Constantine) celebrating the end of World War II in Europe quickly turned into nationalist demonstrations. Violence spread to cities and other areas. In the rioting and French reprisals that quickly followed, hundreds of colons and thousands of Algerians (the figures vary widely ranging from 1,500 to 80,000) were killed.

The Algerian Statute of 1947 in which assimilation was stopped and two separate communities were recognized pleased no one. Under the new law, the French prime minister appointed a governor-general who was assisted by a council of six with the right to apply French law.

The Algerian Assembly was to have two houses, one European and one for "natives." Europeans controlled both houses. Colons were against even this compromise, and Messali responded by demanding complete independence.

Charles de Gaulle in Algeria
Charles de Gaulle in Algeria

By this time, the majority of Algerians had concluded that the French were never going to grant full equality and that independence was the only solution. By 1950 many Algerian nationalists had either been arrested by the French, were in exile, or had escaped into the mountains of the Kabyle. The conflict remained unresolved until full-scale war broke out in 1954.

Alliance System

Alliance System
Alliance System

Alliances are a common military or political action among states. Often resorted to for defensive purposes, they frequently result in the very war they hoped to avoid. When Sparta formed the Peloponnesian League and Athens led the Delian League in the aftermath of the Persian War, war followed, and it was long and costly. Likewise, the alliance system that emerged in the years before World War I proved to be a major cause of one of the greatest conflagrations in human history.

The roots of the modern alliance system lie in the situation that arose following the victory of Prussia in its war with France in 1870–71. Since the 1860s the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck had waged wars with Denmark and Austria, which led to territorial acquisitions.

With the Franco-Prussian War came the unification of Germany, which then took two provinces, Alsace and Lorraine, from France. One of the major consequences of these events was a change in the balance of power as Germany replaced France as Europe's greatest nation.

German diplomats assessed these new conditions. The first point to be noted was that France constituted a threat on Germany's western border, eager as it was to retrieve the lost territories. Thus, in the 1880s, Bismarck sought to isolate France and prevent it from obtaining another ally that could pose a danger to Germany in the east and thus produce the possibility of a two-front war against Germany in the future.

With this in mind, Bismarck devised the Three Emperors' League in 1873, which tied together the conservative empires of Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary. Even after signing the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary in 1879, he attempted to contain Russia in the Reinsurance Treaty of 1887.

Following Bismarck's removal from office in 1890, Germany allowed the Reinsurance Treaty to lapse, as it appeared that Russia and Austria-Hungary were incompatible partners. Russian ambitions in the Balkans, fanned by Pan-Slavism, came into conflict with Austria-Hungary's need to control these areas for the sake of its own national integrity.

Thus, Russia was motivated to sign a treaty with France in 1894 to gain its assistance in the east. This created the possibility of a two-front war for Germany. It should also be noted that both France and Germany found themselves linked to eastern powers whose quarrel did not directly involve their national interests.

In these circumstances, it was natural for Britain to be taken into consideration, despite the fact that Britain had a history of maintaining its distance from the continent and eschewing treaties. From the German point of view, there were two positive scenarios.

The first would be for Britain to maintain neutrality; the second and best option would be for Britain to become a German partner. At the same time Russia and France hoped that Britain would become an ally and add British naval strength to their arsenal of weapons. The contest for British support was to become one of the most important issues around the turn of the century.

Germany made critical mistakes in dealing with Britain. In the first place, they seem to have believed that Germany needed to do nothing to woo Britain, for eventually Britain would be forced to side with Germany because of the former's differences with France and Russia. There was a tradition of war with both, and Britain had important rivalries with France in Africa and Russia over India and Afghanistan.

This turned out to be a serious miscalculation on Germany's part since Britain, having been embarrassed by the unexpected difficulty of the Boer War, was anxious to achieve security. What truly alarmed Britain was the German decision to adopt a program to create a high seas fleet. Britain had always depended on its naval supremacy to be its most important defense and to secure its communications with the empire.

The idea that Germany would challenge its predominance spurred Britain to embark on its own naval building program, resulting in a naval race. More significantly, it prompted Britain, to the surprise of Germany, to reconsider its isolation and enter into conversations with France in 1904 and Russia in 1907. Both concluded in the resolution of their colonial differences and the inauguration of military contacts.

What had occurred was not an alliance between the three; rather, Britain had established friendly relations with the other two. Thus, this relationship became known as the the Triple Entente.

This outcome, of course, now forced Germany to plan not only for a two-front war but for a war in which Britain might intervene on the side of its opponents. Moreover, it now became clear that Italy, the third member of the Triple Alliance, could not be counted on to support Germany and Austria-Hungary.

The result of all of this was the development of the Schlieffen Plan, by which Germany hoped to score a decisive victory over Russia and France before Britain could intervene. This plan committed Germany to a timetable that was very hard to alter once a decision was made. Thus, it led to the violation of Belgian neutrality, which assured that Britain would come to Belgium's assistance.

The crisis in the Balkans caused by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 led to a confrontation between Russia and Austria-Hungary over Serbia. Faithful to its treaty commitments, France supported Russia, while Germany backed Austria-Hungary.

When German armies entered Belgium, Britain entered the war. The alliance system ensured that a chain reaction would take place as countries arrayed themselves against each other. In many ways it provoked the war it was intended to prevent.

All-India Muslim League

Flag of All India Muslim League
Flag of All India Muslim League

The All-India Muslim League (AIML) was established on December 30, 1906, at the time of British colonial rule to protect the interests of Muslims. Later it became the main vehicle through which the demand for a separate homeland for the Muslims was put forth. The Indian National Congress (INC) was perceived by some Muslims as an essentially Hindu organization where Muslim interests would not be safeguarded.

Formed in the year 1885, the INC did not have any agenda of separate religious identity. Some of its annual sessions were presided over by eminent Muslims like Badruddin Tyabji (1844–1906) and Rahimtulla M. Sayani (1847– 1902).

Certain trends emerged in the late 19th century that convinced a sizable group of Muslims to chart out a separate course. The rise of communalism in the Muslim community began with a revivalist tendency, with Muslims looking to the history of Arabs as well as the Delhi sultanate and the Moghul rule of India with pride and glory.

Although the conditions of the Muslims were not the same all over the British Empire, there was a general backwardness in commerce and education. The British policy of "divide and rule" encouraged certain sections of the Muslim population to remain away from mainstream politics.

The INC, although secular in outlook, was not able to contain the spread of communalism among Hindus and Muslims alike. The rise of Hindu militancy, the cow protection movement, the use of religious symbols, and so on alienated the Muslims. Syed Ahmed Khan's (1817–98) ideology and political activities provided a backdrop for the separatist tendency among the Muslims. He exhorted that the interests of Hindus and Muslims were divergent.

Khan advocated loyalty to the British Empire. The viceroy Lord Curzon (1899–1905) partitioned the province of Bengal in October 1905, creating a Muslim majority province in the eastern wing. The INC's opposition and the consequent swadeshi (indigenous) movement convinced some Muslim elites that the congress was against the interests of the Muslim community. 

A pro-partition campaign was begun by the nawab of Dhaka, Khwaja Salimullah Khan (1871–1915), who had been promised a huge amount of interest-free loans by Curzon. He would be influential in the new state. The nawab began to form associations, safeguarding the interests of the Bengali Muslims. He was also thinking in terms of an all-India body. In his Shahbag residence he hosted 2,000 Muslims between December 27 and 30, 1906.

At the All India Muslim League Working Committee, Lahore session, March 1940
At the All India Muslim League Working Committee, Lahore session, March 1940

Sultan Muhammad Shah, the Aga Khan III (1877– 1957), who had led a delegation in October 1906 to Viceroy Lord Minto (1845–1914) for a separate electorate for the Muslims, was also with Salimullah Khan. Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk (1837–1907) of the Aligarh movement also was present in Dhaka. On December 30 the AIML was formed.

The chairperson of the Dhaka conclave, Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk (1841–1917), declared that the league would remain loyal to the British and would work for the interests of the Muslims. The constitution of the league, the Green Book, was drafted by Maulana Muhammad Ali Jouhar (1878–1931).

The headquarters of the league was set up in Aligarh (Lucknow from 1910), and Aga Khan was elected the first president. Thus, a separate all-India platform was created to voice the grievances of the Muslims and contain the growing influence of the Congress Party. The AIML had a membership of 400, and a branch was set up in London two years afterward by Syed Ameer Ali (1849–1928).

The league was dominated by landed aristocracy and civil servants of the United Provinces. In its initial years it passed pious resolutions. The leadership had remained loyal to the British Empire, and the Government of India Act of 1909 granted separate electorates to the Muslims.

A sizable number of Muslim intellectuals advocated a course of agitation in light of the annulment of the partition of Bengal in 1911. Two years afterward the league demanded self-government in its constitution. There was also change in leadership of the league after the resignation of President Aga Khan in 1913. Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876–1948), the eminent lawyer from Bombay (now Mumbai), joined the league.

Driving Out the British

Hailed as the ambassador of "Hindu-Muslim unity," Jinnah was an active member of the INC. He still believed in cooperation between the two communities to drive out the British. He became the president of the AIML in 1916 when it met in Lucknow. He was also president between 1920 and 1930 and again from 1937 to 1947.

Jinnah was instrumental in the Lucknow Pact of 1916 between the congress and the league, which assigned 30 percent of provincial council seats to Muslims. But there was a gradual parting of the ways between the INC and the AIML. The appearance of Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1948) on the Indian scene further increased the distance, as Jinnah did not like Gandhi's noncooperation movement.

The short-lived hope of rapprochement between the two parties occurred in the wake of the coming of the Simon Commission. The congress accepted the league's demand for one-third representation in the central legislature. But the Hindu Mahasabha, established in 1915, rejected the demand at the All Parties Conference of 1928. The conference also asked Motilal Nehru (1861–1931) to prepare a constitution for a free India.

The Nehru Report spelled out a dominion status for India. The report was opposed by the radical wing of the INC, which was led by Motilal's son Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964). The league also rejected the Nehru Report as it did not concede to all the league's demands. Jinnah called it a parting of the ways, and the relations between the league and the congress began to sour.

The league demanded separate electorates and reservation of seats for the Muslims. From the 1920s on the league itself was not a mass-based party. In 1928 in the presidency of Bombay it had only 71 members. In Bengal and the Punjab, the two Muslim majority provinces, the unionists and the Praja Krushsk Party, respectively, were powerful.

League membership also did not increase substantially. In 1922 it had a membership of 1,093, and after five years it increased only to 1,330. Even in the historic 1930 session, when the demand for a separate Muslim state was made by President Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938), it lacked a quorum, with only 75 members present.

After coming back from London, Jinnah again took the mantle of leadership of the league. The British had agreed to give major power to elected provincial legislatures per the 1935 Government of India Act. The INC was victorious in general constituencies but did not perform well in Muslim constituencies.

Many Muslims had subscribed to the INC's ideal of secularism. It seemed that the two-nation theory, exhorting that the Hindus and Muslims form two different nations, did not appeal to all the Muslims. The Muslims were considered a nation with a common language, history, and religion according to the two-nation theory.

In 1933 a group of Cambridge students led by Choudhary Rahmat Ali (1897–1951) had coined the term Pakistan (land of the pure), taking letters from Muslim majority areas: Punjab P, Afghania (North-West Frontier Province) A, Kashmir K, Indus-Sind IS, and Baluchistan TAN. The league did not achieve its dream of a separate homeland for the Muslims until 1947.

It had been an elite organization without a mass base, and Jinnah took measures to popularize it. The membership fees were reduced, committees were formed at district and provincial levels, socioeconomic content was put in the party manifesto, and a vigorous anti-congress campaign was launched. The scenario changed completely for the league when in the famous Lahore session the Pakistan Resolution was adopted on March 23, 1940.

Jinnah reiterated the two-nation theory highlighting the social, political, economic, and cultural differences of the two communities. The resolution envisaged an independent Muslim state consisting of Sindh, the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province, and Bengal. The efforts of Jinnah after the debacle in the 1937 election paid dividends as 100,000 joined the league in the same year.

There was no turning back for the league after the Pakistan Resolution. The league followed a policy of cooperation with the British government and did not support the Quit India movement of August 1942. The league was determined to have a separate Muslim state, whereas the congress was opposed to the idea of partition.

Reconciliation was not possible, and talks between Gandhi and Jinnah for a united India in September 1944 failed. After the end of World War II, Great Britain did not have the economic or political resources to hold the British Empire in India. It decided to leave India finally and ordered elections to central and provincial legislatures.

The league won all 30 seats reserved for Muslims with 86 percent of the votes in the elections of December 1945 for the center. The congress captured all the general seats with 91 percent of the votes. In the provincial elections of February 1946, the league won 440 seats reserved for Muslims out of a total of 495 with 75 percent of the votes.

Flush with success, the Muslim members gathered in April for the Delhi convention and demanded a sovereign state and two constitution-making bodies. Jinnah addressed the gathering, saying that Pakistan should be established without delay.

It would consist of the Muslim majority areas of Bengal and Assam in the east and the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province, Sind, and Baluchistan in the west. The British government had dispatched a cabinet mission in March to transfer power. The league accepted the plan of the cabinet mission, but the league working committee in July withdrew its earlier acceptance and called for a Direct Action Day on August 16.

The league joined the interim government in October but decided not to attend the Constituent Assembly. In January 1947 the Muslim League launched a "direct action" against the non–Muslim League government of Khizr Hayat Tiwana (1900–75) of the Punjab.

Partition was inevitable, and the new viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten (1900–79), began to talk with leaders from the league as well as the congress to work out a compromise formula. On June 3, 1947, it was announced that India and Pakistan would be granted independence.

The Indian Independence Act was passed by the British parliament in July, and the deadline was set for midnight on August 14–15. The demand of the league for a separate state was realized when the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was born on August 14.

On August 15 Jinnah was sworn in as the first governor-general of Pakistan, and Liaqat Ali Khan (1895–1951) became the prime minister. The new nation had 60 million Muslims in East Bengal, West Punjab, Sind, the North-West Frontier Province, and Baluchistan.

After independence the league did not remain a major political force for long, and dissent resulted in many splinter groups. The Pakistan Muslim League had no connection with the original league. In India the Indian Union Muslim League was set up in March 1948 with a stronghold in the southern province of Kerala.

The two-nation theory received a severe jolt when East Pakistan seceded after a liberation struggle against the oppressive regime of the west. A new state, Bangladesh, emerged in December 1971. In the early 21st century more Muslims resided in India (175 million) than in Pakistan (159 million).

Bhim Rao Ambedkar

Bhim Rao Ambedkar
Bhim Rao Ambedkar

Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar was the most important leader of the oppressed untouchable minority in the history of India. He acquired the honorific name Babasaheb. Fighting for his people, he angered Mohandas K. Gandhi, the revered leader of the Indian nationalist movement, as well as many Hindu traditionalists.

When India became an independent country, he served in its cabinet and drafted its constitution. Near the end of his life, he became a Buddhist and encouraged other untouchables to do likewise; he had lost hope of justice for his people within Hinduism.

In Hinduism most people belonged to four hierarchical castes, but a large minority were excluded from the caste system and were regarded as beneath it. They did jobs that other Hindus rejected as ritually unclean and were not allowed to pray in temples or to draw water from communal wells.

Nearly all of them were desperately poor. In English these people often are called untouchables, or pariahs. Gandhi, wishing to improve their status, called them harijans, or children of God. To underscore their miserable condition, untouchables preferred to be called dalits, a name that means oppressed.

B. R. Ambedkar was born to an untouchable family as its 14th child. At the time of his birth his father was a soldier. Untouchables were divided into numerous hereditary subgroups, or jatis. Ambedkar belonged to the Mahar jati. Despite the disadvantages of poverty, family responsibilities, and untouchable status, he acquired an advanced education.

In 1912 he earned a B.A. degree from Elphinstone College at Bombay University. The ruler of a princely state then financed his education in the United States and Britain. In 1916 Columbia University awarded him a Ph.D. in economics. He continued his studies at the London School of Economics. In 1921 it awarded him a second doctorate. He studied law at Gray's Inn and in 1923 was called to the bar in Britain. He also studied briefly at a German university.

In India he practiced law, taught, edited newspapers, and entered politics. Although he was elected to the Bombay legislature, his real political career was as the leader of the formerly passive untouchable community.

Ambedkar's nonviolent protests mobilized tens of thousands of dalits for the right to draw water from wells and public tanks and to pray in temples. Although Gandhi saw himself as a friend of the untouchables, he got along poorly with Ambedkar. They quarreled at the Round Table Conferences on India's future held in London.

When Britain decided to grant India extensive political autonomy, its government grappled with the problem of the diversity within the Indian population. In 1932 Britain offered separate electorates to the untouchables, so that this oppressed minority would control the selection of its representatives. The Indian National Congress strongly opposed any separate electorates.

Gandhi began a fast to put pressure on Ambedkar to reject the special electorates for his people. Reluctantly, he did so. The Indian National Congress offered Ambedkar concessions in what was known as the Poona Pact. The number of seats reserved for untouchable candidates was increased, but the entire electorate, not just untouchables, would vote on the candidates for these seats.

In 1936 Ambedkar organized the Independent Labour Party. In contrast with Gandhi and the Indian National Congress, Ambedkar and his party supported the British government in India during World War II.

In 1942 he became a member of the viceroy's executive council. In the same year he organized a new political party, the Scheduled Castes' Federation.

When India became independent, Ambedkar joined the new government that the Indian National Congress dominated. From 1947 to 1951, he was a member of the cabinet. More important, he chaired the committee that drafted the national constitution and was its principal author.

In the final years of his life, Ambedkar turned to Buddhism, a religion with Indian roots that rejected the Hindu caste system and the concept of untouchability. He formally converted to Buddhism in October 1956. Hundreds of thousands of untouchables joined him in leaving Hinduism for Buddhism. A few weeks after his conversion ceremony, Ambedkar died.