By Yasser Latif Hamdani
Shafat Shafi, a good friend, tagged me onto a status update of a pushtun cyber-activist called Rashid Orakzai who is on a personal crusade against Jinnah. Normally I ignore Rashid Orakzai’s “criticism” of Jinnah because it is without exception un-intellectual, biased bordering on idiotic. Besides Jinnah was no prophet nor do Jinnah’s admirers wish to create a blasphemy law for him because that would be the very negation of the man who stood for 40 years in the Indian legislature fighting for freedom of speech, expression, equality and the fundamental rights of all Indians citizens at par with anyone else in the world.
However there are certain things that need to be pointed out. Rashid Orakzai posted the picture above on his status and wrote this following comment:
“This is Jinnah’s Cadillac, Perhaps now maintained at State’s expenses in the Museum below his Tomb. Which of 20th century’s leaders were driving famous for such expensive hobbies? Where leaders around the world are known for their vision, humility, persuasive power, simplicity and native-ness, Our founder is known for his snobbery, Britishness, style, elitism and pigheaded-ness. It’s forbidden rather blasphemy, in Pakistan to question Jinnah.”
Which of the 20th century leaders “were driving famous for such expensive hobbies”? Oh let us see now. Mustapha Kemal Ataturk. Winston Churchill. Jawaharlal Nehru. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. FDR. John F Kennedy. Ramsay Mcdonald. Atlee. Josef Stalin.
There was a difference of course. The great 20th century leaders named above either indulged in their hobbies on state’s expense or they indulged in their hobbies because of their inherited wealth. Jinnah alone did so because he earned every single dime and the Cadillac above was from Jinnah’s own money. If I am not mistaken this is 1935 or 1936 Cadillac. Jinnah used it till the end of his life in 1948. UPDATE: I have been corrected by Donocharya that this is a Packard 1936 and the same car that carried Jinnah, Gandhi and Rajendra Prasad for a meeting. The car was bought by Jinnah in 1936.
Now compare this to Gandhiji, the great nativist “simple” leader. Sarojini Naidu’s comment “millions are spent to keep Gandhi in poverty” should put to rest any such self righteous nonsense. Gandhi through out his life was funded by Birlas and the Tatas and what not. Even his sojourn during the second world war in a British prison was at the Aga Khan Palace in Puna. Now come to persuasive power. All historians agree that Jinnah’s persuasive power was what was his strongest point. So I am not sure what Mr. Orakzai means when he says this. It is not forbidden to question Jinnah nor is it blasphemy but it seems that it is forbidden to defend him.
Jinnah’s public service has been acknowledged by even his worst enemies and rivals. His legislative contribution to India in very real terms is still evident. I don’t need to repeat these fundamental truths about the life of Quaid-e-Azam. I will however mention his last will and testament which was faithfully carried out. What was it? I produce here Jinnah’s last will and testament:
Little Gibbs Rd, Malabar Hill, Bombay – 30th May 1939
(1) This is my last Will and Testament, all other Wills and Testaments of mine stand cancelled.
(2) I appoint my sister, Fatima Jinnah, Mr. Mohammedalli Chaiwalla, Solicitor Bombay and Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan of Delhi as my executrix and executors and also my trustees.
(3) All shares, stocks & securities and current accounts now standing in the name of my sister, Fatima Jinnah, are her absolute property. I have given them all to her by way of gifts during my lifetime and I confirm the same, and she can dispose of them in any manner she pleases as her absolute property.
(4) I now hereby bequeath to her my house and all that land with appurtenances, outhouses etc. situated at Mount Pleasant Road, Malabar Hill, Bombay, including all the furniture, plates, silver and Motor Cars in its entirety as it stands absolutely and she can dispose of it in any manner she pleases by will, deed or otherwise.
(5) I also direct my executors to pay her during her lifetime Rs. 2,000/- two thousands per month (for her maintenance and other requirements for her).
(6) I direct my executors to pay per month Rs. 100/- one hundred to my sister, Rehmat Cassimbhoy Jamal, during her lifetime.
(7) I direct my executors to pay per month Rs. 100/- one hundred to my sister, Mariam Abdenbhoy Peerbhoy, during her lifetime.
(8) I direct my executors to pay per month Rs. 100/- one hundred to my sister, Shereen, during her lifetime.
(9) I direct my executors to pay per month Rs. 100/- one hundred to my brother, Ahmed, during his lifetime.
(10) I direct my executors to set apart Rs. 200,000/- (two lacs) or (two hundred thousands) which will at 6% bring an income of Rs. 1,000/- one thousand and pay the income thereof whatever it be to my daughter every month for her life or during her lifetime and after her death the corpus of two lacs so set apart to be divided equally between her children, males or females, in default of issue the corpus to fall into my residuary estate.
(11) I direct my executors to pay the following by way of gifts to the institutions mentioned.
(A) I bequeath Rs. 25,000/- Twenty-five thousand to the Anjumane-Islam School, Bombay, situated at Hornby Road opposite Boribunder Station and next to the The Times of India Buildings
(B) I bequeath Rs. 50,000/- Fifty thousands to the University of Bombay
(C) I bequeath Rs. 25,000/- Twenty-five thousands to the Arabic College, Delhi
(12) Subject to above, all my residuary estate including the corpus that may fall after the lapse of life interests or otherwise to be divided into three parts – and I bequeath One part to Aligarh University, One Part to Islamia College, Peshawar, and One Part to Sindh Madressa of Karachi.
Sd / M. A. Jinnah
A substantial sum was left to Peshawar’s Islamia College which is the main corpus of the Peshawar University of upto 25 lacs (approx 15 -30 crores of today). In fact this amount of money helped Peshawar University expand and provide education to Pushtuns like Mr. Orakzai. Jinnah did not care if they were going to graduate and abuse him. He was a believer in real and effective social service, not symbolism that other leaders indulged in, including Gandhi and Bacha Khan. Would Orakzai tell us what became of Bacha Khan’s estate? Was it utilised to educate Pushtuns?
For those of us who have travelled and are familiar educational institutions, we know that it almost always a successful generous donor who has ensured that educational institutions sustain and produce quality citizens. By emphasising “simplicity” and “nativism” over practical help, people like Orakzai only prove that the East is still too backward, still too guilty to be successful.
Countries progress not because dramas and political symbolism of demagogues like Gandhi or Bacha Khan. They progress because of successful professionals – businessmen, doctors, lawyers, inventors- who after their demise leave fortunes for the betterment of humanity. Alfred Nobel is an example. The Rockefellers are another example.
So my advice to Mr Orakzai is to get your head out of where the “sun don’t shine” and grow up. As they say “Don’t Jallous” Mr. Orakzai. “Don’t Jallous”.