What was the Two Nation Theory?

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what is meant by the two nation theory

The famous Two Nation Theory is actually the foundational basis of the creation of Pakistan. In simple words, this theory states that the Hindu and Muslim communities cannot coexist within the same state without discriminating or ending up in conflicts. Although the state of India initially rejected the theory and chose to be a secular state, the nation ended up dividing into two different countries. Wondering how did it all happen? Let’s find out together. 

Who Proposed the Two-Nation Theory and When?

The origin of the Two-Nation Theory is a debatable topic. However, the two popular names that are often associated with are Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Muhammad Ali Jinnah.  

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

  • Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was born on 17 October 1817.
  • He was among the most prominent Muslim scholars.
  • Interestingly, he is also widely recognized as the father of the Two Nation theory. 
  • Sir Syed Ahmed Khan advocated for the rights and education of the Muslim community in India.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah

  •  Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born on December 25, 1876.
  • He was a famous lawyer and politician.
  • Jinnah was an advocate of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s Two Nation theory.
  • During his lifetime, he advocated for the rights of Muslims and demanded a separate independent nation to form a Muslim-majority state.

Also Read: Ghadar Movement: Motives, Achievements and Drawbacks

History of the Two-nation Theory

The Two-Nation Theory was not an unplanned move. Instead, it was the result of years-old boiling tensions between communities of the Indian subcontinent. Here is the historical overview of the two-nation theory:

  • India consisted of both Hindus and Muslims which often ended up in grave conflicts over religious and communal differences.  
  • Muslims believed that they were living in a Hindu-dominated country which made it difficult for them to live peacefully as a marginalized group. 
  • The British forces implemented policies that ultimately strengthened the rising communal tensions in the country. This gave them an edge over who they were ruling. 
  • Certain influential people such as Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Chaudhary Rahmat Ali emerged as key individuals who advocated for the rights of the Muslim community.
  • Many people also raised their voices against the inadequate safeguard system for Muslims in the country. This ignited demands for a separate homeland.

Also Read: Kheda Satyagraha

Events that Led to the Partition of India

Event Year Brief 
Bengal Partition1905It advocated for demarcation along religious lines that subsequently sparked communal tensions.
Morley-Minto reforms 1909These reforms introduced separate electorates for Muslims. 
Non-Cooperation Movement1919It was led by Mahatma Gandhi and managed to gather Hindu-Muslim unity at a large scale. 
Muhammad Iqbal’s demand for a separate Muslim state1930During his presidential address, Iqbal spoke about his vision for a Muslim-majority independent state. 
Communal Award introduced1932It was the creation of the British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald who extended the term separate electorate to depressed classes as well. 
Lahore Resolution1940It highlighted the demand for an independent Muslim-majority state which will be known as Pakistan. 
Direct Action Day1946While the INC wanted India to be a secular state, members of the Muslim League wanted a separate homeland. They announced 16th August as Direct Action Day followed by the Calcutta Riots of 1946, massive killings, and large-scale massacre. 
Mountbatten Plan and partition of India into India and Pakistan1947The Mountbatten Plan divided India into India and Pakistan and gave people the right to choose their homes. Moreover, Princely States like Jammu were given a choice to join either India or Pakistan.

Also Read: Peasant Movements: Causes, features and Impact

What was the Outcome of the Two Nation Theory?

Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India announced the partition of India into Muslim-majority and Hindu-majority countries. While the plan was made to ensure a smooth transition to the country’s independence, it unlocked countless conflicts and tension that the country had ever witnessed. 

  • The date for partition was set to be August 15, 1947. 
  • Cyril John Radcliffe, a British lawyer, was asked to demarcate the country into two separate states. This division came to be known as the Radcliffe Line and was drawn hastily which resulted in the displacement of thousands of people. 
  • The nation witnessed massive migration with people leaving their ancestral homelands to establish their lives in a new and foreign state. 
Source: The Economic Times
  • Similarly, communal violence was at its peak with thousands of people brutally killed and looted from both communities. 
  • Women and young children were at the forefront of the violence. Many of them raped, kidnapped, tortured, converted, and married against their own will.


Who gave the idea of Pakistan?

The idea of Pakistan goes back to 1993. It was during this time when Choudhry Rehmat Ali, a Cambridge University student, came up with the idea of a Muslim nation that he called Pakistan or Pak-stan. He included the provinces of Punjab, Sind, Balochistan, Kashmir, North-west Frontier Province, and some parts of Afghanistan.

Who is the father of Pakistan from India?

Mohammed Ali Jinnah is known as the father of Pakistan. He was born in 1876 on December 25 in Karachi, India (now in Pakistan). He was a courageous Indian Muslim politician as well as the first governor-general of Pakistan from 1947 – 1948.

Which two states are formed on the basis of the Two-Nation theory?

The Two-Nation theory formed India and Pakistan into two separate independent and autonomous nations.  

Relevant Blogs

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The First Round Table Conference,1930Poona Pact
What was the Sarkaria Commission?Indigo Rebellion

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