Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah during his remarkable life had little idea that studies of the human gene would go on to confirm that mankind originated from the continent of Africa. The great dispersal began 100,000 years ago because of severe droughts that emptied the Great Lakes of Africa; these mega droughts reduced the water content of lake Malawi by more than 85%. There is archeological and genetic evidence that large groups of modern humans trekked out of Africa to colonize the Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia and Australia, whilst another group of modern humans headed north to Europe. The simple conclusion from the extensive data is that we humans regardless of the color of our skin, religious beliefs, caste or social status are quite similar because we belong to just one species-homo sapiens.
Mr. Jinnah was also oblivious of the fact that different populations are genetically more similar than individuals from the same population, and thus caution has to be exercised when using genetic or geographical ancestry to make inferences about individual characteristics; in plain English we are all boringly quite alike. Jinnah was also was not informed that genetic studies suggest that the spread of Islam in India was largely due to cultural conversion with little gene flow from Iran and central Asia. Gandhi in his meetings with Jinnah in September 1946 did allude to the fact that the majority of Muslims in India had converted and therefore the idea of a different state for them because they were a different species appeared a bit odd. Jinnah however declined to agree with Gandhi.
Jinnah was also unaware that the bacteria causing tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) which had evolved more than 70,000 years ago was notorious for being unconcerned of the sex, religion, tribe or caste of the subject it infected. The tuberculosis bacteria makes sure it infects more than one and a half million people every year, and that it kills more than a million. It has absolutely no predilection for populations of a Muslim or Hindu state.
Jinnah lived in times when there was no treatment for tuberculosis (TB). Most historians writing on Jinnah and the Great Partition of India have acknowledged that TB ravaged Jinnah’s lungs. But all have ignored the havoc Jinnah’s tuberculosis lungs must have played on his temperament, concentration and cognitive abilities. He probably suffered from TB as early as the late nineteen thirties. No biographer or historian has analyzed Jinnah through the haze of the disease that ultimately devoured him. He probably died of TB on the streets of Karachi in the afternoon of 11th September 1948, rather than as has been suggested by Pakistani authorities in his house later the same night. The Gazette however chose to announce his death due to heart failure after 10 pm the same night.
The state of Pakistan had become a reality subsequent to the Mountbatten partition plan, IN JUNE 1947. The date for the independence was set for 14th August 1947 and India was to gain freedom on the midnight of 14th/15th August 1947. Jinnah finally flew to Karachi from Delhi for the last time on a Dakota lent to him by Mountbatten in the second week of August. Jinnah by then had become so frail that he barely managed to climb up the aircraft and then just had enough strength to slump into his seat. Jinnah, who had single handedly persevered for more than two decades for the creation of Pakistan, was too weak from TB to make any conversation with any of his co- passengers during the 3 hours flight to Karachi.
On August 13th, Jinnah, famous for his eloquence and fondness for speeches could barely speak in the grand banquet he threw on 13th August 1947.Jinnah in fact was compelled to ask Mountbatten to leave the reception prematurely because he felt he was on the verge of collapse. Jinnah wanted to end the function early so that the guests would leave and he got some rest. This was after 20 years of dogged efforts. Jinnah probably was unaware that his lungs were severely damaged by TB and that he was seriously ill.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is oblivious to the status of the person it attacks. The susceptible person breathes in the bacteria, which then lodges in the lungs. Once it has penetrated the lungs, it either attacks soon after or stays embedded for mysterious reasons for many years. Some decades later the sleeper bacteria decides to invade the lungs; it chooses it’s time for invasion when the person concerned becomes weak due to old age, malnutrition, bad hygiene or disease like diabetes or HIV / AIDS.
There is no clear evidence as to when Jinnah contracted TB; where or from whom. His wife died aged 29 years. There is no unequivocal information available about the cause of her death. Jinnah apparently never inquired about the etiology of her disease or the medical reasons for her death. Pakistani authorities, moreover, have not unsurprisingly always been in denial of his wife’s existence. Jinnah, considered by his biographers to be the best barrister in British India, remarkably never investigated his wife’s death. He was in Delhi when she died on her birthday in Bombay in 1929 and was seen to shed tears in her funeral. Jinnah had been living separately for the last few years of their short marriage. Mr. Jaswant Singh in his otherwise staggeringly detailed biography of Jinnah, spends a mere paragraph on her death. Wolpert, Patrick French and Yasmin Khan in their excellent books on Jinnah also provide little or no insight into young Mrs. Jinnah’s death.
Jinnah had the huge disadvantage of suffering from TB when there was no cure available on the planet. The first antibiotic against tuberculosis was isolated in the 1940’s. Interestingly for a scientist, the first ever randomized trial conducted in the world was in 1946; and the drug tested was streptomycin in patients of tuberculosis; streptomycin was found to be effective. In a randomized trial patients are divided into 2 groups; one group is administered the drug to be assessed while the other group (control) is provided a placebo or dummy. A randomized study does away with bias and is the backbone of evidence-based medicine.
Jinnah sadly had no clue of streptomycin. He was too preoccupied with his agenda of creating a separate Muslim nation. He probably had no physician he trusted or the ones he trusted were incapable of advising him about streptomycin.
Both the sun and TB bacteria go about their work without any fuss. They are both remarkably secular and quite unconcerned about the religious beliefs/prejudices of their subjects. The sun has been squeezing 400 million tons of hydrogen atoms in one second to produce helium for billions of years. In the process it generates enough energy to nourish and nurture our planet with its trillions of varied species and life forms. The mass of 4 hydrogen atoms do not add to 1+1+1+1=4. They actually add to 3.999 of helium. It is this 7% loss of mass that roars out as blinding energy from the sun. Einstein had explained this in his 1905 equation of e= mc 2 (where c is the speed of light); this converts to a massive figure…. c = 670 million miles per hour… and therefore c squared becomes a humungous 450,000,000,000,000,000,000! Hence tiny bit of mass has the potential of providing enormous amounts of energy. Sunlight has been beaming for billions of years before the arrival of bacteria or humans on earth. It continues to the same today. It did so when the Kauravs assaulted Draupadi, and when Christ was crucified. The sun was squeezing hydrogen atoms as Prophet Mohammad crisis-crossed Mecca and Medina. The sun has never provided life and warmth in a preferential manner but has done so regardless of species or faith.
The TB bacterium too goes about its job silently and remorselessly but unlike the sun (which provides life) the bacteria are programmed to potentially destroy all those that it comes to occupy. There are no strategic or logistic secrets that can be kept hidden from the bacteria. The TB bacteria, a veteran of thousands of years of invasion, is armed with the fundamental truth of nature, that all humans are alike; quite different from the machinations of modern politicians who would like to separate us according to color, religion or caste.
The tiny female mosquito also has the good sense to be impartial when it chooses to feast on human blood. She does not carry a fancy for Muslim, Jewish, Christian or Hindu blood; she happily transmits the virus (dengue, chickungunya, zika, or yellow fever) or parasite (malaria) as she feeds on human blood without the slightest hint of any prejudice. The microscopic parasite and virus too go about their jobs in the human body without any preference or penchant. Mr. Jinnah, however, considered people of the Muslim faith to be so distinct and separate from Hindus that for him it became imperative they be provided a different state.
No book on Jinnah or the Great Partition has explored the cognitive effects of the TB bacteria that ravaged and eventually destroyed Mr. Jinnah. It is time serious scholarship explored and highlighted Jinnah’s mortal illness in the subcontinent’s historical narrative. There is need to evaluate the impact of TB on Mr. Jinnah’s physical and mental health as he persevered to represent millions of Muslims in his quest for creation of Pakistan.
He did successfully create ” the land of pure” which went on to have three successful coups and three unsuccessful coups. Two prime ministers would get to be assassinated and one former prime minister brutally bombed to death. The military has ruled Pakistan more for than 90% of its history. A fascinating legacy left behind by a man obsessed and paranoid of Hindu subjugation. Did the tuberculosis bacteria amplify his fears and paranoia? Mr. Jinnah created a nation based solely upon the religion of Islam; and even as he went about his monumental task, he was secretly (knowingly or unknowingly) withering away. He hid his illness from his foes, friends, Gandhi, Nehru, Mountbatten and the Congress party. This book deals with Jinnah, his tuberculosis, and the probable ramifications of his illness on the fate of the subcontinent.
The book will not go into the merits or demerits of The Partition. Was Jinnah secular? Sarojini Naidu, G K Gokhkale and L K Advani thought so. At one point, albeit for a short time, Motilal Nehru too had concurred with this description. Jinnah has to be examined both by the philosophies that motivated him, the modus operandi that he employed, but above all by the disease he carried for a considerable time to his death.
There is ample evidence that chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes affect cognitive performance. There is substantial decline in memory, information processing and executive action in a substantial number of patients of hypertension and diabetes. Age too, especially after 60 years, accelerates development of dementia. More people in their eighties die of dementia than cardiovascular disease. Almost two thirds of patients of heart failure in their 70’s suffer from dementia. Heart failure causes dementia by softening parts of the brain. Chronic cerebral hypoxia by respiratory failure due to chronic bronchitis, asthma and other lung pathologies also adversely affects cognition.
The earliest changes are emotional, such as anxiety, anger and depression, rather than cognitive changes like memory and abstract thought. Cognitive impairment then relentlessly progresses to dementia. Early changes in cognition are subtle and can be easily missed by the spouse, children and relatives.
The history of Pakistan needs to be re-examined in the dim (and hazy) light of Mr. Jinnah’s illness. Mr. Jinnah died soon after the creation of Pakistan, much before he could shape the foundations of a strong and vibrant democracy. The army subsequently took over the state of Pakistan; ironically so completely and firmly that it now is believed to be an army with a state rather than a state with an army. The army considers its prime obligations are not only securing the geographical boundaries of the state, but also protecting the ideology of the two- nation state (where Muslims deserve a separate nation from ‘Hindu’ India) put forth by Mr. Jinnah; and the Partition therefore continues to be an unfinished agenda. Strangely the civil populace of Pakistan even today directly or indirectly embraces the ideological position of its army; they have overtly or covertly repeatedly acquiesced to military coups that dismissed parliament, suspended the constitution, dissolved the assembly, and worse in certain cases liquidated the executive head. I doubt if today there is a single voice in the print or electronic media, which does not represent the existential agenda of the Pakistani army.
The people of the subcontinent have to be constantly reminded that as per genetic and paleontological record man started to leave Africa between 60,000 and 60,000 years ago. It is still not clear what caused the migration; a drought or a severe climatic snap. The population dropped down to a mere 10,000 at one point of time. There must have been some improvement in the climate and humans came back from near extinction, and some brave explorers ventured beyond Africa. The earliest explorers managed to reach Southeast Asia and Australia by 50,000 years ago. A little later another group embarked on trips to the Middle East and Central Asia. And they then went on to colonize the northern territories of Asia and Europe.
There is unanimity in that the human species is an African one. We first evolved in Africa and spent the majority of the time in that continent. The earliest fossil record were discovered in Ethiopia form 200,000 years ago giving us the best understanding of where we all originated from.
The New York Times reported in February 2016 that in 1997 scientists found the first scrap of Neanderthal DNA in a fossil. Over the next decade evidence has been gathered that shows 1%-2% of the DNA in non-African people comes from Neanderthals. This genetic legacy is the result of interbreeding about 50,000 years ago between common ancestors of Asians and Neanderthals. Humans and Neanderthals had split from a common ancestor in Africa about 600,000 years ago. So whether we like it or not every human living on the planet today has one great great grand mother. We are one human race regardless of religion, skin color, race, tribe or caste and we therefore must not succumb to the politics of segregation and separation.