What did the Muslim League demand through its Resolution of 1940?
The Muslim League passed an important resolution on 23 March, 1940. Through this resolution, the Muslim League demanded an autonomy for the Muslim-majority areas of the sub-continent. However, it did not mention either partition of the country or the creation of Pakistan. In fact, Sikandar Hayat Khan, the Punjab Premier and Leader of the Unionist Party, had drafted this resolution. Speaking in the Punjab Assembly on 1 March, 1941, he had opposed the creation of Pakistan. He was in favour of a loose confederation with a lot of autonomy for the units.
Why did some people think of partition as a very sudden development?
Many people considered the partition of India in 1947 as a very sudden development. Even the Muslims were not clear what the creation of Pakistan meant to them. They were also unaware how the creation of their own country might shape their lives in the future. Many people had migrated to the new country with the hope that they would soon come back as and when the peace prevailed in the region. Many Muslim leaders were even not serious in their demand for Pakistan. Many-a-times Jinnah used the idea of Pakistan to seek favours from the British and to block concessions to the Congress. In other words, the partition of the country took place so suddenly that nobody realised what had happened within a few days.
How did the ordinary people view the partition?
People viewed the partition of India in 1947 in the following way:
(i) Many people had left their homes and migrated to other places. They still felt that it was a temporary phase and they would return to their homes as soon as peace prevailed.
(ii) Many people considered partition as a holocaust. They referred to it as ‘Maashal-la’ (martial law), ‘Mara-mari’ (Killings), ‘Raula’ (Disturbance or Tumult) and ‘Hullar’ (Uproar). In other words, they symbolised partition with destruction or slaughter on a mass-scale.
(iii) Some people considered partition as a civil war in which concerted efforts were made to wipe out the entire communities.
(iv) Some people viewed partition as a more or less orderly constitutional arrangement.
What were Mahatma Gandhi’s arguments against Partition?
Examine the views of Gandhiji against the Partition of India.
Mahatma Gandhi believed in religious harmony. He was a supporter of unity among various
communities of the country. So he was deadly against the partition of India. He did not want
the separation of the Muslims from the Hindus who had been living together for centuries. He
used to say that the country could be divided over his dead body. He gave the following
arguments against the partition of India:
(i) He stated that the demand for Pakistan mooted by the Muslim League was un-Islamic and sinful. Islam stands for the unity and brotherhood of mankind. So it cannot disrupt the unity of human family.
(ii) According to Gandhiji, the protagonists of partition of the country were the enemies of both Islam and India.
(iii) He considered partition as wrong. He was ready to be cut into pieces. But he was not ready to accept the partition of the country.
(iv) He appealed to the Muslim League not to regard any Indian as its enemy. The Hindus and the Muslims belong to the same land. They have the same blood and eat the same food and drink the same water. They speak the same language and do everything with mutual consultation. So they cannot be separated from each other.
Why is partition viewed as an extremely significant marker in South Asian history?
Briefly describe the social impacts of the partition.
Why is the partition of India viewed of an extremely significant marker in the history of India and Pakistan? Explain.
Indian partition is viewed as an extremely significant marker in South Asian history because
of the following reasons :
(i) This partition took place on the name of communities or religions. History has not witnessed such type of partition.
(ii) First time in history, people of two countries moved across. Most of the Muslims of India crossed over to Pakistan and almost all the Hindus and Sikhs came to India from Pakistan.
(iii) Several hundred thousand people were killed. People began killing each other who used to live with each other with peace and harmony. Government machinery had no role in it.
(iv) People were rendered homeless, having suddenly lost all of their immovable and movable assets. They were separated from many of their relatives and friends as well.
Discuss the causes that brought the partition of India. Was this partition essential or could it be postponed?
Why was the British India partitioned?
Examine the events that were responsible for the partition of India.
In 1947, India was partitioned owing to the role of communal forces and the British policy of
Divide and Rule. In fact, the British Policy had strengthened the hands of the communal
forces. It spread hatred between people belonging to different religions. The role of the
British prepared a ground for the partition of the country. It is evident from the following
(i) The policy of Divide and Rule : After the Revolt of 1857, the British were apprehensive about the Hindu-Muslim unity. So they adopted a new policy of dividing the religious minorities to strengthen and perpetuate their rule in India. They instigated one community against the other. They also instigated the Hindus against the Muslims and vice-versa. As a result, their was communal tension between Hindus and Muslims.
(ii) Attempts of the Muslim League : The Muslims formed their Muslim League in 1906. As a result, the Hindu-Muslim relations soured and the communal tension between the two communities increased. These differences increased so much that in its Declaration of 1940, the Muslim League demanded Pakistan for the Muslims.
(iii) Weak Policy of the Congress : The demands of the Muslim League were increasing day by day. The Congress was accepting them one by one. In 1916, it accepted the creation of separate electorate system. Making use of the weak policy of the Congress, the Muslim League started demanding the partition of the country.
(iv) Communal Riots : To press its demand for Pakistan, the Muslim League decided a ‘Direct Action Day’. It announced 16 August, 1946 as the Direct Action Day. On this day, many communal riots had broken out in cities like Calcutta. These riots had spread all over the country by 1947. They could be stopped only by the partition of the country.
(v) Failure of the Interim Government : An Interim Government was formed in 1946. Here the Congress and the Muslim League got a chance to work together. But the Muslim League put various hurdles in the way of Congress. Consequently, the Interim Government remained a failure. It became clear that the Hindus and the Muslims could not run the administration unitedly.
(vi) The British Declaration to Quit India : On 20 February, 1947, Clement Attlee, the Prime Minister of England, declared to free India by June, 1948. The declaration also stated that the British would leave India after there is an agreement between Congress and the Muslim League. But Muslim League was not ready to accept freedom without getting Pakistan for the Muslims. As a result, the British Government started devising a plan to divide India into Pakistan and India.
(vii) Partition of India : With the purpose of partitioning India, Lord Mountbatten was sent to India as the Viceroy. With his pragmatic approach, he brought both Nehru and Patel round to his point of view, that is, the partition of the country. When Nehru and Patel had agreed to accept the partition plan, at last India was divided into two parts in 1947. Was the Partition of India essential?
Could the Partition of India be postponed?
Though the partition of India was painful yet it was essential. The Congress was forced to accept it in wake of the prevailing circumstances. In reality, this partition could be postponed. The following arguments can be given in this regard :
(i) The leaders of the Congress were exhausted due to long-drawn battle for independence. So they accepted the partition plan. But they should have thought that Jinnah, the main spokesperson for Pakistan, was suffering from cancer. He had become quite weak and had no power to fight any more. Had Congress kept its patience, it was possible that Jinnah could have left this demand for partition. He would have made some agreement with the Congress.
(ii) The Congress wanted to get maximum benefit from the Labour Government in England. It feared that it might lose freedom if ever the Conservative Party came to power. But it was just a fallacy of the Congress. The Conservative Government could not be formed in England before at least 1950. During these three years, it would not have been difficult to change the scenario by starting a big movement against the British and for Hindu-Muslim unity.
(iii) Congress was weary of the communal riots. It wanted to get rid of them. So it accepted Mountbatten’s plan for the partition of India. Rather than accepting the proposal of the Viceroy, the Congress should have pressurised him to crush those who spread communal violence and caused communal riots. If the British Government could repress Non-Cooperation Movement and Quit India Movement, why could it not crush merely a few hundred rioteers and fanatics.
Having taken any of these steps, the partition of the country could have been definitely postponed.
How did women experience partition?
Explain some of the horrowing experiences of women in those violent days of partition.
‘‘Scholers have written about the harrowing experiences of women during the partition of India.’’ Explain the statement.
At the time of partition of the country, the women had horrible experiences. They were not
only raped and abducted but also sold. They were compelled to settle down to a new life with
strangers in unknown circumstances. They found the governments of both India and Pakistan
insensitive to their problems.
It was very difficult for the women to protect their respect and honour. Some women were even killed by their family members so that their hounour is maintained and their respect and piousness is not violated by the enemy. Some women committed suicides to save themselves from falling into enemy hands. For example, in Thoa Khalsa, a village in Rawalpindi District, ninety women voluntrarily jumped into a well so that they may not be caught by enemies. They died as martyrs and cannot be termed as having committed suicides. The sacrifice and bravery of such women is still remembered.
How did the Congress come to change its views on partition?
Initially the Congress was against the partition of the country. But in March, 1947, the
Congress high command agreed to divide Punjab into two halves. One part would constitute of
the Muslim-majority areas. The other part would include areas having Hindu-Sikh
Many Sikh leaders and Congressmen were convinced that partition of Punjab was a necessary evil. The Sikhs felt that if they did not accept the partition, they would be over-powered by the Muslim majorities. Then they would be dictated and controlled by Muslim leaders.
The similar principle was applied to Bengal. There was a section of Bhadralok Bengali Hindus. They wanted to retain political power with them. They were also apprehensive of the Muslims. As the Hindus were in minority in Bengal, they thought it prudent to divide the province. It would help them retain their political dominance. Thus, Congress changed its perception about the partition of the country after adopting a pragmatic approach.
Examine the strengths and limitations of oral history. How have oral history techniques furthered our understanding of partition?
Describe the strengths and weak- nessess of oral history.
Analyse the distinctive aspects of the oral testimonies to understand the history of the partition of British India.
OrExamine the importance and eimitations of memories and oral testimonies in reconstructing the history of the partition of India.
Oral history has a wider scope to acquaint us about any historic or general event. Besides
there are narratives, memoirs, diaries and family histories. They also help us to understand
and comprehend any event that occurred in the past.
The partition of India occurred due to compelling circumstances of those times. It was not just a political event and had a deeper meaning attached to it.
Strengths of Oral History (i) It helps us in grasping new experiences. It also adds new events to our memories.
(ii) It is quite helpful for the historians as it enables them to describe an incident vividly and comprehensively.
(iii) It provides information other than the government policy and official records.
(iv) It broadens the scope of history.
(v) It enables the historians to explore the experiences of the ignored people. Limitations of Oral History
(i) It lacks concreteness and authenticity.
(ii) It is not chronological.
(iii) It makes generalisation difficult as a large picture cannot be built from micro-evidence. (iv) One witness is no witness.
(v) It is difficult to counter-check the oral sources.
(vi) Oral sources are not easily available. Sometimes people do not like to talk about their personal experiences.
(vii) Sometimes meaningful data is not available due to weak memory of the person.