History论文模板 – Major Factors Behind the Partition of India

The partition of the subcontinent taking place in 1947 surrounds a controversial debate. On each side of the border, efforts at the state level are devoted to creating and sustaining a justified narrative around the partition to reinforce the national identity in the post-partition era (Virdee, 2013; Chakrabarti, 2021). The most prevailing justification on the Indian side is the ‘British policy of divide and rule. In Pakistan, the partition is the product of the two-nation theory, which has a positive connotation for being regarded as a source of independence and preserving the religious identity and culture (Dawn, 2013; ). These narratives portray the leading figures during the partition as ‘great men,’ such as Jinnah, Gandhi, and Nehru. However, such conceptualizing of history does not offer an image of suffering, violence, trauma, and all other human elements of partition. In order to bridge this gap, efforts are laid out to overview the below-the-history perspective of partition facilitated by oral history, which indicates a high level of subjectivity and interplay among multiple factors as the recipe of partition, as opposed to over-simplified official narratives. While seen through the lens of sufferers, the political leaders portrayed as heroes are reduced to the culprits whose agendas lie at the bottom of divisive sentiments that force millions of people to live with traumatic memories.

The struggle to document and archive the history of partition and create its firsthand view is attributable to the failure of prevailing perspectives—for instance, the Indian social studies curriculum frames partition in the broader context of the British malice. Most Indians argue that it resulted from divisive policies following Britain’s occupation of the subcontinent (Knott, 2017). It is widely believed that the British army used its divisive policies as the instrument to spark a rivalry between Muslims and Hindus to counter the solidarity which could have otherwise foiled their imperialistic motives (Lahiri, 2017). Hence, for Indians, the divide of the subcontinent remains a setback brought upon them by a third party. On the contrary, in Pakistan, the majority sees partition as a blessed event worthy of celebration since it came in as the reward for the untiring efforts of subcontinent Muslims to preserve their identity in the face of Hindu tyranny. The Muslim students internalize this narrative from their curriculum of Pakistan studies. They never tire of praising Jinnah for initiating the drive-through two-nation theory (Hassan, 2020; Kadir & Jawad, 2020). Hence, Pakistan, as a state, has its narratives allowing it to take pride in Pakistan and view it as independent from British and Indian rule, while Indian nationalists discern a dichotomy between independence and partition. The problem with these long-held narratives is that neither serves the purpose of presenting and preserving the history of partition in its purest sense. Instead, these narratives air the flames of sentiments of enmity and clash between Indian and Pakistani Muslims and Hindus (Brass, 2003; Pardesi & Ganguly, 2018; 1947 Archive, 2022). The most vital issue of these perceptions is that they are mutually incompatible. For instance, if the two-nation theory is deemed justifiable, British imperialists slip out of the equation and vice versa. Therefore, a more in-depth understanding of partition calls for an inquiry from a neutral perspective while allowing people with firsthand traumatic experiences of partition to participate in the process.

The oral history reveals that no single perspective is to be treated as the verdict since narrators come from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, and it is hard for them to become emotionally dissociated while narrating the accounts. However, their participation allows them to identify the patterns and factors left unattended in official considerations. For this purpose, this paper focuses on interviews by three interviews with the persons who lived through partition and eye-witnessed key happenings that are highly representative. The first interviewee to consider is ‘Muhammad,’ who migrated from Indian Punjab to Pakistan under forced circumstances during the partition. Muhammad’s story interestingly begins with these lines “it was a mixed village… (Muhammad, 2022).” Hence, straightaway, he challenges the involvement of the India-Muslim problem as the origin of conflict and possible unavoidable issues. Throughout his account, Muhammad repeatedly recalls how people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, including Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus in his community, collaborated and stood by each other through thick and thin (Muhammad, 2022). It shows that, in Muhammad’s opinion, inter-religious solidarity was never in crisis. The manner in which he builds his narrative shows that people from different religious backgrounds lived in peace. Hence, his account does not evade the blame of partition on either Muslims or Hindus in general or does not situate it into a sociocultural phenomenon. In this way, Muhammad’s story’s opening part dismisses the narratives that Indian and Pakistan state officials use for the branding of partition in a bid to sustain pride. It rules out the conspiracy theory of divisiveness associated with the British army while de-rationalizing the two-nation theory. In other words, in Muhammad’s eyes, if the partition had not happened, they could have lived happily together, showing that dividing the subcontinent was disruptive, and far removed from being reformative.

Muhammad further goes into the depth of events that took place around the motion for partition. He unequivocally states, “It was not the people who did it. It was the politicians who did it. (Muhammad, 2022)” These words align with numerous historical accounts and scholarly work seeking the origins of partition, relying on oral traditions. In other words, Muhammad distances himself from the great-men theory, with which most Indians and Muslims are proud to identify on each side of the border (Gilmartin, 2015). The slogan, “Pakistan ka Matlab kya…” did not resonate with him because he was never an advocate of partition. The last part of Muhammad’s accounts is nerve-wracking, where he draws the listeners’ attention to the sufferings of men, women, and children. He shows how hard it was to flee the danger haunting the migrants and how women had to maintain their pace, for which women had to leave the children on roads once they lost the energy to carry them along. Hence, it resulted in displacement and loss of lives on a vast scale. Also, Muhammad describes this in these words, “Nobody knows exactly how many people died, but it was in the millions. Nobody was brought to justice. (Muhammad, 2022)” Hence, Muhammad brings into light the ugly side of partition with no such mutual exclusivities and trade-offs as highlighted in Muslim or Hindu-centric perspectives (Ahmed, 2002). Instead, it came in as a sweeping misfortune sparing none of the ethnicities or communities. It resulted in the dispersion of communities that have long lived in harmony. Hence, they had to pay the price for the politicians’ divisive policies, the blame of which can predominantly be directed at the Muslim League and Congress. Also, Muhammad is more focused on the outcomes of partition, showing the subtle degree of indifference to the extent to which each political party had its role in propelling the agenda. Hence, Muhammad helps understand the human aspects of partition.

The story of Reginald Massey, a Christian then-citizen of Lahore, also offers a fresh perspective on the partition scenario. His account is also vital since it gives a neutral perspective to examine the circumstance. In his brief review of the events before the partition and those ensuing, Reginald seems to be questioning the legitimacy and necessity of partition. Besides, the most striking similarity between Muhammad’s and Reginald’s accounts is their opening with positive attitudes towards diversity of ethnic backgrounds and inter-religious and intercultural harmony. For instance, Reginald states, “When it was Eid, the sacred Muslim event, we were invited to Muslim homes. We were invited to the Hindu homes for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights when it was Diwali. When it was Christmas (the holy event for Christians), they all came to our place to taste my mother’s Christmas cake. (Massey, 2022)” Reginald clarified that peace preceded the announcement of partition, and the riots began only after the prospect of dividing the subcontinent. For instance, Reginald recounts the massacre from both Indian and Pakistani sides when navigating the violence-plagued region in a bid to save his life. Reginald concludes by suggesting that all three nations, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India, should work towards improving their relations, for which forgetting the past is essential. Hence, similar to Muhammad, Reginald also objects to the symbols of pride held by each nation and glorifies the state-centric narrative of partition. His account is also full of bitter memories that took place from the point of partition. Hence, he furthers Muhammad’s understanding that the events and activities primarily described as antecedents of partition are its outcomes, and it is merely a product of political strife among key political players during the partition.

The interview with Tilak Raj is also thought-provoking since the interviewee belongs to a family, characterizing the mix of Sikhs and Hindus. Like the other two interviewees, Tilak has bitter memories to share, with nothing from which he could draw any pride. Tilak recalls how after the partition became obvious, riots began, and he regards those riots as planned ones. However, Tilak’s account is rather more Hindu-centric since he remembers the incidents in which Hindus were attacked by Muslims (Raj, 2022). Despite being one-sided, Raj shows marked deviation from the time-honored traditions and narratives of independence or partition. Throughout his story, there is no mention of Jinnah, Nehru, or any other political figure contemporarily held in high regard (Roberts, 2011). Hence, instead of subscribing to great men, Raj flanks the victims who live with traumatic memories of partition and do not want history to repeat itself. For instance, in response to a question about how partition turned out for him and his family, he remarks, “scattered; instead of being in one or two units, it was all over the place. No work, no home, great hardship and reduced to poverty from riches” (Raj, 2022). Hence, the interviewee supports the scholarly idea that the human side of partition has the least compatibility with its political and state-level framing, which is prevailing in today’s media (Khan, 2017). The factors behind partition are subtly rooted in political discourses at play during the time of partition. The people are shown to be the pioneers or of formidable wisdom who used religious differences and extremism, though isolated, to their favor. Raj and his family had no problem living in the Muslim majority area of Lahore until the political drive peaked and breakthroughs surfaced.

To sum up, the partition is a subtle and complex phenomenon, and to ascribe simplified state narratives to it is hard to survive the exposure to reality. Therefore, there is the need to dive deep into its background and look at the situation from the standpoint of people who have been victims of this phenomenon. While seen from a human perspective and a neutral angle, partition tells the story of mass devastation and irreparable loss. The stories covered in this essay ridicule the anthems and symbols associated with so-called independence. Similarly, the political leaders who are treated as demigods are barely referenced in good taste by the interviewees. To them, the political strife lies at the core of the events leading up to the partition. The ideas conveyed by each interviewee suggest that solidarity is not allowed to prevail despite its visible potential. Therefore, partition and its antecedent remain condemnable when applying the human perspective and emphasize the need for initiatives that may avoid any similar occurrence. It is hard to draw the elements from a partition in which Bangladesh, Pakistan, or India can take pride. Instead, it is a mournful event, causing its victims to remain with traumatic memories that conjure up each year as independence celebrations commence.


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