A Weekly Correction: The Partition of India

On 15 August 1947, the UK Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act 1947, freeing India from British colonial rule. The Act also resulted in the partition of India, in which British India was divided along religious lines into the Dominions of India and Pakistan. This partition resulted in violent riots, mass casualties, and the displacement of nearly 15 million people due to religious violence. 

Today marks the 72nd anniversary of Independence, yet also coincides with the recent rising tensions in Kashmir.

Hence, for this edition of A Weekly Correction, we have compiled a series of articles on the historical legacy of Independence and Partition, namely on the two countries competition for influence in Afghanistan and America’s role in the conflict. 

What we’re reading: 

In a 2011 piece on the consequences of the United States involvement in Pakistan since the 1950s, Lawrence Wright demonstrates how American “aid” in the form of military funding for the “war on terror” has, unsurprisingly, created many of the problems it sought to combat, all while leaving an economy vulnerable and on the brink of recession. 

This spring, the far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Narendra Modi returned to power in India’s elections (the largest elections in the world). In an article on the Party, Sen describes the environmental and human rights concern associated with the party, and its larger implications on a global scale. In a similar story to environmentalist movements across the world, “the Modi government’s willful conflation of indigenous-led environmental protest with “terrorism” — another cynical ploy to serve corporate interests.”

“A Deadly Triangle” traces the complex history of Indian and Pakistani tensions since the Partition of 1947 through the lens of their competition for influence in Afghanistan, one which the Pakistani military argues has taken precedence “over all other geopolitical and economic goals.” Dalrymple argues that the hostility between India and Pakistan lies at the heart of the current war in Afghanistan, and that the only way to end it is if Pakistan and India “can come to see the instability of Afghanistan as a common challenge to be jointly managed rather than as a battlefield on which to continue or, worse, escalate their long and bitter feud.”

What we’re watching: 

In this video, Tariq Ali reflects on the Partition of India which displaced fifteen million people and killed more than a million, as well as questioning if the ideals of independence were ever really fulfilled. Tariq Ali Khan is a British political activist, writer, journalist, historian and filmmaker, and is also a member of the editorial committee of the New Left Review. 

What we’re listening to : 

Ants Among Elephants is a story of how Sujatha Gilda’s family navigated the waters of late colonial and early independent India, as well as a story of the caste system and social stratification. Mixing the genres of memoir, history, ethnography, and literature, Ants Among Elephants is an “essential contribution to contemporary Indian literature” (Publishers Weekly). Book available here.  

This episode gives an overview of India and Pakistan’s recent clash in Kashmir this past week, one that have made some call Kashmir now “the most dangerous place in the World.” A territory that is split between the two countries and divided by a border unagreed upon, Kashmir has been a contentious subject since the Partition of 1947.