Today 15th of August is India’s Independence day. So, its time to learn more about it. Don’t worry. As usual I will give you the short version, this time of the fascinating political game that took place in the beginning of the twentieth century in British India.
Played by the British colonial rulers, the non-violent Gandhi, India’s first prime minister, Nehru and the leader of the Muslim elite, Jinnah.
Nehru and his Hindu “Congress party” gradually turned up the heat on the British. The goal was more Influence in government and eventually self-rule.
The British acknowledged for some reason the leader of the “Muslim League”, Mohammad Ali Jinnah as the spokes person for all Muslims in British India. Even though he only had the support of a relatively limited Muslim elite group.
At the same time the well-known activist Mahatma Gandhi entered the protest movement arena. The tension between Hindus and Muslims was building up. Gandhi promoted peaceful co-existence between the two groups – fully united in a future independent India.
1939: British declared war on India’s behalf.
Supported by the Muslim league. The Congress party resigned from government in protest.
1947: After the end of World war 2, the British realized that it was unavoidable to grant full selv-governance to India.
Jinnah campaigned to split India in one Muslim and one Hindu country. Out of fear of what would happen to Muslims under Hindu dominance. Gandhi obviously promoted a united single nation. Nehru was persuaded by the British that a separation was the only way of putting an end to the growing violence between the Muslims and Hindus.
Celebration of the 1947 independence was soon replaced by a very violent partition into India and Pakistan.
Which Indian states should become the new Muslim country -Pakistan?
Muslims where obviously spread all across India. Needless to say that the players in the game heavily disagreed in the partition. There was even places where Hindu princes was ruling a majority of Muslims and visa verse. Those Maharajas and Nizams were asked to choose between India and Pakistan. I think they were even offered to stay on as a separate state.
It’s a long story, but the process ended with one India and surprisingly 2 Pakistan’s.
West Pakistan was created out of one half of Punjab. East Pakistan was created out of the eastern part of Bengal. (Later to become Bangladesh, but that’s another story).
Muslim refugees going one way and Hindu refugees the other. Tragically resulting in enormous suffering and the death of up to as much as a million people.
The first war started in the very year of independence. 1947.
As a result of one of many partition conflicts, the first of 3 wars between Pakistan and India- was the one over Kashmir.
Ceasefire was negotiated by the United Nations in 1948, and a line of control straight across Kashmir was defined. The conflict, the ceasefire and the temporary border, that makes no cultural or geographical sense – is still in effect. (2013) This is for sure also another story.
This article is far to short to cover the subject of course. But if you know the above, you actually know more than most people do.
Feel free to comment or even correct me if I have got something wrong.