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Globus Press

Communalism and Partition in India

  • History
  • Published on Oct 10, 2012
  • Language - English
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The bulk of the scholarly literature on the partition has focused on the political processes that led to the vivisection of India, the creation of Pakistan, and the “accompanying” violence. Numerous people have attempted to establish who the “guilty” parties might have been, and how far communal thinking had made inroads into secular organizations and sensibilities. Scholarly attention has been riveted on the complex negotiations, and their minutiae, leading to partition as well as on the personalities of Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah, Azad, Patel, and others, and a substantial body of literature also exists on the manner in which the boundaries were drawn between India and Pakistan, on the western and eastern fronts alike. There has been much speculation about the role of the British in hastening the partition, and Gandhi’s inability to prevent it; indeed, some Hindu ideologues have even suggested that, whatever his stated opposition to the bifurcation of India on religious grounds, Gandhi is more properly viewed as the ‘Father of Pakistan’ rather than the ‘Father of the Indian nation’. Whatever the “causes” of the partition, the brute facts cannot be belied: down to the present day, the partition remains the single largest episode of the uprooting of people in modern history, as between 12 to 14 million left their home to take up residence across the border. The estimates of how many people died vary immensely, generally hovering in the 500,000 to 1.5 million range, and many scholars have settled upon the nice round figure of 1 million. There is nothing nice or comforting about this somewhat agreed-upon figure, and it is interesting as well that few scholars, if any, have bothered to furnish an account of how they came to accept any estimate that they have deemed reasonable. We know only that hundreds of thousands died: in South Asia, that is apparently the destiny of the dead, to be unknown and unaccounted for, part of an undistinguished collectivity in death as in life. This book has been designed to cater to the wishes of those involved in this subject. The comprehensive and insightful nature of the book should serve to make it a book worth reading for the reader.