An assessment of the impact of the great partition of India
Assess the impact the great partition of India
The most obvious impact of the great partition of India in 1947 was the re-drawing of national boundaries and the re-alignment of national identity in both India and Pakistan. These rather abstract impacts were accompanied also by concrete harms suffered on a very large scale, including the estimated killing of one million people, hundreds of thousands of rapes, and between six and fifteen million people being forced into refugee status (Debs, 2013). Khan (2007) points out some of the laudable aims of the great partition, such as liberation from colonial rule and a new era of religious freedom, particularly for Muslims in the new state of Pakistan, but at the same time notes that the implementation of the plan was rushed and chaotic. This contributed to the shocking levels of violence, including the assassination of the great leader Gandhi.
Many people were uprooted from their homes, and these migrations brought about ethnic and religious consolidation, which according to Talbot (2009, p. 128) “laid the basis of permanent, long-term conflicts between the new arrivals and the local inhabitants”. Traditional political and social patterns were disrupted, and the impact of this is still felt today, almost 70 years later. In Britain, the impact of the partition made visible the decline of the UK’s international power and the failure of colonialism as a doctrine.
In summary, then, the impact of partition was decidedly negative, making it very difficult for both India and Pakistan to establish stable economies and build positive inter-ethnic relations. It has caused theorists of politics and international relations to question the value of partition, since it seems that in this instance at least, it has caused many more problems than it solved.
Debs, M. (2013). Using cultural trauma: Gandhi’s assassination, partition and secular nationalism in post-independence India. Nations and Nationalism 19(4), pp. 635-653.
Khan, Y. (2007) The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Talbot, I. (2009) The Partition of India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.