July 19, 2007

YET DECOLONIZATION THERE WAS A GREAT GOOD, NO?

The unruly end of empire: An epic tragedy brought about by hubris, confused thinking and lack of planning: a review of The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan
By Yasmin Khan (The Economist 7/19/07)

SIXTY years ago this August one of the greatest and most violent upheavals of the 20th century took place on the Indian subcontinent. It was an event whose consequences were entirely unexpected and whose meaning was never fully spelled out or understood either by the politicians who took the decision or the millions of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs who were to become its victims. In 1947, faced with irreconcilable differences over the demand for a separate state for India's Muslims, Britain decided, with the consent of a majority of India's political leaders, to partition the country and give each bit its independence. Tragedy followed.

The break-up of Britain's Indian empire involved the movement of some 12m people, uprooted, ordered out, or fleeing their homes and seeking safety. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed, thousands of children disappeared, thousands of women were raped or abducted, forced conversions were commonplace. The violence polarised communities on the subcontinent as never before. The pogroms and killings were organised by gangs, vigilantes and militias across northern, western and eastern India. They were often backed by local leaders, politicians from Congress and the Muslim League, maharajahs and princes, and helped by willing or frightened civil servants.

Yasmin Khan, a British historian, has written a riveting book on this terrible story.


It's a mark of just how little we ever recall of history that folks imagined the decolonization of Iraq would not be accompanied by any similar movement of peoples or outright killings.


Posted by Orrin Judd at July 19, 2007 7:30 PM
Comments

Yet Gandhi is revered as a saint.

Posted by: erp at July 20, 2007 1:47 PM
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