Partition of India – UPSC GS1

Critically examine the role played by the British in partitioning India in 1947. (200 Words)

Along with the shortcomings of the Indian nationalists, in trying to convince the separatist leaders against the partition decision, the majority of responsibility for the partition, lies with the British govt.
The birth of such separatist feelings, can be traced back to the late 19th century, when British started favouring the Muslim community, to use it as a tool against the popular national upsurge.
Various steps like the following, led to the partition of India:
  1. Separate electorates in 1909 reforms,
  2. Economic concessions to Muslim education institutes,
  3. Communal award of 1932,
  4. Breakdown of Wavell plan due to League’s opposition, giving a virtual veto to IML
  5. Transferring power at breakneck speed, giving even lesser time for negotiations between leaders of both factions
  6. Permission to provinces to draft separate constitution, if they want to, in Cripps mission.
Although some effort was done by Cabinet Mission, by rejecting the formation of Pakistan, Jinnah and his followers were not liberal enough to hear them, or analyse any of the future problems.
Also, there was conciliatory effort done by Lord Mountbatten, to make Jinnah understand the suffering which could be faced by the common people after the partition, but it was to no avail.
Consequently, the Viceroy tried to make the partition, lesser gory, as much as possible, by appealing to the princes, to choose only that nation, which is geographically more viable for them, while shifting their loyalties.
Although IML was a tool of the British govt to counter the INC’s onslaught, it became a monster later, which strayed out of the master’s control and British had to stain their hands with the horrors of the partition and share the responsibility for one of the most horrible mass migration of the world.


Why did the Indian National Congress accept India’s partition in 1947? Critically examine. (200 Words)
Communalism as a political phenomenon amenable to mass mobilization gain ground with rise of extreme right parties like Hindu Mahasabha (1915), Unionist Party and the Muslim League (Save nationalist phase in 1920s).
However, their acceptance at large for liberal communalism within the electorate remained low as evidenced by the 1937 election seat tallies.
However, once a concerted mass politics phase with the cry ”Islam in Danger” by the Muslim League began along with implicit British support in the Wavell Plan, Cripps Mission and Cabinet Mission to give the League a veto in constitutional matters.
Congress failed to draw Muslim masses into National Movement during Riots in Bihar, Noakhali, Calcutta, and Direct Action Day. MEANS, prolonged civil war if no –partition.
The rift stemmed from several factors – political ambitions of Jinnah, refusal by the Congress to be called a “Hindu Party”, lack of consensus in the Nehru Report and 14 points which made compromise impossible.
Also, Extreme communalism in the citizens and Hindu reaction by Jayakar and Golwalkar and eventually the hasty Attlee’s declaration of 20th February, 1947.
Congress though succeeded in building up sufficient national consensus to exert pressure on the British to quit India, but failed in integrating the nation.
League not ready to accept less than “Pakistan”, and success-failure dichotomy in the  Congress, ultimately led to partition, with consent of Indian National Congress



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