Partition of India Why 1947?

Item Code: NAH216
Author: Kaushik Roy
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9780198077602
Pages: 321
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 550 gm
Fully insured
Fully insured
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
23 years in business
23 years in business
Book Description
<html xmlns:v="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" xmlns:o="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" xmlns:m="" xmlns=""> <head> <meta http-equiv=Content-Type content="text/html; charset=windows-1252"> <meta name=ProgId content=Word.Document> <meta name=Generator content="Microsoft Word 12"> <meta name=Originator content="Microsoft Word 12"> <link rel=File-List href="Partition of India_files/filelist.xml"> <link rel=themeData href="Partition of India_files/themedata.thmx"> <link rel=colorSchemeMapping href="Partition of India_files/colorschememapping.xml"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> 120 false false false false EN-IN X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> </xml><![endif]--> <style> <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:1; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:0 0 0 0 0 0;} @font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1073786111 1 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0cm; margin-bottom:.0001pt; text-align:justify; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";} p.Style, li.Style, div.Style {mso-style-name:Style; mso-style-unhide:no; margin:0cm; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; text-autospace:none; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;} p.msopapdefault, li.msopapdefault, div.msopapdefault {mso-style-name:msopapdefault; mso-style-unhide:no; mso-margin-top-alt:auto; margin-right:0cm; mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; margin-left:0cm; text-align:justify; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;} .MsoPapDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; text-align:justify;} @page WordSection1 {size:595.3pt 841.9pt; margin:72.0pt 72.0pt 72.0pt 72.0pt; mso-header-margin:35.4pt; mso-footer-margin:35.4pt; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;} --> </style> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; text-align:justify; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";} </style> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> </xml><![endif]--> </head> <body lang=EN-IN style='tab-interval:36.0pt'>

About the Book


The Partition of British India has left more questions than answers. In the wake of the violence and mayhem in the aftermath, there emerged looming questions: ‘Why was India partitioned in 1947?’; ‘Was it inevitable?’ This book brings together the seminal writings by leading scholars to analyse the timing and causation of Partition.


From first-hand accounts of the process of Partition to the reconstruction of the experiences of the subordinate and the marginal, this book presents balanced analyses of the process and events leading to the Partition. It locates long term imperatives in Hindu and Muslim revivalist movements of the nineteenth century; regional factors with focus on the United Provinces, Punjab, and Bengal; as well as the international contexts.


The introduction connects the different threads and charts the historical development of the debate around Partition. Addressing several issues like identity, communalism, and regionalism, this book will interest scholars, teachers, and students of modem Indian history and politics.


About the Author


Kaushik Roy is Senior Researcher at the Centre for the Study of Civil War (CSCW), Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and Reader, Department of History, Jadavpur University, Kolkata.




When I was doing my PhD at the Centre for Historical Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University, my supervisor Indivar Kamtekar opened my eyes to the complex interaction between Partition, Decolonization, and State formation. The origin of this volume could be traced back to a rainy day in 2008, when I was discussing the complex dynamics behind British-India’s Partition over a cup of tea with Shashank Sinha. Then, Shashank asked me to prepare an edited collection on this issue as part of Oxford University Press’ Debates in Indian History and Society series. Late in that year, when I spoke to Professor Sabyasachi Bhattacharya about the volume, he strongly encouraged me to take up the challenge. There are innumerable books on Partition. This volume acts as a corrective to the recent historiography’s focus on experiences of the common mass and turns the limelight on timing and causation behind Partition. This volume will cater to the undergraduate and post-graduate students and will also initiate those who want to undertake research on the thorny issue of Partition. Besides the collection of eleven essays, the strength of this volume also lies in the long Introduction and the short bibliography which will aid students, researchers, as well as teachers. I thank the three series editors for their help and encouragement. The usual disclaimers apply. Thanks to Suhrita for her comments as well as bearing with me when I was engaged in writing ‘another’ book. I am grateful to my ex-student Anwesha Sengupta for-locating some of the materials related with Partition.




Fifteenth August 1947 was a turning point in the history of South Asia. The imperial withdrawal resulted in the bifurcation of British-India into two successor states: India and Pakistan. Within India, the popular belief is that the British and M.A. Jinnah encouraged communal politics and the two nation theory and are to be blamed for partition. Yet another angle pitched especially by the Bengalis criticizes M.K. Gandhi and argues that if ‘Netaji’ had been at the helm of affairs, partition could have been averted. The official view of Pakistan is that Jinnah by creating Pakistan saved the Muslims from the clutches of Hindu domination. The emerging consensus among the Bangladeshi intellectuals is that the Bengali Muslims quest for a separate homeland which begun in the first decade of the twentieth century finally reached its logical culmination in 1971. This edited collection attempts to tackle two particular dimensions of the momentous ‘event’ of South Asian history: why did partition occur in 1947 and not earlier or later? The question is related to the larger issue: was partition inevitable?


Overall, the various authors dealing with the causation and timing behind partition could be divided into two groups: the structuralist and the intentionalist. The intentionalist position is that several policy decisions and personality clashes resulted in partition during 1947. In contrast to the structuralists’ focus on determinism, this school gives more importance to voluntarism/human agency, role of chance, and so on. In general, the intentionalist group could be subdivided into two camps. One camp that could be named as the metropolitan/imperial school which asserts that the impetus for most of the actions came from the imperial government. The other camp which could be named as the colonial/periphery school considers that the driving force behind the sequence of action lay mostly in the periphery (colony) with the local indigenous parties interacting with the Raj, rather than the distant metropolitan government. Probably, historical outcomes are the product of both structure and agency.’ All historical phenomena are product of both long term structural and short term contingent causes. Hence, this edited collection gives equal importance to both long term and short term causes behind partition. The elections of 1936-7 and the subsequent formation of Indian National Congress (hereafter INC) government in most of the provinces are considered as a milestone in the All India Muslim League’s (henceforth AIML) demand for Pakistan. The Raj’s dependence on the AIML for cooperation in wartime was another added factor. For this reason, several essays in this collection deal with the post-1937 period. The volume ends in 1947, when British-India was divided into two sovereign countries.


Different authors have looked at the 1947 partition from various points of view. The perspective of the ‘nationalist’ scholars of India is that the AIML’s communalization of politics from the late 1930s with British encouragement resulted in the partition of British-India, partition was the product of manoeuvrings by a ‘few bad men’ (some right wingers in INC, the power hungry AIML, and the British policy makers). Mushirul Hasan’s collection titled India’s Partition pushes this view with great dexterity.’ In contrast, the revisionist school, which is somewhat akin to the view emerging from Pakistan, accuse the right wing within the INC and Hindu communal forces for pushing the AIML to a corner. To an extent, the revisionist school’s argument is similar to the assertions of the ‘old imperialists’. For instance, Ayesha Jalal’s argument that Jinnah used the demand for Pakistan as a bargaining counter with the INC and the British was stated by Penderel Moon in 1961. Sabyasachi Bhattacharya aptly notes that Joya Chatterji’s argument about the Hindu middle class being the prime mover of Bengal’s partition was stated by the British Governor of Bengal Frederick Burrows on 1 May 1947.The Pakistani scholars unlike the revisionist school’s proponents hold the British officials (especially Lord Mountbatten) as villains who were in the pocket of Pandit Nehru.? Writing about the partition histories which have been generated by both Indian and Pakistani historians, Tai Yong Tan and Gyanesh Kudaisya rightly note: ‘Often, the heroes in one “national” discourse, end up as the villains of another, therefore these competing narratives, in a sense cancel each other out.’


In recent times, with the rise of feminism, post-modernism, and cultural studies, many historians have turned the limelight towards how the common people especially women and refugees experienced the trauma of 1947 partition. The afore-mentioned three approaches are very much influenced by identity politics and multi-culturalism. The cultural apparatus of signs and meanings, that is, language defined broadly, rather than institutional elite politics, in the views of the practitioners of the above mentioned schools, need to be studied. Structuralist anthropology and semiology have become important tools in decoding the ideas and behaviour of the common mass. The post-modernist approach emphasizes the hitherto unimportant ‘fragmentary episodes’ in order to illustrate the autonomous politics of the common people and independent initiatives on part of the marginal groups. The objective as in the case of feminist and ‘black’ history is to recover and reconstruct the experiences of the subordinate and the marginal. The spokesmen of the above mentioned approaches are much influenced by Michel Foucault’s post-structuralist critique of Enlightenment reason. The emphasis is to move away from the archival documents generated by the government bureaucracy manned by the elites. The spotlight is turned on oral history and gender issues. The post-modernist agenda is to utilize myth, magic, popular literature, and folklore in order to create an idealized version of the world of the past which is lost. Literary criticism and postcolonial theories which focus on textual and discourse analysis has become the nom de gue1Te of the new practitioners of partition history.


Ian Talbot offers the following critique of the ‘traditional’ historiography dealing with timing and causation of partition: ‘Until the emergence of what might be termed as “new history” of partition, scholarship focused on why India was divided rather than on its con-sequences. The “high politics” approach evolved from classical “great man of history” and “divide and rule” analyses, to the “revisionism” of Ayesha Jalal.’ In current partition historiography, the aftermath of partition, that is, how the refugees reordered their lives after 1947, rather than the causation behind partition and its timing is becoming the focus of academic enquiry. This is evident in the three volume set on partition of British-India which was published in 2008. The set comprises of forty-seven reprint articles and bulk of them address issues like borders and boundaries, migrations, identities, gender politics, predicament of the minorities, citizenship, diaspora communities, experience of refugee hoods, role, and meaning of violence for the common mass, traumatic memories, attempts at reconciliation, and so on.


One scholar notes: ‘However, recent scholarship has attempted to move away from the “why” question and examine instead what happened ... The new breed of scholars show disenchantment with what they term as ‘state centered history’. These scholars show empathy with the common mass in order to reconstruct their varying experiences of partition and what meanings they ascribed to it with the aid of folktales, oral interviews, and fictions (poems, short stories, and other writings). It is now fashionable among the scholars emphasizing the experience of the common people to highlight the trauma of partition. These scholars belittle ‘high politics’ and portray the picture of ‘innocent’ common masses who experienced rape, abduction, separation and refugee status due to Independence and partition in 1947.


Richard M. Eaton in an article offers the following critique of subaltern and post-modernist historiography which is also apt for the above mentioned new trend in partition historiography:’ ... it seems ironic that historians, of all people, should have identified as the engine of history a discursive framework that, being itself ahistorical and structuralist, could not logically be used to explain anything that occurred in any specific time and place, or indeed, to explain any change whatsoever: 17 In a similar tune, C.A. Bayly also criticizes the new culturalist and post-modernist trends in history writing. He writes: ‘Any historical thesis must surely address itself to the question of historical change ... what were the major determinants of change ...... Analysis of the experiences of the faceless and nameless people and especially the fictional literature on partition does not throw light on the principal issues of the debate with which this volume is concerned: why British-India was divided at a particular moment of time and the factors behind this division? David Gilmartin rightly notes: ‘But fiction has, ironically, proved a far more powerful vehicle for describing the influence of partition on the common man and woman than for describing the influence of the common people on partition? In recent times, several historians accept that history of experiences by the common mass during partition in order to become more fruitful requires integration with the ‘high politics’ approach.


The objective of this volume is to bring together a collection of writings by various authors who address the issues of timing and causation behind partition from different methodological standpoints. At one level, the essays in this volume integrate high politics with local politics, and contextualize regional history with the pan Indian perspective. To put it candidly, what was going on in Punjab and Bengal cannot be separated from Delhi’s power-politics. And the politics of 10, Downing Street, and Whitehall cannot be de-linked from the happenings at Delhi. At another level, the structural factors are balanced with the contingent ones. Long term factors behind Hindu-Muslim divide was as important as the policy choices made by Jinnah, Nehru, and Mountbatten, which pushed the subcontinent inexorably towards partition in 1947.


Mushirul Hasan’s volume focuses only on politics between 1937 and 1940. In contrast, the essays of this volume focus on the plans and programmes of the imperial rulers and the Indian leaders on a broader period. Moreover, this edited collection takes into account the new researches which have been done on the causation and timing of partition during the last ten years after the publication of Hasan’s volume. The strength of the present edited collection lies not only in an assortment of the writings by scholars of different schools but also in the vast geographical zone covered by the essays. Special focus is on the United Provinces (hereafter UP), the cradle of ‘Muslim separatist’ movement and on the frontier provinces of Punjab and Bengal (the last province is especially neglected in the Hasan volume). The partition of the frontier provinces resulted in one of the largest refugee migrations in history. Moreover, the focus on Bengal and Punjab allow a glimpse of the rising sub-national discourse as opposed to the pan Indian nationalist discourse which dominated Hasan’s edited volume. As regards the central problematic whether partition was inevitable in 1947 or not, views from different sides will be given and the final take depends on the reader. Most of the essays in this volume deal with the Raj-INC-AIML tussle taking into account the social, cultural, and political factors behind separatist movements. The chief political players on the Indian side were the INC and the AIML. The Communist Party of India (hereafter CPI) and the Hindu Mahasabha held different positions compared to the INe. Of course, some CPI and Hindu Mahasabha members occasionally came under INC, the umbrella organization. And some right wing INC leaders were influenced by the Hindu Mahasabha’s ideology. Nevertheless, the CPI and the Hindu Mahasabha did not have a significant mass base. Hence, no particular essay will focus on these two organizations.


The eleven essays in this volume can be divided into three sections. The first section deals with the long term imperatives behind partition at the all India level. The second section analyses the operation of long term and short term factors at the regional levels which increased the likelihood of partition. And the last section portrays what is labelled as the ‘high politics’ of partition taking into account both the national and international dynamics. The following sections chart the historical development of the debate as well as the varying positions of the different scholars on partition.




Series Editors’ Note










Kaushik Ray


The Parting of the Ways


G.D. Khosla


The Partition: Communalization, Contestation,


and Interaction?

Satish Saberwal


Nationalism versus Communalism


Gyanendra Pandey


Islam and Muslim Separatism


Francis Robinson


The Local Roots of the Pakistan Movement: The Aligarh Muslim University


Mushirul Hasan


The Second Partition of Bengal


Partha Chatterjee


The 1947 United Bengal Movement: A Thesis without a Synthesis


Bidyut Chakrabarty


The Sikhs and the Prospect of ‘Pakistan


Indu Banga


The Success of the Muslim League: June 1945 to March 1946


Anita Inder Singh


Towards Partition: The Cabinet Mission


Penderel Moon


Why Gandhi Accepted the Decision to Partition India


Sucheta Mahajan

Select Bibliography




Notes on the Contributors



</body> </html>
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Q. What locations do you deliver to ?
    A. Exotic India delivers orders to all countries having diplomatic relations with India.
  • Q. Do you offer free shipping ?
    A. Exotic India offers free shipping on all orders of value of $30 USD or more.
  • Q. Can I return the book?
    A. All returns must be postmarked within seven (7) days of the delivery date. All returned items must be in new and unused condition, with all original tags and labels attached. To know more please view our return policy
  • Q. Do you offer express shipping ?
    A. Yes, we do have a chargeable express shipping facility available. You can select express shipping while checking out on the website.
  • Q. I accidentally entered wrong delivery address, can I change the address ?
    A. Delivery addresses can only be changed only incase the order has not been shipped yet. Incase of an address change, you can reach us at
  • Q. How do I track my order ?
    A. You can track your orders simply entering your order number through here or through your past orders if you are signed in on the website.
  • Q. How can I cancel an order ?
    A. An order can only be cancelled if it has not been shipped. To cancel an order, kindly reach out to us through
Add a review
Have A Question

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy

Book Categories