The Origins of the Partition of India 1936-1947

Reasons of state, religious, ethnic or cultural division have been inextricably intertwined in creating situations that have led to partition in different parts of the world. In August 1947 the partition of British India was one of the most cataclysmic events of the twentieth century.  British interests and divisions between Indian political parties combined to bring about the partition, ostensibly on a religious basis. Partition symbolised the successful culmination of the Muslim League’s campaign for the sovereign religious nation-state of Pakistan, while it was the antithesis of the wish of the Indian National Congress to achieve a united, secular and democratic India. The long-term strategic interests of the British counselled them against partition, but their short-term tactics led to its fruition. Britain’s 1947 transfer of power to India and Pakistan marked the beginning of the end of its world empire.

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