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Kerala Plus Two History Chapter Wise Questions and Answers Chapter 13 Understanding Partition (Politics, Memories, Experiences)
The law that brought separate constituencies for Muslims.
Which Reformation Group was connected with the “Suddhi Movement”?
Who prepared the Pakistan Resolution?
Sikander Hayat Khan
The person who suggested the name Pakistan?
The director of the film‘Tamas’?
Do you agree with the view that the partition of India was a holocaust? Critically examine the issue.
Holocaust means destruction and murder on a huge scale. During partition, large scale looting, murder, rape and arson were done. That is why Partition is called a holocaust.
The Nazis in Germany killed millions of Jews. Holocaust is used to refer to this mass murder. In this sense, the Partition of India also was a holocaust. The horrible things that happened in the Indian subcontinent make calling the Partition as a holocaust quite justifiable. Words like ‘Partition’ hide the seriousness of the killing and looting that went on during that time.
The anti-Indians in Pakistan and anti-Pakistanis in India were. the product of the Partition. Evaluate this statement.
It is quite true that the anti-Indians in Pakistan and anti-Pakistanis in India were the product of the Partition. R.M. Murphy, a famous journalist, says that there are many anti-Hindus in Pakistan and anti- Muslims in India. They consider their opposite group as cruel, fanatical and vicious. Such misconceptions were in existence even before partition. But these beliefs were strengthened with the unfortunate happenings in 1947.
The voices of hared are still heard in both countries. When there are communal problems, anger and hatred come in the open. People mutually accuse each other, repeating the atrocities committed during the partition time. The policies of both India and Pakistan were based, to an extent, on these misconceptions.
The Partition is the central part of a long history. Based on this statement, explain the causes that led to the Partition and its outcomes.
Some historians, both in India and Pakistan, believe that the Two-Nation Theory of Mohammed Ali Jinnah had actually originated in the Middle Ages. The two-nation theory stresses that the Hindus and Muslims of Colonial India are to separate nations. They show that difference has been in existence for centuries. The Partition of 1947 was just a climax for the long-standing rivalries.
These historians stress only rivalries. They do not see the friendship and cooperation that existed between them. Although there were differences between the two communities there was also the sharing of cultural and economic aspects.
Some scholars say that the Partition was the result of the communal politics that began in India in the beginning of the 20th century. It was the separate constituencies allowed to the Muslims that caused such divisive thinking. Minto-Morley Reforms of 1909 allowed these separate constituencies. The Montague-Chelmsford Reforms expanded the concept still further. Separate constituencies helped the Muslims to elect their own representatives.
This was exploited by politicians. They started promoting religious thinking. Each politician, whether Hindu or Muslim, did some favours to the members of his community and thus gained acceptance among them. Their only purpose was to gain power by playing the religious card. Religious concepts began to influence politics. Enmity between religious groups grew.
Some incidents that took place in the first decades of the 20th century also increased the tension between the two communities. In the 1920s and 30s, this enmity grew.
- Singing in front of the mosques, Save-the-Cow Movement, and the Suddhi Movement by Arya Samaj which tried to bring back coverts into other religions including Islam, made the Muslims unhappy.
- The growth of some Islamic Organizations like Tabligh (Islamic Preaching) enraged Hindus.
- Fanatics in both groups tried to organize their members with greater unity and solidarity. Opposing groups often clashed. This caused communal riots in many parts of the country.
What was the role played by the Congress Ministries in increasing the enmity between the Congress and the League?
First elections to the vincial Assemblies were conducted in 1937. Only between 10 to 12% of the population had voting rights. The Congress won big victories. In 5 provinces, it had simple majority. In two provinces it had the highest number of seats. Thus Congress was able to form ministries in 7 out of 11 provinces. In two provinces there was coalition government.
In the Muslim Constituencies, the performance of the Congress was bad.
The performance of the Muslim League was very bad. It got only a small portion of the Muslim votes polled. In the North-West Frontier Province, it did not get even a single seat. In Punjab there were 84 Reservation seats. The League got only 2 out of these. In Sindh there were 33 Reservation seats. The League got 3.
Muslim League wanted to make a Coalition Ministry in United Province (present UP) by collaborating with the Congress. But since Congress had the simple majority. Congress refused League’s request. This increased the enmity between the Congress and League. League was now sure that in an untied India it would never get political power. The League started thinking that only a Muslim Party could look after the interests of the Muslims. It said that Congress was a Hindu Party.
Jinnah argued that League was the spokesperson for all Muslims. But this argument was not initially accepted. Only in 3 Provinces – United Province, Bombay and Madras – the League had some popularity. Its base was weak in Bengal, North-West Frontier Province and Punjab. (It is interesting to note that Pakistan was formed from these 3 Provinces.) Even in Sindh, League failed to form the government. League learned a lesson from this failure in the elections, It realized the importance of increasing its base and popularity among the Muslims. For that, it played the religious card.
In the meantime, Congress embarked on a programme to become more popular among Muslims. But it did not work. However, Congress tried to be a secular party. It began to propagate itself as the spokesperson for secularism. This secular stance of the Congress party frightened conservative Muslims and also some very rich Muslims who owned large estates.
The Partition was a sudden thing. What is your reaction to this statement? Explain with examples.
Some believe that the Partition was a sudden affair. In 1940, even the League was not sure what it wanted. Initially, they wanted only “Muslim Majority Provinces with Autonomy”. But this simple demand grew into the demand for a separate nation in just 7 years. Nobody knew what the formation of a new nation implied or how it would affect the lives of the people in the future. Those who left their homes following the Partition were hoping that they would be able to return to their homes later when things settled.
What were the recommendations of the Cabinet Mission? How did the political parties receive them?
These were the recommendations:
- Formation of an Indian Union including the British Provinces and the native states. India should remain one.
- Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communication should be handled by the Centre. Other matters may be administered by the Province and native states.
- The existing Provinces would be grouped into A, B, and C. In A group there will be Provinces with Hindu
- In the B group, there will be Provinces of Muslim majority from the North West region. In Group C, Muslim Majority Provinces of the North East, including Assam, will be included.
- A Constitution-making Committee will be made. This Committee will be elected by the Provincial Assemblies.
- Until the Constitution is prepared, an Ad-hoc government will be formed in the Centre. It will consist of leaders of different political parties.
- Partition soon became inevitable. Most Congress leaders were against it. But they.had to finally agree to it They knew that although it was undesirable it was inevitable.
- There were only two people who vehemently opposed partition – Gandhi and Frontier Gandhi (Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan).
The Partition was an unavoidable tragedy. Do you think so? Compare the attitude of the Congress and Gandhiji about Partition.
In an atmosphere that was tense and dangerous, Gandhiji came forward to establish peace and religious harmony among the warring people. He was 77 and all his life he had held fast to the principle of non-violence. He was ready to sacrifice everything he had for his principle. He believed that he could convince people to be peaceful. From the village of Noakhali in East Bengal, he travelled to the villages of Bihar trying to pacify people.
He also went to the slums of Calcutta and Delhi which were seriously affected by communal riots. He tried his best to prevent members of one community murdering the members of the other. Wherever he went he tried to build the confidence of the minority. However, the Congress Party, on the whole, believed that Partition was inevitable and after the initial objection most of the Congress Party leaders agreed to it.
How did the Partition affect the life of women?
Historians have analyzed the feelings of the common people during and after the Partition. Many have written about the terrible experiences of many women. The worst victims of the Partition were women. Many of them were raped. Many were kidnapped and sold. They were forced to live a new life with strangers in a strange land. Somehow many of them suffered indescribable difficulties. But some adjusted with the new situation.
The governments of India and Pakistan did not bother to realise the complexities of human relations. Both governments decided to exchange women belonging to their respective countries – the Pakistani women in India had to go to Pakistan and Indian women in Pakistan had to come to India.
Following this, a countrywide search was made to locate the women abducted from both sides. Those who were found were sent back to their countries. Nobody bothered to seek the opinion of the women involved in this exchange. Thus women were denied to take decisions about their own lives.
According to statistics, a total of 30,000 women were rescued this way – 22,000 women from India and 8000 women from Pakistan. This rescue operation lasted until 1954.
Show the relevance of the concept of ‘Preserving the honour and dignity of the society’ during Partition with appropriate examples.
Many have written about the terrible experiences of many.women. The worst victims of the Partition were women. Many of them were raped. Many were kidnapped and sold. They were forced to live a new life with strangers in a strange land. Somehow many of them suffered indescribably difficulties. But some adjusted with the new situation.
In the dangerous times of Partition the concept of ‘Preserving the honour and dignity of the society’ came into existence. Historians say the following:
- Honour and Dignity are often related to the idea of male domination. This concept has its origin from the feeling that ‘zamin’ and ‘zanan’ (land and woman) are owned by men. This concept was in existence in the village communities of North India from time immemorial.
- According to this concept, masculinity consists of the ability of a male in protecting his land and woman. There were plenty of quarrels about land and women among men. Women also subscribed to this view.
- Very often men killed their women-wives, daughters, sisters, etc. – if they felt that these women would be taken away by enemies. This is some kind of honour killing.
Even amidst the devilish acts of cruelty during Partition, there were still some people with virtues of sympathy, humanity and friendship. Explain with examples.
Historians have unearthed many instances when people helped one another during the Partition, even when they belonged to different religions. A good example is that of Dr. Khush Dev Singh. He was a Sikh. He worked at Dharampur (Himachal Pradesh) as a specialist of TB (tuberculosis). He continued working day and night, giving food and medicine, helping people of different communities. The faith of the Muslims in Dr. Khush Dev Singh of Dharampur was like the faith the Muslims of Delhi had in Gandhi. One of the riot victims, Mohammed Omar, wrote to Khush Dev Singh a letter. He said that only in his protection he would feel secure and so he should be given a place in his hospital.
We learn more about the relief work done by Khush Dev Singh from his memoirs. In his book called “Love is Stronger than Hatred – 1947 – a Reminiscence” Khush Dev wrote, “What I did were my simple endeavours to do my duty as a human being to my fellow human beings.”
He visited Karachi twice in 1949. He has described his experiences in his book. His old friends and those who were helped by him spent some hours with him at the Karachi airport. There were also six police constables. They accompanied him to the aeroplane and saluted him. Khush Dev Singh says that his eyes were filled at the love shown by them.
What is the importance of oral historical tradition in the case of the Partition? What are its advantages and disadvantages?
Partition was not a merely a political event. It has many levels of meaning. We can know a lot of things from those who experienced Partition and who survived it. It is memories and experiences that bring out the essence of an incident. Therefore the oral. tradition has a lot of importance in recreating the Partition and its repercussions.
- Personal reminiscences are very important. They help us to understand the experiences of the people in a better way. They show what exactly happened during the Partition and thereafter.
- Government documents give mainly information about the schemes and policies they carry out. We have different reports, files and letters from higher officials of those times.
- They throw light into the meetings between the British government and the different political parties. But these documents will not tell us how the decision to partition the country affected the people in general.
- The experiences of the poor and powerless people, help to increase the boundaries of historical research.
- Oral tradition is not the history of the rich and the famous. It is the experience of the marginalised which is usually ignored by mainstream history.
In spite of all these advantages, many historians do not approve an oral history tradition. They point out the following reasons:
- The information got from oral tradition does not have precision.
- The time mentioned by it is often not correct.
- In oral tradition, generalization is impossible. Individual experiences are special and unique.
- It is related to only external happenings.
- It is limited to small incidents. Such incidents cannot explain the complex nature of History.
- The basis of oral tradition is memory. Because of this necessary details may not be available. Often what is said is unbelievable.
Even if many people speak against oral tradition it has its own importance. When we study about things like the Holocaust in Germany, oral history is important in knowing about the miseries of people. Historians can compare written records with oral history to arrive at the truth. It is wrong to say that oral history is simply connected with external matters. The experiences of the people during Partition talk about the central story, and not external things.
To know about different things, different sources are needed.
We may know the number of abducted and rescued women from the government records of India and Pakistan. But only from their experiences will we know the mental and physical pain ad misery they suffered during their abduction and also rescue.