In view of the 74th anniversary of the coming partition of independence in British-led South Asia, the demand for a better understanding of the abolition of the empire there is timely and welcome (letters, July 1). It should be noted that no state of “Bengal” was formed here in August 1947, although after a bloody war of independence, East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971. And the estimated number of people displaced by the partition is now 12 to 14 million (exact figures will not be known) instead of 3 million, which is why it is the longest in the 20th century. This is the largest such migration with a long political and human legacy. In the region and beyond, the suggestion that sectarian violence has taken place only because the hand that stopped the regime has been lifted is to ignore the fact that the regime’s policies have led to a deadly breakdown in intra-community relations To what extent were they directly responsible? The events of 1947 and its aftermath are clearly a part of British history – the loss of its so-called “crown jewel” reshaped Britain’s global status after World War II – and in this country. This helped to explain the South Asian migration.
Since initiatives such as the Partition History Project and its successor the Partition Education Group have been highlighted and Parliamentary debate Launched on 28 June, UK schools need to be even more involved with the country’s complex past, as well as provide support to history teachers who are providing it.
Professor of History, Royal Holloway, University of London
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