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Old 07-09-2015, 08:09 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
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Just finished a brand new book (received in book stores and libraries in June, 2015) entitled "Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition" by Nisid Hajari. I found it very good and very interesting; otherwise I wouldn't be writing about it. It is a well documented account of the relations among the Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh communities and their various leaders in the years leading up to independence and during the painful and bloody partition itself. This includes by necessity the role of the British who, while not blameless in many respects, were also between a rock and a hard place in other respects. The personalities of the leaders, Nehru, Gandhi, Jinnah (head of the Muslim League) Mountbatten, and others, I found fascinating. Interesting that the first three were all trained as lawyers. The horrible bloodletting is painful to read about; no one side emerges as blameless - it was pretty mutual. Also interesting that politicians, Nehru in particular, had passionate emotions about right and wrong (quite a contrast with our current ones in this country); Nehru, a Hindu, showed great physical courage in confronting Hindu mobs - getting out of his car to grapple with them physically! He was obviously respected enough to escape death, either that or incredibly lucky. For me, this book was a bit like a page-turner.
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Old 07-09-2015, 08:24 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Thanks for bringing this work to our attention. I had first learned of the horrible details of the partition when I read "Freedom at Midnight" by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. That was published in the mid '70's I believe, so a lot more may be known by now.

p.s. The other two books by these authors are also first rate. "O Jerusalem" and "Is Paris Burning?" Both received stinko movie treatments, but don't judge the books by cinema versions.
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Old 07-13-2015, 03:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Escort Rider View Post
Also interesting that politicians, Nehru in particular, had passionate emotions about right and wrong (quite a contrast with our current ones in this country); Nehru, a Hindu, showed great physical courage in confronting Hindu mobs - getting out of his car to grapple with them physically! He was obviously respected enough to escape death, either that or incredibly lucky.
The 1st generation of independence leaders like Nehru, NASSER, and others were not hardcore religious fanatics.

Unfortunately NATO was on the side of the dregs of society that were, in order to overthrow the work that 1st generation did to keep their independence.
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Old 07-14-2015, 07:55 AM
 
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Jinnah, the first President of Pakistan, was also a secular and non-observant Moslem, he drank alcohol, etc.
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Old 07-14-2015, 08:19 AM
 
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The Partition of India is a fascinating subject. I, too, have read Freedom at Midnight.. PBS did a series years ago that focused on Partition through the eyes of Mountbatten. There is also a BBC Program available on Youtube called End of Empire that describes how Britain divested itself of its huge empire from the end of World War II into the 1960's. Several episodes deal with Indian independence.

The gist of it was that it was far more complicated for Britain to leave India than anyone imagined. A host of issues had to be resolved. These included:

1. Did India need to be partitioned into a Hindu country and a Muslim country?
2. What was to be done about the Sikh minority which would not be getting its own country?
3. What was to done about the numerous maharajas (kings) who behaved as independent nations and would have to be persuaded to give up most of their sovereignty?
4. How could the refugee crisis that would certainly be caused by Partition be dealt with?
5. How could things be handled in a way that would make Britain appear in the best possible light?

In many ways, the tragedy that occurred after Partition (civil war and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of refugees) was probably unavoidable. India had been a powder keg waiting to explode for decades. Muslim leader Jinnah seemed to accept the notion that the creation of Pakistan would result in a multitude of deaths and just regarded it as a price that would have to be paid. Although, Hindu leaders share much of the blame because Jinnah ended up wanting Partition primarily because they refused to engage in any reasonable power sharing with his Muslim minority. Jinnah felt Muslims would always be second-class citizens in India and he may have been right. British Viceroy Mountbatten probably did the best he could. However, he set a rapid date for Indian independence with little consultation with any of the parties. As such, there were all kinds of problems. Old leaders like Ghandi were simply overwhelmed by the events around them and could do little to stop the crisis from unfolding.

Britain brought many of these problems on by governing India with a strategy that tended to pit Muslims against Hindus and by not moving closer to independence at an earlier date. During World War II, Britain was forced to detain many Indian independence leaders because of their support for Japan.

The period around independence in 1947 must have been a very difficult time to live in India.
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