Partition of the Indian Subcontinent: Planning and Implementation

An academic work. (PhD Thesis) Abstract from the author: India’s Partition was an event of momentous significance for the three major communities, the Hindus, Muslims and the Sikhs who were at the time residing in the subcontinent. It was an equally important phenomenon for the British who were to withdraw their rule and thereby signify an imperial retreat from India. Independence was announced on the 15th of August 1947 after which the two sovereign States of India and Pakistan emerged on the map of the world. The Muslims of the subcontinent had gained a separate homeland and the struggle for freedom by the Indians in general had reached fruition.
Partition as a landmark and a milestone was achieved. The manner it actually came about and the numerous stages that its making and implementation went through, is mainly the subject of this study. Lord Mountbatten’s role in the capacity of the last Viceroy of United India gets the major part of attention as he was not only the Crown representative in India, but also the man on the ground taking major decisions. His relationship with other political leaders and his handling of the situation was crucial in the communally tense and volatile Indian situation.
The planning for partition and more so its implementation required a meticulous and impartial approach. It was a highly sensitive matter where communities were turning into nationalities and an imperial power was foregoing its control of almost a century. The decisions regarding schedules and time frame, division of assets, handling of Princely States, the issue of Governor-Generalship and choice of personalities to manage the various departments had to be taken carefully. It was a British responsibility, India still being a subject state. The task, however, was not delivered in the spirit of an unbiased arbitral approach with much left to be desired. The result was a hasty and flawed partition and its repercussions so strong that they still hang visibly on the region’s horizon, determining and defining the nature and character of the relationship between the
two major of States of South Asia, India and Pakistan.

Rabia Umar Ali
Quaid-I-Azam University - Department of History