Mountbatten and the Partition of British India

Roderick Matthews
Back to library
From "Lord Louis Mountbatten (1900-79) served as the last Viceroy of British India from 23 March to August 15 1947, staying on subsequently as the first Governor General of the Union of India from 15 August to 21 June 1948. His tenure of these two consecutive offices saw British India given independence and partitioned, while the 565 Princely States (with one exception) were absorbed into the two successor countries of India and Pakistan. At the time some accounted these things as great achievements, yet to others, then and now, they were a series of blunders and betrayals. Mountbatten has been heavily criticised for precipitousness and duplicity, callousness and vanity, charges he was well aware of, and sought to counter during his lifetime, in various ways. In his defence it must be said that there can have been few more difficult assignments in history than the political settlement of post-imperial India. This was his task, and he did it within the limits he was given. That he was to do so primarily in accordance with British interests would have been, to him, a tacit part of his brief. So although the Prime Minister who sent him told him to act less as the last British Viceroy and more as the first Head of State of an independent India, still as a career soldier, strategic thinker and close relative of the British royal family, Mountbatten took a series of decisions that certainly guarded Britain’s long term interests, rather than India’s. This eBook examines what happened during Mountbatten’s momentous fifteen months in India and assesses him as a man, a politician and a decision taker."