7.4 The Rise of Indian Nationalism, The Formation of Pakistan & The Cold War
The Indian Independence Bill, which carves the independent nations of India and Pakistan out of the former Mogul Empire, comes into force at the stroke of midnight. The long-awaited agreement ended 200 years of British rule and was hailed by Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi as the “noblest act of the British nation.” However, religious strife between Hindus and Muslims, which had delayed Britain’s granting of Indian independence after World War II, soon marred Gandhi’s exhilaration. In the northern province of Punjab, which was sharply divided between Hindu-dominated India and Muslim-dominated Pakistan, hundreds of people were killed in the first few days after independence. The Indian independence movement first gained momentum at the beginning of the 20th century, and after World War I Gandhi organized the first of his many effective passive-resistance campaigns in protest of Britain’s oppressive rule in India. In the 1930s, the British government made some concessions to the Indian nationalists, but during World War II discontent with British rule had grown to such a degree that Britain feared losing India to the Axis.
Nehru, Jinnah, & Gandhi
Gandhi and other nationalist leaders such as Nehru and Jinnah rejected as empty the British promises of Indian self-government after the war and organized the nonviolent “Quit India” campaign to hasten the British departure. British colonial authorities responded by jailing Gandhi and hundreds of others. Anti-British demonstrations accelerated after the war, and in 1947 the Indian National Congress reluctantly accepted the creation of Pakistan to appease the Muslim League and conclude the independence negotiations. On August 15, 1947, the Indian Independence Bill took effect. As many celebrated independence, over 14 million people attempted to cross hastily drawn borders in what became the largest migration in history. Hindus and Sikhs fled to India, and Muslims to Pakistan. The Grand Trunk Road and the railway built alongside it, became the major routes along which millions of refugees travelled. They were also the scenes of some of the worst violence - in the Punjab alone, hundreds of thousands of people were murdered. Vast refugee camps sprung up along the road as people gathered together for protection, or found themselves homeless in a new country
Relations between India and Pakistan have remained tense ever since. At the border crossing at Wagah, where troops face each other across a heavily fortified border, the Grand Trunk Road is now cut in two. Despite a very recent thaw in relations it remains very difficult for Indians and Pakistanis to make the journey and vehicles are denied passage. For the time being, the Grand Trunk Road’s ancient role as the conduit for people and everything they carry with them, has come to a halt.
ASSESSMENT: 1. Should the British Government not have settled the India/Pakistan issue through the use of religious belief, why or why not. Support your position with evidence. 2. What is the principal reason for Russia's enduring relationship with India? Provide three pieces of evidence to support your view. 3. What is the principal reason for the United States enduring relationship with Pakistan? Provide three pieces of evidence to support your view. 4. How did geopolitical conflicts of the Twentieth Century shape the destiny of India and Pakistan? 5. In what way(s), if any, is the India/Pakistan conflict similar to the situation between the US and Latin America? 6. Are India and Pakistan in the midst of their own Cold War, why or why not? Provide three pieces of evidence.