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Indian Independence and the Question of Partition
First Edition. August 2013. 2014 Franklin Buchanan Prize Winner.
The partition of 1947, which led to the creation of India and Pakistan, was one of the most volatile events of the twentieth century. Partition coincided with the end of British colonial rule over the subcontinent, and Indian independence was overshadowed by violence, mass displacement, and uncertainty. Indian Independence and the Question of Partition examines the history leading up to 1947 and the legacies of partition that remain today. Students explore the era of British colonialism, Indian campaigns for independence, and the political debates between Indian groups and the British. Students learn about the experience of one province, Bengal, to gain an in-depth understanding of what was at stake for different groups at the time.
This unit replaces Indian Independence and the Question of Pakistan.
Three readings explore the history of Indians' struggle for independence and the debate surrounding partition. Part I of the reading traces the transformation of the British East India Company from a trading company operating in the Mughal Empire to a colonial power. In Part II, students read about British colonial rule on the subcontinent and the Indian resistance movements that grew in response. Students then examine the negotiations following World War II that led to partition and independence. The readings conclude with an overview of the aftermath of 1947 and the continuing challenges from partition.
The Choices Role Play
A central activity places students in the middle of a heated debate over whether the province of Bengal should remain unified or split between India and Pakistan when the British leave. With the clock ticking down to a British announcement on the final terms of their withdrawal, students weigh the views of political groups and British officials in Bengal seeking to influence high-level negotiators.
The Great Revolt of 1857: Source Analysis
Students examine excerpts from history books, photographs, and literature from Indian and British authors to see the different ways the Great Revolt of 1857 has been portrayed.
The 1931 All-India Census
Students analyze data from the 1931 All-India Census. Using a map of Bengal, students calculate and mark the major religious groups in the province.
Satyagraha: Gandhi, King, and Mandela
Students explore primary sources from Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela to learn about satyagraha and consider its international impact.
Role-Playing the Four Options
Students simulate the debate in Bengal in 1947 between local political groups and the British over the fate of the province: unity or partition.
Students examine the human toll of partition through oral histories and diary entries.
Looking at Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan Today
Students analyze photographs of present day Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan to learn about life and society on the subcontinent. Students weigh the benefits and limitations of using photographs as a resource for learning about the subcontinent.
Assessment Using Documents
Students read eight documents pertaining to India's post–1947 foreign policy strategy and answer a series of documents-based questions.