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History of Partition broader than family stories, cliches

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New Delhi: British historian Yasmin Khan said that while the Partition of the Subcontinent remains a traumatic experience for its victims and continues to poison relations between India and Pakistan and Hindus and Muslims, its toxicity is also due to several misconceptions that persist and not seen in a wider, contemporary perspective.

The Partition of the Subcontinent remains a traumatic experience for its victims as well as continues to poison relations between India and Pakistan and Hindus and Muslims but its toxicity is also due to several misconceptions that persist and not seeing it in a wider, contemporary perspective, says British historian Yasmin Khan.

“What information we have (about the Partition in 1947) is through family stories, cliches… but when you read the scholarship on it, there is a different view. Among the misconceptions is the conflating of the demand for Pakistan with the violence that was seen,” Khan, an associate professor of history at Oxford University, told reporters in an interview.

“The demand for Pakistan was not a call for a violent carnage… if you take the case of Muslims’ displacement only, it nearly wrecked the Pakistan project.”

“But both these issues have been linked, virtually fused together, thus making the demand offensive and upsetting with consequences that are well known.”

“Disentangling both (the demand for Pakistan and the violence that accompanied Partition) is difficult but important,” maintains Khan, whose debut work “The Great Partition – The Making of India and Pakistan” (2007) makes a compelling case that while there was both wide support – and opposition – to Partition, virtually no one had any understanding of what it would entail or what its results would be.

The author, who was in India to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival, also notes that the leaders on both sides were shocked by the level of violence and tried to take steps to curb it, but it is also important to remember that they were also human and faced many pressures and compulsions that prevented them from reaching any compromise solution, despite several opportunities. “The Cabinet Mission Plan (of 1945, recommending a loose confederation) was one,” she said.

Khan says it is also important that Partition should be seen in the “broader” international context of the late 1940s, as the Second World War had ended recently, most of the Europe was in ruins, with colonial powers themselves having sustained heavy damage and expenses and there were refugees all over Europe and Asia – as well as a large number of returning, demobilized soldiers.

This was the milieu in which moves towards decolonization were initiated, but colonial powers like Britain in the case of India were themselves weakened and in a hurry to transfer power, she said.

“The focus for the British government was rebuilding the country… setting up the British welfare state, and there was a strong inclination to reduce the Empire’s commitments and bring soldiers home,” said Khan.

The situation in Palestine, also ruled by the British and seeing similar tension between two religious communities, also had many “commonalities” with the situation in the subcontinent, she said.

In this context, she also notes that since there has been extensive literature and advanced scholarship on Partition, South Asian scholarship can lead the way for the understanding of more regions that underwent decolonization – with varying results and outcomes.

Khan, who has also written “The Raj at War: A People’s History of India’s Second World War” (2015), an extensive account of the effect of the conflict on the Indian “home front” as the country faced a total war and its manifold demands, as well as the political implications – radicalization and growing communal divide including among the armed forces, also argues that war also had a major role in the Partition – as well as the violence.

“Partition would have not happened without the war.. the Congress leaders were in jail (following the Quit India protest in 1942) and the Muslim League made advances.”

“There was the free availability of arms, of the trained returning Indian soldiers, including those of the INA, specially in Punjab, while the British found it difficult to maintain peace because of divided loyalties of Indian troops and pressure to send British soldiers home,” she said. (Vikas Datta, IANS)

 

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15 Amazing facts about Indian National Song: Vande Mataram

The National song of India, Vande Mataram is considered as the foundation of encouragement to the people in their struggle for freedom.

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Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote the lyrics of Vande Mataram. Wikimedia Commons
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote the lyrics of Vande Mataram. Wikimedia Commons
  • Vande Mataram was originally written in 1876 and appeared in Anandamath in 1881
  • Well before the Congress’ Varanasi session on September 7, 1905, Vande Mataram was adopted as the `National Song’ and won India’s heart as its war cry of freedom
  • Poet Sarala Devi Chaudurani sang the national song in the Benares Congress Session in 1905

‘Vande Mataram’, is no less than an epic for our country and holds a special place in the heart of every Indian. The first two words of the title itself are sufficient to induce a great feeling of patriotism.

It would be a surprise for many to know that September 7, 2006, was not the centenary of Vande Mataram. On the contrary, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote the lyrics of Vande Mataram well before he penned Anandamath, his novel, which described unified Bengal’s sanyasi uprising against tyrannical Muslim rule in the 1770s.

For better clarification, Vande Mataram was originally written in 1876 and appeared in Anandamath in 1881.

The National song was a part of Bankim Chandra Chatterji’s most famous novel Anand Math. Wikimedia Commons
Vande Mataram was a part of Bankim Chandra Chatterji’s most famous novel Anand Math. Wikimedia Commons

Thus, 2006 was not the 100th year of Vande Mataram, but the 129th anniversary of the `National Song”, which was first recited at the Indian National Congress session of 1896.

Also Read: 10 Must Knowing Facts about Indian Flag

Well before the Congress’ Varanasi session on September 7, 1905, Vande Mataram was adopted as the `National Song’ and won India’s heart as its war cry of freedom.

On January 24, 1950, it was brought at par with the National Anthem officially by the Constituent Assembly.

The protest against Vande Mataram because of its ‘idolatrous’ content began in the 1890s. The Congress party surrendered before Islamic opposition at its Kakinada session in 1923 not only on the Vande Mataram issue but also to all symbols and values held national.

The recent HRD ministerial diktat to compulsorily sing the song throughout the country occupied much media space and ignited a debate on India’s national song’s journey over the last 130 years.

Also Read: 15 Amazing Facts About The Revolutionary Bhagat Singh

The song served as a source of immense strength and inspiration for freedom fighters before India gained freedom.

The Sangh Parivar, better known as the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) celebrated the 125th anniversary of the song in 2002. Wikimedia Commons
The Sangh Parivar, better known as the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) celebrated the 125th anniversary of the song in 2002. Wikimedia Commons

Take a look at some of the glorious facts related to our National song, ‘Vande Mataram’.

  1. The National song, ‘Vande Mataram’ was written by the great Bengali poet and writer, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee.
  2. On January 24, 1950, it was adopted as the National Song of India.
  3. The National song of India, Vande Mataram is considered as the foundation of encouragement to the people in their struggle for freedom. The National song of India is versed in the Sanskrit and Bengali languages, in the novel ‘Anandmath’ by Bankim Chandra Chatterji.
  4. The former President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on January 24, 1950, came up with a declaration in the Constituent Assembly that the song Vande Mataram, which had played a significant part in the historic freedom struggle held in India, should be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and must give equal status to it.
  5. The National song was a part of Bankim Chandra Chatterji’s most famous novel Anand Math (1882) which is set in the events of Sannyasi rebellion.
  6. The first translation of Bankim Chandra Chatterji’s novel Anand Math, into English was done by Nares Chandra Sen-Gupta, in 1906.
  7. In the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress, it was the first political event when the National song was sung. On the same occasion, the national song of India was first sung by the Rabindranath Tagore.
  8. Poet Sarala Devi Chaudurani sang the national song in the Benares Congress Session in 1905.
  9. The Iron Man of India, Lala Lajpat Rai, published a journal called Vande Mataram from Lahore.

    Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on January 24, 1950, came up with a declaration that Vande Mataram should be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and must give equal status to it. Wikimedia Commons
    Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on January 24, 1950, came up with a declaration that Vande Mataram should be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and must give equal status to it. Wikimedia Commons
  10. Vande Mataram was recited in the first political film made by Hiralal Sen in 1905.
  11. The Sangh Parivar, better known as the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) celebrated the 125th anniversary of the song in 2002.
  12. Two stanzas of the original song have been officially declared as the National Song of India in 1950 after the independence of India.
  13. The song was originally written in two languages, Sanskrit and Bengali, in the novel ‘Anandmath’.
  14. It was also sung by the Dakhina Charan Sen in 1901 after five years during another Congress meeting at Calcutta.
  15. India’s first political film Hiralal Senmade, made in 1905 ends with the chant Vande Mataram.