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Foreign Policy Analysis
How the British failed India and Pakistan

How the British failed India and Pakistan


Every evening, a dramatic show takes place
at the border between Pakistan and India. It’s an over the top display of strength
and nationalism from both sides. But while this show-down is mostly ceremonial,
the animosity between these two nuclear-armed countries is very real. A lot of this bitter rivalry can be traced
back to when Pakistan and India were still united under British rule. Back to this moment. For nearly 200 years, the people of India
lived under British rule. At the time, dominant religious groups in
the country included Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs. The British colonized this large nation through
a policy of “divide and rule” that pitted these religious groups against each other.
The strategy was that Indians would be busy fighting each other — instead of British
imperial rule. But after decades of violence and oppression
by the British, people found a reason to come together: a movement for independence. The British responded with brutality and violence.
But eventually, the movement for independence led to a decision that would create a political
rift between Hindus and Muslims. Britain passed the Government of India Act
of 1935. It gave Indian provinces a new political structure, while still under the authority
of the British crown. The act set up local governments with dedicated
seats for representatives from religious groups including: Hindus who got “general seats”,
along with Sikhs, and Muslims – or “Muhammadan”. Hindus and Muslims in particular had been
at odds at other points in British India’s history — but the act created even more
division through assigned seats for religious groups. It was all part of the British divide-and-rule
strategy. In the resulting elections, a Hindu-majority
party called the Indian National Congress, was led by Jawaharlal Nehru. Another party,
the All-India Muslim League, was led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Nehru and Congress won over 700 legislative
seats, while Jinnah and the Muslim League only won 106. The majority of Muslims voted for other, smaller
parties, rather than aligning with a national political identity. Without majority representation in the new
governments, Jinnah worried the Muslim population was increasingly vulnerable to oppression
by Hindu leadership. And his fears weren’t entirely unfounded.
Violence against Muslims had broken out in some parts of the country. Jinnah expressed his concerns in a speech
to the Muslim League: “We are now, therefore, very apprehensive and can trust nobody.” This was a striking turn for a man who had
once been an ambassador for Hindu-Muslim unity. Just 20 years earlier, Jinnah dismissed the
concern that “Muslims could become a minority in what might become a Hindu state” as a
“bogey put before you by your enemies to frighten you from cooperation with Hindus” But by 1945, especially after the defeat in
elections, he shifted focus. Jinnah called for an independent nation of Pakistan in which
Muslims would be in the majority. He warned: A United India “meant slavery
for Mussulmans.” “Muslims insisted on their demand for their
own separate state and complete independence from the Hindu majority.” This time, Muslims rallied around Jinnah’s
new focus on Pakistan and his call for “direct action,” where he asked Muslims to strike and show unity in their demand for an independent state. But a rally in Calcutta, which was home to
both Hindus and Muslims, turned violent. Thousands of people died in what is known
as the Great Calcutta Killings of 1946. In this atmosphere of civil unrest, Britain
announced their withdrawal from India. And it fell to this man, Lord Mountbatten,
the Viceroy of India, to broker a deal between Nehru and Jinnah and to organize Britain’s
exit from India. It was at this moment that these men agreed
to the partition of India along religious lines Jinnah would get Pakistan, the new nation
that he believed would protect Muslims from oppression. Nehru, fearing more religious violence in
India, agreed to the plan. “He agrees to the partition of colonial
India into two separate religious states — Pakistan with 100 million Muslims is created
as a counterpart to India with 300 million Hindus.” A British lawyer named Cyril Radcliffe, who
had never been to India was given less than 40 days to draw up the new borders based on
outdated maps and census data. Radcliffe kept the region with the Muslim
League’s political base in India, instead of including it within Pakistan’s borders. And his borders also left most economic centers
like Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta within India, leaving the future Pakistan at an economic
disadvantage. To make matters worse, the British  unexpectedly
moved the date of their exit up by ten months. They said it was important to get the two
countries “launched and on their way,” because “the longer you keep them hanging
about, the greater the difficulties that arise.” But behind the scenes, Britain had been battered
in the second world war, and no longer had the resources to continue its control over
India. And so Britain rushed out of India, and finally
gave them independence. Which meant that this moment — one that was supposed to ease
tensions between Muslims and Hindus — was actually a botched handover of power. “Millions of Indians, led by Prime Minister
Nehru, celebrated the independence of this great nation. Led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah,
the new dominion of Pakistan also celebrated its independence on August 15, 1947.” It marked the origins of India and Pakistan,
with horrific bloodshed. The partition of India led to violent riots
and mass migration along the newly created borders. Fearing religious persecution, many Muslims
fled to Pakistan, while Hindus and Sikhs moved across the border to India. But many never made it to their destinations. “In the trail of murder and arson come the
refugees. Their suffering is the new tragedy of India. Carrying their few possessions,
they flee savagery and butchery that has never been exceeded even in India’s stormy history.” About 1 million people died and over 14 million
were displaced. Most of the bloodshed happened here in Punjab
and Bengal, where the new border cut through provinces that were home to Muslims, Hindus
and Sikhs. And another province, Kashmir, which fell
on the border, became the center of a different conflict — a dispute over ownership that
would define the rivalry between the two nations for decades to come. “Already the province of Kashmir is in dispute.” “India is trying to hold down by force what
she managed to take by fraud” “The present hostilities originated with
large-scale infiltrations from armed personnel originating from Pakistan” “If they have any idea of taking a chunk
of my territory in East Pakistan, this will mean war!” “ “Indians gunned down a plane which had no
capability of doing anything in self-defense. It’s a barbaric act.” “This is an India that will return the damage
done by terrorists with interest.” The rivalry between India and Pakistan has
persisted for over 70 years. But it’s important to remember where it all began — a British
strategy that was designed to create a religious divide between people of one nation. So this was an incredibly complex story for us to try and cover in 9 minutes. The animosity between Hindus and Muslims actually predates the British empire. But for this story, we really wanted to cover how religious divisions became politically defined under British rule. And also in this video, I mention Kashmir as being a major point of conflict that came out of the partition of India We didn’t go very in-depth into it in this video at all, but my colleague Sam Ellis made a great episode of Vox Atlas that dives deep into Kashmir specifically, so be sure to check that out

100 comments on “How the British failed India and Pakistan

  1. Vox forgot BANGLADESH ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฉ how can you forget BANGLADESH here ๐Ÿ˜’ from being one of the richest state in the world to one of the most looted… From Muslin trade to Bengal famine and from language movement to 1971 and Bangladesh genocide Bangladesh was always a big player in history of South Asia.

  2. No one nation there was always 2 national one Muslim and second is Hindu..
    Now you can see in India what's happening there?

  3. Well done British, look how these naive Indians been exploited and killing one another, India/Pakistan wake up your idea, all of u same colour why killing each other

  4. Pakistan forever ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฐ
    British and Hindi leaders agreed to the creation of a weak Pakistan that wont last even for 6 months… But they never knew they were dealing with a nation that ruled this subcontinent and the entire planet for 1000 years and you wonder why….

  5. Soon the British๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง will face the same karma…… When British Muslim want separate rules I.e. law of Sharia from British within their own territory ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™‚

  6. Solution to it all is dont vote leaders such like Donald trup and indian mohdi who spread hate in your hearts lets learn from this look at what they have been saying against other religoins and faiths when election happend to get votes

  7. Two nation theory by Jinnah was better.Indian Muslim population is 14โ„… but they are doing jobs is 3%. 25โ„… Muslims people are beggars in India. So Muslims and other people of India are rightless and two nation theory was the right solution against Hinduism

  8. This was just a gimmick by both jinnah and nehru*gandhi just to divide punjab and rattle sikhs,the only religion which didn't got its rights and on contrary was massacred for days.

  9. I recently saw a British (on a news channel) justify their colonial rule in India by saying that it taught the English language to the people. Biggest Facepalm ever!

  10. Yup we know that British divided us.
    But guys common Britain has long gone. we should pick up pieces what left of us and start building our countries.

    Japan didn't kept crying for 60 years saying that they were bombed.
    Germany didn't kept on blaming that they were ravaged by allies.
    China didn't kept on blaming China and Britain for there faliures.

    These countries worked on themselves with what that was left of them and again became great nations..

    India and Pakistan should try to become this nations and our politicians should be held accountable first ..

    Modi and imran don't have Magic wands to change countries…
    Even if both of them are not corrupt hundreds of others from there same parties are corrupt.

  11. Partition of India and formation of Pakistan was a biggest blunder for united india and rest of the indians….I support the united india where no words for Pakistan are left behind….

  12. No. Colonialism was harsh but not as harsh as the Islamic conquests we faced before. The seeds of enimity were sown much before British arrived. It is a religious fight for Pakistan, nothing else. Stop blaming white people for everything.

  13. Now britain complains about immigration invasion, well maybe the brits should have stayed out of africa and asia. Karma i guess is slow but actually exists.

  14. I don't get it
    Every conflict
    Starts by the hand
    of the western countries
    Whether small or big.
    Then they leave.
    .
    .
    later
    Comes back to spread peace :'3
    Yet we r bound to compromise. :'/

  15. Indians got independence , pakistani got a peice of land , their ancestors aim to occupy foreign territories was finally fulfilled in 47.

  16. Y to only blame British or US to some extent. We as Indians or south Asians didn't have the common sense to understand (we still don't). We still focus on our differences & dark history rather than similarities and positives.after all the suffering & humiliation we still can't think beyond religion.

  17. Vox has shown Kashmir is in Pakistan region
    At 1947 Kashmir nor in India nor at Pakistan it's a separate state
    Please correct your images about Kashmir..

  18. British tried to pleased everybody …. but they didn't understand …. A land became country by adding people not by saprateing people…… fortunately some INDIAN politicians realize that… Look at INDIA now soon we will be bigger economy then United kingdom and fastest growing economy in the world

  19. India talking about Kashmir and forgeting about Darjeeling and Sikkim and many other terrtories which was taken from Nepal by East India Company

  20. If subcontinent has one nation then define Nation . It has never been a Nation and today the curfew in IOK( Indian Occupied Kashmir) is sure evidence of Two Nation theory

  21. i call BS, this is not britains fault. britain didn't divide the country along religious lines to "divide and conquer", India had been divided along religious lines for about 1000 years before the british arrived. i'll agree they used this divide to further their expansion into india, but that's war, you make allies in a region to conquer land, this is nothing unique and for the most part people learn to live with each other again.

    the partition of india was pretty sloppy i agree, but it was still the best option, for example look at myanmar formerly british burma, there the minority muslim population is now essentially the victim of a genocide by the buddhist majority, there was a real risk of this happening after the end of british occupation of india, as is evident in the desire for a formation of a muslim state seperate to india.

  22. true story indian and pakistani both fought for their independence together from Britins. but they are not living peacefully uptill now

  23. Kashmir even after 70 years is still a heavily Muslim majority so by all partition rules it is supposed to be a part of Pakistan.

  24. There is no divide and rule,, Britishers did it in a controlled way.. Earlier Mughals persecuted Hindus and Sikhs very badly. Hindi Muslim bhai bhai is a rhetoric…

  25. Bangladesh government said they wish India will not forget humanity in Kashmir in local TV. a person in government said that

  26. that person in Bangladesh government said that we wish India will not forget humanity in Assam where many muslim also stateless.

  27. Once again, another WAY more simplified and highly inaccurate description of one of the most complex geopolitical events in history.

  28. Mohammad ali jinnah was right. Now india is ruled by extremist hindu bjp party, look at how india is ruling over muslim majority kashmir. It would have been on a grand scale in muslim majority Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber-Pakhtunkwa if there was no Pakistan created.

  29. I'm a mixed race, half white British half Pakistani/indian(?) who's Muslim family moved from North India to Pakistan in partition, then to east Africa and then to Britain…. It's a complicated and disturbing past of persecution and cullings and I have to find it out via Internet research because speaking about trauma is…really difficult if it happens for generations.

  30. We cannot keep looking back.
    This is High Time that international actors do play a role to neutralize the aggravating conflict and constrain the radical exclusive Hindu ideology from playing havoc in the subcontinent over designs of expansionism.

  31. Pakistan formed on the religious grounds; but India never believed in religious separations. If you go back into the history; Jinnah (Muslim League) had support only in UP, Bhopal & Madras. But these territories still remain within India. On the contrary on the Pakistan side Punjabis there got Pakistan by usurping, stealing properties, businesses of Hindus & Sikhs; reducing them to minority. That Pakistani Punjabi establishments moral still continues by putting claims over Kashmir. Had it been Pakistani Army not attacked Kashmir under the guise of Pashtoon tribes, this issue could have been resolved in 50s.

  32. This could have been solved EASILY, but the British did this on purpose as always. Divide and Conquer. Afghanistan should have gotten he North, and India should have gotten the South. Simple.

  33. Don't be ridiculous Vox….
    Any "division" is in the religious-tribal brains of the voters.
    Voters elect representatives of their OWN faith-ethnicity-ideology.
    Aint politics the same on your own happy clappy liberal continent Vox….

  34. Biggest terrorist ever were always the British. When you learn more about history, you clearly see when they left their lands after the mass genocide they did cough Bengal *cough. They made sure they left it all unstable. They wanted them to all fight eachother and left lands 'unclaimed' almost open for fights. Brilliant plan divide and conquer.

  35. When tiny existing humans think themselves centre of universe, then false ego make them to do this. Britishers did it purposely to satisfy greed of their faithful slaves Nehru and Jinna. Indian politicians were in hunger of power, was not lesser than any Britishers.

  36. My great grandfather owned several acres of farmland and two shops in what was once Punjabi Lahore ( before 1947). On the night the two nations were separated, my great grandpa's Muslim employee rushed to his house and told him to run, since they were murdering Hindus in a queue, by chopping their heads off. He ran for his life, leaving his entire fortune there. He escaped to Delhi. Thanks to that Muslim, my great grandpa survived. This shows how cruelly the British messed up the Indian subcontinent.

  37. What have we done to suffer such fate?,we the people of INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION…we are still killing each other…what have we done to suffer such fate…!!!๐Ÿ’”

  38. The US invaded iraq, afghanistan, libya, syria, yemen….

    The Soviets invaded uzbekistan, turkmenistan, kazakhstan, kyrgyzstan, tajikistan, ( tried to invade )afghanistan

    The Britishers invaded india, pakistan, bangladesh, bhutan (tried to invade) afghanistan!

    The french have invaded, colonised and ruled half of the African countries .

    Israel colonised palestine !

    And when i walk up in the streets ! people call me Terrorist!

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