Presentation on theme: "In our November 22 issue, you’ll read how a family in Bangalore, like many others across India, has risen from poverty and helped transform India into."— Presentation transcript:
In our November 22 issue, you’ll read how a family in Bangalore, like many others across India, has risen from poverty and helped transform India into an economic powerhouse. In this presentation, we’ll look back to 1947, when India achieved independence from Great Britain and was divided into two countries. The difficult and sometimes violent partition into Pakistan, with a Muslim majority, and India, with a Hindu majority, left scars that still create dangerous tensions almost 65 years later.
Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest religions. It began around 1500 B.C. in India and spread throughout the subcontinent. In the 12th century A.D., Muslim armies began pushing into northern India. By the mid-16th century, the Muslim rulers of the Mughal Empire controlled most of India. Some Muslim rulers persecuted Hindus and burned their temples. Others, like Shah Jahan, were more tolerant. Construction on his Taj Mahal (above) began around 1632.
In the 1600s, the British East India Company set up a trading operation in India. The company gradually seized control of most of India from the declining Mughal Empire. The British government took over from the company in 1858. The British raj, or rule, had a profound influence on India. (Here, Indian servants prepare an Englishman for a safari.) The British kept conflicts among India’s religious groups in check. But as calls for Indian independence grew in the early 20th century, old divisions began to resurface.
In the 1920s, Hindu activist Mohan- das K. Gandhi (near right) led a series of nonviolent campaigns for Indian freedom. Gandhi tried but failed to unite Muslim and Hindu leaders behind the idea of a single nation. As World War II (1939-45) came to an end, the British realized that independence was inevitable. But as their target date of August 1947 neared, Muslims rioted, demanding a separate country. In July, British leaders agreed to the creation of the Muslim nation of Pakistan. It would be formed from regions of northwestern and northeastern India.
As the date of India’s independence approached, millions of Hindus and Muslims found themselves on the “wrong” side of the new borders. About 10 million people—like the refugees piling onto a train at left— rushed toward what they hoped would be safety. Chaos followed. Widespread rioting gave extremist Hindus and Muslims an excuse to attack each other and many innocents. At least 500,000 people were killed in the violent struggle that gave birth to India and Pakistan.
Since the 1947 partition, India and Pakistan have been in almost constant conflict. The two countries have clashed repeatedly over the region of Kashmir, which both claim. In 1971, East Pakistan declared its independence, becoming the nation of Bangladesh. In the civil war that followed, India supported Bangladesh, further damaging relations with Pakistan. In recent years, Pakistani and Indian leaders have tried to move past their deep distrust. Although there are hopeful signs, tensions between the two nuclear powers remain.
1. Why are India and Pakistan two separate countries? 2. What were the causes of the violence that broke out during the partition? 3. Mohandas K. Gandhi once said: “ Before partitioning India, my body will have to be cut into two pieces.” What do you think he meant by this statement? Can you imagine feeling the same way about your country? Explain.