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Day 37 – Q 5.Was partition inevitable? Critically examine.

5. Was partition inevitable? Critically examine. 

क्या विभाजन अपरिहार्य था? समालोचनात्मक जांच करें।


The partition of India in 1947 is rightly considered as a blot in Indian history. Two streams of arguments exist- as per one the partition could be avoided and as per another it was unavoidable.


The Partition could not be avoided:

The seeds of Partition were sown long ago.

  • Divide and rule policy of Britishers: As early as 1940s, Winston Churchill hoped that Hindu-Muslim antagonism would remain “a bulwark of British rule in India”.
  • Failure of Congress to bring Muslims into mainstream. Participation of the community was quite low in almost all the nationalist movements.
  • In the 1946 elections, the Congress Party leaders refused to share power with Jinnah, confident that they did not need Muslim support in order to win a majority vote in elections. These attitudes stoked Muslim fears that the secular nationalism was a cover for Hindu dominance.
  • Insecurity in minds of Muslims due to steps taken by congress, formation of communal groups like Hindu Mahasabha.

Immediate instances:

  • Huge scale violence, massacre. Had the congress leaders not agreed to Partition, we would have had a civil war (with violence in Punjab and Bengal escalating). We would have had more ethnic strife.
  • Hurry to exit- It seems the British saw partition along religious lines as the quickest way to exit. The British were eager to divide and quit and the Indian politicians were too eager to enjoy power.

Starting with Nehru other congress leaders like Patel and Rajaji, slowly accepted the idea of Pakistan. Finally, even Gandhi has to relent despite his resistance to the idea of Pakistan.

The Partition could be avoided:

  • If both the religious communities would have understood the ill-intent of Britishers while pleasing one community over the other.
  • Communal groups like Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim league should have been dealt with strictly.


As Ramachandra Guha beautifully puts it – the short sightedness of Congress, Jinnah’s ambitions and Britain’s amorality and cynicism had made partition inevitable. In retrospect, it could have been implemented better.

Best answer: Ankita Munshi

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