Aug 182012

Back now, and not intending to stray for a while.

Still lots to say about the whole Jinnah-Gandhi-Partition issue, and I will be returning to it I am sure.

One thing to say now is that I am not sure that many Indians appreciate how truly unprecedented the whole imperial demission process was in India. Nothing like that had ever been done before, and that it didn’t run entirely smoothly should not be a great source of surprise. Empires usually collapse under the force of invasion or local rebellion, and in India mild variations of both were involved.

Despite this, the essentially civility of both sides is striking. Sovereign power over about 412 million people was at stake, and was resolved by negotiation. The departing power repeatedly asked what structure it should leave behind it, and the newly liberated locals were all essentially agreed that the forms of imperial British government should be preserved. It was only matters of detail – of drawing lines around or within majority rule Parliamentary system/s – that were at issue.

The desirability of elective government run on liberal principles was never questioned by any major player. This was the great strength of the Indian nationalist movement, but ultimately it was also the greatest weakness hidden in its originally united front.

To highlight and contextualise all this I will spend a few posts looking at the complex phenomenon of imperialism and empire.


 Posted by at 9:35 am

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