TOPIC: Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
1) At the time of partition, West Bengal and Punjab shared several similarities as well as several differences, which culminated in a more severe and a protracted communalism in Punjab. Analyze.(250 words)
India after Independence, by Ramachandra Guha
Why this question
India’s struggle for independence ended with the grant of independence along with the partition of the country. Bengal and Punjab provinces were among the contentious provinces and witnessed large scale communal incidents. However the nature of the events was different in the two provinces, which needs to be discussed.
Key demand of the question.
The question wants us to delve deeper into the times around partition and discuss about the differences and similarities between Bengal and Punjab provinces at the time of partition. It wants us to express our opinion on the difference in the communalism witnessed in the two provinces.
Analyze- Here we have to dig deep into the issue, and identify and discuss about all the related and important aspects and correlate them to satisfy the key demand of the question.
Structure of the answer
Introduction- write a few lines about the communalism witnessed in India just before partition and during and immediately following partition; its spread from the east to the northwest etc.
- Discuss the similarities between the two provinces as present during the time of partition. E.g both had muslim majorities and claimed for Pakistan, but also were home to millions of Hindus (and Sikhs); both were poised to be partitioned etc.
- Discuss the differences. E.g bloody history of communal clashes in Bengal vs largely peaceful coexistence in Punjab; In Bengal a large section of Hindu Middle class actively sought partition while in case of Punjab the Hindus and Sikhs were reluctant to leave their homes and businesses in the western part of Punjab; also West Punjab was the birthplace of Guru Nanak; absence of Sikhs in Punjab which led to a direct Hindu-Muslim conflict there unlike Punjab; Bengal partition plan was already communicated while the partition of Punjab was done at the very last moment as the boundary award was delayed etc.
- Mention that under these circumstances, Sikhs started demanding Khalistan as an alternative to the Hindu-Muslim conflict but were not taken seriously by the British, Congress and Muslim league. This increased their alienation and worsened the situation; Punjab Boundary Force was dismantled and exodus of people from the east to the west and vice versa added fuel to the fire which ultimately culminated in one of the worst and most brutal communal period in India etc.
Conclusion– based on your discussion form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the issue.