August 15, 2022 will mark Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, or the 75th Year of Independence Day of India. Independence Day commemorates the end of British rule and the establishment of a free and independent Indian nation. It also marks the partition of the Indian subcontinent into two countries, India and Pakistan. Independence Day is a national holiday in India, and is observed with flag-hoisting ceremonies, parades and cultural events across the country.
While a resounding success for India‘s nationalists – who had peacefully advocated for democracy, religious and ethnic equality and brotherhood – the division of British India along religious lines was accompanied by violent riots and mass casualties. Millions of Muslim, Sikh and Hindu refugees trekked the newly drawn borders in the months following, leaving nearly 15 million people displaced. Between 250,000 and 1,000,000 people were killed during this period.
In newly-formed Pakistan, the concentration of political power in the west of the country caused tension with those who believed that East Pakistan was being economically exploited. The Pakistani military junta‘s crackdown on Bengali nationalism and self-determination in the east of the country resulted in civil war in Pakistan in 1971. East Pakistan was ultimately proclaimed the independent country of Bangladesh in Jan 1972.
Tensions continue to simmer on the Indian subcontinent, with periodic flareups between India and Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir. Throughout the late 20th century and even today, the tension in this region has received immense international media attention given both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and this conflict represents a threat to global security.
Watch the TV and Radio has a playlist to learn more about the troubled history of the Indian subcontinent.
Alitia Lynch, Research Specialist, Cultural Collections