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The Radcliffe boundary commission and the partition of Punjab

This book is the first full-length study of the 1947 drawing of the Indo-Pakistani boundary in Punjab. It uses the Radcliffe commission, headed by Sir Cyril Radcliffe , as a window onto the decolonisation and independence of India and Pakistan. Examining the competing interests that influenced the actions of the various major players, the book highlights British efforts to maintain a grip on India even as the decolonisation process spun out of control. It examines the nature of power relationships within the colonial state, with a focus on the often-veiled exertion of British colonial power. With conflict between Hindus , Muslims and Sikhs reaching unprecedented levels in the mid-1940s , British leaders felt compelled to move towards decolonization. The partition was to be perceived as a South Asian undertaking, with British officials acting only as steady and impartial guides. Radcliffe's use of administrative boundaries reinforced the impact of imperial rule. The boundaries that Radcliffe defined turned out to be restless divisions, and in both the 1965 and 1971 wars India and Pakistan battled over their Punjabi border. After the final boundary, known as the 'Radcliffe award', was announced, all sides complained that Radcliffe had not taken the right 'other factors' into account. Radcliffe's loyalty to British interests is key to understanding his work in 1947. Drawing on extensive archival research in India, Pakistan and Britain, combined with innovative use of cartographic sources, the book paints a vivid picture of both the partition process and the Radcliffe line's impact on Punjab.

The Radcliffe award
Lucy P. Chester

Rajasthan and Gujarat) became the international boundary (see map 1 for a British representation of these provincial boundaries; note the imperial spelling of Sind). The Radcliffe award gave Pakistan 63,800 square miles of Punjabi territory, while India received 35,300 square miles. The 1941 census figures showed the seventeen districts that went to Pakistan to have a population of 16.8 million, or 59.2 per cent of the undivided

in Borders and conflict in South Asia
The development of the Indo-Pakistani borderlands
Lucy P. Chester

of partition, I examine the division’s impact on areas near the border, both immediately after partition and in the years that followed. After tracing the evolution of the boundary disputes that arose from the Radcliffe award, I conclude with a brief discussion of the state of the borderlands at the beginning of the twenty-first century. A boundary is a line, while a border is the area adjacent to that

in Borders and conflict in South Asia
Radcliffe’s private deliberations
Lucy P. Chester

chose to offer no explanation at all, but simply to leave his award unadorned. What maps reveal about the Radcliffe award The major primary sources Radcliffe did leave – the maps he used in drawing his line and the maps he attached to his award – have been dismissed by many scholars as outdated, inaccurate or insufficiently detailed. 46 Although these statements

in Borders and conflict in South Asia
The aftermath
Lucy P. Chester

territory. However, the Radcliffe award and the Kashmir problem have subsequently become entwined. This connection is rooted in the fact that the water feeding the Punjabi irrigation system originates in Kashmiri rivers, as well as in allegations that Radcliffe awarded India parts of Gurdaspur as a corridor to Kashmir. In the absence of any concrete evidence, such suspicions remain speculative. These long

in Borders and conflict in South Asia
Abstract only
‘No such deeds’: responsibility and remembrance
Lucy P. Chester

commission proved a convenient scapegoat for the three major parties involved. In the years that followed, nationalist historiography in both India and Pakistan, but particularly in Pakistan, has continued to offer skewed versions of the commission’s work, implying that the unfair nature of the Radcliffe award was a key to the country’s subsequent misfortunes. 4 The truth is rather more painful to contemplate

in Borders and conflict in South Asia
The façade of South Asian responsibility
Lucy P. Chester

chairman enormous leeway. However, after the final boundary, known as the ‘Radcliffe award’, was announced, all sides complained that Radcliffe had not taken the right ‘other factors’ into account. The Punjab boundary commission was ostensibly a judicial body organized to hear proposals; it lacked the mandate or the means to gather geographic or demographic information for itself. The commission

in Borders and conflict in South Asia
Territorial disputes, unequal citizens and the rise of majoritarian nationalism in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
Amit Ranjan

, Radcliffe's Award was published, and the territories were divided between India and Pakistan. Among many, two of the decisions in Punjab that Pakistani scholars still contest are the allocation of Gurdaspur and Ferozepur to India. Ijaz Hussain argues that Radcliffe changed his earlier decision on Gurdaspur because of the Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten's, influence, and gave it to India even though it was a Muslim-majority district. 13 Demography wise, in the Gurdaspur district, the Muslim population was, according to 1941

in The breakup of India and Palestine
Christopher Snedden

also was either being strategic, prescient or was trying to pressure the Boundary Commission. Some Pakistanis suggest the latter, given that the Boundary Commission did, indeed, provide a land communication between J&K and India via ‘a portion of the Gurdaspur district’. On 17 August 1947, the officially announced Radcliffe Awards revealed the new India–Pakistan borders. These awards were the result of the deliberations of Sir Cyril Radcliffe, the Chairman of the Boundary Commissions for Punjab and for Bengal. He had been assisted by two Congress

in Independent Kashmir