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.
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 Radcliffeaward 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
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
Radcliffeaward, 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 offer no explanation at all, but simply to leave his award
What maps reveal about the Radcliffeaward
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
territory. However, the Radcliffeaward 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 Radcliffeawarded
India parts of Gurdaspur as a corridor to Kashmir. In the absence of any
concrete evidence, such suspicions remain speculative.
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 Radcliffeaward was a key to the country’s
subsequent misfortunes. 4 The truth is rather more painful to contemplate
chairman enormous leeway. However, after the final boundary,
known as the ‘Radcliffeaward’, 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