60 years on historians have been reassessing the extraordinary events of the sub-continent 1947-48. Sadly, in the new accounts the tragedy of partition overshadows the achievement of independence.
Interpretation has moved increasingly away from the machinations of the colonial state and Indian politicians over the transfer of power, a study of elite politics, towards a focus on the escalating violence of the communal politics from below, rightly deemed India's holocaust, and a horrifying anticipation of the ethnic violence that has stained recent world history.
Ravinder Kaur's Since 1947: Partition Narratives among Punjabi Migrants of Delhi undertakes a fascinating analysis of the migration of Hindu and Sikhs from West Punjab to Delhi, cleverly deconstructing the master narrative of the Punjabi elites and giving the neglected story of the low caste and untouchable overdue recognition.
Gandhi is seen as marginalised by this appalling story of realpolitik and mass hysteria but nothing can detract from the extraordinary impact of his fast unto death in Calcutta in containing the violence in the East though, of course, it was the fanaticism of those days that led to his death.
published in The Gandhi Way