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Partition Horrors Remembrance Day

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August 16, 2021

Why in news?

PM has declared that August 14 will be observed as ‘Partition Horrors Remembrance Day’ to acknowledge the pain undergone by Indians due to the partition of India in 1947.

What are the recorded horrors of partition?

  • About 2 million people killed in the most brutal ways.
  • An estimated 1,00,000 women kidnapped and raped.
  • More than 15 million men, women and children displaced.
  • Loss of territory and people to the west and the east
  • Worst of the horrors seen in Punjab and Bengal (colonial insensitivity in the thoughtless partition)

What was the Socio-psychological impact?

  • Violence-induced hatred by Hindus and Sikhs against Muslims in India (Indians against Indians) and by Muslims in Pakistan.
  • Painful events marring much of the joy felt in gaining Independence.
  • Indelible mark in the public memory and consciousness
  • Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah strongly advocated the two-nation theory based on religion alone for India’s partition.
  • But ironically, the theory failed with the creation of Bangladesh (with the same religious identity) in 1971.

Is it needed?

  • A nation cannot know itself without knowing its past.
  • So, the horrors of Partition must be acknowledged, archived, mourned and commemorated.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” Spanish philosopher George Santayana

What are the concerns?

  • Timing - The naming of the day at this point forces the nation to look back on its traumatic time rather than looking ahead.
  • Inclusiveness - An attempt to mark the day across the subcontinent (involving Pakistan and Bangladesh) might have been more inclusive and progressive as all three countries felt the traumatic impact.
  • This is the need of the hour, as there is a rise of an ethnocentric nationalism that views minorities with suspicion.

What should be done?

  • Social harmony and a sense of oneness are to be nurtured and practiced in the long term, and not just one day in the year.
  • Educating successive generations about the fact that the arbitrary map-making and sowing religious divides by imperialists as the root causes for the violence.

What are the similar ideas in History?

  • January 27 is observed as International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorating the anniversary of the liberation of people (mostly Jewish) from Auschwitz Concentration Camp
  • The memories and recordings of survivors of the Holocaust have been crucial in preventing European societies from ‘antisemitism’ (hostility to or prejudice against Jewish people).
  • Counter-monuments - They are erected in the vicinity of already existing monuments, that are insensitive and misrepresentative.
  • E.g., A sculpture of dying concentration camp victims placed next to the warrior memorial erected in honour of 76th Infantry Regiment unveiled by Hitler.


Source: The Hindu, The Guardian

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