Welcome back. In this section, we are going to discuss partition and its amnesia. In the last one, we discussed partition in nation states and so this is one of the impacts of partition upon the subcontinent. So until recently as I think I mentioned before, partition was invisible in the mainstream histories of the subcontinent. That is it was mentioned that this happened, there was violence and so on, but it was almost skated over. Given the level of violence and killing there was relatively little written about partition and actual events that took place. In a sense, partition was seen as a price that one had to pay for national independence, for the destiny of India or Pakistan. This was a price. It was a worthwhile price to pay to enter nationhood, to come into nationhood. The lived experience of partition, the trauma of death, destruction, loss, suffering, uprootment, all seemed to be part of some kind of collective amnesia. So when you talk to people of say, my parent's generation, they would very often say, oh we can from east Pakistan or we came during partition, after partition this happened. But when you try to ask them about what happened, how did they make the journey, what did they see? Very often there was a real reluctance to speak about it. For the states concerned, and in this case, India and Pakistan, the states are built, on affirming of national histories, and foundational myths. And this requires partition to be constructed as political and constitutional. So the rulers of both states did not want to dwell on the terrible trauma and events of partition. They wanted to recreate partition as a political and constitutional event. Something that was done that was negotiated, the maps were drawn up and people were moved and so on. It was a political event, a constitutional event. And this is the way in which the national history's foundational myths were affirmed. And what this meant was that the devastation and suffering caused by partition was displaced from public memory to private misery, so people grieved in private. There was no public acknowledgment of what took place. The public memory was concerned with the creation of these new nations, the glorious moment of the nation coming into it's own. The wonderful speech that Jawaharlal Nehru made about long ago we made a tryst with destiny and when at the stroke of the midnight hour, India will wake to freedom. It was an amazing and wonderful speech but it doesn't acknowledge in any way what was actually going on at that moment. In Pakistan, for example, there has always been an ambiguity about its national identity. Is it a national state of Muslims or is it an Islamic state? Now, Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, had a fairly ambivalent attitude to the partition of the subcontinent. Even though, of course, he went to Pakistan being the major architect of the Pakistani nation, again Ashis Nandy talks about how he wrote to Nehru, asking that his home in Bombay be not taken over by the government because people had moved from India to Pakistan, Pakistan to India, so those people who had moved, their houses were reallocated to refugees from the other nation. And Jinnah wrote Nehru saying please don't take over my house, because I'm going to retire in Bombay. So this is some architect of modern Pakistan. So you can see how this initial stage of Pakistan's national identity is ambiguous even in the head of Jinnah, who wants to retire in Bombay rather than as a Muslim live out his life in Pakistan. And in Pakistan also there have been recurrent military and bureaucratic takeovers and there has considerable time, energy and prestige invested in constructing a Muslim identity to distinguish Pakistan from secular India. And so, to distinguish Pakistan as a Muslim nation from India as a secular nation, this has been one of the major tasks if you like, of the Pakistani ruling class. And in India itself, a similar process has gone on. The secular nationalist ideology has been crucial to deny the legitimacy of religious identity and the foundation of nationalism religious identity as the foundation of nationalism. That is in Pakistan. So basically the secular identity that India has pushed right from the beginning, has been also very much about denying Pakistan's legitimacy as a nation. So both nations have been engaged in this war, of ideas, of denying the legitimacy of the other, or denying the good faith of the other. There are some really great novels on partition. And I think I said to you that there was this amnesia. Well there is in a sense but there also a few very good accounts. One of them is by Khuswant Singh, <i>Train to Pakistan</i>, written in English. And the, and Khuswant Singh of course was, is you know, died recently but he lived in India. Bapsi Sidhwa who is actually a Parsi who remained in Pakistan, and she wrote a book called <i>The Ice Candy Man</i>, which was later made by the Canadian film director, Deepa Mehta, into a film called <i>Earth</i>. Both of these deal with that moment of partition. And they’re certainly worth reading. So, further on, what were some of the reasons for this deletion of the violence of partition from public memory? One of the really important reasons is that there were few pure victims of perpetrators of violence. Meaning, of course, the victim who suffered was the victim but in terms of family or communities nobody was innocent. People who were mourning death of relatives were often guilty of violence against other people. So you might have found one of your relatives was killed or violated or raped, and then you went out and killed or violated or raped women and men of the other community. There was also cases of honour killing of assaulted women by men of their own families or communities. So women who had been raped or violated were often victims of honour killing. There were attempts there were all kinds of attempts to try and deal with the fact that women were abducted on both sides. And in many cases those women remained with their abductors, and how you deal with that situation. There was a complete and violent breakdown of all social norms for self and others. And again, I take you back to what Ashis Nandy says. He said this breakdown of social norms, this complete and violent turning against your neighbour with whom beside whom you may have lived for decades, this was not something that was mandated by your colonial masters. This was something that happened to people of all communities and in a way that was really inexplicable. So as I've said in a previous section, when does your neighbour become your enemy? How does your neighbour become your enemy? I think these are the questions that we still ask ourselves when there are communal riots in India and people turn on each other. And this complete and violent breakdown of social norms also meant that there was an inability to admit social breakdown or guilt. An inability to actually say we were part of this terrible event. We were part of, of operational violence against Muslims or we were operational violence against Hindus. There's an inability to admit to this. And this actually in the case of the Bangladesh war where there was a massive murder and also rape of women. This amnesia was, in a sense, replayed all over again after independence in the refusal of various state entities to acknowledge the terrible trauma that people had gone through. And public amnesia also suppressed the fact that there were many, many cases of genuine help and mutuality between Hindus and Muslims during partition. So my own uncle who is my great uncle who was a dentist and was in Calcutta at the time of partition was caught in a riot and sheltered by his Muslim patient. This is a story that he told me. But this is not, and I'm sure there are plenty of other stories like this, but these are not stories that are well known in the narratives of partition. And so these more healing stories, that fact that people helped each other as well as killed each other, are stories that that disappear in the greater narrative that of violence and trauma that accompany the fact of partition. I mentioned this film before by Deepa Mehta. There's also <i>Tamas</i>, a novel written by, a Hindi novel by Bhisham Sahni and it has been translated and it is a television series and both of which again deal with partition and of course Deepa Mehta's book is based on Bapsi Sidhwa's <i>Ice Candy Man</i>. And this picture is of the border at Wagah, where there is a lowering of the flag ceremony every day in a very structured and rehearsed way. A lot of people go there to watch this lowering of ceremonies, and there is this very aggressive stand-off between the Pakistani and Indian soldiers on both sides of the border. And also many of the peace initiatives between India and Pakistan which are, which have been organised by people on both sides of the border, often take place at Wagah. So in the next section, or rather in the next two sections, we will discuss some spectres of partition, some ghosts that still haunt the subcontinent.