A Timeline of India in the 1800s 

1600s: The British East India Company Arrives

1600s: The Mogul Empire at Its Peak

1700s: Britain Assumes the Upper Hand

 The East India Company established its own army in India, which was composed of British troops as well as native soldiers called sepoys.   under the leadership of Robert Clive, gained military victories from the 1740s onward, and with the Battle of Plassey in 1757 were able to establish dominance

The traditional dancing of India was a source of fascination for the British.

A dancing woman entertaining Europeans

 The East India Company gradually strengthened its hold, even instituting a court system. British citizens began building an "Anglo-Indian" society within India, and English customs were adapted to the climate of India. 

When the East India Company ruled India, they did so largely with native soldiers.
Sepoys of the Madras Army

1800s: "The Raj" Enters the Language-The British rule in India became known as "The Raj,Tales of life in India fascinated the British public 


1857: Resentment Toward the British Spills Over,1857-58: The Indian Mutiny  It was estimated that less than 8,000 of nearly 140,000 sepoys remained loyal to the BritishThe conflicts of 1857 and 1858 were brutal and bloody, and lurid reports of massacres and atrocities circulated in newspapers and illustrated magazines in Britain.

The outnumbered British forces had to move quickly to react to the 1857 uprising.

British reacted quickly during the 1857 rebellion

The British dispatched more troops to India and eventually succeeded in putting down the mutiny, resorting to merciless tactics to restore order. The large city of Delhi was left in ruins. And many sepoys who had surrendered were executed by British troops. 

The 1857 uprising against British rule led to scenes of intense combat.
The British Army storms the batteries in India

1858: Calm is Restored in British India-

British forces succeeded in retaking the city of Delhi.

British Troops in Delhi During the 1857 Rebellion

1876: Empress of IndiaThe importance of India, and the affection the British crown felt for its colony, was emphasized in 1876 when Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli declared Queen Victoria to be "Empress of India." 

Britain's monarch, Queen Victoria, was fascinated by India and retained Indian servants.

Queen Victoria with Indian servants

Reforms were instituted, which included tolerance of religion and the recruitment of Indians into the civil service. While the reforms sought to avoid further rebellions through conciliation, the British military in India was also strengthened.

The English in India adopted some Indian customs, such as smoking a hookah.
English employee of East India Company smoking a hookah

  British control of India would continue, mostly peacefully, throughout the remainder of the 19th century.

The Great Exhibition of 1851 featured a hall of items from India, including an opulent tent.

Interior of luxurious Indian tent

 It wasn't until Lord Curzon became Viceroy in 1898, and instituted some very unpopular policies, that an Indian nationalist movement began to stir.  

The Most Honourable
The Marquess Curzon
of Kedleston

George Curzon2.jpg

Lord Curzon and Madho Rao Scindia, Maharaja of Gwalior, pose with hunted tigers, 1901
Viceroy and Governor-General of India
In office
6 January 1899 – 18 November 1905

Lord Curzon—procession to Sanchi Tope, 28 Nov 1899

A major
famine coincided with Curzon's time as viceroy in which 6.1 to 9 million people diedDuring the Irish War of Independence, but prior to the introduction of martial law in December 1920, Curzon suggested the “Indian” solution of blockading villages and imposing collective fines for attacks on the police and army
Lord and Lady Curzon on the elephant
, He presided over the 1905 partition of Bengal, which roused such bitter opposition among the people of the province that it was later revoked
 H. H. Riseley, home secretary to the government of India, stated on 6 December 1904: "Bengal united is a power; Bengal divided will pull in several different ways.. one of our main objects is to split up and thereby weaken a solid body of opponents to our rule".

 The decision to effect the Partition of Bengal was announced in July 1905 by the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon. The partition took effect in October 1905 and separated the largely Muslim eastern areas from the largely Hindu western areas
 The Swadeshi Movement started with the partition of Bengal by the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, 1905 and continued up to 1908. It was the most successful of the pre-Gandhian movements.was an economic strategy;   Its chief architects were Aurobindo Ghosh, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal  involved boycotting British products and the revival of domestic products and production processes. as a strategy, was a key focus of Mahatma Gandhi, who described it as the soul of Swaraj (self rule). Gandhi, at the time of the actual movement, remained loyal to the British Crown.
 Politically there was a degree of unity between Muslim and Hindu leaders after the war, as typified by the Khilafat Movement.
 The All-India Muslim League-was founded in 1906, in the midst of the protests over the Partition of Bengal in 1905 until the late 1930s was not a mass organisation but represented the landed and commercial Muslim interests of the United Provinces (today's Uttar Pradesh).An early leader in the League, Muhammad Iqbal, was one of the first to propose (1930) the creation of a separate Muslim India. By 1940, under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, it had gained such power that, for the first time, it demanded the establishment of a Muslim state (Pakistan), despite the opposition of the Indian National Congress. During World War II the Congress was banned, but the League, which supported the British war effort, was allowed to function and gained strength
.[BRITISH STRATEGY TO DIVIDE AND RULE OR SPLIT ] It won nearly all of the Muslim vote in the elections of 1946. The following year saw the division of the Indian subcontinent and the Muslim League became the major political party of newly formed Pakistan

It is possible that Mohammed Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, simply wished to use the demand for a separate state as a bargaining chip to win greater power for Muslims within a loosely federated India. Certainly, the idea of 'Pakistan' was not thought of until the late 1930s. The Muslim League, which co-operated with the British, had rapidly increased its membership, yet still had very limited grassroots level organisation
 This was dramatically revealed on the 16 August 1946, when Jinnah called for a 'Direct Action Day' by followers of the League in support of the demand for Pakistan
 This was interpreted by the British as evidence of the irreconcilable differences between Hindus and Muslims. In reality, the riots were evidence as much of a simple lack of military and political control[by the british] as they were of social discord.Most of the Congress leaders were secularists and resolutely opposed the division of India on the lines of religion. Mohandas Gandhi and Allama Mashriqi believed that Hindus and Muslims could and should live in amity

 The partition animated the Hindus and led the Muslims to form their own national organization. Bengal was reunited in 1911 in an effort to both appease the Bengali sentiment and have easier administration but it caused resentment among the Bengali Muslims who benefited from the partition and the resentment lasted until the end of the British rule which ended in 1947 with the partition of Bengal

The Second Partition What ensued was one of the largest population movements in recorded history. According to Richard Symonds: At the lowest estimate, half a million people perished and twelve million became homeless.

In 1947, Bengal was partitioned for the second time, solely on religious grounds, as part of the Partition of India following the formation of the nations India and Pakistan. East Bengal became East Pakistan, and in 1971 became the independent state of Bangladesh after a successful war of independence with West Pakistan in the partition of Bengal congress leaders also supported this revolt


THE Partition of India ranks, beyond a doubt, as one of the 10 greatest tragedies in human history.

Restoration of women

Both sides promised each other that they would try to restore women abducted during the riots. The Indian government claimed that 33,000 Hindu and Sikh women were abducted, and the Pakistani government claimed that 50,000 Muslim women were abducted during riots. By 1949, there were governmental claims that 12,000 women had been recovered in India and 6,000 in Pakistan.[24] By 1954 there were 20,728 recovered Muslim women and 9032 Hindu and Sikh women recovered from Pakistan.[25] Many of the Muslim women refused to go back to Pakistan fearing that they would never be accepted by their family; similarly, the families of many Hindu and Sikh women refused to take back their relatives

India (2006 Est. 1,095 million vs. 1951 Census 361 million)
  • 80.5% Hindus (839 million)
  • 13.10% Muslims (143 million)
  • 2.31% Christians (25 million)
  • 2.00% Sikhs (21 million)
  • 1.94% Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and others (20 million)
Pakistan (2005 Est. 162 million vs. 1951 Census 34 million)
  • 98.0% Muslims (159 million)
  • 1.0% Christians (1.62 million)
  • 1.0% Hindus, Sikhs and others (1.62 million)
Bangladesh (2005 Est. 144 million vs. 1951 Census 42 million)
  • 86% Muslims (124 million)
  • 13% Hindus (18 million)
  • 1% Christians, Buddhists and Animists (1.44 million)

The Partition of India 

Why India’s Partition? impression in India and the world is that Atlee and the Labour Party were good and wanted to give India independence after WW II, but due to differences among Indian leaders, they had to divide the country. This belief is based on the British version and is totally false. History books in the UK, the US, and even in India are based on this description. The truth is England did NOT want its raj to end, particularly Atlee, Cripps, the Labour Party and Churchill. Thus, it propagated this version to hide the guilt.Gandhiji used to describe the British policy of divide and rule as monkey justice from an Aesop’s fable. It was about two cats fighting for the just division of a loaf of bread who went to a monkey for the needful. The latter deliberately kept dividing the bread into unequal pieces so that the cats would object. The two did, and in the end found that the monkey had eaten all the bread while pretending to divide it equally.

On December 21, 1945, when Viceroy Wavell went to London, he met labour Minister Ernest Bevin on December 21, 1945. He writes that Bevin like everyone else hated the idea of leaving India, but had no alternative to suggest. He, however, said that the US was much worried about India and did not want England to leave it. Wavell replied that the US had changed its policy, now they could hardly expect British to face another Palestine in India, because it suited American commercial interest that Britain should remain in India. Clearly, the British and even the US did not want the raj to end.

There were many reasons put together why Britain had to give India independence. Gandhi’s Satyagraha movements in the ‘20s and ‘30s, the widespread Quit India movement in 1942, formation of the Indian National Army by Subhas Chandra Bose, trial of INA officers, the mutiny, sending of Indian army to Indo-China and Indonesia to take surrender for Japan, expansion of Indian army to 2.5 lakhs to fight expected Japanese invasion of India etc made Wavell realise that he could not trust the Indian Army’s loyalty and that England could not rule India militarily.

Moreover, England had become very weak economically and militarily after the war. A year after it’s declaration of war against Germany in 1939, it found it had spent most of its gold and dollar reserves and had to depend on the US for money and arms to carry on the war. Hence, Wavell made a blue print of Pakistan in December 1945 and sent it to Secretary of State for India in a secret letter, which has now been made public. It reveals that partition was necessary to protect British interests in Asia and NOT Muslim interests as believed in India and Pakistan. The aim was to protect Near East from Soviet expansion to the Indian O
cean and the oil wells there. The English had been working on the creation of Pakistan since 1888.

==================================================================================[by B.R.AMBEDKAR]
TABLE OF CONTENTS [Editor's Introduction]
Preface to the Second Edition
CHAPTER I -- What does the League Demand?
Part I [The Muslim League's Resolution of March 1940]
Part II [Unifying the North-West provinces is an age-old project]
Part III [The Congress itself has proposed to create Linguistic Provinces]
CHAPTER II -- A Nation Calling for a Home
[What is the definition of a "nation," and what "nations" can be found in India?]
CHAPTER III -- Escape from Degradation
[What grievances do Muslims have against their treatment by the Congress?]

CHAPTER IV -- Break-up of Unity
[How substantial, in truth, is the unity between Hindus and Muslims?]
CHAPTER V -- Weakening of the Defences
Part I -- Question of Frontiers
Part II -- Question of Resources
Part III -- Question of Armed Forces
CHAPTER VI -- Pakistan and Communal Peace
Part I [The Communal Question in its "lesser intent"]
Part II [The Communal Question in its "greater intent"]
Part III [The real question is one of demarcation of boundaries]
Part IV [Will Punjabis and Bengalis agree to redraw their boundaries?]

CHAPTER VII -- Hindu Alternative to Pakistan
Part I [Lala Hardayal's scheme for conversion in the North-West]
Part II [The stand of Mr. V. D. Savarkar and the Hindu Maha Sabha]
Part III [Mr. Gandhi's tenacious quest for Hindu-Muslim unity]
Part IV [The riot-torn history of Hindu-Muslim relations, 1920-1940]
Part V [Such barbaric mutual violence shows an utter lack of unity]
CHAPTER VIII -- Muslim Alternative to Pakistan
Part I [The proposed Hyderabad scheme of legislative reform is not promising]
Part II [The "Azad Muslim Conference" thinks along similar lines]
CHAPTER IX -- Lessons from Abroad
Part I [The case of Turkey shows a steady dismemberment and loss of territory]
Part II [The case of Czechoslovakia, a country which lasted only two decades]
Part III [Both were brought down by the growth of the spirit of nationalism]
Part IV [The force of nationalism, once unleashed, almost cannot be stopped]
Part V [Hindustan and Pakistan would be stronger, more homogeneous units]

CHAPTER X -- Social Stagnation
Part I [Muslim Society is even more full of social evils than Hindu Society is]
Part II [Why there is no organized movement of social reform among the Muslims]
Part III [The Hindus emphasize nationalist politics and ignore the need for social reform]
Part IV [In a "communal malaise," both groups ignore the urgent claims of social justice]
CHAPTER XI -- Communal Aggression
[British sympathy encourages ever-increasing, politically calculated Muslim demands]
CHAPTER XII -- National Frustration
Part I [Can Hindus count on Muslims to show national rather than religious loyalty?]
Part II [Hindus really want Dominion status; Muslims really want independence]
Part III [The necessary national political loyalty is not present among Muslims]
Part IV [Muslim leaders' views, once nationalistic, have grown much less so over time]
Part V [The vision of Pakistan is powerful, and has been implicitly present for decades]
Part VI [Mutual antipathies have created a virus of dualism in the body politic]

CHAPTER XIII -- Must There be Pakistan?
Part I [The burden of proof on the advocates of Pakistan is a heavy one]
Part II [Is it really necessary to divide what has long been a single whole?]
Part III [Other nations have survived for long periods despite communal antagonisms]
Part IV [Cannot legitimate past grievances be redressed in some less drastic way?]
Part V [Cannot the many things shared between the two groups be emphasized?]
Part VI ['Hindu Raj' must be prevented at all costs, but is Pakistan the best means?]
Part VII [If Muslims truly and deeply desire Pakistan, their choice ought to be accepted]
CHAPTER XIV -- The Problems of Pakistan
Part I [Problems of border delineation and population transfer must be addressed]
Part II [What might we assume to be the borders of West and East Pakistan?]
Part III [Both Muslims and Hindus ignore the need for genuine self-determination]
Part IV [Punjab and Bengal would thus necessarily be subject to division]
Part V [A demand for regional self-determination must always be a two-edged sword]
Part VI [The problems of population transfer are solvable and need not detain us]
CHAPTER XV -- Who Can Decide?
Part I [Partition is a very possible contingency for which it's best to be prepared]
Part II [I offer this draft of a 'Government of India (Preliminary Provisions) Act']
Part III [My plan is community-based, and thus more realistic than the Cripps plan]
Part IV [My solution is borne out by the examination of similar cases elsewhere]
Epilogue -- [We need better statesmanship than Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Jinnah have shown]

 American Diplomacy

 Although the British had, in 1946, considered leaving India piecemeal, transferring power to individual provences as they withdrew, they concluded that such an approach was impractical. without defining the entity or entities that would come into power, they concluded that such an approach was impractical. It would not be possible to hand over power without making it clear what international entity would take on that power; in order to define a new international entity, a new boundary was necessary. From a certain perspective, however, a rigorously and properly delineated boundary was not necessary to accomplish these political ends—any boundary line would do. Due to this fact and to a myriad of political pressures, the Radcliffe Commission failed to draw a geopolitically sound line delineated and demarcated in accordance with accepted international procedure. The Punjab's population distribution was such that there was no line that could neatly divide Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs. Radcliffe's line was far from perfect, but it is important to note that alternative borders would not necessarily have provided a significant improvement. There is, in contrast, a great deal to be said about flaws in the boundary-making procedure—and why those flaws existed.

 In 1942, with the Allies in urgent need of a reliable Indian base, Churchill dispatched Sir Stafford Cripps to India at the head of a Cabinet delegation charged with exploring the possibility of self-government after the war. Cripps offered an implicit promise that if India fought in World War II it would be granted freedom; Congress rejected this offer with Gandhi’s memorable phrase that it was a "post-dated cheque on a bank that was failing."9 In the aftermath of Cripps’s failed mission, Gandhi launched the "Quit India" movement, which the British repressed violently. Most Indians subsided into more or less supportive attitudes.
India Office was losing patience with its viceroy, Lord Wavell. 

Wavell’s outline of potential partition boundaries, the first serious discussion of the issue, received little attention. However, Wavell’s "Breakdown Plan," calling for a withdrawal of all British presence in South Asia, alarmed HMG. Attlee sent another cabinet mission to India in hopes of negotiating a less drastic outcome.11 The resulting proposal, known as the "ABC Plan," called for a loose federation to consist of three groups of provinces, each of which had the option to "opt out" of the federation. This proposal met a curious reception. It was first accepted, then rejected, by Congress; the Muslim League initially announced that it would cooperate, but in the aftermath of the Congress decision it renounced constitutional methods and declared "Direct Action" Day on August 16, 1946. "Direct Action Day" became the "Great Calcutta Killing," and the next thirteen months saw rioting and violence across North India.12

By the beginning of 1947, Pethick-Lawrence and Attlee had lost all confidence in Wavell, regarding him as "frankly defeatist." In February 1947, they asked him to resign, appointing Lord Louis Mountbatten, a career naval officer and cousin to the king, in his place. Although Mountbatten was given a June 1948 deadline by which to disentangle Britain from India, he concluded shortly after his arrival in India that a rapprochement between the various parties was impossible. Within a few months he decided to move the decolonization deadline up, to August 15, 1947.

[The Partition of India]
Mountbatten hoped to leave behind a federal united India, Hindus, Muslims
and Princely States constitutionally linked. As second-best, he aimed at a
peacefully divided one. He was adamant from the start that there would be no
reservations or hidden clauses. ‘All this is yours’, he said to Gandhi
one day,
when the Mahatma asked if he might walk around the viceregal gardens. ‘We
are only trustees. We have come to make it over to you.’ No Viceroy had ever
talked like that before, and no Viceroy had ever ventured into such intimate po-
litical relationships. During his first two months in India Mountbatten had 133
recorded interviews with Indian political leaders, conducted always in an
atmosphere of candid urgency—if the Indians wished to inherit a peaceful
India, they must decide fast how to arrange it. He talked to scores of politi-
cians, but the fate of the country was really decided by four men: the Viceroy
himself, Gandhi, Nehru and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
Mountbatten recognized the force of these men. Day after day he received
them, usually together, sometimes separately, in the sunny and fresh-painted
study at his palace. Times had greatly changed, since the half-naked fakir
had first penetrated this imperial sanctum to negotiate with the austere Lord
while the palace servants gaped to see a political agitator exchanging
badinage with the Viceroy. Now the negotiators met on an equal footing, like
distant relatives assembling to divide an inheritance. The talks were seldom
easy, for the issues were colossal and Indian passions ran high, but they were
not generally rancorous, for at last it was patent that the British interest was
not in keeping India, but in honourably getting rid of it.
Mountbatten’s relations with the three leaders greatly differed. Gandhi, past
the peak of his career, he recognized as a kind of constitutional monarch: he
was baffled by him, charmed by him, often, like all Englishmen, irritated by
him—‘judge of my delight’, he reported once, ‘when Gandhi arrived for a cru-
cial meeting holding his finger to his lips—it was his day of silence!’ Alone
among the senior British officials of India he became a friend of the Mahatma, and Gandhi in return gave him his affection
Jinnah was a very different negotiator. He was dying of cancer, but nobody
knew it: he was as decisive as Mountbatten himself, and as confident too—
since the date of independence had already been decreed, he knew that he had
only to keep arguing to ensure that Pakistan came into being. His lawyer’s brain
was sharper than the Viceroy’s, his purpose more dogmatic, and as the months
passed towards independence day he became ever more adamant that the only
solution was the partition of India and the establishment of Pakistan under the
government of the Muslim League. Though a Muslim only in theory—he was
the grandson of converts, and could speak no Urdu, the language of Islam in
India—rather than submit to Hindu rule, he said, he would have a Pakistan
consisting only of the Sind desert. A gaunt, wintry, rather alarming-looking
man, wearing a monocle said to have been inspired by Joe Chamberlain’s,
suits of irreproachable cut, Jinnah was very Anglicised: he had a house in Lon-
don, and had spent much of his life in England. He was, though, impervious
to the Mountbatten charm, and noticeably resistant to logic or sweet reason.
Mountbatten thought him the evil genius of the drama, the wrecker, and called
him a haughty megalomaniac