ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Nation-Making in Partitioned IndiaSubscribe to Nation-Making in Partitioned India

Unthreading Partition

This article studies the impact of partition on the jute industry of Bengal. The new international border separating India and East Bengal put the jute producing areas and the jute mills in two separate countries. Though both the governments initially agreed to cooperate with each other in matters of jute cultivation and marketing, in reality jute diplomacy was complex and conflict-ridden. To become self-sufficient in the jute economy, East Bengal invested in jute mills and began to develop Chittagong port to export raw jute. India, on the other hand, encouraged jute cultivation. Both the countries set up customs and check posts at the border to curb smuggling of jute. Thus, the untangling of Bengal’s jute economy was integrally linked with nation-building initiatives. Moreover, the Indo–Pakistan jute diplomacy encouraged the worldwide shift from jute to jute substitutes in the 1950s.

Enter the NGO

Following partition, development experts associated with United States’ philanthropic organisations and new international agencies took an active role in transforming the divided Punjab. Through the 1950s, the World Bank worked to adjudicate the Indus River Basin dispute between India and Pakistan. Issues of soil fertility and the productive capacity of lands on both sides of the new border proved critical within these discussions. At the same time, the United States-based Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation coordinated with the Indian state to launch projects in the agricultural sciences, population control, and community development for partition’s refugees. A dual agenda of restricting the fertility of rural populations and augmenting the fertility of agricultural lands, united these first international development initiatives following partition.

Education, Training and Refugee Rehabilitation in Post-partition West Bengal

The article studies the role of education and training in the rehabilitation of Hindu refugees in post-partition West Bengal. It shows how class, caste, and gender inflected the schemes of school education and training, the assumptions of government proposals and the belief of the bhadraloks. Schools occupied an important position in the refugee squatter colonies set up by the early migrants. On the other hand, for the subaltern refugees, depending solely on government help, schemes of agricultural and vocational training were deemed fitter, as that would help in economic rehabilitation faster. For the state, these refugees needed to contribute to the larger development projects of the period and become a labouring contributor to the society. These different experiences underline the ways through which social and cultural assumptions get reproduced even during extreme moments of crises.

The Purusharthi Refugee

The post-partition reconfiguration of the walled city of Jaipur that had originally been dominated by Hindu and Jain merchants is explored. Sindhi refugee retailers and traders were given space during the 1950s and 1970s by creating new markets. The spatial and physical mapping of competing communities, like the Sindhis, Muslims and Bania Hindus, in the walled city was also undergirded by contending claims to the city’s past defined as “heritage.” In the case of the refugees, this was articulated through the trope of purushartha.

Refugee Legal Challenges to Bombay Government’s Land Requisition Housing Scheme

Partition refugees who arrived in India challenged the laws that various provincial governments enacted to “regulate” and “rehabilitate” them. By looking at one of the earliest and key cases concerning writs that emerged out of Sindhi refugee legal challenges to the Bombay government’s land requisition scheme of 1947–48, this article suggests that partition refugees helped to shape the legal and constitutional landscape of newly independent India.
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