Radcliffe, Brexit and other lines drawn

I happened to be in the UK on three occasions in the last 12 months. The first time was when the Brexit results were announced, the next when Teresa May was elected and the third time when she managed to epic fail the new election. This also coincided with the Queen’s birthday parade, terror attacks in London Bridge and the Grenfell fire.

As you can imagine, everyone was alarmed and vexed and frustrated and there was much ink and air time spent on hand wringing, moaning, fussing and making dark gloomy predictions for a dystopic future for Great Britain.

After the Grenfell disaster ( where a council building caught fire due to poor quality cladding and close to 80 people died), they predicted another upheaval likely with internal migration in numbers of lakhs of people. http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/grenfell-fire-and-the-safety-aftermath-leave-us-with-our-own-refugee-crisis-a3573226.html

And then there is Brexit.

brexit twitter

What is the worst that will happen? Some economic losses maybe, some political losses of course, some job losses likely.

And heaven forbid… the horror… but some people will need visas. To enter another country. Like everyone else the world over.

But how many people are expected to die from Brexit? As of now no one….

Read those words carefully. Here they are again.

How many people are expected to die from Brexit? As of now no one….

Ok, now take a deep breath, and read this unrelated story.

In 1947 there was a man named Sir Cyril Radcliffe who was asked to draw a line. What were his qualifications? He had a pencil. He was around. And he was British. He was man suddenly conferred with more power even in the throes of death of the British Empire than did the emerging new leaders, Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah. So he drew a line. Randomly. Saw that one side of the line had only one city, so he shifted the line to give them two. Drew another line at the other end, gave them one large city.

What were these lines?

These lines divided British India into Pakistan, India and East Pakistan.

radcliffeline-2

Do you know how many people were displaced as a result? FOURTEEN MILLION.

Excuse the shouting but it is considered to be the LARGEST migration in HISTORY!

partition-of-india

Do you know how many people died? Anywhere upto TWO MILLION.

People killed each other, driven to despair and frenzy, devastated by the loss of generations of roots being ripped out and thrown asunder, shreds of their past lives blowing away in the winds of time. Some men killed their own wives and daughters to prevent them from being raped.

Do you know who is responsible for this un- invited civil war leaving death and destruction in its wake unabated for decades?

partition

This casually undertaken and callously unplanned migration with no logistics management, not a stray thought spared for old people, pregnant women and children who had to walk kilometres and kilometres with whatever few possessions they could manage to bring.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/06/29/the-great-divide-books-dalrymple

brexit queen

This was repeated in the Middle East http://lostislamichistory.com/how-the-british-divided-up-the-arab-world/, Africa http://www.sudantribune.com/Roots-of-Sudanese-conflict-are-in,25558, Canada, Syria, Ireland. Wherever they went they drew lines. Through the land and through the heart of the nation. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/9645925/Britain-must-atone-for-its-sins-in-Palestine.html

So please excuse me if I have no sympathy for all the hand wringing around Brexit !

As India celebrates its 70th Independence Day on 15th August, finally we have a Museum of Partition. I visited it in Amritsar and will write about it next week.

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