The Great Divide – Indian Independence and Partition

70 years ago, India and Pakistan gained independence, but lost each other.

'At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.' These were the words of Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, moments before midnight on the 14 August 1947. And while the hope in his speech has borne fruit, that historic date 70 years ago also marked the Partition of India from Pakistan, causing untold displacement and death. An estimated 14 million people crossed the borders and at least 1 million were killed. What led to these devastating events and what was the aftermath? Who were the masterminds and the key players? Why was the price of freedom so high? Explore these questions through this selection of books - fiction, non-fiction and poetry - to gain different perspectives on one of the greatest ruptures in recent history.


Main image: partition sumantra bose by openDemocracy via dragonwoman, distributed under Flickr Creative Commons License 2.0

Freedom at Midnight cover

1. Freedom at Midnight

Larry Collins, Dominique Lapierre
Ghandi Reader cover

4. The Gandhi Reader

Mahatma Gandhi
Selected Poems cover

5. Selected Poems

Rabindranath Tagore
Shadow Lines cover

6. The Shadow Lines

Amitav Ghosh
Train to Pakistan cover

8. Train to Pakistan

Khushwant Singh

List created by

Merryn Glover

Merryn Glover is an award-winning writer of fiction and drama, with stories and plays on Radio Scotland and Radio 4. Now living in the Highlands, she was born in Kathmandu and grew up in Nepal, India and Pakistan. Her debut novel, A House Called Askival, spans 70 years of India’s history through three generations of an American family caught up key conflicts, including Independence and Partition. She can be found on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Tags: history