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Radcliffe Line and its role in partition of India in 1947



  May 08, 2024

Radcliffe Line and its role in the partition of India in 1947



1. What was the Radcliffe Line?

The Radcliffe Line was the boundary demarcation line between India and Pakistan upon the partition of India in 1947. It was named after Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who was appointed as the chairman of the Boundary Commissions for Bengal and Punjab.

2. Who was Sir Cyril Radcliffe?

Sir Cyril Radcliffe was a British lawyer with no previous experience in cartography or the Indian subcontinent. He was tasked with chairing the two boundary commissions that were responsible for dividing the provinces of Punjab and Bengal between India and Pakistan.

3. What were the Radcliffe Commissions?

The Radcliffe Commissions were two separate boundary commissions for the provinces of Bengal and Punjab. They were tasked with equitably dividing these provinces based on district-wise Hindu and Muslim majorities, to form the new nations of India and Pakistan.

4. What criteria did Radcliffe use to draw the boundary?

The criteria used by Radcliffe were primarily based on religious majorities within districts. The aim was to create a boundary that would minimize the disruption caused by the division and reduce cross-border migration.

5. How long did Radcliffe take to draw the boundary line?

Sir Cyril Radcliffe completed the boundary demarcation within five weeks, despite having never visited India before his appointment and having no prior knowledge of Indian conditions.

6. What were the consequences of the partition line drawn by Radcliffe?

The partition line led to one of the largest migrations in human history, with estimates of 10 to 12 million people crossing borders to join their chosen nation based on religious identity. The partition also led to significant violence and unrest, with estimates of up to a million people killed.

7. Why was the Radcliffe Line controversial?

The Radcliffe Line was controversial because it was drawn hastily and without sufficient consideration of local ethnic, cultural, and economic ties that were disrupted. Many communities found themselves divided by the new border, leading to long-term social and political repercussions.

8. When was the Radcliffe Line officially published?

The Radcliffe Line was officially published on August 17, 1947, two days after Pakistan’s independence and one day after India became independent. The delay in publication contributed to confusion and conflict among the newly divided populace.

These FAQs help clarify the complexities and historical significance of the Radcliffe Line and its lasting impact on the Indian subcontinent.


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