Partition of Bengal: Reasons, Aftermath & Annulment

This article contains the following items regarding the Partition of Bengal along with the significance of Partition of Bengal. 

Contents

v  INTRODUCTION

v  BACKGROUND  OF PARTITION OF BENGAL

v  REASONS BEHIND PARTITION

v  MAP AFTER PARTITION

v  THE NEW PROVINCES AFTER PARTITION

v  WHY WAS BENGAL PARTITIONED IN 1905?

v  WEST BENGAL’S REACTION AFTER PARTITION

v  EAST BENGAL’S REACTION AFTER PARTITION

v  AFTERMATH OF PARTITION

v  ANNULMENT OF PARTITION OF BENGAL

v  WHY PARTITION OF BENGAL REVERSED IN 1911?

v  DELHI DURBAR 1911

v  AFTERMATH OF ANNULMENT

v  DEVISION OF BENGAL 1947

v  CONCLUSION

v  REFERENCES

INTRODUCTION

The decision to effect the Partition of Bengal was announced on July 19, 1905 by the Viceroy of India, Lord George Curzon. The  partition took place on 16 October 1905 and separated the largely Muslim eastern areas from the largely Hindus western areas. The Hindus of West Bengal who dominated Bengal’s business and rural life complained that the division would make them a minority in a province that would incorporate the province of Bihar and Orissa.

George Curzon
Fig: George Curzon 

Background of partition of Bengal

Partitioning Bengal was first considered in 1903.There were also additional proposals to separate Chittagong and the districts  of Dhaka and Mymensingh from Bengal and attaching them to the province of Assam. In similar way, Chhota Nagpur was to be incorporated with the central provinces.

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The government officially published the idea in January 1904, and in   February, Lord Curzon made an official tour to eastern districts of Bengal to assess public opinion  on the partition. He consulted with leading personalities and delivered speeches at Dhaka, Chittagong and Mymensingh explaining the government’s stand on partition.

Henry John Stedman Cotton
Fig: Henry John Stedman Cotton 

The idea of Partition of Bengal was opposed by Henry John Stedman Cotton, Chief Commissioner of Assam (1896-1902)  

REASONS BEHIND PARTITION

q  The main reason for the partition was purely political.

q  Weaken the national movement and the policy of Divide and Rule.

q  The Hindus were in better position in terms of economic status, professional qualities etc. than the Muslims.

q  The motive was to break the growing solidarity of Bengali nationalism. Bengal at the time was considered to the nerve-center of India nationalism. Lord Curzon decided to crush the new sprit by dividing the politically advanced communities into separate provinces.

q  During the pre-Sepoy Mutiny period, section of Hindu traders greatly helped the British while their Muslim counterparts did not.

q  The British were angry with the spread of Western education Hindus made a big way but Muslims could not.

MAP AFTER PARTITION

MAP AFTER PARTITION of Bengal
Fig: Map After Partition of Bengal 

The new provinces after partition

Western Province

q  West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa

q  Hindu Majority

q  Hindi and Oriya speaking Majority

Eastern Province

q  East Bengal, Assam, Tripura

q  Chittagong, Dhaka, Rajshahi, Malda

q  Muslim Majority

q  Bengali speaking Majority

Partition of Bengal Provinces
Fig: Partition of Bengal Provinces 

Why was Bengal partitioned in 1905?

q  Unwieldy for administration, very large consisting of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa with 78 million population, poor means of communication, difficulties in relief work during times of trouble (famine, plague), smaller unit can be managed efficiently.

q  To address the misery of Muslims, sense of deprivation in Eastern Bengal, social, economic and educational backwardness, neglected and isolated due to under-governance, flow of all investment toward Calcutta in Western Bengal.

q  Bengal portioned to weaken the solidarity of Bengal , Bengal was hub of creating national awakening posing real threat to the rulers. British played the communal card widening the hostilities between Hindus and Muslims, division along religious line to curb the growing sense of nationalism.

West Bengal’s reaction after partition

q  The people of West Bengal’s clearly saw the aim of the Britishers to break the unity of Bengali people on communal lines and thus weaken the nationalist movement.  

q  The division of Bengal provoked an agitation and angry reaction of west Bengal’s people. It created widespread indignation all over the country.

q  The majority of people in west Bengal were Hindus, they did not accept it as it dealt a telling blow to their monopolies and exclusive hold on economic, social, Political life of the whole Bengal. They call it as a deliberate attempt by British Government.

q  During the movement to lend the partition of Bengal, new method of struggle were adopted. These method which included “Swadeshi” and “Boycott” Movement, brought in participation by common people in the anti-British political activities. “Bande Mataram” become their movement main anthem.

East Bengal’s reaction after partition

q  The majority of people in west Bengal were Muslim’s and the partition received a favorable response from them. It was thought that it would bring the emancipation of Muslims socially and economically.

q  Muslim’s became very hopeful of development and they would get better opportunities of service and agriculture.

q  The city of Dacca, where the Muslims were in majority was the center of Muslim culture. In Dacca Muslims had a great chance of success for social and cultural advancement than Calcutta.

q  Due to the partition “Mohammedan Provincial Union” was founded in 16 October 1905.

q  Lower caste Hindu’s are also very happy with the partition decision.

q  The partition of Bengal relieved the Muslim’s from competing with Hindus, who were more advanced in every field of life.

Aftermath of partition

v  Eastern Bengal and Assam province would cover 1,06,540 sq. mile.

v  Muslims and lower caste Hindus were pleased.

v  Dacca become the capital of East Bengal.

v  Formation of All India Muslim League in 1906.

v  Important buildings, High Court, Secretariate constructed in Dacca.

v  Development of communication and security.

v  Created new job/service opportunities.

v  Economic development.

v  Development in education sector.

Annulment of partition of Bengal

The authorities, not able to end the protest, assented to reversing the partition and did so in 1911. King George announced in 12th December 1911 that eastern Bengal would be assimilated into the Bengal Presidency and the partition of Bengal was cancelled. Districts where Bengali was spoken, were once again unified and Assam, Bihar and Orissa were separated. The united Bengal was placed under a Governor and Assam was placed under a Chief Commissioner. This decision was shattering blow to Muslims. It left them sullen and disillusioned. Their anger and indignation had widespread repercussions. The Muslims leaders and intelligentsia condemned the decision as a betrayal of worst kind.

King George
Fig: King George 

Why partition of Bengal reversed in 1911?

q  Economic reasons: boycott of British goods and Swadeshi Movement, decline in demand of British products in Indian markets, import dropped, profits of British traders ruined, local industries flourished, use of home made-product increased.

q  Surrender in front of products and demonstration, Law and order situation, cult of bomb and terrorism developed, violence increased to most part of India, attacks on British officials and their Indian associates.

q  Reducing the burden of government of Bengal and form a separated government for the efficient administration of East Bengal and Assam.

q  British measures proved ineffective, restriction on print media and public gatherings, imprisonment of leaders, activities sent into exile, reconciliatory effort also failed, Morley-Minto reforms of 1909 could not pacify Indians.

q  Delhi Durbar in December 1911, George V (King of United Kingdom and Emperor of India) had to address the Indians, British wanted peaceful proceedings.

Delhi Durbar 1911
Fig: Delhi Durbar 1911

Aftermath of annulment

v  In 1911, Indian capital was shifted to Delhi from Calcutta and the same year East Bengal and West Bengal were reunited.

v  The Bengali Muslims were angry and disappointed.

v  The creation of United Bengal into a presidency with a Governor in Council appointed from England.

v  The creation of Bihar and Orissa into a Lieutenant-Governorship  with a Legislative Council and a Capital in Patna.

v  Lord Hardinge promised a new University at Dacca in 1912.

v  The resentment remained throughout the rest of the British period.

Division of Bengal 1947

The partition of Bengal in August 1947, part of the partition of Indian subcontinent, divided the British Indian province of Bengal based on the Redcliffe Line between India and Pakistan. The dominion of India is today the republic of India, and the dominion of Pakistan is the combination of West and East Pakistan (later Bangladesh). The Hindus West Bengal became a state of India and the Muslims East Bengal became a province of Pakistan.

Partition of Bengal 1947
Fig: Partition of Bengal 1947

Conclusion

The partition of Bengal of 1905 left a profound impact on the political history of India. The partition left a significant effect on the people of Bengal as well as the political scene of Indian subcontinent. The partition of Bengal indeed marks a turning point in the history of nationalism in India. It may be said that it was out of the travails of Bengal that Indian nationalism was born.

References

v  https://www.britannica.com/event/Partition-of-Bengal

v  http://www.towardsfreedom.in/site/The_Bengal_Partition

v  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partition_of_Bengal_(1905)

vhttps://www.questia.com/library/journal/1P3-2736912071/partition-of-bengal-1905-and-its-impact-on-muslim

v  https://historypak.com/partition-of-bengal-1905-1911/

v  The Indian Journal of Political Science by M. R. A. Baig Vol. 30, No. 2 (April—June 1969), pp. 103-129

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