The Price of Partition

The Price of Partition

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Author: Rafiq Zakaria
Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
Year: 2002
Language: English
Pages: 215
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8172762542


Now in paperback edition, this work by Dr Rafiq Zakaria, one of India’s outstanding scholar-politicians, recapitulates in his inimitable style, the drama of those turbulent years when as a young man, he fought Jinnah and his Muslim League opposing the Two-Nation theory and participation in the Quit India movement.

From the early twenties to the late forties, India was caught in the vortex of conflicting political moves which continued to disturb Hindu-Muslim Relations. The emergence of Mahatma Gandhi as the unchallenged leader of the Indian National Congress and his launching of the first India-wide mass struggle against the British-the Khilafat and Non-Cooperation movement-united the two communities as never before. Unfortunately this unity did not last because the British officials managed to create communal tension and riots.

To stem the rot, the Mahatma went on fast at the residence of Maulanan Mohammed Ali, the tallest among the Muslim leaders then. There was some improvement, but vested interests did not allow the relationship between Hindus and Muslims to be properly cemented. As the time for devolution of power to Indians began to draw nearer, MA Jinnah, who could not see eye to eye with Gandhi on the solution of the communal problem, launched a movement for the division of India, propagating his notorious Two Nation theory. The result was partition which brought nothing but misery, death and destruction to millions of Hindus and Muslims. Its continuing aftermath has resulted in a festering wound which refuses to be healed, endangering the prosperity and security of south Asia.

He worked ceaselessly for preserving the unity of India. The book is not so much an autobiography as a narration of the author’s personal experiences, his interaction with leaders and intellectuals, both Indian and British and his reflection on how the partition came about. His account, as the former president of India, Mr. R Venkataraman states in his Foreword, is a sigh of anguish of a patriot. Dr. Mulk Raj Anand in his afterworld characterizes Dr. Zakaria’s recollections and reflections as the most perceptive and absorbing account that he has read of that critical era.


Dr Zakaria is a scholar and thinker who is forthright in his views. He minces no words where blame is due. The book is fascinating as it recalls the author’s personal interaction with many of the dramatis personae on the Indian stage and his encounters in England with British leaders, journalists and intellectuals during the tragic days of the vivisection of India. Dr Zakaria’s mastery over English and his gift of statement of finer thoughts lend added charm to the subject-matter of his book. One sails through its pages like a canoe in placid water.

-R Venkataraman in his Foreword

Actually, the book is more than recollections and reflections; it is a vivid account of what you saw, felt and experienced during those turbulent years which shaped the making of Free India. They were, indeed, the best of times and the worst of times. Your book has brought back memories of those years to me and made me live through them in a manner I have rarely experienced from any other account. It is a reminder to all of us that secular values are more important in the conduct of a nation than religious dogmatism. It is studded with rare insights and there are flashes of brilliant reflections. Moreover it provides authentic evidence of the disastrous consequences of a wrong approach in settling apolitical problem.

-Mulk Raj Anand in his Afterword addressed to the author.





Preface to the New Edition


Boyhood Memories

Early Initiation

Communal Rage and National Turbulence

Congress-League Tussle

Arrival in London

Cabinet Mission’s Plan

Challenge to Unity

Tragedy of Partition