The Effect of the Partition of Bengal

The partitioning of Bengal was brought about by Lord Curzon, who was the British viceroy as well as the Governor-General of British India in 1905 (Roy, 2014). Curzon argued that Bengal could not be governed effectively due to its large size and had to be divided into East Bengal and West Bengal. East Bengal was largely inhabited by Muslims whereas West Bengal was dominated by Hindus. The decision to divide India was an attempt to weaken the population by turning it against itself to minimize resistance. The Muslims in the western part supported the decision because it allowed them to do business without the interference of the Hindus who had dominated Bengal’s business environment. East Bengal was neglected and isolated due to the poor communication system in the area (Roy, 2014). However, the Hindus of West Bengal protested against the decision since it made them minorities in the East and regarded the division as an act of strangling Bengal’s nationalism. Protests escalated from mass meetings to boycotting of British goods.

The partition resulted in massive resettlement as Hindus moved to the East whereas Muslims moved to the West. The partition led to the death of many local people as the British officials took on protesters. The debate on the division of Bengal has never ended long after India got its independence. Refugees, infiltrators, and migrates continuously flow across the borders of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh which were formed from the partition (Sengupta, 2011). Both the Indian and Pakistan governments have tried to stop the influx of refugees across the borders of the two countries. Initially, the Hindus fled East Bengal for safety which had become part of Pakistan, which was dominated by Muslims. However, the poor populations in the two divides were unable to migrate and decided to stay in their original locations (Roy, 2014). Although the British colonists may not have managed to reap the benefits of the partition then, they managed to turn the local communities against one another leading to the formation of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.




Roy, K. (2014). Partition of British India: Causes and Consequences Revisited. India Review13(1), 78-86. doi:10.1080/14736489.2014.873681

Sengupta, D. (2011). From Dandakaranya to Marichjhapi: rehabilitation, representation and the partition of Bengal (1947). Social Semiotics21(1), 101-123. doi:10.1080/10350330.2011.535673



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