fbpx Historic Trauma and the Politics of the Present in India | www.1947partitionarchive.org

Historic Trauma and the Politics of the Present in India

Abstract: India has had a very different history of violence and conflict from South Africa's, yet each democracy has had to face questions of how to deal with memories of past suffering, which bear directly on the quality of political life in the present. In India, the dream of national independence in 1947 rapidly changed into a nightmare of religious and ethnic violence. Britain's empire in the sub-continent was divided into two countries, Muslim-based Pakistan and constitutionally secular India, amid horrific massacres of Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. This experience has remained a fundamental trauma in India's national psyche. This article looks to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission as offering India a potentially creative way of dealing with the wounds of the past. It identifies in the recent South African experience a model of dealing with history which avoids the twin dangers of forgetting or uncritically rehearsing an accepted version of the past.

Pradip Datta
Taylor and Francis Online