Examining the Legacy of British Rule and the Monarchy on the Partition of 1947 and Its Consequences for Sustainable Development and Mental Health
Listen to this and other articles from The SustainabilityX® Magazine on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.
Call For Nominations: Submit an award entry recognizing a trailblazing female sustainability leader for The SustainabilityX® Magazine Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards™ 2023 now!
Hiring or looking for a job in sustainability, climate, and ESG? Post a job to this unique sustainability job board or join the talent collective!
Transitioning to a sustainability-related career and looking for educational skills development? Enroll in exclusive courses or develop new skills via our new educational resources section!
Become a subscribing member to help support small, high-impact, non-profit, independent publications like us for more important reads!
The Partition of India in 1947 had devastating consequences for sustainable development, mental health, and intergenerational trauma, and much of the blame can be attributed to British colonialism and the monarchy. The British empire's oppressive rule and policies created an unequal society, leading to a legacy of poverty and social inequality that persists to this day. The monarchy's role in perpetuating colonialism and imperialism has further contributed to the trauma experienced by generations affected by the Partition. This article explores the ways in which colonialism and the British monarchy have impacted sustainable development, mental health, and intergenerational trauma in the context of the Partition, and why it is crucial to acknowledge and address these issues to move towards a more just and equitable society.
Once upon a time, in 1947, India was on the brink of a massive change. It was the year when the British Raj was coming to an end, and the Indian subcontinent was to be partitioned into two separate countries: India and Pakistan. The decision had far-reaching consequences, particularly for the millions of people who had to leave their homes and migrate to the other side of the border.
The Partition of India was a time of great turmoil and violence stemming from the British empire’s “divide-and-rule” policy. Many were forced to flee their homes in order to escape the bloody riots that followed. They left everything behind, taking only what they could carry, along with some hope, and embarked on a dangerous journey to safety, traveling with their families miles on foot, braving the scorching sun and the unforgiving terrain.
For weeks, they walked through treacherous lands, with little food and water, and no shelter. They were constantly on the move, always looking over their shoulders for fear of being attacked. They witnessed horrific violence, and saw things that no one should ever have to see.
My then young and wealthy 20-year-old grandparents were among them. They had to flee their palatial residence full of chests of gold and surrounded by orchards of pomegranate and mango trees with the next meal cooked by the servants still boiling on the stove. The only time they had was to throw on Islamic attire to avoid being killed, grab their newborn (their first child after a year of marriage), and run – not knowing what the future had in hold.
Their escape from the Partition was a harrowing experience that left a lasting impact on their lives. The memory of that time stayed with them for the rest of their lives, and it was a story that they were often haunted by, and found very difficult to share with their loved ones: the violence and the fear, the long nights spent hiding, the difficult decisions they had to make, the people they had lost, and the homes and sweet childhood memories they had left behind.
Being surrounded by rioters with swords dripping with blood, demanding my grandfather to prove his Islamic identity by reciting verses from holy Islamic texts, surviving the deadly train ride to “the other side” by hiding in a train cab full of dead bodies piled on top of one another with my grandmother’s hand on her newborn’s mouth, somehow finding a way to discard their Islamic attire along the way, watching hundreds of trains going both ways full of thousands of more dead bodies arriving in an eerie silence at its final station – to recall the gruesome experience is treacherous in itself.
Despite the odds against them, my grandparents made it to safety. They eventually settled in a new city, where they built a new life for themselves and their family. But the trauma of their experience stayed with them, and it would be passed down to future generations.
Many families had the most unimaginable, devastating experiences – daughters raped, sons killed, and family members kidnapped. Some even killed their daughters with their own hands to avoid them a ruthless and undignified death at the hands of gangs of rapists.
My grandparents, my mother, and I have all felt the effects of this trauma in different ways, and so do the millions of people that were affected. For the now elderly, memories of the partition are still vivid, and many often have nightmares about the violence they witnessed, with some struggling with and suffering from anxiety, depression, sleepless nights, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for the rest of their lives.
HAVE YOU READ?
The Complete Guide To Sustainability Management And How It Can Help Your Business
The SustainabilityX® Magazine Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards 2022
This is the root of intergenerational trauma and its effect on mental health. My mother, who was born after the partition, grew up hearing stories of her parents' harrowing escape. These stories have had a profound impact on her life’s perspective and purpose, leading her to pursue the career of a police officer. As for me, while the trauma of the partition may not be as immediate, it still affects me in several ways, such as feeling a sense of disconnect from my cultural heritage, living with injustice, and struggling with feelings of anxiety and fear that can't be explained. I constantly feel a sense of sadness and grief, knowing that they had suffered so much and lost so much in the process. The sense of loss and displacement had never quite left them, and while rebuilding along the road to recovery with utmost courage, bravery, resilience, and strength, they struggled to find a sense of home and belonging, all while vowing to never lose hope.
When the stories were passed on to me, I struggled with the fear, anxiety, and guilt, feeling like I simultaneously could understand what my grandparents went through because of the misdeeds of the British monarchy, including the struggle of starting life from scratch again after the Partition – and there is nothing I can do about it – and had the British monarchy not sanctioned this irresponsible step, millions of lives would have been saved, and no one would have had to suffer what they did. In simple words, my blood boils every time the story unfolds in my head, and there’s nothing I can do about it knowing that justice has still not been served, which boils my blood even more.
The intergenerational impact of trauma is a real phenomenon, and it's something that many families who have experienced war, violence, or displacement can relate to. They rebuilt their lives from scratch, and their story teaches us about the power of perseverance, the importance of empathy and compassion, and the resilience of the human spirit.
It is a story that will continue to inspire me and guide me for the rest of my life, but most importantly, It's the weight of history that weighs heavy on my shoulders. It's the unspoken stories, the tears that were never shed, and the wounds that never truly healed. My mom grew up with the weight of her family's history on her shoulders, and the intergenerational trauma of the partition was passed down to her. The trauma was then inherited by me in a way that is simply beyond words and difficult to express, let alone verbalize.
In a constant search for peace and stability, the trauma is a part of the family's legacy. It's the unspoken stories, the scars that never fully healed, and the pain that was never fully acknowledged. It's the weight of history that is carried with us, even though we weren't physically present during the Partition.
The impact of the Partition on families is a reminder of the long-term effects of violence and displacement. It's a testament to the resilience and strength of the human spirit, but also a warning of the lasting damage that can be inflicted on individuals and communities. What we need to realize is it's also a call to action to acknowledge and address the trauma that has been passed down through generations, and to work towards healing and reconciliation.
Why the British Monarchy is a Threat to Long-term Progress on Global Sustainable Development, Stability, Peace, Economic Prosperity & Social Justice
Many may not fully understand that the British monarchy is still a threat to society and sustainable development, particularly to communities of colour all over the world affected by their policies. The British monarchy’s role in the Partition of India was extraordinary, and the Partition was a direct result of the merciless and undignified British colonial rule in India. British monarchs have long had a reputation for delighting in the chaos and bloodshed of revolutions, losing no sleep over their countries being torn apart.
The divide-and-rule policies of the British had sowed the seeds of hatred and mistrust between communities, which ultimately led to the horrific event. Even today, the effects of colonialism are felt in the form of economic disparities, systemic oppression, and cultural erasure.
The Partition of India in 1947 is remembered as one of the most tragic events in British colonial history. It caused immense suffering and loss of life, divided families, and created deep intergenerational trauma. In addition to this psychological impact, the Partition also had a major effect on health, environment, society, and culture. The careless actions taken by the British monarchy have had an irreversible and detrimental effect on those affected by this event even to this day.
Monarchies have been a part of the human political landscape for centuries and continue to exert considerable influence on global stability and peace. From the Partition of India in 1947 to the present day, monarchies have had a major impact on international relations, economic development, and social justice. While the British monarchy has both contributed to and hindered international cooperation, its roots in colonialism have led to a world brimming with affected communities that still struggle for economic prosperity, equal opportunities, and social inclusion, striving to survive and recover from hardships inflicted upon them from decades and centuries past instead of thriving with stability into a sustainable future.
About The SustainabilityX® Magazine
The SustainabilityX® Magazine is an award-winning, digital, female-founded, and female-led non-profit initiative bringing the environment and economy together for a sustainable future through dialogue. Founded on May 8, 2016 and inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 in Sustainability Leadership awardee, Supriya Verma, the digital media initiative focuses on approaching the world’s most pressing challenges with a holistic, integrated, systems-based perspective as opposed to the traditional and ineffective siloed approach with a single lens on interdisciplinary topics like climate and energy. This initiative ultimately seeks to explore how to effectively bring the environment and economy together through intellectual, insightful dialogue and thought-provoking discussion amongst individuals across sectors taking an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to untangling the intricate web of sustainability.
The SustainabilityX® Magazine is based upon the four pillars of sustainability: Environmental Stewardship which emphasizes improved environmental health, Economic Prosperity which emphasizes economic growth without the element of capitalism, Social Inclusion which emphasizes EDI for BIPOC and LGBTQ communities and marginalized, vulnerable populations, and Just Governance which emphasizes the equal rule of law via responsible political leadership to create fair systems for all. Identifying the diverse factors involved in sustainability, how they interact and how the disciplines are interconnected will help accelerate local, national, and international sustainability goals – in simpler words, aligning with The SustainabilityX® Magazine’s mission of bringing the environment and economy together for a sustainable future through dialogue for a sustainable future. Whether you have a background in science, engineering, business, law, politics, media and entertainment, or beyond, your voice matters.
Show your support for independent, high-impact publications by becoming a subscribing member and help power international conversations that matter.
The SustainabilityX® Magazine is a proud member of the Sustainable Journalism Partnership, serves as a cause-based media partner for various events such as Circular City Week New York, and officially delivers remarks at international conferences such as UNESCO’s annual World Press Freedom Day Conference. SustainabilityX® is a brand of the non-profit social business SPSX Group.
SUSTAINABILITYX AND SUSTAINABILITYX DESIGNS ARE REGISTERED TRADEMARKS. ®