Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (MA)

Degree Level





Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon

Committee Member

Joel Gordon

Second Committee Member

Richard Sonn


Social sciences, Indian independence struggle, Partition of India, The final transfer of power in India


The long freedom struggle in India culminated in a victory when in 1947 the country gained its independence from one hundred fifty years of British rule. The irony of this largely non-violent struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi was that it ended in the most violent and bloodiest partition of the country which claimed the lives of two million civilians and uprooted countless millions in what became the largest forced migration of people the world has ever witnessed. The vivisection of the country into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan did not bring the hoped for peace between the two neighbors. The partition of the sub-continent created many new problems and solved none. In the last sixty years or so since partition, the two countries have gone to war with each other three times. When not in war, they have engaged in a non-ending cycle of accusations and counter-accusations at the slightest provocation and opportunity. The two most fundamental questions about the partition - was it inevitable and who is responsible for it - have not been fully answered despite countless theories and arguments that have been put forward by historians. This thesis attempts to answer those questions by objectively examining and analyzing the major events of the decade preceding the partition, unquestionably the most critical period to understanding the causes of partition.