Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To Partition or Not to Partition...

A considerable amount of people in Midnight's Children are staunchly opposed to the Partitioning of India. Many of them seem to view it as fracturing their country, dividing their people. However, judging by the events of the book, it seems India's people were already actively dividing themselves. In the novel, one petulant little girl with a unibrow was all it took to incite a murderous mob against a Hindi street vendor, Lifafa Das, in a predominately Muslim neighborhood. The Country was already fiercely divided between Sindhi and Bengali, Hindu and Muslim, "Darklings" and "Pinkies." The violent, warring execution of this idea aside, could it be that the partitioning didn't divide a unified India, but instead transformed a divided India and transformed it into a more unified India and Pakistan? Or did the partitioning accomplish nothing but hundreds of thousands of deaths and an attack against India's diversity? Perhaps the idea would have worked out better if it hadn't been so violent and forced. Although, to play my own devil's advocate, if it weren't forced, it may not have happened at all. It's kind of a lose-lose situation, in that before the partition, there was rampant hate crime and civil unrest, but the partition itself caused widespread death and loss. It's tough to say whether or not the partition was for the best, since we can't try both ways to compare, but as the tension between India and Pakistan has lessened (haltingly) in recent years, it might turn out alright.


  1. I think when it comes down to it, both in Midnight's children, and any real life example of forced change, is that it will always be violent and resisted. What it all comes down to is the will of the people. Throughout history, and especially today, the ideal of a benign dictatorship has proven less than realistic. At the same time, any community has the potential to fall into an unhealthy pattern of mob mentality. Also evidenced by both historical and current events, is that within any society, sub-communities tend to form based on language, culture, etc. The key is to avoid an adversarial system. Different groups with different views are vital to making smart decisions as a society. However, although the consequences aren't nearly as dire for us (first world problem), the adversarial nature of our own society, both on small scale and especially within politics, is costly. A staggering amount of U.S. citizens are either ignorant or indifferent of the decisions being made to affect their everyday life. Thanks to news organizations as well as individuals, there are many other people who assume they know what is going on, but really only mimic the opinions of people around them. This kind of blind belief is exactly the kind of thing that can tear a society apart. My humble opinion is that these decisions cannot be made by a government detached from its people, or its people detached from one another. Perhaps there was an option for success, but that option may have been available at the time of partitioning or years prior. Perhaps the dissolution of the peoples of India could have been avoided instead of being “fixed” with partitioning. Additionally, maybe this could apply to the fate of Saleem and his family. Any of a great number of pivotal moments in the history of Saleem and his (supposed ) relatives/ancestors could have been changed or prevented, and perhaps that would have prevented some or all of the tragedies that befall his “bloodline.”

  2. Excellent discussion. It makes me wonder about our ability as humans to move beyond these centuries-old tensions between countries, ethnicities. Is it possible? My belief in the goodness of people prompts me to say yes, but my pragmatism is aware of rare it actually happens.