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Student Views and News: Priya Chatwani on the Partiton of 1947


Nov 21 2017

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1947 Partition Archive

In August of 1947, the British left India after three hundred years of control, and the subcontinent was divided into India and Pakistan, which included East and West Pakistan at the time. As 15 million people fled their homes on both sides of the border, the accompanying violence was shocking, and somewhere between 1 and 2 million people died in the process. For as long as I can remember, my paternal grandfather has told us that he has vivid memories of the partition. Seventy years ago, when he was only nine years old, he was forced to relocate because his family was Hindu and their home in Sindh fell above the new border. His family faced many obstacles during their journey across the border, but their struggles paved the way for my parents and my sister and me.

The 1947 Partition Archive is an organization dedicated to preserving the stories of those who experienced the partition between South Asian states. It is likely the largest oral history archive on any South Asian topic, and it was founded by Guneeta Singh Bhalla in 2010 at UC Berkeley. Stanford has since partnered with the organization and is helping make some of the oral histories available to all online. Just like my parents, I was born and raised in America, and I am constantly looking for ways to reconnect with my culture across the world. So when my family came across this organization, I was immediately intrigued, and after taking the free oral history webinar that 1947 Partition Archive directed me to, I will have the opportunity to interview my grandfather and help share his story.

The 1947 Partition Archive is making it infinitely easier to preserve and access stories that still dictate, influence, and inform South Asia every single day. Getting involved is super easy - visit and sign up! The organization clearly has an impactful journey ahead.