In the margins of independence: a relief worker in India and Pakistan, 1942-1949

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Oxford University Press, 2001 - History - 150 pages
This book presents a vivid, personal and authentic account of three cataclysmic events in the recent history of India and Pakistan. The first was the catastrophic Bengal famine of 1943, during which three million men, women and children died in British India. The second, the decision of the British to divide and quit in 1947, leading to the Partition of the Subcontinent and the accompanying turmoil, mass migrations, and massacre of at least 200,000 people, with twelve million rendered homeless. The third, the beginning of the conflict between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue, today's tinderbox'. Richard Symonds served in India with the Friends (Quaker) Ambulance Unit and then as a co-ordinator of relief and rehabilitation in the government of Bengal, during the Bengal famine. Later, immediately after independence, he worked in the West and East Punjab under Quaker auspices, reporting to the two governments on the situation of the minorities and helping the refugees. This work was extended into Kashmir. After his involvement in relief work he served on the staff of the UN Commission for India and Pakistan, whose activities led to the cease-fire in Kashmir in 1949. His recollections, eyewitness reports and first-hand insights of the events mentioned above are primarily in his diaries. The author's impressions of leading personalities such as Mahatma Gandhi, who took him into Birla House to be nursed when he fell ill during his refugee work, prove fascinating reading for the general as much as for the academic reader.

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Prelude in Bengal 19421945
Crisis in Delhi September 1947

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