Major Events Pre-1950
15 August 1947, the day India gained real freedom, after centuries of alien rule. At that time, I was in my early teens, and a first year student of Maharaja’s High School, Mysore. Mysore was a Princely State, the third largest after Jammu & Kashmir and Hyderabad.
By early 1947, the British had realized that they could not stay on in India much longer and decided, as the eminent civil servant Penderel Moon put it, to “divide and quit.” No one, perhaps not even the new Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, knew exactly what would happen and historians continue to argue over the causes of Partition. Its tragic and traumatic consequences for the Indian subcontinent remain obvious to this day.
In January 1948, I was living in Alwar, now a part of Rajasthan, which at that time was a quasi-independent Princely State – the Maharaja had signed the Instrument of Accession, but not the Instrument of Merger. Alwar had more than its normal share of the post-Partition riots and unrest, which, for months, had disrupted rail travel to and from Delhi, a distance of about one hundred miles.
My Dadi lived with us for the last years of her life when my parents and I returned from two years in England and were reunited with my three elder siblings. She was, in fact, my father’s bhua (father’s sister) who had adopted him when his own mother died shortly after his birth in 1904, and was known by us as Beji.