Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: 1947 Partition of Bengal


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Partition of Bengal

Mains level: Read the attached story

partition of bengal

Central Idea

  • The recent controversy surrounding West Bengal’s ‘Foundation Day’ has brought attention to the partition of Bengal in 1947.
  • This event marked a significant chapter in the history of the state, leading to the creation of West Bengal and East Pakistan (later Bangladesh).

Partition of Bengal in 1947: An overview

  • Demand for a separate Muslim nation-state: The partition of Bengal was a consequence of the Muslim League’s demand for a separate nation-state for Indian Muslims.
  • Communal violence in Calcutta: The society became deeply divided along religious lines, leading to severe communal violence, particularly in Calcutta in August 1946.

Contours of East Pakistan’s Formation

  • Partition of India and Pakistan: In June 1947, it was decided to partition India into India and Pakistan. Punjab and Bengal, both with significant non-Muslim minorities, were also partitioned along religious lines.
  • Boundary Commission and the Radcliffe Line: A boundary commission, chaired by Sir Cyril Radcliffe, was established to demarcate separate districts with Hindu and Muslim majorities. The resulting boundary line is known as the Radcliffe Line.

Concentration of Muslims in East Pakistan

  • Demographic composition: Bengal had a Hindu majority in the western districts and a Muslim majority in the eastern districts.
  • Grouping under East Pakistan: The eastern districts were grouped together to form East Pakistan, similar to how Muslims were concentrated in the western districts of Punjab.

Precursor: Curzon’s Partition of Bengal in 1905

  • Historical context: Lord Curzon partitioned Bengal in 1905, aiming to break the unity of the Bengali-speaking population and create a separate province with a Muslim majority.
  • Reversal of partition: The partition of 1905 was withdrawn in 1911, restoring the linguistic unity of Bengal while separating Bihar and Orissa from Bengal.

Aftermath of the 1947 Partition

  • Communal violence and Gandhi’s influence: Bengal witnessed significant communal violence in 1946, particularly in Calcutta and Noakhali. However, the presence of Mahatma Gandhi helped prevent large-scale violence during the partition.
  • Migration and displacement: Unlike Punjab, migration in Bengal occurred gradually over time, resulting in a continuous trickle of people moving from East to West and vice versa. This led to a large refugee population and the need for rehabilitation and settlements.


  • The partition of Bengal in 1947 was a complex event with far-reaching consequences.
  • Understanding this historical context helps shed light on the impact it had on the population and the socio-economic landscape of West Bengal and todays Bangladesh.


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