Society

Partition, The Founding Wound Of Modern India That Won't Heal

Even after 72 years, the echoes of India's division into two independent states continue to reverberate.

'Today’s Delhi is an amalgamation of migrants, of different religions, cultures, languages and virtues'
"Today’s Delhi is an amalgamation of migrants, of different religions, cultures, languages and virtues"
Anandi Sen

-Essay-

EAST DELHI — "At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom," announced Jawaharlal Nehru as the world ushered in a new nation, the voices of the distraught mere echoes amid the joy of freedom.

As they said, what do people wearing white caps sitting in Delhi know about the situation at the border? The Partition of India, a cataclysmic event that gave birth to the world's largest democracy, left a devastating legacy and scars that refuse to heal.

Even after 72 years and three generations, a part of its legacy still thrives within us; the remnants of the separation still haunts us. While having a casual discussion with a fellow Punjabi about her maternal grandmother's yearning for her beloved erstwhile home, the shared belonging and collective memory reverberated.

Finding no recluse under the infamous ‘Dilli ki garmi," my mind drifted to Holocaust survivors who shared narratives of the ghastly apocalypse. Borders, after all, are simply political boundaries. Beyond the demarcations, it is land; vast land, full of flesh and blood, of thoughts and emotions, of common folklore, myths and superstitions.

Well, as they say, ‘Batwara jitna bhi kar lo, garmi Lahore Dilli dono mein paintalis hi padegi." (Divide as much as you want, the heat in both Lahore and Delhi will be 45 degrees Celsius).

Narrating the tale of the Samjhauta Express, a brief encounter with investigative journalist Bhavna Vij Aurora led to a shattering of stereotypes and infused biases as a major societal consequence of the Partition. As a Punjabi, being accompanied by a Muslim cameraman to Pakistan seemed like a logical step to her. As it turned out, it wasn't! She felt closer to "their Punjabi" more than the cameraman did as a Muslim.

Today's Delhi is an amalgamation of migrants

Nehru himself once said: "A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance." If only this "new" world escalated beyond communal violence and hatred.

Today's Delhi is an amalgamation of migrants, of different religions, cultures, languages and virtues — all painting Delhi in their unique shade. In the gullies of present-day Lajpat Nagar, Amar Colony, Malviya Nagar to Bhogal, Jungpura, Tilak Nagar and Rajouri Garden there once lived perplexed migrants, lost in their "own land," suffocating among their "own people," haunted by shadow lines.

At times like these, Toba Tek Singh smirks from an unknown place afar, rekindling his desire to find a sense of home, a place to call his own.

As today's generation watches the film Manto and fails to grasp the depth and dearth of love in Saadat Hasan Manto's works, there are some who are struck by a restlessness to seek a part of their own selves in the stories of Partition — from the Sikh man leaving his crops to pursue a different craft in the land of "his people" to the Muslim woman who abandoned her palatial ancestral estate to re-discover herself as a working-class person among "her people."

The narratives echo stories, the legacies of people with beating hearts and welled up eyes — someone's lover, someone's landlord, someone's neighbor. Someone.

A refugee special train at Ambala Station during partition of India — Photo: Government of India

As the decades pass by and the years of psychological catastrophe, political polarity, societal annihilation, economic stagnation and centuries of historical hostility culminate into a friendly cricket match between India and Pakistan, does the youth feel a legacy being passed on to them?

We haven't had any first-hand experience of the Partition, nor do we have a living substitute. Our understanding of the same has to be attributed to period dramas, hyper-nationalistic movies, and overly-dramatized or romanticized versions of the horror that plagued India for months. The pain, trauma, hopelessness, gore, emotions, separation has, in the very least, been rich bait for creative artists to capitalize on — allowing a part of the Partition to linger on.

Let's remember to keep an eye out for the echoes of history that surround us, just waiting to be found

"Division of Hearts," a 2013 advertisement by Google Search, struck a cord in a hidden, vulnerable place. The joy of reuniting with a loved one separated by such a horrific ordeal felt surreal. As the two young people on each side of the border strive to reunite their respective grandparents, we, as the audience are left to ponder upon the essence of humanity.

Even as accusations today fly thick and fast about the youth being indifferent toward India's rich history, through initiatives like this, or the penning down of first-hand oral narratives, and the simple acts of reading, talking and sharing stories — the past will never die.

As we go about our day, shopping in Lajpat Nagar, taking in the stature of Rashtrapati Bhawan in all its glory at night, crossing the Civil Lines metro station, let's remember to keep an eye out for the echoes of history that surround us, just waiting to be found.

The Partition may be just a history lesson for some, a remorseful story for others and a historical note for yet others. But there are still many for whom the Partition is still very much a part of them — a living, breathing part of a massacre that will live on for generations to come.

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Green

In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.


It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park

Xinhua/ZUMA

Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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