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THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Partition of Bengal-16th October 1911

  • The British Government's decision to partition Bengal had been made public in December 1903.
  • The official reason given for the decision was that Bengal with a population of 78 million (about a quarter of the population of British India) had become too big to be administered.
  • The real motive behind the partition plan was the British desire to weaken Bengal, the nerve centre of Indian nationalism.
  • This is sought to achieve by putting the Bengalis under two administrations by dividing them:
    • On the basis of language (thus reducing the Bengalis to a minority in Bengal itself as in the new proposal Bengal proper was to have 17 million Bengalis and 37 million Hindi and Oriya speakers).
    • On the basis of religion, as the western half was to be a Hindu majority area (42 million out of a total 54 million) and the eastern half was to be a Muslim majority area (18 million out of a total of 31 million).

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