Students examine the history leading up to the British withdrawal from the Indian subcontinent in 1947 and the legacies of partition that remain today.
These lesson were published in January 2009.
The lessons below accompany India: Conflicts Within, a program of the Pulitzer Center.
Lesson: Kashmir Then and Now
- Learn about the historical origins of the conflict in Kashmir.
- Explore the current situation in Kashmir.
- Identify quantitative and geographical data in media sources.
- Consider the role of perspective when analyzing sources.
“Kashmir, The Origins of the Dispute”
BBC News, by Victoria Schofield
“Kashmir Activists Don’t See Guns as the Answer”
The Washington Times, by Jason Motlagh
“Kashmir’s Uneasy Peace”
Video reported by Jason Motlagh
Students should read “Kashmir, The Origins of the Dispute” and answer the questions on the handout.
In the Classroom
Questions noted with a * below can be answered directly on the India: Conflicts Within website.
Break the students into groups of three. Distribute “Kashmir Activists Don’t See Guns as the Answer” to each student. Give each group one copy of the Map of India, Pakistan and Kashmir.
- Student #1 will label on the map each geographical location mentioned in the article.
- Student #2 will record all of the numbers and dates in the article along with a short phrase about their significance.
- Student #3 will underline the five most important sentences in the article.
Review findings as a whole class.
- According to the article, what do the people of Kashmir want? How do the Kashmiris in the article regard India and Pakistan?*
- Refer to the article, “Kashmir, The Origins of the Dispute.” Ask students what reasons they can give for why the origins of the dispute are relevant to what is happening there today?
- Challenge students to think of reasons why the original dispute may be less relevant. How might different interpretations of the causes of the dispute and conflict affect the process of finding solutions to the conflict?
- What do the different perspectives have in common? Do any perspectives not share any common ground?*
- Remind students that clip is the work of a journalist. How is journalism similar to other reports they may see on television or the internet? How is it different?
- Ask students to consider the fact there is no narrator in video clip. Why do they think that the journalist would choose to do this?
- Do journalists have perspectives? What perspective do they think this journalist has?
Ask students to imagine how these stories might have been reported by an Indian, Kashmiri, or Pakistani journalist. How might their perspective affect their reporting? Ask them to rewrite the opening paragraph of one or more of the stories they have read or heard to reflect one of those perspectives.
Lesson: Partition and Beyond
- Explore the 1947 partition of India through literature.
- Analyze the political content of selections from a work of fiction.
- Articulate the values and attitudes of the author.
In the Classroom
1. Analyzing Literature
Have students read and answer questions to the selection, “Partition Through Literature: ‘Toba Tek Singh.” How does this story help to illustrate the horrors of partition in the Punjab?
Tell students that literature can be a vehicle for political expression. Call on students to extract the political meaning of the excerpts they read. Ask students what the author’s attitude about partition was. Have them find specific lines from the excerpts to support their argument.
2. Connecting Past and Present
Ask students to consider information they have learned using the reporting on “India: Conflicts Within.” Are there any connections between the excerpts from “Toba Tek Singh” and the reporting? List as many connections as they can. Did reading the excerpts from Toba Tek Singh add to their understanding of the current situation in India? Why or why not?
Have students review the differences between fiction and journalism. Ask students what the similarities are between these two types of writing. Is fiction a useful way for students to understand history? What are the possible pitfalls of reading historical fiction? How can they be avoided? Remind students of the importance that historians place on using multiple sources.
3. Predicting the Future
Review the problems facing India. Which problems are the most pressing? Most serious? Are they likely to improve or worsen over time? What steps may be necessary to solve these problems?
Reflect on the question of partition. Would British India have been better off receiving independence without partition and, therefore, without creating Pakistan?