The film opens with the title showing the end of British rule in India. It then moves to ceremonies of independence in India and Pakistan. The commentary is very positive about British rule and then goes on to hope for the best that India and Pakistan will prosper. Despite this apparent hope, the clip then shows scenes of religious violence between Hindus and Muslims and shots of misery and hunger.
This is a British newsreel, which would have been shown to British audiences in cinemas in 1947, soon after Indian independence. It describes the setting up of two new states – India and Pakistan. The majority of Indians were Hindus, but a very large number of Indians were Muslims. As the campaign for Indian independence grew it was largely headed by Hindus like Gandhi. Muslims became concerned that they would be a minority in India and campaigned for their own Muslim state of Pakistan. Tension between Hindus and Muslims erupted into violence, as Indian independence got closer. There were terrible atrocities by both sides and thousands were killed. Around 2 million people fled from their homes to areas of Pakistan or India where they would not be a minority. In 1947 the final partition of India created the two states, although violence continued for some time. Partition left 18 million Hindus in Pakistan and 40 million Muslims in India. There were serious disputes over territories, particularly Kashmir. Even today, relations between India and Pakistan remain tense and there have been many outbreaks of violence and open war in the 1960s.
Interesting or important points about the film
Perhaps the key points in this film centre on its general tone. There is a strong sense that Britain is reluctantly letting go of India and that the best wishes and hopes expressed for the future are a little hollow. Many watchers today might feel that the selection of clips is one sided and also that the commentary is somewhat patronising