Database topics
British and Commonwealth History; Government Information: International and Foreign
The Commonwealth iLibrary is the cross-searchable online library for books, series and working papers published by The Commonwealth Secretariat.
Database topics
Government Information: International and Foreign; British and Commonwealth History; Asian Studies (East, South & Southeast Asia; Middle East)
  • Section I. Independence, partition, and the Nehru era, 1947-64.
  • Section II. South Asian conflicts and independence for Bangladesh, 1964-71.
  • Section III. Afghanistan and the Cold War, emergency rule in India, and the resumption of civilian rule in Pakistan, 1972-80.
"These three collections consist of the British Government's files on the countries of South Asia from shortly before Indian partition and independence up to 1980. This was a turbulent era in the region's history. The partition of 1947 and the splitting apart of Pakistan in 1971 were accompanied by loss of life and enormous population movements, as refugees fled violence or ethnic conflict. India fought Pakistan twice in Kashmir, in 1947-8 and 1965, and China in the Himalayas in 1962. Stable and democratic government proved elusive outside India, the region experiencing a succession of coups: in Pakistan in 1958 and 1977, in Afghanistan in 1973, 1978 and 1979, and in Bangladesh in 1975; democracy underwent a flowering and then a withering in Nepal, where King Mahendra established a partyless autocracy in 1959. Even in India, which had successfully established a democratic, secular state at independence, the government of India Gandhi became increasingly authoritarian and intolerant of dissent in the 1970s, imprisoning hundreds of opponents.... The files in this collection cover these events from the standpoint of British officialdom. In addition to high politics, the papers in the files cover such issues as economic and industrial development, trade, migration, visits to South Asia by British politicians and by South Asian politicians to Britain and elsewhere, education, administrative reorganisation, conflict over language, aid, political parties, agriculture and irrigation, and television and the press. Together they form a resource of fundamental value to scholars and students of modern South Asia."
Section I, Independence, partition and the Nehru era, 1947-1964: This collection consists of the main British Government files on South Asia for the period between Indian and Pakistani independence and the death of Jawaharlal Nehru. The documents, from the Dominions Office (renamed Office of Commonwealth Relations in 1947) and Foreign Office, include diplomatic despatches, correspondence, newspaper cuttings, economic and military reports, statistical analyses, maps, photographs, minutes of meetings, and leaflets and other ephemera.
Section II, South Asian conflicts and independence for Bangladesh, 1964-71: Continued fighting over Kashmir and the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan meant that further conflict dominated this period. It saw Indira Gandhi, Nehru's daughter, gain power in India, whilst the military government of Pakistan wrestled with political disturbances, military crises and issues in East Pakistan.
Afghanistan and the Cold War, Emergency Rule in India, and the Resumption of Civilian Rule in Pakistan, 1972-1980: This last section will cover the 1970s, a decade in which all the main states of the Indian subcontinent all experienced political upheavals and repression in varying degrees. Bangladesh emerged as an independent state but failed to achieve political stability, and Pakistan returned to civilian rule, in the wake of the military’s failure to prevent Bangladesh’s secession, before another military coup returned the army to power five years later. In India, the government of Indira Gandhi became increasingly dictatorial, jailing hundreds of opponents and declaring a state of emergency in 1975. In 1977, Gandhi’s government fell and India elected its first non-Congress prime minister. Events also began in Afghanistan which foreshadowed the chaotic conditions there of the 1980s and 1990s: the monarchy was overthrown by a coup in 1973, and a further coup in 1978 brought a communist regime to power. This was followed by internecine fighting within the government and a Soviet invasion in 1979, heralding a long, brutal civil war. The 1970s also saw India develop nuclear weapons and Pakistan begin development in response. All files in this section are from the FCO 37 series.