The 75th anniversary of the independence of India and creation of Pakistan has been marked over recent weeks.
It was another infamous moment in the history of the British Empire.
A botched withdrawal, overseen by the incompetent, pompous Lord Louis Mountbatten on behalf of the British government.
The whole debacle ended up costing millions of lives and reverberates to this day in a region still wrought with division.
The British deployed their favourite diplomatic device in withdrawing from India – partition.
Previously the same approach was deployed in Ireland, with disastrous consequences.
The Irish fought the Irish in the bloody civil war, following the treaty, creating the Republic in 1922. That treaty laid the ground for the war to resume, with the later Troubles in the north, starting in the late 1960s.
Partition was also used by Britain in the Middle East.
In India, the quick withdrawal, including a botched partition, that saw the actual geographical line only revealed after independence was celebrated, saw a violent type of ethnic cleansing taking place, along what is now the India/Pakistan border.
There have been periodic outbreaks of war between the two countries over the years since independence. At present an uneasy truce operates – both countries have nuclear weapons.
Not only have these actions taken by Britain across the globe caused untold conflict but the failure to acknowledge what has happened damages Britain itself.
The self-delusion over Britain’s past role in the world has enabled the myth of the Empire as some great civilising process to take root. Britain ruled the world and, for advocates of this take on history, still does.
The delusion of Britain’s greatness, standing alone against adversity, fed into the nationalist myths that brought Brexit.
Only now is the reality beginning to dawn, namely that Britain today is a small, increasingly isolated country in Northern Europe, run by bizarre nationalists.
It’s standing in the world diminishes by the day.
If Britain wants to discover a new path in the future, it has first to acknowledge the sins of the past.
Rather than celebrating what happened in India back in 1947, the British should be down on their knees begging forgiveness for what they caused to the people of those countries.
- Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See paulfdonovan.blogspot.com