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School of Oriental and African Studies

Oral Archive: India: A People Partitioned


Reference code(s): GB 0102 OA3

Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies

Title: Oral Archive: India: A People Partitioned

Date(s): 1997, 2000

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 3 boxes (2 boxes of sound recordings, 1 box of transcripts)

Name of creator(s): Whitehead | Andrew | fl 1997-2000 | broadcaster


Administrative/Biographical history:

The radio series 'India: A People Partitioned' for the BBC World Service was compiled and presented by Andrew Whitehead and produced by Zina Rohan. It was among the programmes commissioned to mark the 50th anniversary of India and Pakistan's independence and was broadcast in 1997. The interviews were largely conducted by Whitehead, but a few were carried out by Anuradha Awasthi. The series was broadcast again in 2000 and the fifth programme, 'Unfinished Business', was re-made, including further material on India-Pakistan relations. Andrew Whitehead was based in Delhi as BBC World Service correspondent for south Asia.


Scope and content/abstract:

Sound recordings and papers relating to the radio series 'India: A People Partitioned', 1997. Cassette tapes of interviews (83 tapes) and partial transcripts concern the social history of partition between India and Pakistan (1947) and its effect on people in south Asia. Interviewees included some prominent political and cultural figures, but also 'ordinary' people whose lives were affected by the events surrounding independence, including the large number of refugees created. The subjects discussed include Communism, politicians including Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Muslim League, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus. Cassette tapes of the five broadcast programmes (3 tapes) are also included: 'The Gathering of the Storm', on the context of partition, disturbances in 1946, and Gandhi's attempts to broker peace; 'The Killing Fields of Punjab', examining partition violence; ' Tearing the Veil', on women's experiences, including abduction; 'Comers and Goers', concerning the experiences of Muslims in India and their dilemma as to whether to migrate to Pakistan or remain in India; 'Unfinished Business', on the Kashmir dispute and the continuing legacy of partition in regional politics, culture and diplomacy. The partial transcripts were made for working purposes and are an indication rather than a definitive record of the contents of the tapes. Appended to the transcripts are copies of an occasional series of articles written by Andrew Whitehead for the Indian Express based on the material he gathered. An additional deposit comprises a cassette tape of the revised programme, 'Unfinished Business', 2000, and six further interview tapes, the interviewees including key participants in India-Pakistan relations, with notes on the contents of the interviews compiled for working purposes.


Language/scripts of material: Mainly English, but some Hindi, Urdu, Bengali or Punjabi (most with running translation)

System of arrangement:

Includes sections of recordings in Pakistan; at and around the border; Karachi; Indian Kashmir; Indian Punjab; Lucknow and Mahmudabad; Bangladesh; Calcutta.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

The broadcast programmes are BBC copyright. The interview tapes are copyright of the BBC and Andrew Whitehead. They cannot be broadcast, but the material can be quoted or referred to in works of research if proper acknowledgement of the source is made.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Unpublished handlist by the depositor including names of interviewees and brief note of main topics.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in 1998 and 2000.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds sound recordings from the radio series 'Plain Tales from the Raj', on British India (Ref: OA1), and from the British in India Oral Archive Project (Ref: OA2).

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Source: BBC World Service website:

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: May 2002

Boundaries | Territorial rights | Rights of states | International law
Communism | Collectivism | Political doctrines
Decolonization | Colonial countries | Political systems
Diplomacy | Foreign relations | International relations
Hindus | Religious groups
International tensions | International conflicts
Interviews | Field work | Research work
Magnetic tape recordings | Sound recordings | Recordings
Moslems | Religious groups
Nation building | Nations | Social systems
Newly independent states | Political systems
Oral history | Historical methods | History
Peacemaking | Peace
Politicians | Political leadership | Internal politics
Politics | Political science
Programme content | Broadcasting programmes | Broadcasting
Radio programmes | Radio | Broadcasting
Refugees | Migrants
Sikhs | Religious groups
Women | Sex | Sex distribution
Womens status | Womens rights | Rights of special groups

Personal names
Gandhi | Mohandas Karamchand | 1869-1948 | Indian Nationalist Leader
Jinnah | Muhammed Ali | 1876-1948 | Muslim politician and founder of Pakistan
Whitehead | Andrew | fl 1997-2000 | broadcaster

Corporate names
British Broadcasting Corporation | World Service
Muslim League

Bangladesh | South Asia
Calcutta | West Bengal | India | South Asia
Karachi | Pakistan | South Asia
Kashmir | South Asia
Lucknow | Uttar Pradesh | India | South Asia
Mahmudabad | Uttar Pradesh | India | South Asia
Punjab | South Asia