What partition means to young British Indians and British Pakistanis today

ITV News Central reporter Lucy Kapasi met some young British Asians to discuss what partition means to them, 75 years on

It is 75 years since British colonial rule in India came to an end.

The subcontinent was split in two in what's known as Partition. On 14 August, Pakistan marks its Independence day followed by India doing the same the day after, on 15 August.

With partition came widespread violence and the mass migration of millions of people.

But how significant is what happened in 1947 to young British Asians today?

A group of British Indians and British Pakistanis in their teens and 20s have been speaking to Lucy Kapasi in Birmingham about what their grandparents went through and their lives today.

The Indian subcontinent was partitioned as part of Independence from British rule, into two newly formed nations, India and Pakistan.

"What does being Indian or Pakistani mean to you as a British Asian?

Avi Sharma, a British Indian banker and entrepreneur said: "For me being British Indian, it can be split into the tangible and the intangible.

"So for me taking things like bhangra, food, music, a light smack from my Dad when i was being naughty. It's the intangible things like having a culture of generosity and warmth."

Saba Hussain, a British Pakistani, from Walsall agreed: "It's about respect, as Avi said, any guest that comes to your house, you treat them with respect."

Akshaya Rajangam, a junior doctor from Leicester, said: "I don't associate with the term Asian and neither do my friends.

"We call ourselves British Indian and use the term Hindu, a geographical and cultural identity."

Akshaya Rajangam, Hari Sharma and his brother Ari explain what being British Indian means to them

While Hari Sharma, Avi's brother, who has just finished his 'A' levels, explained: "For me it means sort of having a balance in my life, a very fortunate balance to have, two sides of our character that we can intertwine whenever we wish."

Halima Hussain Saba's sister said:"Obviously, I'm proud to be British Pakistani and as Hari said there are two sides to it.

"We're both Punjabi and we can relate even though we're from different countries. Obviously once they were the same and that to me is really special."

Maria Hussain, sister to Halima and Saba, spoke of how proud she is of her Punjabi culture. "I'm proud of being Pakistani but I'm more proud of being Punjabi, I like telling people I'm Punjabi."

"Where did you learn about partition and independence from?"

For the Hussain sisters it was their mother who told them about their history. "Our mother told us the whole story, the Pakistan split with India."

Hari said: "Our mum always found it necessary for us to go to classes growing up and that's where we learned about Indian history."

The Hussain sisters say they are proud of their Pakistani Punjabi heritage, a region that was split in two during partition

Avi added: "Being honest both our parents were born here in the UK and our grandparents were the ones who migrated from India shortly after independence.

"They came here in 1952, five years later, imagine migrating to a new country, being dirt poor, just trying to hustle."

"Did your grandmother talk you about the difficult parts of it?"

Avi explained: "Yes. It was quite dangerous for them, especially where the border was, if you were a Hindu woman you wouldn't wear your Bindi so you could hide your identity"

Akshaya said: "People find it very difficult to talk about partition. It was a deeply tragic moment for people living on both sides. 

"I have a friend whose 80-year-old grandmother broke down re-narrating the story after 50 years.

"The majority of India whether it be Hindus or Muslims didn't want partition and to see our country being divided so brutally is a tragedy. Even thought we were not part of that it's rooted within us."

How will you be marking independence?

Halima said: '"I feel quite proud we've got independence. We'll be dressing up eating traditional foods, going, dancing, brings us all together."

Akshaya said:"I'm looking forward to the celebrations but will also take time to reflect was a tragic sad part of our history."

Hari had a different opinion. He said: "75 years is a very long time where it's no longer time to reflect. We've so embraced modern day British Indian culture remembering the atrocities is not the best way to move on."

Avi said: "We were on the border where there was the most fighting and now we can say we're close again."

Akshaya concluded: "At the end of the day we're all genetically related and pretty much the same. And I'm quite grateful for that actually that we have this 7,000 year civilisation that binds us."