The Triumph and Tragedy of Indian Independence
Play • 35 min

When India and Pakistan gained their independence from Britain, a border was drawn between the two new countries. The split started a chain reaction of violence that led to one of the largest forced migrations in human history. More than 1 million people died in the tragedy. Both countries are now approaching 75 years of independence, and the people who were there to remember it are reaching their twilight years. This may be our last chance to hear directly from the eyewitnesses who lived through the victory of independence and the subsequent tragedy of partition.

National Geographic Explorer Sparsh Ahuja has been documenting the stories of people who were forced from their homes during partition and is bringing them back to their ancestral home—if not in person then through virtual reality. 

For more information on this episode, visit

Want more?

To learn more about Sparsh Ahuja’s work and to hear more interviews with survivors of partition, take a look at the website for Project Dastaan.

The end of British colonial rule birthed two sovereign nations—but hastily drawn borders caused simmering tensions to boil over. Read about how 75 years later, memories of partition still haunt survivors, and see on a map where those borders were drawn.

Also explore:

India struggled under British rule for more than 200 years, not always peacefully. Read about India’s first war of independence and the Indian rani (queen) at the center of it all.

You’ve probably heard of Mahatma Gandhi, the nonviolent leader of the Indian independence movement, but how much do you know about him? We’ve put together an explainer about his life and ideas.

If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to to subscribe today.

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

More episodes
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu