In October 1943, Lord Mountbatten became the supreme allied commander, South East Asia Command (SEAC), a position he held until 1946. He achieved the defeat of the Japanese offensive towards India and the reconquest of Burma. In September 1945, he received the Japanese surrender at Singapore. In 1947, Mountbatten was appointed as the Viceroy of India. He mainly administered the British withdrawal from India with minimal reputation damage and the transition from British India to independent states of India and Pakistan.
Mountbatten was fond of Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru and his liberal outlook for the country. Though Mountbatten emphasized on the united, independent India, he could not influence Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who demanded a separate Muslim state of Pakistan, despite being aware of the difficulties that would arise while meeting the demands. Unable to sway away Jinnah from his modus operandi of a separate Muslim state, Mountbatten adapted himself to the changing situation and concluded that his vision for a united India was an unachievable dream. He then resigned himself to a plan for partition, creating the independent nations of India and Pakistan.
He worked towards setting a fixed date for the transfer of power from British India to the Indians. At the stroke of midnight on August 14-15, 1947, India and Pakistan attained independence. Mountbatten served as the country’s first Governor General for ten months until June 1948.
Mountbatten also developed a strong relationship with the Indian princes, who ruled those portions of India not directly under British rule. His intervention was decisive in persuading the vast majority of them to see advantages in opting to join the Indian Union. Thus the integration of the princely states can be viewed as one of the positive aspects of his legacy.
In 1953, Mountbatten returned to the Royal Navy, becoming commander of a new NATO Mediterranean command. Finally, he retired from the navy in 1965 as a Chief of the defence staff. In 1979, Mountbatten was murdered when IRA terrorists blew up his boat off the coast of County Sligo, Ireland.
2 thoughts on “This Day in History (20-Feb-1947) – Lord Mountbatten appointed as last viceroy of India”
Sardar Patel’s contribution towards the integration of princely states is also worth mentioning here. Without that we would have a number of pockets of foreign land within the country itself.
Well said Somali.