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ON AUGUST 15, 1947, the countries of India and Pakistan were formed from the partition of the British empire of India, which had formally become part of the British Empire, or Raj, in 1858, following the collapse of the Great Indian Mutiny. The empire had benefited from a period of enlightened rulers like Lord Curzon, who had permitted the development of political parties like the Indian Congress Party.

The British imperialists, unlike the Romans before them or the Soviet Russians after, always intended at one time in the future to grant independence to their colonies. The British Empire, in other words, was an imperium with a self-imposed expiration date, although affixing the exact date was something inevitably put off to the future. With this goal in ...

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