Lands of Belonging: A History of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain

Lands of Belonging: A History of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain

By Author / Illustrator

Donna Amey Bhatt, Vikesh Amey Bhatt, Salini Perera


Non Fiction

Age range(s)



Nosy Crow Ltd








Publishing for the 75th anniversary of the Partition of India in August 2022, this book is a unique exploration of the rich and complicated history of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Britain.

There are many ways of telling the same story, and how you tell it depends on your point of view. Some stories are so complicated, or difficult to explain, that they're not often told at all. Like the story of how a company ended up running a country, or how one man drawing a line on a map could change the lives of millions of people forever. 

This book aims to piece together the interesting, surprising, and sometimes very sad story of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Britain, and how these countries have shaped one another over the centuries. From exploring the vast empires and amazing inventions of ancient India, to revealing the challenges faced by South Asian migrants to Britain - or celebrating the amazing culture, innovations, inventions, and achievements of British people of South Asian heritage today - this book shows how the past, present and future of these four countries will always be intertwined.

Written by Donna and Vikesh Amey Bhatt who were inspired to write this book for their two young sons, with consultancy by Rajbir Hazelwood, historian of South Asia and Modern Britain, Lands of Belonging includes an exploration of the impact of British rule over India (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were all one country at the time), from the foundation of the East India Company to India's involvement in supporting Britain during both World Wars, to India's fight for independence and the British government's decision to Partition the country, resulting in the largest migration of people in history.



Publishing for the 75th anniversary of the partition of India (15th August 1947), Lands of Belonging is a unique and balanced exploration of the complex history of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain. This is a much needed addition to school bookshelves for many reasons.

The book starts by exploring some fundamental questions about what it means to belong, what makes you, you, and how you define where you are from, challenging the reader to pause and think before reading, using one of the author's personal history as a relatable example. It challenges historical recording, bias and viewpoint, reminding the reader to consider what has been written about the past in the light of who it was written by.

Beautifully illustrated pages explore the history and inventions of ancient India (the book explains that when referring to India before 1947 it means the lands of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), its multi-faith society and the empires it was divided into. It is a fascinating read, full of interesting details, building a picture of a vibrant, thriving land.

The book then recounts the rise of the East India Company, its role in the slave trade, its eventual rule of India and the 'Time of the British Raj'. The succinct text explains the role of significant historical figures of this time as well as giving an overview of events through the World Wars, India's independence and Radcliffe’s partition. This very complex and significant period of history is clearly explained, including the devastating human cost of these events. It continues by relating the history of migration from South Asia from the 16th-century through to the present day, with accounts of the achievements and cultural contributions to Britain of these migrants as well as considering the racism they faced and the uprisings- not 'rebellions' or 'riots'- against this treatment.

The book concludes with a section celebrating the culture, customs, language and famous peoples of South Asia. For someone brought up at a time when R J Unstead's Anglo-centric text books were still widely used in schools, this is the type of history book I always longed for and am now proud to be able to add to the school library. Attractive and informative, it is sure to inspire children to discover more about this period, perhaps by reading some of the excellent fiction available, for example, Never Forget You by Jamila Gavin, based on the life of Noor Inayat Khan, or When Secrets Set Sail by Sita Brahmachari, which draws on the experiences of cruelly abandoned ayahs. Essential reading.

64 Pages / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 7+


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