Monthly Archives: March 2020

Gandhi. bronze course lesson 3

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Gandhi. Bronze course lesson 3

Beginnings

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Gujarat in 1869. Gujarat is part of India. Gandhi was born into a Hindu family of the Vaidya caste. Gandhi’s father was the prime minister of a small princely state.

Gandhi was blessed with a prodigious intelligence and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. He had an especial flair for languages. In those days many people did not go to school at all. Gandhi went to school and unlike most Indians in those days he learnt English. He acquired absolute mastery of the language.

When Gandhi was a teenager he married. This was not uncommon at the time. He and his wife had with several children. Gandhi believed as most people did in the 19th century that men should be in charge.

It was decided that Gandhi could make the most of his extraordinary innate abilities by becoming a barrister. To that end he took ship for England. The British Empire was at the apogee of its might. Gandhi knew much of the United Kingdom from his reading. The United Kingdom was the first country to industrialise. It had so many technological inventions and scientific breakthroughs to its credit. Gandhi was in bewildered awe of the British.

Upon arrival in the United Kingdom Gandhi soon discovered that not all Britons were learned or mannerly. The Britons he had met in India were all in positions of authority. Many British people were ignoramuses and many worked in menial jobs. Gandhi realised that he spoke far better English than many native speakers of the language. He knew so so much about the UK. Yet he discovered that most Britons knew almost nothing about India. Many of them thought that Hinduism and Islam were the same thing.

M K Gandhi thought that the British had some special power. How was it that a small number of people from two rainy islands could rule a third of the world? He had been brought up to believe that drinking alcohol and eating beef were the depth of immorality. Yet the British did both. Gandhi wore British clothes and learnt to dance in the British style.

Gandhi did well and passed his law exams. He was called to the bar. This meant he was a barrister. He would be able to practise law in India. He sailed back to India.

  1. In which year was Gandhi born?
  2. In which Indian state was Gandhi born?
  3. What faith was he brought up in?
  4. What was his profession?
  5. Was he married?
  6. What surprised him about the UK? Five marks

South Africa

He later moved to South Africa and set up a legal practice there. There was a small Indian community there. The black tribes were the majority of 70% of the people there. There was a large white minority comprising 25% of the population. His legal practice prospered.

Gandhi was appalled at the racial discrimination directed against Indians by the South African Government. He was an affluent man and bought a first class rail ticket. He sat in the first class carriage. The ticket inspector came along and demanded that Gandhi move to the third class carriage. Gandhi produced his ticket. The ticket inspector was adamant that no Indian was allowed to travel first class even if he had a first class ticket. Gandhi refused to budge. He was thrown off the train at the next station. It was a rude awakening for him. He had believed in British justice.

Every white man had the vote but Indians and black men generally did not. The law required every Indian to be fingerprinted in case he committed a crime. Whites and black people were not fingerprinted. Why were Indians singled out for this? If every person had his fingerprints taken by the police it could help reduce crime. But to do it to one race only was unfair. Gandhi led a campaign of protest. He was arrested and flung into prison.

Gandhi’s exploits in South Africa garnered press coverage. His tireless advocacy of Indian rights was prominently reported in India. After some years he returned to India. He disembarked at Bombay (Mumbai). A large crowd hailed him. He was perceived as an indomitable campaigner for justice. Gandhi threw himself into the the work of the Congress Party.

  1. Which African country did he move to?
  2. What happened to him on a train? 
  3. What was Gandhi’s reputation in India as a result of his South African period?

Back in India

Some of the higher castes discriminated against the lower castes. Gandhi was disgusted by such behaviour. He lamented that caste discrimination was worse than the way that the British treated Indians. He had an abiding hatred for injustice. Some people called the lowest caste ‘untouchables’. Gandhi called them ‘children of God.’ Gandhi was a strictly observant Hindu but he believed that the caste system had no place in Hinduism.

Despite his fervent Hindu faith Gandhi revered other religions. He read the Bible and Koran. He often quoted his favourite passages of these scriptures. His favourite him was a Christian one entitled ‘Abide with me’. Gandhi preached unity between Indians of all religions.

The First World War broke out. The impulse of Gandhi’s heart was pacifism. However, he thought that being part of the British Empire was beneficial for India. Therefore he argued that Indians should serve in the defence of the same. He urged Indians to volunteer for the military. As the war went on Congress asked the British to give India dominion status. London demurred.

After the war major reform was not forthcoming. The viceroy announced the Rowlatt Act. This law abrogated civil liberty. Gandhi and Congress were enraged. They vigorously protested. The government outlawed these demonstrations but they continued all the same.

  1. What did Gandhi think of caste discrimination?
  2. Did Gandhi dislike other religions? 
  3. What was his attitude to the First World War?
  4. What was his attitude to the Rowlatt Act?

Amritsar and afterwards

In 1919 a British officer ordered his men to shoot hundreds of unarmed Indians. The Amritsar Massacre shook Gandhi to the core. He had believed that the British were in India for the upliftment of India. But he came to believe that the British were in India only for their own enrichment.

Gandhi and other Congress leaders started to reject British projects. They burnt their British clothes and announced they would buy no more British manufactures.  They would hit the British where it hurt: in the wallet. After more forbidden protests were arrested. He spent much of the 1920s and 1930s in and out prison. He had been a rich man. But he rejected opulence and even when free chose to live austerely. He chose to mingle with the penniless. M K Gandhi was noted for his compassion for those who were poverty stricken.

When Gandhi was in prison he said he was on ‘a fast unto death’. He would refuse to eat until he died. However, after a few weeks he always started eating again. The British sneered at this. If Gandhi really wanted to starve himself to death why did he not do so? He always gave up his fast.

Some Indians said that India was oppressed and must fight for independence. They argued that India had been taken by the gun and could be retaken by the gun. Neither logic nor history suggested any other course. Gandhi rejected the use of force.

M K Gandhi asked why it was that London permitted other countries to be dominions. Southern Ireland, Canada and Australia were allowed parliaments. Why not India? It seemed to be colour prejudice. The UK said it stood for freedom yet was denying freedom to India. The British demanded democracy for whites but oppression for non-whites. The British said that the Indians were unfit for self-governance. This was absurd. India had governed itself for over 4 500 years of recorded history. The Indians had had writing for 2 500 years longer than the British. The British only got writing from the Romans. The British claimed that they knew how to govern India best. Gandhi believed that surely Indians knew more about India than any foreigner. The British said that only they would adjudicate fairly between Muslims and Hindus. Gandhi believed that communal asperities in India were carefully fostered by the British. The British authorities did not want Indians to make common cause against them. Therefore they were devilishly cunning in fanning hatred between Indians of different religions. But still plenty of Hindus and Muslims got along well despite this. There were eminent members of Congress who were Muslims.

Gandhi protested against a tax on salt. He marched to the sea with hundreds of acolytes to evaporate and get some salt. This was a technical breach of the law. The Salt March gained media attention from around the world. His exploits were reported in the United States and UK.

  1. Which party was Gandhi in?
  2. How did he change his wardrobe in the 1920s?
  3. Did Gandhi believe in using violence?
  4. What did Gandhi believe cause inter-commmunal tension in India?
  5. What did Gandhi do about the Salt Tax? 

How do they rule?

In the First World War there had been only 40 000 British soldiers in India which had a population of over 250 000 000. How was it the British could control India which such a tiny number of soldiers? The British soldiers were armed. But even if Indians were fighting with their bare hands they would have defeated the British whom they outnumbered so heavily. But there were plenty of Indians who were armed. The Indian Army had well over 1 000 000 men in India. If they had turned their guns on the British then the British Raj would be over in one day. The princely states had armies totaling hundreds of thousands of men. Then there was the Indian Police whose men were usually armed. India could end British rule in an instant even without force. If civil servants and railwaymen simply went on strike then the Raj would be paralysed. But people obeyed. Gandhi lamented that several million Indians actively supported the British Raj. He said, ”the British are here not because of their strength but because we keep them here.”

In India there were almost 600 princely states. These states were ruled by hereditary rulers. These princes were ardently pro-British. The British authorities always made a fuss over the princes. These princes were made to feel valued. They often ruled as despots. Gandhi thought that the British were fiendishly clever in using the princes as puppets. Gandhi looked down on them for collaborating with the British in return for effusive flattery.

  1. What was surprising about the size of the British Army in India? 
  2. Did princely states have armies?
  3. Did Gandhi respect the princes?

Communalism 

In the 1930s Gandhi was perturbed by the rise of a political party called the Muslim League. It was led by a barrister named Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Jinnah was a man who liked the finer things in life. He did not mix with the poor like Gandhi and instead Jinnah lived in the lap of luxury. Jinnah also wore costly Western suits and shunned traditional Indian raiment. Gandhi’s conspicuous Hinduism made some Muslims fear that an independent India would discriminate against them.

An organisation called the Hindu Mahasabha  (”Great Union”) was founded. The Hindu Mahasabha was not pressing for independence but said that if it came India must be an avowedly Hindu country. They noted that the Muslims, Sikhs and Christians in India were mostly of Hindu descent. They said these people should be reconverted to Hinduism. This was grist to the mill for the Muslim League. The Muslim League said that in an independent India Muslims would be deprived of their rights. They wanted a separate homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent.

In 1930 Gandhi returned to the UK for a Round Table Conference on India’s future. He was warmly greeted by the crowds. He visited Eton and Oxford University. The conference did not come up with a solution.

Gandhi was upset by the persecution of Jews in Germany. He wrote the the German President Hitler asking him to desist from mistreating Jewish people. Some people felt that Gandhi was foolish to write politely to such a cruel tyrant.

By the late 1930s Gandhi had stepped back from front line politics. Nehru had become the leader of Congress. Gandhi seemed more focused on spirituality than winning power. His views became increasingly eccentric. He rejected Western medicine and said that no one should get an injection because it was ‘violent.’

  1. What was the party for Muslims only?
  2. What did the Hindu Mahasabha want?
  3. Why did some people believe that Gandhi was foolished in the late 1930s?

The War

In 1939 the Second World War broke out. Gandhi was a pacifist and told people not to fight. When the United Kingdom was facing invasion by Germany he said that the UK should surrender to the Nazis rather than spill a drop of blood. Many people thought that Gandhi was crazy to say this.

In 1942 Congress began the Quit India Campaign. A series of protests and strikes seriously threatened the British ability to control the country. Congress was proclaimed an illegal organisation. Gandhi and others were incarcerated. The Japanese invaded India. Gandhi was well aware of the many huge scale atrocities that the Japanese had perpetrated in China. These would make the Amritsar Massacre seem minor by comparison. He was obliged to reconsidere his principled opposition to the use of force. How should the Japanese be resisted? Gandhi suggested using lathis (sticks). Even those who respected him felt he was being totally unrealistic about the need to fight properly.

The war ended in 1945 and Gandhi was set at liberty. He was dead against the idea of partitioning India. Congress reluctantly agreed to the Partition of India. The Muslim League was jubilant. Gandhi was bitterly disappointed that India was going to be divided.

In August 1947 India was partitioned. A new nation called Pakistan was born. There were was a huge outbreak of communal violence. Gandhi begged for peace between people of different religions.

  1. What was Gandhi’s attitude to the war?
  2. What happened to Gandhi in 1942?
  3. What did he say should be done about the Japanese?
  4. Did Gandhi like Partition?

After Partition

In January 1948 Gandhi changed his tune about Pakistan. He had not wanted the country to be created. However, he decided to accept Pakistan. He announced that he planned to go on a visit to Pakistan to achieve rapprochement between the two countries.

Some Hindu fanatics were irate that Gandhi had accepted the existence of Pakistan. To them Pakistan was an illegitimate country. Its soil belonged to India. Hindus had lived in that land since time immemorial. They decided that Gandhi must die for preaching reconciliation with Muslims.

One evening Gandhi went to Birla House, Delhi to lead evening prayers. A member of the Hindu Mahasabha named Nathuram Godse stepped out of the crowd and shot Gandhi. Gandhi uttered ‘hai ram’ before falling dead.

The shockwaves reverberated across the world. The apostle of peace had been felled by an assassin’s bullet. All India Radio announced the killing of Gandhi. People were worried that if the assassin was a Muslim then some people would attack every Muslim they could find. The radio emphasised that the killer was a Hindu.

The next day Gandhi’s body bedecked in flowers was borne on a gun carriage through the streets of Delhi past hundreds of thousands of mourners. Lord Mountbatten, Nehru and others sat in the front row at the funeral service as prayers were chanted around Gandhi’s corpse. Then the sandalwood was lit by his son. Gandhi was cremated. His ashes were scattered on the river.

Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte were arrested at the scene. Apte had been present when Godse had bought a gun for the purpose of assassinating Gandhi. They were both charged with murder. Several of their confederates were charged with lesser crimes.

In line with Gandhian principles his sons appealed for the life of Nathuram Godse. Nonetheless Godse was sentenced to death and hanged.

Gandhi is world famous. He was a man of unexampled probity and moral courage. His sayings are often quoted. A 1981 film about him was made entitled ‘Gandhi’. He is known as Gandhiji. The suffix ‘ji’ is honorific. Many called him Mahatma meaning ‘Great Souled’.

  1. How did Gandhi change his mind about Pakistan?
  2. Where in Delhi was Gandhi on his last evening?
  3. Who killed Gandhi?
  4. What were Gandhi’s last words?
  5. In which year did Gandhi die?

Trump increase coronavirus by 10 000 ==================

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corona hoax.  campaign afraid of corona – not because it will kill people but it will hrt his campaign

granularity. surrounded by sychophants and yes me.

cease and desist.

refused to prepare. ventilators. pandemic plan. pandemic unit. health warnings

military doctors and nurses.

hoax . what I meant to say. lilke about Putin;s interference

a joke. like if you are listening hack hillary. no one laughed. Obama and Hillary founded ISIS.

trump has lost his reason

prima facie case fror him being diagnosed not compos mentis. why else undergo such asn evaluation in 2018?

trump being trump i.e. senile. trump now. in the past was in control of himself.

his mental incapacity is a danger of the first importance.

lack of self restraint. absence of objectivity

no purcahse on reality. corona was going to be close to zero by 12 march

incessant bigging himself up. demeaning others. ficated with ratings

people watch press conferences for info. not for fun. they are home.

”nasty question”, ”little wise guy” – i.e. a journalist worth his salt.

he will not answer challening questions, not tough.

every country has

warnings. modelling

”got it under control” so he spread it then?

if this is in control what is out of control.

caprice and his infantile conduct. wilfully inciting violence at his rallies.

enemies of the people. fake news media. wishes to aggress others.

disregard for science

dishonesty.

reveneful. nurses a grudge. when he says he hates you he is a man of his word.

does not take responsibiluty . what is president for? what is federal government for?

aid to states where governor brown noses. florida. 200% of aid requested.. electoral considerations.

not just polemic . outright lying. chinese deliberately caused coronavirus

more deaths than 9.11

george W Bush. imagine if he knew time place, names, etc…. and did nothing

criminal negligence. complicity.

 

Jawaharlal Nehru

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Jawaharlal Nehru

Background

Nehru was born at Allahabad, India in 1889. His family were Hindus who had come from Kashmir a long time before. The family was of the Brahmin caste. The family had lived in Delhi beside a canal or ‘nehar’ in the local language. The surname ‘Nehru’ is derived from ‘nehar’. Nehru’s father was Motilal Nehru. Motilal was a barrister (lawyer) and one of the most successful at his profession in India. The family was wealthy. Nehru was highly unusual in 19th century India in that he was taught English. He had absolute mastery of the language.

Motilal wanted the absolute best for his only son. He sent his son to Harrow School. Harrow was one of the finest schools in the British Empire. Nehru enrolled there at the unusually late age of 15. Nehru was scholastically gifted. He learnt Latin and Greek. Later he learnt some French and Italian. The headmaster said that Nehru was always well behaved. The boy was a fairly good cricketer too. He was the only Indian boy out of 500 pupils. He was never racially bullied. Nehru served in the Officer Training Corps which was a military training unit in the school.

The boys at Harrow had trouble with the name Jawaharlal so they called him ‘Joe.’ Many Harrovians were staggeringly ignorant about India.

Jawaharlal Nehru was fascinated by politics. He took a lively interest in the Liberal Government that was elected in the UK in a landslide win. He had been brought up to hold the British in the highest possible regard. The United Kingdom was the world hyperpower. He had been led to believe that British rule was beneficent. It seemed that the UK would rule India for centuries to come.

It seemed that Europeans always defeated Asians. But in 1905 the Japanese beat the Russians. Nehru found this deeply gratifying.

Sciences were his first love. But he read about history too. He saw how Britain had not always been top nation. He noted that long before India had been more scientifically advanced than the UK. The British had learnt a lot from the Indians such as the concept of zero and what shampoo was. He observed an ugly streak of contempt that many Britons felt towards India.

 

  1. When was Nehru born?
  2. Which city was his birthplace?
  3. What was his faith?
  4. Which school did he attend?
  5. Was he troublesome?

University

At the age of 17 Nehru left Harrow and went to Cambridge University. He was so smart that he was a year younger than most other undergraduates. He entered Trinity College which was widely regarded as the most magnificent college in Cambridge. His subject was Natural Sciences.

At Cambridge there was a society for Indian undergraduates. It was called the Majilis. They students discussed Indian affairs once a week. If at the end of term any member of the Majilis had never said anything in a discussion then he had to pay a fine. Nehru was a reflective and retiring type. He regularly paid that fine because he was so diffident.

Nehru traveled to Ireland. The whole of Ireland was then part of the United Kingdom. There was a Home Rule movement in Ireland. Most Irish people wanted a parliament in Dublin as well as being part of the UK. Ireland would decide some matters for itself but also have representation in London to decide affairs for the whole of the UK. Nehru thought this was a reasonable proposal. But the UK Government would not agree.

After Cambridge Nehru moved to London. There he studied law.  Nehru lived in opulence. He went to the theatre and drank champagne. He qualified as a barrister. His parents had been writing to him asking him to agree to marry a young lady. They sent him photos of the bride they had in mind. Nehru was not keen on the idea. Eventually his parents browbeat him into accepting their choice.

 

  1. Which university did he attend?
  2. What profession did he join?
  3. Did he agree to marry?

 

Return to his homeland

AT the age of 22 Nehru sailed back to India. He quickly married Kamala who was the woman his parents had picked for him. He began his legal career. He was soon commanding huge fees as a barrister. Nehru joined Congress: a political organisation of Indians who were asking the British to improve their governance of India. Congress was a small group of highly educated upper middle class anglophile gentlemen. Nehru met another barrister named Gandhi. Nehru got along well with the Gujarati. Nehru was not religious. Gandhi by contrast was a strict Hindu but saw good in all faiths.

In India in the 1910s almost no one had a car. Motilal was so rich that he had three.

In 1914 the First World War began. Congress threw itself into pro-war activism. Nehru was more sceptical. The British cause was not as morally pure as London liked to claim. He noted that the British Government told lies to justify itself.

As the war progressed Nehru and other prominent Congress members kept pressing the British authorities to agree to sweeping reforms in India after the war. Congress wanted India to be a dominion of the British Empire like New Zealand or Canada. But the British would not give a clear answer to this request. Nehru believed that being part of the British Empire was desirable. He also thought that India should have its own prime minister and parliament.

In 1917 his daughter Indira Priyadarshini was born. Her middle name means ‘dear to the sight’.

 

  1. Which party did he join?
  2. What did he think about the First World War?
  3. What was his father’s name?
  4. What was his daughter called?
  5. What is a dominion?

Demanding reform

In 1918 the war ended. Congress expected payback from the British. Millions of Indians had volunteered for the Indian Army to fight for the empire. 100 000 Indians had laid down their lives for the Emperor of India. Where were the major reforms? The UK was willing to offer very little. Instead repressive legislation was introduced. Many Indians were incensed. Large scale protests erupted across India. People objected to the Rowlatt Act.

In April 1919 a British officer called Dyer ordered his men to open fire on an unarmed crowd at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. Hundreds of people were killed. Dyer was totally unrepentant about this. The UK Government did not apologise.

Nehru and others were horrified by the Amritsar Massacre. He was beginning to think all this British talk of being fair was nonsense. Until that time he had adopted British tailoring, mannerisms and attitudes. Like most other Congress leaders he decided to reject all this. Nehru publicly burnt his expensive British clothes. Instead he wore Indian made khadi cloth. Nehru and his comrades decided that they would not buy British manufactured goods anymore. Congress was no longer a small clique of intellectuals. It was turning itself into a mass movement. Ordinary people without much of an education were welcomed into its ranks. Nehru wanted Congress to be the party of the common man.

The British said they were in India for the good of the Indians. Nehru scoffed at this. The British explained that they needed to keep the peace between Muslims and Hindus. Nehru believed that the British were playing divide and rule. It was their strategy to set Muslims and Hindus in deadly hate against one another. The trouble was that this strategy was semi-successful. A party called the Muslim League had been set up with British blessing. This group opposed Congress. The Indian independence movement was weakened because Indians were not united.

 

  1. How did Nehru start to dress in the 1920s?
  2. Why was he disappointed by the UK after the First World War?
  3.  Did he wanted Muslims and Hindus to join together?

Prison time

 

Congress held many protests even when these were illegal. Nehru was arrested for the first time in his life. He refused to pay a fine imposed for his protest. He was sent to prison. From the 1920s to the 1940s he was in and out of prison many times. The police came to his house and confiscated his furniture and other movables to pay some of the fines. When he was arrested by British officials he noticed that they could not help but respect him on account of his first class education.

Whilst Nehru was incarcerated this afforded him ample opportunity to study. He read endlessly. He wrote his Autobiography. Nehru also wrote a book entitled ‘Glimpses of World History.’ This was a history of the world dedicated to his daughter. He wrote it chapter by chapter in letters to Indira. He also wrote The Discovery of India about the many fascinating and magnificent places in his homeland. Nehru reflected that one can tell a great deal about a people by the beast it chooses as its symbol. He said that the Hindus are peaceable so they chose a cow. The British are pugnacious so they chose a lion.

Some Indians said moral force against the British Raj was not enough. Physical force must be used. Nehru disagreed.

By this time Motilal Nehru was leader of the Congress Party. After a few years he stood down as he was in failing health.

Nehru’s wife gave birth to a son in the 1920s. But the infant died after a few days. After that Nehru’s wife grew ill. She soon died. Nehru never rewed.

 

  1. Did Nehru go to prison?
  2. When he refused to pay fines what did the police do to his possessions?
  3. Name one book that he wrote.

Worldview

Nehru was scintillated by world affairs. He was attracted to socialism. He believed there must be extensive public ownership and government action to combat poverty. Nehru stopped short of communism. He saw how communists could be very oppressive. He traveled to various countries. In Spain’s civil war he supported the Republican side.

In the 1930s fascist regimes were on the march in Germany under Hitler and in Italy under Mussolini. Nehru regarded this as a particularly pernicious form of racism. He had once admired Japan as the most progressive Asian country. He was horrified when the Japanese launched an unprovoked invasion of China in 1931.

In the 1930s Motilal died. He was cremated. Gandhi was more interested in spirituality than practical politics. Nehru became leader of Congress.

In 1935 the UK finally made some significant reforms. But it stopped short of dominion status. Congress dialed down their protests. They decided to give the new system a chance. They stood for election to provincial legislatures. Congress won most seats. India entered a period of calm.

The Labour Party in the UK had become sympathetic to Congress. But the Conservatives were in government in the UK.

 

  1. Was Nehru a communist?
  2. What did he think of fascism?
  3. Why was he disappointed by Japan?
  4. Why did India become calmer in the late 1930s?

Wartime

In 1939 the Second World War began. Nehru approved of the British standing up to fascism but he was offended that the UK had simply declared that India was at war against Germany without seeking India approval. But Nehru saw an opportunity. He made the British an offer. If they would grant independence instantly then independent India would declare war on Germany. The British spurned his offer.

As the British had not been reasonable Congress decided not to co-operate. In October 1939 they resigned from the provincial governments that they were running.

Congress began a campaign called Quit India. They organised strikes and protests. In 1942 the British Raj outlawed Congress. Habeas corpus was suspended. Nehru and his confreres were locked up.

In 1945 the Japanese were beaten back from the borders of India. Congress was un-banned. Nehru and his colleagues were set free.

 

  1. What offer did Nehru make in 1939?
  2. What was Congress’s campaign in the early 1940s?
  3. What happened to Nehru 1942-45?

Independence

The war ended in 1945. The UK had repeatedly promised that within 3 years of the defeat of Japan they would give India independence. There was a new government in London headed by the Labour Party. Nehru had a good working relationship with them.

Congress were put in charge of most provincial governments. There was a coalition government for the whole of India. Congress had a major role in this. A new viceroy arrived in Delhi. He was Lord Mountbatten. Nehru had an excellent rapport with Lord and Lady Mountbatten.

The sticking point was the Muslim League. They demanded the Partition of India. They wanted a new country for Muslims to be created called Pakistan. Nehru thought it was a terrible idea. Congress was open to Indians of all religions and had Muslim members. He wanted Hindus, Muslims and everyone else to live in brotherhood. But the Muslim League was having none of it. It was led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He was a thin faced, desiccated man of absolute resolve. He was not even a practicing Muslim but was adamant that he must have Pakistan.

As the Muslim League could not be shifted Nehru and Congress agreed to the Partition of India despite being distraught about it. Lord Mountbatten decided that independence would come in August 1947.

On 14 August Pakistan was created. The following day India became independent. Nehru was prime minister. Lord Mountbatten became governor-general. There was a possibility of Lord Mountbatten staying in this post for several years. However, his lordship felt it appropos that an Indian fill this post. He retired after one year. Mountbatten was replaced by C Rajagopalachari.

There was a brief war against Pakistan over Kashmir. It is an issue which suppurates to this day.

  1. In which year did India become independent?
  2. Who led the Muslim League?
  3. What country was created by taking land from India in 1947?
  4. Who was the last viceroy?

 

A republic

In 1950 India became the Republic of India. It severed its links with the British monarchy.

Although India was not a dominion it chose to remain within the Commonwealth of Nations. This is an organisation for former British colonies. A former colony can choose to join the Commonwealth or not. Nehru led India into the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth was then thought to be important.

The Congress Party reigned supreme. The country was democratic and other parties were allowed. Nehru granted the vote to every man and every woman. Under the British only rich men were allowed to vote.

India faced many severe problems. Many people lived in abject penury. The Second World War and the Partition of India had caused much damage. There were millions of Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan to be cared for. They had fled Pakistan because they were in fear of their lives.

In 1953 Nehru visited the UK. The Prime Minister of India attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth despite India not being one of her realms. He was honoured by being given ‘the Freedom of the City of London.’

Nehru’s daughter Indira entered politics. She rose up the ranks. Indira married Ferozevarun Gandhi therefore she became Indira Gandhi. Mrs Gandhi’s husband was not related to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

  1. Does the British monarch have any role in India now?
  2. Is India in the Commonwealth?
  3. How did Nehru make India more democratic?
  4. What problems did India face in the late 1940s?

 

The Cold War had begun. The United States was squaring off against the Soviet Union. India chose to be neutral. Nehru set up the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Nehru met Tito of Yugoslavia and Nasser of Egypt through the NAM.

The provinces of India were renamed ‘states’. The states were reorganised. New states were created for different language groups.

Prime Minister Nehru persuaded the French to hand over Pondicherry. Pondicherry was French territory on the coast of India.

Goa, Diu and Daman were Portuguese ruled. India asked for these lands back. Portugal refused to do so saying that the people of these areas were Portuguese. There was Portuguese land in Africa as well as the Far East. Portugal’s was of colour blindness. A person whatever his skin colour was Portuguese. The ethnic Indians of Goa were Portuguese citizens and had been so for centuries. India had the UN vote that Portugal ought to hand over this land to India. Nonetheless Lisbon set its face against doing so. As Portugual was not amenable to gentle persuasion Nehru felt that force had to be used. The Indian Army invaded the Portuguese territories and defeated the Portuguese in short order.

Nehru was not a communist but he was not hostile to communism. He strove to build a cordial relationship with communist China. Nevertheless China launched an unprovoked attack on India in 1962. India was defeated. People rounded on Nehru for his naivete in trusting the Chinese.

By the 1960s Nehru was in failing health. He died in 1964. The room where he died is open to the public. He requested that his mortal remains be cremated and his ashes scattered on the river at his birthplace. His wish was granted.

Nehru remains one of the most remarkable statesmen of all time. He inspired admiration even among his enemies. He was a man of the most unimpeachable integrity.

  1. Which country invaded India in 1962?
  2. In which year did he die?
  3. What movement did Nehru found for neutral countries?
  4. What were Nehru’s strengths and achievements? Ten marks. 

=======================

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Partition of India

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THE PARTITION OF INDIA

Aftermath of the war

In 1945 Indians said that independence was their right. Independence was not the UK’s either to give or to withhold. Other Europeans did not agree. In Indonesia the Dutch were battling to re-establish control over their colony. In Vietnam the French were fighting to retain control of the country. The UK was unique in accepting independence for India.

The viceroy was Lord Wavell. Wavell held various conference at Simla with Congress, the Muslim League and other political groups. He essayed to talk Jinnah out of the idea of creating a new country called Pakistan. Could the Muslim majority provinces receive considerable autonomy? This would be a half-way house to independence for them? No, Jinnah was adamant. He wanted India partitioned. Congress simply hated the idea and were determined to preserve the unity of India.

The Muslim League started to call itself ‘the Pakistan Movement.’ They had invented a name for the country they intended to found: Pakistan.

The Muslim League held a Direct Action Day in 1946. This meant attacks on Hindus and Sikhs. Thousands of people were killed. There were large scale protests and great unrest. At Mumbai (then called Bombay) there was a mutiny in the Royal Indian Navy. The mutiny spread to Karachi. The British were chary about putting it down. They asked Congress and the Muslim League to intercede. The politicians parleyed with the mutineers and inveigled them into laying down their arms, returning to duty or in some cases simply resigning from the navy. Neither Congress nor the Muslim League wanted to take over a country where the navy was not obedient to the government. The politicians explained to the mutineers that there was no need for a mutiny. Independence was around the corner: that was guaranteed. The British were worried that law and order was close to collapse.

 

  1. What name did the Muslim League have for their new country?
  2. Who was the viceroy in 1946?
  3. What happened in the Royal Indian Navy in 1946?
  4. Did Congress like the idea of Partition?
  5. Which two Asian countries saw people fighting against colonialism at this time?
  6. Why did Congress oppose the naval mutiny?

A new viceroy

 

In March 1947 Wavell retired to the UK. He was replaced by Lord Mountbatten. Lord Mountbatten was King George VI’s second cousin. Mountbatten had visited India several times. Unlike most men of his background he had a high opinion of Congress. He and his wife had a very cordial relationship with Nehru who was leader of Congress.

The one thing that everyone agreed about is that independence must come as soon as possible. What Mountbatten did not know was Jinnah had a closely guarded secret. Jinnah knew that he was terminally ill with tuberculosis. That was why he wanted partition as soon as possible. He wanted to go down in history as a man who founded a country. Lord Mountbatten later said that had he known that Jinnah was dying then he would have stalled and stalled until Jinnah died. The Pakistan Movement was built around one man: Jinnah. Without his iron determination the Pakistan Movement would probably peter out. Lord Mountbatten thought that the idea of setting up Pakistan was daft. His attempts to dissuade Jinnah were to no avail. Jinnah only lived on for one year after the creation of Pakistan.

In the Parliament of India Congress voted to accept partition with a heavy heart. There seemed no way to avoid it. Nehru hoped that relations with the new country Pakistan would be cordial. Perhaps India and Pakistan could trade freely. Could the Pakistanis be persuaded to change their minds one day and rejoin India? That was his fondest wish.

If India was to be partitioned what about the princely states? In theory they had been independent before the establishment of the British Raj. Once the Raj was dissolved these princely states would regain their independence. The British, Congress and the Muslim League all agreed that having 600 tiny countries in the midst of India and Pakistan. Lord Mountbatten decided to convince the princes to plump for either India or Pakistan. Almost all of them agreed. There were only a few hold outs. One of those was a large state called Kashmir. The Hindu Maharajah of Kashmir ruled over a mainly Muslim populace.

 

  1. Who was viceroy after Wavell?
  2. What was the India Bill?
  3. What was the only thing all Indians agreed on about in 1947?
  4. Did Lord Mountbatten want to see India partitioned?
  5. Once the British Raj ended did all princely states automatically become part of the new India or Pakistan?
  6. What was unusual about Kashmir?

The India Act

 

In the UK the Labour Government put the India Bill before Parliament. It was a law to grant Indian independence. Labour has the majority in the House of Commons. It passed easily. But in the House of Lords the Conservatives had the majority. Churchill was no longer prime minister but he was still leader of the Conservative Party. The Lords had the right to delay the bill by two years. Time was of the essence. Everyone knew that Churchill was heartbroken at the idea of losing the empire. Lord Mountbatten persuaded Churchill to order the Conservatives in the Lords not to delay the India Bill. Churchill reluctantly agreed. The India Bill became the India Act. The viceroy was empowered to grant independence at the propitious moment.

Lord Mountbatten decided to change plan. Instead of waiting till 1948 independence should be granted much sooner: 15 August 1947. That would be two years to the day the Japanese surrendered. Everyone agreed in principle. Jinnah said Pakistan should become independent one day before India. That wish was granted.

Pakistan was to be created. But where were the borders to be? A British judge called Sir Cyril Radcliffe came out to draw the borders. Sir Cyril had never been to India before. He asked for submissions from Congress and the Muslim League. Congress wanted Pakistan to be tiny and were willing to conceded very little land. The Muslim League wanted an enormous Pakistan taking in all of Punjab and Bengal even when this meant taking in massively Hindu and Sikh areas. Radcliffe rejected both proposals and drew a map himself.

Congress had such a good relationship with Lord Mountbatten that they asked him to exchange his position as viceroy for the post of governor-general after independence. He agreed. Mountbatten offered his services to Jinnah for the fledgling Pakistan. Jinnah told him no thank you. Jinnah wanted to emphasise the separateness of Pakistan and not its links to India. Besides Jinnah wanted the top job himself: he was going to be Governor-General of Pakistan.

As India was to be divided what to do about the armed forces? Soldiers, sailors and airmen were asked to choose between the two states. This was often simply a case of religion. Every Hindu and Sikh opted for India. Muslims mostly opted for Pakistan but a few stayed with India. Christians mostly chose India. Tanks, planes, ships and artillery pieces were divided up. 70% was for India and the rest for Pakistan. The same went for all assets.

 

  1. What task was Sir Cyril Radcliffe given?
  2. What % of India’s assets stayed with India after Partition?
  3. Why was Mountbatten worried about Churchill’s dislike of Indian independence?
  4. Who was to be Governor-General of Pakistan?
  5. How were soldiers of the Indian Army divided when India was partitioned?

Independence

 

On 14 August Lord Mountbatten flew to Karachi. It was to be the capital of the new Dominion of Pakistan. He formally handed over power. There were still quite a few Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan. A lot of them detested the idea of India being partitioned. One Hindu fanatic was said to be waiting to assassinate Lord Mountbatten and Jinnah. Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten drove in an open car through the city. The streets were lined with huge crowds. In the end the would be assassin did not throw his bomb into the car. Jinnah was sworn in as Governor-General. Pakistan still recognised King George VI was head of state. He was King of Pakistan: a country he had never been to.

As the 14 August drew to a close Nehru and India’s Parliament met.  The clock struck midnight. It was 15 August: Indian Independence Day. Nehru delivered his world famous address on the radio:

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially.

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes, but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.

At dawn people poured onto the streets in celebration. Nehru was the Prime Minister. The Dominion of India was born. King George VI was head of state. He had the title King of India.

A lot of Hindus and Sikhs moved from Pakistan into India. Many Muslims moved from India to Pakistan. But half the Muslims in India stayed there. There was a lot of fighting. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed for their faith.

After one year Mountbatten retired as Governor-General. He was replaced by C Rajagopalachari. India became a republic on 26 January. That was 20 years to the day that Congress had committed to achieving total independence. 26 January is celebrated as Republic Day every year with huge military parades. India elected a president as head of state. The British monarchy no longer had any role in India.

  1. On what day did Pakistan become independent?
  2. When did India become independent?
  3. Who was the first prime minister of India?
  4. Who was the first governor-general of India?
  5. Is there a governor-general of India now?
  6. When did India become a republic?
  7. Does the British monarch have any role in India these days?
  8. What was the original capital of Pakistan?
  9. Look at Nehru’s speech at independence. Fine one sentence which seems most powerful to you and quote it.
  10. How did Congress bring about independence? (Ten marks)
  11. Was the Partition of India a mistake? (Ten marks

 

The Second World War in India

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THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN INDIA

The early stages

In 1939 the UK declared war on Germany. The Viceroy of India also declared war on Germany. The dominions of the British Empire were allowed to make their choice about whether to declare war or not. These were Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern Ireland. All except the last one declared war on Germany. The people of India were not given a choice.

The British authorities asked Indians to volunteer for the army, navy and air force. Plenty of men stepped forward. The Indian Army in the Second World War was the largest all-volunteer ever raised. However, unlike in the First World War Congress did not encourage Indians to volunteer.

Indian troops found themselves fighting in Egypt, France and other places. The Indian Army was being mechanised. Its horses would be swapped for tanks. To appease Indian opinion the UK announced that the cost of mechanisation would be borne by the British and not the Indian taxpayer.

  1. In which year did the Second World War begin?
  2. Name the dominions.
  3. Which was the largest all volunteer army of all time?
  4. Did Congress throw its weight behind the war effort?
  5. What was mechanisation of the army?

Congress v Churchill

Congress was strongly anti-fascist. It deplored the vicious racism of the Nazi Party in Germany, the Fascist Party in Italy and the militarists who were ruling Japan. But Congress said the British Raj was also racist – denying the top jobs to Indians. However, Congress said it could not support the UK in a war against fascism while the UK denied Indian independence. Congress organised protests.

In 1940 Winston Churchill became prime minister. This was bad news for Congress. Churchill was a zealous imperialist. He had lambasted any progress towards Indian independence. He said, ‘I did not become the king’s first minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.’

The Communist Party of India was a small but vociferous band. It said that there was no justification for British rule. The British Raj should be ended by force. The communists would have no truck with the British war effort. All that changed in June 1941. Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was the only communist country in the world. Indian communists said that the Soviet Union was a land of social justice and racial equality. It had to be defended against Nazism which was even more wicked than the British Raj. For the communists what was once an imperialist war suddenly became a people’s war. Communists volunteered for the Indian Army and the Royal Indian Navy. They believed it was their duty to fight fascism. They disliked the British but believed for the moment that dislike had to be set aside for the sake of the greater good.

  1. What was Churchill’s attitude to Indian independence?
  2. Why did Congress refuse to lend its support to the British war effort?
  3. Why did the communists change their attitude to the war in 1941?

Japan attacks

In December 1941 the Japanese entered the war against the British Empire.  The Japanese swiftly seized British colonies such as Hong Kong and Malaya (today called Malaysia). Thousands of Indians soldiers were captured there. In February 1942 the British Imperial forces were defeated at the Battle of Singapore. Until that moment many Indians had thought that the British were winners. But Singapore had proven that the British could be defeated. 60 000 British, Canadian, Indian and Australian soldiers surrendered to a Japanese force half their size. Churchill called it ”the greatest disaster in British military history.”

The Indian soldiers captured by the Japanese were offered a chance to change sides. Many took it. They formed the Indian National Army (INA). The Indian Army was the pro-British army. The INA is sometimes called Azad Hind Fauj (Free India Army).

The INA was headed by Subhas Chandra Bose. He had been a Congress politician but had split from Congress. He felt it was too weak in refusing to take up arms. He also believed that India should be a dictatorship after independence.

Hundreds of Indian soldiers refused to join the INA at Singapore. They had sworn an oath to the Emperor of India. Some of them honoured their oath. It seemed shameful to turn their coats. Presumably some of them thought the British Raj was a good thing. They were executed by the Japanese. Thousands of others were held in prisoner of war camps in inhumane conditions. Many of them died due to malnutrition, overwork, insanitary conditions, an absence of medical care and savage beatings.

  1. Which British colonies did the Japanese conquer?
  2. What was the INA?
  3. Who led the INA?
  4. How bad was the British defeat at Singapore?
  5. What befell Indian soldiers who refused to join the INA?

Quit India

 

The UK was doubtful of its ability to maintain order in India. It seemed that independence must come soon. In 1942 even Churchill reluctantly accepted that the writing was on the wall. He sent a Labour MP called Sir Stafford Cripps to India to tell Indian politicians in person that independence would be granted within 3 years of the war’s end. This was called the Cripps Mission. Cripps had been sympathetic to Indian independence for some years. He was warmly received by Congress. How to solve the Muslim League’s demand? The UK wanted to keep India united. London’s proposal was that India would have a central government but be remain divided into about 24 provinces. There could be groups of provinces that would co-operate as groups of provinces. London envisaged a group of provinces in the very west of India (i.e. today’s Pakistan) and another group of provinces in the very east (i.e. today’s Bangladesh). In the middle would be another group of provinces which is today’s India. The plan was a bid to satisfy both Congress and the Muslim League. It went too far for Congress but not far enough for the Muslim League. Both rejected it. Nevertheless the UK publicly promised that India would become independent as soon as practicable.

The Japanese stormed their way through Burma (now called Myanmar). They came close to the frontier of India. The INA came with them. The British authorities in India were very jittery. Some independence activists in India sabotaged railway lines to prevent British troops travelling around. Congress stepped up its protests with a new slogan ‘Quit India.’ The viceroy outlawed Congress. The Congress leaders were arrested and put in prison.

The leader of the Muslim League was Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He did not tell anyone to break the law. Jinnah was not especially concerned about independence from the UK. However, if it came he wanted to create a separate country for those who believed in Islam. Because Jinnah and his followers never caused problems for the British Raj his party was not declared to be illegal. Jinnah was never arrested. He began to fill the void left by Congress. Muslims who had supported Congress were sometimes tempted to support the Muslim League. They were not hearing Congress’ message for a few years.

 

As the British feared the Japanese invasion of India they decided to forestall the Japanese advance. Bengal is very low lying and prone to inundations. It is crisscrossed by myriad rivers and lakes. Many bridges and boats were deliberately destroyed to prevent the Japanese using them. Then famine broke out. It became difficult to move relief supplies of food to famine stricken areas. Nevertheless much more could have been done to save people. In London Churchill was informed of the famine in Bengal. He refused to release food stocks and send them to areas of Bengal where people were starving to death. At least two million people died of hunger. It remains a major stain on the UK’s record. Many have called it genocide.

The Japanese seized the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal. These are Indian islands. Subhas Chandra Bose and his men came to the islands. They were elated that they had taken some Indian soil. Then the Japanese invaded mainland India. They only managed to conquer a tiny section of the north-east corner of India. Bose and the INA came too. However, they achieved little success and were soon driven back.

Bose hoped for a major insurrection in India. It did not materialise. He had some agents parachuted into India to stir up revolt. They were swiftly apprehended and executed.

In 1945 the Japanese threat had receded. The Indian Army had defeated the Japanese. The British felt confident enough to lift their ban on Congress. Congress politicians were released from prison.

The war had caused Indians to be promoted to all but the highest ranks in the military and the civil service.

In 1945 the British and Indians advanced into Burma. They inflicted major defeats on the Japanese. The Japanese and the INA were almost driven out of Burma.

The Indians had been fighting in North Africa alongside the British. There they had defeated the Germans and Italians. The Indian Army crossed into Europe and helped achieved final Allied victory.

In August 1945 the United States dropped nuclear bombs on Japan. The Japanese surrendered within days. It was 15 August. The clock was ticking. Indian independence must come by 15 August 1948. There was a Labour Government in the United Kingdom. Labour was much more amenable to Indian independence than the Conservatives had been. The promise of independence within 3 years was often repeated. Indian began to believe that the UK was not going to renege on this. India was going to become the Dominion of India – the same situation as Australia or Canada. It would have a parliament and a prime minister. It would have the right to conduct its own foreign policy, to declare war and to make peace.

 

  1. What was proposed at the Cripps Mission? Five marks
  2. What happened to Congress in 1942?
  3. Why was the Muslim League not banned?
  4. Which Indian islands did Bose reach?
  5. What happened in the Bengal Famine?
  6. When did Japan surrender?
  7. Why was Congress happy about a Labour Government in the UK?

 

============================================

Many Indians said that independence was their right. Independence was not the UK’s either to give or to withhold. Other Europeans did not agree. In Indonesia the Dutch were battling to re-establish control over their colony. In Vietnam the French were fighting to retain control of the country. The UK was unique in accepting independence for India.

The viceroy was Lord Wavell. Wavell held various conference at Simla with Congress, the Muslim League and other political groups. He essayed to talk Jinnah out of the idea of creating a new country called Pakistan. Could the Muslim majority provinces receive considerable autonomy? This would be a half-way house to independence for them? No, Jinnah was adamant. He wanted India partitioned. Congress simply hated the idea and were determined to preserve the unity of India.

The Muslim League started to call itself ‘the Pakistan Movement.’ They had invented a name for the country they intended to found: Pakistan.

The Muslim League held a Direct Action Day in 1946. This meant attacks on Hindus and Sikhs. Thousands of people were killed. There were large scale protests and great unrest. At Mumbai (then called Bombay) there was a mutiny in the Royal Indian Navy. The mutiny spread to Karachi. The British were chary about putting it down. They asked Congress and the Muslim League to intercede. The politicians parleyed with the mutineers and inveigled them into laying down their arms, returning to duty or in some cases simply resigning from the navy. Neither Congress nor the Muslim League wanted to take over a country where the navy was not obedient to the government. The politicians explained to the mutineers that there was no need for a mutiny. Independence was around the corner: that was guaranteed. The British were worried that law and order was close to collapse.

 

  1. What name did the Muslim League have for their new country?
  2. Who was the viceroy in 1946?
  3. What happened in the Royal Indian Navy in 1946?
  4. Did Congress like the idea of Partition?
  5. Which two Asian countries saw people fighting against colonialism at this time?
  6. Why did Congress oppose the naval mutiny?

 

In March 1947 Wavell retired to the UK. He was replaced by Lord Mountbatten. Lord Mountbatten was King George VI’s second cousin. Mountbatten had visited India several times. Unlike most men of his background he had a high opinion of Congress. He and his wife had a very cordial relationship with Nehru who was leader of Congress.

The one thing that everyone agreed about is that independence must come as soon as possible. What Mountbatten did not know was Jinnah had a closely guarded secret. Jinnah knew that he was terminally ill with tuberculosis. That was why he wanted partition as soon as possible. He wanted to go down in history as a man who founded a country. Lord Mountbatten later said that had he known that Jinnah was dying then he would have stalled and stalled until Jinnah died. The Pakistan Movement was built around one man: Jinnah. Without his iron determination the Pakistan Movement would probably peter out. Lord Mountbatten thought that the idea of setting up Pakistan was daft. His attempts to dissuade Jinnah were to no avail.

In the Parliament of India Congress voted to accept partition with a heavy heart. There seemed no way to avoid it. Nehru hoped that relations with the new country Pakistan would be cordial. Perhaps India and Pakistan could trade freely. Could the Pakistanis be persuaded to change their minds one day and rejoin India? That was his fondest wish.

If India was to be partitioned what about the princely states? In theory they had been independent before the establishment of the British Raj. Once the Raj was dissolved these princely states would regain their independence. The British, Congress and the Muslim League all agreed that having 600 tiny countries in the midst of India and Pakistan. Lord Mountbatten decided to convince the princes to plump for either India or Pakistan. Almost all of them agreed. There were only a few hold outs. One of those was a large state called Kashmir. The Hindu Maharajah of Kashmir ruled over a mainly Muslim populace.

 

  1. Who was viceroy after Wavell?
  2. What was the India Bill?
  3. What was the only thing all Indians agreed on about in 1947?
  4. Did Lord Mountbatten want to see India partitioned?
  5. Once the British Raj ended did all princely states automatically become part of the new India or Pakistan?
  6. What was unusual about Kashmir?

 

In the UK the Labour Government put the India Bill before Parliament. It was a law to grant Indian independence. Labour has the majority in the House of Commons. It passed easily. But in the House of Lords the Conservatives had the majority. Churchill was no longer prime minister but he was still leader of the Conservative Party. The Lords had the right to delay the bill by two years. Time was of the essence. Everyone knew that Churchill was heartbroken at the idea of losing the empire. Lord Mountbatten persuaded Churchill to order the Conservatives in the Lords not to delay the India Bill. Churchill reluctantly agreed. The India Bill became the India Act. The viceroy was empowered to grant independence at the propitious moment.

Lord Mountbatten decided to change plan. Instead of waiting till 1948 independence should be granted much sooner: 15 August 1947. That would be two years to the day the Japanese surrendered. Everyone agreed in principle. Jinnah said Pakistan should become independent one day before India. That wish was granted.

Pakistan was to be created. But where were the borders to be? A British judge called Sir Cyril Radcliffe came out to draw the borders. Sir Cyril had never been to India before. He asked for submissions from Congress and the Muslim League. Congress wanted Pakistan to be tiny and were willing to conceded very little land. The Muslim League wanted an enormous Pakistan taking in all of Punjab and Bengal even when this meant taking in massively Hindu and Sikh areas. Radcliffe rejected both proposals and drew a map himself.

Congress had such a good relationship with Lord Mountbatten that they asked him to exchange his position as viceroy for the post of governor-general after independence. He agreed. Mountbatten offered his services to Jinnah for the fledgling Pakistan. Jinnah told him no thank you. Jinnah wanted to emphasise the separateness of Pakistan and not its links to India. Besides Jinnah wanted the top job himself: he was going to be Governor-General of Pakistan.

As India was to be divided what to do about the armed forces? Soldiers, sailors and airmen were asked to choose between the two states. This was often simply a case of religion. Every Hindu and Sikh opted for India. Muslims mostly opted for Pakistan but a few stayed with India. Christians mostly chose India. Tanks, planes, ships and artillery pieces were divided up. 70% was for India and the rest for Pakistan. The same went for all assets.

 

  1. What task was Sir Cyril Radcliffe given?
  2. What % of India’s assets stayed with India after Partition?
  3. Why was Mountbatten worried about Churchill’s dislike of Indian independence?
  4. Who was to be Governor-General of Pakistan?
  5. How were soldiers of the Indian Army divided when India was partitioned?

 

On 14 August Lord Mountbatten flew to Karachi. It was to be the capital of the new Dominion of Pakistan. He formally handed over power. There were still quite a few Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan. A lot of them detested the idea of India being partitioned. One Hindu fanatic was said to be waiting to assassinate Lord Mountbatten and Jinnah. Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten drove in an open car through the city. The streets were lined with huge crowds. In the end the would be assassin did not throw his bomb into the car. Jinnah was sworn in as Governor-General. Pakistan still recognised King George VI was head of state. He was King of Pakistan: a country he had never been to.

As the 14 August drew to a close Nehru and India’s Parliament met.  The clock struck midnight. It was 15 August: Indian Independence Day. Nehru delivered his world famous address on the radio:

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially.

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes, but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.

At dawn people poured onto the streets in celebration. Nehru was the Prime Minister. The Dominion of India was born. King George VI was head of state. He had the title King of India.

After one year Mountbatten retired as Governor-General. He was replaced by C Rajagopalachari. India became a republic on 26 January. That was 20 years to the day that Congress had committed to achieving total independence. 26 January is celebrated as Republic Day every year with huge military parades. India elected a president as head of state. The British monarchy no longer had any role in India.

  1. On what day did Pakistan become independent?
  2. When did India become independent?
  3. Who was the first prime minister of India?
  4. Who was the first governor-general of India?
  5. Is there a governor-general of India now?
  6. When did India become a republic?
  7. Does the British monarch have any role in India these days?
  8. What was the original capital of Pakistan?
  9. Look at Nehru’s speech at independence. Fine one sentence which seems most powerful to you and quote it.
  10. How did Congress bring about independence? (Ten marks)
  11. Was the Partition of India a mistake? (Ten marks

 

Indian National Movement 1920s and 1930s

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INDIAN NATIONAL MOVEMENT 1920s and 1930s

After the First World War

In November 1918 an armistice ended fighting in the First World War. An armistice is not definitive end to a war. It was possible that negotiations would break down and fighting would resume.

In India the Congress Party believed that the war was over. They had loyally supported the British war effort. Congress felt that they were owed major concessions by the British in return for their stalwart efforts. However, the British authorities took a very different view. The final peace agreement with Germany had not been signed. As far the British were concerned the war was still on. It was no time to loosen government control.

In 1919 the Rowlatt Act was announced by the Viceroy of India. This allowed him to censor the newspapers, to send people to prison even if they had not committed a crime and to ban public meetings. Many in India were horrified. Such measures might be reluctantly tolerated as a temporary necessity in wartime. But they had no excuse in peacetime. Congress and Indians of all opinions demanded that the Rowlatt Act be repealed. The Government of India replied that the war was still on and there was a dangerous pre-revolutionary situation in India. There had been a Russian Revolution in 1917 and revolutions in several other countries. Congress was irate. The British said they believed in civil liberty. But the Rowlatt Act was abolishing civil liberties: the right to stay out of prison unless proven guilty of a crime, the right to say what you want and the right to meet in public.

Large scale protests broke out across India. These meetings were proclaimed to be illegal. But Congress and other organisations pressed ahead with their meetings nonetheless.

 

  1. When was the armistice signed?
  2. Why did Congress believe that India would gain major concessions in 1919?
  3. What was bad about the Rowlatt Act? Five marks
  4. What year was the Rowlatt Act?

Protest

There was much disorder in the Punjab in 1919. Some people burnt down public buildings. Brigadier General Dyer was a British officer in command of Indian soldiers. He put up posters in Amritsar banning a protest that had been scheduled. The protest went ahead in defiance of his order. Thousands of people met in a park called Jallianwala Bagh. Dyer marched his troops there. Several thousand people were gathered in the park. None of them had guns and they did not attack the soldiers. Dyer decided to shoot dead hundreds of his people. Dyer’s men opened fire without warning. At least 475 men, women and children were killed. Many believed that the true death toll was several times higher than 475. People in Amristar were so terrified that they stayed at home after that.

Dyer was utterly unrepentant for killing so many civilians. He was sacked and required to retire. Beyond that he suffered no penalty whatsoever. The Governor of the Punjab was an Irishman named Sir Michael O’Dwyer. O’Dwyer had not ordered the massacre but when he heard about it he retrospectively justified it. To add insult to injury many Britons spoke up for Dyer. They even had a sword made for him engraved with the words ‘hero of the hour – saviour of the Punjab.’ Many British officers and bureaucrats donated money for a pension fund for Dyer. When he moved back to the UK he lived in opulence because of this.

Congress was outraged at this massacre. But it still did not call for a rebellion. The Hunter Commission investigated the Amritsar Massacre. It criticised Dyer in the mildest possible terms saying he had been ‘injudicious.’ Many Indians still want the United Kingdom to apologise for this atrocity.

 

  1. In what year did the Amritsar Massacre occur?
  2. Which British officer ordered it?
  3. What was the name of the park in which it took place?
  4. Who was Governor of the Punjab at the time?
  5. Why were Indians so offended by the British reaction? Five marks.

Non Co-operation

In the early 1920s Congress started a Non-Co-operation Movement. They were deeply unhappy with the slow pace of reform. They urged people not to co-operate with the government. People should refuse to pay taxes and to buy British goods. Congress insisted on using non-violent methods against the British Government. The British made one concession to Congress and outlawed opium. This very injurious drug had been legally sold in India until then.

The Prince of Wales came to visit in 1920. He was the eldest son of King George V. This man was supposed to become king after his father died. George V also had the title Emperor of India. The Prince of Wales landed at Mumbai. He was then to process in a horse drawn carriage through the city. Congress pleaded with people not to go to see the prince’s procession. They wanted the prince to be ignored. Congress was trying to send a message that it would show no respect to the British authorities until major reforms were enacted. Some people did turn out to welcome the Prince of Wales. The visit was not a disaster for the British as some of them feared it would be. But the crowds were much smaller than when George V had visited in 1911.

Many Congress leaders had been britannicised. The Congress leadership decided that they would no longer imitate British manners and buy British made clothes. They would be proudly Indian. Congress renamed itself ‘the Indian National Congress’. However, for short it was known simply as ‘Congress’ or occasionally as the Congress Party. Congress adopted a new flag for itself – a tricolour of green, white and orange horizontal bars. The green represented the Muslims, the orange represented the Hindus and the white represented peace between the two major faiths of India. There was some debate about what symbol should be on the middle bar which was white. Sometimes a spinning wheel was depicted.

The leader of the Congress Party Motilal Nehru publicly burnt his very expensive British suits. In future he would wear Indian-made khadi cloth. Most Congress politicians followed suit.

Congress continued to organise illegal protests. Congress leaders were arrested and fined. They refused to pay the fines. Therefore they were sent to prisons. Gandhi, Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru and many others spent time in prison for the first time in their lives.

 

  1. What was the Non Co-operation Movement? Five marks
  2. What was one concession the British made to Congress in the early 1920s?

Reform

In the 1920s the British allowed a legislature (parliament) to be elected in every province of India. Only rich men were allowed to vote. Congress was glad that some progress was being made but it was not enough. There was no parliament for the whole of India – there were only separate legislatures for each province. Congress demanded dominion status for India like Canada, South Africa, Southern Ireland and other countries. The UK would still not put India on an equal footing with those countries.

The British also created the Chamber of Princes. This was a forum for the rulers of the princely states to debate matters concerning them. The princes tended to be very pro-British. The British presented this to Congress as evidence of proper reform. Congress scorned that claim. The Chamber of Princes was totally undemocratic and unrepresentative of public opinion.

The First World War had caused severe economics problems all over the world. After the end of the war the economy did not bounce back. Unemployment remained high. India was affected by this like everywhere else. The Indian economy stagnated in the 1920s and 1930s. But the Indian population was growing rapidly and decent medical care became available to more and more people. At that time most families had an average of 6 children. A century before half of all children died before reaching adulthood. By the 1920s most children lived to adulthood. Life expectancy was lengthening. But this rapid population growth put a strain on the economy.

 

  1. What was the Chamber of Princes?
  2. Why was Indian suffering economically in the 1920s?

Total independence

In 1929 Congress ran out of patience with the British Government. Congress said that India must be granted dominion status by 26 January 1930. If not then Congress would up its demand. It would no longer seek to be part of the British Empire. It would aim to make India a republic. It would totally reject any connection with British royal family or any military alliance with the UK. The day came and India was still not made a dominion. Therefore Congress declared its objective to make India a republic without any political, economic or defence link to the UK.

In 1930 a new tax was introduced. It was a tax on salt. Congress said this was reprehensible. Everyone needed salt to preserve food because no one had a fridge back then. This tax hit the poor much harder than the rich. Gandhi set out on a well publicised march to the sea to get a bowl of seawater and evaporate it. That would leave him with a tiny amount of salt. Strictly speaking that act would a breach of the salt tax. Gandhi and hundreds of followers set out on the Salt March. The viceroy was Lord Irwin. Lord Irwin knew that Gandhi was seeking publicity and to be arrested again. Lord Irwin decided not to give Gandhi what he wanted. He ordered that no policeman go within miles of Gandhi. Gandhi got his salt and was not arrested.

In 1930 Gandhi was invited to London for a Round Table Conference on India’s future. The Congress Party was represented. The Muslim League were there as were some of the princes. There were other minor parties in India such as the Unionists, the Liberal Party and the Hindu Mahasabha. Congress was frustrated that the UK was still not offering major concessions.

Congress organised large scale protests against the British Raj. The police had difficulty containing these protests. The viceroy declared Congress to be an illegal organisation 1930. The ban was lifted in 1932.

Some Indian nationalists were fed up with Congress. They felt that Congress was too meek and mild. Asking the British politely for independence was never going to work. A few Indians decided to resort to force to bring about independence. There was an attempt to assassinate the viceroy Lord Irwin by blowing up his train. It failed.

The British authorities had Congress and militant organisations thoroughly penetrated with spies. These spies informed the authorities what Congress and the militants had planned. But nevertheless the militants were sometimes able to spring surprises on the Britishers.

The militants asked how the British were able to rule India. During the First World War there had been only 40 000 British soldiers among 200 000 000 Indians. The British were not supermen. The Indian Army had number over 1 000 000 men during the First World War. If they had turned against the British then the British Army would have been defeated easily. The Indian Army was officered by Britishers. The soldiers of the Indian Army had obeyed their British officers. The princely states also had their own armies. Why would an Indian join the Indian Army when he knew that this army was serving the UK more than India? Many people lived in dire poverty. Joining the army was the only way for a poor man to be guaranteed three meals a day. To a lesser extent the same went for the civil service. All but a small number of civil servants in India were Indian. If only the Indian Civil Service refused to serve the British then the British Raj would be paralysed.

Some people were apolitical. Unthinking men simply did what they were told to do. The militants said that a few wealthy people in India genuinely benefited from the British Raj but the majority of Indians did not. The rich supported British rule and persuaded some of the poor to do likewise. There are some people who simply want to be on the winning side. In the 1920s it seemed like the British Raj had a long term future so some Indians served it for that reason.

The British authorities were crafty. They knew that not all Indians liked each other. The country contained thousands of languages. Not all Indians perceived themselves as Indian first and foremost. For some provincial, linguistic, caste or religious identity came first. Trying to set people against each other so that they can be dominated by outsiders is called ‘divide and rule’.

The British sent Hindu soldiers to Muslim majority areas, Muslim soldiers to Sikh areas and Sikh soldiers to Muslim areas. The idea was that the soldiers would never take the the side of the local people against the British. The Indian Army recruited Gurkha soldiers from Nepal. The Nepalese are Hindu mostly. But the Nepalese back then were proud to be mountain people. Some of them disliked people from the plains of India. The Gurkhas were always loyal to the British.

The British explained that they were in India for the good of India because without them the Indians would fight each other all the time. The British argument was that Hindus and Muslims hated each other. That was certainly not always true. Congress contained both Muslims and Hindus. It is true that Hindus and Muslims had fought against each other sometimes but there were other times when the two faiths happily co-operated. Congress accused the British of purposefully stoking communal ill-feeling.

The militants wanted to use force against the British. They believed that the British Raj was brutally oppressive.

 

  1. What was the name of the conference in London on India’s governance?
  2. How did Congress’ aim change on 26 January 1930?
  3. What did Gandhi do about the salt tax?
  4. How was the UK able to rule India with so few British soldiers in India? Five marks

Inexorable movement towards independence.

By the 1930s India was making progress towards independence. In the UK one politician fulminated against any concessions to Congress. He was Winston Churchill. He denounced Gandhi as ”a seditious Middle Temple lawyer.” In the UK many politicians disliked Churchill thinking he was a grumpy old bore whose best days were behind him.

In 1935 Congress and the British authorities reached an agreement about dyarchy. The British controlled India at the centre. There were provincial legislatures run by Indians. The right to vote was extended to more men. Congress won the elections in most provinces. The Muslim League won in a few Muslim majority areas.

The situation calmed down in the late 1930s. The economy had picked up a little. Congress was happy with the headway made but wanted total independence before long. In the meantime they worked to improve the lives of the people. The UK hoped that independence would not come for a long time. In 1937 the UK Prime Minister said India would not be independent until 1980.

There was a growing sense that independence was not too far away. The Muslim League began to say that if India became independent there must be a separate homeland for Muslims.

In 1939 the Second World War broke out. The Viceroy of India was Lord Linlithgow. He immediately declared war on Germany. Congress was irate. Lord Linlithgow had not asked the the representatives of the Indian people about this. Most Indians wanted to stay neutral. What happened in Europe was not India’s problem. Why should Indians get killed for someone else’s dispute?

Congress made the British an offer. If they granted India independence immediately then India would declare war on Germany. London said no to this offer. They did not trust Congress to honour its word and fight properly. Besides if India went independent there was the issue of the Muslim League to deal with – they were demanding a separate country for Muslims.

In October 1939 Congress resigned in protest from the provincial governments it was running. They were fed up at being mistreated by the British authorities.

  1. Which British politician was loudly against Indian independence?
  2. Which was the second biggest political party in India?
  3. Who was the viceroy when the Second World War broke out?
  4. What year did the war start?
  5. What deal did Congress suggest to the British in 1939?

 

 

 

The Indian Independence Movement

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INDIAN INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT

 

British India and the Princely States

By the end of the 19th century the whole of India was either directly or indirectly under British control. Back then India consisted of what we now call Pakistan and Bangladesh as well as what is now the Republic of India.

About two-thirds of India was British India. This meant provinces under direct British control. The British Army was there and so were British officials.

Around a third of India was made up of princely states which were under indirect British control. There were over 565 princely states. The princely states were ruled by Indian rulers.  There were many different titles for the ‘princes’. They had titles such as rana, rajah, maharajah, gaekwar, khan, shah and nizam. Therefore they were known as ‘princes’ to simplify it. Some princely states were very small: just a couple of square miles. The largest of them was Hyderabad which was the size of France. Most princely states were in between in terms of size. A prince would rule his state. The state would pass from father to son. A prince could do as he wanted within his state so long as he did not cause problems for British India. The prince had to agree to only have foreign relations via the United Kingdom. That means that a princely state could not set up an embassy in China or invite an ambassador from Italy. No, the British would conduct foreign relations on behalf of all the princely states. Princely states were allowed to have their own armies.

At that time India was over 60% Hindu. The Muslims comprised 30% of the population. There were small numbers of Sikhs and Christians. The Muslims were concentrated in the very west of the country (today’s Pakistan) and the very east (today’s Bangladesh).

 

  1. 19th century India is which three modern countries?
  2. What is a princely state?
  3. What proportion of India was British India in the 19th century?
  4. What was the second largest religion in India?
  5. What is the main religion of India?

Poverty and progress

Although India was British ruled of the 200 000 000 people in India at the time only about 200 000 were British. The majority of government were workers were Indian. But the top ranks were filled by Britons.

There was also an Indian Army. But all the officers were white British. The ordinary soldiers were Indians. Many Indians felt it was unfair that Indians could not even be officers in the Indian Army. Back then British meant ‘white’. These days there are many British citizens of Indian ancestry. There was no British citizenship as such back then. Anyone from anywhere in the British Empire was a British subject. A white Briton, a Nigerian, a Jamaican, an Indian or a New Zealander were all British subjects. Likewise in the Indian Police the ordinary policemen were Indians. The top ranks were reserved for whites. Indians resented this racial discrimination.

By the end of the 19th century the British Empire had reached its zenith. A third of all the land in the world was under British rule. It was said that Britannia ruled the waves because the Royal Navy was bigger than the second largest navy plus the third largest navy put together. The UK was a mighty manufacturing country but it had already been overtaken by the United States and Germany. They were manufacturing more than the UK.

India was very much an agricultural country at the time. There were only a few factories at the time. Most people were farmers. Many people dwelt in grinding poverty. At the time India was growing economically. But little wealth trickled down to the majority of the people.

In the 19th century most people around the world never went to school. Most people were illiterate. Only about 20% of people in India were literate at the time. The UK had only just brought in compulsory schooling in 1870 and the UK had still not achieved full literacy. This compulsory schooling law did not apply to India.

The British Government sent a viceroy to India. The viceroy ruled on behalf of Queen Victoria because she was so far away. The viceroy lived at Kolkata which was then the capital of India. The city was then called Calcutta. The viceroy was a British aristocrat sent out from the UK to India. He served for a few years and was then replaced. Every few years a new viceroy came out. India was crucial to the UK. British people called India ‘the jewel in the crown.’ Indeed the most magnificent diamond in the British Crown was the koh-i-noor (”mountain of light”) which was taken from India.

In the British Cabinet there was a man who was the Secretary of State for India. He was answerable to the British Parliament for Indian affairs. But India had no representation in the UK Parliament. The Government of the UK could appoint and sack the viceroy of India. The people of India had no say over this.

  1. What did many Indians find objectionable about the rank structure in the Indian Army?
  2. Was the British Empire powerful at that time? (Five sentences)
  3. What was the most common job in 19th century India?
  4. Why were most people unable to read at the time?
  5. What was the title of the British official sent to govern India?
  6. What was the capital of India then?

Conceit and conciliation

Many Indians were impressed by the British who were the world superpower at the time. This did not mean that all Indians liked British rule by any means. It is difficult for the mighty not to be haughty. Some Britishers were arrogant and looked down on Indians. Indians tended to complain about heavy taxation and say the Britons were growing rich due to these taxes.

There was a myth of white superiority. In their wars against Asians and Africans it seemed that whites won, won, won. People were led to believe that whites were better at fighting. In fact it was only because white majority countries like France, Germany and the UK had better military technology. These whites mistook technological superiority for moral superiority.

Indians looking into their own history saw that long before India had been far ahead of Europe in Mathematics and astronomy. Emperor Ashoka had introduced human rights and abolished slavery. But India had fallen behind and been overtaken. Europeans would never have had all their scientific breakthroughs and scientific discoveries had it not been for Indian mathematicians.

There were famines in India. The British authorities in India said they were trying to improve farming. They set up an Agricultural Department. It was supposed to encourage more modern methods of farming with better use of fertiliser and smarter animal husbandry.  Irrigation canals were dug. Stores of grain and rice were set up for distribution in times of failed crops. Famine relief was a responsibility of the British Government of India. But the government was failing in its duty when so many starved. The British authorities urged people to grow non-comestible crops such as cotton, tea, hemp, jute and opium. Opium is a very dangerous drug. Under British rule it was legally sold in India, in the UK, China and other places.

In 1885 the viceroy made the fateful decision to establish Congress. Congress was an organisation for Indians to examine how the British authorities were governing India and to provide constructive criticism. At first Congress and the viceroy got along well. Congress was simply giving advice about where it felt the British authorities could do better. The principle of British rule was hardly ever questioned.

Since the 1830s education in India had shifted to the British model. Persian was abandoned as the major language of education and the courts. Instead English was adopted. Many Indians learnt to read and write their vernacular languages such as Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Tamil, Bengali and so forth. But after learning their mother tongue they started to learn English. A few British-style universities had been founded in India.

Newspapers were published in India in various languages. A system of telegraph poles transmitted news and personal messages. The mail system established by the British authorities helped to forge a sense of national identity by allowing people to correspond and send gifts. India had been united millennia before. But sometimes a centralised Indian state had fallen apart. It had been reunited and disunited several times. The railways built after 1840 had speeded up travel around the country.

By the 1880s there was a small Indian elite that was fluent in English. Oxford University and Cambridge University admitted non-Christians from the 1870s. A tiny number of Indians attended these universities. Only the super wealthy could afford to sail to the UK and pay the huge fees for these tip top universities. The Indian elite was exposed to British notions of parliamentary government. The UK boasted that its institutions were the envy of the world. By the 1880s most men in Britain had the right to vote. Parliament discussed the problems facing the nation and voted on solutions. Some Indian elitists were attracted by this and wanted to introduce similar institutions in India. The British authorities did not like that idea one bit. Indians looked back in their history and saw that at time India too had had representative institutions. By this time there was a miniscule Indian community in the United Kingdom. They started to enter UK politics.

In 1893 an Indian named Dadabhai Naoroji was elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom as a Liberal. He was hailed in India for his achievement. A few years later another Indian named Mr Bhownagree was elected to the UK Parliament. He was a Conservative. Bhownagree was so enthusiastic for British rule in India that some Indians scornfully called him ‘bow and agree’ or ‘bow the knee’.

By the 1890s Congress was pressing the viceroy for further reforms. Many Indians were living in poverty and the British authorities were not doing enough about it. Britishers who served as civil servants and soldiers in India invariably retired to the UK. Their pensions were paid by India. This money left India and was spent in the UK. Congress called it ‘the drain’. India’s wealth was being drained away.

 

  1. What was ‘the drain’ according to Congress?
  2. When was Congress founded?
  3. Why is Dadabhai Naoroj so famous?
  4. Why did many dislike Bhownagree?
  5. How was India more advanced that Europe in the ancient times?
  6. What were the failings of British agricultural policy in India? Five marks. 
  7. What effect did exposure to British institutions like Parliament have on the Indian elite? 

Moderation and militancy

In the 19th century Indians emigrated to other British colonies such as South Africa, Uganda, Kenya and Malaysia. One of those who went to South Africa was Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi was a London educated lawyer. Gandhi objected to racist discrimination against Indian in South Africa. His protests got him imprisoned in South Africa. His brave campaigning was reported in Indian newspapers.

By 1900 Congress was becoming an irritant for the viceroy. It was no longer a genteel organisation of a few thousand highly educated rich men. It had tens of thousands members and was growing rapidly. In 1900 a new viceroy arrived from Great Britain. He was Lord Curzon. Lord Curzon disliked Congress . He saw it as a trouble making organisation and wanted it to dissolve. He dared not ban it because he knew it was popular. It was an important way of allowing Indians to let off steam about their grievances.

The early 20th century saw the rise of militancy. Some Indians rejected British rule totally. They had no time for the polite discussions that Congress had with British officials. Some Indians did not want reform. They wanted revolution. A handful of radicals decided that the British Raj could not be redeemed. It could only be destroyed! These radicals accused the British of killing millions of people through famines.

In Bengal some Indians killed British officials and police officers. Only a very small number of Britishers were killed. But the news was extensively reported. British rule was not seriously threatened by these attacks. Congress said it deplored this use of force against the British. The British authorities denounced those who killed their men as ‘terrorists.’ The aim of killing these British policemen and officials was to drive the British out of India. The radicals believed that British rule was totally bad. Congress still believed that British rule was mostly good but partly bad.

Congress welcomed Indians of all religions and all languages. Some Muslims in Congress said that Muslims were a special community that had particular concerns not shared by other Indians whether Hindu, Sikh or Christian. The Muslims asked whether they could set up a special section of Congress called ‘the Muslim League.’ Congress agreed. The Muslim League was established as an organisation inside Congress.

Bengal was a province which had about equal numbers of Hindus and Muslims. Some of the Muslims wanted the province to be divided into East Bengal  with a Muslim majority and West Bengal with a Hindu majority. The British authorities considered the request.

Eventually Lord Curzon agreed that Bengal would be split into two provinces. Most Bengali Hindus were aghast. They considered Bengal to be a nation. They did not want it broken up. Not all Bengali Muslims wanted it divided either. There was a furious row in Congress over whether Bengal should be divided or not. The majority of Congress was against it. However, the Muslim League was in favour. The disagreement was so fierce that the Muslim League broke away from Congress. From that time on Congress and the Muslim League were two rival parties. Congress became an overwhelmingly Hindu organisation. However, Muslims were welcome in Congress and a few remained in Congress. The Muslim League was only for Muslims.

Congress agitated so strenuously against the partition of Bengal that the British authorities changed their mind. They decided that Bengal would not be divided into two provinces after all. The Muslim League was then angry that they had been let down by the British Government of India.  It foreshadowed later controversies.

 

  1. Who became viceroy in 1900?
  2. Why did Curzon dislike Congress?
  3. Why did he not outlaw Congress?
  4. Why did some Indian radicals shoot British officials and police officers in Bengal? Five marks. 
  5. What was the special section of Congress for Muslims called?
  6. What happened with the idea of dividing Bengal. 

The First World War

In 1914 the First World War broke out. The British Empire was a single entity in international law at the time. When the UK declared war that instantly meant that the whole empire was at war.

Up until that time the UK had won all of its wars for decades. The British had not sustained serious casualties in a war for a century. But the First World War was different. The United Kingdom was fighting a country even more industrialised than the UK. The Germans had better military technology. The British were being given a run for their money. The UK was suffering high casualties. Germany had other countries on its side such as Turkey and Austria-Hungary.

Indians had fought in Britain’s overseas war for over a century by 1914. Indians fought alongside the British Army in France, Iraq, Turkey and Palestine.

Some Indians donated money to the British war effort. The princely states usually sent their armies to help the British.

Congress urged Indians to do their bit for the war effort. They exhorted men to enlist in the Indian Army. Gandhi was one of those who called upon his countrymen to support the British war effort. Congress was dissatisfied with the British Raj. Nevertheless they perceived some benefits to being part of the empire. They believed that one good turn deserves another. By helping the British they believed that the the British authorities would agree to major reforms after the war.

Congress looked at the dominions of the British Empire. Canada, Australia and other countries were dominions. A dominion elected a parliament and had a prime minister. A dominion was internally self-governing. It still had diplomatic relations via the United Kingdom. It was part of a military alliance with the rest of the empire and had free trade with the empire. Congress wanted India to become a dominion. But the British authorities would not say ‘yes’ to this. Some in Congress muttered that the British were racist. Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders were allowed to be dominions because most of them were white. Were Indians being denied dominion status because of their colour?

The war dragged on. Over 100 000 Indians were killed. Congress pressed the viceroy to announce serious reforms to be introduced immediately after the war. The British authorities gave non-committal answers. Why would London not make clear statements on reform after the war? Congress began to fear that the UK had no intention of introducing proper reforms.

Some people in India grumbled about fighting the First World War. Why should Indians fight Germans? The Germans had done nothing bad to India. Indians were being used as cannon fodder for the good of Britain. Many Indian Muslims objected to fighting the Turks because the Turks were Muslims too. Taxes were increased to fund the war. Some Indians worked with German agents on a plan to cause an uprising in India and bring about independence. In fact the plan never achieved any success. The Germans did not care about Indian independence. They just wanted to cause problems for the British.

During the First World War Indians were finally allowed to become officers in the Indian Army. Military colleges were opened for them.

 

  1. When the UK declared war what effect did this have on India? 
  2. Why was Germany so difficult for Britain and her allies to defeat?
  3. Why did Congress ask Indians to support the war effort?
  4. Did the British agree to serious reforms in India during the war? 
  5. Why did some Indians think that they should not support the war effort? Five marks. 
  6. What was a dominion? Five marks.

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