Category Archives: History

This covers the history of many countries over centuries. My main interests are the British Isles, Russia and America.

trump’s impenitence


never explain never apologise

ignorance is encyclopedic to paraprhase abba eban

christian ethic. redepemtion. confession. contrition.

moral courage. face up to failure. accept responsibility

take ownership. JFK

not change anything. hoax. udner control. hydroxchloroquine. disinfectant.

ventilators to russia. thailand. let people in from china.

reopen. if good the do it. federal workers.

polls behind. biden. good ideas.

lies. stockpile. obama. obamagate. no particulars

divert attention. misdirect. mudsling.

fool some of the people all the time.

inarticulacy, illogic

germane questions. cannot engage with substantive issue. ad hominem. spite, snarling.

blithering idiot.

face up to present reality. what of america’s destiny

eliminate reason. disorganised. lies defended. stiuck to with tenacity. almost impressive.

impudence in persisting in moronic falsehoods. not even half truths. ocean going lies.

proclaimed victory before problem had even started. disregarded expert advice. refused to face facts.

false hope. cry victory prematurely.

worst practice. unwilling to learn. full marks for insincerity.

the american people’s right to know. tell the triuth

communications catastrophes.

rise to the challenge. re election coronavirus could have been a gift. strengthened by handling it wisely.

hyper polarisation.

no dilagie with other side

no tolerance for reason. decisively selfish

hysteria. emotion bereft of reason.

crisis. engages neither heart nor mind. his suibject is himself. cares not for the agony of people

currents of thoughtless and inexperience.

fashioned contours of trumpism

what sense of nationhood>? common bond, solidarity

his stupidly is beyong controversy.

conflict exosts between the reality based community

refugees problem. distraction

odious and desperate fallaces like birther

immigration at heart and centre of america station.

existence maintained by immigration. not to be defended. to be apologised. more immigration is inexoerable.

no intellect. no discipline. force of facts. ignores them. cannot separate wishful thinking from reality

unfree people cult f the personality

univeesal culture – truth, lofic, evidence. hypothesis. without these a disease cannot be duly understood

mind full of fallacies

gross anf vulgar. sees ethnic minorites are external or inorganic

speaks same tongue. many share same faith. christian hispanics. their land 500 years ago. long before tumps british and german ancestors

euro americans do not monopolise US life. America is a concept which cannot be exhausted in white terms alone

great civilsiaiton. determined shape of civilisaiton. china. culture. existed long before europe wrote

preusmption of innoence. iraq. take that out then we evaucte western civislaition of many of its experience. the flood. monotheism

self determintion

proportions and dimensions of disease

his aspiration to reopen in so short a time.

independnce. internation co -operation., how can we previal ahaisn the disease.

seak with a single voice. crisis lays heavy burdens on leaders

might tax even a seasoned statesmen

are trumpists buying? Bogus unsubstantiated accusations against oba,ma/. ? JOE Scarborough. murder of his staffer

intellectual community. understands its role. tell the truth

uniformly against his policies. he wants them to be uncritical.

duty to inform the punlic on great issues. go  forward ina  logical measure.

large and decisive place to reason. margin of doubt about modeling – spread of disease. vaccine

lunatic fringe drives trumpism. pastor – coronaviryus is a plot

deplore lockdown.

envy the blindness of their acolytes.

what is trumps strategy. ? VAST Stupidity?

inequitable distribution of stockpile. electoral consierations foremost. public obeisance to trump from governors.


tyranny. withhold life saving treating from those who need it.

claims for himself what he denies to others – absolute power without any responsibiluty.

acknowledge for others what he demans for himself. compassion.

effects world freedom

democracy threatened. elections. postal votes

does not want people ti listen to health experts. sacked. under threat

final act in trump drama

no distinction between trump’s personal advantage and what he does as president

prospect of millions dying in US is serioisly discussed

wild exhortations to mingle.

embattled, bieseged. encircle. by lies.

physical extinction

reason fights for survival

sacrifice of doctors and nurses. story of survival due to them. unlimited pride in them.

righteous. legitimate. where should sympathies lie?

plenitude of health. multi ethnic identity

world community scorns trump. smaller, poorer have done manifestly better

be on your guard against a philosophy that reason is bogus.

lineal descent of obscurantism. field of collective imbecility.  peril

opportunity for some companies

inferiority of US healthcare system. finance.

civilised conscience cannot accept it. rehabilitation

shall not allow to continue

obliterate trumpism. no compromise.

world community. accommodate US. fill expresison fo trumps personality –

inundate hispitals.

lockdown desotry national personality

withdraw his lies. authentic statements

ceasfire with liberal media.

victims of aggression.

permanent and agreed strcutrue- truth. evidence.

fundamentalism. modify a few things? pray for cure en masse

peace of the world. issue. iran/. martyred by aggressions. mutilated.

security system. treaties. START. JCPOA

attachement to truth or honesty. problem with peace

rational treatment of neuralfgic issues.

war exploded. in conformoty with intl law/

build peace. reconstructing conditions that caused war.

nationhood of iran. mysterious claims of breaking the deal

boundaries of israel. unilateral dictation and force.

shall not negotuate. sanctity of agreements. mutual co existence. regional co operation. commerce.

social problems. economic predicament. misery. peace

solutions. does not care.

coming weeks obstacles. disease. second wave, unemployment

unacceptance of reason and truth.

vigour in economy. hope burns bright.

iran only because trump tore up agreement. can they reach new agreement

devote attention to domestic woes. change the script. deadlock with iran


no greater fallacy to believe that coroan will go away

cancelled by him wanting it to be

moral imperative to solve disease. vital. solitary problem. federal framework is there for this. in point of fact national emergency. total authority. in contradciciton of the constitution

shared responsibiltu.our stockpile  jared kushner. americans live in states

democrat. previous wisdom.

mandate to drain the swamp. help the working class. bring back jobs. peace

invalidate truth.

immemorial attachment to reason.

withdrawl from middle east. old traditiomn of short victorious little war. no progressive policy.

maintenance of rancorous and sterile quarrel. havoc inflicted on middle east.

hatred raised. hopes kindled. reconcicl. harmony’ . tension is deep

ovations for stoking animosity. appreciative. love a good hate

deficines thrown into sharep rellief contras obama

academic rostrum. pellucid prose.

alluring pastures of academe. deservedly lauded as an icon.

trump causing the hecatomb. no end in sight’

prominent and central role in causing disease to spread

major preoccupaiton re election

scientiic communbity ahs not effect on his thoyght; outer margin

intellecutal presitge loathed. egg heads why there

not even a disctrene measure of literacy. fatal disadbatgeh in politics reasgion, bush sneru

haervard yard.  bush juniour.

issues distorted by saying it i bias.

against freed soicusuon. marginal manifdtation of anti enlighhtmenetn bigotyr,

enemy of free speech. enmies of the people.

history teaches us that society needs  free exprresison fo opinion and dissent,.

universal conscience gripped by coroanvirus.

trump does not understand his role. trumpsts uncritca of him . unformy against truth


media duty to ensure dialogue on great issyues . tolerabce.,



The Indian Mutiny



The situation

In 1857 many Indian soldiers turned against their British officers. This event is known to some as the Indian Mutiny. Most in India prefer to call it the First War of Independence or the First War of National Liberation.

In the 19th century most of India was either directly or indirectly under British rule. The Honourable East India Company (EIC) had its capital at Calcutta (Kolkata in modern spelling). Calcutta is in Bengal: a province in the east of India. The Company owned huge amounts of farm land. It charged rents and collected taxes. The EIC made money from cultivating jute, opium, tea and other cash crops. Opium was legally sold for recreational purposes in India, the UK and other lands.

The EIC had its own army and navy.  The EIC’s army had Indians as ordinary soldiers and white British officers. The EIC was licensed by the British Government. Every 20 years the UK Government passed a new regulating act. Each Regulating Act would require the EIC to do certain things and to refrain from doing others.

Some Britons in India called India ‘Company Land’ and jokingly said they were working for John Company.

The British Army was also in India but there were only a few regiments. This was in addition to the EIC’s army. Some Britons had made fortunes in the EIC and then sailed home to the British Isles. In Great Britain and Ireland some of these men forged political careers. That is why the UK Government took an increasing interest in Indian affairs.

Under the EIC India was divided into three mega provinces known as ‘presidencies’. These were Bombay Presidency which everything from Mumbai north and included most of the western half of North India. Bombay Presidency stretched right to the border with Afghanistan. The capital was Bombay (Mumbai).

Bengal Presidency includes what is now West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Nagaland, Bangladesh, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. The capital was Calcutta (Kolkata). The name lives on in Presidency College in Kolkata.

Then there was Madras Presidency which was South India. Its capital was Madras (now called Chennai). Britons often called Madras by the name Fort St George after the name of the fort they built there.

Strictly speaking each presidencies army was separate. But they were all EIC armies.

Within each presidency many districts were directly governed by district commissioners. A district commissioner was a white Briton. There were also 585 princely states. A princely state was ruled by a rajah, maharajah, khan, gaekwad or whatever the title was of the Indian ruler. Britons called all these rulers ‘princes’ collectively rather than list all the different Indian titles.  These princely states had a co-operative relationship with the EIC. The princely states had their own armies and in some cases navies. A prince ruled his fiefdom as he saw fit so long as he did not upset the EIC too much. He had to agree to only have diplomatic relations via the British and recognise the ultimate authority of the British. In return he would receive military assistance. Indian princely states had fought each other for centuries. The people were glad that this had been brought to an end. In the west India had been invaded by Afghanistan many times. In the east she had fought Burma (Myanmar). Pirates had plagued the seas.

The Mughal Empire was still theoretically extant. Its capital was at Delhi. However, the Mughal Empire was a shadow of its former self.  At the apogee this empire had ruled from Afghanistan to the border of Burma. Its domain has stretched from the Tibetan frontier to Tamil Nadu. By 1857 the Mughal Emperor ruled little beyond his capital city. Therefore he was known as the King of Delhi. To call him an ’emperor’ seemed ludicrous. The Mughals were Persian speaking Muslims.

Some Indians grumbled about excessive taxation. The EIC had a monopoly on the lucrative opium trade. This was mostly sold to China.

Christian missionaries were increasingly active in India. Only 1% of people in British India converted to the Christian faith. But some Indians resented Christian evangelisation. A rumour spread abroad that the British were trying take away the faiths of Hinduism and Islam.

EIC soldiers were obliged to listen to Christian sermons in a few cases. Many were suspicious that the British were plotting to deprive Indians of their religions. Most people were intensely religious in the 19th century.

Some Britons had a conceit of themselves. There were a few who looked down their noses at the people of India.

In the 18th century there were very few British women in India. British men marrying Indian women was commonplace. Those of mixed stock were called Anglo-Indians. Britons in India whether married to Indians or not tended to socialise with Indians and adopt some Indian customs and learn Indian languages. Some of them were attracted to Indian culture and a few were in awe of it. There was little sense of racial or cultural superiority.

In the 19th century more British women came to India. British men then overwhelmingly chose to marry women of their own nationality. There was no law against interracial marriage but it was very much disapproved of. There started to be a gulf between Britons and Indians. There started to be a critical mass of Britishers in India. They began to keep themselves to themselves. Some Britons expressed disdain for Indian culture. Some British soldiers declined to learn even a few words of any Indian tongue. British men expected to be addressed as ‘sahib’ (master) and British women as ‘memsahib’ (lady) by any Indian.

White supremacy was advanced as a theory in the 19th century. Some whites including Britons honestly thought they were better than non-whites. The white supremacists claimed that whites were lionhearted as well as clever which is why they were destined to rule other races. These racists forgot that not long before India had been much more advanced than Europe. All across the world whites won, won and won. Whites ruled most of Africa and Asia. The USA was the only advanced country outside Europe and it was mostly white. Because whites had better military technology they started to fool themselves into believing that they were better than non-whites in every way.

The EIC promulgated the doctrine of lapse. This stated that is a ruler died without a male heir then the crown lapsed.  Previously a prince had been allowed to adopt a son. The EIC said an heir had to be an heir male of your body. The princely state would come under direct British rule. In the 1850s some Indian princely stated started to be absorbed into the zone under direct British control. Some Indians resented this. They felt allegiance towards the princely dynasty.

The army of the EIC recruited Hindus of the Brahmin and Kshatriya castes. They did not wish to serve overseas. They said that to cross ”the dark waters” would cause them to lose caste. To traditional Hindus caste was all. The EIC had acquired land in Malaysia and Singapore. The Company wanted its soldiers to serve in these lands. Though it was possible to travel overland from India to Malaysia it was far faster by ship. Some Hindus dreaded the idea of being outcaste. A few suspected that this was a British plot to make them convert to Christianity. If the Britons broke the caste of Brahmins or Kshatriyas these people would be made dalits (untouchables). The dalits are outside the caste system. They were despised by most Hindus and had to do filthy jobs. Rather than be outcaste people might elect to convert to the Christian faith. It seemed like a dastardly plot to Christianise India.

EIC soldiers had been paid extra to serve in Burma. Then it was announced they would no longer receive an additional allowance for this. This caused discontent.

The Enfield Rifled Musket was invented in 1853. This was a new type of gun. It was called ‘Enfield’ after the London Borough where it was manufactured.

In 1857 a new cartridge was introduced. To use it the soldier had to bite open a greased paper cartridge to get the gunpowder out.

A rumour got around that the cartridge was greased with the fat of pigs or cows. No Muslim would touch pork. No Hindu would ever ingest beef. One EIC official circulated a memorandum saying that the new cartridge was bound to provoke a hugely adverse reaction therefore it should not be issued. His sage counsel was disregarded. Indians would think this was something sacrilegious.

  1. What is the Indian Mutiny usually called in India?
  2. Which year did it take place?
  3. How many presidencies were there in India?
  4. Why did Britons start to distance themselves from Indian in the 19th century? five marks
  5. What is white supremacism? Five marks
  6.  Which Hindu castes were allowed into the EIC Army?
  7. What was controversial about the Enfield Rifled Musket?


In March 1857 a soldier named Mangal Pandey told his comrades that he was fed up to the back teeth of the British Raj. He declared his intention to rebel against his British officers. Some Indians reported this to their officers. British officers arrived to arrest Pandey. He tried to shoot them. The Britons ordered their Indian sepoys to restrain Pandey. All but one refused to do so. But they did not intervene to help Pandey. Sepoy Pandey was arrested. He was found guilty of mutiny and attempted murder. He was hanged. Thereafter the British called all rebels ‘Pandey’. There is a fictionalised film about him called Mangal Pandey.

A story did the rounds that the recent war against Russia had killed all but 100 000 Britons. The British were so few that they could easily be thrashed.

Trouble was brewing in Meerut. This town was home to the largest garrison in India. There were 4 000 Indian troops and 4 000 Britons there.

British officers assured their Indian troops that the cartridges were greased with fat from goats and chickens. Indians did not object to eating these beasts.

At Meerut cartridges were issued to sepoys. They refused to bite them. Some British officers offered a concession. The soldiers could tear the cartridges with their fingers instead. This was also impermissible to a  strict Hindu or a strict Muslim. For refusing to obey orders 85 soldiers were charged with insubordination. They were sentenced to 10 years hard labour.

As the 85 soldiers were dragged off to prison their cursed their comrades who had not come to their aid. Indians who had not mutinied were shamed for being so craven as to obey these immoral orders and to disgrace their faiths. The 85 has served the British valiantly for years. Some British officers were sympathetic. They felt guilty that their stalwart soldiers had been treated with undue harshness. These conscience stricken Britons promised to intercede for their men and to seek the reduction of these sentences.

There was muttering in the ranks. Many sepoys were irate about what they felt were a collection of injustices. There had been growing disaffection for years. But the cartridge was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Some of the sepoys resolved to free their comrades from prison. Some sepoys were still faithful to the British. They informed the Britishers about the plot. However, the British officers took no action.

There had been a British garrison in Meerut for decades. British soldiers wandered around unarmed in their free time. They felt very safe and relaxed there.

On 10 May all hell broke loose – from a British perspective. British soldiers walking in the market were set upon and killed by Indian civilians with knives. Some sepoys stormed the prison and rescued their incarcerated comrades. They then attacked the barracks housing the British soldiers and slew some.

Some Indian sepoys honoured their oath to the EIC and fought against the mutineers. A few mutineers wanted to kill even British civilians. Some Indian gallantly hid their British friends. But if an Indian was caught concealing a Briton for the mutineers then that Indian was put to death. Indian Christians were killed in some cases as they were rightly perceived as being on the side of the EIC.

  1. Why was Mangal Pandey executed?
  2. What does EIC stand for?
  3. Why did rebels often kill Indian Christians?
  4. At which town was the first outbreak of mutiny?
  5. What is a sepoy?

Restoring the Mughal Empire

The mutineers then marched to Delhi some 40 miles south. They went to the King of Delhi: Bahadur Shah Zafar. The name Bahadur Shah means ‘brave king.’  It turned out to be a misnomer. The mutineers told the king what they had done. They called upon him to endorse it and to proclaim himself Mughal Emperor. He was very reluctant to do so. He was unsure whether to believe everything he was hearing. The mutiny might be a small local affair. The king’s writ did not run much further than Delhi’s city limits. Could this rebellion really succeed? The Mughal Empire had a peace treaty with the EIC. Was it wise to break this? The EIC had not done anything wrong to the Mughals for decades. The Mughal Empire was so feeble that almost no one ever used the term ‘Mughal Empire’.

On May 16 Bahadur Shah Zafar was cajoled against his better judgment into signing a proclamation reasserting his title as Emperor of India. Many rallied to his banner. The British were staggered to see that he genuine commanded loyalty. For decades they had treated him and his forbears as a powerless anachronism. Even some Hindus professed their allegiance to Bahadur Shah as Badshah i Hind (emperor of India). The British were astonished by this since they assumed most Hindus detested the oppressive Mughals who had desecrated hundreds of Hindu mandirs and reduced Hindus to dhimmi status: making them pay extra high taxes.

The emperor had coins minted. Distributing coinage with his name on it was an indication of sovereignty.

The British in Delhi and their Indian supporters were killed. Some Indians hid their British friends to save their lives.

The mutineer commanders soon began squabbling. Bahadur Shah muttered, ”soon the British will be hanging me.”

Not all the mutineers wanted the Mughal Empire back. But even for those who disliked it the emperor was the only central authority other than the British.  The mutineers had to have someone to rally around. The British liked to remind the Hindu majority that previous Mughal emperors had cruelly persecuted the Hindus. Babur, Aurangzeb and other Mughals dynasts had destroyed hundreds of Hindu temples building mosques in their place. By contrast the British boasted that they had never demolished a single Hindu temple or a single mosque.

The news spread like wildfire to other EIC garrisons. Some British commanders knew that their regiments were disaffected. The unit would then be told to hand in its weapons. Once this was done the regiment would be disbanded. These men were then dispersed. But some later joined the rebels. In one place the EIC soldiers who had been disarmed were fired upon by the British soldiers.

Some British officers were convinced that their men were steadfast to them. In some cases British officers even moved into a barrack room with their men and slept in the same room to prove their utter trust in their subordinates. This trust was mostly repaid.

The princely stated of Oudh (pronounced ‘Awadh’) had been abolished on 4 years earlier.  It had been absorbed into a province under direct British administration. Many people in Oudh disliked the dissolution of their state and yearned for its re-establishment. They had heartfelt loyalty for their former royal family. They therefore rose in revolt against the British interlopers.

Lieutenant Colonel Neill marched his men through the Ganges Plain. If his suspected civilians were aiding the rebels he had them hanged. Dozens of innocent people were put to death on his orders.

  1. What was the name of the King of Delhi?
  2. What title did he resume in 1857?
  3. Why were people in Oudh usually anti-British?
  4. Why was Bahadur Shah hesitant about proclaiming himself emperor? Five marks
  5. Why did the British do to EIC regiments of dubious loyalty?


There was a large British garrison at Kanpur ( then spelt ‘Cawnpore’). Kanpur is in what is now called Uttar Pradesh in north central India. It was an is an overwhelmingly Hindu and Hindi speaking area. In those days it was known as the United Provinces. General Wheeler was in command. Unusually for the era, Wheeler was married to an Indian. He had a close relationship with a local potentate named Nana Sahib. Wheeler was confident in the fidelity of his Indian soldiers. However, mutineers closed in and besieged Cawnpore in June 1857. The city is now spelt ‘Kanpur’. Wheeler was trapped in the city with thousands of people British soldiers and civilians as well as pro-British Indians. Nana Sahib took the side of the rebels.

On 27 June an agreement was reached with Nana Sahib. The rebels would allow safe passage to some of the people in the city. Wounded soldiers, women and children would be evacuated by boat to Allahabad. The defenders of the city were very low on food so agreed. Those being evacuated were allowed to take guns. The majority of defenders of the city remained in Kanpur.

As the evacuees approached the river the rebels demanded that the Indian soldiers among the British party be separated from the others. The pro-British Indian soldiers were duly separated from the rest. What was to happen to these pro-British soldiers? Were they going to be killed?

What happened next is a matter of dispute. Did some British soldier want to save his Indian comrade and so opened fire on the rebels? Or did the rebels start shooting? In the end the wounded British soldiers and their Indian allies were all killed.

The rebels took the women and children hostage. They were not allowed to proceed to Allahabad. The civilians were held hostage for a couple of weeks. Then the rebel commander ordered his men to kill the civilians. The rebels refused saying that it would be an act unworthy of an Indian solider. As no Indian solider would commit this crime the commander found some local butchers who agreed to do so.

The slaying of the civilians and of British and Indian soldiers despite the promise of safe passage incensed British opinion. Thereafter the British and their Indian confederates had a policy of giving no quarter to the enemy.

The rebels regarded pro-British Indians are hirelings. If they fell into rebel hands the Indian loyalists met no mercy.

In September Kanpur was relieved. British arrived were marched past the remains of British civilians who had been killed. The British officers reasoned that this would rouse a fury in their troops who would then be willing and even eager to kill their enemies.

Rebels who were taken prisoner were taken the Bibighar – the house where the civilians had been slain. The unfortunate rebels were made to eat pork or beef. In some cases they were forced to lick human blood. They were then executed by being blown from cannon. Under the Mughals this was a punishment for rebellion. Some Hindus believed this deprived them of reincarnation.

Oudh had been annexed only in 1856. The people of Oudh disliked this and wanted their state back. Lucknow was a large city there and it was garrisoned with British troops and their Indian allies.

  1. Why did Wheeler think there would be no rebellion at Kanpur?
  2. What went wrong with the evacuation of wounded soldiers and civilians from Kanpur? Five marks
  3. How did the EIC and British execute rebels?


Sir John Lawrence and his men at Lucknow were besieged. With the hundreds of British soldiers were hundreds of Indians who remained true to them and 1 000 civilians. The defenders of Lucknow resisted for 3 months. Then a relief column came. Sir Henry Havelock reached Lucknow with his soldiers. But they were too few to break the siege. In the end they joined the defenders of the city.

It was not until November that a large relief column arrived. The rebels who had been investing the city withdrew. They branded the pro-British Indians as quislings.

Some princely states threw in their lot with the British at the outset. As the British notched up more and more victories then more princely stated declared their undying fidelity to the British Crown. They wanted to be on the winning side. They saw that the penalty for rebellion was severe indeed.

The Sikhs had been bested by the EIC only a few years earlier in the Second Anglo-Sikh War. The Punjab had been absorbed into the British Raj. Some of it was under direct British control but there were also some princely states. No Sikh wished to see a revival of the Mughal Empire which had striven to extirpate the Sikh faith. Therefore the Sikhs backed the East India Company.

  1. Who was the British commander at Lucknow?
  2. Why did the Sikhs side with the British?

The Rani of Jhansi

In June 1857 the rebellion spread to Jhansi. This state had been annexed only in 1853. The Rana had died that year without a son. He had an adopted son but the British would not accept the adoptee as heir. The British went by the rule that pertained in the United Kingdom. A king could only be succeeded by an heir male of his body. An illegitimate son did not count. Britons said that a son born of concubine was born outside of wedlock.

Some British civilians fled to Jhansi Fort. The fort was stormed and the civilians were killed. The British held the Rani of Jhansi responsible for this even though she had not ordered it.

The Rani was the queen of her people. Her name was Lakshmibai and she is seen as a heroine to Indians to this day. In those times men and women had totally separate roles. Despite this she bravely assumed military command of her soldiers. She led them into battle.

The EIC Army retook Jhansi in 1858. The Rani was killed in a battle shortly afterwards. She was the only senior rebel commander to die in action.

  1. Why did Jhansi rise up against the British?
  2. Why is Lakshmibai exalted by many Indians today as a superlative womanhood?

The Siege of Delhi

There were British soldiers in Delhi when the rebellion broke out. The British managed to blow up some ammunition dumps to stop the ammo getting into rebel hands. British soldiers and civilians then fled Delhi. Those who did not were killed.

On 1 July the British and their Indian allies approached Delhi to lay siege to it. As they did so the EIC forces hanged dozens of civilians they claimed had abetted the rebels. One man who was seized and interrogated was a Kashmiri Hindu named Mr Nehru. He was the grandfather of Jawaharlal Nehru. Luckily for him Mr Nehru happened to speak a little English which was very rare in India back then. He managed to delay matters and talk them out of hanging him by many effusive expressions of pro-British sentiment. Many others were not so fortunate.

The defenders of Delhi were more numerous than the attackers. The British column approaching Delhi hanged many civilians whom it suspected of assisting the rebels. The British and EIC column was led by an Irishman named John Nicholson. The British and their Indian confederates. had really bounced back. The Mutiny had erupted only 8 weeks earlier.

The attackers did not manage to surround the city for several weeks. The defenders gallantly counterattacked several times.

Finally British siege artillery arrived. It pummelled the city walls and knocked out the rebel artillery. At the end of August more reinforcement arrived for the British: Sikhs and Pakhtuns. Pakhtuns are Pashtun speaking Muslims from the North-West Frontier (i.e. modern day Pakistan). Up until this point the defenders could have simply left the city. But by late August they were surrounded.

The assault on Delhi began.  John Nicholson led from the front. He insisted on leading the charge to inspire his men with his valour. The British and their allies burst into the city at Kashmir Gate. Many of the attackers were killed including John Nicholson. The attackers were almost driven off. But they persisted and managed to get to the Red Fort.

Nicholson is now honoured by a statue at his old school. This is contentious. Some believed that it should be removed.

The attackers deliberately killed hundreds of Indian civilians. The assailants pillaged freely. Bahadur Shah and his sons were taken prisoner at Humayun’s Tomb.

The British troops escorting the emperor’s sons Mirza Mughal and Mirza Khazir Sultan to the rear saw a group of enemy soldiers coming close. The British officer in charge was William Hodson. Hodson was loathe to kill prisoners of war (POWs). However, he feared that in a coming clash with the enemy his high value prisoners might escape or be rescued. Hodson ordered Mirza Mughal and Mirza Khazir Sultan to be shot dead. It was done. If these men had been freed it would have been a boost to rebel morale and provided them with leaders. Britons justified to kill these two men since they had betrayed their British allies.

Shah Bahadur was sent into exile in Burma (Myanmar) where there were almost no Muslims. Many Britishers said he should have been executed. He lived out his days composing mournful Urdu verses. His surviving son in India changed his name and lived in obscurity. Only in 2007 did a documentary identify who his descendants were. They were living modestly in South India.

Retaking Delhi was a huge psychological fillip for the British and their Indian adherents. It was a body blow to the morale of the rebels.

In November 1857 the British felt secure enough to offer amnesty to any rebel who had not killed a civilian. Not many trusted such assurances of mercy.

  1. Why did Britons in Delhi explode an ammunition store?
  2. Who was the British commander leading the assault on Delhi?
  3. Why were the emperor’s sons killed?
  4. What happened to the last emperor?
  5. How did the British and EIC armies behave in Delhi? Five marks

The next year

The Viceroy of India was Lord Canning the son of the late Prime Minister George Canning. Lord Canning urged his troops to be merciful. Some of the contemptuously called him ‘clemency Canning.’ Lord Canning had only arrived in the subcontinent a few months earlier.

There were only a hundred miles of railway in India at the time. The British and pro-British Indians had not  been able to use it much. Likewise, the telegraph had only been installed in India a few years earlier. Nevertheless the few places with telegraph facilities were useful in conveying messages for the British Raj.

When the year 1858 dawned it became plain that the British and their Indian supporters were winning. The King of Nepal threw in his lot with the British.  With British agreement he dispatched his army to India to repress the rebellion. The Nepalese Army was very useful to their British allies in defeating the insurgency in Oudh.

The EIC had beaten Nepal in the 1814 Nepal War. The Ochterlony Monument in Kolkata commemorates this. Nepal used to be double its current size. Simla used to be part of Nepal for instance. After 1814 the British and Nepalese had a sympathetic relationship.

Some of the rebels fled to Nepal in 1858. The king ordered them to be arrested and handed over to the British authorities. The Britishers were grateful to the Nepalese for their endeavour in quelling the revolt. The British even returned some of the land they had seized from Nepal in 1814.

Some rebels continued to resist in the wilderness. The British and their Indian supporters find this difficult to mop up. The rebellion was not finally snuffed out until November 1858. Seditionists were silent.

The EIC was dissolved in 1858. The UK Government started to assume direct control of India. Queen Victoria assured Indians that they could rise to any position in the administration.

In future the British authorities took care not to offend Indian religious sensibilities. They ended the doctrine of lapse. Regiments from ethnic groups that had rebelled were disbanded. In future the Indian Army relied more heavily on the Sikhs and the Gurkhas (Nepalese). The British did not let Indians have any artillery after 1857. They never entirely trusted their Indian allies.

Some Britons thought that the rebellion was more Muslim than Hindu. Delhi started to have a Hindu majority for the first time in centuries.

Much of India was completely placid. South India was almost entirely docile. In Bengal there was almost no fighting. In Gujarat there was very little fighting. The Punjab and North-West Frontier was supportive of the British. In Maharashtra and Sindh the situation was tranquil.

From and India nationalist perspective one of the most heartening was that there has excellent Hindu-Muslim. However, by no means all Muslims or all Hindus supported the rebellion even in the affected areas. Almost no Sikhs or Christians backed the revolt.

The British had a lucky escape in that the Afghans did not choose this most propitious moment to attack. If they had done so it would have spelt finis for the British Raj. The British had even considered handing some territory to the Afghans to placate them. However, it was noted that the Afghans had broken solemn oaths sworn on the Holy Koran when they made a deal with the British in 1839. The Afghans were not to be trusted.

The rebellion only affected north central India. If every region had risen up then the British would have been scrambling for their ships.

There were 310 000 Indians in the EIC’s Army. There were 45 000 British troops in India. Only about a third of the EIC  Army rebelled. There were armies of princely states that rebelled against the British. There were also ordinary men who were not part of any army who grabbed any weapon (even a farm tool) and fought against the British.

At least 100 000 Indian combatants were killed. Tens of thousands of Indian civilians were killed. Most of them were killed by the British and their Indian followers. A small number of Indian civilians were put to death by the rebels.

The rebellion failed due to a lack of co-ordination and leadership. There was no overall strategy and poor communication. Bahadur Shah was uninspiring and lacked self-assurance. Having launched one mutiny it was difficult for the rebels not to suffer another. Discipline broke down. The Rebel Army suffered from desertion. After May 1857 some rebels simply deserted their units and went home to their villages especially after they had gathered some loot. This desertion accelerated in late 1857 when it looked like the rebels were being vanquished.

Rebels had radically different visions of a post-British India. Some cared only about their state. Some wanted total independence for their state. Some cared only about their religion. Some wanted the Mughal Empire back and others were dead against it.

No Briton or Indian loyalist was ever punished for killing a civilian in 1857.

  1. When did the rebellion end?
  2.  What role did Nepal play? (Five marks)
  3. Which regions of India were peaceful?
  4. Why did some princely states fight on the British side?
  5. Why did the rebels lose? (Five marks)


From an Indian nationalist perspective the co-operation between Hindus and Muslims was most encouraging. But national identity was underdeveloped. Many Indians regarded themselves are primarily Hindu or primarily Muslim rather than Indian. People identified with their princely state or region. There was little sense of being Indian. Being a Rajput, Gujarati, Punjabi or Bengali matter far more to most people than being Indian.

The telegraph and railways had only just started. These were to bring India together over the coming decades.

Local identity played a key role in the rebellion. People often rebelled because of local grievances such as the dissolution of a state. States with pro-British princes did not rebel. The rebellion was geographically circumscribed. It did not spread outside north central India. The British were never so enfeebled that adjacent independent countries such as Nepal and Afghanistan decided to enter the fray.

The rebels are not usually called freedom fighters in India. Any Indian who took the side of the British is deprecated. He is regarded as having sold out his nation for a mess of potage.

Historians are unsure how planned the rebellion was. Was it spontaneous? However, there is little evidence that it was planned. It is hard to know because most people were illiterate in 1857. Many rebels were killed. Those who survived had to keep quiet about it for their own safety. Therefore there are few documents from the rebel side. If there was a plan it was naturally clandestine and therefore went unrecorded.

A key historiographical debate is how religiously inspired the rebellion was. Was it solely or mainly about animal fat on cartridges? To what extent did other political or economic issues play a role? There were some underlying discontents but it took sacrilege to catalyse this into open warfare.

Indira Gandhi. super advanced course lesson 10


super advanced course lesson 10


In 1917 Indira Priyadarshini Nehru was born at Allahabad, India. Her father was Jawaharlal Nehru who was a barrister and a luminary in the Congress Party. Her mother was Kamala Nehru. Indira’s grandfather Motilal was also a barrister and had been leader of Congress.

The family were Hindus and had come from Kashmir a century earlier. They were fluent in Hindi and English.

Indira was born several years after her parents wed. She was a much longed for child. Her middle name means ‘dear to the sight.’ She was given the best education money could buy. She grew up in a large and commodious house with extensive gardens and several servants. She was cognizant that not everyone was so blessed as her. Some people in that city lived in abject penury.

In the 1920s her family started to oppose the British Raj outright. Her father and grandfather were frequently arrested. They were fined for civil disobedience. They refused to pay these fines. Policemen came to the house to confiscate goods to the value of the fine. As the police tried to take away the furniture the toddler Indira punched them.

Indira totally agreed with the Congress Party. Her family decided not to buy any British products. They decided that they would also destroy all the British made objects they owned. In public in held a bonfire and burnt their pricey British clothes. In solidarity Indira burnt her treasured dolls.

In the 1920s Kamala was plagued by ill health. She gave birth to a boy who died within days.

In the 1930s Kamala died. Indira’s relationship with her father became even closer. Being an only child was highly unusual back then.

As a teenager she met Ferozevarun Gandhi who proposed marriage to her. She turned him down because she was of legal age but she considered herself too young.

In time Indira was sent to school at Badminton, England. She was fairly scholarly.

In 1935 Indira went to Oxford University. She attended Somerville College. This was an all female college. She joined the Labour Club. Indira was attracted to the UK Labour Party because they were sympathetic to Indian independence.

Whilst in the UK she was dating Ferozevarun Gandhi. He was a Parsee which is a very minor Indian religion. He was studying at the London School of Economics (LSE). Indira and Ferozevarun visited Paris together.

Indira struggled with Latin at Oxford. She soon dropped out.

Ferozevarun and Indira sailed to India. They became engaged. In 1942 they married in Allahabad.  The marriage was conducted according to Hindu usages. Thereafter she was known as Mrs Gandhi.

Indira soon became pregnant. Her husband was arrested for anti-colonial agitation. Indira then gave birth to her firstborn Rajiv in 1944.  In 1945 Ferozevarun was set free. In 1946 their second child Sanjay was born.

In 1947 India became independent. Indira was in the Congress Party. India granted women political equality upon independence.

In the 1950s Indira entered politics. She rose rapidly. Her husband worked as a journalist.

Indira traveled abroad with her father. She and her sons sailed with the prime minister to Indonesia for the Bandung Conference.

By the mid 1950s Indira and her husband were estranged. They lived separately but did not divorce. There was a stigma surrounding divorce at the time.

Indira sent her sons to boarding school. They attended the Doon School which is in Dehra Dun. Dehra Dun is in the hills north of Delhi. The Doon School is one of India’s elite schools and was founded by an Eton schoolmaster in the 1930s.

In 1960 Ferozevarun died. Indira never remarried.

By the early 1960s Indira was a cabinet minister. Her father was visibly ailing.

In 1964 Nehru died. He was replaced as prime minister by Lal Bahadur Shastri.

In 1965 Shastri died in the Soviet Union. Some suspect that he was poisoned.

Indira was made prime minister. She was the second woman in the world to become prime minister. She said she wanted to advance women’s rights and abolish pauperism.

Mrs Gandhi tacked towards the USSR. The prime minister believed that India needed to take advantage of all that the Soviets had to offer.  She was not communist but was not anti-communist either. I P Gandhi scorned American rhetoric about democracy when the US propped up so many pernicious dictatorships. She excoriated the United States for fighting in Vietnam. The USA had decided to back Pakistan a religiously discriminatory military dictatorship over India which was one of the freest countries on earth. Indira visited the USSR several times and lauded it for its achievements.

Indira continued to try to help lower caste people. She believed positive discrimination must be used to help these people. She was also eager to advance women. Mrs Gandhi outlawed dowries. That is because some Hindus believe that a bride’s family must offer a dowry. If a woman’s family did not have enough money then she could not wed. The amount for dowries went up and up. It became ruinous. Mr Gandhi said this system was pernicious and ruined families. A woman who did not wed was scorned by some.

Under Mrs G the licence raj continued. To produce or import things people needed licences. This was intended to ensure there was no useless overproduction. The needs of the poor would be provided for. She did not want wealth leaving India with people buying many costly foreign manufactures. She pursued a socialist economic policy.

Some in Congress were unhappy with her. Some of the old guard were envious because they wanted the top job. They regarded her as inexperienced.

In 1971 she played a blinder against Pakistan. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from East Pakistan fled to India because the Pakistani Army was slaughtering civilians. When the sympathy of the world was clearly with India Mrs G ordered an invasion. The Pakistani Army in East Pakistan was smashed in short order.

Indians were jubilant. Bangladesh was free. Mrs G’s popularity was at its apogee. She held an election and won a resounding victory.

Her foes accused her of having a conceit of herself. She was depicted by cartoonists as Queen Victoria. Perhaps victory went to her head and she was haughty.

Sanjay Gandhi entered Parliament. Rajiv was not attracted to politics. He flew for Air India.

The Government of India wanted to reduce the population. A policy of vasectomies was introduced. Sometimes it was forced on men and this was illegal. Sanjay was involved in implementing this policy.  Some people left Congress over this.

In 1974 the oil crisis struck. A legal challenge deposed her as an MP. She declared a state of emergency.

The hike in oil prices hit India very hard. It became costly to generate electricity. It became too expensive to transport food and other goods by truck. Therefore the price of foodstuffs increased.

Mrs G met Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher was leader of the Conservative Party. She was nervous. Mrs G advised the woman to be more self-assured or she would never make it as PM.

In 1976 Sanjay died in an air crash. Indira was distraught. Her other son Rajiv agreed to enter the political arena.

In 1977 the state of emergency ended. Elections were held. Mrs G was defeated. Congress went into opposition.

In 1979 another election was held. Indira’s party was known as Congress (Indira) to distinguish it from other parties that used the name Congress. Congress (Indira) won a clear victory. Mrs G was back as prime minister.

Mrs G had to contend with an insurgency in the Punjab. She had to order the army to be more pro active.

Indira flew around the world. She was respected by statesmen far and wide. She maintained a cordial relationship with the West as well as the USSR. Mrs G visited the United States and the UK. She also hosted the Queen of the United Kingdom on a state visit to India.

In June 1984 the prime minister ordered the army to defeat the KLF which was holed up in the Golden Temple, Amritsar. This is the holiest site of Sikhism. The army achieved its objective. However, the fighting in the Golden Temple enraged Sikhs.

Some of the PM’s bodyguards were Sikhs. She was advised not to allow Sikh soldiers near her. Some of them might decided to seek revenge for the damage to their holiest site. Mrs G said she trusted her men and would not send the Sikhs away because that would be bigotry.

On 31 October 1984 two Sikh soldiers decided that they would slay the prime minister. Mrs Gandhi was about to give an interview to Peter Ustinov. As they walked across the garden in Safdarjang Road two soldiers shot her. She collapsed. She was rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. However, she died of exsanguination.

One of her assassins was shot dead at the scene. The other was shot and wounded. The wounded man was later judicially executed.

Mrs Gandhi was cremated in Delhi at the customary location for the obsequies for Indian dignitaries. She was succeeded as prime minister by her son Rajiv.


  1. In which year was she born?
  2. In which city was she born?
  3. What was her father’s name?
  4. What faith was the family?
  5. Which school did she attend?
  6. Which British party did she join?
  7. Why did she leave Oxford?
  8. Whom did she marry?
  9. What religion was Ferozvarun?
  10. What were the names of her sons?
  11. Which of her sons was first politically ambitious?
  12. Why was Sanjay unpopular?
  13.  Who was PM before Indira in 1965?
  14. Why did some in Congress dislike Indira?
  15. What year was the victory in East Pakistan?
  16. When did Indira lose an election?
  17. What year did she return as PM?
  18. In which year did she die?
  19. What is your estimation for her? Five marks

India since independence



Founding the state

In 1947 India became independent. At the same time Partition occurred. This involved the severance of a large part of India which became a new country called Pakistan.

The Prime Minister was Nehru. He led the Congress Party. Congress had the most Members of Parliament. There were several minor parties.

Lord Mountbatten was Governor-General of India until 1948. He then left the country. C Rajagopalachari became Governor-General.

India was struggling with several major problems. The after effects of the Second World War were still being felt. India had to accommodate 7 000 000 refugees. They were Hindus and Sikhs who had fled Pakistan. Many of the refugees arrived ill or wounded after their nightmare journey. The creation of Pakistan had caused enormous dislocation. Two provinces – Bengal and the Punjab – had been cut in half by Partition.

In October 1947 Pakistani tribesmen had attacked Kashmir. Kashmir was a northern princely state. The Maharajah of Kashmir was a playboy called Hari Singh. Lord Mountbatten had tried to persuade him to opt for either India or Pakistan before August 1947. The maharajah had refused. He said that Kashmir would be an independent country. He was a Hindu who ruled a mostly Muslim state. The Kashmiri Army was small and lightly armed. It was easily pushed back by the Pakistanis. Some of the Kashmiri Army were of doubtful loyalty. A few wanted to join Pakistan.

The Pakistanis wanted Kashmir because of its Muslim majority. But not all Muslims wanted to join Pakistan. In Gujarat, Bombay Province, the United Provinces, Kerala and Bihar there were tens of millions of Muslims who stayed put in 1947. They were Indian and did not wish to be Pakistani. They saw no contradiction between being Indian and being Muslim.

The Maharajah appealed to India for military assistance to repel the Pakistani tribesmen.  They were advancing on Sriangar the capital of Kashmir. Lord Mountbatten said that India could only send its soldiers if the maharajah signed an instrument of accession – making Kashmir legally part of the new independent India. The maharajah did so.

The Indian Army was airlifted to Srinagar in the nick of time. The tribesmen were repelled. Then the regular Pakistani Army started to fight.

White British officers remained on in the armies of both India and Pakistan for a few years after independence. Therefore there were some Britons on both sides of this conflict. The Pakistani soldiers had all being part of the Indian Army till only two months before!

In January 1948 Gandhi preached reconciliation with Pakistan. The war against Pakistan was still ongoing. He announced a plan to travel to the new nation and work for peace and fraternity. Some Hindu hardliners were outraged by M K Gandhi’s words. They considered this to be aiding the infidel enemy. In January 1948 Gandhi went to Birla House to hold his vesperal prayer meeting. A man went up Gandhi and shot him in the chest. Gandhi exclaimed ”Hey Ram” (”Oh God”) before falling dead.

In 1948 the United Nations brokered a ceasefire. Pakistan had taken control of one-third of Kashmir. The Pakistanis called it ‘Azad Kashmir’ meaning ‘Free Kashmir.’ Delhi insisted that land was under illegal enemy occupation. Two-thirds of Kashmir remained with India. The ceasefire line was called ‘The Line of Actual Control’. That ended the First Indo-Pak War.

The UN said that the whole of Kashmir should be reunited under Indian rule and then a referendum held to determine the future of Kashmir. The Pakistanis said that the referendum should go ahead. India promised to do so but only after the Pakistani occupiers had left. Pakistan refused to budge.

Hyderabad was a large state in South India. The Nizam of Hyderabad was the prince. The Nizam was a Muslim who ruled a 90% Hindu people. He had refused to plump for either India or Pakistan. In 1948 Nehru decided he would simply absorb Hyderabad by force. The Indian Army entered the state. Some of the Hyderabad Army fought against them. The Indian Army quickly won. Hyderabad became part of the new India. Very few Hyderabadis objected. The same thing happened in a tiny state in Gujarat called Junagadh.

The armies of the princely states were integrated into the Indian Army. Some princes became MPs for the Congress Party.

In 1948 the last regiment of the British Army left through the Gateway of India in Bombay (Mumbai). It was the Somerset Light Infantry. A tiny British community remained of businesspeople and plantation owners.

  1. In which year did India become independent?
  2. Why did Pakistan claim Kashmir?
  3. Why was it easy at first for Pakistanis when they invaded Kashmir?
  4. What did the Maharajah of Kashmir do when his land was invaded?
  5. Who was the first Governor-General of India?
  6. What happened in Hyderabad?
  7. Where did the last British troops leave from?


A Republic

On 26 January 1950 India proclaimed a republic. It was 20 years to the day that Congress had stated its goal was not to be a dominion but to be a totally independent country. India thereby cut all links with the British monarchy.  This is celebrated as Republic Day with huge military parades. The Prime Minister delivers a speech at the Red Fort in Delhi.

That same year the Constitution of India was promulgated. It stated that India is a socialist republic and values equality.  Men and women having equality was a major step forward. The constitution was secular. That is to say it did not favour or disfavour any religion. The constitution listed 18 recognised languages. The only principally used as Hindi and English. The provinces were renamed ‘states’.  The Constitution spells out the relationship between the ‘Centre’ (i.e. the government in Delhi) and the government of each state. Every state has a chief minister – he or she is the equivalent of the prime minister of the state. The official title of the Prime Minister of India translates into Hindi as ‘husband of the nation.’ But is the nation female? Or is the PM necessarily male? The Constitution abolished the post of Governor-General and replaced it with President of India. He or she is elected by the legislatures of the states.

Dr Ambedkar wrote the Constitution. He was a Harijan – an outcast. He has overcome discrimination to achieve great things.

In the 1950s many language groups demanded a state for itself. The Government of India reorganised the states. However, India has 2 000 languages. It cannot have 2 000 states! The States Reorganisation Act was passed in 1956. States were created for major languages. Some states have several minor official languages.

The princely states were integrated into the states of India. The princes still carried some sway in their former princely states.

The government strove to reduce poverty and to spread literacy. At first progress was slow on both counts. Nehru wanted the country to industrialise.

India tried to have a planned economy. Socialism was supposed to be more equitable. People had to have licences to produce things. However, economic growth was slow. People called this period the licence Raj.

Nehru declared that India was neutral in the Cold War. He set up the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). He regularly met with other leaders of the NAM. He was a good friend of Tito who was President of Yugoslavia and Nasser President who was of Egypt.

India retained fraternal ties with the United Kingdom. The UK was still an important trading partner. Many spare parts for machines were imported from the United Kingdom. Furthermore, Britain was India’s main export market. Over time that importance to India diminished.

Many countries were still colonies. India pushed for decolonisation. Nehru attended the Bandung Anti-Colonial Conference in Indonesia.

Indira Gandhi (daughter of Nehru) rose up the ranks in Congress. She was an MP. She had split from her husband and had more time to devote to politics.

Prime Minister noticed that the wrong sort of people were joining Congress. Until 1947 those who joined were idealistic. They were committed to the party and were willing to suffer for their platitudes. By the 1950s Congress was ruling the party. Being a member of the party was advantageous and people did not have to sacrifice for the party. Some opportunists were joining the party just for personal gain. A few members of the party were betraying the principles of the party by engaging in corruption.

Hindus are divided into castes. Nehru believed that the caste system was nefarious and declared it abolished. However, a few people still believed in it and felt antipathy towards other castes. He set up a system for the ‘scheduled castes’. He was trying to help those who had been discriminated against.

Nehru had always admired the Chinese. China was ruled by the Communist Party. Nehru was not a communist but did not believe that communists were as wicked as Westerners said. In 1962 Nehru was shocked when China attacked India and took some of India’s northern territory.  People rounded on Nehru saying he had been naive to trust the Chinese so much.

In 1964 Nehru died. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered on the river in his native Allahabad.


  1. When did Nehru die?
  2. When did India become a republic?
  3. What did Nehru think was going wrong with Congress in the 1950s?
  4. What was the Non Aligned Movement?


After Nehru

A new prime minister took over. His name was Lal Bahadur Shastri (meaning ‘Red Brave Teacher’). Congress was still in charge. Shastri was a veteran of the campaign for independence.

In 1964 another war broke out over Pakistan. India achieved a decisive breakthrough in West Pakistan. Indian tanks approached the outskirts of Lahore – Pakistan’s second biggest city. Pakistan sued for peace and talks were arranged. Some Indians were frustrated because they believe they were on the brink of an outright defeat of Pakistan. Shastri was giving this away! Had the Indian jawans died in vain.

Pakistani and Indian delegations went to Tashkent in the USSR. Tashkent is now the capital of Uzbekistan.

The Soviets mediated the talks. This was called the Second Indo-Pakistani War that was ended.

At Tashkent a peace agreement was reached. Within hours of signing the agreement the Prime Minister of India died! The Soviets never released their autopsy. Shastri’s family suspected he was poisoned. His body was flown to India for his funeral. Who would kill Shastri? The Soviets often poisoned their enemies. Did the USSR want Shastri dead? Or was it Pakistan who killed him? Perhaps an Indian killed him because they disliked him for signing the peace agreement.

Indira Gandhi became prime minister. She was the second woman in the world to become prime minister.

Mrs Gandhi was more sympathetic to the USSR than some others. She remembered the USSR had pressed the British to grant independence to India. The USSR sided with India in every dispute. She was not a communist but believed that communism did some good. In some Indian states the communists won elections to head the state government such as West Bengal and Kerala. She visited Moscow several times. There is an Indian School in Moscow. The USSR provided economic aid. The Indian Armed Forces were also trained by the Soviets and bought Soviet equipment. Despite that India did not become a formal Soviet ally. India was also irked at the USA for helping Pakistan so much since the 1950s.

In the 1960s High Yield Varieties of rice were invented. These helped India’s Green Revolution. Rice yields increased. Famines were a thing of the past. DDT was used a lot to kills pests that ate crops. Poverty started to be reduce more. People had a bit more money to spend on other goods. The government was achieving considerable success in spreading literacy.

Not everyone in Congress was happy with Mrs Gandhi. Some of the veterans of the party felt she was overpromoted. They were disturbed by her authoritarian tendencies and her closeness to the USSR. Some people left Congress and set up their own party called Congress (Organisation). Indira’s party was called Congress (Requisitionist) to distinguish it. It was known as Congress (R) for short. Congress (R) was much bigger than Congress (O).

  1. Who was India’s second PM?
  2. When was the Second Indo-Pak War?
  3. What was the green Revolution?
  4. What was suspicious about Shastri’s death?



In 1971 many people in East Pakistan were unhappy with West Pakistani dominance. Some in West Pakistan despised the Easterners and called them racial epithets. A cyclone in the Bay of Bengal wreaked devastation in EP. WP reacted with indifference. The Awami League – an exclusively EP party – won Pakistan’s election. EP had a slight majority of the population. The Pakistani president refused to let the Awami League form a government. The official language of Pakistan is Urdu. In EP many people objected since Bengali was the majority language of Pakistan. Urdu was only the native language of a minority in WP and it was the native language of virtually no-one in EP.

Some Biharis had shifted to EP in 1947. For them EP was closer to their old home than WP. They arrived speaking Urdu. As Urdu speakers they were advantaged. This caused resentment in EP. They were seen as carpet baggers. The Biharis were dedicated to the concept of Pakistan. They had lost everything in leaving Bihar.

In 1971 India signed a treaty of friendship with the USSR. Military aid from the Soviets was to prove crucial.

In EP there was a huge insurrection. Some people from EP crossed into India for military training. The Indian Army provided this. Those men from EP who were determined to break their homeland away from Pakistan were called Mukti Bahini (”Freedom Fighters”). Mukti Bahini wanted to renamed EP ‘Bangladesh.’

Discontent in EP was blamed by the Pakistani Government on the Hindu minority who comprised 20% of the people of EP. Pakistan also said it was India’s fault. They said it was the machinations of Hindustan that has stirred up the trouble.They accused the Bangladesh Movement of being traitors. Islamabad said that Bangladeshi nationalism was un-Islamic. Bangladeshi nationalists said they were not hirelings of Delhi.

There were Hindus on the side of Bangladeshi nationalism. They could feel little allegiance to a country which they were not supposed to live in. They were discriminated against by law. Khawja Nazimuddin formerly PM of Pakistan had said their should suffer inequality. And he was from the East.

Most Bangladeshi nationalists were Muslims. They proclaimed their faith. It was a lie to say that they were apostates. Some mullahs issued fatwas to say that anyone who sought independence for EP was in effect a Hindu. As an infidel he could have be slain, have his goods pillaged and womenfolk subjected to ravishment.

The Pakistani Army recruited Razakars ‘volunteers’ in EP. They were Biharis and religious reactionaries. Madrassas sent fanatics to join Al Shams Brigade and Al Badr Brigade. Al Shams (the sun) was used for static duties. Al Badr was a little more skilled and went on many a razzia with the Pakistani Army. These were men with minimal military training. They wanted EP to remain united with WP because of Muslim unity.

The Pakistani Army was made up overwhelmingly of men from WP. The Pakistani Army committed many huge scale atrocities in EP. Tens of thousands of civilians were slaughtered. Many women were subjected to indecent crimes. The Pak Army targeted the intelligentsia. They raided Dacca University and slew professors and undergraduates. The aim was to lobotomise EP. In an era when many were illiterate graduates were exalted.

Millions of people fled EP into India. India could barely cope with the flood of refugees. Millions more were displaced within EP as they ran away from the ravages of the Pakistani Army.

The US Government refused to speak out about this despite President Nixon being informed by Americans in EP what was going on. Pakistan was an American ally and Nixon was not about to embarrass the Pakistanis. The US Navy to the Bay of Bengal to hint to India that the United States might help Pakistan if India invaded EP.

Pakistan blamed the whole thing on India for arming the Mukti Bahini. When British and American diplomats asked Pakistani Army officers about the many massacres of civilians committed by the Pakistani Army they met with an odd response. The army officers had no hesitation in acknowledging that they were slaying civilians on a huge scale. But they were puzzled that the British or Americans found this objectionable. ”We are not doing this to your people. War is war” was a typical response.

Some people from EP were in WP. Those thought to be sympathetic to Bangaldeshi nationalism were detained.

The world was aware of the situation. British and American diplomats sent reports to their governments saying that the Pakistani Army was committing numerous large scale massacres in EP.

Finally in December 1971 war broke out between India and Pakistan. India had massed troops on the border. Pakistan bombed India. President V V Giri proclaimed war on Pakistan. Within three weeks. Pakistan was thrashed. Over 100 000 Pakistanis in EP surrendered. That ended the Third Indo-Pakistani War.

The Prisoners of War were so detested by the local people that they might have been killed by the local people if the Indian Army did not hold the locals back. The Indian Army was unsure of its ability to protect the Pakistani Prisoners of War (POWs) so even allowed them to retain their weapons so the POWs could defend themselves from local people. The POWs were eventually taken to India and help in camps without their weapons.

Would East Pakistan come home to India? The calamitous error of 1947 could be corrected at least in the east. Mrs Gandhi said she would not forcibly reintegrate East Pakistan. She would allow its people to determine their own destiny. East Pakistan renamed itself Bangladesh. Bangladesh proclaimed its sovereign independence.

The Commonwealth of Nations welcomed Bangladesh in as a member. The Pakistanis took umbrage at this. Pakistan stormed out in high dudgeon.


  1. Why were many in East Pakistan unhappy with how they were treated?
  2. What was the Mukhti Bahini?
  3. Why did India intervene in East Pakistan?
  4. What was East Pakistan renamed?
  5. Why did Pakistan leave the Commonwealth?

Mrs Gandhi triumphant

After this resounding victory over Pakistan the prime minister of India was incredibly popular. She held an election and her slogan was ‘Banish Poverty!‘ Congress won by a landslide. After her victory some people said that Mrs Gandhi was more arrogant than Queen Victoria. Some Congress people were overenthusiastic and said ‘India is Indira’.

In 1972 buoyed up by her election victory Mrs Gandhi abolished privy purses for princely states. The Republic of India would no longer recognise their titles.

Mrs Gandhi’s antipoverty schemes seemed to yield few dividends. Many complained that a lot of officials in her party were taking bribes. More people left Congress (R) in disillusionment. Among them were some luminaries of the anti-colonial struggle.

India began working on nuclear weapons. Several other countries had them. This would be the ultimate guarantor of Indian security. Some people objected to this. It was a colossal waste of money especially when many lived in penury.

Mrs Gandhi’s younger son Sanjay was invovled in politics. His campaign to limit the number of births was unpopular. Sanjay also demolished some slum areas to rebuild better housing. But in some cases the better housing was never constructed.

The PM’s elder son Rajiv had dropped out of Cambridge. He became a pilot for Air India. Finally he too went into politics. His wife Sonia was upset by that.

A Muslim was elected president. Congress was pleased because this proved that India did not discriminate against minority religions.

In 1974 oil prices quadrupled. This hit India very badly. There was widespread suffering. Not many people had cars but trucks were used to transport food and other goods. As truck and ship transport become much costlier so did food and everything else. A minority of people had electricity in 1970s. The electricity mostly came from burning oil. Electricity became a lost more expensive. This hit factories and other places that needed it.

Then a court ruled that Mrs Gandhi had used electricity without paying for it as part of her 1972 election campaign. She was removed as an MP. But she remained as Prime Minister?

  1. Why did Congress win in 1972?
  2. What happened to Sanjay Gandhi?
  3. What happened with oil in 1974?
  4. What happened to Mrs Gandhi in 1974?

State of emergency

Mrs Gandhi declared a state of emergency in 1975. The Supreme Court backed her up on this point. Habeas corpus was suspended. Censorship was introduced in the press.

Opposition politicians spoke out. They said that Mrs Gandhi was creating a dictatorship. They said her rule was worse than that of the British.  Non-Congress politicians called upon the army and police to refuse to obey orders from Mrs Gandhi. The opposition said that Mrs Gandhi was an illegal prime minister. Opposition politicians were arrested and imprisoned without trial. Some people in Congress were deeply unhappy with the way that Mrs Gandhi was governing the country. A few people resigned from Congress and joined minor parties.

Foreign commentators said that democracy had been nice while it lasted in India. But it seemed that India was becoming a dictatorship like almost every other country in Asia.

In 1977 it was time for another election. Many expected that Mrs Gandhi would cancel it and seek to extend her state of emergency. To almost universal surprise she did neither of these things. The elections took place on schedule.

A coalition of opposition parties had been cobbled together. It was called Janata Dal. Its slogan was ‘Banish Indira’. In 1977 Janata Dal won and formed a government. Moraji Desai became Prime Minister. Indira lost her seat.

The parties that formed Janata Dal soon started quarreling with each other. Some parties withdrew from Janata Dal. Moraji Desai knew he could no longer govern. He was obliged to call another election.

  1. What happened with the state of emergency? Five marks.
  2. Who won the 1977 elections?
  3. Who became PM in 1977?
  4. What went wrong with Janata Dal?

Indira is back

In 1980 Congress led by Indira Gandhi won again. Mrs Gandhi was back as Prime Minister.

Then Indira’s son Sanjay was killed in an air crash. She was distraught. Her other son Rajiv was less politically ambitious than his brother. Nonetheless he became seen as his mother’s heir.

The Muslims of the Subcontinent got a country. The Hindus were 80% of India’s people so some said that the Hindus got a country. Some Sikhs said ‘what about us?’ Should they not have a country? Only 2% of the Indian people are Sikhs. The Sikhs live overwhelmingly in Punjab. Some Sikhs said they were discriminated against.

In the late 1970s a small scale insurrection began in Punjab. The Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) was the insurrectionist organisation. The KLF aimed to create an independent Sikh country called Khalistan which means ‘Land of the Pure’ in the Punjabi language. Oddly ‘Land of the Pure’ is the same meaning as Pakistan. The KLF was proclaimed illegal as a terrorist organisation. The Indian Army did battle against the KLF. 20% of Indian soldiers were Sikhs. This was problematic because some of them had divided loyalties.

Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was the doyen of the KLF. This swivel eyed loon murdered Sikhs of other denominations.

Mrs Gandhi insisted that Sikhs were not mistreated. She noted that the President of India Zail Singh was a Sikh.

Pakistan saw a golden opportunity. The loss of East Pakistan suppurated with them. As Islamabad saw it India had caused Pakistan to lose its eastern wing. Pakistan said now it would be payback time. Therefore Pakistan armed, trained and funded the KLF also providing the KLF with a safe haven.

Pakistani support for the KLF was bitterly ironic. There had been very bad blood between Sikhs and Muslims. Hundreds of thousands of Sikhs had been killed in the Partition of India. They had seen the vivisection of their historic heartland.

In the 1980s the KLF rebellion became very serious. The Indian Army had difficulty containing it in the Punjab.

In 1984 the KLF led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale holed up in the Golden Temple in Amritsar. This is Sikhism’s holy of holies. The army was in a bind. The KLF had hundreds of combatants armed to the teeth in the Golden Temple. This could not be tolerated. On the other hand the army was reluctant to fight them there. If the army fought there the KLF said that the Indian Army had desecrated the holiest site in Sikhism. That was the KLF’s plan. It was a win-win situation for them.

Since the British Raj the Government of India tread carefully on religious matters. The military and police did not go into places of worship in uniform. A place of worship provides its own security.

The army surrounded the Golden Temple and asked the KLF to surrender. The KLF gave their answer from the barrels of their guns. A battle broke out. The fight raged from 1 June to 8 June. There were hundreds of pilgrims inside the Golden Temple. Were they there willingly or as hostages. The army asked that they leave. They did not.

The Indian Army sought British advice about how to assault the Golden Temple. This is surprising since the Indian Army was perfectly capable of doing this would outside guidance.

The army took the Golden Temple by storm. It was a battle royal. Hundreds of KLF combatants were killed. The buildings were damaged. Bhindranwale was shot dead.

Sikhs around the world were incensed that there had been fighting in the Golden Temple. Few of them blamed the KLF for turning it into an armed camp.

The celebrated Sikh writer Khushwant Singh returned the medal granted to him by the Government of India. He said that he did this in protest at the attack on the Golden Temple. He likened it to Jallianwala Bagh which had occurred not a stone’s throw from the Hari Mandir.

Mrs Gandhi had some Sikh bodyguards. Some of her advisers told her not to because these men could not be trusted. The prime minister chided these people for their wicked suspicion. She insisted that she trusted her life to these Sikhs. In October 1984 two Sikh soldiers decided they would exact vengeance for the Golden Temple Battle. They shot Mrs Gandhi dead.

One of Mrs Gandhi’s assailants was shot dead by a loyal solider. The other was wounded and arrested. The wounded man was later put on trial for murder. He was found guilty and hanged.

Within hours of Mrs Gandhi’s slaying her son Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as prime minister. He immediately called an election. Congress won by a mile.


  1. When did Indira become PM again?
  2. Who was her second son?
  3. What did the KLF want?
  4. Why did Pakistan back the KLF?
  5. What happened at the Golden Temple in 1984?
  6. Why was Mrs Gandhi shot?



Some people had been infuriated by the murder of Mrs Gandhi. Unfortunately, a few Hindus blamed Sikhs in general. At least a few hundred Sikhs were killed in reprisal despite Rajiv Gandhi pleading with people not to.

The KLF was soon crushed. Very few Sikhs now want the Sikh area to breakaway from India.

Relations with Pakistan improved. Pakistan and India even co-hosted the cricket world cup.

Rajiv saw that the licence Raj was a bad thing. He started to introduce free market reforms. Too much government control had stalled the economy.

Despite moving away from socialism India maintained cordial ties with the Soviet Union. Rajiv Gandhi visited the USSR. India approved of the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan.

By the late 1980s there were numerous corruption scandals in Congress. Some members of the party accepted bribes to make unfair decisions. There was a large scandal about the purchase of Bofors guns from Sweden for the Indian Army. Some members of Congress were disillusioned and left to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It means ‘Indian People’s Party’. They made a point of being especially Indian by not using an English word like Congress did for their name.

There was a conflict in Sri Lanka in the 1980s. India sympathised with the Tamil minority there many of whom wanted an independent country. Those who fought for this called themselves the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).  Eelam was their proposed name for a new homeland. For short they were Tamil Tigers. There are many more Tamils in India than in Sri Lanka. In the State of Tamil Nadu there are tens of millions of Tamils. India was tempted to intervene in the Sri Lanka Civil War.

An agreement was reached with Sri Lanka. The Indian Peacekeeping Force  (IPKF) would go to Sri Lanka to disarm the Tamil rebels. IPKF would separate the Tamils from the Sri Lankan Army.

The IPKF started clashing with the Tamil Tigers. The Tamil Tigers refused to disarm. The IPKF said that if the Tigers did not voluntarily hand over their weapons then the IPKF would take them by force. A conflict started anew. India found itself mired in Sri Lanka. IPKF was not keeping the peace? Eventually IPKF withdrew. The conflict in Sri Lanka resumed. Many Indians blamed the PM for this disaster.

In 1989 a conflict in Afghanistan started to end. Many Islamic fundamentalists had been fighting in Afghanistan. They were buoyed up by their victory over the Soviets. Some of them were Pakistani. Some of them moved to attack the Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir. It is a conflict which rumbles on to this day.

Various terrorist groups attacked the Indian Army in Kashmir. These were Hizb-ul- Tahrir (Party of Liberation), the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Force and Lakshar e Taiba. They were armed, trained, sheltered and funded by Pakistan. The Pakistani Army even crossed the Line of Control. In the high mountains not many soldiers could be supplied. The fighting between India and Pakistan remained small scale.

Hindu civilians were killed by terrorists in Kashmir. That was because Hindus would always want to be part of India. Many of them fled to other Indian states. Moderate Muslims were also slain if the fundamentalists suspected them of wishing to stay with India.

In 1989 there was an election. Congress was bested. A new government was sworn in under V P Singh. Rajiv Gandhi remained leader of his party. V P Singh led a fissile coalition. Just like in the 70s Congress believed that its opponents would soon start to squabble. Before long that happened. The government fell.

In 1991 another election was called. Rajiv campaigned zealously. The wind was in his sails. He looked set to be swept to victory. The that May a suicide bomber killed Rajiv and 50 other bystanders. It was a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber. Some of those involved in the conspiracy were caught and later hanged.

P V Narasimha Rao became the leader of Congress. He led the party to a smashing victory. There had been a huge wave of sympathy behind Congress.


  1. What does BJP mean?
  2. What did Rajiv achieve?
  3. What went wrong with the IPKF? Five marks
  4. What happened in Kashmir from 1989 onwards? Five marks.
  5. Who killed Rajiv Gandhi?


Congress is back

Rajiv Gandhi’s son Rahul was studying at Harvard. He was granted an Italian passport under an assumed name. He was Italian on his mother’s side so entitled to Italian citizenship. The false name was to protect him from assassins.

The Indian economy started to grow rapidly in the 1990s. The government’s poverty reductions paid off. Cars were becoming affordable for middle class people. State governments subsidised basic foodstuffs like rice and vegetables. This allowed people a disposable income for consumer goods.

The Rashtriya Swamesevak Sangh (‘National Volunteer Union’) is a Hindu organisation that dates back to the British Raj. The RSS had pushed for India to become an explicitly Hindu country. Pakistan is officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Why should India not officially be Hindu Republic of India?

The RSS was concerned about former Hindu temples. The Mughal Empire had ruled India from 1527 into the late 18th century when they were superseded by the British. The Mughals were Urdu speaking Muslims. Some of the Mughal emperors had been viciously anti-Hindu. Aurangzeb was an emperor who was especially oppressive to Hindus. He had seized many Hindu temples. They were either razed to the ground or else rebuilt as mosques.

Some of the RSS joined the BJP. A very prominent figure in the BJP was Lal Krishnan Advani. Advani had good reason to be a Hindu nationalist. He was born in Karachi. At the Partition of India the Advani family had fled for their lives. The BJP did not endorse all of the RSS’s agenda but was undoubtedly influenced by it. The RSS argued that the former Hindu temples that had been turned into mosques centuries before should be confiscated without compensation and returned to the Hindu community.

Ayodhya is a particularly sacred spot to Hindus. Emperor Babur had sequestered the temple and demolished it. He was the first Mughal emperor. A mosque had been built in room of the Hindu place of prayer.  The mosque is called Babri Masjid. This really rubbed the Hindu nose in degradation. The RSS agitated for the site to be returned to the Hindu majority. Thousands of RSS activists camped out outside the mosque. Many gathered materials to be used for the new temple: bricks and concrete. Feeling was running very high across India. The police had to surround the mosque to protect it. Most of the police officers were Hindus. They were in Uttar Pradesh – one of the most Hindu states. The Hindu police officers were insulted and called betrayers of their faith. It stretched their loyalty to defend the mosque. Some of the officers will have wondered if they were wrong to be protecting Babri Masjid.

Many Hindus argued that the site had been stolen from them and ought to be returned. That location was unimportant to Muslims. But it was extremely important to Hindus. Muslims had thousands of other mosques. They could rebuild the mosque elsewhere. Hindus said that under Muslim rule the Hindu nose had been rubbed into the dirt. Was it not time for Hindus to rise in dignity? Some scorned Nehruvian secularism as dishonouring Hinduism.

In 1992 a group of RSS and other hardline Hindu activists burst into the Babri Masjid. The mosque was demolished by them. They were jubilant. The police managed to regain control of the mosque area and arrest those who had destroyed it. Therefore the RSS and other kindred organisations were unable to build their temple.

There were riots across India after the destruction of Babri Masjid. Many Muslims were irate that their place of worship had been demolished. The Kashmir Conflict was heating up. This inflamed communal tensions further. The RSS accused the Muslims of being fifth columnists.

Pakistan gleefully exploited the controversy. The Pakistanis said that the Ayodhya dispute proved that India was anti-Muslim. This justified the creation of Pakistan so they said. In reprisal 30 Hindu temples in Pakistan were attacked. Pakistan’s tiny Hindu community felt very beleaguered. In other Muslims lands Hindus suffered a backlash.

Most Muslims voted for Congress. Virtually no Muslims voted for the BJP.

In 1993 several bombs exploded in Bombay in one day. Hundreds of people were killed. The Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility. They said they had set off the bombs in reprisal for the demolition of Babri Masjid. Some Bombay gangsters liked Dawood Ibrahim were believed to have been involved. Ibrahim later turned up in Pakistan. He runs a criminal syndicate called D Company.

  1. Why was Rahul given a false name?
  2. What does the RSS believe in?
  3. Why did some Hindus want Babri Masjid demolished? Five marks
  4. What happened regarding Babri Masjid? Five marks.




The British Indian Community


The History of the British Indian Community


First contact

India and the United Kingdom have interacted before the UK even existed as such. In the 1500s an English priest traveled to India. He was the first person from the UK to set foot in India. A few English and Welsh merchants traveled to India to trade. India was then ruled by the Mughal Empire.

In 1600 Queen Elizabeth I issued a charter to the Company trading unto the East Indies. This became known as ‘the East India Company.’ By the ‘East Indies’ people meant what is today India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and even Indonesia. The voyage from Great Britain to India went around the Cape of Good Hope. Sailing all the way around Africa meant that the voyage took four months at least. The East India Company bought land at Surat. This is on the west coast of India. Later the Company mainly traded with Bengal.

From the early 17th century some Indians came to England. They came as merchants and sailors. At first the Indians in England were a tiny, tiny number. There were only a few dozen Indians in England which then had a population of 4 000 000. The Indians who came to England were almost all men. Very few Indian women arrived. Therefore these Indians often married white Englishwomen. Their children were half white. Their grandchildren were three quarters white and in the next generation they gradually disappeared into the white community and their Indian ancestry was largely forgotten.

The Indians who came to England in the 17th century were most Bengalis and mostly Muslims. They lived in port cities such as London, Bristol, Southampton and Liverpool. Indians occasionally visited Wales. Outside the main port cities an Indian was virtually never seen.


  1. When did a Briton first go to India?
  2. What company was founded in 1600?
  3. What was meant by the East Indies?
  4. What route did Britons said to India?
  5. Why did the Indians who arrived in England in the 1600s soon blend into the white majority?

Growing prominence


Indians started to appear in some of the oil paintings of the period. In 1707 Scotland and England and Wales formed the United Kingdom. This was called the Act of Union. Scots joined the East India Company. Indians started to move to Scotland.

The British elite became more interested in India. Some British intellectuals became fascinated by India’s ancient civilisation. Some British scholars learnt some Indian languages such as Bengali, Sanskrit and Urdu. Much of the Indian ruling class spoke Persian back then. Very few Indians learnt English back then. The East India Company owned a few ports on the coast. Only in the mid 18th century did it start to acquire more land in the hinterland.

Around 1800 Dean Sake Mohammed founded the first Indian restaurant in the UK. Other Indians introduced shampoo to the UK. Indian architecture started to be popular. The Prince Regent famously built an Indian style edifice in Brighton: the Royal Pavilion.



  1. Who founded the first Indian restaurant in the UK?
  2. When was the UK founded?
  3. What Indian style building stands in Brighton?

The Irish in India

In 1801 Ireland joined the UK. Some Irishmen went to work in India. One Irishman the Earl of Mayo became Viceroy of India. Lord Mayo College is name in his honour. This is the most estimable school in the Subcontinent. It is located Ajmer, Rajasthan.

The East India Company had its own army. Besides that the British Army started to be stationed in India. British soldiers picked up some Indian words.

Various words from Hindi and other Indian languages entered the English language such as pyjamas, bungalow, polo, pukka, thug, loot, pundit, guru, yoga, wallah, dum dum, dungarees, doollaly, jodhpur, catamaran and tiffin.

In the 19th century the number of Indians who moved to the UK increased. Those who came were mostly middle class and upper class from coastal cities that already had a lot of contact with the British.

Some Indian princes spent time in the United Kingdom. They bought houses in London and its environs. Near Eton there is a palatial house called ‘Maharajah’s’ because it once belong to an Indian prince. It overlooks the Thames.

In 1812 the Earl of Liverpool became Prime Minister. Lord Liverpool was one-eighth Indian. Can he be regarded as Indian? He was the first person of part Indian blood elected to the UK Parliament. The British nobility sometimes wed Indians.

In the 18th century a British lord married an Indian woman and dwelt in India. Their descendants married full blooded Indians. The grandchildren were three-quarters Indian and the great grandchilren were seven-eights Indian. By 2004 they holder of the title could barely speak English yet he was known as ‘the Englishman’ in his part of the country.

In 1841 David Dyce Sombre was elected MP for Sudbury. D D Sombre was half Indian. He was the first half Indian person elected to Parliament.

  1. When did Ireland join the UK?
  2. List five English words of Indian origin.
  3. Why is a house near Eton called Maharajah’s?

Indian educational achievement in the UK

Indians enrolled at some of the top schools in the United Kingdom such as Westminster School, Eton College, St Paul’s School and Harrow School. Some went on to Oxford University and Cambridge University. The two great English universities only admitted Christians until the 1870s. Very few Indians subscribed to the Christian faith. These universities opened themselves to non-Christians in the 1870s.  Sri Aurobindo went to St Paul’s and became head boy. Nehru went to Harrow.

An Indian woman named Cornelia Sorabhji went to Oxford University in the 1870s. She was the first Indian female to study at a UK university. She was also the first woman of any nationality to graduate in law from Oxford. Miss Sorabhji was like quite a few Indians in the UK from a tiny minority religion – Zoroastrianism. Cornelia Sorabhji was also the first woman to qualify as a solicitor (lawyer) in England.

Zoroastrians (Parsees) put their dead in Towers of Silence. Such a method of disposal of the dead was not permitted in the UK. Therefore they had to be buried. At Brookwood Cemetery a special section was founded for Parsees.

  1. Name a famous Indian who went to St Paul’s.
  2. What was astonishing about C Sorabhji?
  3. Why could Indians not attend Oxford or Cambridge until the 1870s?


The Maharajah of the Punjab came to the UK as a child. He was brought up by Queen Victoria. His sons went to Eton. The maharajah converted to Christianity. He spent a lot of time in Scotland and was known as the black prince of Perthshire. Later he reconverted to Sikhism and attempted to return to India. The British authorities prevented him from doing so fearing he would stir up trouble.

Victoria was very fond of one of her Indian servants. His name was Abdul Karim but he was known as the Munshi. She interceded with the authorities in India to make sure this man’s relatives were promoted. The rest of the royal family was not overfond of Munshi. When Queen Victoria died they told Munshi to get out of the Palace.

Some rich Indians became britannicised. They spoke English more than their native languages, they wore British clothes and played British sports. They tended to be British in everything but religion. Very few Indians converted to Christianity. Nonetheless some Indians were worried that their sons in the UK were being de-racinated.

Many key figures in the Indian and Pakistani independence movements came to study in the UK. These included Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Gandhi, V K Krishna Menon, Allama Mohammed Iqbal, Liaquat Ali Khan, M A Jinnah , Dr Ambedkar and C Rajagopalachari. Most of these men qualified as barristers.


  1. Which maharajah was raised by Queen Victoria?
  2. What does it mean to be britannicised? 
  3. What profession did most leaders of the Indian independence movement belong to?

Into politics


Some Indians visited Ireland. Ireland was part of the UK until 1921. Some were inspired by the Home Rule Movement.

Dadabhai Naoroji was elected a Liberal MP in London in the 1892. He won by only five votes and people dubbed him ‘narrow majority’ which was supposed to sound like his surname. Mr Naoroji was elected to represent Finsbury Park which is an area of London. There was not a single other non white person in his constituency. Lord Salisbury had said that racial prejudice was strong and Naoroji would not win but Lord Salisbury was proven wrong. 

Mancherjee Bhownaggree followed as a Conservative MP just after that. Naoroji and Bhownaggree were both elected on their first attempt. Some people stand for Parliament several times without success. Naoroii narrowly lost his seat in 1895. Bhownagree held Bethnal Green constituency from 1895 till 1906. He was unseated when the Liberal Party made major gains. The election of these men demonstrates the relative lack of racialism in the United Kingdom.

Mr Bhownagree was an ardent advocate of the British Raj. Some Indians disliked him for this. Some scornfully dubbed him ‘bow the knee’ or ‘bow and agree.’

Dadabhai Naoroji argued that India owed Britain much for its beneficence. However, he said too much wealth was leaving Indian and it was UK-bound. He called this ‘the drain’.

By the dawn of the 20th century the UK was about 0.1% Indian. People from any country in the British Empire had the right to settle anywhere in the British Empire. They were all British subjects whatever their colour or birthplace.

A mosque was founded in Woking. It was mostly for Indians. There was another mosque established in Cardiff. This served the needs of Indian sailors. It was in the Tiger’s Bay area of the city which was quite multiracial.

Cricket became a craze in India in the late 19th century. Soon India played against England and Wales. The Indian team toured the UK.

Some Indians were fed up with the British Raj by the 1910s. One of them was named Madan Lal Dhingra. Dhingra came to London with the aim of  assassinating a British official. He shot Sir Curzon Wyllie. When Wyllie was shot an Indian doctor named Cawas Lalcaca went to his aid. The assassin fired two more bullets and accidentally shot Dr Lalcaca. The doctor was a Parsee and he died. He was buried with great honour at Brookwood. Many Indians said he had saved India’s reputation by his conspicuous gallantry.

The man was arrested and charged with murder. At his trial he said that the British had starved millions of Indians to death. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. The condemned thanked the judge saying that dying for India was a privilege. He was hanged.


  1. Was Ireland part of the UK?
  2. Who was the first Indian MP in the UK?
  3. What party was M Bhownaggree? 
  4. Where was the first mosque in the UK built?

War and progress

An Indian poverty-stricken, self-taught mathematician enrolled at Cambridge University after winning a scholarship. His name was Srinivas Ranamujan. Ranamujan was elected a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Trinity is perhaps the most illustrious of Cambridge’s colleges. The First World War broke out. He is commemorated in the film The Man who knew infinity. 

Many Indian soldiers served the British cause in the First World War. Indian soldiers wounded in France were evacuated to the UK for hospital treatment. But some died of their wounds. Those who were Sikh or Hindu were cremated as per the funereal customs of their faith. The ghat on which they were cremated still stands as a memorial to them.

Shapurji Saklatvala was of Indian Mr Saklatvala was a Parsee on his father’s side. He was in the UK in the 1920s. He joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). Saklatvala was elected to Parliament for Battersea in London. However, he soon lost his seat.

Romesh Palme Dutt was half Indian and half Swedish. He became the key theoretician of the CPGB.

The Parsees are a microscopically small proportion of the Indian population. However, they achieved a staggering degree of success in business, politics and the professions.

By the 1920s London had a significant Indian minority. But even then London was only 1% Indian which was much more than any other UK city. They mostly lived in the East End.

Members of extremely rich Parsee families were in the UK. These were the Cowsajees and the Tatas. The Tata family became prominent in the mid 19th century due to their business acumen. The Tata dynasty became wealthy through banking, construction and automobile manufacturing.

By the 1930s there were a few Indian doctors in the UK. At this time a gurdwara (place of worship) was founded for Sikhs in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

Indian students in the UK founded an organisation called India House. It was for them to live in. They also discussed Indian affairs. Many of them campaigned for independence. The police kept India House under surveillance because they were worried about Indians using force to advance the cause of independence. India House was an actual building as well for the students.

Indira Nehru studied at Badminton School and then went up to Somerville College, Oxford. But she left without a degree because she could not cope with Latin which was obligatory. She was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru. Ferozevarun Gandhi was at the London School of Economics (LSE). There was a significant number of Indian students at LSE. Indira later married him. She became Indira Gandhi. Ferozevarun and his wife were both active in Congress.


  1. Which communist Indian was elected to the British Parliament?
  2. What was Saklatvala’s ancestry?
  3. What do you call a Sikh place of worship?
  4. What was India House?
  5. Which school did Indira Nehru attend?

In the Second World War more Indian troops came to the UK to fight for the British Empire. Indians in the RAF helped to win the Battle of Britain. However, even troops in the pro-British Indian Army often wanted independence for their country after the war.

Udham Singh was a Punjabi who came to the UK during the Second World War. Udham Singh sometimes called himself Mohammed Ram Singh Azad. He took one name for Muslims, one for Hindus and one for Sikhs. His surname ‘Azad’ means ‘free’ in many North Indian languages.

Mr Singh was irate because of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919. He wanted to kill Sir Michael O’Dwyer who had been Governor of the Punjab in 1919. O’Dwyer had not ordered the massacre he had defended it after it occurred. O’Dwyer was utterly impenitent.

Singh found out that Sir Michael would address the Central Asiatic Society at a certain hall in London on a certain day. It was Caxton Hall was a well known venye for public meetings. Udham Singh went along with a revolver.  The Marquess of Zetland would also be here. Lord Zetland was the Secretary of State for India  and Burma. He stepped forward and shot Sir Michael as well as the Marquess of Zetland. O’Dwyer died instantly but Lord Zetland survived. Singh was surrounded by the crowd and overpowered. He was arrested. Udham Singh happily confessed to the police. He was sentenced to death and executed.

Nehru and Gandhi denounced what Udham Singh had done. But they asked the UK authorities not to hang him because this would inflame Indian opinion. Perhaps unwisely Singh was put to death at Pentonville Prison. In the 1970s his mortal remains were returned to Indian and interred with great honour. He has since been declared a martyr of India. Udham Singh is given the honorific ‘shaheed’ in front of his name as his voluntarily laid down his life for the nation.


  1. What did Indians do in the Battle of Britain?
  2. Who shot Sir Michael O’Dwyer?
  3. Why did Udham Singh kill him?

After the war

After the war the UK had a labour shortage. More Indians came to fill the gaps. The UK Government advertised jobs in India. India became independent in 1947 but Indians had the right to reside in the UK. They also had the right to vote in the United Kingdom as Commonwealth citizens so long as they lived in the UK. Indeed an Indian citizen resident in the United Kingdom has the right to be elected to the British Parliament because of the Commonwealth.

In 1947 a former officer of the Indian Army became a factory manager in Southall, London. He recruited many of his former Sikh soldiers to work in the factory. More and more Sikhs moved to Southall. By 2000 Southall was over 50% Indian or British Indian. Southall is the most Indian area in the UK. Southall is also very close to Heathrow Airport. Many Indians who flew over in subsequent decades.  They chose to live together because there is safety in numbers. There were other advantages such as being able to find shops that stocked their preferred foods. It was also convenient for people to live close to a place of worship of their religion. It was pleasant to have familiar faces around. Southall Station has signs up in Punjabi.

Churches started to be sold to the Indian community. The Indians turned them into gurdwaras, mosques and mandirs.

Some white Britons were prejudiced against Indians. A few whites were so ignorant that they thought that India was in the Caribbean. They assumed that the West Indies and India were the same. This was even more confusing for whites because some Indians lived in Caribbean countries particularly Trinidad and Tobago. The same goes for Guyana.

Some whites refused employment or accommodation to Indians. There was some racial animus towards them.

Pakistan was created in 1947. Many Britons did not even realise Pakistan existed. Some whites thought that Indians were Pakistanis.

In 1947 there were only 5 Indian restaurants in the United Kingdom. British people almost never ate rice except in rice pudding.


  1. Why did the UK ask Indians to come after the war?
  2. Do Commonwealth citizens have the right to vote in the UK? 
  3. Why did many Sikhs move to Southall?
  4. When was Pakistan created? 

Commonwealth Immigration

The British Empire was being transformed into the Commonwealth of Nations. Former colonies could join the Commonwealth. Most did so. The Commonwealth consults on matters of common concern. The Commonwealth could not force countries to do anything. It could only try to persuade countries to do things. The UK had no especial power in the Commonwealth. All member nations are equal. It has a Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting every two years. There is the Commonwealth Games. In those days Commonwealth citizens all had the right to move to the UK.

People who immigrated to the UK were able to obtain British citizenship after 4 years residence. British Indians who married someone from abroad had the automatic right to bring the spouse to the UK. Many people in India did not speak English in the 1950s. Some arrived in the UK speaking fluent English. Others spoke it reasonably well and some spoke none at all.

The number of immigrants from India increased in the 1950s. The UK also experienced significant immigration from the former British colonies in the Caribbean and countries such as Malta, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Nigeria and Kenya.

By the 1960s some white Britons were worried about the level of immigration. Some whites were opposed to immigration for openly racist reasons. Some whites said there were too many Indians and that ‘they are taking over.’ The UK’s population was stable at the time. Though 10 000s of immigrants arrived each year a similar number of white Britons emigrated each year. The white Britons moved to Australia, the USA, Canada and South Africa in most cases. There was net emigration: more people were moving out than were coming in.

There was white immigration into the UK after the Second World War. This was from the Republic of Ireland, Poland, Cyprus, Malta, Italy and Spain. Few white Britons objected to this. Some of the white immigrants came from countries outside the Commonwealth. India was in the Commonwealth. Indians arrived in the UK speaking English in most cases. The Poles, Spanish and Italians often arrived speaking no English. Therefore the objection to Indian immigration was often due to colour prejudice. Almost no white Briton objected to the religions that Indians followed: Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism. The average white British knew nothing about these religions.

In the 1960s some Sikhs got jobs as bus conductors. The bus company said that they must not wear turbans as it was a non-uniform item. There was a row about this. The bus conductors went on strike saying the rule was racist. The bus company said this was not racist since no one is born with a turban growing out of his head. Wearing a turban is a choice and not all Sikh men do it. In the end the strike was successful.

In the 1960s the UK Government stated that Sikh men would be allowed to wear turbans as part of various uniforms. In British India Sikhs had been allowed to wear turbans as part of military and police uniforms. Therefore this rule was extended to the UK. Legislation mandating the wearing of helmets when on motorbikes exempted Sikhs who wore turbans.

A number of Hindu temples and Sikh temples were established. These were often in former churches.

  1. What countries did white Britons emigrate to?
  2. Which white majority countries sent lots of immigrants to the UK?
  3. What is the evidence that opposition to Indian immigration into the UK was largely due to colour bigotry?
  4. What exemptions were granted to Sikh men?


In 1968 a Conservative MP called Enoch Powell gave a speech on immigration. Powell represented Wolverhampton South-West. This town near Birmingham had a serious number of immigrants from South Asia and from the Caribbean. Powell gave his notorious ‘Rivers of Blood’ oration. He did not oppose immigration for economic reasons. He said he was against large scale immigration because it changed the character of the country. Powell accused immigrants of bad behaviour. He did not say that all immigrants were bad but that was the implication. Nor did he acknowledge that some white Britons behave badly too.

Enoch Powell said, ”Like the Roman I am filled with foreboding. I see the Tiber foaming with much blood.” His incendiary speech caused a huge reaction.

80% of people said they agreed with Powell’s sentiments. Dockers – usually Labour voters – marched to the House of Commons chanting ‘We want Enoch Powell’ and holding placards ‘Enoch for Prime Minister.’

Powell received tens of thousands of letters of support and a few of condemnation. Royal Mail had to lay on a van just for his post.

Edward Heath was Leader of the Conservative Party. He sacked Powell from the Shadow Cabinet for his inflammatory speech. It caused hatred towards immigrants. Heath noted that as Health Secretary Powell had purposefully recruited doctors and nurses from abroad.

Labour censured Powell for his speech. Ethnic minority children were bullied at school because of what he said. Powell had not urged anyone to insult others or hit others. However, his unhelpful words had caused many whites to become viciously anti-immigrant. Powell had damaged Commonwealth relations.

Most British Indians supported Labour. They were horrified by his speech. Racist insults and graffiti became commonplace due to Powell.

Left wing people detested Powell. Some students chanted ‘Disembowel Enoch Powell.’ Whenever he tried to speak at a university his opponents would try to ruin his speech. People held placards reading ‘Powell is foul.’ 

Powell said he was not opposed to immigration from any country. Immigrants could come but only in tiny numbers. He also approved of interracial marriage.

The Race Relations Act was passed in 1968 as a reaction to Powell’s speech. Inciting racial hatred became a crime. Racial discrimination was also prohibited.


  1. Which MP made an inflammatory speech in 1968?
  2.  What is the title of Powell’s speech?
  3. Which constituency did he represent?
  4. Why did some people hate Powell?
  5. Which party did most British Indians support?
  6. What law was passed to prevent racism?

Indian Africans

In the 1960s all of the UK’s African colonies became independent. There were Indians in Kenya and Uganda. These Indians were granted British citizenship. They had never lived in the UK though. Some of the Indians resident in East Africa moved to the UK. Some Britons said these Indians from Uganda and Kenya should not be allowed in.

In 1972 the President of Uganda expelled people of Asian origin. This usually meant Indian. They were British citizens and made plans to come to the UK. One Tory MP Alan Clark said, ”they must be told ‘you cannot come here because you are not white.’ ”. The Conservative Prime Minister of the time was Sir Edward Heath. Heath stood up to pressure from within his own party and allowed these British Indians in. He said there was no legal reason to prevent these people from moving to the UK since they were British citizens and had the absolute right to live in the UK.

In the 1950s and 1960s many Indians in the United Kingdom established small businesses such as corner shops. Indian restaurants were a novelty. But they gradually became part of the urban scene.

In the 1970s the National Front (NF) was active. It was an openly white supremacist organisation. It wanted to expel all non whites even if they were British citizens. National Front members often shaved their hair and were called skinheads. Some admired Hitler. The NF sometimes beat up ethnic minority people.

Immigration continued in the 1970s. The UK started to suffer high unemployment. Some people blamed immigrants. The government further restricted immigration. The first Indian joined the British Police. It was headline news.

The Labour Government in the late 1970s passed another Race Relations Act. It enhanced the definition of incitement to racial hatred and racial discrimination.

Enoch Powell left the Conservative Party in 1974. He urged people to vote Labour. But some in the Conservative Party still approved of his anti-immigration stance.


  1. What citizenship was granted to Indians in Kenya and Uganda?
  2. What did the President of Uganda do to Asians?
  3. What did the NF believe in?
  4. What did Powell do in 1974?

Integration and division

In 1979 the NF marched through Southall to protest against the presence of Indian whether British citizens or not. The police advised the Indian community to stay indoors. Some British Indians and white anti-racists launched a counter protest against the NF. The police strove to keep the NF and their opponents apart. In clashes with the police an anti -NF protester called Blair Peach was killed by a police baton. Blair Peach was a white who was disgusted with white supremacy. Many Sikhs attended his funeral to express their solidarity. They knew that not all whites were anti-Indian. The British Indian community appreciated fraternal support from decent whites. 

In the 1980s the British Indian community was riven by controversy. In the Punjab a Sikh organisation called the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) started to fight for independence. The Indian Army fought against the KLF. Many Sikhs accused the army of brutality. There was bad feeling between Sikhs and Hindus.

In 1984 the Indian Army attacked the KLF in the Golden Temple, Amritsar. Hundreds of KLF combatants were killed. Sikhs were enraged that their holy of holies had been desecrated. But that was the fault of the KLF for turning it into a terrorist camp. The army had tried to resolve the situation peacefully. The KLF had refused to surrender.

Indira Gandhi was PM of India at the time. In October 1984 she was assassinated by a Sikh soldier for what she had done to the Golden Temple. Some British Sikhs danced in the streets in jubilation.

By the 1980s there were many people of British descent born in the UK. They were sometimes more Indian and sometimes more British in culture. Other people were bicultural. The British Indians were finding acceptance.

British Indians made waves in literature. V S Naipaul was knighted. Stuart Hall had many books published. Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses provoked intense controversy.

Indians started to appear on television in dramas and comedies. Freddy Mercury (real name Freddy Mercury) set the world ablaze as the front man of the band Queen. The UK Indian community reached 1% of the population. This might surprise people if they live in certain areas. The British Indian community is heavily concentrated in the major concentrations. Being a relatively young community the population is most visible among children. Few of its members are nonagenarians.

Some Indians stood for Parliament but in the early 1980s none were elected. Many of them complained that British Indians were selected as candidates for the major parties (Labour and Conservative) but only in unwinnable seats. That means a Labour candidate would stand in rock solid Conservative territory and therefore lose. Conversely, a Conservative would stand in an area where Labour was safe as houses and the Conservative would be defeated.

In 1983 Jonathan Sayeed was elected a Conservative MP. This former Royal Naval officer is half Indian. He was the first Indian Tory MP for almost 70 years.

A British Indian woman was elected Mayor of Windsor. She was later ennobled by Margaret Thatcher. The woman was given the title Baroness Flather. The baroness said she was given grief by the rest of the Indian community which tended heavily towards Labour. They were pro-Labour because Labour had agreed to independence. They believed that Labour was anti-racist. But in 1987 Jonathan Sayeed was elected as Conservative MP and he was a British Indian.

In 1987 Keith Vaz was elected for Leicester East. Vaz was a British Indian of the Christian faith. But he was elected for the most Hindu constituency in the UK.

  1. What happened to Blair Peach?
  2. Why was Indira Gandhi shot?
  3. What did Baroness Flather achieve?

The rise and rise of the British Indian community

In 1992 Piara Khabra was elected in Southall. He had formerly served in the Indian Army during the Second World War. Khabra was a Labour man. Piara Khabra was the first Sikh elected to the UK Parliament. 

In the 1990s the British Indian community was increasingly affluent. 1 in 10 British Indian men were doctors. The British Indians grasped educational opportunities with alacrity and achieved above average results in school and university. The London School of Economics (LSE) had and has an extraordinarily high proportion of British Indian students.

In the 1990s Goodness Gracious Me started to be shown on TV. This was a comedy show by British Asians. It was mainly about their community. The title of the show recalls a 1960s funny song of the same name. 

In 1997 the Labour Party won a landslide victory. This brought several more MPs of Indian ancestry into the House of Commons. Some were appointed to the cabinet. Several British Indians were made lords. They included Lord Swarj Paul and Lord Alli. The Liberal Democrats asked the Queen to ennoble a British Indian. Mr Dholakia was elevated to the title Lord Dholakia.

By the 2000s the British Indian community has a higher than average income. If the UK population is divided by religion the richest community per capita is the Jewish community. The second richest is the Sikh community. They are followed by Hindus and then Christians. Prejudice also moved towards Eastern European immigrants such as Poles and Romanians. The Indians were no longer such a target of racism.

Racism started to move away from British Indians. Some white Britons were prejudiced against Muslims but not Hindus or Sikhs. The British Indian community has existed in serious numbers for quite a long time. The British Indian community had become part of the furniture.

British Indians started to feel more welcome in the Conservative Party. Some were elected Conservative MPs.

Immigration from India increased substantially in the 2000s. The British Indian community came to feel increasingly secure. In some areas of London, Birmingham and Leicester British Indians are the majority. In 2004 the largest Hindu temple outside India opened in London.

There was talk of founding a British Sikh Regiment. However, race relations experts said it would be bad because it would be divisive British Indians have a low rate of joining the armed forces and the government had been trying to change that.

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was married to a British Indian. Under him the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is a British Indian. Sunak represents a constituency that is 99% white. There is not much anti-Indian prejudice any more. The Home Secretary Priti Patel is also a British Indian. Sunak is tipped as the next leader of the Conservative Party. There are other British Indians such as Suella Fernandes (nee Braverman).

In 2020 the Labour Party elected a new leader. The runner up was Lisa Nandy who is British Indian. In 2020 the Liberal Democrats had their first MP of Indian stock. The Scottish National Party has several politicians of Indian descent.

2% of Indians are Sikhs. But 30% of British Indians are Sikhs.

  1. Who was the first British Indian MP for Southall?
  2. What proportion of British Indian males are doctors?
  3. Who is the first Indian Liberal Democrat lord?
  4. Which religious community suffered prejudice in the 2000s?
  5. Which is the second richest religious group in the UK?
  6. What was special about the Hindu temple built in London in 2004?
  7. Should a British Sikh Regiment be formed? Five marks
  8. Who is the Chancellor of the Exchequer?
  9. What job does Priti Patel have?
  10. What is unusual about the number of British Indian Sikhs? 
  11. What are the achievement of the British Indian community? Five marks
  12. Which British Indian do you most admire and why? Five marks








Emomali Rahmon is the President of Tajikistan.

President Rahmon is respected by the people of his nation. He was born in Tajikistan in 1952. He came from an ordinary family. At school he learnt Tajik and Russian and acquired fluency in both languages. He joined Komsomol which was the Communist youth organisation.

In the 1970s there was compulsory military service in the USSR. Rahmon served in the Soviet Navy. He sailed around the Pacific Ocean. This was far from his homeland which is landlocked.

Upon returning to Tajikistan he enrolled in a state university. He was awarded a bachelor’s degree. Later Rahmon became manager of a collective farm. He wed and had seven daughters and two sons.

In 1991 the Soviet Union dissolved. Tajikistan resumed its sovereign independence. In 1992 Rahmon became independence. A civil war broke out. Religious maniacs rebelled. The Taleban from Afghanistan helped the rebels Kazakhstan and Russia sent troops to help Tajikistan.

Eventually President Rahmon prevailed. He has been re-elected several times by an incredibly high percentage of the vote.

The president is respected and adored by all the people of Tajikistan. The media has only positive things to say about him. People like nothing better than to sing his praises. Every poets extolls him and composes paeans dedicated to him.

Emomali Rahmon is a Sunni Muslim. He has been on the Haj several times. He has assured people that they have the right to practice any faith. However, religious extremism of any kind is not permitted.

The president’s son Rustam is assumed to be his heir and holds a high public office. Rustam has adopted ‘Emomali’ as his surname. This is in line with traditional Tajik naming practices. Rustam is his father’s favourite son.

Rahmon is lauded for his strength, his courage, his indefatigability and his articulacy. He is admired all across the globe as a superb leader. He is a steady hand on the tiller of state. People are eternally in his debt because of the continuity, safety and prosperity that he has secured to his adoring people.



  1. In which year was Rahmon born?
  2. Which country was he born in?
  3. What branch of the armed forces did he serve in?
  4. Where did he go to university?
  5. Which languages does he speak?
  6. How many children does he have?
  7. What is his favourite son’s name?
  8. In which year did Rahmon become president?
  9. What happened in the 1990s that was bad?
  10. How do you explain his incredible popularity? Five marks.


Mohammed Ali Jinnah. super advanced course lesson 8


super advanced course lesson 8


Jinnah was born in Karachi. The city lay in the province of Sindh which was part of British India. He was brought up a Muslim in the Shia denomination. The Jinnah family were prosperous merchants. They spoke the Kutchi language. Mohammed Ali had one sister Fatima to whom he was very close. He had several other siblings but he was not to close to them.

The family later shifted to Mumbai which was then called Bombay. M A Jinnah did very well at school and acquired absolute fluency in English.  He briefly attended the University of Bombay. It was decided that he should be called to the bar. He set sail to England and enrolled at the Inns of Court in London. Jinnah studied law. M A Jinnah chose Lincoln’s Inn out of the four inns. Why? Because there was a depiction of the Prophet Mohammed there as a lawgiver. Jinnah later said he saw the name ‘Mohammed’ written on a wall in Lincoln’s Inn to honour the Prophet as a magnificent lawgiver. M A Jinnah did not want to tell Muslims elsewhere that there was an image of the Prophet in London because most Muslims consider it an abomination to fashion such an image. He had to sit exams some of which were in Latin. Whilst in London it was decided that he should wet. He agreed. Jinnah married in Mumbai.  He spent only a few weeks with her before setting sail. Later that woman died without Jinnah having any children.

After being called to the bar Jinnah returned to India. He practised law in Bombay and did extremely well for himself. He soon amassed a fortune. He spoke only English and his native language. The Muslims of North India mostly spoke Urdu which is Hindi with some Persian words. He never learnt that language.

Mr Jinnah met a young lady named Rutti Petit who was Parsee. The Parsees are a religion which only has 100 000 adherents. This miniscule minority achieved a most mind blowing degree of success in many fields in India. In business, law, politics, science, music and military affairs the Parsees are worth their weight in gold. Rutti Petit whom Jinnah fell in love with was the daughter of a colleague. A Parsee can only be a Parsee if both the mother and father are Parsees. The child who has one Parsee parent and one non-Parsee parent is not a Parsee. Jinnah and the woman decided to marry. They informed her father Mr Petit. He was apoplectic with rage! Mr Petit would never consent to his daughter marrying a non-Parsee. Petit’s grandchildren would not be considered Parsee. Despite this the 18 year old Rutti Petit bravely chose to wed the middle aged Jinnah. Her father never spoke to her again. Rutti converted to Islam.

Dina was Jinnah’s only child. She was raised in Islam. When Dina was only 11 her mother died of an illness. Jinnah did not marry again.

Jinnah was a slim, effete, calculating and aloof man. He was very self-assured but desiccated. He never did anything without reason. Jinnah was also a chain smoker. Observant Muslims disapproved of smoking.

The Indian political party called Congress was making waves in the early 20th century. Jinnah joined it. He was very anglophile and wore British clothes. He drank alcohol and made little attempt to practise Islam. He did not socialise with Muslims all that much.

The Muslim League broke off Congress and Jinnah went with it. Jinnah was not concerned about pushing for Indian independence.

Some Muslim intellectuals like the poet Allama Mohammed Iqbal and Chaudhry Rehmat Ali said their ought to be a homeland created for the Muslims of India. What should this be called? Ali said ‘Pakistan.’ How did he come up with the name? ‘P’ for Punjabis, ‘A’ for Afghans, ‘K’ for Kashmiris and ‘S’ for Sindhis and ‘tan’ for Baluchistan. In Urdu ‘Pakistan’ means ‘Land of the Pure.’

Muslims predominated in the north-east and north-west of India. The Muslims in the north-east were mostly Bengalis. There is no ‘B’ in Pakistan. What about the Bengalis? For some reason Ali only identified with Muslims in the west of India. Why was there letter ‘A’ for Afghans in the name Pakistan? Afghanistan is a separate country. By ‘Afghans’ and Pathans. These people often speak Persian or Pashto which are the languages of Afghanistan.

In the 1930s the notion of establishing Pakistan seemed far-fetched. Jinnah called it, ”an impossible dream”. Some Muslims said in an independent India they would be treated unfairly. The activities of some hardline Hindus made this seem plausible. The Hindu Mahasabha organisation said that an independent India must be zealously Hindu and the law of the land must reflect that. They wanted Muslims to become Hindu. They wished to make killing cows a felony. The Hindu Mahasabha noted that Indian Muslims had converted from Hinduism centuries before. The Hindu Mahasabha wanted these Muslims to reconvert. The Hindu Mahasabha recalled that Muslims had destroyed hundreds of Hindu temples in the 16th and 17th century. A few Hindus said it would be payback time once independence came!

At that time Jinnah was more worried about his only child. His daughter Dina fell in love with a Parsee. She requested her father’s approval to marry him. Jinnah refused to consent to her marrying outside the faith. She left and married the man anyway. Jinnah never spoke to her again. He was hypocritical since she was doing exactly what her mother had done with Jinnah.

Congress campaigned ardently for ‘Swadesh’ or independence. The Muslim League was preoccupied in securing the wellbeing of Muslims and was not het up about independence. Congress were being sent to prison for illegal protests. The Muslim League never broke the law. They were allowed to continue their activities.

The Second World War broke out in 1939. Congress resigned for the provincial governments it was running. This was a protest at the UK bringing India into the war without the agreement of Indians. The Muslim League took over some of these provincial governments. Astonishingly they sometimes went into coalition with the Hindu Mahasabha.

It seemed that the British Empire was living on borrowed time. Jinnah turned his mind to the post-British era. He decided that creating a new country for Muslims was a must. In the meantime the Muslim League adopted a posture of neutrality towards the Second World War. They neither encouraged nor discouraged men from joining the Indian Army.

In 1940 Jinnah addressed a crowd in Lahore.  M A Jinnah spoke in English for the benefit of foreign journalists. He could not speak the languages of the local people – Punjabi or Urdu. He issued the Lahore Declaration. He said that when British rule in India ended a new homeland must be created for Muslims in the north-east and north-west of India. His statement did not make it clear if there were to be two separate Muslim homelands or one united Muslim homeland. He later said he meant one Muslim homeland. There as a big problem. What about the 1 000 miles of Hindu majority territory in between the two Muslim majority areas? Jinnah said the two Muslim areas could still be a single country despite not being geographically contiguous.

The Lahore Declaration did not contain the word ‘Pakistan’. It has since been given the misnomer ‘the Pakistan Declaration’. Pakistan has the Minar i Pakistan (Tower of Pakistan) in the park where the declaration was made.

The war ended in 1945. Congress leaders were let out of prison. For six years Congress had not been running any provinces. In those 6 years the Muslim League had become popular in areas where Congress had been strong in the 1930s. Congress perhaps made a grave mistake in their Non-Cooperation campaign. Congress had once had been strong in places like the North-West Frontier Province.

A lot of Congress disliked the Muslim League. It had done nothing to end British rule but was going to reap the reward. Jinnah had only campaigned legally for his ideal.  Jinnah had never been arrested. If Congress had not broken the law then the British Raj would not be drawing to a close or certainly not so soon.

The idea of Pakistan was gaining ground. Jinnah demanded Partition. The British did not want this nor did Congress nor did the Sikhs nor did the Hindu Mahasabha. But Jinnah’s will was inflexible. He argued that the Muslims of India were a nation. Muslims and Hindus were different in clothing, cuisine, music, law and architecture. He said that the new India would be Hindustan and run for Hindus.

In 1946 Jinnah found out he his tuberculosis was fatal.  M A Jinnah had been suffering from this disease since the 1930s. He knew he was dying. But this was a closely guarded secret. Lord Mountbatten and others tried to talk Jinnah out of the idea of partitioning India. Could the Muslim provinces not band together to form mega-provinces in India? Muslim rights would be guaranteed. They could have a lot of autonomy within India. But Jinnah was not to be moved. He demanded that Pakistan must become a totally separate country. He said that Muslims had ”nothing in common with Hindus but their slavery to the British.” That was the only time he referred to the British Raj as ”slavery.”

Jinnah started wearing traditional Muslim clothing. Until that point he had been completely anglicised. He started to sport a Kashmiri cap.

Lord Mountbatten became viceroy in 1947. He had a number of one on one meetings with Jinnah. He tried to talk sense into Jinnah – as Mountbatten saw it anyway. The two did not form a rapport. His lordship found Jinnah desiccated, false and distant. By contrast he had an excellent working relationship with Nehru. Nehru got along with the vicereine very well indeed.

Mountbatten subsequently said that if he had known Jinnah was dying he would have stalled and stalled. The Pakistan Movement was based around his personality. If Jinnah had died he movement might have run out of steam. Partition could have been avoided.

Jinnah wanted the whole of the Punjab. Muslims made up just over 50% of the Punjab. But Jinnah said that a Punjabi is a Punjabi first and foremost. That matters more than religion. Mountbatten said that showed how ridiculous partition was. If religion did not determine nationality then do not divide India. Jinnah wanted the whole of Bengal too despite Muslims only being about 55% of the people. Again he said a Bengali is a Bengali before he is Muslim or Hindu. Mountbatten said that Jinnah was contradicting himself. It was as though Jinnah was eloquently pleading his opponent’s cause. Jinnah said he did not want ”a moth eaten Pakistan”.

Punjab is the homeland of the Sikhs. Almost all Sikhs lived there. They did not want their homeland being cut in two. There was a lot of bad blood between Muslims and Sikhs.

With a heavy heart Lord Mountbatten and Congress agreed to Partition. But where was the boundary to be? A British judge called Sir Cyril Radcliffe was brought out. Sir Cyril had never been to India before. He worked in uttermost secrecy. He had to give as many Muslims to Pakistan as he could without taking more Hindus and Sikhs than absolutely unavoidable. He asked for submissions from both sides. The Indians wanted to give Pakistan almost nothing. Contrarily, the Muslim League claimed huge swathes of land that contained almost no Muslims. The border he drew is called the Radcliffe Award. When it was announced amazingly both sides accepted it.

When it was announced that Pakistan would come into being Jinnah made a speech on the radio in English. He ended with ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ – in Urdu that means ‘Long Live Pakistan!’  He hardly spoke any Urdu. Many people believed that he was speaking English even at the end and had said ‘Pakistan’s in the bag!’

Lord Mountbatten thought that having a country with two wings that were not connected by land was crazy. West Pakistan and East Pakistan were separated by 1 000 miles of India. He said with incredible prescience that this arrangement could not last 25 years. It lasted 24.

On 14 August 1947 Pakistan was born. Lord Mountbatten went to Karachi with Jinnah for the celebrations. Jinnah became the Governor-General of the Dominion of Pakistan. The Prime Minister was Liaquat Ali Khan. There was said to be a Hindu fanatic in the crowd who wanted to assassinate Jinnah. Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten drove very slowly in an open car through the crowded streets. In the end the would be assassin did not try to kill M A Jinnah.

The next day India became independent.

Millions of Hindus and Sikhs fled Pakistan. Many were waylaid and slaughtered. Many women were subjected to a heinous crime. Millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan. Many of them were killed too. About 14 000 000 people moved. Many people had to leave all their property behind.

Had Jinnah caused catastrophe? He laid the blame on his opponents. But if he had not called for Partition none of this would have happened. Pakistanis say that had Partition not happened then Muslims would have been killed en masse and those who survived would have been forced to to change to Hinduism. The Government of India said this is nonsense. There are more Muslims in India than in Pakistan. There are countless mosques in India and Muslims worship freely.

There were many teething problems for the new country. There were millions of refugees to accommodate. Many of them arrived wounded or ill. What would Pakistan do about the property of Hindus and Sikhs who fled? There were lots of missing people and orphaned children. The country was in chaos.

All the property of pre-1947 India was divided on a 70:30 basis. 30% of the property went to Pakistan. This was true of armaments, furniture, money in the bank and so forth. This all required a huge amount of reorganisation.

Pakistan had to set up its army. These were made up of former Muslim regiments of the Indian Army. The Pakistani Navy was established and so was the Pakistani Air Force. The civil service also had to be established.

Pakistan was still using the Indian Rupee. It stamped the notes with a ‘P’ for Pakistan. In time the country printed its own currency.

There were Dalit Hindus in Karachi who ran the sewage system. They were attacked for their religion. Jinnah issued them with special bands to indicate that they were Dalits and not ordinary Hindus. They were vital to the running of the city.

Christians and Parsees in Pakistan were left unmolested.

In October 1947 Pakistani tribesmen attacked Kashmir. This was a huge Muslim princely state run by a Hindu. The Maharajah of Kashmir then asked to join India. The Indian Army was airlifted to Kashmir. Pakistan made war on India. The UN brokered a ceasefire the next year. It is a frozen conflict to this day.

Jinnah said Pakistan must be a secular country. Though it was a home for Muslims it was not to be an Islamic state. Sharia was not to be the law of the land. People were free to practise any faith. There are Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Jews and Parsees in Pakistan. Jinnah said they must have equality. They were guaranteed representation in the National Assembly (parliament).

In September 1948 Jinnah died of tuberculosis. He is remembered as ”Qaid i Azam” meaning ”The Great Leader”. He has a mausoleum in Karachi. His house in Mumbai still stands. His descendants do not still live there. His birthday is 25 December. Therefore it is a public holiday in Pakistan not because it is Christmas Day!


  1. In which city was Jinnah born?
  2. What was his religion?
  3. Which denomination of Islam did he belong to?
  4. What was his father’s trade?
  5. Which city did M A Jinnah grow up in?
  6. What does ‘ M A’ stand for in the name  M A Jinnah?
  7. What was his profession?
  8. Why was his marriage controversial?
  9. What was his personality like?
  10. Which party did he first join?
  11. What did the Muslim League do with regard to its place within Congress?
  12. Who invented the name Pakistan?
  13. What is the etymology of Pakistan?
  14. What did the Lahore Declaration say about Pakistan?
  15. Why was Jinnah never imprisoned by the British?
  16. Why did Jinnah say Muslims were a nation in India?
  17. What did Jinnah prefer to call India post 1947?
  18. When did he die?
  19. What is your opinion of him? Five marks.
  20. Was the Partition of India good or bad? Five marks





Subhas Chandra Bose. super advanced course 11


SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE. super advanced course 11

Bose was born in Cuttack, India. This city lies in Bengal. His mother tongue was Bengali and he was raised in the Hindu religion. His father was a highly successful barrister so the family was well off. Subhas Chandra Bose was a serious minded and studious child. He was always grave beyond his years.

Subhas Chandra did very well at school. His endeavour was crowned with success. He mastered English. Very few Indian spoke English at the time. He was known for standing up to the authorities. He had some British teachers. Bose found some of them very condescending . He felt that they demeaned Indian culture. He read about history. In 1857 many Indian soldiers had mutinied against their British officers. Indians now call it the First War of National Liberation. The British call it the Indian Mutiny. The British lost control of much of North India for six months. Most Indian soldiers remained faithful to the British. The British won in the end.

Bose took a degree from a university in Kolkata. His study of history convinced him that the British Raj was about extracting wealth from India and not about assisting the advancement of India. S C Bose had heard the British rationalisations for their presence in the Subcontinent. The British boasted of all they had done for India in terms of building railways; founding schools; and universities; introducing modern medicine and better agricultural methods; establishing a new judicial system, keeping Pax Britannica between the different peoples of India, defending India from Afghanistan and so forth. The British claimed they ruled India because they had purchased some of the land and ruled the rest through the consent of Indian princes. Bose was unconvinced by the case for the British Raj. He believed that the British had done all this only insofar as it benefited them. They had forced Indians to grow inedible crops such as cotton, tea, opium and jute and this caused hunger. There were several famines under the British Raj and millions of peopled died.  Bose became convinced that the British presence in India was unjustified. He said that India was overtaxed and had to pay the cost of its own occupation. The Indian Army was used as cannon fodder for the UK’s wars of aggression elsewhere.


  1. Which Indian province was Bose born in?
  2. What was his father’s occupation?
  3. What happened in India in 1857?
  4. What were the British justifications for ruling India? Five marks
  5. Did Bose agree with these claims?
  6. What harm did Bose say the British had done to India? Five marks. 

Study abroad 

Bose then enrolled at Cambridge University. After taking a degree from Cambridge Bose was offered a very well paid job with the Indian Civil Service. He turned it down. Bose had become convinced that the British Raj was very harmful to India. He wanted to end baleful foreign rule. 

Upon returning to India Bose threw himself into nationalist activities. He joined Congress. Bose campaigned zealously for independence. He came to be one of the leading figures in Congress in Bengal.

Many Congress luminaries condemned those who used force against the British. Bose sympathised with those who took up arms against the British Raj.  He did not regard them as terrorists but as freedom fighters. Bose believed than the British cultivated enmity between different communities in India. The British strategy, according to Bose, was divide and rule. He said it was duty of every Muslim and every Hindu to oppose the British Raj. The British spoke of democracy but would not allow it in India. Bose thought the British talk of freedom was nonsense. The British had a great capacity for self-delusion according to him. As the British had used force why should the Indians not? Bose held that the use of force was mere self-defence against the inherent violence of British rule.

Bose asked how it was that the British reigned in India when Indians outnumbered them 1 000  to 1? The British had co-opted a class of well remunerated traitors. There were a few Indians at the top of the pile who genuinely benefited from the British Raj. They told their subordinates to obey the Britishers and many obeyed. There were the princes. Bose loathed them as collaborators and exploiters. Some Indians held the British in awe. It seemed that the British won, won, won so some Indians admired them. He longed for the day when the downtrodden people would rise up against their cruel oppressors.

  1. Which UK university did Bose attend?
  2. What job did Bose say no to?
  3. Why was there ill-feeling between different groups of Indians according to Bose?
  4. How did Bose explain the fact that millions of Indian assisted the British Raj?  Five marks

British Propaganda

In Kolkata there was a monument to the ‘Black Hole of Calcutta’. This was an incident in the 18th century when some Britons were imprisoned by Bengalis. The British civilians were held in a small room during a hot night. There was insufficient airflow and many British people died as a result. The British constantly harped on about this as exemplifying Indian cruelty. Bose took the gravest possible exception to the memorial. He held that it was there to make Indians seem wicked and, by implication, make British people seem civilised. The British said that the Indians were a benighted race who need the enlightenment of British rule. Bose thought this claim was offensively dishonest. He said that many famines had been caused by the British Raj. Bose said that several million Indians had starved to death due to British greed. S C Bose led a campaign to have the memorial removed. He was successful.

Looking to world affairs Bose say that whites could be defeated. Some Indians seemed to think that whites were unbeatable. This was the myth of white invincibility. People said that whites sometimes lost a battle but never lost a war. Bose noted that the Japanese had thrashed the Russians. In the 1842 the Afghans, a very low technology people, had beaten the British. Victory was possible. But the British had bribed some Indians and intimidated the rest.

In the 1930s there were dictatorships in many countries. Bose admired the strength and sense of purpose of Japan, Germany and the Soviet Union. He agreed with the British on one thing only. India was unsuitable for democracy at this stage in history. It needed an authoritarian government. But Bose believed it must be an Indian government that worked for the betterment of the Indian people and not a foreign government for the enrichment of foreigners.

  1. What happened in the Black Hole of Calcutta incident? Five marks
  2. Why did Bose insist on removing the memorial? 
  3. What was the myth of white invincibility? Five marks
  4. Why did Bose like dictatorships?

Time to fight 

Traveling extensively in the 1930s Bose met an Austrian woman. He wed her and they had a daughter. Bose’s marriage gives lie to the idea that he was anti-white.

In 1938-39 he briefly led the Congress Party. Many in Congress disliked him and called him a fascist. He was not a good people person and not good at managing relations with his colleagues. Bose was cold, distant and austere. He almost never smiled.

Bose was later under house arrest for anti-colonial activities. In the middle of the night he slipped out of his house. He attained a false Italian passport. Using his bogus identity he traveled to Afghanistan. Once there he was out of the reach of the British. He traveled overland all the way to Germany.

Adolf Hitler had a meeting with Bose. Germany was willing to help anyone who would cause a pain in the neck for Britain. Some Indian soldiers who had been fighting on the British side had been captured by the Germans. Germany allowed Bose to recruit these men for his Indian National Army (INA). This was as opposed to the Indian Army which was pro-British. Bose broadcast by radio to India. He incited Indians to rise up against the British. What about the Indian Army and the Indian Police? If they believed that Bose would punish them if he won then they would fight all the harder against Bose. On the other hand if Bose promised to forgive them if he won then they would say they might as well carry on serving the British. Bose said that soldiers and policemen who had served the British would not be punished when independence came so long as they had not been too keen to suppress freedom fighters.

Eventually Bose traveled by submarine to Japan. The Japanese were attacking the British colonies in Asia. Bose was mightily impressed with the Japanese with their vim, fighting spirit and technological prowess. This was a shining example for other Asian nations.

The British and their colonial allies surrendered to the Japanese at Singapore. Bose went to Singapore. 40 000 Indians had become prisoners of war. Bose persuaded many of them to join his Indian National Army (INA). It was sometimes called the Azad Hind Fauj (Free India Army). Those who refused were treated brutally and some were shot. The INA was supposed to attack the British Army in India and the pro-British Indian Army. The INA wanted liberate India from colonial rule.

  1. Which party was Bose a member of?
  2. When he escaped from Indian which nationality’s passport did he use? 
  3. Which German leader did he meet?
  4. What was Bose’s attitude to soldiers and police who had served the British?
  5. Which Asian country helped Bose?
  6. At what South-East Asian city did the British sustain a massive defeat? 
  7. What was the INA? (Five marks)

THE I. N. A.

The Japanese had invaded China in 1931. Millions of Chinese had been killed in the war. The Japanese sold opium to the Chinese but would not allow their own people to take opium. The British had banned opium in the 1920s. Japanese rule was so brutally exploitative that it made British rule seem benign by comparison. Within days of capturing Singapore the Japanese arrested several thousand Chinese civilians and took them to the beach. They were shot dead. This was a massacre several times bigger than Jallianwala Bagh. Some of the INA soldiers were disturbed by this. Were they really on the right side? Bose believed that his duty was to India only and not to China. If he had to make alliances with distasteful governments he would do it for the sake of emancipating India.

The INA had a flag. It was the Indian Tricolour but the symbol on the central bar was a leaping tiger. Bose decided that he would be called ‘Netaji’ meaning ”respected leader.” The motto of the INA was in Urdu ‘Itmad, Ittefaq, Kurbani’ meaning ‘unity, faith, sacrifice’.  Bose decided that the greeting among his soldiers would be ‘Jai Hind’ meaning ‘Hail India’. It remains a popular patriotic slogan in India today. He used Urdu partly to placate Muslims. He was aware that the Muslim League was demanding the Partition of India. After Indian independence Bose wished to preserve the unity of the nation. Therefore Bose was keen to ensure the Muslims of India that they would be included and treated fairly.

The INA even had a section for women. It was called the Rani of Jhansi Regiment. The regiment was named after an Indian queen who led her troops into battle against the British in 1857. She was the only senior commander of the rebels in 1857 to be killed in combat. Rani is a title like ‘queen’ and Jhansi is an Indian city.

In 1942 the United Kingdom promised to grant independence as soon as the war was over. Bose said that the Brits were promising this because he had them on the run. He did not believe they would fulfill their solemn promise.

Some of the INA were disturbed that while they were required to salute Japanese officers the Japanese soldiers were not required to salute INA officers. The Japanese promised India would join the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Was this a cover for being a Japanese colony as had happened in China? The Japanese slogan was ‘Asia for the Asiatics’. Some INA men were concerned that if they let the Japanese into India they would never get them out. The British repeatedly promised to expedite Indian independence as soon as they could after the war. Were they to be trusted?

Bose appointed himself provisional president, prime minister, foreign minister, defence minister and commander of the INA. The British said that Bose was a megalomaniac and a fascist.

  1. Which country did Japan invade in 1931?
  2. Why were some INA soldiers unsure about their alliance with Japan?
  3. What was the INA Flag?
  4. What was Bose’s honorific title? 
  5. What was the women’s section of the INA called?
  6. Who was the Rani of Jhansi?

Chalo Delhi

What language was to be used for the INA? Indians spoke so many languages. Bose decided that Urdu should be used since that was the language that the pre-British rulers of India had spoken: the Mughals. Urdu was spoken by Muslims in North India. The language is mainly Hindi vocabulary with some Persia words and it is written in the Arabic alphabet. Persian is spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and a little bit in India. The problem with using Urdu was that it was associated with Muslims and some Hindus disliked that. It was also a northern language and this alienated the south. It was written in the Arabic script which most people did not understand. They used Devanagari script. Moreover, it was written right to left. Most Indian languages are written left to to right.

Bose broadcast on the radio to India. He spoke in his native Bengali. He sometimes addressed his hearers in English. His slogan was ‘Chalo Delhi’ (”on to Delhi”). He called upon Indians to fight. Bose stirringly declared, ‘Give me blood and I shall give you freedom!’  Although he was anti-British he did not reject their language. A language is a mere means of communication like a radio. He spoke only two languages so he had to use those. Some Indians understood English who did not understand Bengali. There was nothing anti-national about speaking English. After all English was not even originally a British language. English is a blend of Saxon, Old Norse and Norman French. At the end of each broadcast he would say, ‘India shall be free and before long. No power on earth can keep India enslaved!

The INA fought the British in Burma (Myanmar) and achieved some success. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal were taken by the INA. These were Indian islands. The INA even crossed into the mainland of India but only penetrated a few miles. However, the Burma campaign stalled. British counterattacks forced the INA and their Japanese allies back. The Japanese were being defeated on other fronts. Japanese soldiers were transferred to other sectors. Indian civilians suspected of collaborating with the British were sometimes killed by the Japanese. There were two battles that the INA fought in India with the Japanese by their side. These were Kohima and Imphal. The INA and Japanese lost both. The INA sometimes fought the Indian Army (pro-British). The INA hoped that the Indian Army would come over and join their side. But it did not happen. The INA was obliged to retreat from the tiny area of mainland India it had taken.

Some INA soldiers noted that the Japanese had behaved appallingly in Burma. Prisoners of War and civilians had been made to do slave labour. Many died due to their cruel treatment. The Japanese did not hesitate to kill civilians on a large scale if there was even any passive resistance. It seemed much worse than the British Raj. One Burmese leader Aung San had fought against the British even changed sides to support the British. He said, ”the British suck your blood but the Japanese also take the marrow from your bones.”

  1. Why did Bose speak English in some radio broadcasts to India?
  2. Which islands were taken by the INA?
  3. Did the INA reach mainland India?

The end

The Japanese advance had caused the British to destroy bridges and boats in Bengal to slow down the Japanese. Then the rice crop failed and it became impossible to distribute supplies to the stricken area. In 1942 a famine began. The official death toll was 1 500 000 Bengalis who died of starvation. Some Indians believed the true figure is much higher. A few INA soldiers wondered if their attempt to liberate India was making things worse for India. Others said it was typical British genocide.

By 1945 the Japanese were in retreat. The British retook Burma. Bose fled to Taiwan.

The Japanese surrendered. Bose did not want to fall into the hands of the British. He decided to go to the Soviet Union. The Soviets were committed anti-imperialists. They constantly demanded the termination of the British Raj. Bose boarded his plane. It crashed a minute after take off. He was killed.

Why did the plane crash? Was it an accident or sabotage? Who would want to kill Bose? The British? Congress? Or someone else? Although independence was coming for India the British wanted to maintain the maximum possible influence afterwards. They viewew Nehru and a gentleman and someone they could do business with. London did not want Bose causing problems

There are some who claim that Bose is still alive. He would be well over 100 if he were still alive.

There are statutes of Bose all over India and things named in his honour.

  1. What happened in Bengal in 1942?
  2. What is the minimum death toll from the famine?
  3. Where did Bose end up in 1945?
  4. What happened when he tried to fly to the Soviet Union?
  5. Is it certain why his plane crashed?
  6. What is your opinion of him? Five marks





Gandhi. bronze course lesson 3


Gandhi. Bronze course lesson 3


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?


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?

Jawaharlal Nehru


Jawaharlal Nehru


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?


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.


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?


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?


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.