Category Archives: History of Ireland

This history looks primarily at Ireland in the Middle Ages. It has a couple of articles on Ireland in the 19th century. It will be expanded to cover Modern Irish History in greater depth. These articles challenge the nationalist narrative but avoid diatribe.

The Indian Mutiny

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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 Liberation.

In the 19th century most of India was either directly or indirectly under British rule. The East India Company had its capital at Calcutta. The Company owned huge amounts of farm land. It charged rents and collected taxes.

The EIC had its own army and navy. 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).

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 princely states. A princely state was ruled by a rajah, maharajah, khan or whatever the title was of the Indian ruler. 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 princley 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.

Some Indians grumbled about excessive taxation. The EIC had a monopoly on the lucrative opium trade.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The EIC promulgated the doctrine of lapse. This stated that is a ruler died without a male heir then the crown lapsed. The princely state would come under direct British rule. In the 1850s some Indian princely stated started to be asborbed 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.

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 of 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.

 

  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?

Outbreak

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’.

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.

At Meerut cartridges were issued to sepoys. They refused to bite them. Some British officers offered a concession. They could tear the cartridges instead. This was also impermissible to a Hindu or a 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. 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. They 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. Some of the sepoys resolved to free their comrades from prison. Some sepoys were still faithful to the British. They informed the Britishers. 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 valiantly hid their British friends. But if an Indian was caught concealing a Briton for the mutineers than 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 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?

On May 16 Bahadur Shah Zafar was cajoled into signing a proclamation reasserting his title as Emperor of India. Many rallied to his banner. The British were staggered to see that he commanded loyalty. For decades they had treated him and his forbears as a powerless anachronism. Even some Hindus professed their allegiance to Bahadur Shah. He 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.

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, Auragnzeb and other Mughals dynasts had destroyed hundreds of Hindu temples building mosques in their place. By contrast British boasted that they had never demolished a single Hindu temple or a single mosque.

The news spread quickly 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 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 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?

Kanpur 

There was a large British garrison at Kanpur. 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.

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?

 

Lucknow

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.

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. 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.

Some British civilians fled to Jhanshi 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. Lakshmibai 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.

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

Finally British siege artillery arrived. It pummeled the city walls and knocked out the rebel artillery. At the end of August more reinforcement arrived for the British: Sikhs and Pakhtuns. 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.

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.

Shah Bahdur was sent into exile in Burma. 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.’

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 1814. 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.

The EIC was dissolved in 1858. The UK Government started to assume 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.

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 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. 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. 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 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)

 Conclusion

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.

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 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? 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

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super advanced course lesson 10

INDIRA GANDHI

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. 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

The British Indian Community

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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 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.

  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?

Victoria

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.

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 a few 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. 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.

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. 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.

 

  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?

Powell

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.

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.

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.

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 Pira Khabra was elected in Southall. He had formerly served in the Indian Army during the Second World War. Khabra was a Labour man.

In the 1990s the British Indian community was increasingly affluent. 1 in 10 British Indian men was a doctor. 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 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. 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.

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

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Mohammed Ali Jinnah. super advanced course lesson 8

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super advanced course lesson 8

MOHAMMED ALI JINNAH

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!

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  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

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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

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Gandhi

Beginnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

South Africa

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

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

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

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

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

 

Back in India

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

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

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

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

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

 

Amritsar and afterwards

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

How do they rule?

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

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

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

Communalism 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The War

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

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

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

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

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

 

After Partition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Jawaharlal Nehru

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Jawaharlal Nehru

Background

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

University

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Return to his homeland

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Demanding reform

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

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

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

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

 

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

Prison time

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Worldview

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Wartime

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

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

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

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

 

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

Independence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A republic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Partition of India

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THE PARTITION OF INDIA

Aftermath of the war

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

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

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

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

 

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

A new viceroy

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

The India Act

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Independence

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Second World War in India

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THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN INDIA

The early stages

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

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

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

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

Congress v Churchill

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

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

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

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

Japan attacks

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

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

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

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

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

Quit India

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Indian Independence Movement

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INDIAN INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT

 

British India and the Princely States

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

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

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

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

 

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

Poverty and progress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conceit and conciliation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Moderation and militancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The First World War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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