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astralis
15 Feb 13,, 14:29
for someone more knowledgeable about modern indian history than i: was there any time following the Mutiny where indians wanted Dominion status vice outright independence?

AFAIK, by the time Dominion status was being seriously considered, Gandhi and the Indian National Congress was already thinking about full independence. jinnah followed soon afterwards. was there ever a time when a less drastic step was considered?

DarthSiddius
15 Feb 13,, 14:52
Following the rejection of the recommendations of the Simon Commission by Indians, an all-party conference was held at Bombay in May 1928. This was meant to instill a sense of resistance among people. The conference appointed a drafting committee under Motilal Nehru to draw up a constitution for India. The Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress asked the British government to accord dominion status to India by December 1929, or a countrywide civil disobedience movement would be launched. By 1929, however, in the midst of rising political discontent and increasingly violent regional movements, the call for complete independence from Britain began to find increasing grounds within the Congress leadership. Under the presidency of Jawaharlal Nehru at its historic Lahore session in December 1929, the Indian National Congress adopted a resolution calling for complete independence from the British. It authorised the Working Committee to launch a civil disobedience movement throughout the country. It was decided that 26 January 1930 should be observed all over India as the Purna Swaraj (total independence) Day. Many Indian political parties and Indian revolutionaries of a wide spectrum united to observe the day with honour and pride.

From: Indian Independence Movement - Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_independence_movement)

AFAIK the Indian Independence Act of 1947 made India a dominion of the British empire which was until 26th January, 1950 when the constitution of India came into force, establishing the Republic of India.

astralis
15 Feb 13,, 15:38
looking at the timing, it seems pretty clear to me that the INC only floated the idea of dominion status just to tell people, 'see, we tried the nice way'. they HAD to know that the british would never accept a year and a half's timeline between the proposal and actual implementation. so this was never a serious idea.

and they fully expected this to fail-- see how on the very deadline of Dec 1929, the INC proposed complete independence complete with a civil disobedenience campaign vice trying to negotiate with the british.

IIRC it took lily-white canada about 30 years between when the idea of a dominion was first floated up until they were exercising partial sovereignty as a dominion, and it really wasn't until after WWI that they had full sovereignty.

DarthSiddius
15 Feb 13,, 16:49
Apologies for not giving the context. The demand for greater share in governance eventually leading to self governance (within the British Empire) had been pushed by the Congress since its inception. The congress truely went for independence only after a number of previous proposals by either side had failed and the "Purna Swaraj" (complete independence) movement had taken popularity amongst the masses especially after incidents such as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The movement changed from greater autonomy to outright independence during the course of some thirty years and a lot of blunders by the British policy makers!


Tilak deeply opposed the then British education system that ignored and defamed India's culture, history and values. He resented the denial of freedom of expression for nationalists, and the lack of any voice or role for ordinary Indians in the affairs of their nation. For these reasons, he considered Swaraj as the natural and only solution. His popular sentence "Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it" became the source of inspiration for Indians.

In 1907, the Congress was split into two factions. The radicals led by Tilak advocated civil agitation and direct revolution to overthrow the British Empire and the abandonment of all things British. The moderates led by leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji and Gopal Krishna Gokhale on the other hand wanted reform within the framework of British rule. Tilak was backed by rising public leaders like Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai, who held the same point of view. Under them, India's three great states Maharashtra, Bengal and Punjab shaped the demand of the people and India's nationalism. Gokhale criticized Tilak for encouraging acts of violence and disorder. But the Congress of 1906 did not have public membership, and thus Tilak and his supporters were forced to leave the party.


^^ More from the wikipedia article.

astralis
15 Feb 13,, 18:41
so there was support for dominion status pre-WWI, at least. you're right that the Jallianwala Bagh (Amritsar) Massacre was probably a big catalyst.

interesting to see how many of the old Imperialists (Churchill for instance) was livid when news of Amritsar came out. in addition to the moral disgust at the outright murder, there had to have been some small realization that this was going to be fodder for the India Independence types.

seems to me though that the window for India actually becoming a permanent Dominion member was going to be pretty small. the first discussions was what, 1880s-1890s, and by 1930 when the british finally started to seriously consider it, it was too late.

i don't believe Gandhi was ever for Dominion status? as i recall after he came back from South Africa he was pretty much for independence.

which is a bit ironic, because he assisted the British during the Boer War by establishing an Indian Ambulatory Corps to demonstrate that Indians could also sacrifice for the Empire. guess something bad must have happened then.

DarthSiddius
15 Feb 13,, 19:27
I have no doubt that if British governments had been prepared to grant in 1900 what they refused in 1900 but granted in 1920; or to grant in 1920 what they refused in 1920 but granted in 1940; or to grant in 1940 what they refused in 1940 but granted in 1947 - then nine-tenths of the misery, hatred, and violence, the imprisonings and terrorism, the murders, flogging, shootings, assassinations, even the racial massacres would have been avoided; the transference of power might well have been accomplished peacefully, even possibly without Partition.
- Leonard Sidney Woolf


I'll quote from Gandhi's page on Wikipedia (too lazy to look for better sources!)


In 1915, Gandhi returned to India permanently. He brought an international reputation as a leading Indian nationalist, theorist and organizer. He joined the Indian National Congress and was introduced to Indian issues, politics and the Indian people primarily by Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Gokhale was a key leader of the Congress Party best known for his restraint and moderation, and his insistence on working inside the system. Gandhi took Gokhale's liberal approach based on British Whiggish traditions and transformed it to make it look wholly Indian.[42]

Gandhi took leadership of Congress in 1920 and began a steady escalation of demands (with intermittent compromises or pauses) until on 26 January 1930 the Indian National Congress declared the independence of India. The British did not recognize that and more negotiations ensued, with Congress taking a role in provincial government in the late 1930s. Gandhi and Congress withdrew their support of the Raj when the Viceroy declared war on Germany in September 1939 without consulting anyone. Tensions escalated until Gandhi demanded immediate independence in 1942 and the British responded by imprisoning him and tens of thousands of Congress leaders for the duration. Meanwhile the Muslim League did cooperate with Britain and moved, against Gandhi's strong opposition, to demands for a totally separate Muslim state of Pakistan. In August 1947 the British partitioned the land, with India and Pakistan each achieving independence on terms Gandhi disapproved.

Gokhale was the leader of the "moderate faction" within the Congress. (Gokhale wanted to remain within the British framework so would probably have an influence on Gandhi, atleast initially (speculation on my part))


In April 1918, during the latter part of World War I, the Viceroy invited Gandhi to a War Conference in Delhi. Perhaps to show his support for the Empire and help his case for India's independence, Gandhi agreed to actively recruit Indians for the war effort. In contrast to the Zulu War of 1906 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914, when he recruited volunteers for the Ambulance Corps, this time Gandhi attempted to recruit combatants. In a June 1918 leaflet entitled "Appeal for Enlistment", Gandhi wrote "To bring about such a state of things we should have the ability to defend ourselves, that is, the ability to bear arms and to use them...If we want to learn the use of arms with the greatest possible despatch, it is our duty to enlist ourselves in the army." He did, however, stipulate in a letter to the Viceroy's private secretary that he "personally will not kill or injure anybody, friend or foe."

World War I began with an unprecedented outpouring of love and goodwill towards the United Kingdom from within the mainstream political leadership, contrary to initial British fears of an Indian revolt. India contributed massively to the British war effort by providing men and resources. About 1.3 million Indian soldiers and labourers served in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, while both the Indian government and the princes sent large supplies of food, money and ammunition.

astralis
15 Feb 13,, 19:51
yeah, gokhale was for a Dominion, but other than the early association i don't know whether or not Gandhi was.

as for gandhi's combatant call-out in WWI, note that it just stated that the main purpose was to get a bunch of Indians weapons training. i suspect he was already supportive of Indian independence by then.

i largely agree with the woolf quotation above. the british were sadly always a generation behind in their thinking, although that was significantly better than their french or spanish counterparts. they were surprisingly quick to acknowledge dominion self-governance and later sovereignty on the part of the "white" dominions, and had they done the same for their india and africa colonies i daresay a lot of the bloodshed in the de-colonization era could easily have been avoided.

it's a strange sort of racism; IIRC the british had indian MPs in parliament and indians with british peerage by the late 1800s.

Firestorm
15 Feb 13,, 20:11
interesting to see how many of the old Imperialists (Churchill for instance) was livid when news of Amritsar came out. in addition to the moral disgust at the outright murder, there had to have been some small realization that this was going to be fodder for the India Independence types.

Well in Churchill's case, the reason probably was the latter than the former. He himself was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions by his actions during the Bengal famine of 1943. Churchill had a pathological hatred of Indians, probably unseen even amongst other hardcore imperialists.

An example -


"I hate Indians," he told the Secretary of State for India, Leopold Amery. "They are a beastly people with a beastly religion." The famine was their own fault, he declared at a war-cabinet meeting, for "breeding like rabbits."

Read more: Books: Churchill's Shameful Role in the Bengal Famine - TIME (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2031992,00.html#ixzz2KzrCHPLZ)


He is unlikely to have felt disgust of any sort at the murder of Indians ordered by a British officer.

DarthSiddius
15 Feb 13,, 20:38
I'm pretty sure that Gandhi started out wanting to make India a self governing sovereign state of the British empire but he later changed his stance over the course of time. Discriminatory and short sighted British policies certainly helped. The British started taking him seriously too late and even then they weren't hesitent in rolling back whatever reforms they made when it suited them.

For eg, Provincial level elections were agreed to, as part of the negotiations between the Congress and the Government of India in 1937, resulting in the Congress coming to power in eight of the eleven provinces.


When World War II started, Viceroy Linlithgow unilaterally declared India a belligerent on the side of Britain, without consulting the elected Indian representatives. In opposition to Linlithgow's action, the entire Congress leadership resigned from the local government councils. However, many wanted to support the British war effort, and indeed the British Indian Army was the largest volunteer force, numbering 2,500,000 men during the war.

As part of the British Empire India would have been at war with the axis automatically but not keeping the representatives in the loop (especially with the ongoing movement in India) was, well, short sighted indeed. This alienated them even more.

Another sign (although ceremonial) is the fact that India chose to be part of the commonwealth of nations despite considerable internal opposition. Thus, keeping the British link even though they didn't have to.


The issue of countries with constitutional structures not based on a shared Crown but that wanted to remain members of the Commonwealth came to a head in 1948 with passage of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, in which Ireland renounced the sovereignty of the Crown and thus left the Commonwealth. The Ireland Act 1949 passed by the Parliament of Westminster offered citizens of the Republic of Ireland a status similar to that of citizens of the Commonwealth in UK law. The issue was resolved in April 1949 at a Commonwealth prime ministers' meeting in London. Under the London Declaration, India agreed that, when it became a republic in January 1950, it would accept the British Sovereign as a "symbol of the free association of its independent member nations and as such the Head of the Commonwealth". Upon hearing this, King George VI told the Indian politician Krishna Menon: "So, I've become 'as such'".

Many of the Congress leaders were educated in Britain including Nehru who had seen the examples of Canada and Australia. I do think that had the British acted fast and with sincerity and without racism or their percieved superiority as a civilization, India would have remained a Dominion within the British commonwealth. But that would be in an ideal world! You are right about the British with respect to the Spanish and the French.

astralis
15 Feb 13,, 20:54
firestorm,


He himself was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions by his actions during the Bengal famine of 1943. Churchill had a pathological hatred of Indians, probably unseen even amongst other hardcore imperialists.


it's not as if churchill ORDERED there to be a famine to kill people; i've seen mukherjee's interpretation and i find it incomplete at best.

there was a lot of factors that led to the famine; churchill's influence was, i'd say, a relatively minor factor. the total amount of food exported was relatively small in comparison to the overall disaster.


Churchill had a pathological hatred of Indians, probably unseen even amongst other hardcore imperialists.


the quote below was actually fairly representative of the typical British imperialist circa 1885-1890, which is precisely when Churchill first became an adult and which he held onto for the remainder of his life. past the "martial races", the average imperialist had little use for the other Indians.

note the other famous churchill quote is that "India is a geographical term. It is no more a United Nation than the Equator."

which, up until circa 1920, when an indian consciousness began to form thanks to the efforts of gandhi, was largely accurate.


He is unlikely to have felt disgust of any sort at the murder of Indians ordered by a British officer.

re: Amritsar, he deemed a "monstrous event" in which a "great slaughter or massacre upon a particular crowd of people, with the intention of terrorising not merely, the rest of the crowd, but the whole district or country".

churchill was a hard man with definite racist proclivities towards Indians but he was not one to revel in murder.

what i never understood about him was his hard line towards an Indian Dominion, even as late as 1930. the only point i can think of in that favor is that were it not for the massive Indian contribution to the Allies in WW2, the UK likely would not have been able to fight at all after 1941. i'm not sure an independent Dominion would have done quite so much.

Blademaster
16 Feb 13,, 01:49
Astralis, there was a reason why India was strongly considered as the jewel of the Empire,i.e., it was the largest tax base for Britain. Without its tax coffers and vast raw resources at that time, Britain would never been able to pull off its Industrial Revolution or maintain its size of the navy. It was the largest and most powerful navy due to the resources of India. Canada didn't pull its weight till into the 1900s when it finally got its mining industry underway.

astralis
16 Feb 13,, 17:39
BM,


Without its tax coffers and vast raw resources at that time, Britain would never been able to pull off its Industrial Revolution or maintain its size of the navy.

that's the marxist interpretation. india's importance to the empire was actually due to british textiles (and machine parts) getting sold to indians-- the Lancashire factories combined with the RN dominance of the seas as well as the suez canal made textiles from England cheaper than what indian home-weavers could produce.

which is why gandhi placed such a high premium on getting all the indians to weave their own clothes.

the factories and the navy came before india was a major factor. india played a bigger role in the Second Industrial Revolution of the 1860s-1880s, as the market above. which is another big reason why i think it's weird the brits never considered Dominion status for india more seriously; they'd still get the major benefits (the economic trade) without actually having to administer the place. although it's true they did even this on the cheap.

most importantly, though, india's value was demonstrated in both world wars-- without the manpower pool that India provided the UK would not have been able to fight Germany after the first year or two of the war.

DarthSiddius
16 Feb 13,, 22:02
Since this is a what if thread, what do you guys think would have happened if the British did accept the Congress' demand in 1929 or before the actual split in it's and the general populace's ideology? What if India was made a dominian under the British rule before the world wars and she remained so till date? Facinating, with no partition and subsiquent bloodshed and conflicts! Too many variables I think, but worth a thought?

astralis
16 Feb 13,, 23:17
i think it'd be a big difference if india got Dominion in 1918 (before Amritsar/Gandhi really turning up the stakes) and 1929.

the biggest chance would be to get the whole thing done with the existing Government of India Act reform:

Government of India Act 1919 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_of_India_Act_1919)

frankly if I were Indian back then I'd jump at the chance of being in a Dominion, and hell, being as "British" as you can get. the end result would be England becoming a Dominion...just as England is largely a Dominion of the US today :biggrin: :biggrin:

zraver
16 Feb 13,, 23:28
After 1941 its too late. American demands that the UK drop its protectionist trade policies means India as Dominion is not better for the UK economy than India as independent. Economically it had to be all or nothing after the deal with FDR for armaments.

Bigfella
17 Feb 13,, 01:21
i think it'd be a big difference if india got Dominion in 1918 (before Amritsar/Gandhi really turning up the stakes) and 1929.

the biggest chance would be to get the whole thing done with the existing Government of India Act reform:

Government of India Act 1919 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_of_India_Act_1919)

frankly if I were Indian back then I'd jump at the chance of being in a Dominion, and hell, being as "British" as you can get . the end result would be England becoming a Dominion...just as England is largely a Dominion of the US today :biggrin: :biggrin:

I'm not sure your imagination is that good. :)

You could certainly see that as a 'lost opportunity', but I'm not sure what great difference it would have made in the long term. Indeed, it might actually bring forward the issue of partition. Would there be a single 'nation', two, three or more? I suspect that even India as a Dominion will still make the break with the UK around the same time everyone else did, if not before. WW2 becomes interesting - what exactly is the Indian motivation to bail out the UK? Are more than 2.5 million Indians going to volunteer to fight & die for Britain? They already have their independence. Perhaps they will choose the path of neutrality as Eire did.

Of course, the real issue here is that Britain is always going to be reluctant to risk giving a non-white colony any significant form of independence in the late C19th or even early C20th. If India goes then who next? it is one things to let white settle states have dominion status, but very risky to allow it with a major non-white one. It seems a lot to give for no appreciable gain to the mind of a politician of the time. Britain wasn't ready to dismantle the empire in 1919. In 1947 the world had changed a great deal.

astralis
17 Feb 13,, 06:00
BF,


Britain wasn't ready to dismantle the empire in 1919.

the weird thing about the British Empire was just how loose it was. i'm surprised London never tried very hard to centralize it; i guess the Americans scared them off that prospect :biggrin:

so it's very strange to me when the british could be so nonchalant about having australia or canada be so self-governing but freak out over india doing the same.

as it was, i suppose the british sacrificed their Empire by stopping Germany in the world wars.

Bigfella
17 Feb 13,, 07:23
the weird thing about the British Empire was just how loose it was. i'm surprised London never tried very hard to centralize it; i guess the Americans scared them off that prospect :biggrin:

Depends which bits of the empire you are talking about. I'm sure the Scots, Welsh & especially the Irish (well most of them) would have taken issue with your assessment. African slaves in the Americas too - the plantations of the West Indies made the Gulag Archipeligo look like a holiday camp (I'm not exaggerating - slaves had a life expectancy of 7 years. You were better off wiht Uncle Joe).

Part of the reason for the lack of centralization was simple practicality - most of the Empire was too far away or too big. Sailing time to the American colonies was measured in days. To Australia it was in months. That began to decrease wiht steam power, but that took a while to make much difference. The Colonial Office attempted to assert control early, but as the population expanded this became impossible. In the case of India & Africa you had huge populations who weren't especially keen on being ruled by outsiders wiht a tiny white elite at the top. That said, as the Empire went on it extended its fingers deeper & deeper into the lives of those societies. It is ironic that the level of control was probably greatest at the point when Britain exited.


so it's very strange to me when the british could be so nonchalant about having australia or canada be so self-governing but freak out over india doing the same.

Not really. As you mentioned earlier, the race element siomply cannot be understated. Indians were not 'British' as Australians, Kiwis & Canucks. They weren't even white, like Boers. Of course, even being white didn't help the Irish, who fought a war merely to become a dominion (and fought another immediately after when the possibility of total independence instead of dominion status led Britain to threaten to invade). They were a lesser race. A savage race. They were also very profitable. As I said, it would also have set a very dangerous example.


as it was, i suppose the british sacrificed their Empire by stopping Germany in the world wars.

They did, though I suspect a good many bits of it would have been exiting anyway. if not for the war Ireland might have left peacefully. I suspect India would eventually have become ungovernable, and once that was gone some others would have rapidly followed (though not all).

DarthSiddius
17 Feb 13,, 09:04
The thing with a historical what if scenario, is that we already know it didn't happen. Having said so if the British were gracious enough to grant Indians their wish, what makes you think that India wouldn't honour their end of the bargain and help Britain in their time of need? During WW1 India did help the British considerably, with a lot of public support to boot. Is the race issue really that big of a deal? We know that it didn't happen and there were reasons for it, but were they the "right" reasons? The problem with India splintering arises with regards to the princely states and the Muslim league (They didn't get the idea for a separate state for muslims until the 1930s and it didn't pick up steam untill the 1940s), again there is no way to find out as there was significant opposition to the two nation theory even among the muslims.

What if it did happen though, India being made a British dominion some time before the first world war?

Bigfella
17 Feb 13,, 09:54
The thing with a historical what if scenario, is that we already know it didn't happen. Having said so if the British were gracious enough to grant Indians their wish, what makes you think that India wouldn't honour their end of the bargain and help Britain in their time of need? During WW1 India did help the British considerably, with a lot of public support to boot.

Perhaps India would have helped, but as much & in the same way? Do we really know the extent of that support & if it would have manifested itself in the same way were India independent. There is just no way to know.

To give an example, Australia sent 330,000 troops to WW1, yet when the government tried to introduce conscription it twice failed in a national referrendum. A significant factor in this was nationalism - in this case Irish nationalism funnelled through the Catholic Church.

Then there was Ireland, which despite providing huge numbers of Catholic volunteers saw an uprising in 1916 & a war of independence starting in 1919. 'Popular feeling' can be a fickle beast, especially when bodies start coming home. How sure can you be that Indians would be as supportive after 50,000 deaths?

Then there is WW2. Britain's entire defence of the Far East hinged on the presence of Indian troops at all points in the war. they were also crucial in East Africa (not sure about elsewhere). Some of thsoe gaps could have been plugged, but only some. Is an Indian nation 30 or 40 years into independence going to send 2-3 million troops to defend British colonial possessions from Japan? How sure are you?


Is the race issue really that big of a deal?

At that time? hell yes. Rememeber that European nations considered themselves separate 'races' at this time. The world was viewed in terms of racial hierarchies, with Nth Europeans at the top & other races (including some Europeans) further down. I'm not sayig it was the only issue, but it coloured every aspect of thinking (apologies for the pun).


The problem with India splintering arises with regards to the princely states and the Muslim league (They didn't get the idea for a separate state for muslims until the 1930s and it didn't pick up steam untill the 1940s), again there is no way to find out as there was significant opposition to the two nation theory even among the muslims.

Yes, but if independence of some sort is seriously being proposed before WW1 then a whole host of issues that simmered for another 20 years would come to the fore. Further, there is no guarantee that any arrangements made initially would hold in 10, 20 or 30 years time. Want to bet against a civil war?

astralis
17 Feb 13,, 17:11
BF,


Part of the reason for the lack of centralization was simple practicality - most of the Empire was too far away or too big. Sailing time to the American colonies was measured in days. To Australia it was in months. That began to decrease wiht steam power, but that took a while to make much difference. The Colonial Office attempted to assert control early, but as the population expanded this became impossible. In the case of India & Africa you had huge populations who weren't especially keen on being ruled by outsiders wiht a tiny white elite at the top. That said, as the Empire went on it extended its fingers deeper & deeper into the lives of those societies. It is ironic that the level of control was probably greatest at the point when Britain exited.

so why did de-centralization INCREASE when technologies favored greater centralization? for the 'white' dominions, there was a remarkable loosening in the 1870's timeframe, and of course by the time 1914 rolled around they were pretty much domestically independent. after WWI they were independent in everything but name. i'd say the era of greatest control for the Empire was circa 1840-1850, when canada, australia, (and after the Mutiny) even parts of India was considered as British as the home islands; the quote "it is the people that make the ground british, not the ground the people" comes to mind.


Not really. As you mentioned earlier, the race element siomply cannot be understated. Indians were not 'British' as Australians, Kiwis & Canucks. They weren't even white, like Boers. Of course, even being white didn't help the Irish, who fought a war merely to become a dominion (and fought another immediately after when the possibility of total independence instead of dominion status led Britain to threaten to invade). They were a lesser race. A savage race. They were also very profitable. As I said, it would also have set a very dangerous example.

of course, as you mentioned, this whole race idea was very erratically applied. as i said, there were indian MPs in parliament as well as indian peers. it's not as clear cut as, say, american racism and the "one drop" rule.

astralis
17 Feb 13,, 17:17
darth,


What if it did happen though, India being made a British dominion some time before the first world war?

there was no possible way before WWI; the INC, after all, was founded only back in 1885 and didn't become popular in india in any real way until the years just prior to the war.

it took the radicalizing experience of WWI-- millions of indians serving throughout the Empire-- that there was any real basis for a national consciousness. the Government of India Act was actually one of those rare british realizations that there WAS this national consciousness, although in hindsight it didn't go far enough.

lemontree
18 Feb 13,, 10:37
What if it did happen though, India being made a British dominion some time before the first world war?

There were "two India's" then, one that was directly governed by the British, and the other 560 kingdoms ruled by the rajas and maharajas.

lemontree
18 Feb 13,, 10:43
for someone more knowledgeable about modern indian history than i: was there any time following the Mutiny where indians wanted Dominion status vice outright independence?
There was no centralized leadership representing the Indians till Gandhi came on the scene.
Dominon status was existing for the 560 kings/ rajas/maharajas, so they did not really care for the general public. All they did was to collect revenue, pass on the British taxes, maintain state forces and live a life of luxury.

Blademaster
19 Feb 13,, 00:32
There was no centralized leadership representing the Indians till Gandhi came on the scene.
Dominon status was existing for the 560 kings/ rajas/maharajas, so they did not really care for the general public. All they did was to collect revenue, pass on the British taxes, maintain state forces and live a life of luxury.

And if a Raja or Maharaja step out of line, he would see the loss of his kingdom so there was not much choice. Divide and Conquer was at play here and British used it very effectively.

DarthSiddius
19 Feb 13,, 01:18
There were "two India's" then, one that was directly governed by the British, and the other 560 kingdoms ruled by the rajas and maharajas.

By India as a Dominion I meant the whole union of India, including the princely states 'Vallabhbhai Patel' style. (a bit impractical I know!)

I agree with Astralis and BF about the timing and scope not existing for according the dominion status to India and no real possibility existing before WW1 or after as it was probably too late after the war with the independence movement and Indian nationalism in top gear! It still is a facinating notion with the amount of headstart India would have had with an extra 30+ years of independence and it's geopolitical effect on todays world and its problems.

doppelganger
19 Feb 13,, 06:36
We have the British to thank for giving us the kick in the pants we needed to wake us from a 1000 year servile stupor. What I find difficult to understand, though I have admittedly not studied enough on the subject, is why the British could succeed in India and could not get beyond a few port cities in China. Its not as if they were any more united than we were at the time with their countless warlords.

lemontree
19 Feb 13,, 07:11
What I find difficult to understand, though I have admittedly not studied enough on the subject, is why the British could succeed in India and could not get beyond a few port cities in China. Its not as if they were any more united than we were at the time with their countless warlords.

British rule over India, came by default due to operations of the East India Company, the British Crown got India by default.
The East India Company were basically traders who used oppertunities for trade and business, using their military technology to side with the local rajas was part of that policy.

China had the Qing dynasty ruling in Peking from 1644 to 1911(49). A single imperial authority is difficult to defeat compared to small rajas with parochial interests.

doppelganger
19 Feb 13,, 08:11
China had the Qing dynasty ruling in Peking from 1644 to 1911(49). A single imperial authority is difficult to defeat compared to small rajas with parochial interests.

I was am reading this book White Sun, Red Star by Robert Elegant. Set in the last century, all the way to the birth of the PRC. Mao Zedong, Chiang Kai Shek, and Chou En Lai. Peking was just a power center, whose writ did not cover the rest of China. The British at most held sway over the international concession port cities like Shanghai. And did not or could not venture further.

The big difference I can make out, compared to our own freedom struggle, was the fact that the Chinese where and when it mattered resorted to wide scale violence that even the military naval might of the British and Dutch warships could not contain.

Non-violence is not something I am a great fan of. Not when someone is trampling all over me.

DarthSiddius
19 Feb 13,, 08:19
The British (East India Company) arrived in India during the decline of the Mughal empire amid internal rife as well as separatist agendas from the Rajputs and Sikhs. There was a void left without any major players, which the company exploited to the hilt. A divided India was ripe for the taking! AFAIK Not the same with China.

astralis
19 Feb 13,, 14:36
British rule over India, came by default due to operations of the East India Company, the British Crown got India by default.
The East India Company were basically traders who used oppertunities for trade and business, using their military technology to side with the local rajas was part of that policy.

China had the Qing dynasty ruling in Peking from 1644 to 1911(49). A single imperial authority is difficult to defeat compared to small rajas with parochial interests.

the real thing that stopped China from getting taken over was not the Qing but the Europeans themselves. there were several times the Europeans thought hard about just doing away with the Qing and splitting China between themselves (the Taiping Rebellion and the Boxer Rebellion) but in the end, they figured what they had-- the ports-- pretty much satisfied them without needing to administer to millions of Chinese as well as accidentally starting up a European war.

also, there were periods of Qing competence where the Europeans thought that taking China would be an expensive proposition. the Qing actually tactically defeated the French in the Sino-French War (although the Chinese lost strategically), and by 1907 even the British felt that they could no longer execute another Opium War without more resources than they were willing to spend.

moving back to india for a bit, though, it's really too bad gandhi didn't push for Dominion status vice outright independence. he had to have known just prior to his assassination that things were not exactly going swimmingly-- and that for all his nonviolence, there was a lot of butchering going on. i wonder if he ever thought about that and regretted some of his actions.

DarthSiddius
19 Feb 13,, 15:19
moving back to india for a bit, though, it's really too bad gandhi didn't push for Dominion status vice outright independence. he had to have known just prior to his assassination that things were not exactly going swimmingly-- and that for all his nonviolence, there was a lot of butchering going on. i wonder if he ever thought about that and regretted some of his actions.

Gandhi couldn't have pushed for a dominion status alone without public support. No one wanted to be under a regime that was insensitive, often racist and sometimes even brutal towards its subjects. I believe the fate of India as a part of the British empire was in the hands of the British and British alone. They weren't in India to win hearts and minds and they certainly didn't. This is why I think independence was the only option on the table as pre WW1 British were not willing to negotiate (despite some public and political support) while post WW1 (by the time the British started to talk) Indian public wanted 'purna swaraj', making the whole exercise futile. (too little too late)

astralis
19 Feb 13,, 17:11
i wouldn't have thought WWI itself would be the catalyst for INDIAN belief in independence; i thought this came largely with gandhi in the 30s, starting with the salt march and fully crystallized in the Quit India movement.

after all, the INC was calling for "self-government" in 1916 but that wouldn't foreclose the idea of a Dominion.

so say after the Amritsar massacre the british government takes the 1919 Government of India Act even further, and states that it is the intention of the British government to create a self-governing Dominion of India effective NLT than, say, 1925 or 1930. in one swell foop (:)) they pretty much largely accede to the requests of the INC.

how would the INC react? how would gandhi react? for that matter, what would indians all over the subcontinent react?

DarthSiddius
19 Feb 13,, 18:31
I believe the world war to be the catalyst for the British to start thinking about the future of India. While Indian nationalism was already getting quite popular by 1918.

From Gandhi's wiki page

Gandhi's victories in the Champaran and Kheda Satyagraha in 1918-19, gave confidence to a rising younger generation of Indians that the British hegemony could be defeated. National leaders like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Azad, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad and Badshah Khan brought together generations of Indians across regions and demographics, and provided a strong leadership base giving the country political direction.

There certainly was room for negotiation but the national consensus was forming quickly and in due time would lead to a full fledged independence movement. The British would have to be decisive and fast in amending the GoI Act.


so say after the Amritsar massacre the british government takes the 1919 Government of India Act even further, and states that it is the intention of the British government to create a self-governing Dominion of India effective NLT than, say, 1925 or 1930. in one swell foop () they pretty much largely accede to the requests of the INC.

how would the INC react? how would gandhi react? for that matter, what would indians all over the subcontinent react?

It would be fair to say that they all would be extremely surprised, especially after Amritsar! It would be better if the Amritsar massacre didn't take place at all ;). In your scenario the British will most certainly give indications for such a major move and keep the congress in the loop (round table talks and such), so things like the Rowlatt Act of 1919 would not pass which would not lead to mass demonstrations and agitations, preventing Amritsar and keeping popular opinion muddled!

So many chain of events make it difficult to keep track of it all :P.

lemontree
20 Feb 13,, 07:54
so say after the Amritsar massacre the british government takes the 1919 Government of India Act even further, and states that it is the intention of the British government to create a self-governing Dominion of India effective NLT than, say, 1925 or 1930. in one swell foop (:)) they pretty much largely accede to the requests of the INC.

how would the INC react? how would gandhi react? for that matter, what would indians all over the subcontinent react?

The Amritsar massacre had changed everything, so any declaration of creating a self-governing dominon status too little too late. Also considering the fact that Col. Reginald Dyer was treated like a hero in England, so I doubt that there was anyone serious about granting dominon status to India.

Double Edge
20 Feb 13,, 10:29
The British (East India Company) arrived in India during the decline of the Mughal empire amid internal rife as well as separatist agendas from the Rajputs and Sikhs. There was a void left without any major players, which the company exploited to the hilt. A divided India was ripe for the taking! AFAIK Not the same with China.
BEIC was formed on the last day of 1600. It had no ambitions of conquest at the outset. They wanted to imitate the Dutch. Dutch were doing well in the east indies, Dutch also came up with innovations like company shares and central banking to fund these expeditions.

But how does one sell British wool to the Indonesians in exchange for spices. Indonesia was THE place for spices. India was minor at the time, only becoming important with pepper and cotton.

The real conquest for India started around the 1770s. Prior to that British attitudes were a great deal more cordial. Lots of inter marrying and inter cultural interest. They had a good deal of respect for Indians in those early days.

Two factors were important in changing the British view over India.
- The loss of the US
- The ability to raise standing armies. India was taken over by local soldiers, paid by the Brits.

It makes me wonder how 50-100k Brits managed to take over a country of over a hundred million. Its not just India but many other countries as well. The Brits did not take over the world in a 'Desert Storm' manner. They did not go blitzing their way anywhere.

It was collaborators.

The local elites collaborated with the Brits so long as the Brits did not upset the existing power structures. Brits were mainly interested in resources. As time goes on these local elites want a bigger share of the pie and push for independence.

All independence movements are pushes by the local elites to grab power. Nationalism is a useful tool in this endeavour. The same works with individual state movements as well and for this to rely on cultural or linguistic nationalism

The common man could not give a damn who is in charge as his lot remains unchanged. Instead of a foreigner or the capital you get a local guy to lord over.


the quote below was actually fairly representative of the typical British imperialist circa 1885-1890, which is precisely when Churchill first became an adult and which he held onto for the remainder of his life. past the "martial races", the average imperialist had little use for the other Indians.

note the other famous churchill quote is that "India is a geographical term. It is no more a United Nation than the Equator."

which, up until circa 1920, when an indian consciousness began to form thanks to the efforts of gandhi, was largely accurate.

Heh, i don't blame good ol winston for making that comment. India is an artifical construct like many other countries. In those days it looked like the SU or Yugoslavia. Its to our credit we managed to hold on this long.

India is still an embryonic concept, the allegiance of the politician is to his party and the allegiance of the common man is to his community. Where is 'India' in all of this. We are 'Indian' when we go abroad, 'Indian' is a nice catchall for foreigners to refer to us. We show them Ashoka's four lions (loins?). Our two biggest unifying factors are cricket & bollywood. We forget our differences when watching either.

As time goes on and some states become more prosperous than others the push for even more autonomy is going to only increase. A bigger push towards federalism is in the works. Or yet another power grab by the locals. Its already begun with the rise of regional parties. Why rely on a national party when a regional one will do the job. At the local level decision making will be faster with a regional party than a national party.

This may lead to policy paralysis on the national level but the silver lining for me is that a regional party will never have the resources of a national party. This automatically means smaller government for everybody in the long term and that is a good thing. Let the centre take care of defense & foreign policy and leave the regionals to look after their state affairs.

Double Edge
20 Feb 13,, 11:03
frankly if I were Indian back then I'd jump at the chance of being in a Dominion, and hell, being as "British" as you can get. the end result would be England becoming a Dominion...just as England is largely a Dominion of the US today :biggrin: :biggrin:
I still think the Brits had the last laugh, their concept of a world order remains largely intact with you as the biggest champion :)

If only the Brits could have managed you guys as well as they did with the Canadians, Brits would not have needed India.

astralis
20 Feb 13,, 15:07
DE,


It makes me wonder how 50-100k Brits managed to take over a country of over a hundred million. Its not just India but many other countries as well. The Brits did not take over the world in a 'Desert Storm' manner. They did not go blitzing their way anywhere.

It was collaborators.

The local elites collaborated with the Brits so long as the Brits did not upset the existing power structures. Brits were mainly interested in resources. As time goes on these local elites want a bigger share of the pie and push for independence.

i would be hesitant to generalize this. plenty of the rajs and maharajas were fine with the british, and why not? they were living comfortably and as long as they acknowledged british rule the brits would generally leave them alone.


The common man could not give a damn who is in charge as his lot remains unchanged. Instead of a foreigner or the capital you get a local guy to lord over.


THIS is the true essence of collaboration. once this was no longer the case things changed.


All independence movements are pushes by the local elites to grab power. Nationalism is a useful tool in this endeavour. The same works with individual state movements as well and for this to rely on cultural or linguistic nationalism


again, this would not be successful without a groundswell of consciousness and militancy. this did not exist in india, really, before the first world war.


Heh, i don't blame good ol winston for making that comment. India is an artifical construct like many other countries. In those days it looked like the SU or Yugoslavia. Its to our credit we managed to hold on this long.


a construct of the british, really, with surviving inputs from former empires in the area :biggrin: twas a miracle that after partition the whole thing didn't devolve further. india was, in its way, lucky to gain independence when she did: at a time when belief in a central government was strong, a relic of the world wars.

otherwise there was a distinct chance that an india gaining independence in the 60s or 70s might have gone down the tubes the way the african countries did, riven by regional and even worse, tribal splits.


Where is 'India' in all of this. We are 'Indian' when we go abroad, 'Indian' is a nice catchall for foreigners to refer to us. We show them Ashoka's four lions (loins?). Our two biggest unifying factors are cricket & bollywood. We forget our differences when watching either.


yes, i think the time is coming when indians will need to describe what an 'indian dream' is. i suspect this is why india, today, is so prickly and focused on sovereignty: a nationalism defined as whom you're against (colonialism) vice what you are for. it took the americans at least half a century to really make the transition.


This may lead to policy paralysis on the national level but the silver lining for me is that a regional party will never have the resources of a national party. This automatically means smaller government for everybody in the long term and that is a good thing. Let the centre take care of defense & foreign policy and leave the regionals to look after their state affairs.

perhaps, but to use the american case: the articles of confederation were insufficient.


I still think the Brits had the last laugh, their concept of a world order remains largely intact with you as the biggest champion

oh, that was partially by their design; one of the major incentives for them to patch things up with the US post-1890...:) the US is trying, with somewhat less success (to be expected) with another great power today. :)


If only the Brits could have managed you guys as well as they did with the Canadians, Brits would not have needed India.

ah, had they done so, the brits would probably still remain a world-spanning empire today, with even odds as to the capital being in either India or the US :) benjamin franklin predicted as much several hundred years ago.

imperialism was never about -need- (although it was portrayed as thus); it was always about want, and the costs to getting that want was ridiculously low for the western powers back in the day.

it's still shocking, looking back on it, how quickly the windows of opportunity closed for the british-- and in a way, for the indians. i don't fault them for missing it.

astralis
20 Feb 13,, 16:02
very timely.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/world/asia/cameron-calls-colonial-era-massacre-in-india-shameful.html

DarthSiddius
20 Feb 13,, 17:19
Excellent points DE, Astralis! A slight clarification on my part, by the BEIC "arriving" in India I meant the commencement of their territorial expansion in India. The respect the English had for Indians remained till the end of Emperor Aurangzeb's reign. (As long as power in India was centralised and more or less united under a single banner)