Eric Tolman
Hinduism is the core religion, but in
certain areas Islam, Sikhism and
Buddhism are more prevalent
There are some 200 languages and
dialects in India
Caste membership, which is defined
by birth, determines which
occupations may be followed, whom
one may marry and even the extent
one may appear in public
Regular English contact with India began in
the early 1600’s with Elizabeth I who
granted a monopoly to EIC
India became an important refuelling station
Bombay, Madras and Calcutta became
Britain withdrew from Indonesian Islands as
a result of fierce competition for Dutch,
French and Portuguese interests
The EIC was forced to create a private army
to defend interests and during 18th century
colonial wars with France, all non British
interests would be ousted from India
Resulted in English ignorance to religious
Indian soldiers were issued new cartridges
for rifles greased with either beef fat, sacred
to Hindus, or pork fat, prohibited by Islam
Non-compliance resulted in arrests of
sepoys and mutiny spread
Mutineers committed atrocities against
British nationals and at Lucknow, 3000
troops and civilian families endure a 5
month siege
British reprisals were vicious and the mutiny
created an era of greater repression
There was considerable warmth in the
relationship between India and Victoria
In the 1858 Royal Proclamation personal
respect for Indian and interest in their
advancement was central to the document
Indians became subjects of the British Empire
British saw it as a policy to develop, Indians as
a first step to self-government
In 1877, Victoria would become Empress of
British promises of Arab independence after the
defeat of the Ottoman’s made Indians wonder
why they were exempt
India would be granted representatives at the
Imperial War conference of 1917
Both Wilson’s 14 points and the Bolshevik
revolution in Russia would provide inspiration
for Indians- for the British more pressure
Britain felt more insecure in India which lead to
a greater assertion of control
Amritsar is a holy city for Sikhs at the centre of
the Punjab
General Dyer banned all public meetings in
Amritsar but a public meeting was called
The town centre was an open space enclosed
on all sides by backs of buildings
Up to 20 000 Punjabis were in the square
when Dyer arrived with Indian troops who fired
all 1600 rounds of ammunition
379 were killed in minutes and 1200 seriously
Dyer declared martial law and floggings of
suspects was rampant
Internationally and domestically it brought
great attention to India
The drive for self-determination became very
strong and Gandhi would become front and
centre of Independence
Born in 1869 the youngest of 6 in the Gujerat region
Married at 13, he would travel to London in 1888 to study
On his return he was hopelessly nervous in the
courtroom so he left for South Africa which had a large
Indian population
In SA he was rudely thrown off a train and committed
himself to work against discrimination
Upon his return to India in 1915 he had already become
well known for his work in SA
Gandhi’s campaigns mobilized people into
action-many followed the congress Party
Methods were a powerful combination of
spiritual strength, political skill and sheer
Will forever be associated will non-violent civil
Gandhi believed the British could be shamed
into leaving India
Satyagraha- emotional and spiritual
commitment to the struggle for truth and
overall justice
Non-cooperation included boycotts of law courts by
lawyers, schools by teachers and also of British cloth
and industry
Frequent imprisonment by British authorities turned him
into a martyr
He would work closely with Nehru, president of the CP
and protégé of Gandhi
Resistance to purchasing British made products and
encouraging Indians to make their own to avoid taxation
would lead to the famous “Salt March” of 1930
The Salt March
With 78 chosen supporters, Gandhi marched
400 km from Sabarmati to the sea at Dandi
There they would collect muddy salt and boil it in
order to make pure and usable
It was an attempt to publicize a boycott of the
salt tax by the British
Became a publicity coup and took on the
character of a pilgrimage
20 000 would be arrested and Gandhi
imprisoned in Bombay
The War Years 1939-1945
Despite resistance to the Empire, 2 million Indians joined the armed
Churchill who once remarked that India was “totally unsuited” for
democracy, appeared oblivious to the contradiction of fighting for
liberty and democracy while attempting to thwart it for India
As Japan made headway in Malaya and Burma, British nationals in
India felt great pressure to make promises of democracy but
resisted with force
The “Quit India” campaigns were put down with 57 infantry divisions
within India
The British were losing their moral authority- was preserving the
Empire more important that defeating fascist enemies abroad?
Independence and Partition
The victory of the Labor leader Attlee after the war ensured
independence to India
Mountbatten would be the last viceroy
As independence day approached violence increased between
Muslims and Hindus
At Midnight on August 15th, 1947, the two nations of India and
Pakistan came into existence
Massacres resulting in 1 million deaths resulted in the migrations of
Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus
Kashmir has also been a focus of conflict between Muslims and
On Jan 30th 1948, Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu
fundamentalist who thought Gandhi was too sympathetic to nonHindus

Britain, India and Mohatma Gandhi