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Remembered Today:

Little written history in India


ddycher
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Dear Steven,

Thanks for that. I am on your side.

Kindest regards,

Kim.

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;)

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Ref Dehra Ismail Khan - on the eve of the Great war 55th Coke's Rifles (FF), 57th Wilde's Rifles (FF) and 58th Vaughan's Rifles (FF) all had their Regimental Centres there. In addition the 18th Infantry and the 45th Rattray's Sikhs were stationed there (as well as 35th Scinde Horse)

 

15th Lancers (Cureton's Multanis), 35th Scinde Horse, 36th Jacobs Horse and 37th Lancers (Baluch Horse) had five Squadrons of Derajat Musalmans between them in Aug 1914. Half the Indian Cavalry were recruited from the various moslem tribes of which 13% were from the North West Frontier regions. Cavalry recruiting was markedly different from infantry recruiting and more skewed towards the NW. None of the Infantry appear to have recruited Derajat Musalmans in 1914.

 

While 15% of the Infantry were Sikhs, some 23% of the Cavalry were Sikhs.The numbers for Pathans were 4% and 8% respectively. For Punjabi Musalmans 12% and 16% respectively. 

 

 

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All

 

Thanks for this.

 

One more view point :

 

https://www.quora.com/Indian-History-What-was-the-impact-of-World-War-1-on-India

 

....Lopez again going the broken promises and Amritsar root. This undeniably a modern take.

 

Looking into the British Indian Armies internal reward structure got me reading about the Canal Colonies in the Punjab which seemed to support a Northern focus. However reading through each link Martin posted effectively destroys the possible theory that partition created a predominantly Pakistani collective which I had been missing.

 

So I'm still of a view that the secular mentality of the British Indian Army followed by that continued through to todays military was / is the biggest barrier to more detailed written history. Now trying to search out military archives in the public domain to see what if anything is accessible there.

 

Regards

Dave

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  Phew!  There is no meeting of minds on this. A generation ago, H.J.Hanham wrote in his superb "Bibliography of British History 1851-1914" (Oxford,1976, at p.230) with regard to South Africa, that:

  "South African history has since the Great Trek usually been written from a distinctly British or Afrikaner point of view. There are therefore two distinct literatures relating to British involvement in South Africa, each of them embracing several schools of thought"

 

      We are at the same place with regard to the Raj. There has been a massive shift in the direction and emphasis of "imperial" studies not just in Britain but all over the place. Nobody has a virtue on truth, let alone historical "truth". Nothing anyone here can write or research is going to overcome the (from my perspective) hardline Indian nationalist outlook that the Raj achieved absolutely nothing positive at all-  see, for  example, Jota Charterji (and others) on television (esp. Newsnight) during remembrance of the 70th anniversary of Partition. 

    If we can separate the problem out-then there are, I think, 2 major issues as regards Raj involvement in the Great War

 

1) Historiography. Has not,is not and will not be a meeting of minds ,let alone "synthesis" anytime soon.

 

2) Records. On a strictly non-political stance- How right is it for a state to condone/ allow/ neglect  any part of it's heritage-and record archives- because they don't fit in with the mindset of today?  If we cannot influence South Asian historiography, then surely we should be making efforts to secure the survival of the records -regardless of how future generations inrerpret them? The current fad for seeking to obliterate the historical record when it doesn't suit the intellectual ayatollas of the moment is a depressing one. The family history people have done great work in locating and copying records that might fade away. Is it not time that more effort was put into securing the military records of the Raj that remain on the subcontinent?????

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  • 2 months later...

Back in the Punjab this week. Going to give it another go. 

 

Let you know what I find. 

 

Regards

Dave

 

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I don't want to appear a 'television researcher', but on the show 'Who Do You Think You Are' there are various episodes where the researchers are able to track down highly educated Indian archivists who have access to large, well preserved collections of local hand-written records from the Raj, both military and civil. They seem to approach the records from a professionally neutral perspective, but they and their archives look like they are located in out of the way locations, so I'm guessing it may be difficult to track them down without being part of a well funded and connected television series! I suspect the Indian civil service is educated and professional enough to keep these records safe even if the current popular opinion is decidedly anti-Raj. After all, the British civil service hasn't yet started burning archives relating to the European Union! Getting the public funds to digitalise the handwritten and geographically dispersed Raj records will probably be the the most difficult obstacle, but I think it is a matter of 'watch this space'. There will be a time in the future when later generations will want access to these records out of genuine interest in their ancestors, and I think that there, in the same way it was done here in the western world, it will be done by private companies looking to provide a subscription service to the rapidly increasing professional workforce in India (and the Indian diaspora), who have the time, money and inclination to research their ancestors.

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Not really any more successful this trip. Got a couple of histories on Simla and a couple of volumes on Indian letters which is throwing up some insights but nothing indepth. I have though enrolled some local contacts now to see what they can dig up and will post if I find anything significant.

 

Closing with a quote from David Omissi "the memory of those soldiers who served in the now discredited empire was all but lost in the post colonial world". He attributes this to Rana Chhina

 

Regards

Dave

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One author (I cant recall who - possibly Dalrymple) claims that when the British left India (and Pakistan) 99%of the population had never seen a British person. 

 

Not sure how one could prove or disprove that claim, but I think it was to illustrate the fact that the ICS was small and the Indian Army was small compared to the vast population, most of who were living in rural communities. The 'Indianization' of the civil service had been under way for decades, the police force were indigenous as were most of the Army and the British Army was largely cooped up in Cantonments way outside the cities for historical reasons of logistics and hygiene. It is I think quite plausible that for the vast majority of Indians in 1914-18 the British were a rather distant thing.  There was of course no such thing as 'India' prior to 1947.  One also needs to be mindful that the views of the educated Indian elite did not necessarily reflect the views of the masses. I would argue that the collective views held by Indians is conceptutal and intangible. 

 

The British have a rather Anglo-Centric view of the Raj which tends to skim over the fact that they were numerically speaking equivalent to a rounding error in the Census.  I am not surprised that there is little understanding or writing on the Indian Army in the Great War in India. Rather like the Irish, the immediate post independence era was dominated by looking forward not back. 

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1 hour ago, QGE said:

There was of course no such thing as 'India' prior to 1947.

 

   There is quite a literature of recent years on the notion of "India"- and that in terms of administration and cartography, that "India" is a British construct- perhaps owing more to the successive cartographers to the East India Company in the City of London than to any nationalistic notion of persons in the sub-continent.

    Maps coloured red tend to obscure the fact that large chunks of India were not British but the Princely States- where there was even less chance of seeing a European. As far as the peasants of the Raj were concerned, it's end merely meant the substitution of one remote, ruling minority elite with another (British replaced by mostly Hindu urban westernized professionals-eg Gandhi the barrister).

      As regards the armies of the Raj, again, there seems to be an assumption that the vastness of its numbers and its services is of a sameness. The same complexities that dictated  the work of the Political Department and the Residents and Agents again has to be factored in with regard to the services of Indians in the Great War. The contributions of the Princely States are greatly overlooked even compared to the more familiar regiments of the Indian Army

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I came across a reference to the following book 

Pakistan Army till 1965 by Agha Humayun Amin

http://www.lulu.com/shop/agha-humayun-amin/pakistan-army-till-1965/paperback/product-22207306.html

The description says "Pakistan Army History from its initial creation by English East India Company in 1757 to 1965 War. Examines historical origins , British colonial legacy, Impact of its British colonial wars , its creation in 1947 , conduct of 1965 war".

 

The author is the author of an article posted  in post 24, which I will repeat for convenience

http://www.defencejournal.com/2001/feb/ethnicity.htm Ethnicity, Religion, Military Performance and Political Reliability --British Recruitment Policy  and  The Indian Army -- 1757-1947 by Agha Humayun Amin

 

Author description from Pakistan Army till 1965

 

Cheers

Maureen

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 10.22.30 am.png

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Hadn’t seen this before. Thanks Maureen. 

 

Dave

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