15 August 2010

British-Indian campaigns in Britain for Indian reforms, justice & freedom 1831-1947 by Kusoom Vadagama

Happy Independence Day, India
Kusoom Vadagama is an optometrist and author of books which document the fascinating relationship between India and Britain. She has lived in London since 1953 “except for a spell in Chicago and New York in the early sixties”. This book was published three years ago, in the golden jubilee year of Indian Independence.
There is an enduring awareness of the fact that India’s industrial development was inhibited by British rule and that the British used India as a resource base and then as a captive market for its finished goods. Also that it was the British that brought infrastructure such as the railways and postal services, and administration and law to India – though really only for their own purposes.
It’s not often considered, however, that the Indian freedom struggle actually originated in Britain. It was the British liberal thinkers who supported it. After all, so many of our leaders, including Gandhi and Nehru, were actually educated in Britain!
This book is a thoroughly researched collection of documents and facts which trace this history. After an introduction which outlines the association between the two countries from the early Eighteenth Century, the book has nine chapters: Parliamentary debates and the public campaigns; Organizations and their activities; Journals and other publications; Student activities; Correspondence in the press; The Round Table Conference; Support in other countries; Eyes and ears of the Raj: Indian political intelligence; The changing of the guard: from British to Indian hands.
I’m afraid I don’t know enough to comment on the authenticity of facts presented in this book. However, taking a cue from the extent of detail, the care taken with presentation, and the superb illustrations, I would certainly use it as a reference book if I ever needed one on this subject.

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