Indian cooperation

It can be argued that in the years before the First World War, there was willing and widespread cooperation from the Indians to British rule. Even though there was a lot of dispute between the Indians about the partition of Bengal, many Indians stayed loyal and cooperated with British rule and their ideals; source 1 certainly argues with this. However sources 2 and 3 present that fact that there was some cooperation but not entirely; it was up to the Indians whether they cooperated with British rule or not.

From source 1 you can see that they argue with the statement that there was willing and widespread Indian cooperation to British rule. Source 1 was written by the historian Stanley Wolpert about 20 years after the end of British rule in India. It says that “anti-partition passions grew bolder”[1], which shows that there wasn’t much cooperation with the British as the partition was set up by the British viceroy, Lord Cruzon.

Also the sale of Indian made goods rose, “swadeshi sales boomed in the wake of the boycott”[2] showing that Indians didn’t want anything to do with Britain not even their goods. Not only did support for anti-partition grow but the British tried to break up the movement by imprisoning the leaders of the movement and by preventing student from protesting “the government tried to crack the movement with wholesale criminal prosecution against it’s most outspoken advocates”[3], “to prevent students from playing an active ‘role in politics’”[4].

But you could argue that their was Indian cooperation as they didn’t retaliate to what the British were doing to them, this in turn would question the reliability of the source as it doesn’t really mention how the Indians acted, leaving you to interpret the British as brutal and violent. Later on the source indicates that “university students were harassed, persecuted and oppressed while those at lower levels were flogged, fined or expelled”[5], suggesting that Wolpert argues that all students were attacked in some way; “nationalist marchers were attacked by police”[6] showing that the British intended to stop the protest anyway they could.

The fact that the source doesn’t tell us much of what the Indians did against the British, makes the source not very helpful to answering the question but tells us context of what occurred at that time; presenting less weight to the evidence that India did or didn’t cooperate to British rule. Source 2 on the other hand, presents the idea that there was both Indian and non Indian cooperation.

The source starts off with the fact that the durbar visit in 1911 “prompted many loyal ovations”[7], showing that many Indians still appreciated the British. Moreover the way Piers Brendon describes the way the Indians reacted towards the visit, from King George V, suggest that not only were they pleased to see him but were honoured and saw it as almost sacred, “salaamed to the ground, threw dust on their heads, and the women made a guttural sound in their throats which is always kept for the temple. [8]

This goes against source 1’s interpretation of Indian cooperation as it shows them respecting British rule and honouring it. However half way through the source Bredon agues that critics of British rule stated to retaliate, they said “festivity insulted poverty and that frivolity diminished dignity”[9] this showed that they didn’t like how the British were influencing the people of India; festivals offended the poor and playfulness destroyed their dignity.

Even though some Indians, the Hindus, were pleased with the reunification of Bengal “Muslims were horrified”[10] which made them rebel “it rivalled them in violence”[11] this resulted in the Viceroy being badly injured. This demonstrates how violent some Indians and the fact that the viceroy was “injured by a bomb attack”[12] shows just how violent they got showing the small amount of people who actually cooperated with the British rule.

The fact that the book this source was taken from is called ‘The Decline and Fall of the British Empire’ shows that the British rule in India did fall but whether this was due to the cooperation of Indians is debatable, also this source was very useful as it told us the different groups of Indians that did or didn’t cooperate with the British. Nonetheless, Source 3 also argues that to an extent there was willing and widespread Indian cooperation to British Rule before the First World War.

Ferguson agues that, apart from the Indian army “The true foundation of British power was… the elite of anglicised lawyers and civil servants. ”[13] The Indian army was very loyal to the British, but in the year 1857, there was a rebellion among the Indian soldiers of the east India company’s Bengal soldiers; this was due to many factors caused by the British but the troubles of this rebellion demonstrated the loyalty of some Indians as they defended the British in places where there was disturbances caused by the rebellion.

Also in the Punjab, Sikh princes worked with the British to restore order, showing the widespread cooperation from ordinary Indians, which work for the British, to Sikh princes. This established that British authority could only be maintained by the cooperation from Indians who either sympathised for the British or who were willing to cooperate with them until better times came. The army was then re established and was designed to prevent any future rebellions and also maintained the internal security of the British Raj.

If they did not cooperate with the British then they wouldn’t have been as strong as they were in India. This interpretation is then challenged by the fact that later in the source Cruzon dismisses the Bengali babus as “unequal to the task”[14] when they wanted more control over governing their country; this shows that Cruzon viewed them of lower class saying they were unworthy for the task of taking control of their country. This in turn would have probably aggravated the Indians resulting inn less cooperation from them. Ferguson then says “He knew full well that this would incense the emergent nationalist movement. [15]

Suggesting that Curzon didn’t regard how the Indians felt and he knew this would anger the Indian national congress. The Indian national congress were against British rule because they felt rejected by the British and knew they weren’t being treated equally to the British; “The reality was that Indian nationalism was not fuelled by the poverty of the many, but by the rejection of the privileged few. ”[16] Showing the lack of cooperation from the Indians, which is supported by the evidence in source 1, where it says that nationalists were attacked by the police on order from the British.

In conclusion, the three sources largely disagree with the statement that before the First World War there was willing and widespread Indian cooperation to British rule. They only have small bits of information about whether India cooperated with Britain and they only talked about certain event which occurred during the time before the First World War not their overall cooperation. Thus proving that, there wasn’t much willing and widespread Indian cooperation as only certain groups of Indians actually wanted to support the British.

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