By Lionel Knight

‘Britain in India, 1858–1947’ seeks to track the final ninety years of British rule within the gentle of contemporary ancient debates. the quantity examines the ambiguities of British rule that from the post-Mutiny payment: the tensions among an authoritarian paperwork and the promise of a liberal imaginative and prescient of the longer term, and among imperial pursuits and the growing to be coordination of Indian aspirations for self-rule. the quantity analyses those tensions with regards to modern historic debates, and strains them via altering diplomacy and global wars to Indian independence and partition in 1947.

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Sir Frederick Roberts (Commander-in-Chief, 1885–93), who was the driving force behind these changes, began to focus the army on the north-west frontier. He believed the threat now was from Russia and that an army recruited and organized with internal security as its prime objective would not be equal to the challenge. ‘Martial races’ meant communities supposedly with the physical and psychological toughness the army now required, and they did not include Madrasis or Bengalis. The Madras army was run down, and the three armies were finally merged into one in 1893–5.

54 At the same time the sinister shadow of famine fell across the country. Between 1860 and 1908 there were 20 famines, each affecting a wider area. The 1876–78 famine in the south was the most severe of the century and affected 36 million people. It was a rural crisis. Throughout 1877 in the columns of the Bangalore Spectator an argument raged between those who thought that an immense catastrophe was unfolding and those who did not; though letter-writers criticized the Municipal Committee for not removing putrefying bodies from the streets.

All external relations were supposed to go through the Calcutta Foreign Department, but the Queen made it clear that she was willing to receive letters from her feudatories. Otherwise, the princes had nowhere to turn. Where, in the rest of the British Empire, the trend was now towards indirect rule, these princes were being drawn more closely into a system of support for British rule in the subcontinent. The turning-point was not the Mutiny but Salisbury’s shift from the legal to the political in the Alwar and Mysore cases which laid the real foundations of paramountcy.

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