Remembering a Democratic Legacy of the Great War in Interwar India

A blog by Stephen Legg, Professor of Historical Geography, University of Nottingham, has been published on the Imperial and Global Forum. The blog is based upon his article, ‘Dyarchy’, which was recently published in the journal Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

In 2019, India will embark upon a uniquely postcolonial set of centenaries. During the Great War the Defence of India Act (1915) had given the Government of India exceptional powers to silence dissent and crush any nascent “terrorist” or “revolutionary” movement. So effective had the powers proven, against both radical and moderate nationalists, that there were many within the colonial state who sought their extension into peace time. The “Rowlatt” (Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes) Act of 1919 attempted this, and the resistance against the act was led by the ex-lawyer and future-Mahatma, Mr MK Gandhi. The centenary of the Rowlatt “Satyagraha” (the name for Gandhi’s non-violent, political “truth-force”, protest movement) will doubtless be commemorated by the Congress party and many others in India.

Full blog here.