Collaboration and Loyalty in British India

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This topic comes up a lot and there are many (contradictory) nationalist myths about who did and did not collaborate with the British during their rule in India. Major Amin has a short podcast about this topic that is worth listening to:

India was conquered by the East India Company using (mostly) the Bengal army, recruited primarily from what is now eastern UP and Bihar. Most of these soldiers were Hindus and a large section were Brahmins, but all religions, ethnicities and castes joined the EIC army at various points and all have examples of mutinies (many small, one large), frequently triggered by grievances over pay and conditions, but sometimes acquiring or having a nationalist color as well. Have a listen.

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3 Replies to “Collaboration and Loyalty in British India”

  1. Very nicely said Major Amin.

    Agree completely with Major Amin that the Pashtuns and Afghan Royals were very loyal to the English during the 1856-1858 rebellion.

    I would add that many in SAARC/Burma/Malaysia/Singapore did not see it as “occupation” or “collaboration.” They saw it more like how smaller countries view joining the UN, NATO, African Union, Asian Development Bank, IMF, World Bank, IMF, OIC, Arab League, EU, OAS or other multilateral arrangements.

    Many in SAARC/Burma/Malaysia/Singapore would not even understand the modern conceptions of “occupation” and “collaboration.”

    1. Mr. Amin makes some good points.

      Not sure I understand “I would add that many in SAARC/Burma/Malaysia/Singapore did not see it as “occupation” or “collaboration.” They saw it more like how smaller countries view joining the UN, NATO, African Union, Asian Development Bank, IMF, World Bank, IMF, OIC, Arab League, EU, OAS or other multilateral arrangements.”

      Is this because the folks from these regions did not have a concept of a nation state as we understand it today? Or is it because they were so habituated to being subjects of non-native people? How was joining the English EIC army or the British Indian Army like becoming part of ADB, NATO, UN, etc.?

      1. Was referring partly to various Asian states that allied with the English.

        Joining the British Indian Army would be something else. (similar to joining the French foreign legion?) Suspect many regarded the British Indian Army as more professional and legitimate than the Mughal Army (which had been discredited by Aurangzeb’s atrocities.)

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