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What Was The Impact On India Of The First World War (1914-18
Transcript of What Was The Impact On India Of The First World War (1914-18
India was a very religious country, the population was mainly split between Muslims and Hindus. The British first found it hard to handle religion when they first joined the country under the East India Company, however by 1914, the Indians and the British were at peace religiously.
However, the war changed this, due to India's involvement in the war, the Indian troops were forced to fight Turkey. This meant that in the eyes of the Muslims, the British were at war with a Muslim power. By fighting against another Muslim power, the religious Indians felt that they were betraying their religions. Muslims in the Indian army faced a huge dilemma as they had to choose between their loyalty towards the British raj and their loyalty towards God and their religion. Most Muslim soldiers agreed that the war was still lawful and that they should keep their alliance with the Birtish, although most chose to fight, there were desertions from Muslim units on the Western Front and elsewhere. There were also at least 3 mutinies of Muslim troops, usually when they thought they were going to fight against Turks. Overall, the Indians kept their loyalty towards the Indians, however stopped fighting only when it came to Muslim powers.
Involvement in the war:
The outbreak of war in Europe was met with loyalty and declarations of support across all sections of Indian society.
Offers of support poured in from the princely states,Congress and Muslim league.
Tilak who was leader of the extremist faction in congress, declared 'Our sense of loyalty is inherent and unswerving'.
27 of the largest princely states immediately put their Imperial Service Troops at the Viceroy's disposal.
By November 1918, some 827,000 Indians had enlisted as combatants, in addition to those already serving in 1914.
Official figures estimate that around 64,449 Indian soldiers died in the war.
Tilak: leader of the extremist faction in congress
827,000 Indians enlisted as combatants
64,449 Indians died in the war
27 Largest Princely States put their troops at the Viceroys disposal
The Western Front:
Britain needed more back up in 1914 because German troops were advancing through France and Belgium
They called on the 161,000 strong Indian army especially the Lahore and Meerut divisions.
But they suffered heavy losses because their first battle was the battle of Ypres. An example of this is how the average Indian battalion had 764 men when it landed; by early November the 47th Sikhs had only 385 men fit for duty.
Indian troops were then rested in early 1915 but were soon fighting again and Indian corps made up half the Allied force in Neuve Chapelle
Indian troops were then moved from the western front to Turkey. Some say that this was due to poor morale, some because of the European winter being tough. But it was easier to send reinforcements to Turkey then France
Only two Indian cavalry divisions stayed on the western front until March 1918 but they were then sent to Palestine to fight the Turks.
In total, 800,000 Indian troops fought in all the theaters of the war with 1½ million volunteering to fight. In all 47,746 were classed as killed or missing with 65,000 wounded.
The Indian Corps won 13,000 medals for gallantry including 12 Victoria Crosses.
Before 1914, India and Britain's relationship was looking pretty stable, many Indian were happy with the way the country was being run. Of course there were still major issues politically but socially the British has well integrated within Indian.
At the start of 1914, there was a lot of discussion on whether Indian troops should fight, the war had many effects on India as a country as well as Britain.
The Indians kept their loyalty towards Britain at all time showing a great improvement in the relationship between the Indians and the British.
Attitudes to fighting:
· Going to war for their emperor was a tradition to Indians, showing the attitudes to fighting were mainly positive
· Although many claimed that they were fighting for India and not for Britain, the Indians kept their loyalty towards Britain at all times
· From letters that had been written by soldiers to their families it was clear that the soldiers were willing to die for their country with respect and loyalty
· The soldiers spoke of the war as though it was natural and a necessary procedure which needs an important place shown through their passion in letters
Compromising Internal Control:
· Thousands of Indian left their home town to fight in the war including many British troops
· Many British troops stationed in India left the country as well
· In 1914, Viceroy Hardinge warned of the risks involved in denuding India of troops and admitted that it was a risk as the lack of British troops could encourage a revolution which would not be able to be contained
· My March 1915, there was not a single regular British battalion left in India
· Any sort of uprising would be very difficult to control
Involvement in the war
The Western Front
The Problem of religion
Attitudes to fighting
Compromising Internal Control
What Was The Impact On India Of The First World War (1914-18)
The presence of so many Indian soldiers fighting alongside Birtish and white colonial soldiers not only increased the self-esteem of the indians, but also strengthened the arguments of Indian politicians that Indians should be given a greater say in Indian affairs.
The Allies, in rallying support for their cause, frequently referred to the war as one being fought to defend the rights of nations and the sanctity of treaties. They spoke of the importance of democracy and self-determination. As the Indians listened and assimilated these values, they began to apply them to their own situations back in India.