British India 1919-1947

In 1919 British troops under General Dyer opened fire at an illegal, yet unarmed assembly at Amritsar, killing hundreds and wounding over a thousand, among them women and children. The AMRITSAR MASSACRE was a turning point in Indian history, as the CONGRESS PARTY raised her political goal from home rule, as previously demanded, to full independence. The British administration, being criticized not only in India, but also by the international and even the British press, began to realize that her days in India were limited.

MOHANDAS K. GANDHI emerged as the unelected, yet unchallenged leader of the Indian independence movement. He pursued a strategy of NON-VIOLENT NON-COOPERATION. By declaring a national day of prayer and fasting, he brought economic life all over India to a standstill; by challenging the salt monopoly he proved to the world that British rule over India was based on arbitrary injustice. Gandhi repeatedly spent time in British jails.

In 1936, MOHAMMAD ALI JINNAH left the Congress Party, reorganizing the MUSLIM LEAGUE and campaigning for an independent Muslim state of PAKISTAN.

In 1937 CEYLON, BURMA and the British protectorates on the Persian Gulf were administratively separated from British India.

During World War II, Mohandas K. Gandhi advocated a policy of interrupting the campaign for independence and not interfering in the British war effort. Another Congress politician, SUBHASH CHANDRA BOSE, chose to seek for German assistance. He founded the AZAD HIND LEGION; a small number of Indians fought as volunteers in the German Wehrmacht.

Many Indians, most notably Nepal's Gurkha Regiments, fought on the British side during the war. Japanese forces occupied Burma and the ANDAMAN and NICOBAR ISLANDS in 1942; India's easternmost provinces saw the stationing of troops. In October 1945 in Japanese-occupied Singapore, a PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF FREE INDIA was proclaimed, in charge only over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Eastern India (Assam) functioned as the base of the FLYING TIGERS, pilots who supplied the Nationalist Chinese government in Chungking.

After World War II, the British administration organized the handover of sovereignty to the governments of India and Pakistan; INDEPENDENCE was declared in August 1947.