Friends of India Society


46 Lancaster Gate
London, W2 3NA
United Kingdom
Other names: 

Friends of India Association

Date began: 
01 Oct 1930
Date ended: 
01 Jan 1939

The Friends of India Association was founded by Reginald Reynolds in 1930, shortly after his return from India. It adhered to Gandhian principles and attempted to make known to the wider British public Gandhi’s work in the Indian independence struggle. The object of the association was ‘to create and organize public opinion in Britain in favour of India’s right to self-determination, and to promote the significance of Mahatma Gandhi’s non violent movement as a moral equivalent of war’. The Friends of India Society was a pacifist, Quaker-associated organization. Like many Indian organizations in Britain at the time, it sought the Indian National Congress’s endorsement to become its spokesperson in London, and as such entered into direct rivalry with other organizations. Through its publication India Bulletin it sought to enlighten the British public about atrocities committed in India by the British. Furthermore, it tried to raise public awareness by holding regular rallies in Trafalgar Square. The Society was particularly active during the Second Round Table Conference, and Gandhi spoke to the Society on 6 October 1931.

The Society had its offices at 46 Lancaster Gate, next to the Fellowship Club, with which Atma S. Kamlani, its Secretary, was associated, and the Theosophical Society offices. It consisted of an information bureau, which collected information on India and distributed it among the British public to generate publicity through pamphlets, leaflets and a lending library. Furthermore, it organized platforms at which speakers addressed the public and held smaller group meetings not only in London but across the UK. The organization was reliant on donations from the public, subscriptions to Indian Bulletin and membership fees, and suffered serious financial difficulties from 1933 onwards. In 1931, the Society organized a tour titled ‘The Indian Caravan’, where Indian and British speakers would address meetings across the UK, speaking on Indian topics. The tour held thirty-one meetings in eighteen towns, travelling as far north as Carlisle and York.

From 1932 to 1939, the organization published India Bulletin which the India Office saw as containing ‘a mass of unscrupulous propaganda against methods employed by Government to quell the Civil Disobedience Movement’. It gave detailed accounts of atrocities committed in India which were later found in reports in the mainstream press in Britain. In 1933, it formed a Women’s Council. Because of the organization’s financial difficulties and some overlap with the India League in relation to its objectives, talk about potential cooperation between the two organizations started as early as 1933; however these never came off the ground. Atma S. Kamlani suffered a nervous breakdown in 1934 and left Britain. Gladys V. Coughin replaced him as Secretary.

The Society’s financial difficulties continued and it had to move in 1937 to 47 Victoria Street, London, SW1. According to the India Office, the organization ceased to function with the outbreak of the Second World War; however there is the suggestion that D. Tahmankar was still dealing with Friends of India Society correspondence in 1942. 

Key individuals: 
Key Individuals' Details: 

Presidents: Laurence Housman, Reginald Reynolds.

Executive Committee: Miss Bertha Bracey, Atma S. Kamlani, J. D. Moos, Miss Frances E. Morgan, Bisheshwar Prasad Sinha, Miss Richienda C. Payne.



Horace Alexander, Shivabjai Gordhanbhai Amin, Mrs Bhattacharji, W. J. Borwon, Fenner Brockway, Miss Chesley, Gladys V. Coughin, Madam Faruki, Laurence Houseman, Atma S. Kamlani, Netta Koutane, Krishna Datta Kumria, Niarendu Datta Mazumdar, J. D. Moos, Miss Frances E. Morgan, Sylvia Pankhurst, Hormasji Rustomji Pardiwalla, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Miss Richienda C. Payne, H. S. N. Polak, Professor G. S. Ranga, Reginald Reynolds, Adrian Kolu Rienzi, Bertrand Russell, R. Rutnam, Shapurji Saklatvala, B. P.Sinha, Tarini Prasad Sinha, Reginald Stamp, Shridhar Nadharai Telkar, Wilfred Wellock, Miss Dorothy Woodman.

Published works: 

India Bulletin (1932-9 )

Secondary works: 

Owen, Nicholas, The British Left and India: Metropolitan Anti-Imperialism, 1885-1947 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto Press, 2002)

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/428, L/PJ/12/411, L/I/1/50, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras