National Indian Association


21 Cromwell Road
London, SW5 0SD
United Kingdom
Other names: 


Date began: 
01 Jan 1870
Precise date began unknown: 
Date ended: 
01 Jan 1948
Precise date ended unknown: 
Organization location: 
Varied. Member's houses. Imperial Institute. In 1910, their offices were housed in 21 Cromwell Road, London, along with the Northbrook Society and the Bureau for Information for Indian Students.

The National Indian Association (NIA) was founded in 1870 by Mary Carpenter in Bristol, with the assistance of Keshub Chunder Sen. The organization's full name was originally ‘National Indian Association in Aid of Social Progress in India’.

In 1871, Mrs Manning and her step-daughter Elizabeth Adelaide Manning started a London branch. Mary Carpenter died in 1877 and the London branch became the headquarters for the Association. The NIA also has branches in other cities in the UK and in India. After the death of Manning in 1905, E. J. Beck, sister of Theodore Beck, became honorary secretary until her retirement in 1932.

The initial aim of the association was to encourage female education in India. They also sought to educate and inform the British about Indian affairs. As the number of Indians in Britain grew, an increasingly important function was to facilitate social intercourse between Indian visitors and the British. The association held soirees, conversaziones, lectures and meetings and often organized guided tours of sights. The NIA produced a monthly journal from 1871, providing information about their activities. In 1880, a sub-committee, the Northbrook Indian Club, was formed, to look after a reading room for Indian students. This became a separate society in 1881, called the Northbrook Indian Society.

In 1910, the offices were moved to 21 Cromwell Road in South Kensington, to be housed alongside the Bureau of Education for Indian students. The Association began to decline after its jubilee year in 1920. Few of its original members remained alive and an increasing array of different organizations arose in London to cater for Indian interests. The Association stayed alive in a residual form after Indian independence, merged with the East India Association in 1949, and was incorporated into the Royal Society for India, Pakistan and Ceylon in 1966.

Key Individuals' Details: 

Emma Josephine Beck (secretary), Mary Carpenter (founder), Lord Hobhouse (president), Lady Hobhouse, Elizabeth Adelaide Manning (secretary), Keshub Chunder Sen (founder)

Involved in events details: 

Murder of Sir Curzon Wyllie by Madan Lal Dhingra at an 'At Home' held at the Imperial Institute, 1 July 1909

Published works: 

Journal of the National Indian Association, from 1871

Handbook of Information Relating to University and Professional Studies for Indian Students (London: Archibald Constable, 1893), reprinted in 1904.

Secondary works: 

Apart from works on Mary Carpenter, Keshub Chunder Sen and E. A. Manning (see their entries), other works that give insight into the NIA include

Khalidi, Omar (ed.), An Indian Passage to Europe: The Travels of Fath Nawaj Jang (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2006)

Robinson, Andrew , ‘Selected Letters of Sukumar Ray’, South Asia Research 7 (1987), pp. 169-236

Burton, Antoinette, At the Heart of the Empire: Indians and the Colonial Encounter in Late-Victorian Britain (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998)

Lahiri, Shompa, Indians in Britain: Anglo-Indian Encounters, Race and Identity, 1880-1930 (London: Frank Cass, 2000)

Archive source: 

Mss Eur 147, minute books of National Indian Association, financial papers and other miscellaneous papers, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras.

Liverpool Mercury, 22 December 1874

Pall Mall Gazette, 6 February 1888

The Times, 17 March 1886, 19 November 1886, 30 April 1891, 2 April 1892, 4 May 1897, 18 July 1898, 26 March 1901, 30 May 1903, 19 June 1906, 24 May 1907, 1 September 1908.

Western Daily Press, 10 September 1870