Oxford Majlis

Date began: 
01 Jan 1896

The Oxford Majlis was a debating society founded in 1896 at the University by Indian Students. Following the format of the Oxford Union, and the Cambridge Majlis (founded 5 years earlier), Indian students would meet on Sunday evenings to hold formal debates. They would also hold other social events such as music, dancing and lectures from invited speakers. Each year they would hold a debate against the Cambridge Majlis.

Before Indian Independence, the Oxford Majlis would often take up debates of a political nature relating to empire and Indian’s relationship with Britain. The majority of Indian students at the University felt compelled to be part of the organization and take part in these political debates, even if they were intending to take up positions sympathetic to the British in India such as in the Indian Civil Service. The Majlis was not only restricted to Indian students; Sri Lankan and Burmese students were an integral part of the ‘Indian student’ community before 1947. The India Office and New Scotland Yard kept an eye on the Majlis in the early part of the twentieth century and were particularly concerned about their Communist sympathies in the late 1920s and 1930s.

Published works: 

Bharat [journal]

Secondary works: 

The Majlis Magazine (Hilary 1986)

Chagla, Mahomedali Currim, Roses in December: An Autobiography, 1st edition 1973 (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1990).

Chettur, G. K., The Last Enchantment: Recollections of Oxford (Mangalore: B. M. Bookshop, 1934).

Kirpalani, Santdas Khushiram, Fifty Years with the British (London: Sangam Books, 1993)

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

Menon, K. P. S., Many Worlds: An Autobiography (London: Oxford University Press, 1965)

Mukherjee, Sumita, Nationalism, Education and Migrant Identities: The England-Returned (London: Routledge, 2009)

Symonds, Richard, Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? (London: Macmillan, 1986)

Archive source: 

K. P. S. Menon papers, Nehru Memorial Library, Delhi

L/PJ/12/4 & L/PJ/12/252, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras