The Indian Sociologist


Shyamaji Krishnavarma, founder of the India House organization in Highgate, began to produce and edit The Indian Sociologist in January 1905. The subtitle of The Indian Sociologist was 'an Organ of Freedom, of Political, Social and Religious Reform'. It carried on its masthead two quotes from Herbert Spencer: 'Everyman is free to do that which he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man', and 'Resistance to aggression is not simply justifiable but imperative. Non-resistance hurts both altruism and egoism'.

Krishnavarma used the monthly journal to publicize his scholarship schemes and express his views on British and Indian politics. The inflammatory nature of some of Krishnavarma's articles brought The Indian Sociologist to the attention of the Government. Krishnavarma was disbarred and fled to Paris to avoid arrest. When Krishnavarma fled to Paris in 1907, the Indian Sociologist continued to be printed in London by Arthur Horsley and Guy Aldred. However, in 1909 the Government also moved to prosecute the printers, so Krishnavarma printed the journal from Paris until 1914, from where copies were smuggled into India. He then re-started the journal in 1920 in Geneva until 1922.

Secondary works: 

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

Yajnik, Indulal, Shyamaji Krishnavarma: Life and Times of an Indian Revolutionary, foreword by Sarat Chandra Bose (Bombay: Lakshmi Publications, 1950)

Date began: 
01 Jan 1905
Date ended: 
01 Sep 1922
Tags for Making Britain: 

Second World War (1939-1945)

01 Sep 1939
End date: 
15 Aug 1945
Event location: 

Italy, Greece, Sicily, France, Britain, Germany, Middle East, North Africa, Burma, Malaya, India, Far East, Pacific


As in the First World War, Indian soldiers were called upon by Britain to help in the war effort. Despite the constitutional fall-out from Britain’s declaration of war on behalf of India, without prior consultation of Indian representatives, Britain could nevertheless rely on India’s support. The massive involvement of men and women from India in Britain's war effort and her allies has remained a marginalized story of the Second World War. Indian soldiers provided manpower, equipment and auxiliary support in theatres of war throughout the world. Their contribution was vital to keep the supply lines to Britain open and to defend her borders at home and in the empire.

An Indian contingent provided vital backup to the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940 and these mule transport companies were evacuated at Dunkirk and received praise from British officers for their discipline and exemplary conduct in the midst of chaos. They were stationed in Britain until 1943 to provide vital back-up on the home front. South Asians in Britain such as Cedric Dover and Sudhindra Nath Ghose worked as ARP Wardens in Civil Defence. Indian pilots such as Mahinder Singh Pujji, one of seven fighter pilots chosen to join the RAF, flew Hurricanes, engaging German aircraft in dogfights over the English Channel. He was one of 24 Indian Air Force pilots sent to Britain in September 1940 to fly with the RAF (including four other Sikh pilots: Shivdev Singh, Gurbachan Singh, Tirlochan Singh and Manmohan Singh). Tirlochan Singh and Air Marshal Shivdev Singh flew bombers, the latter making twenty-two operational flights over Germany and later commanding an Indian Air Force squadron in Burma. The Royal Air Force needed to make up a shortage in pilots by actively recruiting personnel from across the Commonwealth. It dispensed with the colour bar of the armed forces that stipulated that only ‘British subjects of pure European descent’ could join. After October 1939 people from across the Commonwealth, regardless of nationality or race became eligible to join the RAF. By the end of the Second World War, over 17,500 such men and women had been recruited, serving in a variety of roles. A further 25,000 served in the Royal Indian Air Force.

In addition to meeting her own requirements, India’s new factories maintained a regular supply of vital war materials to her Allies. Textiles were sent to 15 countries. India would supply 37,000 of the 50,000 different textile articles required by the United Nations in the war. India was the third largest consignor of supplies to Australia for the Pacific war. Russia and China also received much war material from India.

South Asian merchant seamen living around the ports of London, Cardiff, Liverpool and South Shields also played a significant role. These sailors helped to ensure that the supply lines to Britain remained open and provided vital manpower often working under atrocious conditions for less pay than their white counterparts.

The Indian Army played a major part in the operations in Italy, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, East Africa and the Far East. The Fourteenth Army in Burma was the largest single army in the world. Its battle front of 700 miles was approximately as long as the Russian front against Germany. Of the total force of 1,000,000 men employed in Burma ( S.E.A.C.), 700,000 were Indians. By the end of the war, the Indian Army won 31 Victoria Crosses. In all, 4,028 awards for gallantry were made. In WWII the Indian Army suffered 24,338 killed, 64,354 wounded and 11,754 missing.

Secondary works: 

Bance, Peter, The Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photographs (Stroud: Sutton, 2007)

Menezes, S. L., Fidelity and Honour: The Indian Army from the Seventeenth to the Twenty-first Century, rev. ed. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Prasad, Bisheshwar (general ed.), Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War (Combined Inter-Services Historical Section (India & Pakistan))

Somerville, Christopher, Our War: How the British Commonwealth Fought the Second World War (London: Cassell Military, 2005)

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


Oral Archives No. 2/6, British Library, St Pancras


This recording from the British Library oral archive contains an interview with General Auchinleck, who was Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, 1943-5. He also commanded Indian troops during the campaign in North Africa.


I think the English never cared; the English who lived in England, the politicians especially, I think they never took any interest in India at all. I think they used it…They couldn’t have come through both wars if the hadn’t had the Indian Army...I think they never really understood it.


Auchinleck's remarks sum up the British attitude towards the Indian contributions during the war. While there was much propaganda material available during the war, explaining and highlighting the Indian contributions to the allied war effort, their contributions were soon forgotten after the war and the myth that 'England stood alone' was perpetuated in historical accounts of the Second World War.

Archive source: 

L/PJ/8 series, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras:

L/PJ/8/503-536 India and the War, constitutional crisis arising from Governor General’s declaration, 17 October 1939

L/PJ/8/639 Subhas Chandra Bose disappearance and Death

L/PJ/12 series, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras:

L/PJ/12/630 Indian seamen, reports of unrest, welfare and union activities, November 1939 - January 1945

L/PJ/12/643 Indian industrial trainees under the Bevin scheme at Letchworth, Herefordshire, political influence by activists in UK, May 1941 - August 1943

L/PJ/12/659 Indian civilians and prisoners of war suspected of collaboration with Nazis; treatment and welfare, January 1944-1945

L/PJ/12/762 Indian prisoners of war in Europe, 1942-1943

L/PJ/12/763 Indian prisoners of war in Europe, January - December 1945

L/PJ/12/764 Treatment of Indian collaborators, October 1945 - April 1947

L/PJ/12/765 Collaborators in Germany: arrangements for repatriation and passport facilities, August - December 1946

L/PJ/12/766 Collaborators in Germany: arrangements for repatriation and passport facilities, January 1947 - January 1949

L/PJ/12/ 768 Indian collaborators: passport facilities for the UK, March 1947 - January 1948

L/PJ/12/769 Reports of interrogations of Indian prisoners of war and civilians captured in Europe and Far East, August 1945 - April 1946

L/PJ/12/770 Formation and activities of Indian National Army Defence Committee in the UK, October - November 1945

L/PJ/12/771 DIB report and proposal on treatment of members of Indian National Army, November - December 1945

L/I/1 series, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras:

L/I/1/1142 War history prepared by Bureau of Public Information

L/I/1/1122 Treatment of Indian news by the BBC 1942

L/I/1/1075 India’s representatives at the imperial war cabinet and pacific war council

L/I/1/1047 Prime Minister’s message to the Viceroy on the 4th Indian division and visit of a contingent to the UK, 1943-44

L/I/1/1048 Imperial War Graves Commission; publication of important announcements

L/I/1/1039 Broadcasting by Indian Army Officers: arrangements for liaison with War Office, 1944

L/I/1/1034 Honours, 1941-44

L/I/1/1035 Indian Army 1939-47

L/I/1/1036 Formation of Indian Army medical corps, 1943

L/I/1/1005 Suggestion that Mrs K. Bhatia visit UK to speak to women’s organizations

L/I/1/990 Question of bringing an Indian officer from Tunis to UK to lecture, 1943

L/I/1/1000 Proposal to bring Indian speakers to the UK, 1942-44

L/I/1/1001 Press cuttings on Indian speakers in UK, 1943-44

L/I/1/978 Bevin Trainee Scheme

L/I/1/48 Indian societies in the UK, 1933-46

L/I/1/50 India League, 1932-39

L/I/1/122Teaching of Indian history in British schools, 1941-45

L/I/1/124 Education about India in England

L/I/1/198 military (general and misc), 1938-41

L/I/1/540 Royal Indian Navy, 1934-39

L/I/1/542 Bibliography relating to India, 1942-48

L/I/1/836 India’s War Effort, 1941-42

L/I/1/837 India’s War effort, 1943-46

L/I/1/840 Indian Seamen, 1941-45

L/I/1/842 national war front 1943-46

L/I/1/843 Pamphlets, 1940-43

L/I/1/854 India and the war, 1945-47

L/I/1/857 MOI illustrated pamphlet on India’s war effort, 1943-48

L/I/1/858 Military pamphlets,1944-45

L/I/1/877 Muslim attitude to the war, 1940-41

L/I/1/903 Illustrated booklet ‘India at War’, 1941-42

L/I/1/904 France and the war, 1940-48

L/I/1/905 photographs (general), 1939-48

L/I/1/907-911 War Publicity in India by Photography

L/Mil series, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras:

L/Mil/17/5/4247-4285 India and WWII

L/Mil/17/5/4263 (Microfilm Misc 742) Pamphlet: India and the War 1939-1945, The Facts

L/Mil/17/5/4267 info on demobilisation of the Indian Army after WWII

L/Mil/17/5/4272 Pamphlet: Defence head quarters

Madame Cama


Madame Cama is known as the 'Mother of Indian Revolution'. She was married to Rustom Cama, a wealthy lawyer based in Bombay. Having worked as a social worker during the Bombay Plague epidemic in 1897, she became ill herself and was sent to Britain in 1901/2 for treatment.

Cama met Shyamaji Krishnavarma and became involved in European revolutionary circles. She met Dadabhai Naoroji, a moderate nationalist, and worked for him in his unsuccessful campaign to contest Lambeth North in the 1906 General Election. However, Cama identified with more radical politics than Naoroji's, in particular the Indian Home Rule Society and Krishnavarma's India House. In 1907, she attended the International Socialist Congress at Stuttgart. Cama addressed the delegates at Stuttgart and unfolded the Indian Tricolour Flag (green, yellow and red) with Bande Mataram written on the middle. This was the first time an Indian flag was displayed in a foreign country and was part of the template for the tricolour adopted by the Indian nation.

In 1909, Cama settled in Paris and began publishing a monthly journal called Bande Mataram after the assassination of Sir Curzon-Wyllie. Her house became a meeting point for various revolutionaries and exiles (Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, V. D. Savarkar, members of the Ghadr Party) and she met many Indians when they came through Europe (Jawaharlal Nehru, Herabai Tata, Mithan Lam). Cama herself was an exile from India until she renounced seditionist activities. The portrayal of the revolutionary Indian wife Kamala in Alice Sorabji Pennell’s Doorways of the East appears to be based on the life and character of Madame Cama. In November 1935, she returned to Bombay and died nine months later.

Date of birth: 
24 Sep 1861
Contributions to periodicals: 

Bande Mataram

Secondary works: 

Mody, Nawaz B. (ed.), The Parsis in Western India: 1818-1920 (Bombay: Allied Publishers Ltd, 1998)

Saha, Panchanan, Madame Cama 'Mother of Indian Revolution' (Calcutta: Manisha, 1975)

Sethna, Khorshed Adi, Madame Bhikaiji Rustom Cama (New Delhi: Govt. of India, 1987)

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

Visram, Rozina, Women in India and Pakistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992)

Yajnik, Indulal, Shyamaji Krishnavarma (Bombay: Lakshmi Publications, 1950)

Archive source: 

India Office intelligence files, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Other names: 

Bhikaiji Rustom Cama

Bhikai Sorab Patel


44 St Marks Road
North Kensington, London, W10 6JT
United Kingdom
51° 31' 8.8896" N, 0° 13' 2.5968" W
Date of death: 
13 Aug 1936
Location of death: 
Bombay (Mumbai), India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1901
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1901-9 (on and off)

Tags for Making Britain: 

Virendranath Chattopadhyaya


Virendranath Chattopadhyaya was the second of eight children born to Aghorenath Chattopadhyaya and his wife, a Bengali family, in Hyderabad. His siblings include Sarojini Naidu and Harindranath Chattopadhyaya. Virendranath was also known as 'Chatto'.

Virendranath travelled to England in 1902 to study law and compete for the Indian Civil Service (ICS). He failed the ICS exams twice and enrolled in Middle Temple. In 1903, he was living with an English woman in Notting Hill under the names Mr and Mrs Chatterton. The couple parted ways in 1909.

Virendranath was rejected from Shyamaji Krishnavarma's India House scholarships in 1905 but was intimately involved with the India House organization in Highgate. Following the murder of Sir Curzon Wyllie by Madan Lal Dhingra in July 1909, Chattopadhyaya sent a letter to The Times in support of Savarkar's right to freedom of speech in response to the assassination. He was then expelled from Middle Temple. Virendranath was a close friend of V. D. Savarkar in London and visited him frequently in Brixton Gaol in 1910. To avoid a warrant for his arrest, Virendranath went into exile in June 1910 by moving to Paris.

Published works: 

Grammar of Hindustani Language (London, 1913)

Date of birth: 
31 Oct 1880
Contributions to periodicals: 

Orient Review, 1908 (editor and publisher)

Notes and Queries, 1908-1910 (contributed philological notes)

The Talwar, 1909 (editor)

Secondary works: 

Barooah, Nirode K., Chatto: The Life and Times of an Indian Anti-Imperialist in Europe (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004)

Mukherjee, Meenakshi, 'From the Margins of History: Agnes Smedley and Virendranath Chattopadhyay', Elusive Terrain: Culture and Literary Memory (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008)

Smedley, Agnes, Battle Hymn of China (London: Victor Gollancz, 1944)

Archive source: 

Letters to The Times, 28 December 1908, 9 July 1909, 12 July 1909

Indian Agitators Abroad, compiled by the Criminal Intelligence Office, Simla (1911), Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 



Notting Hill London, W11 3AG
United Kingdom
51° 30' 32.1156" N, 0° 12' 7.164" W
Date of death: 
02 Sep 1937
Location of death: 
Moscow, Russia
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1902
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1902 - 9 June 1910

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