New Statesman


The New Statesman was founded over a series of gatherings hosted by Fabianists Beatrice and Sidney Webb whose aim was to disseminate socialist and collectivist ideas among the middle classes. Bernard Shaw, among others, donated money to fund the launch of the magazine. The tone of the magazine in its formative years is described on its website as ‘didactic’ and ‘no-nonsense’. Some two years after its launch, its circulation was second only to that of the Spectator among sixpenny weeklies.

As Christopher Hitchens writes in his introduction to Lines of Dissent, ‘embedded in the Fabian idea was an impression of British greatness’ – the logical conclusion of which was an imperialist stance (Howe, pp. 6-7). It was Kingsley Martin, who became editor in the early 1930s, who turned the paper largely away from this stance. Martin also oversaw the take-over of the Nation and Athenaeum, a magazine that had published writing by some of Britain’s most renowned writers of the early twentieth century, in 1931, and of the Weekend Review in 1934.

There are articles and reviews of books on the political situation in India throughout the four decades of the magazine. In the 1930s and especially the 1940s, increasing numbers of books (including fiction) by South Asians are reviewed, and one or two South Asians begin to contribute reviews or articles themselves.


de Zoete, Beryl, ‘An Indian Ballet’, review of Sakuntala ballet at the Embassy Theatre, New Statesman and Nation (6 April 1946), p. 245

Other names: 

New Statesman and Nation (from 1931)

Secondary works: 

Howe, Stephen (ed.), Lines of Dissent: Writing from the New Statesman, 1913–1988 (London: Verso, 1988)

Hyam, Edward, The New Statesman: The History of the First Fifty Years, 1913–1963 (London: Longmans, 1963)



In this review, Beryl de Zoete commends the performance of Sakuntala, commenting on its success in bringing together 'western' and 'eastern' cultural traditions and European and Indian dancers and musicians (including Narayana Menon, who directs an orchestra of Indian instruments), and on its 'warm reception' by the British public.

Date began: 
12 Apr 1913

This is the most successful effort hitherto made by West to meet East in the sphere of dance. Sakuntala is a ballet on the theme of Kalidasa’s famous dream, and is performed chiefly by Europeans, in an Indian dance-idiom. The idiom sometimes proves beyond their physical capacities, especially with regard to head and neck movements and facial expression, just as certain sounds in a foreign languages are almost impossible to acquire…Retna Mohini, a Javanese dancer who many will remember as Ram Gopal’s principal partner, introduces, of course, a very different standard of perfection, but her beautiful dances form part of a court entertainment, so do not clash too violently with the style of the Europeans. The same may be said of Rekha Menon, who, though not so fine or experienced a dancer as Retna Mohini, is a charming and authentic Indian dancer.

Key Individuals' Details: 

Editors: Clifford Sharp (1913-30), Kingsley Martin (1931-60).


This ‘mainstream’ British magazine’s positive engagement with the production of an Indian ballet is indicative of a degree of openness to South Asian cultural production in Britain. This said, the fact that the majority of the dancers were European suggests a degree of cultural ‘translation’ in the production of the ballet, perhaps rendering it more accessible to its British audience and critics. While the ballet could be seen as an example of an emergent hybridized proto-British Asian culture, it appears to be conceived by the critic as the combination of two distinct cultures rather than as an original syncretic form. This is evidenced in particular by the allusion to the way in which the ballet avoids a clash between the Asian and European dancers.


Contributors:  C. F. Andrews, Clive Bell, H. Belloc,  H. N. Brailsford, Marcus Cunliffe, Emil Davis, Havelock Ellis, Lionel Fielden, Bernard Fonseca, Roger Fry, David Garnett, Frank Hauser, Desmond Hawkins, Syud Hossain, C. E. M. Joad, Fredoon Kabraji, Desmond MacCarthy, Thomas Sturge Moore, R. G. Pradan, V. S. Pritchett, Peter Quennell, Lajpat Rai, John Richardson, Paul RobesonShapurji Saklatvala, Ikbal Ali Shah, George Bernard Shaw, Khushwant Singh, M. J. Tambimuttu, Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Jinnadasa Vijaya-Tunga, Beatrice Webb, Sidney Webb, Leonard Woolf, Beryl de Zoete.

Archive source: 

New Statesman, Special Collections, University of Sussex

Books Reviewed Include: 

Ali, Ahmed, Twilight in Delhi (London: Hogarth). Reviewed by Desmond Hawkins.

Anand, Mulk Raj, Across the Black Waters (London: Lawrence & Wishart). Reviewed by Desmond Hawkins.

Anand, Mulk Raj, The Coolie (London: Lawrence & Wishart). Reviewed by Peter Quennell.

Anand, Mulk Raj, Two Leaves and a Bud (London: Lawrence & Wishart). Reviewed by ‘S. K.’.

Dutt, R. Palme, India Today (London: Gollancz). Reviewed by H. N. Brailsford.

Dutt, Toru,  Life and Letters (Oxford: Oxford University Press)

Kabraji, Fredoon (ed.) The Strange Adventure: An Anthology of Poems in English by Indians (London: New Indian Publishing). Reviewed by H. N. Brailsford.

Karaka, D. F., Betrayal in India (London: Gollancz). Reviewed by Bernard Fonseca.

Menen, Aubrey, The Backward Bride (London: Chatto). Reviewed by Frank Hauser.

Menon, V. K. Krishna et al., The Condition of India. Reviewed by C. F. Andrews.

Narayan, R. K., The Batchelor of Arts (London: Nelson). Reviewed by Desmond Shawe-Taylor.

Shah, Ikbal Ali, Islamic Sufism (Rider). Reviewed by J. Vijaya-Tunga.

Sister Nivedita and Coomaraswamy, Ananda, Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists (London: Harrap)

Rajan, B., (ed.) Modern American Poetry: Focus Five (London: Dennis Dobson). Reviewed by Marcus Cunliffe.

Rama Rau, Santha, Home to India (London: Gollancz). Reviewed by Lionel Fielden.

Shelvankar, K. S., The Indian Problem (London: Penguin). Reviewed by H. N. Brailsford.

Singh, Khushwant, The Mark of Vishnu (London: Saturn Press). Reviewed by John Richardson.

Tagore, Rabindranath, Gitanjali, The Home and the World and Gora (London: Macmillan)

Thompson, E. J., Rabindranath Tagore (Oxford: Oxford University Press)


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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: 

Indian National Army Defence Committee


The formation of the Indian National Army Defence Committee was announced at a Subhas Chandra Bose memorial meeting held by the Indian Independence Union on 22nd September 1945 at Caxton Hall  (the same location where Udham Singh assassinated Michael O'Dwyer in 1940). It was set up to help raise money for a 'Subhas Memorial Fund' to assist families and members of the Indian National Army awaiting trial in India. The Fund was opened with donations of £300.00, which had been largely raised amongst the committee. The committee was in contact with the Indian National Congress and members of the Defence Committee in India and asked for the cooperation of all Indian organizations in the UK and abroad.

The Indian National Army Defence Committee also wanted to raise awareness of the Indian National Army and their part in India's independence struggle. It held a meeting at the Indian Workers' Association in Birmingham in November 1945. The Cambridge Majlis also set up an Indian National Army Defence Council. Its president was Subrata Roy Chaudhury.

The committees sought to raise funds so that the prisoners could secure the best possible defence team in their trial. In their appeals to the Indian community in Britain the committee described the former INA members as 'true patriots who had done what they thought best in the interests of India'.

Date began: 
22 Sep 1945
Key Individuals' Details: 

Subrata Roy Chaudhury (president), D. P. Choudhury (hon. treasurer), Dr D. N. Dutt (President). Dr M. D. Thakore (hon. secretary)


Swami Avyaktananda, Mrs Radha Rani Borkar, Karan Singh Chima, Mrs May Dutt, N. Ghose, Fazal Hossain, Akbar Ali Khan (IWA), Dr K. D. Kumria (Swaraj House), Mohan Lall, Ali Mohamed, Chai Jan Mohamed, Nianat Ali Nur, Dr K.M. Pardhy, Dr D. R. Prem, Maini Jagdish Rai, Dr Diwan Singh, D. V. Thamankar, Dr C. B. Vakil, Dr Sorab B. Warden.

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/770, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras


46 Museum Street
London, WC1A 1JL
United Kingdom

Federation of Indian Associations in Great Britain


The Federation of Indian Associations in Great Britain (FIAGB) was formed in April 1943 and had affiliated organizations in London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Bradford and Sheffield. Its central office was at the same premises as Swaraj House. The FIAGB was formally inaugurated at a meeting in Bradford in April 1943, attended by delegates from Swaraj House, London, and from the Indian Workers' Association branches in Bradford, Birmingham, Coventry, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Wolverhampton.

The India Office was well aware of the significance of the two organizations combining forces in the FIAGB. Swaraj House was an organization patronized by a large proportion of well-educated Indians, predominantly Hindu, whereas the IWA was a predominately working-class organization dominated by Punjabi Sikhs and Muslims. While many of its members had links to the Communist Party, the FIAGB saw itself as acting independently. The FIAGB supported the Indian National Congress. In May 1943, K. A. Said announced that the Glasgow Majlis had decided to affiliate itself with the FIAGB. Fenner Brockway was in close contact with Alley, Sastrya and Vaidya, and offered his support to set up branches in Bristol and Southampton.

In 1943, together with other Indian organizations, the FIAGB began a famine campaign highlighting the manner in which the British Government was implicated in the Bengal famine. Members of the FIAGB in the Midlands heckled ministers and Ministry of Information speakers who were touring the country to lecture on India’s war effort in January 1944.

In February 1944, conflicts arose onbetween Sastry, Alley and Vaidya about whether to offer full support to Gandhi in his willingness to compromise with the British Government and with Jinnah. The disagreements brought the organization to the brink of collapse. With the departure of Vaidya and Mitra for India in December 1944, and Surat Alley preoccupied with his work for lascars and the Indian Seamen’s Centre, it seemed to be in terminal decline. This was further exacerbated by a rivalry with the Committee of Indian Congressmen in Great Britain and Akbar Ali Khan’s attempts to rid all IWA branches of the influence of the FIAGB. In October 1945 Suresh Vaidya, then in India, suggested that the FIAGB should be dissolved and further activities conducted under the auspices of Swaraj House. However it was decided that the organization should for the time being continue to function as before. In 1946, the FIAGB applied for affiliation with the Indian National Congress, and to celebrate Gandhi’s 77th birthday it organized a four-day conference at Kingsway Hall, London, to discuss the future of India and Gandhi’s contribution in the struggle for Indian independence.

Secondary works: 

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

Date began: 
01 Jan 1943
Precise date began unknown: 

Fenner Brockway, Charan Singh Chima, Mohammed Fazal Hussain, V. B. Kamath, Balram Kaura, Dr Kumria, S. P. Mitra, David Pinto, Ajit Singh Rai, K. A. Said, Iqbal Singh (Honorary Secretary, 1946), T. Subasinghe, D. J. Vaidya.

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/658, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

L/PJ/12/646, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras


32 Percy Street
London, W1T 2DE
United Kingdom
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