The Effect of WWI on the Indian Independence Movement

Posted by admin on November 23, 2017 in Articles

The Great War is an undoubtedly important turning point in world history. Beyond the obvious casualties and resultant shifts in power, the Great War profoundly affected the colonies of the great powers involved. India provides a prime example of the anti-colonial rejection of the West during the 20th century. The “European Civil War” cracked the previously impenetrable British Empire, and had a direct effect on the independence movement within India. As Germany attempted to hurt the British by infiltrating India and establishing the roots of rebellion through the Hindu-German Conspiracy, Indian troops fought valiantly for the entente powers and began to question the divine right of the West to rule while Europe itself was in turmoil. But above all else, the Great War disturbed the British ability to effectively govern India, thus paving the way for the emergence of self-governing and republican ideals and allowing the gem of the British Empire to gain its independence in 1947.
To begin, the Hindu-German Conspiracy from 1914 to 1917 was the first true manifestation of serious actions taken by Indians to overthrow the British. It was a series of attempts to overthrow the British Raj with a Pan-Indian rebellion. Though it was ultimately unsuccessful because of British counter-intelligence, it set a precedent for decades of growing discontent, and allowed for Indian nationalists to involve the greater population in their struggle for independence. The conspirators’ ultimate goal was to smuggle arms to Indian sepoys and create a mutiny within the British Indian Army, causing the fall of the British Raj. It is especially intriguing because it was a truly global effort; though its backbone came from Indian nationalists, other conspirators included the Ghadar Party in California, the Irish republican movement, the German Foreign Office, and the German consulate in San Francisco. The Ghadar Party, a group of radical Indian nationalists based in northern California,…