British India versus the British Empire: The Indian Army and an impasse in imperial defence, circa 1919–39

Elisabeth Mariko Leake

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From the end of the Great War to the onset of the Second World War, Great Britain and British India clashed over the Indian Army’s role in imperial defence. Britain increasingly sought an imperial fighting force that it could deploy across the globe, but the government of India, limited by the growing independence movements, financial constraints, and—particularly—renewed tribal unrest on its North-West Frontier, refused to meet these demands. Attempts to reconcile Britain’s and India’s conflicting strategies made little headway until the late 1930s when compromise ultimately emerged with the establishment of the Expert Committee on the Defence of India 1938–39. While the Committee refuted India’s traditional focus on the subcontinent’s own security, importantly it recognized the necessity of British financial support for the Indian Army and the maintenance of a large local fighting force to prevent North-West Frontier unrest from disrupting imperial military planning at a time of global war.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
JournalModern Asian Studies
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2013

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