Why didn't Indians riot ag inst the British during World War II?



David Fred, Spent time "studying" war. Dad served in USMC 4th Marine Div

I watched a documentary (one of many) on WW2, and they interviewed a retired General from the Indian Army, serving I think with Bill Slim in the BIC theater.


He said in essence, “For us, it was a question of which oppressor was worse at the time, and it was clear the Japanese were more oppressive than the British, so the question of Indian independence would have to wait until the greater oppressor, the Japanese, were defeated.”



Craig Arthur, I was actually born in the past/ prolific consumer of all things historical

A variety of reasons, and a ne that a small number of Indians did do this. The primary reason was that they knew that it was only a matter of time before the British left anyway.


The history of British rule in India is a history of gradual movement towards more and more self-rule for India. Even from the start of British rule in India many recognised that this was not something that would last forever.


By the 1930s it was accepted by the po itical elites of the UK that Indian independence was an inevitability within their lifetimes.


Gandhi's peaceful disobedience was having its desired effect. It was dging British business in India (the entire reason Britain had set up a go nment in India) and, even more importantly, being widely reported in the west; Convincing British vers that British rule in India was wrong.


One major step which really underlined that independence was inevitable was the 1935 Go nment of India Act, which called for responsible go nment on a provincial level in India. Essentially home-rule for the Indian provinces, albeit not yet for the federal go nment.


There were some in the Indian Independence movement who wanted to rebel, there was some civil disobedience, however overall India stuck with Gandhi, who said that he did not want an independent India to be born out of Britain’s ashes.


Perhaps it was just weighing up the relative power of each side and deciding an allied victory was more likely.


Certainly with the benefit of hindsight I have to come to the conclusion that India made the smart choice.


Regardless, India stuck with the allies, with the Indian army in WW2 being the largest volunteer army in history.



Susanna Viljanen, works at Aalto University

They did. There was the pro-Japanese Indian National Army, and some Indians volunteered on the Nazi side. They got quickly disillusioned on their new masters.


But on the other hand, if you suffer from cholera, why would you trade it for plague?


The Indians were not stupid. They would realize they had better chances of independence after the war - on victorious but seriously weakened British rather than if the Japanese had been victorious.


More than 2.5 million Indians served as volunteer for the British army. The Allied victory did indeed leave the British seriously weakened, and many British themselves considered granting India the independence was a fitting reward for the sacrifices of the loyal Indians on defeating the two greatest e ls of the 20th century - the Nazi Germany and the Imperialist Japan.



Edward Whitehead, Fascinated by everything in history (except maybe the early Church Fathers).

Eh? Why didn't Indians riot ag inst the British during World War II? They did!


So far I have seen some rather strange answers - more reasons why ought not to have ried. You would not think from them that Ghandi continued the independence struggle regardless of the war with Japan, to which he seems to have been quite indifferent (not to say as per his usual, evasive. Too bad that some of you will consider this blasphemy). In the person of Cripps (of whom I have written elsewhere on Quora) the Congress leadership was offered independence after the war, to which Congress demanded immediate self-go nment and Ghandi refused to accept, in a very famous phrase ‘post-dated cheques upon a bankrupt Empire’. He procmed passive disobedience ag inst the British authorities and at least some of the Congress leadership were in fact imprisoned for the duration of the war.



Laurent Franckx, Former Army officer, avid reader on the subject of WW2 since I was 12

Actually, they did. There were important riots in the summer of 1942, and the British locked up the leaders of the Congress Party. Other leaders of Congress went underground. The rapid advance of the Japanese array in the spring of 1942 had severely dged the prestige of the British. Even though the situation eventually stabilised, the dge done was irreparable. The Bengal famine in 1943, which was partly due to a scorched earth policy implemented by the Raj and to British indifference to the first signals of an impending disaster, did nothing to improve this.


This being said, this was before Twitter. Most people in reme villages had barely any idea of what was going on, and the British were also able to recruit a volunteer army of close to 2 million men by the end of the war. A lot of local rulers were happy to collaborate actively with the British war effort, and to encourage their subjects to enrol in the army.


So it was not a black-and-white thing. Although Indians definitely wished the British to leave, those who knew what was going on, did not want the British to lose the war either - there was a mix of ambivalent feelings of loyalty, deep-seated fear of the Japanese and opportunism.


Source: The Raj at War: A People’s History of India’s Second World War by Yasmin Khan

资料来源:Yasmin Khan的《战争中的统治:印度人民的第二次世界大战历史》


Joseph Allen, PhD Military History and Wars & Go nment (2015)

The British Empire at this point was so thinly stretched out that the threat from Japan was seen by many of the Leaders of India’s seperationist parties to unite for the war effort. Independence was not offered as a done deal, however the Crown did say that at a minimum Commonwealth status would be granted. The Indian Ocean was from 1939 an important part of the war, starting in November and the Battlecruiser Graf Spee sinking a light tanker. The forces raised in India fought both the Japanese and German/Italian fronts with honor and valour. Following the war after hard talks due to re gious beliefs and land cms, the independent countries of India and Pakistan were created.

译文来源:三泰虎  http://www.santaihu.com/48273.html 译者:Joyceliu



Suttichart Denpreuktham, Writer at Defense Po itic Asia

Some did


As much as Gandi and his would love to use none-violence uprising to gain independence, there was someone like this guy who wouldn’t mind bloodshed and a little cooperation with the other side of the world order for an independent India.


Subhas Chandra Bose is the name of this guy. He asked Hitler to help organise violent revo tion in India - of which was promptly refused. He was then went to the Japanese, asking for an assistance to organise an army made up of Indian PoWs to invade his own motherland (even if that meant sheding blood of his own people).

Subhas Chandra Bose就是这个人的名字。他请求希特勒帮助组织印度的革命,但很快遭到拒绝。然后,他去找日本人,请求帮助组织一支由印度战俘组成的军队入侵他自己的祖国

The Japanese decided to help him raising his Indian National Army - he was thoroughly defeated in his attempt to invade British India alongside the Japanese forces.



Arpan Bhattacharya

A lot of credit goes to the leadership of that time. By that I mean not only Gandhi .The entire group. This question is very important as this expns why Gandhi’s ideology was so powerfull. There was violence againSt British. There were groups who wanted to kill them Brits. But what Gandhi was able to do with his non violent movement was he secured the future of the unborn generation. Imagine if Indians had gone on a rampage to kill Brits. We shall be at war even today. The indian fre m movement was not about just Independence but also securing the fre m of future generations from the cycle of violence. Gandhi knew from history that violence only begins a cycle of revenge. Look at europe now. So much war has been fought but they cannot get their Union together.. Look at the condition of India ans Pakistan. Look how the mordern generation hates each other. So Gandhi and Co. not only liberated the Indians but also liberated unborn Indians and Brits from getting a war of hatred and revenge imposed on them.



Deval Saxena

During the initial years of Second World War, the Congress though reluctantly agreed to support the British on the condition that soon after the war was over, some concrete action on formation of constituent assembly and fre m would be granted to India at the earliest. There was no consensus in the Congress on the course of action to be followed during the World War II years. Mahatma Gandhi was not in favor of taking advantage of the situation of the British, instead he thought that their cause was just, Nehru and Bose wanted to take advantage of the war as they thought British participation in war as an act of pure imperialism defending colonies and extending its empire, and if Britishers were serious about their war aims i.e. to prect their sovereignty they should prove it by granting India independence. Ultimately Nehru thought neither to support the British nor to act ag inst them during this time. The co unist parties also didn’t backed Bose’s plan. So this lack of action plan and no consensus amongst the leaders didn’t led to conditions which would have favored a riot ag inst the British during second world war.



Robert Clouse, Disable Veteran at Cincinnati, OH (2000-present)

The Indian Republic congress started the Quit India movement in August of 1942. It was was refusing to co-operate in any way with the go nment until independence was granted. The go nment was ready for this move. It immediately arrested over 60,000 national and local Congress leaders, and then moved to suppress the violent reaction of Congress supporters. Key leaders were kept in prison until June 1945, although Gandhi was released in May 1944 because of his health.


Meanwhile, under the leadership of Indian leader Subhas Chandra Bose, Japan set up an army of Indian POWs known as the Indian National Army, which fought ag inst the British.


In 1939 the British Indian Army numbered 205,000 men. It took in volunteers and by 1945 was the largest all-volunteer force in history, rising to over 2.5 million men.


After the end of the war, India's emerged as the world's fourth largest industrial power and its increased po itical, economic and military influence paved the way for its independence from the United Kingdom in 1947.


The big support by most of India during WW2 was a big reason why India is so powerful now and a independent nation.



Etienne Patton, worked at Central College

My father served in the RAF in WW2 and was stationed in India from 1943. He was not inclined to talk about it too much.


I can remember that he said that on several occasions the truck transporting him and other troops would be bricked. This would be accompanied by shouts of “QUIT INDIA”.



Paul Reid, worked at Witchcraft

Why would they? You do realise that they were offered independence if they took part in the war? That there were around 2.5 million volunteers from India? Or has Indian history glossed over that in it's hatred of all things Imperial? The not so latent assertions here are that the British were all considered e l, and that all Indians hated them. Neither assertion is remely true.


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