Raleigh Lecture on History, delivered by Professor Christopher Bayly FBA, on 26 November 2003.
Studies of India during the Second World War have interpreted the period as a prelude to the partition of the subcontinent. They have concentrated on the causes of inter-communal violence and the policies of the British rulers, Congress and Muslim League. This lecture seeks to analyse India at war in its own right. It argues that the British Raj was able to recover from defeats in Burma and the Quit India movement of 1942 because, finally, it was able to draw on the day to day political loyalty of Indian people to their own emerging nation, or nations. It was also able briefly to mobilise the subcontinent's vast reserves of military and civilian labour, commercial expertise and its developing professions.