This book explores the lives and social histories of Indians soldiers who fought in the First World War. It focuses on their motivations, experiences, and lives after returning from service in Europe, Mesopotamia, East Africa, and Palestine, to present a more complete picture of Indian participation in the war.
The book looks at the Indian support to the war for political concessions from the British government and its repercussions through the perspective of the role played by more than one million Indian soldiers and labourers. It examines the social and cultural aspects of the experience of fighting on foreign soil in a deadly battle and their contributions which remain largely unrecognised. From micro-histories of fighting soldiers, aspects of recruitment and deployment, to macro-histories connecting different aspects of the War, the volume explores a variety of themes including: the material incentives, coercion and training which converted peasants into combatants; encounters of travelling Indian soldiers with other societies; and the contributions of returned soldiers in Indian society.
The book will be useful to researchers and students of history, post-colonial studies, sociology, literature, and cultural studies as well as for those interested in military history, World War I, and colonial history.
Table of Contents
List of Figures. List of contributors. 1. Introduction 2. Turbans in the Trenches: Indian Sepoys and Sowars on the Western Front during the Great War 3. Combat Motivation of the Sepoys and Sowars during the First World War 4. The Maharajas’ Contribution to the First World War: An Overview 5. Indian Soldiers' Experience in France: Perceptions and Outcomes 6. From Victory to Defeat: The Indian Army in Mesopotamia, 1914-1916 7. The Indian Army in the East African Campaign, 1914-1918 8. Modernization, Social Change and Indian Soldiers: A Case Study of Haryana 9. Response of Northeast India to the First World War. Index.
Ashutosh Kumar is a historian of ‘Global South’ and Director of Centre for Alternative Studies in Social Sciences (CASSS), New Delhi. He has been a fellow at various prestigious institutions of the world including Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi, the Centre for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University and Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla. He has published many books, and articles in international peer reviewed journals including, Coolies of the Empire: Indentured Indians in the Sugar Colonies, 1830-1920’, 2017.
Claude Markovits is Senior Research Fellow Emeritus at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris. A historian of modern India, with a particular interest in the economic and social history of the colonial era, he authored many books and articles in English and in French. Amongst his English publications are Indian Business and Nationalist Politics 1931-39: the indigenous capitalist class and the rise of the Congress Party (1985), The Global World of Indian Merchants, 1750-1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama (2000) , The Un-Gandhian Gandhi: The Life and Afterlife of the Mahatma (2003), Merchants, Traders, Entrepreneurs : Indian Business in the Colonial Era (2008) and India and the World : A History of Connections c. 1750-c. 2000 (forthcoming). His French publications include a history of the Indian Expeditionary Force in France during World War I entitled De l’Indus à la Somme: les Indiens en France pendant la Grande Guerre (2018).