Friday, June 3, 2016

India's War (Srinath Raghavan)

Srinath Raghavan's comprehensive work India's War delves deeply into the role that India played in World War II. India in the 1930's and 1940's was still under British rule, and its geographic position in South Asia put it on the edge of two theatres of battle - Japan in Southeast and East Asia and the African battles that raged as close as Ethiopia.

Raghavan's book is well-researched and detailed, talking about the recruitment of India's armed forces and the "rogue" army that was raised and sought out Japanese and German support.  All of this amid the specter of political drama that was playing out as the leading factions in India's dueling nationalist movements quarrelled with the British colonial government as the nationalists sought further self-control and power.

The author focuses significant time on World War II, but very little deals with the consequences of war with regard to the political turmoil that overtook India and Pakistan in the late 1940's and continues to this day. While the seeds for division and partition were being sewn during World War II, and the author does talk about this, it feels like the immediate aftermath of the war and how India's military shaped some of the civil strife during the India-Pakistan partition was only given brief consideration. More information on this would have been beneficial.

This is a solid but unspectacular work that misses the mark in a few areas but properly mentions the contributions of India's armies to the British war effort.