An enigma within a paradox might best describe the nature of British rule in India. The Indian Empire was the `jewell in the crown', Queen Victoria was Empress of India and her successors similarly raised to the purple, India was the lodestone of the British Empire and her loss regarded as an irretrievable blow to Britain's status as a world power. The British in India, first as adventurers and traders, and finally as rulers through the India Office in London and the Viceroy's Government in India oversaw all aspects of Indian life - district administration, law, police, army, economics and trade, education and culture, relations with Princely states and foreign powers. And all was recorded in detail yielding the rich sources which, together with a vast library of travellers's tales and personal memoirs, underpin this study. And there was mixing of cultures, certainly at the elite level, and Indian writers could say that `all that was good and living within us was made, shaped and quickened by ... British rule. But the deep sense of alienation remained and the British were always `little community of aliens'. The end came quickly at independence in 1947 and the British left a bitterly divided sub-continent. This is not a blow-by-blow traditional history but a narrative social and cultural history although naturally framed by the political and military story and the imperial context.It tries to get beneath the skin of the British-Indian relationship at all levels, enlivened by striking personality and anecdote, throughout the long history to the present when India is a regional super-power and, with Pakistan, a member of the nuclear club.
Strangers in the Land
The Rise and Decline of the British Indian Empire