ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Flights to Freedom: Independence and the Indian Air Force

An emerging consensus among historians is that the Second World War played a key role in the decolonisation of South Asia. This article focuses on the Indian Air Force to point to the role of the war in the unmaking of the British Raj. Desperate to stem the tide of the advancing Japanese, colonial authorities were forced to permit ever larger numbers of Indians into the Indian Air Force. While this helped win the war it also placed India on the path to independence since it helped demonstrate that Indians were capable of defending themselves. After the war, serious unrest in the force, which took the form of a series of non-violent 'strikes' combined with wider trends of insubordination in British and Indian military forces contributed to the end of colonial rule in India.

The Call of the Funeral Pyre

Burning the Dead: Hindu Nationhood and the Global Construction of Indian Tradition by David Arnold, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2021; pp 268, $70.


From Servitude to Underclass

Malaysian Indians form 7% of Malaysia’s population and 80% of them are descendants of the British Empire’s “coolies.” Though an integral part of the nation’s polity, they are a marginalised underclass. The roots for this lie in colonial capitalism and the postcolonial state’s race-based policies, which displaced them from their traditional plantation and public sector work enclaves, into low-paying jobs and poor housing. Successive governments have failed to ameliorate their suffering, offering them only political expediency for electoral gains. The coolies’ plight can be resolved through a class-based policy strategy that addresses the root cause of their social and economic precarity.


Japanese Occupation of Nicobar Islands

Primarily based on archival research, especially an unpublished diary of Nicobarese stalwart leader John Richardson, this article gives a glimpse of the sufferings that the Nicobarese endured under the Japanese colonial regime during World War II. The regime exposed the indigenes to war, slavery, torture, and executions. At the same time it engendered leadership in the Nicobar Islands which consolidated these historically isolated people into a community and ended their prolonged economic and sexual exploitation.

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