What effect did WWII have on British governing India?



  • The war made running the empire too expensive for the Raj 
  • The British war debt was £2,730million 
  • Exports to India were not as profitable for Britain as they had once been for example during 1928-9 Britain made £83million, during 193-6 Britain made £39million and this figure carried on dropping 
  • An enormous program of reconstruction had to be paid for 

Basically the economic benefits of having India were outweighed by the cost of the Empire and the war debt. 

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The British Public

  • The voting population wanted money spending in their own country, hence Labour were voted into power in 1945 
  • There was public demand for better health and education systems notably the NHS, this would cost Britain a lot of money
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The Atlantic Charter 1941

  • Churchill and Roosevelt agreed on the basis of their cooperation including support for 'sovereign rights and self determination' 
  • Churchill later informed the HoC that this didn't apply to the British Empire 
  • Roosevelt was furious 

America was now putting pressure on the British to appease the Indian demands. 

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Britain's position in the War

  • Especially in the first half of the war, Britain's position was desparate they needed to start appeasing demands to gain suppport in the war effort 
  • India supplied a huge amount of resources, men and  money to the war effort and their repayement called for something that would benefit the Indian population 
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The Bengal Famine 1943

  • The harvest failures of 1942 and 43 were aggravated by shortages of food and resources caused by the war
  • It is estimates the famine caused 1-3 million deaths 
  • Wavell struggled to get Britain to ship grain to India 
  • Wavell commented to Amery: "The Bengal famine was one of the greatest disasters that has befallen any people under British rule and has done a great deal of damage of our reputation here"
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