In 1939 Jawaharlal Nehru, the prominent leader of the Indian National Congress (INC), the political party which spearheaded the independence movement in British India, visited China. The previous year, the INC had sent an Indian Medical team to China, to aid in the Chinese war of resistance against Japanese aggression.
Nehru’s travel to China was styled as a personal visit aimed at learning more about China’s rich culture and tradition. However, the immediate repercussion of it was that Indian independence struggle received a lot of press coverage in China. This alarmed the colonial authorities in India. In the aftermath of Nehru’s visit, the government was in a quandary whether to grant passports to other cultural missions of Indians to China. China had become one of the Allied powers and its support was considered indispensable for the British government to secure India from the danger of possible Japanese invasion. The government in India became acutely concerned about the Chinese being particularly susceptible to anti-British propaganda. As the war progressed, the British government declined the proposals submitted by other political parties to visit China. This paper by using British colonial documents will analyse how cultural and political missions to China became a subject of intense political and strategic tussle between the Indian political parties and the British government of India.
About the Speaker
Nirmola Sharma is a Research Associate at the Institute of Chinese Studies. She worked on co-editing ICS Occasional Paper No. 3 titled ‘Catalogue of Materials Related to Modern China in the National Archives of India, Part I (Special Collections)’ with her supervisor Dr. Madhavi Thampi. Her areas of interest are Chinese history and Indian-Chinese interactions in the modern era.Download
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