India House was an informal Indian nationalist organisation based in London between 1905 and 1910. With the patronage of Shyamji Krishna Varma, its home in a student residence in Highgate, North London was launched to promote nationalist views among Indian students in Britain. The building soon became a hub for political activism and a meeting place for radical Indian nationalists. It ranked among the most prominent centres for revolutionary Indian nationalism outside India. India House published an anti-colonialist newspaper, The Indian Sociologist, which the British Raj banned as "seditious".
A number of prominent Indian revolutionaries and nationalists were associated with India House, most famously Vinayak Damodar Savarkar; others included V.N. Chatterjee, Lala Har Dayal, V. V. S. Aiyar, M.P.T. Acharya and P.M. Bapat. As key members of revolutionary conspiracies in India, they went on to be the founding fathers of Indian communism and Hindu nationalism. In 1909, a member of India House Madan Lal Dhingra assassinated Sir W.H. Curzon Wyllie. Under the light of subsequent investigations by Scotland Yard and the Indian Political Intelligence Office, the organisation fell into decline. A crackdown on India House activities by the Metropolitan Police prompted a number of its members, including Shyamji Krishna Varma and Bhikaji Cama, to leave Britain for Continental Europe, where they continued their activities. Some students, including Har Dayal, moved to the United States. The network created by India House played a key part in the Hindu-German Conspiracy for nationalist revolution in India during World War I.
- 1 Background
- 2 India House
- 3 Counter measures
- 4 Influence
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Nationalism in India
Amid competition among regional powers and the ascendancy of the British East India Company, socio-economic changes during the 18th century led to the rise of an Indian middle class, along with the steady erosion of pre-colonial socio-religious institutions and barriers. The emerging economic and financial power of Indian proprietors brought them increasingly into conflict with the British Raj. A rising political consciousness among the social elite (including lawyers, doctors, graduates, native government officials and similar positions) spawned an Indian identity, which fed a growing nationalist sentiment in India in the last decades of the nineteenth century. The 1885 creation of the Indian National Congress in India by the political reformer A.O. Hume intensified the process by providing an important platform from which to demand political liberalisation, increased autonomy and social reform. The nationalist movement grew particularly strong, radical and violent in Bengal and in Punjab, although notable, if smaller, movements also appeared in Maharashtra, Madras and other areas across the South. The controversial 1905 partition of Bengal escalated the growing unrest, stimulating radical nationalist sentiments and becoming a driving force for Indian revolutionaries.
Indian nationalism in Britain
From its inception, the Congress sought to shape public opinion in Britain in support of Indian political autonomy. The British Committee of Congress published India, a periodical which featured moderate (or loyalist) opinion and provided information about India tailored to a British readership. The British arm of the Congress also established an Indian committee in the British Parliament to influence policy directly. While the British Committee of Congress succeeded in calling the British public's attention to issues of civil liberties in India, it largely failed to bring about political change, prompting socialists such as Henry Hyndman to advocate a more radical approach. The Committee grew increasingly distant from an emerging Indo-centric movement which advocated self-governance in India. Both nationalist leaders in India (such as Bipin Chandra Pal, who had led the agitation against the Bengal partition) and Indian students in Britain criticised the committee for its perceived cautious approach. gainst this background, coincident with the political upheaval caused by the 1905 partition of Bengal, a nationalist Indian lawyer named Shyamji Krishna Varma founded India House in London.
Krishna Varma admired Swami Dayananda Saraswati's cultural nationalism and believed in Herbert Spencer's dictum that "Resistance to aggression is not simply justified, but imperative". A graduate of Balliol College, he returned to India in the 1880s and served as administrator (divan) of a number of princely states, including Ratlam and Junagadh. He preferred this position to working under what he considered service to the alien rule of Britain. However, a supposed conspiracy of local British officials at Junagadh, compounded by differences between Crown authority and British Political Residents regarding the states, led to Varma's dismissal, He returned to England, where he found freedom of expression more favourable. Varma's views were staunchly anti-colonial, even supporting the Boers during the Second Boer War in 1899.
Indian Home Rule Society
India House was a large Victorian Mansion at 65 Cromwell Avenue, Highgate, North London, which provided accommodation for up to thirty students. It first housed an organisation called the Indian Home Rule Society (IHRS). This was founded in February 1905 by Shyamji Krishna Varma along with other notable expatriate Indians such as Bhikaji Cama, S.R. Rana and Lala Lajpat Rai to serve as a rival organisation to the British Committee of Congress.
After founding the IHRS, Krishna Varma used his considerable financial resources to offer scholarships to Indian students in memory of leaders of the 1857 uprising on the condition that the recipients would not accept any paid post or honorary office from The Raj upon their return to India. These were complemented by three additional scholarships worth Rs 2000, endowed by S.R. Rana in memory of Rana Pratap Singh. The IHRS was available "to Indians only", and it garnered significant support from Indians—especially students—living in Britain. Following the model of Victorian public institutions, it had a constitution which clearly articulated its aim to "secure Home Rule for India, and to carry on a genuine Indian propaganda in this country by all practicable means". It recruited young Indian activists, raised funds, and possibly collected arms and maintained contact with revolutionary movements in India. The group also professed support for causes in sympathy with its own, such as Turkish, Egyptian and Irish republican nationalism. The close relationships established with these movements by Krishna Varma later influenced the activities and alliances of India House, both in Britain and abroad.
The Paris Indian Society, a branch of the IHRS, was also launched in 1905 under the patronage of Madam Cama, Sardar Singh Rana and B.H. Godrej. A number of India House members who later rose to prominence—including V.N. Chatterjee, Har Dayal and Acharya and others—first encountered the IHRS through the Paris Indian Society. Cama herself was at this time deeply involved with the Indian revolutionary cause, and nurtured close links with both French and exiled Russian socialists. In 1907, Cama, along with other IHRS associates, attended the Socialist Congress of the Second International in Stuttgart. There, supported by Henry Hyndman, she demanded recognition of self-rule for India and in a famous gesture unfurled one of the first Flags of India.
The Indian Sociologist
In 1904, Krishna Varma had founded The Indian Sociologist (TIS), a penny monthly (with Spencer's dictum as its motto), as a challenge to the British Committee's Indian. The name was possibly intended to convey Krishna Varma's conviction that the ideological basis of Indian independence was to be the discipline of sociology. TIS itself was critical of the moderate loyalist approach and its appeal to British liberalism, exemplified by the work of G.K. Ghokale; TIS advocated Indian self-rule. It was critical of the British Committee, whose members—as ex-members of the Indian Civil Service—were, in Krishna Varma's view, complicit in the exploitation of India. The Indian Sociologist quoted extensively from the works of British writers, which Krishna Varma interpreted to support colonial exploitation and the Indian right to oppose it, by violence if necessary. It advocated confrontation and demands rather than petition and accommodation. However, Krishna Varma propounded his views and justifications of political violence in nationalist struggle as the last resort, and his support was initially intellectual. Freedom of the press and the liberal approach of the British establishment meant Krishna Varma could air views that would have been rapidly suppressed in India.
Still, the views expressed in TIS drew stinging criticisms from ex-Indian Civil Servants in the British press and Parliament, who suggested intellectual dependence on Britain by highlighting Krishna Varma's citation of British writers and lack of reference to Indian tradition or values. They argued that Krishna Varma was disconnected from the Indian situation and Indian feelings. Most famously, Valentine Chirol, editor of The Times who had close associations with the Raj, accused Krishna Varma of preaching "disloyal sentiments" to Indian students, and demanded his prosecution. Chirol later described India House as "The most dangerous organisation outside India". Krishna Varma, and the messages emanating from TIS, further drew the attention of Edward VII who, greatly concerned, asked John Morley, the liberal Secretary of State for India, to stop the publication of such messages. Although Morley refused to take action at the time, Chirol's tirade against TIS and Krishna Varma forced the Government to investigate. Detectives visited India House and interviewed the printers of its publication. Krishna Varma saw these actions as the start of a crackdown on his work and, fearing arrest, moved to Paris in 1907; he never returned to Britain.
After Krishna Varma's departure, the organisation found a new leader in Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. Savarkar, a law student who had first arrived in London in 1906 on scholarship from Krishna Varma, was an admirer of the Italian nationalist philosopher Giuseppe Mazzini and a protégé of the Indian Congress leader, Bal Gangadhar Tilak Savarkar was associated with the nationalist movement in India, and founded the Abhinav Bharat Society (Young India Society) while studying at Fergusson College in Pune. (These links put him in contact with the still largely unknown Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in 1906.) In London, Savarkar's fiery nationalist views did not endear him to the residents of India House, most significantly V.V.S. Iyer. Over time, however, he became a central figure in the organisation, devoting his efforts to nationalist writings, organising public meetings and demonstrations; and initiating branches of Abhinav Bharat in the country. He kept in touch with the movement in India through his brother Ganesh Damodar Savarkar, who in turn passed his work on to B.G. Tilak.
Impressed and influenced by the Italian wars of Independence, Savarkar believed in an armed revolution in India and was prepared to seek assistance from Germany towards this end. He proposed the indoctrination of Indian soldiery in the British army, just as the Young Italy movement had indoctrinated Italians serving in the Austrian forces. In London, Savarkar founded the Free India Society (FIS), and in December 1906 he opened a branch of Abhinav Bharat Society. This organisation drew a number of radical Indian students, including P.M. Bapat, V.V.S. Iyer, Madanlal Dhingra, and Virendranath Chattopadhyaya. Savarkar had lived in Paris for some time, and frequently visited the city after moving to London. By 1908, he had recruited to the organisation a number of Indian businessmen residing in Paris. During one visit, he acquired in the French capital a bomb manual given to Hem Chandra Das—a Bengali revolutionary of the Anushilan Samiti—by the Russian revolutionary Nicholas Safranski . Savarkar met Gandhi again when the latter visited India House in October 1906, and his hardline views may have influenced Gandhi's opinion on nationalist violence.
The umbrella organisation of India House, which now included the Abhinav Bharat Society and its relatively peaceful front the Free India Society, rapidly developed into a radical meeting ground quite different from the IHRS. Unlike the latter, it became wholly self-reliant in finances, organisation, as well as ideological mores. Under Savarkar's influence, it drew the inspiration for its nationalist work from the histories of Indian revolutionary movement, from religious scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita, and from Savarkar's own studies in Indian history including The Indian War of Independence. Savarkar translated Giuseppe Mazzini's autobiography into Marathi and extolled the virtues of secret societies. The FIS had a semi-religious oath of initiation, and served as a cover for the Abhinav Bharat Society's meetings on Sunday evenings.
India House was soon transformed into the headquarters of the Indian revolutionary movement in Britain. Its newest members were young men and women in London who came from all over India. A large number, almost a quarter each, were from Bengal and Punjab, while a significant but smaller group came from Bombay and Maharashtra. The members were predominantly Hindus. Most were students in their mid-twenties, and usually belonged to the Indian social elite, from families of millionaires, mill owners, lawyers and doctors. Nearly seventy people in all attended meetings regularly, including several women. The Sunday night meetings were selected for lectures by Savarkar on topics ranging from the philosophy of revolution to bomb-making and assassination techniques. Only a small proportion of these recruits to the society were known to have previously engaged in political activity or the Swadeshi movement in India.
Abhinav Bharat Society had two goals: to create through propaganda in Europe and North America an Indian public opinion in favour of nationalist revolution; and to raise funds, knowledge and supplies to carry out such a revolution. It emphasised actions of self-sacrifice by its members for the Indian cause. These were revolutionary activities which the masses could emulate, but which did not require a mass movement. The outbuilding of India House was converted to a "war workshop" where chemistry students attempted to produce explosives and manufacture bombs, while the printing press turned out "seditious" literature, including bomb-making manuals and pamphlets promoting violence toward Europeans in India. In the house was an arsenal of small arms that were intermittently dispatched to India through different avenues. Savarkar was at the heart of these, spending a great deal of time in the explosives workshop and emerging on some evenings, according to a fellow revolutionary, "with telltale yellow stains of Picric acid on his hands". The residents of India House and members of Abhinav Bharat practised shooting at a range in Tottenham Court Road in central London, and rehearsed assassinations they planned to carry out.
The deliveries of weapons to India included, among others, a number of Browning Pistols sent through Chaturbhuj Amin, Chanjeri Rao, and through V.V.S. Iyer when he returned to India. Sympathetic Europeans may have served as couriers on several occasions. Revolutionary literature was shipped under false covers and from different addresses to prevent detection by Indian postal authorities. Savarkar's The Indian War of Independence was published (in 1909) and was considered inflammatory enough to be removed from the catalogue of the British Library to prevent Indian students from accessing it.
By 1908, the India House group had overtaken the London Indian Society (LIS), established in 1865 by Dadabhoi Naoroji and till then the largest association of Indians in London. Subsequently, India House took over the control of LIS when, at the annual general meeting that year, members of India House packed the gathering and ousted the old guard of the society.
The activities of India House did not go unnoticed. In addition to questions raised in official Indian and British circles, Savarkar's unrestrained views had been published in newspapers such as the Daily Mail, Manchester Guardian and Dispatch. By 1909, India House was under surveillance from Scotland Yard and Indian intelligence, and its activities were considerably curtailed. Savarkar's elder brother Ganesh was arrested in India in June that year, and was subsequently tried and exiled to the penal colony in Andamans for publication of seditionist literature. Savarkar's speeches grew increasingly strident and called for revolution, widespread violence, and murder of all Englishmen in India. The culmination of these events was the assassination of Sir William H. Curzon Wyllie, the political aide-de-camp to the Secretary of State for India, by Madanlal Dhingra on the evening of 1 July 1909, at a meeting of Indian students in the Imperial Institute in London. Dhingra was arrested and later tried and executed.
In the aftermath of the assassination, India House was rapidly liquidated. Investigations into the killing were expanded to look for broader conspiracies originating from India House; although Scotland Yard stated that none existed, Indian intelligence sources suggested otherwise. These sources further suggested that Dhingra's intended target was John Morley, the Secretary of State for India himself. A number of sources suggested the assassination was in fact Savarkar's brainchild, and that he planned further action in Britain as well as India. In March 1910, Savarkar was arrested upon his return to London from Paris and later deported to India. While he was held at Brixton Prison during the deportation hearing, an attempt was made in May 1910 by the remnant of India House to storm his prison van and rescue Savarkar. This plot was coordinated with help from Irish republicans led by Maud Gonne. However, the plan failed when the ambush stormed an empty decoy van while Savarkar was transported along a different route. In the following year, police and political sources brought pressure on the residents of India House to leave England. While some of its leaders like Krishna Varma had already fled to Europe, others like Chattopadhyaya moved to Germany. Many others moved to Paris. The Paris Indian Society gradually took India House's place as the centre of Indian nationalism on the continent.
Although India House had stated its goals in The Indian Sociologist, the threat arising from the organisation was not initially considered serious by either Indian intelligence or British Special Branch. This was compounded by a lack of clarity and communication from the Department of Criminal Intelligence operating in India under Charles Cleveland, and Scotland Yard's Special Branch. Lack of direction and information from Indian political intelligence, compounded by Lord Morley's reluctance to engage in postal censorship, led to Special Branch underestimating the threat.
In spite of these problems, and although Special Branch was wholly inexperienced in dealing with political crime, the first observations of India House by Scotland Yard had begun as early as 1905. Detectives attended Sunday meetings at India House in May 1907, where they gained access to seditious literature. The appearance of one agent, disguised as an Irish-American by the name of O'Brien, convinced Krishna Varma of the need to decamp to Paris. In June 1908, concrete plans for cooperation between Indian and British police were arranged between India Office and Scotland Yard; the decision was made to place an ex-Indian policeman in charge of surveillance of India House.
The arrival of B.C. Pal and G.S. Khaparde in London in 1908 further stirred the matter, since both were known to have been radical nationalist politicians in India. By September 1908, an agent had been installed within India House who was able to invite detectives to the Sunday night meetings of the Free India Society (attendance for Europeans was by invitation only). The agent passed on some additional information, but was not able to infiltrate Savarkar's inner circle. Savarkar himself did not come under special scrutiny as a dangerous suspect until November 1909, when the agent delivered information about discussions of assassinations at Indian House. The agent may have been a young Maharashtrian by the name of Kirtikar, who had arrived at India House as an acquaintance of V.V.S. Iyer, ostensibly to study Dentistry in London. Kirtikar was discovered after Iyer made enquiries at the London Hospital where he was supposed to be training, and was one night forced by Savarkar to confess at gun-point.
After this incident, Kirtikar's reports were likely screened by Savarkar before they were passed on to Scotland Yard. M.P.T. Acharya was at this time instructed by V.V.S. Iyer and V.D. Savarkar to set himself up as an informer to Scotland Yard; they believed this would provide information to the police and help corroborate the reports sent by Kirtikar. Although it pursued Indian students and shadowed them avidly, Scotland Yard was severely criticised for its inability to penetrate the organisation. The Viceroy's secretary, William Lee-Warner, was assaulted twice in London: he was slapped in the face in his office by a young Bengali Student named Kunjalal Bhattacharji, and subsequently assaulted in a London park by another Indian student. The Yard's inefficiency was blamed for these events.
Department of Criminal Intelligence
Unknown to Scotland Yard, the Indian Department of Criminal Intelligence (DCI) had made covert efforts of its own to infiltrate India House by the beginning of 1909, with more success. An agent named "C" had been residing in India House for nearly a year; after convincing the residents that he was a genuine patriot, he began reporting back to India. Possible reasons why DCI did not inform the Yard include an intention not to interfere with London investigations, desire to maintain control over "C", and fear of being accused of "deviousness" by the Yard.
However, the agent's first reports in early 1909 were of little value. Only in the months immediately preceding the Curzon Wyllie assassination did they prove useful. In June, he described the shooting practice at Tottenham Court range and rifle practice in the back of India House. This was followed by reports of V.V.S. Iyer and Savarkar's advice to M.P.T. Acharya on acts of martyrdom. Following the arrest and subsequent transportation of Savarkar's elder brother Ganesh Savarkar in India on 9 June 1909, C's reports note that Savarkar's speeches grew increasingly strident and called for revolution, widespread violence, and murder of all Englishmen in India. In the following weeks, Savarkar was barred from joining the bar due to his political activity. These events led to the assassination of Sir Curzon Wyllie. Although it was believed that Savarkar may have personally instructed or trained Dhingra, Metropolitan police were unable to bring a prosecution against the former, since he had an alibi for the night.
Indian Special Branch
In the aftermath of Curzon Wyllie's assassination, Special Branch was reorganised in July 1909 following a meeting between India Office and the Commissioner of Police Sir Edward Henry. This led to the opening of the Indian Special Branch which staffed 38 officers by the end of July. It received considerable resources during the investigation of Curzon Wyllie's assassination, and satisfied the demands of Indian Criminal Intelligence with regards to monitoring the Indian seditionist movement in Britain.
The police brought strong pressure on India House and began gathering intelligence on Indian students in London. These, along with threats to their careers, robbed India House of its student support base. It slowly began to disassemble, and—as Thirumal Acharya described bitterly—the residence was treated akin to a "leper's home" by the Indian students in the city. In addition, although student political activism could not be curtailed too heavily for fear of accusations of repression, the British Government successfully implemented laws to curtail the publication and distribution of nationalist or seditious material from Britain. Among these was Bipin Pal's Swaraj, which was forced to close, an event which ultimately drove Pal to penury and mental collapse in London. India House gradually ceased to be an influence in Britain.
India House's political activities were chiefly aimed at young Indians, especially students, in Britain. Political discontent was at the time growing steadily among this group, especially those in touch with Indian professionals and studied in depth the philosophies of European liberalism. Their discontent was noted among British academic and political circles quite early on, with some voicing fear that these students would take refuge in extremist politics.
India House's influence among this student group grew considerably, even while under the stewardship of Shyamji Krishna Varma. Indian students who discussed the community at the time described a growing influence of India House—especially in the scenario of the 1905 partition of Bengal—and attributed to it the decrease in the number of Indian applicants for Government posts and the Indian Civil Service. The Indian Sociologist attracted considerable attention amongst London newspapers. Others, however, disagreed with these views, and described India House's appeal as limited. S.D. Bhaba, president of the Indian Christian Union, once described Krishna Varma as a man "whose bark was worse than his bite".
Under Savarkar, the organisation became the focus of the Indian revolutionary movement abroad and one of the most important links between revolutionary violence in India and Britain. Although the organisation welcomed those with extremist views as well as moderates, the former outnumbered the latter. Significantly, a number of the residents, especially those who agreed with Savarkar's views, did not have any history of nationalist movement in India, suggesting they were indoctrinated during their stay at India House.
More significantly, India House was a source of arms and seditious literature that was rapidly distributed in India. In addition to The Indian Sociologist, pamphlets like Bande Mataram and Oh Martyrs! by Savarkar extolled revolutionary violence. Direct influences and incitements from India House were noted in several incidences of political violence and assassinations in India at the time. One of the two charges against Savarkar during his trial in Bombay was for abetting of the murder of the District Magistrate of Nasik A.T.M. Jackson by Anant Kanhere in December 1909. The arms used were directly traced through an Italian courier to India House. Other activists such as M.P.T. Acharya and V.V.S. Iyer were also noted in the Rowlatt report to have aided and influenced other political assassinations, including the murder of Robert D'escourt Ashe at the hands of Vanchi Iyer. The Paris-Safranski link was strongly suggested by French police to be involved in the 1907 attempt in Bengal to derail the train carrying the Lieutenant-Governor Sir Andrew Fraser. The activities of nationalists abroad is believed to have quite strongly shaken the loyalty of a number of native regiments of the British Indian Army.
India House and its activities had some influence on the subsequent nonviolent philosophy adopted by Gandhi. He had met some members of India House, including Savarkar, in London as well as in India, and disagreed with the adoption of nationalist and political philosophies from the west. Gandhi dismissively labelled this revolutionary violence as anarchist and its practitioners as "The Modernists". Some of his subsequent writings, including Hind Swaraj, were opposed to the activities of Savarkar and Dhingra, and disputed the argument that violence was innocent if perpetrated under a nationalist identity or while under Colonial victimhood. It was against this strategy of revolutionary violence—and in recognition of its consequences—that the formative background of Gandhian nonviolence was framed.
India Houses abroad
Following the example laid by the original India House, India Houses were opened in the United States and in Japan. Krishna Varma had built close contacts with the Irish Republican movement. As a result, articles from The Indian Sociologist were reprinted in the United States in the Gaelic American. In addition, with the efforts of the growing Indian student population, other organisations mirroring India House emerged. The first of these was the Pan-Aryan Association, modelled after the Indian Home Rule Society, opened in 1906 through the joint Indo-Irish efforts of Mohammed Barkatullah, S.L. Joshi and George Freeman. Barkatullah himself had been closely associated with Krishna Varma during his earlier stay in London, and his subsequent career in Japan put Barkatullah at the heart of Indian political activities there.
The American branch also invited Madame Cama—who at the time was close to the works of Krishna Varma—to give a series of lectures in the United States. An India House, although not officially allied to the London organisation, was founded in Manhattan in New York in January 1908 with funds from a wealthy lawyer of Irish descent called Myron Phelps. Phelps admired Swami Vivekananda, and the Vedanta Society (established by the Swami) in New York was at the time under Swami Abhedananda, who was considered "seditionist" by the British. In New York, Indian students and ex-residents of London India House took advantage of liberal press laws to circulate The Indian Sociologist and other nationalist literature. New York increasingly became an important centre for the global Indian movement, such that Free Hindustan, a political revolutionary journal published by Taraknath Das closely mirroring The Indian Sociologist, moved from Vancouver and Seattle to New York in 1908. Das collaborated extensively with the Gaelic American with help from George Freeman before Free Hindustan was proscribed in 1910 under British diplomatic pressure. After 1910, the American east coast activities began to decline and gradually shifted to San Francisco. The arrival of Har Dayal around this time bridged the gap between the intellectual agitators and the predominantly Punjabi labour workers and migrants, laying the foundations of the Ghadar movement.
An India House was opened in Tokyo in 1907. The city—like London and New York—had by the end of the 19th century a steadily growing Indian student population, with whom Krishna Varma kept in close contact. However, Krishna Varma was initially concerned about spreading his resources thin, especially since the Japanese centre lacked a strong leadership. He further feared interference from Japan, which was on friendly terms with Britain. Nonetheless, the presence of revolutionaries from Bengal and close correspondence between London and Tokyo houses allowed the latter to gain prominence in The Indian Sociologist. The India House in Tokyo was a residence for sixteen Indian students in 1908 and accepted students from other Asian countries including Ceylon, aiming to build a broad foundation for Indian nationalism based on pan-Asiatic values. The movement gained new momentum after Barkatullah, on the directions from Krishna Varma and George Freeman, moved from New York to Tokyo in 1909. Taking up the post of Professor of Urdu at Tokyo University, Barkatullah was responsible for East Asian distribution of The Indian Sociologist and other nationalist literature from London. His work at the time also included the publication of Islamic Fraternity, which was financed by the Ottoman Empire. Barkatullah transformed it into an anti-British mouthpiece, invited contributions from Krishna Varma, and advocated Hindu-Muslim unity in India. He published other nationalist pamphlets which found their way to the Pacific coast and East Asian settlements. Further, Barkatullah established links with prominent Japanese politicians including Okawa Shumei, whom he won over to the Indian cause. British CID, concerned about the threat that Barkatullah's work posed to the empire, exerted diplomatic pressure to have Islamic Fraternity closed down in 1912. Barkatullah was denied tenure and was forced to leave Japan in 1914.
World War I
The liquidation of India House in 1909 and 1910 gradually disseminated its members to different countries in Europe, including France and Germany, as well as the United States. The network that India House founded was to be key in the efforts by the Indian revolutionary movement against the British Raj through World War I. During the war, the Berlin Committee in Germany, Ghadar Party in North America, and the Indian revolutionary underground attempted to transport men and arms from United States and East Asia into India, intended for a revolution and mutiny in the British Indian Army. During the conspiracy, the revolutionaries collaborated extensively with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Sinn Féin, Japanese patriotic societies, Ottoman Turkey and most prominently the German Foreign Office. The conspiracy has since been called the Hindu-German conspiracy. Among other efforts, the alliance attempted to rally Afghanistan against British India.
A number of failed mutinies were made in India through 1914–1915, of which the Ghadar Conspiracy, the Singapore Mutiny, and the Christmas Day Plot were the most notable. The threat posed by the conspiracy was key in the passage of the Defence of India Act 1915, and suppression of the movement necessitated an international counter-intelligence operation on the part of the British empire lasting nearly ten years. Following the end of World War I, ex-members of India House and erstwhile members of Berlin Committee and the Indian revolutionary movement increasingly turned to the young Soviet Union, becoming closely associated with communism. When the Communist Party of India was founded in Tashkent, in October 1920, a number of its founding members including M.P.T. Acharya, Virendranath Chattopadyaya, Champakaraman Pillai and Abdul Rab had been associated with India House or the Paris Indian Society.
Indian political intelligence
The foundation of British counter-intelligence operation against the Indian revolutionary movement was laid at this time. In January 1910, John Arnold Wallinger, the Superintendent of Police at Bombay, was reassigned to the India Office in London, where he established the Indian Political Intelligence Office. Wallinger used his considerable skills to establish contacts with police officials in London, Paris and throughout continental Europe, creating a network of informants and spies. During World War I, this organisation, working with the French Political Police, the Sûreté, was key in tracing the Indo-German conspiracy, and attempted to assassinate ex-members of India House (among them V.N. Chattopadhyaya) who were at the time planning for nationalist mutiny in British India. Among Wallinger's recruits during the war was Somerset Maugham, who later mirrored some of his characters and stories on his experiences during the war. Wallinger's organisation was renamed Indian Political Intelligence in 1921, and subsequently grew to form the Intelligence Bureau in independent India.
A branch of the nationalist and revolutionary philosophy that arose from India House, especially from the works of V.D. Savarkar, was consolidated in India in the 1920s as an explicit ideology of Hindu nationalism. Exemplified by the Hindu Mahasabha, it was distinct from Gandhian devotionalism, and acquired the support of a mass movement that has been described by some as chauvinist. The Indian War of Independence is considered one of Savarkar's most influential works in developing and framing ideas of masculine Hinduism. Amongst Savarkar's work during his stay at India House was a history of the Maratha Confederacy which he described as an exemplary Hindu empire (Hindu Padpadshahi). Further, Spencerian evolutionism and functionalism that Savarkar examined at India House strongly influenced his social and political philosophy, and helped lay the foundations of early Hindu nationalism. It charted the latter's approach to state, society and colonialism, and Spencerian doctrines led Savarkar to stress a "rationalist" and "scientific" approach to national evolution, as well as military aggression for national survival. A number of Spencerian ideas featured prominently in Savarkar's works well into his political writings and works with the Hindu Mahasabha.
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|last1=in Authors list (help)
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