India and South Asia 1914 CE

The history of the British empire in India reaches its height - but it will shortly come to an end.

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What is happening in India and South Asia in 1914CE

Governance under British rule

The official in charge of the British administration in India, the Viceroy, is a politician appointed by the British government and answerable to parliament. He heads a civil service which governs a large part of the sub-continent directly, and the rest indirectly through the (almost 600) princes which the British have kept in place.

Central Asia

The British viewed with concern the deepening involvement of Russia in Central Asia, seeing it as a threat to their control of India. The diplomatic and military confrontation known to history as the “Great Game”, in which Britain and Russia jockeyed for influence in Afghanistan and Central Asia, led to the 2nd Afghan War (1878-80). The British were able to put their own nominee on the Afghan throne, but the Russians, in retaliation, have annexed further Central Asian territories. It was only in 1909, when Russia and Britain agreed on separate spheres of influence in Afghanistan, Persia and Central Asia, that the tension abated.

The industrial age in India

This period of its history sees India entering the industrial age. The British are building a vast railway system covering the whole of the sub-continent – by far the most extensive network outside Europe and North America. Extensive road-building and a comprehensive postal and telegraph system also helped tie the vast region together. A large and prosperous textile industry, plus some mining and steel-making, were also modern sectors of the Indian economy.

The vast bulk of the population however, remain untouched by such developments. They live in rural villages, their lives much as their ancestors had known, tending their fields or engaging in traditional handicrafts.

Next map: India and South Asia, 1960

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The British in India

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The British Raj in 1900

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