Every time I have been asked the question 'If you could travel back in time to any period, which era would you prefer?', my answer has been the same. 1858 to 1947, India. In other words, the period of the British Raj that took over from the East India Company to rule the 'jewel in the crown' of the British Empire - India. When the British Raj formally ended, there were two nation states - India and Pakistan - carved out of it through a devastating Partition that killed almost a million in what was one of the largest displacements of people in human history.
Partition is an event that haunts relations between India and Pakistan till today, an event that lead to as much suffering as it enabled freedom.Therefore understanding the British Raj, in my opinion, goes a long way in understanding the present situation and relationship between the two countries. Indeed the impact of the Raj on India is profound, both negative and positive and for anyone who loves studying history, this time period is a remarkably rich canvas to learn about.
There are several brilliant books, both fiction and non-fiction, films, incredible photographs and videos from and based on the Raj. The material available is just inexhaustible. I've been on a British Raj reading spree of late, and when I'm not reading books and articles, I'm engrossed in remembering dates and events that lead to Independence and Partition.
A Passage to the British Raj is my small project of sorts, an attempt to chronicle and compile a host of material - books (A Passage to India, Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire, The Far Pavilions, The Siege of Krishnapur, Train to Pakistan, The Discovery of India etc), photos, videos, articles etc - that tell the story of the era preceding India's 'tryst with destiny' which can be viewed by anyone interested in the subject.
* This will include book reviews (for useful recommendations, check India- Book Recommendations), movie reviews, excerpts from books, snippets from articles, links to interesting websites, quotes, photographs and just about anything history and literature-wise relevant to the British Raj. I hope to post as and when something interesting comes my way and hopefully, once a week.
* This isn't a reading challenge, but I welcome everyone who is interested to learn more about the British Raj and the Indian independence movement to join this little project.
* You can read things I post, read books/watch movies related to the Raj and review them, share interesting links or information you find, post them on your blog as part of A Passage to the British Raj (as long as you make sure to link to this post).
* Feel free to get involved as per your convenience and leave a comment here to let me know. You do not need to be an expert on the history of the British Raj nor do you need to know a lot on the subject, as long as you're interested in reading about it now.
* Most crucially, there is no minimum/maximum reading limit or deadline, so enjoy this journey!
Finally, there are several interpretations, sometimes poles apart, of the history of British India and the birth of India and Pakistan. My interest lies solely in reading and trying to understand all sides of the picture. I don't claim to be an expert, merely someone who has a passion to understand the history that made her country.
That's just about everything and I do hope you will all join me in this exciting passage to the British Raj. Spread the word!