August 2017 – India League Banner, about 1930

India League Banner NMLH.1993.608This month commemorates 70 years since India gained independence from British rule.

In 1877 Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India. In the preceding years, the British had taken control of many areas of India. Britain benefitted from India’s natural and human resources by establishing relationships with local rulers and controlling trade. The resulting poverty experienced by many Indians and the undermining of Indian culture motivated groups to organise to protest.

In 1919 British colonial troops fired upon protestors who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, killing hundreds. Known as the ‘Amritsar massacre’, it caused outrage in India and Britain. Following the event, non-violent protests guided by nationalist leaders such as Mahatma Ghandi intensified to resist British rule.

This banner was made by the India League who formed in Britain in 1930. Led by V.K. Krishna Menon, the League used meetings and events to increase awareness of the negative effects of British rule in India. The organisation also assisted speakers from India to engage directly with sympathetic politicians in Britain.

Acts of civil disobedience combined with widespread support by Indian troops during World War II led to the Indian Independence Act being approved by the British in July 1947, dividing British India into Pakistan and India. Independence was achieved the following month.

This banner (NMLH.1993.608) is not currently on display, if you wish to view it please contact: collections@phm.org.uk