Cause and Effect of World War I and World War II on India

Subject: 🏺 History
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1396
Topics: World War 1, 👑 Colonialism, 💣 World War 2
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The argument of this paper is based on the cause and effect of World War 1 and World War II on India.  Therefore, the paper is intended to describe and show the relationship between what triggered the two wars and how they affected the Indians.  With the help of the currently available literature, I will be able to provide detailed and rich descriptions of the causes and impacts of the wars on the country indicated.   As a result, it is imminent that the study will create a chance for students to gain profound insights of the connection between causes and impacts of the two historic wars on India.  The World War 1 began in 1914 and ended in 1918 while the World War II took place between 1939 and 1945.

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 Cause and Effect of First World War on India

India joined World War I for a number of reasons. India acceded to offer their support to the British who were one of the main participants of the war. India is a commonwealth country, meaning that there was an association between the nation and the government of Britain. Indian tried their best to help British by contributing human resources and materials to make an impact in the war (Gupta 122).  In this case, Indians supported British their by sending their troops to join British soldiers and take part in the First World War. Indians were under British rule during the Great War, so they believed it was paramount to contribute materials and services in order to achieve their aspirations of gaining of independence or self-governance.  In other words, the prospects of Indians’ involvement in the war were to achieve significant advancements in the political situations in their country. Given that Indians were under the reign of British at the time, their main political goal was to acquire independence.  Studies indicate that Indian contributions to the Great War were a scheme for meeting their expectations of living in a democratic country. Alternatively, if the country would not gain independence, then the people of India anticipated acquiring a significant amount of self-rule, implying attainment of strong political position of was critical to Indians (Gupta 122).

According to Gupta, Indians involvement in the war did not make British to grant them improved political status, including having a political system where people expected to govern themselves and achieving what they fought for in Europe (p. 122).  The rich and poor Indians thrilled British for the efforts they made in the First World War, but their expectations were not met. This is an indication that Indian sacrifices were not enough to convince the British to stop their ways of oppressing the people of India. The mass of killing of Indians by British officials in 1919, Jallianwala Bagh massacre, was an indication that British did not stop oppressing Indians following the end of the Great War. However, during and after the War, India underwent significant changes in political situations. Studies show that the government of Britain recognized Indian support in the war by formally requesting Indians to participate in the Imperial War Conference, in which they gave them a chance to manifest themselves in 1917 Montague Declaration as well as granted the King’s commission to the people of India (Gupta 128). Although these changes led to improved India political system and speeded up Indian aspirations for self-rule, they were not enough to meet their expectations.

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Likewise, during the war years, Indian were changed both socially and economically. To be brief, this demonstrates that the First World War participation transformed the people of India, as it resulted in economic and social changes. For example, the rapid expansion of military took place because of Indians sacrifices to join the war. Other changes that occurred as a result of war participation were “decline of the cavalry, increased technological use in the military, and rationalization of supplies” (Gupta, 128). Further, because Indians part in the Great War, there was higher degrees of racial discrimination among British and Indian soldiers (Davis). For instance, British commanders mistreated Indian soldiers while British officers were in higher positions of power than Indians officers due to differences in race, culture, and ethnicity.

Cause and Effect of Second World War on India

The Second World War lasted for about five years from 1939 to 1945 and was controlled by the United Kingdom (Khan 27). The Allied Forces made up of British troops controlling India at that time, had recruited Indians to fight in the war against Germany.  The fact that India has been controlled by the British, it acted as an operational base for the Allied Forces. For Instance a base camp for American soldiers known as China Burma India Theater located in India (Khan 39).  Indians were fighting in large numbers across the world, for example, the European theater against Germany in Northern Africa. The Indians competed in the South Asian region by fighting the Japanese in Burma. In addition, in August 1945, they were helping British soldiers in the liberation of such colonies as Singapore and Hong Kong.

The most substantial political party in India named Indian National Congress was making political demands before joining the war. However, the British refused to force an imprisonment of some of the leaders in the India National Congress.  Elsewhere, The Muslim League helped the British with over 87,000 Indian soldiers joining in the world war. In 1941, Japan was also using an Indian army known as the Indian National Army to fight against the British (Roy 113). Indian involvement in the war continued with the Allied forces getting a lot of resources from India to fight against Germany and Japan. This was done through supply of industrial and financial resources to the British army during the war. The Allied forces were always getting manpower supply by Indian troops through the Indian Ocean. By the end of 1943, more than 2.5 million Indian soldiers were fighting in World War II mainly against Axis Forces.

Many Indian men were recruited becoming soldiers of war, with thousands killed in the war. For example, the Battle of Imphal, this remains the bloodiest battle in the World War II. In more than two weeks of intense struggle, thousands of soldiers lost their lives.  According to (Roy 94), Britain would have lost the war without the help from India. By 1942, the British were able to recapture the Axis-occupied territory. That happened after the invasion of Japan forces using heavy artillery in the Pacific taking control of the land occupied by the Japan forces.

In 1943, there was famine that killed a lot of civilians because of the war. The Bengal famine attacked India because most of the economic resources channeled into the world war. The famine was so devastating because millions of lives were lost during that time. The ever-increasing demands of the war were a burden as this was characterized by mismanagement of the public funds.  Many people died after the battle and with about 30 to 50 million people lost their lives during the war. Many people who died were civilians.

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The world war also affected the politics of India with Mahatma Gandhi asking the British to leave India after the war had ended. Mahatma Gandhi gave a speech in 1942 that changed India and called for their independence. Many political fighters were imprisoned and detained for opposing the British Governor, Lord Linlithgow. Also, immediately after the release of India from colonization from the British, the Muslim League emerged calling for the separation of India into two countries- Pakistan and India. Another consequence of the war was the expansion of the Indian Army. By the end of the War, the Royal Army of India was one of the biggest and hostile forces in the world registering a total of 250,000 men.

In conclusion, India joined both World War I and World War II because she wanted to use these opportunities to struggle for independence. It is understood that Indians played vital roles in preventing Germany from conquering Europe.  Given that Indian soldiers and volunteers took part in both wars, they supported British hence they were defeated in the battle against Germans. It is also critical to note that taking part in the wars was a route that Indians used to fight for their independence.

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  1. Bourke-White, Margaret, et al. Witness to Life and Freedom: Margaret Bourke-White in India and Pakistan. 2010.
  2. Davis, A. E. The Empire at war: British and Indian perceptions of empire in the First World War. Diss. Honours thesis, University of Tasmania, 2008.
  3. Gupta, Arvind. “Indian Contribution to the First World War.” Journal of Defence Studies, vol. 8, no. 3, 2014, pp. 121-133.
  4. Gupta, Arvind. Contribution of the Indian Armed Forces to the Second World War: Book Release and Panel Discussion. Institute for defense studies and analyses, 2014.
  5. Khan, Yasmin. The Raj at War: A People’s History of India’s Second World War. 2016.
  6. Roy, Kaushik. “India and World War II.” 2016.
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