Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

History

First Advisor

Lucy Chester

Second Advisor

Anne Lester

Abstract

The British Empire found itself challenged both at home and abroad following the Allied victory in World War I. Nationalism was burgeoning throughout its colonies, with India as Britain‟s greatest concern. At home the emergence of a Marxist regime in the newly established Soviet Union proved that a working class revolution was possible. With Britain fully industrialized, the Bolsheviks represented a mortal enemy to an imperial power such as the British Empire. Through a combination of hostile rhetoric originating from the Soviet Union, increased nationalist organization in India, and the historic rivalry in Central Asia, British leadership became wary of Soviet influence in its largest colony. The British colonial government was underfunded and under resourced in India when compared to its sheer size and population. Efforts to understand the growing political situation proved to be impossible. For the intelligence community in India, this meant that information had to be prioritized. The overall atmosphere of hostility to all things Bolshevik in British leadership predisposed its intelligence agencies to preferentially seek information on anything that could be connected back to the Soviet Union. What emerged was a picture of Bolshevik intrigue infiltrating into the Indian nationalist movement, allowing British leadership to partially blame the Soviet Union for the instability in India. The prejudice towards this strain of Indian nationalism was overplayed in the minds of the British, and allowed them to attach blame to a foreign power rather look towards their own treatment of Indians as reason enough to agitate for independence.

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