Each year the members of the Royal family and people across the UK observe Remembrance Day, commemorating soldiers and Armed Forces who had laid their lives in the World Wars. And lest we forget, the diaspora takes an active part on Remembrance Day to pay special tributes to the Indian soldiers who had fought for the British Empire in the Wars.
The UK launch of the book ‘True To Their Salt’ at the Nehru Centre, London, brought into focus an absolute must-read for the British Indians and essentially for every Indian who revers their roots and history. The book launch event was followed by a reflective conversation between the author and historian-author Andrew Lownie.
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About the Book
Publishing in the 75th year of Indian Independence, Ravindra Rathee’s comprehensive book reveals and examines the pivotal contribution made by Indian soldiers in the expansion and downfall of the British Empire.
‘True to Their Salt’ is a radical retelling of how India came to be colonised by a handful of Europeans in the eighteenth century. Told from the perspective of Indian soldiers, it portrays how the British held sway over the country for almost two centuries before their sudden departure from India in 1947.
This book looks at the world of the Indian soldiers who enlisted in the armies of then-British India. They served with such dedication and loyalty to the extent when the soldiers effectively controlled the coercive power of the Raj.
The first comprehensive single-volume history of Indian soldiers in the British Empire written with flair and rich detail, ‘True to Their Salt’ offers a rare glimpse into history.
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The British held India by an army predominantly comprising Indian soldiers and relied on their fidelity. This loyalty stood the test of time but was eventually breached during the Second World War, leading to India’s Independence. This book looks at the world of the Indian soldiers who enlisted in the armies of India under British rule.
Indian soldiers contributed to the British Empire and Great Britain’s development from a small, relatively poor island to a dominant military and industrial power. Under the British Crown, following the Mutiny of 1857, the Indian Army became a vital link to holding the Empire together. From the jungles of Southeast Asia to the deserts of Africa and the hills of northeast India to the forests of Burma, the Indian Army would become the pride of the Raj. Upon India’s Independence, the Army continued to be one of the finest inheritances of the Empire.
In India, however, the recording of this military history has been piecemeal. Very little literature has brought together the rich history of the Indian Army, with its vast experience in international and national wars.
About the Author
Ravindra Rathee seeks to fill this literary vacuum — and brings a personal perspective to this urgency. His research stems from his grandfather’s service to the Raj during the Second World War. True to Their Salt is not just a story of war and bloodshed for another country. It is an in-depth survey of the professional layers involved in the running of the military. And how the Indian soldiers preserved their faith and dealt with their frustration at the racism they encountered.
With persuasive flair and rich detail, Rathee rewrites India’s military history, even as he tells a page-turning story that takes the reader through the turbulent centuries of British Indian history.
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“This book started as a personal research project on the military life of my grandfather. It soon took a life of its own. As I uncovered layers of narrative surrounding soldiers of the pre-partition Army, it was clear to me that there was a bigger story to tell. Colonisation of India, and her liberation, are best understood by delving deep into the instrument that achieved these contradictory objectives—the Colonial Army and the soldiers who marched in its ranks. I am delighted to be able to tell this story on India’s 75th Independence anniversary, which also coincides with the centenary of my grandfather’s birth,” Rathee said.
Rathee started his career as a journalist with the Times of India in Delhi, writing on human rights and conflict resolution. After graduating from St Stephen’s College in Delhi, he did an MA in politics at the University of Hull as a British Chevening Scholar. For the past two decades, he has worked as a banker. This is his first book, stemming from extensive research on the military life of his grandfather.
*Info: True to Their Salt