Though a colony at the time, India actively supported the war effort in its bid to gain Dominion status. The overwhelming majority of mainstream political opinion in 1914 was united in the view that if India desired greater responsibility and political autonomy, it must also be willing to share in the burden of Imperial defence. Gandhi attended the Viceroy’s War Conference in Delhi in April 1918 and agreed to recruit men for the war. Contrary to British fears of a revolt, there was an outpouring of support for the British war efforts from the mainstream political leadership and, as a result, India contributed immensely to the war effort in terms of both men and material.

Bengal and Punjab, however, were gripped by anti-colonial revolutionary fervour and initiated uprisings and agitations, frequently in coordination with similar movements overseas. These organisations, aimed at overthrowing the British rule in India gained further traction with Indians and intensified their agitation in the aftermath of incidents like the Komagata Maru episode and the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. The resulting martial law, large scale dissatisfaction with the inadequacy of British legislations, British apathy to the Khilafat issue, and widespread economic distress further intensified anti-British sentiments and the struggle for independence by showcasing the hollowness of British wartime promises of Swaraj.

  • About Us

    The Joint USI-MEA Centenary Commemoration project highlights the oft-forgotten role of India in the First World War and commemorates those soldiers who served during the War. The project is aimed at exploring India’s engagement in the war from a variety of perspectives.
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  • Project Partners


    The United Service Institution of India
    Rao Tula Ram Marg (Opposite Signals Enclave)
    Post Bag No 8, Vasant Vihar PO, New Delhi - 110 057

    Ph: +91-11-26147464