1940-1949 | Divide and rule | India

Churchill – Hindu-Muslim feud ‘the bulwark of British rule in India’

Churchill – Ministry of Information photo in the public domain.

2 February 1940

On 2 February 1940, during discussions in Cabinet, Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, strongly defended the status-quo in British India, blocking a proposal which would have allowed the subcontinent to draw up its own constitution once the war ended. He expressed shock when it was suggested that Hindus and Muslims should be encouraged to work together, since British dominance and control depended on an unwavering commitment to the principle of divide and rule. According to the Cabinet minutes he argued that if such unity ‘were to be brought about the immediate result would be that the united communities would join in showing us the door. He regarded the Hindu-Muslim feud as the bulwark of British rule in India.’1


  1. Daniel Todman, Britain’s War: Into Battle 1937-41, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2016  p. 236.

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