British Empire
The end of the British empire - India
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British government paper on the strength of democracy in India in 1959
(Catalogue ref: CAB 21/4571)
  • This is a short extract from a long British cabinet paper on how well democracy had taken root in the countries that had become independent from the British empire.
  • The general tone of this report is positive about India. India had a large force of trained administrators who had served under British rule. This definitely made it much easier to make democracy work.
  • The report does have some concerns. Some of the individual state governments in India had become Communist. Communism and British-style democracy were opposing ways of running a government. The British believed these governments might be a threat to the national government of India.
  • A main concern of the report is the Congress Party. During the campaign for independence the Indian National Congress was united in its aim. However, when India became independent different members of the Congress party had different aims for India.
  • The Congress leader Nehru managed to hold the different groups together, but would this continue after he retired?
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