1947/48 saw the biggest break-up in the disgraceful dismemberment of the British Empire, whose most important ‘colony’ was India. Lord Mountbatten (q.v.) was sent to supervise the partition of India. At this time Kashmir was mostly populated with Muslims, though ruled by Hindus – lunacy on a grand scale. In October there was a Muslim-orchestrated uprising in the west, naturally supported across the border by Pakistan. Kashmir howled for help from India, and got some; but Indian troops would only act in exchange for Kashmir becoming part of the Indian Union. Continue reading
Also known as the ‘Indian Army’, this was a British – officered military force in India; the other ranks, corporals, sergeants and warrant officers were recruited from the native population. Even so, some purely European regiments managed to stay put until the early 1860s.
The Indian Army served outside India as well, and had a deserved reputation for ferocity and good discipline; it remained (at least until the Sepoy Rebellion) a staunch and integral part of the Pax Britannica. It creators were locally found guards employed in the protection of the East India Company, known as sepoys. Continue reading
Alexander II, the second son of Nicholas I was born in 1818. It is true but sad to say that the only significant reforms made in Russia in all the nineteenth century were carried out by him; yet his reward at the age of seventy-one was to be murdered.
As a boy and young man he liked to imitate his father’s admiration for autocracy, and announced that he had not the least intention of allowing any of the Czar’s powers to be diverted into a popularly elected parliamentary assembly, when he, too, became Czar. The surprising reforms probably came about because of the unsuccessful Crimean War (q.v.), which clearly showed the world that Russia was not the all-powerful military nation she aspired to be. Chiefly, there was the lack of money, a direct result of a ‘serf-based’ economy in a largely agricultural state. Continue reading
Spectator sports they are called, presumably because they are designed for watching by spectators. Soccer, cricket, boxing, tennis, rugby and athletics were nursed, improved and nurtured in hundreds of independent (public) schools in Victorian Britain. Some, like boxing and athletics, had existed in the time of the original Greek Olympics, but they would have become forgotten relics of the past if it had not been for ‘sportin’ instincts’ of young people from the British Isles. Continue reading
This is the second largest country in the world, and yet there is little mention of her in the media. Unless one of Canada’s great cities holds an Olympic Games, as did Montreal, you never hear about Canada. The same situation abounds with the two great islands of New Zealand. The reason for this lack of newsworthyness is probably that Canada (and New Zealand) are very well governed, exceedingly rich, and both are willing members of the Commonwealth of Nations. Continue reading
It is a much-noted historical fact (not a notion) that countries seeking empires require violent methods to keep them – once formed. Great Britain has not been backward in this respect. She may have been less violent than the Romans, more tolerant than the Spanish, less deluded than Bonaparte, but her 19th century wars in Afghanistan and Burma were, as a contemporary historian said, ‘a disgrace fraught with understandable reasons’. Continue reading
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (also known as the Soviet Union) used to occupy all the northern part of Asia, and a substantial part of Eastern Europe. Under that name, what was before, and is now again Russia lasted from 1936 to 1991. It comprised fifteen constituent republics. Continue reading
Area: 652,225 sq. km.
Population: nearly 23 million
Religions: Sunni Muslim 93% and Shiite Muslim 7%.
Ethnic Groups: Pathan (Pashto), Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, Chahar Aimak, Turkmen, Baluchi
Afghanistan belongs to the United Nations Organisation.
Afghanistan is a landlocked mountainous country in south/central Asia, astonishingly beautiful in parts, arid and unforgiving in others. It has the ill fortune to be bounded on the west by Iran, on the south and east by Pakistan, and on the north by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. These three ‘istans’ originally meant, in simpler form – Russia. Continue reading