Hope and Despair: Mutiny, Rebellion and Death in India, 1946
Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Delhi
This book recounts the story of the thousands of Indians–sailors and forgotten working class individuals–who braved British bullets and bayonets on the streets of Bombay and Karachi, during the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) Mutiny and the attendant civil rebellions of 1946. World War II in India was marked by inflation, food shortages, the great Bengal Famine and rising nationalism. While the Indian labouring classes bore the brunt of the War in the Indian cities and villages, millions of others became wartime recruits in the hope of a better future. The end of the War, however, brought neither prosperity nor peace to India. Thousands of demobilized servicemen entered the employment market precisely in the months when wage and job-related strikes rocked Indian cities almost every day. Great social anxiety about the future gripped the Indian masses and created a collective consciousness of rebellion woven around the slogans and symbols of wartime Indian nationalism. The INA trials and strikes in the Royal Indian Air Force in 1945 paved the way for the political upheaval of February 1946.