History Today at Hatchards

The Making of the Hybrid Raj, 1700-1857

At certain times of the day long queues snake out of the Indian high Commission in London into the surrounding streets. Anyone with the fortitude to join one of these queues will eventually witness scenes of more or less controlled mayhem inside India House, as would-be travellers to India present their passports for visas to be stamped on them, and then later, as they struggle to recover their passports. Both the size and the composition of the queues, young backpackers, more sedate tourists, business people and huge numbers of British citizens of Indian origin, show how closely inter- twined Britain and India still are. For the historically-minded, the scenes inside the High Commission may evoke something of the British-Indian past. British traditions of bureaucratic formalism are, it would seem, being genially subverted by other ways of doing things.

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