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Title: The Padang, the Sahib and the Sepoy : the role of the Indian Army in Malaya, 1945 to 1946
Author: Arthur, William T. O.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis analyses the nation-building work that the Indian Army undertook during the military administration of Malaya, 1945-6. This was a two-part process, taking in military-led relief work and a political reform scheme. Historians have conducted little work on the Indian Army’s role in the British return to empire in Malaya, thus the army’s crucial and nuanced role has been overlooked. This limits the understanding of the army’s institutional development and role in Malayan nation-building between 1945-6. This thesis redresses this. It argues that the military administration of Malaya encapsulated the culmination of wartime changes to the role of the Indian Army fighting soldier. Whereas before the war the Indian Army found it expedient to keep its soldiers isolated from current affairs, British experience during the Second World War instead suggested that soldiers educated in current affairs could be very effective. Concurrently, British military leaders began to think on the role of the Indian Army and its men after the war. They concluded that the Indian Army’s soldiers could become catalysts of national political and social development, and initially identified this as a role for the army in post-war India. Furthermore, it was felt that the Indian Army could contribute both to the Commonwealth and United Nations ideals. The return to Malaya encapsulated these changes to the conception of the Indian Army soldier and was a practical expression and measure of these. The soldiers became agents of political change, imperial re-entrenchment and administration – which this thesis terms ‘soldier-administrators’. The Indian Army, it is argued, was deployed consciously as a nation-building force, using the new thinking on the role of Indian Army soldiers. In so doing, the Indian Army partook in targeted schemes for military relief, political reform and nation-building to try to build the new Malayan nation.
Supervisor: Grey, Daniel; Misra, Anna-Maria Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of Asia & Far East ; International,imperial and global history ; history ; India ; Singapore ; Malaya ; Malaysia ; Britain ; Commonwealth ; Indian Army