Two questions about British India

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,754
SoCal
1. Why did Britain expand British India into the Northwest Frontier Province and into Balochistan? I mean, the former is overwhelmingly Pashtun and the latter is overwhelmingly Pashtun-Baloch and both the Pashtun and Baloch are Iranic peoples in contrast to the Indo-Aryan peoples of the rest of northern British India:



Did these two territories provide a more defensible frontier for British India, or what? I mean, they certainly helped aggravate tensions between British India/Britain and Afghanistan due to the fact that Afghanistan felt that it was deprived of the right to rule over a massive part of its Pashtun kinsmen. Was this aggravation of tensions actually worth it?

2. Just how much was Britain genuinely worried about a Russian conquest of India in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries? I mean, to me, the idea of a Russian conquest of India seems extremely stupid due to the fact that such a move would have totally destroyed Russia's European and Christian character. Even before World War I and probably in the 19th century as well, India had much, much more people than Russia had. What exactly would be the advantage to Russia in conquering British India that would have outweighed the overwhelming demographic threat that such a Russian conquest would have actually presented to Russia?

Great Russians were already only 45% of Russia's population before World War I and even including both Ukrainians and Belarusians would have only raised this figure up to about 65-70%. With British India--and presumably Afghanistan as well due to it being on the way to British India--being conquered, Eastern Slavs and even Slavs in general are certainly going to be outnumbered by Indians. Would Russia have actually been willing to accept this? I mean, even when France conquered and annexed Algeria, Algeria's population was about 15 times less than France's population was; once Algeria's population began exploding, France withdrew from Algeria in part to maintain its European and Christian character.

Any thoughts on both of my questions here?
 

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,739
New Delhi, India
With Afghanistan/Pashtuns, it was a question of security, against a probable adversary, Russia. They were worried, that is why they attacked in spite of initial loss.
With Baluchistan, it was a question of arriving at an arrangement and acceptance of British sovereignty. On, ground things remained much the same.
My general observation.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,754
SoCal
With Afghanistan/Pashtuns, it was a question of security, against a probable adversary, Russia. They were worried, that is why they attacked in spite of initial loss.
With Baluchistan, it was a question of arriving at an arrangement and acceptance of British sovereignty. On, ground things remained much the same.
My general observation.
What about my second question here?
 

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,781
USA
Though phenotypically the dividing line between Iranian and Indian peoples had been the Indus river, Indian cultural and political influence had spread westwards beyond it historically, towards Afghanistan and Baluchistan (see maps of Mughal, Maurya empires). As the British started conquering India and moved northwest that reality began to become clear to them. They knew that the conquest of India wouldn't be complete without those regions.

I believe British also wanted to annex Afghanistan into India, but its fierce resistance kept it as a vassal state, that they then used as a buffer between India and Russia.
 
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Larrey

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Sep 2011
5,741
Russian ports in a warm sea, support for Indian princes looking to rebel against British rule screwing with British control. Never saw either Russians or British seriously assuming Russia looked to outright conquest of ALL of India. Those ports and a stable upland surrounding them would do nicely – Persia or Baluchistan and the like would do. The Russian empire expanded very busily in the direction, and really wasn't that far off from British India.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,754
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Russian ports in a warm sea, support for Indian princes looking to rebel against British rule screwing with British control. Never saw either Russians or British seriously assuming Russia looked to outright conquest of ALL of India. Those ports and a stable upland surrounding them would do nicely – Persia or Baluchistan and the like would do. The Russian empire expanded very busily in the direction, and really wasn't that far off from British India.
Was Britain also afraid of eventually losing Karachi to the Russians?
 

Aupmanyav

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Jun 2014
5,739
New Delhi, India
I don't think so. But the British did not want Russians in Arabian Sea (like what Larrey said).
 
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Sep 2012
1,093
Tarkington, Texas
Keep in mind that half the territory on that Indian map was not ruled directly by the Company. You also have the Princely States. The Raj did not care what language the enemy spoke. If they were in British India long enough many would be speaking Urdu.

Pruitt
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,741
Was Britain also afraid of eventually losing Karachi to the Russians?
Well, in the more fevered imaginations of turn of the century 1900 geopolitics most ANYTHING could be feared. Including the little yellow people riding the Transibirian railroad to conquer Europe... There were massive railroad projects in Africa that made little financial sense, but spoke to geopolitical fears about adversaries contesting control VERY hypothetically.

So yes, if we cast about wide enough, I believe we should be perfectly able to find some British imperial pundits voicing those kinds of concerns.

Not only was the concept of "geopolitics" coined back then to cater to that kind of global thinking about imperial risks-There was a whole genre of fiction focusing on scenarios for "the coming great war". Not all of it really made sense.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,463
Dispargum
2. Just how much was Britain genuinely worried about a Russian conquest of India in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries? I mean, to me, the idea of a Russian conquest of India seems extremely stupid due to the fact that such a move would have totally destroyed Russia's European and Christian character. Even before World War I and probably in the 19th century as well, India had much, much more people than Russia had. What exactly would be the advantage to Russia in conquering British India that would have outweighed the overwhelming demographic threat that such a Russian conquest would have actually presented to Russia?

Great Russians were already only 45% of Russia's population before World War I and even including both Ukrainians and Belarusians would have only raised this figure up to about 65-70%. With British India--and presumably Afghanistan as well due to it being on the way to British India--being conquered, Eastern Slavs and even Slavs in general are certainly going to be outnumbered by Indians. Would Russia have actually been willing to accept this? I mean, even when France conquered and annexed Algeria, Algeria's population was about 15 times less than France's population was; once Algeria's population began exploding, France withdrew from Algeria in part to maintain its European and Christian character.
Is there any evidence the Czars were concerned about a demographic time bomb? That doesn't sound like the Czars or any other imperialist power. Britain had only a small population but had no problem ruling 1/4 of the world's population. Equality of all peoples was not a British concern. I don't think the Czars were any different in that regard. Communism, on the other hand, did have at least a theory of equality. Russians maintaining control of a diverse Soviet Union was problematic. How does one reconcile minority rule by Russians with the Communist ideal of equality? But I don't think the Czars cared about equality nor did they have any problem with minority Russian rule.