The British-Indian Connection

The British-Indian Connection: The Axis of Liberal Modernity
Sat 24 June 10.30-10.50am
Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS, University of London, London WC1H 0XG



Author Roderick Matthews presents a unique and penetrating view. The Anglo-Indian connection created the first, stable liberal democracies in both Europe and Asia. Why? Because the British were forced to think beyond the problems of self-government, then progressive Indians took the opportunity to adapt the language of liberal rights and the machinery of imperial government to suit their own purposes. All this was made possible by the most beneficial thing that the British brought to India, which was not capitalism, law, or railways, but internal disarmament.

Born in London in 1956, Roderick Matthews read Modern History at Balliol College, 1975-78, and received a First Class degree.

He is currently a freelance writer specialising in Indian history and South Asian affairs. He has written articles and reviews for a number of British and Indian publications, including the Literary Review, the Observer, the Independent on Sunday, and the Times of India.

He has been interested in Indian history ever since he learned, as a teenager, that one of his great-grandmothers, Lady Cecilia Roberts, had looked after M K Gandhi when he fell ill on a visit to London in 1914. Lady Cecilia also unknowingly made Gandhi break his vow not to drink cow’s milk. The Mahatma, as recorded in his Autobiography, generously forgave her. Her husband, Charles Roberts, who was Under Secretary of State for India from 1913-14, then ordered Gandhi to return to India for the sake of his health, thus saving his life and inadvertently bringing about the end of the British Empire.

More recently he discovered that another of his great-grandmothers, Maud Jennings, had been tutor to the Nehru household in Allahabad, while her husband, George, was Professor of English and Logic at Muir Central College, Allahabad (1895-1905). George was later Principal there (1905-12), and was awarded the CIE for services to Indian education.

Roderick’s first book, The Flaws in the Jewel: Challenging the Myths of British India was published in 2010, and his second, Jinnah vs. Gandhi, was a bestseller in India in 2012. These were followed by a third, The Great Indian Rope Trick: Does the Future of Democracy Lie with India? In 2015. He has recently finished a fourth – a narrative history of British India.

He lives in London.

Books by Roderick Matthews.