Keir Hardie and India
Keir Hardie visited India from 18 September 1907 to 17 October 1907.
His deep involvement in the movement for Indian Independence broadened the vision of Labour regarding conditions in India and began the process of giving Labour a viable imperial and colonial policy which bore fruit in 1947. He is fondly remembered in India to this day.
He captured his impressions of India in a series of letters published in the Labour Leader. On his return the ILP published a booklet written by Hardie that drew on those letters.
Jonathan Hislop has written a useful paper on Keir Hardie's international travels and his visit to India. He quotes the Times, which was outraged by his visit:
"We have never doubted the power for mischief which persons like Mr. Keir Hardie possess, nor their readiness to exert those powers. By selecting Eastern Bengal as the theatre for the display of his qualities as a demagogue, he has given conclusive proof that the estimate we had formed of his criminal ignorance, or his yet more criminal recklessness, was all too just."
The National Library of Scotland holds the Minto family papers. The 1st Earl was Governor-General of India and the 4th Earl was Viceroy. Among the papers is a letter dated 8 October 1907 from the then Labour Party leader, James Keir Hardie, to his fellow Scot, Gilbert, 4th Earl of Minto, the Viceroy.
'It may not have escaped your notice that I am at the present time visiting India', Hardie writes from Varanasi. His pointed opening words perhaps reveal his awareness of heavy-handed imperial police surveillance during his visit to India.
However his Simla visit to the good-natured Minto went well, the latter declaring: 'I rather liked him ... though much of what he said is entirely wrong-headed there are grains of truth in some of it.' - praise indeed!