chapter  3
6 Pages

The British Debate

Whereas the earlier Russian advances did not attract much notice in Britain or India, no doubt because they were taking place in obscure and still distant regions, it was an altogether different matter when, in the 1850s, the Russians started to engage the Central Asian khanates and the Persians occupied Herat. There was then a keen debate in India about the best means of defending the western frontier. General John Jacob, the Commissioner in Baluchistan, urged the GovernorGeneral, Lord Canning, that what was required was the seizure and holding of points beyond it:

A war within our own territory with a European army might be ruinous to our reputation, and might entirely undermine our strength, although that strength might have sufficed successfully to meet a world in arms in a field beyond our own boundary.1