The practice of sending young men and women to Britain for education had significant repercussions for the development of political thought in India and in shaping individuals who were to become prominent leaders. Indian students tended to come to Britain at a formative age (in their late teens and early twenties) when their ideas about their selves, their futures and the world were changing. Their images of Britain and India as states and societies were influenced by their years as students in the UK. For some, the distance and perspective away from India encouraged them to love and appreciate their own country and society more. They sought the company of other Indian students and fostered an Indian identity that was based on their experiences and relations with British society and institutions. Having been exposed to new ideologies and having learnt new political methods, Indian students grew in confidence. Upon their return to India, many became actively involved in the public political arena and utilized their foreign experiences to further their careers and enact political change. Indians had the opportunity to meet people of many different nationalities because the UK attracted so many foreign visitors, and thus they could learn about many new societies and political options for India. They were well educated and hence able to reflect upon their experiences. In fact, it was not only Indian leaders who had been educated in Britain, but many other individuals who led their countries to independence such as Jomo Kenyatta and Kwame Nkrumah, in Kenya and Ghana respectively. The comparison bears resonance in that they reveal how these individuals who had taken up opportunities of British education and engaged with British society were then able and willing to react and find the means to challenge British authority in their respective countries. They highlight the fact that many nationalist leaders in Britain’s former colonies came from elite backgrounds in terms of their wealth and social status, but were still able to lead mass-political movements. Many Indian students had developed their ideas of nationalism in Britain.

Although Western education and ideas had influenced Indian nationalists without the need to travel to Britain for further higher education, the high proportion of leaders that were educated in Britain points to a link between education abroad and the development of nationalist ideas or leadership

skills. In fact it was probably their leadership and organisational experience that were the most important tools they brought back from Britain. The INC was initially dominated by English-educated elites. A change in leadership and authority occurred from 1920, when the INC began to adopt Khadi dress; more delegates from the lower middle classes began to become involved in the Congress and there was an increasing use of Hindi and other vernaculars instead of English.1 Non-cooperation was involving more mass participation in the Indian nationalist movement. Despite these changes, those who had been educated in Britain continued to return with great prestige and influence. Education in Britain had been useful in teaching students how to adapt political concepts to India. Thus, many Indians from privileged backgrounds, having been educated in British institutions of higher education, returned to India with an authority that helped them to assume key roles in the development of the Indian political outlook in the years leading up to 1947.