ABSTRACT

The transfer of power in South Asia was an event of major importance in the recent history of the British Empire/Commonwealth . Inspired by the steady progress of Professor Mansergh's Transfer of Power volumes, historians are hard at work dissecting the minutiae of the constitutional and political processes that led to the establishment of the independent republics of India and Pakistan in August 1947 . This detailed considera­ tion of decolonization has also led to contemplation of the basis of British relations with its erstwhile dependencies after the ending of formal rule . 1 In one sense the study of the post-independence years is vital even to the exegesis of the decolonization process , because until we know exactly what changed on 15 August 1947 we cannot accurately assess what the motives of those involved in that process were , or what significance their actions , foreseen or unintended , actually had . The granting of independ­ ence in a Commonwealth context became the standard British decol­ onization strategy in the years that followed. An investigation of the links that remained between India and Britain after independence can help us assess what role the Commonwealth tie played in maintaining, or trans­ forming, the close association between London and New Delhi that had been the essence of the colonial relationship .