A. Martin Wainwright
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The National Indian Association
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The National Indian Association (NIA) was important because it pursued goals and served functions that were acceptable to both the Imperial Government and its critics. For most of the members of the NIA, the inoffensive trappings of Indian womanhood need not change so long as Indian women were allowed to interact, and were capable of interacting, in polite society. The behaviour of Indian men toward women in general and toward Indian women in particular, signified the eligibility of these men for inclusion in polite society. The role of women lay at the heart of the imperial class hierarchy. Class was the language that Indians usually used to negotiate their rank in British society. Discussion of Indian social hierarchy revolved around ways in which it was an obstacle to India's progress and the methods by which India's elite, with the help of Britain's, could effect social reform.

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‘The better class’ of Indians

Social rank, imperial identity, and South Asians in Britain 1858–1914


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