Feudale o Federale? Il dibattito sulla “struttura” del khanato di Kalat all’interno del Government of India come giustificazione dell’interferenza coloniale

Translated title of the contribution: [Autom. eng. transl.] Feudal or Federal? The debate on the "structure" of the Kalat khanate within the Government of India as a justification for colonial interference

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The article looks at the relations between the British colonial administration in the Indian sub-continent and local traditional authorities in Baluchistan, a wide, arid, depopulated region between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Baluchistan is a marginal area with a strong strategic value for the British Empire, due to its position along the North-West Frontier. At the end of the 19th century, this natural “crossroads” was under the nominal control of the khanate of Kalat, a weak tribal chiefdom created in 1666, plagued by never-ending feuds among the khan of Kalat and his tribal chiefs. Particularly tensed were Kalat relations with its so-called “Feudatory States”, that is the areas of Las Bela, Makran and Kharan, whose chiefs struggled for regaining complete independence or total authonomy. British colonial officials exploited this political instability to strengthen British colonial control over this strategic region, further weakening the khan’s authority and prestige, on the contrary emphasizing the role of local tribal chiefs. A decision taken after a long debate within the British colonial administration (the India Office Archives still contain a great deal of documents on this dispute) on the “real” constitutional nature of the khanate: if it was a “federal state” rather than a “feudal” one. In particular, Sir Robert Sandeman, the first Agent to the Governor General (A.G.G.) in Baluchistan, played a pivotal role in defining British political and military strategy towards the region, bending and manipulating local power relations to better serve their interests, allowing the colonial Administration of the Government of India to control Baluchistan without excessively overloading its own budget. However, this policy had the indirect effect to offer the A.G.G. a stronger personal power, something Sandeman was willing to obtain. As noted by D. Simanti: «Unadministered tribal territory across the Indus was virgin land for re-writing personal political reputations and realizing dreams of personal power, all in the name of empire. Sandeman's strategy in Baluchistan was an exposition in the linkage between imperial ideology and personal interest, which fueled successive waves of British expansion into tribal territory on the Indus frontier».
Translated title of the contribution[Autom. eng. transl.] Feudal or Federal? The debate on the "structure" of the Kalat khanate within the Government of India as a justification for colonial interference
Original languageItalian
Title of host publicationSguardi sull'Asia. Scritti in onore di Michelguglielmo Torri
EditorsM Casolari, C.M Tresso
Pages85-100
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Baluchistan
  • British India

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