March 2024

6:00 PM IST

Online Via Zoom


The Ghadar Movement and the Indian Diaspora in Thailand, 1914–1917

Indian Ocean and Beyond: Outward Bound from Gujarat
Pimmanus Wibulsilp | Speaker at Ahmedabad University

Pimmanus Wibulsilp

Lecturer, Department of History
Faculty of Arts
Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok

The Ghadar Movement of 1913–18 was one of the early but ultimately unsuccessful attempts of a group of Indians to overthrow the British Raj. What makes this movement particularly outstanding among Indian freedom struggles was its extensive “transregional” terrain of operation across the Indo-Pacific region. The United States, Japan, China, the Philippines, Singapore, British Malaya, and Burma were among the major sites where their networks and activities existed. Thailand is also often referred to as one crucial location. However, there is still no comprehensive study discussed about this country related to the issue. With the help of a set of rarely used Thai documents titled “the Indians who are planning to cause mutiny against the British” kept in the Thai National Archives, Wibulsilp mainly argues that Thailand was not merely functioning as a passage of the Ghadarites from abroad to return to India through its borders, but instead that different parts of the country were harboring their various seditious missions. There activities were carried out not only by the overseas Indians travelling from abroad, but also by many of “local Indians” in Thailand who turned themselves into active underground revolutionaries, as well as “allies” from diverse Asian nations. Hitherto, almost all the literature that represents the Indian ethic groups in Thailand is focused on their economic, social, and cultural lives. One component that has been constantly left out is their political ventures. The absence leads to a general impression that Indian communities in Thailand have been politically inactive. Wibulsilp’s research suggests on the contrary that at least during the first half of the twentieth century, many Indian migrants in Thailand had never cut themselves from the political sentiments shared by their fellow countrymen both in India and worldwide, and the Indo-Pacific Oceans played significant role in maintaining and strengthening their connections.

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Pimmanus Wibulsilp

Pimmanus Wibulsilp is currently a lecturer at the Department of History, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Her academic work is rooted in the history of early-modern South Asia from the Mughal Empire to British Raj. Her interest is specially on its political dynamics, cross-cultural encounters and trans-regional networks and interactions. Currently she is broadening her research scope to explore the history of Thai-Indian relations, Indian diaspora in Thailand Islamic world, and Western Asia.