Have you ever wondered what the Indian Passport looked like before our nation achieved independence? In this captivating glimpse into the past, we will explore a video archive showcasing an ancient British Indian passport that once belonged to a government clerk during the era of British colonial rule.
The British Indian passport is a tangible piece of history, documenting the travels of its holders to various destinations within and outside the Indian subcontinent. For example, the passport shown in the video archive belonged to a government clerk who traveled to Iraq, Iran, and different regions within British India. His passport photo was in black and white, starkly contrasting the vibrant and colorful ones we see today. Atop the document proudly sat the inscription “British Indian Passport,” just above an emblem that symbolized its colonial origins.
How Did It Look Like?
The passport cover was navy blue, featuring the emblem of the British Empire (i.e., the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom) emblazoned on the front cover. Above the emblem, the words ‘British Indian Passport’ were printed, while ‘Indian Empire’ appeared below. The passport text was in English and French, with additional details handwritten.
A note inside the first page of the passport reads, “These are to request and require in the name of the Viceroy and Governor-General of India all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford him every assistance and protection of which he or she may stand in need.”
Why Is It Important?
The British Indian passport serves as a crucial artifact, offering insights into the history and culture of the Indian subcontinent before independence. It shows us how the region’s people traveled, communicated, and interacted with each other and the world. It also shows us how the British colonial rule shaped and influenced their lives, identities, and aspirations. It also reminds us of the remarkable chapter in our nation’s history, when we achieved our long-awaited independence and freedom from foreign domination.
The British Indian passport was a unique and elegant document that represented the diverse and complex identities of the people living under British colonial rule. It also documented their travels, interactions with the world, and aspirations and struggles for freedom.
With the end of the British Empire in India in 1947, the issuance of these passports stopped, marking a remarkable chapter in our nation’s history and heritage.