INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 74 (11/8/1944)

This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: INR 74).


I. "RAILWAYS ENSURE SAFETY FIRST" A passenger train collision with a concrete block, placed across the line, is staged by rail officials in India. Scenes of the crash in slow motion. Commentary notes "the greatest single cause of high death rolls is always telescoping...when one carriage ploughs its way through another. In this crash there was no telescoping". Officials including the Chief Engineer inspect the wreckage, and the new buffer with flanges, made to prevent the opposite buffer slipping under its guard.

II. "A GIFT TO THE TROOPS" In Madras, the Governor Sir Arthur Hope meets Mr Victoria, who has built a recreation centre for Indian and British soldiers, "Mr Victoria's handsome gift for Victory".

III. "CARE AND EDUCATION FOR DESTITUTE CHILDREN" The Governor of Bengal, Richard Gardiner Casey, visits a hostel for destitute children although commentary notes, "these children aren't destitute any longer. They're fed and clothed and looked after as every little citizen of India has right to be". A destitute person is "a glaring example of social waste". Scenes of social workers and the opening of Bombay's Destitute Children Hostel by Sir John and Lady Colville. "Nation building begins with body building". Scenes of children in classroom.

IV. "INDIAN AIR FORCE IN TRAINING, IN SPORT AND IN ACTION" Sir John Colville, Governor of Bombay, presides over the passing out parade of the Indian Air Force at Poona with Cadet Zakharia winning the Sword of Honour. Air Commodore Vincent is present at the ceremony. Air Vice Marshal Thomas watches the Indian Air Force (IAF) hockey team playing on the North West Frontier. Wing Commander Mukherjee is the Commanding Officer. Thomas leaves by plane. Scenes of IAF in action in Arakan, Burma, building bashas (makeshift tents) to protect against monsoon and reconstructing runways with machinery and mesh for the pilots to land on. Scenes of fighter crews scrambling into action and planes in flight.

V. "THE SUPREME COMMANDER ON THE BURMA FRONT" Lord Louis Mountbatten, the 'Supremo', tours the Arakan in Burma, inspecting troops and seeing a captured tank. Mountbatten talks to Indian officers and the troops.


Summary: film not viewed; synopses based on commentary sheets.



Indian News Parade 74 offers a further update on the Bengal Famine. In issue 62, the newsreel had claimed that the famine had now been defeated, and this issue reflects an increasing focus within the newsreel on the welfare work now performed by the British within these areas. For example, issue 90 shows Mrs Casey, the governor’s wife, visiting a boy’s orphanage and handing out sweets, while Indian News Parade 96 shows the governor visiting a blind school in Calcutta.

Historian Paul Greenough examined the findings of the Indian Statistical Institution, which claimed that 1,076 million people were destitute – clarified as partially or totally dependent upon others for subsistence – in Bengal in May 1944. This represented almost 2 per cent of the population, although the research stated that more than two-thirds of these were already destitute before January 1943 (Greenough, 1982, 204). Further research suggested that more than 20% of the ‘street destitutes’ were ‘children who had separated from their parents or parents who had abandoned all their children’. Indeed, one of the results of the famine was the growth of child-selling as some parents sought to raise money for food or to ease their own burden (Greenough, 1982, 253, 221). Stories of child-selling were widely reported and prompted questions to the Secretary of State for India in the House of Commons in February 1944 amid claims that a British Officer had bought an Indian girl for one rupee and then taken her to a welfare centre (Hansard, 17 February 1944).

The final two items relate more closely to the War. Indian News Parade was criticised at this time for its failure to show ‘Indian troops in action’ and these two items again show training operations, maintenance work and a staged tour (Indian Information, 15 September 1944, 269). Indian Information reported on Air Vice-Marshal Thomas’ two-day visit to Indian Air Force units in Kohat and Miranshah. After watching an operational exercise that lasted ‘more than six hours’ at Kohat, he continued his tour ‘accompanied by Wing Commander Mukerjee’. The report stated that on his first evening at Kohat, a hockey match was played between I.A.F. squadrons, with F/O Desousa, a Bombay provincial player, and P/O Asghar Hussain, ‘the well-known All-India player’, captaining the teams. The second day was spent at Miranshah, ‘the forward base from which the I.A.F. carry out their frontier watch and ward duties’ (Indian Information, 1 September 1944, 235).     



Indian News Parade 74 highlights the welfare work performed by the British in Bengal. Having already claimed in issue 62 that the famine was over, the newsreel now reports the successful social rehabilitation of the children in Bengal, as the commentator explains that ‘these children aren’t destitute any longer’. The commentator emphasises the apparent care displayed towards the Indians – ‘they’re fed and clothed and looked after as every little citizen of India has right to be’ – seemingly ignoring the widespread criticisms labelled at the British for their role in, and response to, the Bengal famine. Sanjoy Bhattacharya has indicated the local antipathy felt towards Indian News Parade – and to the colonial rhetoric it promoted – particularly in areas affected by the famine (Bhattacharya, 2001, 95).

The item presents the children as citizens of India, with a responsibility to their country. It describes the destitute children as a ‘social waste’ and explains that girls must learn jobs ‘that will make them useful; to themselves, to the community’. The item looks to the future, as it talks of a ‘deal for tomorrow’, and, as with many of the Indian News Parades, prepares for a post-war India. ‘Nation building begins with body building’, the commentator remarks, endorsing a message of personal physical development for the good of the state that was familiar within British colonial discourse. This imagery of children in group physical displays was similarly enshrined within British pageantry, in celebrations such as the Empire Day Parades. The item concludes with shots of children in the classroom, again preparing for the promise of a new India after the War as they learn about ‘the world they live in’, and then attempt to ‘turn it into a better one’.

Although this item clearly recognises and argues for the development of a new post-war India, the film also constantly emphasises the need for continued co-operation between Britain and India. This is evident in the first two items. The first shows British initiatives to improve safety on the railways, at a moment when the railways, which were almost entirely state-owned and operated, were in increasingly poor condition. During the War, railway maintenance was postponed as workshops made munitions, trains fell into ‘battered disrepair’ and locomotive breakdowns increased eightfold from 50 to 400 failures per month out of a total of 1,700 locomotives (Headrick, 1988, 81). Despite that, the film emphasises the modern technology – evidenced also by the slow-motion footage – introduced by the British and shows British and Indian men talking together by the tracks. The following item – ‘A Gift to the Troops’ - endorses this message of Indian and British co-operation during the War, now showing the Indian man, J.A.D. Victoria, providing a recreation centre for ‘soldiers, Indian and British’.

The final two items serve as a celebration, and as a further indication of the apparent co-operation and support for the war effort. Mountbatten meets the Indian troops who have ‘overcome’ the ‘difficulties of defending India’s East Wall’ and the troops in turn raise their hats on cue and cheer him. The item indicates the relaxed nature of  ‘Lord Louis’, noting that he’s ‘certainly shortened formalities’. The final sequence recognises and acknowledges the Indian war effort. First it shows Indian Airmen honoured by ‘winning the sword of honour’, before highlighting the work of those not ‘in the limelight’, as it presents the British and Indian other ranks working together as ‘reconstruction squads’ repairing the airfield and planes. This coverage of those not usually ‘in the limelight’ may have been borne out of necessity, as the newsreel struggled to acquire the widely desired action footage. Indeed, the footage here also featured in Indian News Parade 71. On that occasion though, the commentator had presented this, somewhat flippantly, as an indication of the local support for the War effort, while the more detailed descriptions offered here are intended to acknowledge the skilled and essential work of the Indian and British other ranks.

Tom Rice (January 2009)


Works Cited

Bhattacharya, Sanjoy, Propaganda and Information in Eastern India, 1939-45: A Necessary Weapon of War (London: Routledge, 2001).

Greenough, Paul R., Prosperity and Misery in Modern Bengal, The Famine of 1943-44 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982).

‘Bengal (Destitute Children)’, House of Commons, 17 February 1944, accessed from Hansard.

Headrick, Daniel R., The Tentacles of Progress: Technology Transfer in the Age of Imperialism, 1850-1940 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988).

‘Air Chief Visits I.A.F. Units on N.-W. Frontier’, Indian Information, 1 September 1944, 235.

‘Publicity Problems in War and Peace’, Indian Information, 15 September 1944, 269.



  • INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 74 (11/8/1944)
Series Title:

Technical Data

Running Time:
9 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
797 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
GB, India
Department of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India
Moylan, William J (FRGS, FRSA)
Moylan, William J (FRGS, FRSA)





Production Organisations