INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 88 (17/11/1944)

This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: INR 88).


I. "THE EMIR OF KATSINA COMES TO INDIA TO SEE HIS WEST AFRICAN TROOPS" The Muslim Emir of Katsina (on the Gold Coast in northern Nigeria) visits Delhi's Jami Masjid mosque, introduced by the Maulvi. The Emir views mortars, Bren guns, "weapons which his soldiers handle with the same expertness as they used to manage their war horses". Scenes of warriors on parade followed by the "West Africans" crowding round the Emir to hear him speak. The Emir drives away and "says goodbye to the men who fight to found a better world".

II. "PILGRIMAGE TO MECCA" Scenes of pilgrimage by Indians to the sacred city of Mecca, leaving from the "Gateway to Mecca" in India. Commentary notes that "for most of them, this is the longest journey of their lives", and describes seamless garments worn by pilgrims.

III. "PUNJAB PREMIER PROMISES SOLDIERS POST WAR SECURITY" Sir Chhottu Ram thanks people of Rawalpindi for support during war, through provision of soldiers and donation of sixty lakhs of rupees for War Loans. Sir Chhottu Ram informs crowd that twelve lakhs will be set aside for educational grants for soldier's children and an "honourable living" for returning soldiers via a land scheme. Scenes of crowd watching a Kathak dance, "the sort of dance they'll put on, when the boys come home".

IV. " SIR FEROZ KHAN NOON POINTS THE WAY TO INDO-BRITISH CO-OPERATION" Sir Feroz Khan Noon (defence representative on Indian Government Executive Council) visits a school's passing out parade. Commentary states that Sir Feroz said that "if you wanted a first class instance of Indians and British getting on together and working side by side, you had it in the Indian Army". Scenes showing Cadet Griffiths from Hertfordshire whose colleagues "may come from Cape Comorin or Lahore". Commentary states moral as being, "You've got to have good staunch Allies".

V. "THE CHOCOLATE STAIRCASE". Allies advance to Tiddim, reaching the "Chocolate Staircase". Bulldozers clear away mud and rocks from the road, wary of Japanese mines. Scenes of men crossing river with equipment. Bailey Bridge is constructed on river bank and then rolled into place and bolted firmly. Scenes of a captured Japanese elephant and paratroopers being dropped by air as well as supplies. White cloths spell out a sign, enabling supply drop, "dead on it ". Scenes of Japanese machine guns, maps and a sword left behind while "getting out as quick as they can".


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



An illustrated article in the government journal, Indian Information, reported on the visit to India of the recently installed Emir of Katsina, who it described as a ‘keen student of empire and colonial affairs’. ‘By air, rail and road’, the journal explained, ‘he will now undertake a 3,000 mile tour of India and the Arakan, visiting West African units’ (Indian Information, 15 November 1944, 643). His visit was also noted in the American Press, where it was reported that he visited ‘men of the Nigerian regiment [who] flew into northern Burma with Wingate’s Chindits and played a large part’ in the Kaladan valley campaign (Fresno Bee, 4 January 1945). Footage of West Africans serving in India had previously featured in Indian News Parade – for example, issues 67 and 70 – and on the day of the newsreel’s release, The Timesreported their continued efforts, stating that ‘in Arakan West African troops captured another enemy position west of Paletwa’ (The Times, 17 November 1944, 4). The Emir of Katsina’s visit to India also featured in the Colonial Film Unit’s newsreel, The British Empire at War No. 37, which was produced predominantly for African audiences. A synopsis of the newsreel in Colonial Cinema noted that ‘the Emir is very interested in all that the African soldiers do… and gives them a heartening talk before he leaves’ (Colonial Cinema, March 1945, 24).

Indian News Parade 88 also depicts Sir Chhotu Ram, a founder member of the Unionist party, and a vocal supporter of a united India. As the most prominent non-Muslim figure within the Punjab ministry, Chhotu Ram was a pivotal figure in the disputes with the Muslim League over the potential division of Bengal and Punjab during 1944 (Oren, 1974, 415). While Chhotu Ram championed social reform and peasant interests, he received criticism for his close links with the British, particularly for his support of the War. Upon his death, less than two months after this newsreel, The Timesremembered his ‘stirring war speeches’ encouraging peasants of the Punjab to volunteer. ‘We and the British are on the same side’, he is quoted as saying, ‘If they win, we win; if they lose, we lose. So put aside everything and join in the War’ (The Times, 13 January 1945, 6).

The issue of demobilising the Indian army and the post-war plans for the soldiers are also discussed in the fourth item, which features Sir Firoz Khan Noon, a member of the Imperial War Cabinet, who would briefly serve as Prime Minister of Pakistan from December 1957 until October 1958. Indian Information described Firoz Khan Noon as a ‘firm believer in the destiny of his country as a free and equal partner in the British Commonwealth of Nations’ (Indian Information, 15 September 1944, 312). He headed the ‘Policy Committee on [the] Re-Settlement and Re-Employment of Troops’ which was set up towards the end of 1943. Sanjoy Bhattacharya notes the prominence given to this committee and the wide dissemination ‘in all forms of military propaganda’ of these ideas, which were further propagated in the White Paper, prepared by the Government of India in October 1944. Bhattacharya recognises the important role of film here, noting that ‘films dealing with “rural uplift, cottage industries and health” in the most important recruiting areas were screened; as were documentaries about post-war “development”’.  He further noted that ‘films would advertise the inauguration of special educational facilities, like the Indian Troops Training School, established in Nowgong in November 1945’. (Bhattacharya, May 2000, 504). In August 1944, Sir Syed Sultan Ahmed, a government minister for Information and Broadcasting, outlined to the Publicity Advisory Committee ‘the draft plan of publicity that has been drawn up in connection with Reconstruction’. The aim was to ‘increase understanding’ of the Reconstruction reports, which, he argued, outlined ‘a vision of a new India – an exciting experience, an experience to make old men glad and young men eager’. ‘We plan to supplement this editorial publicity’, he continued, ‘with illustrated and visual publicity. We believe that post-war planning must become an affair of the people’ (Indian Information, 15 September 1944, 273).



Released exactly a thousand days before Indian Independence, Indian News Parade 88 represents an attempt on the part of the government to generate support for its post-war ‘development’ of India. It indicates, as Sanjoy Bhattacharya acknowledged, a widespread focus within the government on this post-war reconstruction, which is also prevalent within other issues of Indian News Parade. For example, issue 58 contains an item on plans for schooling, while issue 70 addresses the government’s post-war plans for the Indian armed services.

The film strongly promotes the continued co-operation between India and Britain. In the fourth item featuring Sir Firoz Khan Noon, the Indian army is presented as an example of ‘Indians and British getting on together and working side by side’. The commentator outlines that ‘after the war this shouldn’t come to a halt’, but the commentary is careful here to present India and Britain as ‘allies’ and ‘colleagues’ working ‘side by side’ and not in a traditional imperial hierarchy. The previous item featuring Sir Chhotu Ram also outlined post-war plans – educational grants and ‘a vast land scheme’ – and certainly follows a broader trend within the newsreel, recognised by Philip Woods, of highlighting the ‘care that was being taken of these troops’ (Woods, 2000, 105). The item here presents an image of unflinching support for the war. The commentary explains that one in eight people living in Rawalpindi were soldiers, and talks of the crowd going out to ‘celebrate’ after Chhotu Ram’s speech. Any mention of opposition to the War – strongly felt amongst freedom fighters and many nationalists – is obviously avoided.

The newsreel does attempt to relate specifically to India, rather than talking in terms of the Empire – ‘having thanked them for what they have done for the country, [Chhotu Ram] told them what the country was going to do for them’ – but the commentary uses particularly British terms and points of reference. The commentator, talking of the ‘boys coming home’, generates comedy here by differentiating and privileging the viewer from the locals depicted on screen. For example, a ‘famous Kathak dance’ is initially jokingly mistaken for ‘a man cut[ting] himself into pieces’.

Although the issue of Pakistan and any debates over the break up of India are not discussed, the film promotes a Muslim identity – ‘Pilgrimage to Mecca’ – and as in other editions emphasises specific Muslim practices (see, for example, issue 71). Indeed, the first item here introduces the Emir of Katsina as a Muslim and shows him visiting Jumma Masjid. This item once more depicts West Africans in India, and again they are represented as inherent fighters – ‘a war-like people’ – although the film highlights the ‘developments’ under British rule, as they now fight with modern weapons to ‘found a better world’.

Tom Rice (October 2008)


Works Cited

Bhattacharya, Sanjoy, ‘British Military Information Management Techniques and the South Asian Soldier: Eastern India during the Second World War’, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 34, No. 2 (May, 2000), 483-510.

‘The British Empire at War’, Colonial Cinema, March 1945, 24.

Fresno Bee, 4 January 1945,

‘Publicity Problems in War and Peace: Sir Sultan Ahmed’s Address to Advisory Committee’, Indian Information, 15 September 1944.

‘Sir Firoz Khan Noon’, Indian Information, 15 September 1944, 295, 312.

‘Emir of Katsina Visits African Troops in India’, Indian Information, 15 November 1944.

Oren, Stephen, ‘The Sikhs, Congress, and the Unionists in British Punjab, 1937-1945’,

Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 8, No. 3 (1974), 397-418.

‘Gains in Burma: Africans Occupy Kalemyo’, The Times, 17 November 1944, 4.

‘Obituary: Sir Chhotu Ram’, The Times, 13 January 1945, 6.    

Woods, Philip, ‘”Chapattis by Parachute”: The Use of Newsreels in British Propaganda in India in the Second World War’, Journal of South Asian Studies, 23:2 (2000), 89-110.



  • INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 88 (17/11/1944)
Series Title:

Technical Data

Running Time:
9 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
814 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