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The Great Flap of 1942 - How the Raj Panicked over a Japanese Non-invasion


Jun 10 2024 to Jun 10 2024 6:30 p.m.



Bangalore International Centre

7 4th Main Rd, Stage 2, Domlur 560071

Event Description

The Great Flap of 1942 is a narrative history of a neglected and scarcely known period—between December 1941 and mid-1942—when all of India was caught in a state of panic. This was largely a result of the British administration’s mistaken belief that Japan was on the verge of launching a full-fledged invasion. It was a time when the Raj became unduly alarmed, when the tongue of rumour wagged wildly about Japanese prowess and British weakness and when there was a huge and largely unmapped exodus (of Indians and Europeans) from both sides of the coastline to ‘safer’ inland regions. This book demonstrates, quite astonishingly, that the Raj cynically encouraged the exodus and contributed to the repeated cycles of rumour, panic and flight. It also reveals how the shadow of the Japanese threat influenced the course of nationalist politics, altered British attitudes towards India and charted the course towards Independence. The title ‘The Great Flap of 1942’ refers to an expression used by British bureaucrats in India that traces a broad narrative arc, starting with the Japanese attacks in South-East Asia. The assault on Malaya, the conquest of Singapore, the bombing and eventual occupation of Burma, and the Japanese Navy’s foray into the Indian Ocean are examined in light of the tremendous impact they had on India.

The author of the book, Mukund Padmanabhan, will be in conversation with Historian & Columnist, V Sriram.

A Q&A with the audience will follow.


Mukund Padmanabhan Author & Professor, Krea University

Mukund Padmanabhan is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the newly-established Krea University, north of Chennai. He took up the position after retiring as Editor of The Hindu, a position he held between 2016 and 2019. Earlier, he was the Editor of The Hindu Business Line, the business daily and sister publication from the same group. Mukund spent 22 years with The Hindu group after joining as editorial writer in 1997. He worked for the Indian Express in Chennai and Sunday Magazine in Calcutta before this. He has written extensively on political, legal and literary subjects. An M-Phil in Philosophy, he worked briefly as a lecturer in Delhi University before switching to journalism. During his time at The Hindu, he was an Adjunct Faculty at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. There, he taught media law and advanced writing to post-graduate students from all over Asia for a period of about six years. Mukund is on the board of a few charitable and educational trusts, including the one that runs his old residential school in Ooty, The Blue Mountains School. The Great Flap of 1942 is his first book.

V Sriram Historian & Columnist

Sriram Venkatakrishnan, born in 1966, in England, pursued engineering and later earned an MBA in Marketing and Advertising. He held various roles in advertising and marketing before becoming the Chief Operations Officer of Broadgate Technical Services (India) Pvt Ltd. He is also involved in his family’s industrial hydraulics business. Sriram’s deep passion for Carnatic music led him to co-found a website called Sangeetham in 1999, promoting Carnatic music and its heritage. He conducts heritage walks in Chennai, has authored books on Carnatic music, and has contributed to publications like Sruti and The Hindu. He has written biographies and collaborated on books commemorating Carnatic music stalwarts. Sriram serves as Secretary of the Music Academy and Editor of Madras Musings, showcasing his dedication to preserving Chennai’s history and culture. Currently, he’s working on a biography of Harikatha exponent C Saraswati Bai.

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