India And Blackburn - The 'Forgotten Link' Beyond The Venky's And Football

India's connection with Blackburn exists beyond the Venky's and Football. A look into it's historical significance before Blackburn Rovers' visit to India...
When the Venky's completed the purchase of Blackburn Rovers last November, India's long deserved union with arguably the best league in the world was finally a dream realized. One felt then it was just a matter of time before the next big 'step' would eventually take place. Thus now with the Lancashire based club finally having touched the shores of India, we could all be in for something very 'special' - An 'EPL-like' experience at our own backyard!

Perhaps this is a fitting 'give back' to a nation that has so significantly triggered an unprecedented interest towards the Premier League. Languishing at the bottom of the league table they may be, but for Blackburn Rovers, they will now probably be the only Premier League club to harness some sort of a 'patriotic motivation' for the 'neutral' Indians to support them.

Will The Indians Join In Too? | Blackburn May Well Develop An Indian Following

Yet, so much so for the Indian ownership, the country's link with Blackburn is one which dates further back to the colonial days. Beyond the confinement of football and club ownership. Something with immense historical significance!

It was the year of 1931, and India's long quest for Independence from the clutches of the British rule had just reached a 'static' phase with no real will on the part of the British Government to grant independence to India. As part of its encouragement of civil disobedience and non co-operation with Britain, the All India Congress Party led a boycott of British goods, especially cotton textiles, and encouraged everyone in India to use homespun and woven cloth.
Blackburn In India

With Blackburn Rovers set to face Pune FC on Indian soil, brings you the in-depth coverage of the event...

However, the boycott adversely effected the cotton industries in Lancashire and understandably the condition of the workers worsened. India's boycott to foreign goods meant that their mass produced textiles were destroyed, which virtually left the working class unemployed.

With the tension building up, Mahatma Gandhi accepted an invitation issued by Mr. Corder Catchpool of Greenfield Mill and took the opportunity to visit Lancashire and see for himself the effects India's boycott on cotton goods had on the workers there. It was a rather brave move on the part of Gandhi, with the immense resentment and ill feeling quite evident in the town.

Surprisingly enough, however, Gandhi's arrival evoked an unprecedented interest among the people. It was probably his simple peasant-like image that managed to connect with sentiments of the working class people. The local workers famously showed him solidarity in his political struggles and he stayed overnight with a local cotton-weaving family living in neighbouring Darwen. They received Gandhi with sympathy and affection, even though they were the ones hit hardest by the boycott.

Received With Love  | Gandhi Was Given A Warm Welcome In Blackburn

In fact a local newspaper had quite aptly described him as- 'the legal eye and forehead - an eye piercing as a rapier - of moderate physique and slender proportions with the appearance of being rather tired.'

Gandhi was sympathetic to the fate of the workers, although he did not feel the same for the mill owners. He, however, felt the condition of the Indian peasants was far worse.

His visit made a lasting and significant impression on the people and is celebrated with his inclusion with other famous 'Blackburn' faces depicted in a public artwork, sited on the platform at Blackburn Railway Station.

Do You Think Blackburn Rovers Can Evoke 'Patriotic Motivation' Among The 'Neutral' Indians to Support Them? Give In Your Views!

Pune FC Vs Blackburn Rovers | 7 October 2011 | Live On Ten Action+ At 6.30 PM (IST)

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