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Sir Harry Graham Haig

Full nameHis Excellency Sir Harry Graham Haig, MA, KCSI 1933 (CSI 1930), CIE 1923, JP, ICS
Born13 Apr 1881, London, United Kingdom
Died14 Jun 1956, Oxted, Surrey, United Kingdom

The fourth son of a merchant, Harry Graham Haig was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford, where he studied Classics, graduating in 1904 and passing into the Indian Civil Service. He served in the United Provinces, where by 1910 he had become Under-Secretary to the Government. He served in the Indian Army Reserve of Officers during WWI, afterwards working in the Finance Department of the Government of India and the Indian Fiscal Commission. Following a brief spell as Private Secretary to the Viceroy, Lord Reading, Haig was in 1926 appointed Secretary of the Home Department of the Government of India.

Haig acted as an Indian “Official attending in a Consulting Capacity”, advising the British Government and keeping the Indian Government informed of developments at the conference.


  • 26th September 1931: lunched with the Maharajah of Baroda at the Dorchester Hotel, other guests included delegates Ujjal Singh and Dr Moonje and the conference Secretaries and their wives, Mr and Mrs Rama Rao and Mr and Mrs Lewis. (NMML.Moonje Diary)
  • 13th October 1930: Haig was considered by the Indian Intelligence Bureau to be one of the few delegates who might require special police protection in London. Having been Home Secretary during the rise of nationalist sentiment, and the start of the Civil Disobedience movement, he was “…entitled, therefore, ex officio to a certain amount of extra hatred.” His recent, quiet, work on constitutional reforms was felt to mean he would not be at risk, however. (BL. L.PJ.12.426)
  • 17th October 1930: Haig was consulted by MacDonald’s conference advisor, JG Laithwaite, on how to respond to requests by Indians in London to meet and share their views. (National Archives, Kew)
  • 31st October 1930: Haig wrote to Irwin that he was doubtful of Hydari’s proposed federal scheme gaining any support amongst British Indian delegates, especially due to the influence it would give the Princes in British Indian affairs. (Moore, 1974:145)
  • 7th November 1930: Benn telegrammed Irwin considering the best way for Haig to keep the Government of India aware of “general developments and tendencies” of the conference as they occurred. Proposed that Haig “…messages should be sent daily or as occasion required either as private and personal telegrams from him to you or as demi-official message from him to Dunnett.” Benn would get copies of all messages. There would be no point using air mail as the comments would be out of date by the time they arrived. Benn forwarded Haig’s first appreciation of the scene. (National Archives, New Delhi) 
    • 7th November 1930 Haig telegrammed from London to New Delhi: “the [Indian/Princely] States as a whole considering seriously possibilities of immediate fed union with British India, implying responsibility over field dealt with by federal authority. Various considerations may be contributing to this” including a perceived waning of British power or a desire to prevent central government developing on too democratic lines (National Archives, New Delhi)

First Session (unless noted from National Archives, New Delhi, Reforms/1930/147/30-R)

  • 13th November 1930: Haig telegram to Irwin in New Delhi: the conference opened in good will but Hindus were resisting a united front. The Princes decision to consider federal union had changed the entire debate
  • 14th November 1930: Haig posted an airmail letter to Dunnett in the New Delhi reforms office, noting that the Princely States were taking a more important role. “In the opening speeches the note of India as a whole was definitely struck.” It looked as it we must have some definite scheme of federal union and that it requires a great deal of thought.
  • 16th November 1930: Haig telegram to Irwin in New Delhi: Hindu-Muslim conversations continue but no deal in sight. Princes continued to debate federation but no commitment likely yet.
  • 17th November 1930: Haig telegram to Irwin in New Delhi: Conference work started in earnest, Sapru and Bikaner coming out in favour of federation but with its structure not contemplated in depth at all.
  • 18th November 1930: Haig telegram to Irwin in New Delhi:  Appetite for federation throughout delegates, but the conference may only be able to lay the foundations upon which a federation would develop.
  • 19th November 1930: Haig telegram to Irwin in New Delhi: Moonje issued a violence response to Peel’s setting out of the Conservative position. “Muhammad Ali also in speech which would have been entertaining had it not wasted so much time and meant so little ranted extremism.”
  • 20th November 1930: Haig telegram to Irwin in New Delhi: Reading used his speech to eradicate memories of his previous views, now Liberals accept Dominion Status in time, but not now. Ambedkar’s speech was attentively listened to, suggesting that an outside government could do little to remove untouchability.
  • 22nd November: Haig telegram to Irwin in New Delhi:  the general discussion ended today on notes of good will and optimism. An All-India Federation has been accepted by all as the aim: “The discussion has produced a distinct atmosphere.”
  • 27th November: Haig telegram to Irwin in New Delhi: “Despondency has succeeded optimism of general discussion now practical difficulties and implications of fed arising.” A discouraging sight, the Princes studying federation but not contributing, British Indian delegates seemingly regretting signing up, communal discussions reached deadlock. “The result of all this is that suspicion and embarrassment prevails. It will take time for practical thought to emerge.”
  • 29th November 1930: Haig telegram to Irwin in New Delhi:  “. No progress this week in practical probs of fed. Fresh start with new committee on Monday…”
  • 9th December 1930: From Hailey to Irwin, commenting on how the Government of India advisors do their work outside of the conference rooms: “…some of us like Haig, Dawson and myself have to sit down and prepare memoranda on possible forms of federation and its implications and the like as I think I told you last week. This task seems to have fallen on us in order that the somewhat vague generalities floating about might be brought down to earth, and possible alternatives considered with a view to knocking out at once those which do not seem feasible. We have, of course, also numerous private conferences with people like the Lord Chancellor, etc., who are directing Committees.” (BL. E220.34)
  • 13th December 1930: Haig telegram to Irwin in New Delhi:  Federal Structure Committee interim report suggest a federation of British and Princely India, comprised of the Princely States which want to federate.
  • 18th December 1930: Hair wrote to Irwin that MacDonald had failed to find a compromise between Hindus and Muslims at his Chequers retreat, and that little trace of Indian unity remained. (Moore, 1974:160)
  • 5th January 1931: Haig telegram to Irwin in New Delhi: Reading speech accepted responsibility at the centre, presenting some hope for the conference.
  • 9th January 1931: Haig telegram to Irwin in New Delhi: Tories’ increasingly isolated stance in refusing to consider a responsible Indian central government.


  • 1932–34: Home Member of Executive Council of Governor-General, India
  • 1934–39: Governor of United Provinces
  • Regional Commissioner for Civil Defence in the North West Region, 1940–41, in the Southern Region, 1942–45

Sources used

  • Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi: Dr BS Moonje papers.
  • British Library: IOR/L/PJ/12/426; IOR/Eur.Mss/E220.34
  • The National Archives, Kew: PRO/30/69/1527
  • National Archives, New Delhi: Reforms/1930/147/30-R
  • R.J. Moore, The Crisis of Indian Unity, 1917-1940 (Oxford: Clarendon Press; 1974)

Secondary literature

Online resources

ImagesPhotograph of Sir Harry Graham Haig from 'Upper India Chamber of Commerce, Cawnpore, 1888-1938', published around 1938

"H.E. Sir Harry Graham Haig, K.C.S.I., C.I.E., I.C.S., Governor of United Provinces." From Upper India Chamber of Commerce, Cawnpore, 1888-1938 (Bombay: Times of India Press; c.1938). Available at Dhananjayrao Gadgil Library, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune,

Conferencing the International

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