Official Delegate Who’s Whos
At the conference multiple social hierarchies were forced to slot together, around a series of round tables. This created difficulties in terms of precedence and ordering, deciding who should sit where in relation to whom. It also created endless possibilities for offence and unintentional insult as delegates from India and Britain anticipated how to perform their diplomatic selves. To help the delegates the India Office produced illustrated guides to the first two sessions. The first session guide detailed only the delegates visiting from India, for the second it also included details of the British delegates. Secretary of State for India, Wedgwood Benn, was delighted with the first guide, and wrote to Viceroy Irwin on 4th November 1930: “…our office has excelled itself by producing a Who’s Who, illustrated, and with hints as to modes of address of all the delegates. Monteath [Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for India] tells me that we are primarily indebted to your Private Secretary for the information and photographs contained in it. It certainly is one of the brightest documents I have ever seen from any public office.”
Regarding the Indian delegates the guides included instruction on how to address correspondence, how to address a delegate at the start of a letter, and how to address the delegate in person. While the volumes were designed as guides to social hierarchies, they also reproduced them. The first guide had the hereditary rulers of the Indian States first, followed by the delegates from British India second. The guide to the second conference session detailed the delegates in a strictly imperial order of precedence, British delegates first; followed by the Indian States; and concluding with British Indian delegates.
The published guides were put to many uses. In planning the fraught Minorities Committee meetings of the second conference sessions, India Office officials cut out the photographs and arranged them around a virtual table, attempting to anticipate (and possibly produce) rivalries and unions (link to image from cartography when up). The guides could also be used for notation, and correction. RJ Stopford, the Conservative Party delegation secretary, donated his copy of the guide for the second session (which appears above) to the British Library. He noted on Gandhi’s entry that his year of birth had been recorded incorrectly, as had that of Dr Ambedkar, who had also been called to the bar at Gray’s Inn a year earlier than recorded.