Archive / Audio / A.P. BLAIR

Interview number: 040

Interviewer: Carter, Dr Lionel J.

Interview date: 1983-07-12

Length 40 minutes

Condition notes: Clean

This account of the work of a marketing manager in the early years of the oil industry includes interesting glimpses of and comments on his life in India in the 1920s and 1930s. His Rawalpindi appointment enabled him to travel, often under armed guard, to the N.W.F.P., Kashmir and Afghanistan. In Kabul he succeeded in acquiring for his Company, in competition with the Russians, a monopoly contract for petrol and kerosene. An unwelcome transfer to Calcutta brought rewards of friendship with Bengalis and acquaintance with the Bengali renaissance. His interest in the political scene led him to stand for election to the first legislative assembly of Bengal: he was one of only a few European members. He shows an unusual understanding of Indians and their nationalist aspirations, as may be seen by his wish to promote the Company’s policy of ‘regionalisation’, and by his desire to make fellow members of the business community aware of coming political change.

Coverage notes: kerosene; distribution; Russian aspirations in Afghanistan; provincial autonomy; Shell regionalisation; Madras, Punjab, N.W.F.P., Kashmir, Afghanistan, Bengal; 1926-1983