Salt of the Sarkar

A Story of a Million Indian Soldiers who fought in WW1

About the Coordinators

Dominic Rai and Caroline Goffin

Dominic Rai and Caroline Goffin have collaborated for many years in discovering and sharing the experiences of the sepoys on the Western Front inspired by Mulk Raj Anand’s novel. They are co-directors of Salt of the Sarkar, a project of MánMelá Promotions Ltd.

Read Our Story

I could never have imagined what an amazing journey it would be when Dominic and I first met in South East London in 1993. I’ve written down my thoughts about our personal journey to share with you. Thank you for stopping by to share our story. – Caroline

About the Project

Salt of the Sarkar is a First World War Centenary project to highlight the contribution of over one million soldiers from Undivided India who fought in World War One.

The novel Across the Black Waters by master storyteller Mulk Raj Anand (1905-2004) is at the heart of the project.

The author Mulk Raj Anand came from an army family in Panjab and met the soldiers returning from World War One and vowed to tell their story. He too crossed the Black Waters from India to study in London, and spent two decades in the UK before returning to India in 1945. He published his novel about WW1 in London in 1940 at the start of WW2.

This is the only novel to tell the story of the soldiers from Undivided India – Hindus, Muslim, Sikhs, Christians – on the Western Front at the very beginning of the First World War.  The fiction is based on actual historical facts and reveals the soldiers’ experience as they arrive in Europe in September 1914 and face the first bitter winter of the war.

The term ‘Salt of the Sarkar’ is used by the Indian soldiers in the novel Across the Black Waters as well as in their letters home from World War One. “Sarkar” means the ruling authority. “Eating the salt” refers to the oath that binds one to a political superior through obligations of protection and loyalty.

The Salt of the Sarkar project launched at the House of Commons in October 2014 with the publication of the World War One Centenary edition of the novel Across the Black Waters by Mulk Raj Anand.  Read more about the growth of the Salt of the Sarkar project here.

Read The Book

Across The Black Waters
WW1 Centenary Edition 2014 

Read a free excerpt of Across the Black Waters

Our partner, Shalimar Books is the major supplier of books from India and multicultural books for children in the UK. We have worked with them to research shows since the 1990s.

With their expertise we are delighted they are our partners in publishing and distributing the WW1 Centenary edition of  Across the Black Waters by Mulk Raj Anand.

Chetan Kumria of Shalimar Books, with Caroline Goffin

Get in touch to find out more about Salt of the Sarkar

This is to thank you for the initiative you have taken in adapting my novel: Across the Black Waters and in presenting the play in various places in UK., in connection with the 80th Anniversary of the First World War! – Mulk Raj Anand, letter to Dominic Rai, 1998