15 AUGUST 1947, Page 1


ON the day this issue of The Spectator appears, British rule in India ends. The long chapter that began with the foundation of the East India Company in r600, a chapter in which men like Clive and Warren Hastings, Bentinck and Macaulay and Dalhousie, the Lawrences and Canning, down to Wavell and Mountbatten, have all played their notable parts, gives place to a new chapter charged as yet only with hope. The moment is historic, not only for India, but for the British Commonwealth, which loses a depen- dency and gains two Dominions. Whether either or both of them will remain Dominions is uncertain. If they are wise they will make no hasty decision. By severance from the Commonwealth they can gain no freedom which is not theirs already ; by association with it they will ensure a co-operaton that must inure in every way to their advantage. It is of good omen that the new India has already nominated, and that Pakistan is about to nominate, representatives to the Commonwealth conference to be held at Canberra this month to ' discuss the general outlines of the treaty with Japan ; they are sure of a universal welcome. At the moment interest is chiefly centred on the businesslike preparations Pakistan is making to sham its course as a self-governing Dominion. The discussions in the Constituent Assembly have begun well, in spite of some minor dissatisfactions on the part of the Hindu minorities. Almost every- thing depends for the moment on Mr. Jinnah, the President of the Muslim League, who besides being Governor-General Designate of the new Dominion, has been elected President of the Assembly. The address which he delivered on Monday in the latter capacity, with its appeal for tolerance and unity, is in all respects worthy of the occasion. It is of interest, incidentally, that he insisted that the official language of the Assembly should be English, and that he proposed the toast of the King with marked warmth at a banquet to Lord Mountbatten on Wednesday. Pakistan, divided geographically and faced with the problem of assimilating, without absorbing, Hindu and Sikh minorities, has formidable difficulties before it. To it, as to India and the States, the universal goodwill of this country is ex- tended at this time. The two Dominions are capable of making a great contribution to the Commonwealth, to Asia and to the world.