21 NOVEMBER 1931, Page 1

Round Table. Hopes and Fears The fortunes of the Round

Table Conference have been suffering strange vicissitudes. The joint manifesto issued by all the minorities, other than the Sikhs, is an important hew factor in the situation, for it means that representa- tives of forty-six per cent: of the population of India are United, contrary to all belief and expectation, on a definite and concrete plan, and though the Indian Con- gress Party, with Mr. Gandhi as their mouthpiece, will not look at the scheme it is probable enough that some of the Liberals would. In face of Hindu opposition, as Well as the refusal of the Sikhs, whose demands regarding the Punjab were the one obstacle to an accord on minori- ties at the first conference, the minority agreement pro- vides no immediate basis for a settlement, and if it had to be examined as a practical proposition doubts as to the working of some parts of the machinery it outlines might soon arise. Bid its existence may well facilitate future negotiations. Mr: Gandhi's condemnation has no doubt some relation to the fact that this is a visible demonstration of his success in aligning all the minorities (apart from the Sikhs) solidly against hint.