THE SITUATION IN INDIA
SIR,—The statement made by Sir Stafford Cripps to the New York Times should remove doubt from all minds, both as to full and free
partnership in the British Commonwealth of Nations and as to its materialisation—even in the form, if the Indian peoples so decide, which Congress desires—as soon as practicable.
This being so, what about leaving Indians to it—i.e7 not obscuring the real issue by further talk of British intervention, delegations and
conferences? For, from the welter of ignorance and misunderstanding incidental to so complex a question as Indian politics we can at least extricate two clear facts as to which there can be no doubt: (x) Internal unity must be the primal objective if we are to enter on the political heritage assured to us. Congressmen themselves, and lately that veteran statesman Ramaswani Aiyar, have emphasised that.
(2) The vital question is not what political party should predominate, but who or what individuals or combinations of parties or individuals can best help to the winning of the war.
In the light or this factual summary of our situation in India, the strange case of Mr. Gandhi reduces to the sole consideration: Can Gandhi deliver the goods?
Let us consider this in the light of his own history and assurances. We have nothing else to work upon, since the war-time history of the Congress Party is that, unfortunately, of factory hands on strike—as we must be honest enough to admit.
On what, thee, has Gandhi himself based his claim to get more out of our war effort than the British or the British-controlled Government of India? He relies on: (a) His leadership of All-India, close on 400 million people.
(b) His constructive ability.
As to (a) his leadership, he is answered by the nine important political and social groups who disowned him in the aftermath of the " No- Party " appeal to the Prime Minister in 1941—a repudiation which has been maintained up to the last. In the result, we find that so far from Gandhi representing All-India, he does not represent even his own Hindu race (2551 millions), since his leadership is disowned by the 90 million depressed and scheduled classes and the masses of Orthodox Hindus officially sponsored by the Hindu Mahasabha.
It may be as well to remind ourselves here that the Congress's own estimate of its following in 1940, 3f millions, has since then been reduced by the secession from the Congress of several men of outstanding merit, as well as of the members of Mr. M. N. Roy's party and of the Com- munists, who dissociate themselves from Mr. Gandhi's war policy.
(b) What about Gandhi's constructive ability, say, (i) on the economic front ; (ii) on the military front?
(i) The economic front. Gandhi preached, and still preaches, the spinning-wheel, i.e., the use of handicrafts in a mechanised trade world, not—and this is important—that we might return to our pristine sim- plicity: but in order that India might retain, nay surpass, the place she has achieved under the British in the modern world of trade.
(ii) The military front. Gandhi preached, and still preaches, " pas- sive resistance," i.e., " Take it lying down when invasion comes." That is his active military programme.
And his military strategy has been disclosed in the pronouncements of August 4th et seq., supported by the discovery of proof that his plan for negotiating with the enemy and " an appeal to the kind heart of Japan " was already in hand. That Gandhi, on the suggestion of Nehru, has seemed to tone down the blatancy of his military programme and strategy is admitted if we rely on telegraphic summaries alone: but the text of his pronouncements is now available, and upon that evidence the position is as stated herein.
Can Gandhi deliver the goods?
For the rest, that the Government has nothing more to offer ; that the Provinces have had autonomy since 1935 ; that the Government of India is already an Indian Government, representatives of all those who would accept the invitation of the British for co-operation at the centre; and that the inclusion of what we may call the personal representatives of Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Jinnah is greatly desired by the British, and would be welcomed (how often has this co-operation not been invited already!) —all these things cannot be doubted.
At a moment which Gandhi himself has called the most critical in our history is there not only one course for those outside our internal dispeace to pursue—to pull together for the winning of the war, if for no other reason, for this: that, as we all know in our inmost hearts, without victory Indian political ambition can never be achieved?—I am,