19 SEPTEMBER 1931, Page 20

The Empire and Mahatma Gandhi Mr. Gandhi the Man. By

Millie Graham Polak; Foreword by C. F. Andrews. (Allen & Unwin. 68.) GANDHI literature is voluminous, and is being augmented fast. Mrs. Polak's charming, unpretentious little book tells of the Mahatma's home life in his South African struggles. It is an intimate and sensible personal picture, and should be read to complete the studies of his philosophy and politics. Mr. Bernays' Naked Fakir is only partly concerned with Mr. Gandhi ; it is a commentary, often of an exasperatingly rambling and casual kind, on India during the Civil Diso- bedience tension. It would be easy to condemn Naked Fakir. It is streaked with immaturity and snobbery, and not a little satisfaction with the writer's self. Mr. Bernays is intellectually lazy, and neither before nor after his Indian visit bothered to get hold of any background to the experiences he had found so vivid. He calls Mr. Gandhi " the first great man India has ever turned loose " ; he does not trouble to find out what Jawaharlal Nehru's name really is but habitually jumbles it barbarically into " Jawaralal " ; he says more than once that an Englishwoman was " raped " in the Punjab troubles of 1919 ; he informs us that the Hindu Mahasablta " is a revolutionary youth movement from Madras " ; he calls Bombay the " spur-point " (? " spear-point ") of the Civil Disobedience Movement, and Curzon (? Carson) the leader of the Ulster Unionists; he has reprinted a lot of stuff trivial in the extreme, and his style and matter alike straggle into emptiness that would disgrace a " Society " lady's travel diary.

His mind badly needs shaking together. All the same, it is

a mind and not a phrase-machine. The two-thirds of his book that were worth printing are a very good book. As a close-up study of what happened it should be read by everyone who does not want to be fooled °ye India. Many proofs could be given of Mr. Bernays' essential fairness of mind, and of his shrewdness. He is again and again the first to set down in plain language what events have shown to be the truth, though older and more cautious men have preferred to keep it " under their own hat."

I should like Mr. Bernays to consider what I believe to be the justification for the racial discrimination of certain European clubs in India—a discrimination that causes such bitterness and is so cried out on by democratic Americans and by Mr. Bernays himself. So long as only Indian men will come to social centres where English men and women mingle (where there is a good deal of dancing), many English- men will be unwilling to throw these clubs open to all races. They hold very fiercely that it should be " fifty-fifty "- Indians and their wives and daughters meeting Englishmen and their wives and daughters. If this ever comes to pas:. then racial aloofness can fairly be visited with sweeping condemnation. As things are, I am afraid I agree with the conservative Englishman. Each race has a right to its own social rules ; but neither has the right to demand that the other accept a one-sided intercourse.

The substance of Mahatma Gandhi at Work is already familiar in essentials, from publication in English in India and citation by writers in England. Mr. Andrews justly calls this tale of the South African experiments which led inexorably to the Civil Disobedience of to-day an " epic " one ; the hard-worked adjective is right for once. But more important for us than this story of how weakness became strong and the spirit of man vanquished man's arrogance and strength, are certain facts that force themselves on attention as the outline and bony skeleton of the man's life and beliefs. First of all, the story illustrates that sectional patriotism which is one of the two or three prominent facts of the Indian problem to-day. We hear much of the struggle between " India and England." But the last Round Table Conference was the arrival of the new Indian nations that have found self-consciousness. The Indian Delegates, except for a few denationalized politicians, cherish a more passionate love than their love for India—which is their love for Maharastra, Andradesh, Bengal, or some other region which is their spiritual and physical home. Even the Hindu-Moslem quarrel is largely a Maratha-Moslem quarrel. And Mr. Gandhi is a Gujarati. He first went to South Africa to take up the case of a Gujarati ; he found that the first Indian settlers there (other than coolies) were Gujaratis. His mistake of this summer, in his charge-sheet against the Indian Government, was that he saw his own Gujarat looming so large that he seemed to think there was no other district in India. Again, in this South African story we see the origins of his intense pre- occupation with the wrongs of India's untouchables. He found, in his own words, that Indians, whatever their caste, were all " untouchables " to the dominant white population of the colonies ; and his own sufferings and indignation set him thinking back to the case of the untouchables of his own land, and lit a light in his mind.

Lastly, here you see why so much emotion and passion are in India's demand for Dominion status. The Greek thinkers, nurtured in reverence for the Olympians, came to surmise that above the gods was a greater God yet, "masterless Necessity." Indians, believing profoundly that the British Raj was all-powerful, learnt in Africa that above the Raj was a " Dominion." The Home Government might be sympathetic, Colonial Secretaries and the Indian Government might protest against Indian disabilities and humiliation. They were all helpless against a self-governing colony. Tantum est hoc regnum quod regibus imperat ipsio. Therefore, India too must become a Dominion. There are very few Indians who do not believe that Dominion India would be greater than Independent India ; and if you or I, reader, had learnt that the British citizenship which we thought was ours was worthless, we also should wish to become Possessed of " Dominion Status."