1 NOVEMBER 1930, Page 16

Great Britain and India

The purpose of this page is to ventilate that all the difficulties, yet believes in the contin within the loose framework of the

moderate Indian opinion which, recognizing ued association of Great Britain and India British Commonwealth of Nations.

Indian Nationalism

[All those who are prepared to put aside prejudice and think about the Indian question for themselves will find comfort in this analysis of Indian nationalism, specially contributed to the Spectator by the Dewan of Mysore, Sir Mirza M. Ismail.] IT is of very great importance to India—and indeed to the whole Empire—that every British citizen should endeavour to understand the issues, if not all the details, of the Indian problem. History gives us many examples of subject peoples seeking liberation from foreign domination. But has there been any previous instance where the foreign rulers have deliberately resolved to further the liberation, and as far as may be, to hasten it ? The statement of Mr. Montagu, unchallenged by any party in England, was quite unequivocal. "The development of self-governing institutions "—"the progressive realization of responsible government "—towards these ends the British Government has consistently been working, and any doubt as to supreme control has been removed by the Viceroy's statement last November that the natural issue of Indian constitutional progress, as con- templated in the declaration of 1017, is the attainment by India of " Dominion Status."

It is not possible for any judgment, at once well-informed and unwarped, to question the sincerity of this purpose on the part of Britain. Nor can any Indian, who calmly con- siders the human complexities of India and the nature of the internal and external problems, seek an independence that goes beyond this promise. What an extremist at present means by " independence " would prove to be not a means towards liberty, but an invitation to many kinds of class and race bondage within the country, and very probably such enslavement to an external power as India has certainly never known under England. The security of the individual, the race, the religion, is one of Great Britain's gifts to India, and true patriotism cannot risk its loss.

On the other hand, no Englishman should be deluded by the idea that because nationalism is now expressing itself in an impossible extremism of demand, that nationalism itself is unreal or impotent. We must get rid of some much- cultivated ideas on this point. It is constantly said that the Indian nationalists are just an educated handful and that the " toiling millions " are by no means concerned with the aspirations they express. Certainly the masses are both untaught and inarticulate, but recent events (and was the ignoring of recent events by the Simon Commission long vision after all ?) have shown how they can be worked upon. Whatever may have been the means of this working, it has appealed successfully not merely to a fancied self-interest, but to a genuine patriotism. Similarly, the men of a par- ticular religion, for example, may abstain from, or resist the demands of extreme nationalism because of fear as to their own fate, but nevertheless, they are as truly nationalist as anyone.

Again, the unifying influence of the British Government and the English language has been such that at last the term " nation " has become applicable, with real significance, to India, and every thought of diversity and rivalry disappears in the new habit of thinking proudly of oneself as an Indian. This national consciousness has spread rapidly and will spread much more rapidly now throughout the country— in Indian States no less than in British India. Englishmen, above all others, must realize its vitalizing power. It is restless and creative, and maddened by restraint. It is the hope of India's future. Its dangers are, first, an exuberance that does not wait on reason, and second, an overthwarting of it that would divert it to evil from its great chance of good.

What I wish to emphasize is the reality, scope and power of this Indian nationalism. It speaks at first with varied voices and in terms not reconcilable with each other. At present its loudest and least-reasoned cry is " Independence apart from the Empire." But it will surely be realized how natural is that cry from men who feel within them a power

that they have not yet been allowed to exercise. And no heed must be given to the idea that the men who in the heat of patriotic strife urge an untenable idea are inevitably either unreasonable or dishonest, and could not be entrusted with administration. It is a very old part of the human story that the extremist, sobered and balanced by reaching high responsibility, may retain of his extremism only its ardour, its devotion, its power.

It is perfectly clear that were India severed from the British Empire she would lose speedily, and to the accompani- ment of manifold disasters, even such unity and such national consciousness as she has now attained. Thus, to follow the teaching of Hegel, the scheme of nationalism may become profoundly anti-national. It is not merely, though it is largely, a matter of security. There is something in the spirit of the Empire—a very different thing from imperialism —that is of inestimable value to India. The spirit of tolerance, the power and habit of mutual adjustment, the sense of pro- portion that comes of age-long and world-wide effort and vicissitude—these things are among the great needs of India, and have not been taught her by her own history, but are already growing through her association with the Empire. Willing and responsible partnership within the Empire is necessary to India's own future, and might I add that the future of the Empire also depends largely upon Indian co-operation ?

Never in the world's history has there been such an oppor- tunity as now awaits us, despite difficulties that seem insur- mountable save to high wisdom, faith and courage. Now, for the first time, if we are rightly guided, the East and the West will meet and unite ; the one enriching and fortifying the other and so bringing in a new era of civilization. Within the mind of India, there are certainties strangely contrasted with Western questionings, within her heart (little though the casual observer may think so to-day !) is a peace born of understanding of life for which the West is seeking with ever- growing restlessness. To what heights might not man rise, could but the Western and the Eastern world unite their so profoundly different experience, wisdom and power ?


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