20 SEPTEMBER 1940, Page 11

Sin,—In your September 6th issue the Dean of Worcester asks

the plain question, If the Congress party demands the immediate and absolute independence of India, why do we not readily grant it?

The reply is: (r) The Congress party are a section of the Hindus who have had an English education, and would like to see a wide franchise and Parliamentary government like that in use in this country, forgetting that our democratic institutions have been slowly worked out through a thousand years of experiment and sacrifice.

The seventy millions of Mohammedans in India are alarmed at the idea of handing over the destinies of the country to a vast electorate, three-quarters of whom can neither read nor write, and who would be shepherded to vote as the Congress party directed.

The native Princes who govern a third of the country are resolutely opposed to Congress rule, while the sixty millions of outcasts, who may not go to the wells, or enter the temples, or walk on the high- ways, know nothing of English parliamentary government, which is completely outside their life.

(2) Surely our Government is right in saying to these discordant parties in India, you must first agree among yourselves as to the general outline of a constitution for the country which will be acceptable to all. We cannot hand over the destinies of one-fifth of the human race in that continent, who speak a dozen languages as different as English and Hebrew, who hold fanatically widely different religions, and who are of different races and coloured skins, to one party because it clamours to have the dominance. You must hammer out in consul- tation among yourselves a form of government in which Princes and Mohammedans and Outcasts shall all feel that their interests have had equal consideration with those of the Congress party.

(3) We dare not take most serious risks. Indian history for hundreds of years is a record of savage tribal wars between Mahrattas and Gujaratees, Sikhs and Deccanese and Pathans, while the land went out of cultivation and wild beasts and snakes multiplied. The greatest blessing we have given India is peace, and it would be positively wicked so to withdraw our restraining hand that old animosities may again lead to internal strife.

(II) India has today great railways and systems of irrigation, schools and doctors, courts of justice, and honest local administration. We must be assured that all these happy results of patient labour will not be risked by a new government, which has not builded them and which sets little store by them; besides the hundreds of millions of British money invested in public works to the untold advantage of the country.

(5) India has no navy and cannot resist invasion. We must be sure that Japan or Russia will not step in when we leave, and the loudly claimed independence be lost the day it is gained.—Yours truly,