31 MAY 1930, Page 14



[To the Editor of the SPECFATOR.1 •

SIR,-MuCh is happening in India from day- to day, and the hot' weather does - not diminish the intensity of the political campaign. Early in the week the friends of law and order were cheered up by the issue of a statement by the Viceroy, which fixed the date of the Round Table Conference. The publication of correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Viceroy, and the announcement of definite dates for the appearance of the Commission's Report, did much to clear

the air. - -

Nevertheless, I cannot honestly say. that there are any discernible signs of an improvement in the situation. The Indian Liberals have met and conferied in Bombay. Their principal communal allies, men who are protagonists of Hindu claims; declined to meet them in Conference at this juncture, on the ground that the present time was inopportune for the 'discussion of a Hindu-Muslim settlement. The Liberal Council, however, issued a statement of their views, in which they condemned the civil disobedience campaign. This con- demnation was accompanied by frank criticism of the Govern- ment of India, and especially of the Press ordinance, of which the Council disapproves, but nevertheless it was, a manly and courageous act. Every man who signed it knew that he was setting himself against a strong current which is sweeping through the country and carrying with it many men and women who, in ordinary times, are not bereft of moderation and good sense.

For the Gandhi movement is, for the time being, enjoying a greater measure of success than seemed at all probable some months ago. Heie in Bombay it is all-powerful. The Indian commercial and business classes are, to a great and increasing extent, in sympathy with it. It is quite untrue to assert that support for Mr. Gandhi is confined to the intelligentsia, or to " the Brahmin oligarchy," or to town-bred lawyers and journalists and their dupes. The movement has permeated all classes. There are distinct signs that Mahonunedan aloofness is weakening. It would be a great mistake for the Government to count on solid Maliommedan support. The spirit of sacrifice is abroad, and the discipline and devotion of the Satyagrahis have been great, and have produced a great effect. The most distinguished member of the Liberal Council, a man who hails not from Bombay but from Northern India, told me yesterday that in his "opinion it could not be denied that the country was with Mr. Gandhi, and by "the country" he meant something, the existence of which is denied in London, but which is very much alive in India ; he meant the Indian nation, which we have created, and by which we are now faced.

Lecky, reviewing the position in the American colonies before the outbreak of the War of Independence, observes that English public opinion greatly overrated loyalist support in America, and counted on colonial diamion. " Provincial Governors," he says, " were naturally inclined to underrate the. capacity or the sincerity of their opponents, and they thought that the wild talk of lawyers and demagogues, and the demonstrations of mob violence would speedily collapse before firm action." [History of England in the Eighteenth Century, vol. III, p. 416.1 There are not wanting in India to-day administrators who believe in " firm, action," as in itself the sovereign remedy, for the present troubles. The Chief Coxiunissiciner of Delhi, for in'stance, as soon as the Press Ordinance had been promul- gated, demanded substantial security from the principal newspapers in Delhi, without giving them an opportunity of mending their ways. The Government of Bombay, on the other hand, has not as yet taken action against any established newspaper, but it has suppressed The Congress Bulletin, which is not 'a newspaper, but a' daily type-written broadsheet, full of hysterical abuse: This action is typical of the correct and moderate attitude of the Bombay Govern- ment in a very difficult situation. Their Director of Infor- mation issues from time to time statements to correct mis- representations and. perversions of the truth, and I believe it would be welcOmed by moderate men if he, or other Officials; would cothe more often before the public and carry on propaganda on behalf of the constitutional cause.

"The European public servant in India," say the authors of the Montagu-Chelmsford Report, p. 259, " ought not to leave the task of political education solely to the politicians. He also must explain and persuade, and argue and refute." Such subjects in particular as interference with trade and business, hartals, picketing of shops, and boycotts of all kinds, offer abundant material for the most telling propaganda against those who defy the law and disturb the public peace. The most prominent Indian business man in Bombay assured me last week that the prevailing economic distress was the cause of the success of the Gandhi movement. I am sure that he is right, but the Gandhists are doing absolutely nothing to cure the economic distress. On the contrary, they are intensifying it, and their economic ideas are by far the crudest and weakest part of their whole mental and moral outfit. For this among other reasons, it is to be hoped that both Indian and European business interests will be well represented at the Round Table Conference, and that all parties will keep -steadily in view the importance of restoring confidence in the credit and stability of India, and belief in her great -economic future.—I am, Sir, &c.,