Courtesy Reuters

India Today and Tomorrow

THE outbreak of war caught India already moving rapidly toward a political crisis. The scheme for an All-India Federation, after having been before the Indian public since 1930, had been formally embodied in a statute since 1935. By the summer of 1939, however, the prospects of Federation had all but vanished under the combined opposition of the Princes, the Moslems and other minority communities. Then in September an even more fateful problem -- that of India's status in the British Commonwealth of Nations -- arose. For the All-India National Congress, the most powerful political movement in the country, has declared that it can give whole-hearted support to Britain only after India has become a full-fledged democracy, taking her place in the Commonwealth on exactly the same terms as Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa.

This demand is not a mere attempt to trade on Britain's present troubles. The Congress leaders of course fully appreciate the strength of their unique bargaining position; but they are in full sympathy with Great Britain's aims in this war as defined by Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Halifax. They would rather help than embarrass Britain and it is noteworthy that they are not demanding the severance of the connection between Great Britain and India. There is no talk of fighting for independence. Put in a nutshell, what the Congress leaders are saying is this: "You are fighting for democracy and for all the spiritual and political liberty which that word implies. The Government of India is not yet a fully democratic government and, although the people of India sympathize with you in your present struggle, it is not possible for them to release their immense physical and moral power unless they feel that they are fighting to safeguard something which they themselves possess and dearly prize."

There can be no doubt that sympathy with the British and French cause and a desire to help are very widespread in India, and that this is a factor which Congress dare not

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.