Courtesy Reuters

The Vicious Circle in India

WHAT is India's future? The problem is rapidly assuming a significance which no one could have foreseen at the commencement of the war. The foundations of India's political structure have been so shaken by the events of the last twenty months that it seems unlikely they can ever regain their old stability. A prompt and generous fulfilment of the promises made by Britain during the last war would have seen India -- as an equal partner with the other Dominions in the Commonwealth -- willing and prepared in 1939 to shoulder her responsibilities in the fight against Nazism. But the period from Versailles to Munich was marked in India by two main characteristics: a phenomenal mass awakening under Gandhi's leadership; and a sense of acute frustration on the part of the political intelligentsia as a result of the cynical disregard for past commitments by successive Conservative Cabinets in Britain.

Two major political parties in the country, the Congress and the Moslem League, are committed to the goal of complete independence. There have been discussions among political leaders whether independence necessarily means a severance of the British connection, or is compatible with the status of a self-governing Dominion, especially since the adoption of the Statute of Westminster. It is significant that Mahatma Gandhi and the older politicians in the Congress have preferred the Indian term purna swaraj, the precise meaning of which is full self-government, or freedom. Mr. Gandhi has never concealed his personal view that if Britain and India could remain together as equal partners, without any coercion being implied in such association, these two would form the nucleus of a real League of Nations of the future. There is no political party in India which would accept anything less than full Dominion Status.

Stripped of superficialities, the Indian problem has two aspects: an external one in relation to the British Commonwealth and the rest of the world; and an internal one concerning the details of a new administrative and political structure.

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