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Wednesday 4 April 2012

India gained Independence because of World War II &Subhash Chandra Bose and not because of Gandhi and Congress

India gained Independence because of World War II &Subhash Chandra Bose and not because of Gandhi and Congress

From a perusal of the correspondence placed below, it is clear that India gained Independence because of World War II & Subhash Chandra Bose and not because of Gandhi and his congress:
February 2, 1942

War Cabinet

The Indian Political Situation
Memorandum by the Lord Privy Seal
I have read with interest the Memorandum by the Secretary of State for India (W.P. (42) 42) and the telegram from the Viceroy (W.P. (42) 43), but I am unable to accept the conclusion that nothing can or should be done at the present time. This seems to me to result from a dangerous ignoring of the present situation.
2. It is, I think, agreed, as pointed out in the Simon Report, that India has been profoundly affected by the changed relationship between Europeans and Asiatics which began with the defeat of Russia by Japan at the beginning of the century. The hitherto axiomatic acceptance of the innate superiority of the European over the Asiatic sustained a severe blow. The balance of prestige, always so important in the East, changed. The reverses which we and the Americans are sustaining from the Japanese at the present time will continue this process.
3. The gallant resistance of the Chinese for more than four years against the same enemy makes the same way.
4. The fact that we are now accepting Chinese aid in our war against the Axis Powers and are necessarily driven to a belated recognition of China as an equal and of Chinese as fellow fighters for civilisation against barbarism makes the Indian ask why he, too, cannot be master in his own house.
5. Similarly, the success against the Axis of a semi-oriental people, the Russians, lends weight to the hypothesis that the East is now asserting itself against the long dominance of the West.
6. If the successful outcome of the war is recognised as due to the co-operation of the big four: Britain, the USA, the USSR and China, the two Asiatic Powers will claim a powerful voice in the settlement. A Pan-Asiatic movement led by Japan has been recognised as a danger; a Pan-Asiatic bloc of our Allies is a possibility that should not be ignored. Incidentally, American sentiment has always lent strongly to the idea of Indian freedom.
7. The increasingly large contribution in blood and tears and sweat made by Indians will not be forgotten and will be fully exploited by Indians who have not themselves contributed.
8. The Secretary of State thinks that we may weather the immediate storm by doing nothing; but what of subsequent storms? Such a hand-to-mouth policy is not statesmanship.
9. After having tried to assist in dealing with the constitutional problem of India for some five or six years I have no temptation to ignore the complexities of the problem, complexities which are made harder, nor easier, by the war, more and not less urgent by the approach of the war to the confines of India.
10. The Viceroy, in paragraph 14 of his telegram, points out that "India and Burma have no natural association with the Empire, from which they are alien by race, history and religion, and for which neither of them has any natural affection, and both are in the Empire because they are conquered countries which have been brought there by force, kept there by our control, and which hitherto it has suited to remain under our protection". This is an astonishing statement to be made by a Viceroy. It sounds more like an extract from an anti-imperialist propaganda speech. If it were true it would form the greatest possible condemnation of our rule in India and would amply justify the action of every extremist in India. But it is not the whole truth. All India was not the fruits of conquest; large parts of it came under our rule to escape from tyranny and anarchy. The history of at least 150 years has forged close links between India and the United Kingdom.
It is one of the great achievements of our rule in India that, even if they do not entirely carry them out, educated Indians do accept British principles of justice and liberty. We are condemned by Indians not by the measure of Indian ethical conceptions but by our own, which we have taught them to accept.
It is precisely this acceptance by politically conscious Indians of the principles of democracy and liberty which puts us in the position of being able to appeal to them to take part with us in the common struggle; but the success of this appeal and India's response does put upon us the obligation of seeing that we, as far as we may, make them sharers in the things for which we and they are fighting.
I find it quite impossible to accept and act on the crude imperialism of the Viceroy, not only because I think it is wrong, but because I think it is fatally short-sighted and suicidal. I should certainly not be prepared to cover up this ugliness with a cloak of pious sentiment about liberty and democracy.
11. While I have little or not faith in the value of "gestures", I do consider that now is the time for an act of statesmanship. To mark time is to lose India.
12. A renewed effort must be made to get the leaders of the Indian political parties to unite. It is quite obvious from his telegram that the Viceroy is not the man to do this. Indeed, his telegram goes far to explain his past failures. His mental attitude is expressed in paragraph 8 when he talks of regaining lost ground after the war. He is obviously thinking in terms of making minor concessions while resting on the status quo.
There are two practical alternatives:
(a) To entrust some person of high standing either already in India or sent out from here with wide powers to negotiate a settlement in India; or
(b) To bring representative Indians over here to discuss with us a settlement. The first alternative seems to me preferable, because Indians sent over here would be in the position of delegates bound by their instruction and unable to abate a jot or tittle of their demands.
I consider that the best chance of getting a settlement would be by the method of private and informal meetings of a very few men.
13. It would be necessary to give to our representative very wide powers both as to the future and as to the present, though I consider that the demands for steps to be taken now are likely to be far less important than demands for the post-war period.
14. There is precedent for such action. Lord Durham saved Canada to the British Empire. We need a man to do in India what Durham did in Canada.
15. There is no virtue in delay or in mere dilatory action. In all probability the time saved will be less than the duration of the war. Delay will only make the problem harder.
16. My conclusion therefore is that a representative with power to negotiate within wide limits should be sent to India now, either as a special envoy or in replacement of the present Viceroy, and that a Cabinet Committee should be appointed to draw up terms of reference and powers.
February 2, 1942
Draft Declaration for Discussion with Indian Leaders (as published) (30 March 1942)
The conclusions of the British War Cabinet as set out below are those which Sir Stafford Cripps has taken with him for discussion with the Indian Leaders and the question as to whether they will be implemented will depend upon the outcome of these discussions which are now taking place.
His Majesty's Government, having considered the anxieties expressed in this country and in India as to the fulfilment of the promises made in regard to the future of India, have decided to lay down in precise and clear terms the steps which they propose shall be taken for the earliest possible realisation of self-government in India. The object is the creation of a new Indian Union which shall constitute a Dominion, associated with the United Kingdom and the other Dominions by a common allegiance to the Crown, but equal to them in every respect, in no way subordinate in any aspect of its domestic or external affairs.
His Majesty's Government therefore make the following declaration:
(a) Immediately upon the cessation of hostilities, steps shall be taken to set up in India, in the manner described hereafter, an elected body charged with the task of framing a new Constitution for India.
(b) Provision shall be made, as set out below, for the participation of the Indian States in the constitution-making body.
(c) His Majesty's Government undertake to accept and implement forthwith the Constitution so framed subject only to:
(i) the right of any province of British India that is not prepared to accept the new Constitution to retain its present constitutional position, provision being made for its subsequent accession if it so decides.
With such non-acceding Provinces, should they so desire, His Majesty's Government will be prepared to agree upon a new Constitution, giving them the same full status as Indian Union, and arrival at by a procedure analogous to that here laid down.
(ii) the signing of a Treaty which shall be negotiated between His Majesty's Government and the constitution-making body. This Treaty will cover all necessary matters arising out of the complete transfer of responsibility from British to Indian hands; it will make provision, in accordance with the undertakings given by His Majesty's Government, for the protection of racial and religious minorities; but will not impose any restriction on the power of the Indian union to decide in the future its relationship to the other Member States of the British Commonwealth.
Whether or not an Indian State elects to adhere to the Constitution, it will be necessary to negotiate a revision of its Treaty arrangements, so far as this may be required in the new situation.
(d) the constitution making body shall be composed as follows, unless the leaders of Indian opinion in the principal communities agree upon some other form before the end of hostilities:
Immediately upon the result being known of the provincial elections which will be necessary at the end of hostilities, the entire membership of the Lower Houses of the Provincial Legislatures shall, as a single electoral college, proceed to the election of the constitution-making body by the system of proportional representation. This new body shall be in number about one-tenth of the number of the electoral college.
Indian States shall be invited to appoint representatives in the same proportion to their total population as in the case of the representatives of British India as a whole, and with the same powers as the British Indian members.
(e) During the critical period which now faces India and until the new Constitution can be framed His Majesty's Government must inevitably bear the responsibility for and retain control and direction for the defence of India as part of their world war effort, but the task of organising to the full the military, moral and material resources of India must be the responsibility of the Government of India with the co-operation of the people in the counsels of their country, of the Commonwealth and of the United Nations. Thus they will be enabled to give their active and constructive help in the discharge of a task which is vital and essential for the future freedom of India.
Telegram from the President of the United States Franklin Roosevelt
To Harry Hopkins (11 April 1942)
Kindly give the following message immediately to the Former Naval Person (implying Churchill): every effort must be made by us to prevent a break-down.
(Quote) I hope most earnestly that you may be able to postpone the departure from India of Cripps until one more effort has finally been made to prevent break-down of the negotiations.
I regret to say that I am unable to agree with the point of view contained in your message to me, that public opinion in the United States believes that negotiations have broken down on general broad issues. Here the general impression is quite the contrary. The feeling is held almost universally that the deadlock had been due to the British Government's unwillingness to concede the right of self-government to the Indians notwithstanding the willingness of the Indians to entrust to the competent British authorities technical military and naval defence control. It is impossible for American public opinion to understand why if there is willingness on the part of the British Government to permit the component parts of India to secede after the war from the British Empire, it is unwilling to permit them to enjoy during the war what is tantamount to self-government.
I feel that I am compelled to place before you this issue very frankly, and I know you will understand my reasons for doing this. Should the current negotiations be allowed to collapse because of the issues as presented to the people of America and should India subsequently be invaded successfully by Japan with attendant serious defeats of a military or naval character for our side, it would be hard to over-estimate the prejudicial reaction on American public opinion. Would it not be possible, therefore, for you to have Cripps' departure postponed on the ground that you personally transmitted instructions to him to make a final effort to find a common ground of understanding? According to my reading, an agreement appeared very near last Thursday night. If you could authorize him to say that he was personally empowered by you to resume negotiations as at that point with the understanding that both sides would make minor doncessions, it appears to me that an agreement might be yet found.
As I expressed to you in an earlier message, I still feel that if the component groups in India could be given now the opportunity to set up a Nationalist Government in essence similar to our own form of government under the Articles of Confederation with the understanding that following the termination of a period of trial and error they would be enabled then to determine upon their own form of constitution and to determine, as you have promised them already, their future relationship with the British Empire, probably a solution could be found. If you were to make such an effort and if Cripps were still unable then to find an agreement, at least you would on that issue have public opinion in the United States be satisfied that the British Government had made a fair and real offer to the Indian people and that the responsibility for such failure must be placed clearly, not upon the British Government, but upon the Indian people. (Ends)
Telegram from the US State Department to the American Ambassador at Paris, February, 1947
"Since there is cause for added concern over developments in Indo-China I am of the view that you should at an early opportunity have a candid conversation with Bidault or Ramadier, or perhaps both along the lines of the discussions you have previously had with Blum. But on this occasion you should in fact proceed beyond the position you established in those conversations. We not only have most cordial feelings for France but are anxious in every possible way to help France to recover her political, military and economic power and resume her position in fact as one of the world's major powers. Despite any misapprehensions which may have occurred to the French with regard to our attitude vis-à-vis Indo-China, they must understand that the United States has a full recognition of the sovereign position of France in Indo-China and that the United States has no desire to have it appear that the United States is attempting in any wise to undercut that position. The French must also appreciate that it is our wish to be helpful and that we are prepared to aid in any appropriate manner to seek a solution of the problem of Indo-China. But at the same time we cannot ignore the fact that this problem has two sides and that reports reaching us indicate both an absence of French understanding of the other side (in Saigon more than Paris) and of continued adherence to outlook and methods in Indo-China which are dangerously outmoded.
"Moreover the fact is inescapable that modern trend is to the effect that nineteenth Colonial empire systems are speedily becoming thing of the past. The action of the Dutch in Indonesia and of the British in India and Burma are profound instances of the above-mentioned trend. Further, the French themselves, both in their new constitution and in their agreements with Viet Nam, took cognisance of this new trend. But we are not unaware that Ho Chi-minn has connexions of a direct nature with Communists and it should be clear that we do not wish to see colonial empire administrations inherited by political organisation and philosophy stemming from and controlled by Moscow. It is a fact, however, that in Indo-China there obtains a situation which no longer can be regarded (if it ever was so regarded) as of a local character. Should that situation continue to deteriorate some nation with a direct interest will in all probability take it up before the Security Council in accordance with the terms of Chapter II of the Charter. The United States at this time has no intention of taking such action, but France will be cognisant of the fact that the United States possesses a vital interest in the economic and political well-being of Indo-China. Should some nation take the matter to the Security Council, the United States would find it hard to oppose an investigation of the Indo-Chinese situation unless discussions were being carried on between the two parties directly concerned. Additionally, in our estimation, it would not be to France's long-term interest to utilise her privilege of the veto to prevent the question from arising before the Security Council. In all frankness, we are unable to suggest a solution to the problem.
"Basically, it is a matter for the parties to work out between themselves. From our reports from Indo-China and from your reports, we are led to believe that both parties have sought to keep the door open to a settlement of some kind. We are cognisant of fact that Vietnamese initiated the present hostilities in Indo-China on 19th December, 1946, and that for this reason French have found it more difficult to adhere to a position of conciliation and generosity. We trust that the French will nevertheless find it possible in trying to find a solution to be more than generous." [Ends].
Chandra Bose addressing rally in Tokyo, 1945
Most Secret
1. Subhas Chandra Bose, who arrived in East Asia from Germany in May, appears to have gone to Tokio in mid-June. His arrival in Asia, at first kept secret, is now being widely publicised.
2. On his arrival in Tokio, Bose granted a number of interviews to Axis journalists at his headquarters at the Imperial Hotel. The gist of these interviews was reiteration of his belief in an Axis victory, in the imminent liberation of India with Axis help, and in the need for an armed revolt in India to coincide with invasion from the East. He also answered questions on such subjects as the character of Chiang Kai-shek and the appointment of the new Viceroy.
3. Bose has also spoken on the wireless - to India in English, Hindi and Bengali, and to Germany and Indians in Germany in German. In these broadcasts he again paid tribute to Axis benevolence, and urged all Indians outside India to get into touch with him and help him to organise a "gigantic force to sweep the British from India". This first veiled reference to the "Indian National Army" was later amplified by an official announcement from I.I.L. Headquarters in Singapore declaring that this "new Indian Army" is now under training. On July 8 a formation of the I.N.A. paraded before Bose and the Japanese Prime Minister, Tojo, during the latter's visit to Singapore.
4. On July 4, at a meeting of the Indian Independence League at Singapore ("Shonan") the interim President of the League, Rash Behari Bose, presented Subhas Bose to the League as its new President. S C Bose, who has adopted the title of "Mehtarji" ["Netaji"] or Leader, made a lengthy presidential address, chief points of which were:-
(a) Immediate formation under his aegis of a Provisional Government for India. When the revolution has succeeded this will be replaced by a permanent, popularly elected government.
(b) The hour of India's fight for Freedom has not struck.
(c) His sincere belief in Japan's good intentions.
(d) India's hope of freedom lies only in an Axis victory.
(e) Wavell's appointment means increased ruthlessness.
(f) Existence of many agents inside India with whom, in spite of the British Secret Service, he has kept in close touch.
(g) Great difficulties ahead.
5. In general, Bose's arrival in Asia may be said to have greatly increased the tempo of subversive propaganda, and appears to have galvanised the I.I.L. into greater political activity. It is also noticeable (and to be expected) that while praising and thanking Japan, Bose never forgets to refer to Germany and to Axis sympathy for India. Before his coming the I.I.L. was only publicised in connection with Japan: S C Bose clearly intends to raise the movement into a national campaign for freedom supported by all three Axis powers.
6. Bose's great drive and political acumen, his prestige in Indian revolutionary circles, his understanding of both Indian and English character, will be of real value to the Japanese whose propaganda against India has hitherto lacked imagination. Although we have good reason to believe that his statement at 4(f) is exaggerated there is no doubt that under Bose's direction subversive activities and espionage in India will be greatly intensified.
7. Bose has now finally burned his boats with us by virtue of his association with Germany and Japan, his political future being entirely dependent upon the continued military success of the Japanese and the paralysis of British rule in India by internal revolt. Fortunately public morale and internal security in India are now fairly steady and the Japanese widely feared. Bose will undoubtedly be able to make some capital our of the economic distress and the political deadlock but unless he can win over Congress en bloc his chances of stirring up a major revolt would appear to be small. Had he arrived in East Asia last August or even during Gandhi's fast his prospects would have been much better.
8. A biographical note1 on Bose is attached. 
Cutting from Indian Newspaper, National Call, 4 Jan 1947
We must realize that the fate of India is, to some extent, linked up with the fate of Indo-China. Indian freedom can only be conceived in the background of Asiatic freedom. The complete, and utter distruction of Western Imperialism in Asia is the only guarantee of our future security. We cannot but therefore, take an active interest in the heroic battle that is now being fought by the Indo-Chinese people for their country's freedom. It is not enough for us to express sympathy and pass pious resolutions. Asia's future, including that of India, is now being decided on the battlefields of Viet-Nam. It is time, therefore, that Indian young men should play their part and shed their blood in common with the youth of Indo-China for building the structure of Asiatic freedom. I hope young men from all over the country will come forward in thousands and tens of thousands and volunteer their services to the Viet-Nam Republic. I am aware that the Government of India as at present constituted, may not find it possible to render armed assistance to the Indo-Chinese Republic. But, I believe, there is nothing to prevent an Indian volunteer army from taking their stand along-side the Viet-Nam Republic forces and fighting shoulder to shoulder with them for the common battle of Asia," -API.

Sarat Bose Calls for A Volunteer Army To Fight Alongside The Vietnamese

Calcutta, Jan. 3-Maintaining that the future of Asia, including that of India is now being decided on the battlefields of Viet-nam. Mr Sarat Chandra Bose, today appealed to Indian youths to come forward in thousands and tens of thousands to help the Vietnam Republic and to take a volunteer army to fight alongside the Viet-nam republic forces.
He said: The battle of Indo-China is now entering its crucial phase. The French Imperialists are mobilising their entire military and air strength to crush and destroy the young Indo-Chinese Republic and re-establish their colonial mastery over the Indo-Chinese people. It is perhaps not an accident that a squadron of German Junkers transport aircraft is feeding the French Army at Hanoi from Saigon and dive-bombing British Spitfires are clearing the way for French troops advancing on Hanoi. The Western Imperialist Powers are pooling all their resources to smash the liberation movement in one of the ancient historic countries of the East.
"The battle in Indo-China is not merely a war for the freedom of the Indo-Chinese people - It is part, and an essential part, of the larger struggle for Asiatic freedom. The defeat of the Indo-Chinese Republic at the hands of the French Imperialists will mean consolidation and strengthening of Western Imperialism in Asia. It is in Indo-China, therefore, that the battle for Asiatic freedom must be fought and won by the Asiatic peoples. The defeat of French Imperialism in Indo-China will mean the liberation of an important strategic centre in Asia from the stranglehold of Western Imperialism. It is in this context that we should view and analyse the fateful struggle now going on in Indo-China.
We must realize that the fate of India is, to some extent, linked up with the fate of Indo-China. Indian freedom can only be conceived in the background of Asiatic freedom. The complete, and utter distruction of Western Imperialism in Asia is the only guarantee of our future security. We cannot but therefore, take an active interest in the heroic battle that is now being fought by the Indo-Chinese people for their country's freedom. It is not enough for us to express sympathy and pass pious resolutions. Asia's future, including that of India, is now being decided on the battlefields of Viet-Nam. It is time, therefore, that Indian young men should play their part and shed their blood in common with the youth of Indo-China for building the structure of Asiatic freedom. I hope young men from all over the country will come forward in thousands and tens of thousands and volunteer their services to the Viet-Nam Republic. I am aware that the Government of India as at present constituted, may not find it possible to render armed assistance to the Indo-Chinese Republic. But, I believe, there is nothing to prevent an Indian volunteer army from taking their stand along-side the Viet-Nam Republic forces and fighting shoulder to shoulder with them for the common battle of Asia," -API
Letter from members of the Indian National Army Defence Committee to the Viceroy, 15 Oct 1945.
[MSS EUR D 977/14]
From Bhuhulabhai J. Desai, Esq. M. ASAF ALI, Esq.
October 15th, 1945
Your Excellency,
On behalf of the Committee appointed by the Working Committee of the Indian National Congress we make the following representation for your Government's consideration.
2. This Defence Committee consists of the following members:-
  1. The Rt. Hon. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, P.C., K.C.S.I.
  2. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Member, Congress Working Committee, BARRISTER-AT-LAW.
  3. Shri Bhulabhai Desai, Advocate.
  4. Dr. K. N. Katju, M. A., LL.D., Advocate.
  5. Shri Raghunandan Saran.
  6. Rai Bahadur Badri Das. Advocate.
  7. M. Asaf Ali, Esq., Member, Congress Working Committee, BARRISTER-AT-LAW (CONVENOR).
On the 22nd September 1945 the Working Committee of the Congress, having regard to the profound interest and anxiety felt throughout India in the fate and future of the officers and men of the Indian National Army now held as prisoners of the British Government, appointed this Committee to take necessary steps for their defence.
3. At present three officers, namely, Shah Nawaz Khan, Sahgal and Dhillon have been formally charged with the offence of waging war against the King and other offences arising out of their activities as Officers off the I.N.A. on active service. The 5th November 1945 has been fixed for their trial before a Court-Martial. These officers have formally entrusted their defence before the Court-Martial to the above mentioned Defence Committee.
4. According to press reports, trials of other officers and men for similar or cognate offences are likely to follow in the near future.
5. These trials raise questions of such grave public importance that the Committee considers it imperatively necessary to address your Government on the matter at once.
6. The circumstances which led to the formation of an Indian National Army are now common knowledge all over India. It is no exaggeration to say that while some may doubt the propriety of the policies which led to the establishment of such an Army as an independent military organisation under the command of its own officers, Indians of all communities, all persuasions and of all schools of political thought recognise and appreciate the selfless patriotism which actuated those who took part in this movement.
7. After the conquest by Japan of the French and Dutch possessions in South-East Asia and the fall of Burma, Malaya and Singapore there arose a great desire in the minds of Indian inhabitants of these countries to organise themselves not only for their own defence and protection, but also for active participation in the movement for the liberation of their home country from foreign rule. Rapid movement of events throughout the World led to the further intensification of this resolve bid for the achievement of the Independence of India. Independence Leagues were established throughout the length and breadth of these countries and a provisional Government of Free India is reported to have been eventually set up, and a well-organised, well-trained and well-disciplined Indian National Army operated under its control. According to accounts available this Government was not a mere puppet Government under Japanese control, but was an independent Government with a definite international status.
8. It is understood that in addition to a large number of Indian Civilians residing in the locality, numerous officers and men of the Indian Army, who had been surrendered by the British to the enemy, joined the Indian National Army.
9. We do not propose to enter here into any discussion about the legal status of the officers or men of the I.N.A. and it would also be inappropriate to discuss here the question whether they can be said to be guilty of any offence. The only question at this stage is whether it would not be contrary to public interest to bring them to trial and assuming that it is not so, when and by whom such a decision should be taken.
10. These men of the I.N.A. are virtually being charged with having endeavoured to enter India with armed force to liberate it from British domination. That alleged offence primarily concerns the Indian people and the more so as the British Government have publicly announced that India will have the right to secede from the British Commonwealth if the Indian people so desire. So far back as 1924 the then Secretary of State for India, Mr. Wedgwood Benn, speaking on behalf of His Majesty's Government in the House of Commons said that whatever may be the deficiency in theory India already enjoyed "Dominion Status in Action". The first privilege of that status "in action" is that in a matter like this which vitally affects the lives and liberties of a large number of Indians drawn from all parts and principal communities of India, the wishes of the people of India should be ascertained and given effect to. Judging by the trend of public opinion in the country, this Committee urges that this matter of the trial of the I.N.A. should not be pursued any further.
11. At this juncture the Central Legislative Assembly and the Provincial Legislative assemblies have all been dissolved. But by the middle of December, 1945, the Central Legislative assembly will have been re-elected and by the month of March 1946, general elections in all the British Indian Provinces will have been held, and the British Government expects that soon thereafter Ministries in Provinces will be formed to undertake the task of Government in their respective spheres. His Excellency the Governor-General has also announced his intention to reconstitute his Executive Council soon after the general elections so that it may be representative of popular opinion in the country. All these constitutional events are due to take place in the next few months.
12. The Defence Committee believes that the Governor-General with his reconstituted Executive Council will be in a much better position to gauge public opinion in this matter. Representatives of the people will also have the opportunity to express their opinion upon it in the newly-elected Central and Provincial Legislative assemblies. All the Provinces are interested in the Indian National Army because men from every Province have contributed to its personnel. The new Government will be able to arrive at a proper decision whether the intended trial of the I.N.A. should take place at all and if so when and how.
13. The Defence Committee therefore earnestly urges that the trial fixed for the 5th November 1945 and all other contemplated trials should, if not abandoned, be at least postponed and the whole question relating to the I.N.A. be examined afresh after the Governor-General's Executive Council has been reconstituted and the Ministries in the provinces have begun to function.
14. The Defence Committee is convinced that it would be a tragedy if this matter were approached and disposed of in a narrow, technical and legalistic spirit. Unprecedented issues of this nature require to be decided in a broad and statesmanlike spirit. There are various aspects of these issues of great public and political importance and hasty decisions, not in consonance with popular will and sentiment, will have far-reaching repercussions throughout the length and breadth of India, so deep and widespread is the appreciation of the motives and aims of the movement of which the Indian National Army was an expression.
The Defence Committee requests that the matter of the trials of the I.N.A. by Courts-Martial be abandoned, or that in any event no proceedings before any Court Martial be commenced until after the formation of the Interim Government at the Centre and the functioning of Provincial Governments on the completion of the ensuing elections, and all necessary directions may be given to the authorities concerned. We beg to remain, SIR, Yours faithfully, BHULABHAI J. DESAI. M. ASAF ALI. Office of the I.N.A. Defence Committee, 82, Daryaganj, Delhi. October 15th, 1945.
Letter from Lord Wavell to Winston Churchill, Prime Minister, 24 Oct 1944.
24th October 1944
My dear Prime Minister
I have now completed one year in the high and responsible office for which you did me the great honour of recommending me to his Majesty and I feel I should write and give you some account of my stewardship and of the views I have formed on this present and future of India.
I propose to write entirely freely and frankly, as I know you would wish. I have served you now for over five years and we should know one another reasonably well. I know you have often found me a difficult and troublesome subordinate, I have not always found you an easy master to serve. But I think you realise that I have always served loyally - and I may say with unqualified admiration for your courage and your strategy - and that I have always told you the truth as I saw it without fear of consequences. I propose to do so now.
I will begin by saying that my primary reason for writing is that I feel very strongly that the future of India is the problem on which the British Commonwealth and the British reputation will stand or fall in the post-war period. To my mind, our strategic security, our name in the world for statesmanship and fair dealing, and much of our economic well-being will depend on the settlement we make in India. Our prestige and prospects in Burma, Malaya, China and the Far East generally are entirely subject to what happens in India. If we can secure India as a friendly partner in the British Commonwealth our predominant influence in these countries will, I think, be assured; with a lost and hostile India, we are likely to be reduced in the east to the position of commercial bag-man.
And yet I am bound to say that after a year's experience in my present office I feel that the vital problems of India are being treated by H.M.G. with neglect, even sometimes with hostility and contempt. I entirely admit that difficulty of the problems, I know the vital preoccupations of the European war. I agree in the main with what I think is your conviction, that in a mistaken view of Indian conditions and in an entirely misplaced sentimental liberalism we took the wrong turn with India 25 or 30 years ago; but we cannot put back the clock and must deal with existing conditions and pledges; and I am clear that our present attitude is aggravating the mischief.
May I give you a few instances of what seem to me a neglectful or unfriendly attitude to India and her problems.
I read the proceedings of the meetings of the Dominion Premiers. India, one of the most vital problems of the Commonwealth, was hardly mentioned, either from the strategic or political point of view.
At the last big debate on India in the House of Commons, I am told that there were hardly ever more than 40 members present.
In spite of the lesson of the Bengal famine, I have had during the last nine months literally to fight with all the words I could command, sometimes almost intemperate, to secure food imports; without which we should undoubtedly be in the throes of another famine, and probably of uncontrolled inflation, since without these imports I could hardly have held food prices from soaring as they did last year.
The recent increases of soldiers pay, which have added some £50,000,000 to our inflationary position, already precarious, and a considerable part of this sum to the Indian taxpayer's burden, was introduced without any consultation of India at all, or even warning; though we could have suggested means of easing the burden both for the British and Indian taxpayer; and Indian Members of Council would have felt no resentment if they had been consulted in advance.
The obloquy now being heaped on India for the lack of amenities for soldiers is mainly due to disregard of repeated requests during the past three years or more for doctors, nurses, medical comforts, and goods of all kinds.
Having got that off my chest, I will try to give you a picture of the Indian problem as I see it.
I will take as a text the directive you gave me on October 8th last year, before I left for India. This directive required me, in brief:
(i) to see the defence of India against the Japanese;
(ii) to rally all classes to the support of the war effort;
(iii) to establish and maintain the best possible standard of living for the largest number of people;
(iv) to appease commonal differences; and
(v) to make proposals for political advance as occasion warranted, subject to the demands of (i) and (ii) above.
The background of conditions in India is very well known to you; but I think it is worth while to recapitulate it briefly to show how it has affected the war organisation. By 1939 the Provinces of British India enjoyed a great measure of autonomy; the power of the Central Government had been much weakened both in law and in practice; and control by H.M.G. had almost ceased in the Provincial sphere and was less effective than formerly in the central sphere. Since Federation had not been achieved, the Indian States were linked with British India only through the person of the Viceroy as Crown Representative.
The fourth and fifth tasks you have given me together constitute the political problem. I cannot claim to have made any progress with them, but they are of vital importance. The following seem to me to be the essential factors of the problem: (i) When we started, 20 or 30 years ago, on the political reform of India, we laid down a course from which we cannot now withdraw. It may have been better to have prescribed economic development first; but I am afraid it is too late to reverse the policy now. And the general policy, of giving India self-government at an early date, was confirmed not long ago in the Cripps offer. (ii) Nor do I think that in any case we can hold India down by force. Indians are a docile people, and a comparatively amount of force ruthlessly used might be sufficient; but it seems to me clear that the British people will not consent to be associated with a policy of repression, nor will world opinion approve it, nor will British soldiers wish to stay here in large numbers after the war to hold the country down. There must be acquiescence in the British connection if we are to continue to keep India within the Commonwealth. (iii) India will never, within any time that we can foresee, be an efficient country, organized and governed on western lines. In her development to self-government we have got to be prepared to accept a degree of inefficiency comparable to that in China, Iraq, or Egypt. We must do our best to maintain the standards of efficiency we have tried to inculcate, but we cannot continue to resist reform because it will make the administration less efficient. (iv) The present Government of India cannot continue indefinitely, or even for long. Though ultimate responsibility still rests with H.M.G., H.M.G. has no longer the power to take effective action. We shall drift increasingly into situations - financial, economic, or political - for which India herself will be responsible but for which H.M.G. will get the discredit. We are already in the position that Indian Members of Council have a controlling voice, and are increasingly aware of their power. The British Civil Services, on which the good government of the country has until now depended, might almost be described as moribund, the senior members are tired and disheartened, and it will be extremely difficult after the war to secure good recruits. (v) If our aim is to retain India as a willing member of the British Commonwealth, we must make some imaginative and constructive move without delay. We have every reason to mistrust and dislike Gandhi and Jinnah, and their followers. But the Congress and the League are the dominant parties in Hindu and Muslim India, and will remain so. The control the Press, the electoral machine, the money bags; and have their prestige of established parties. We cannot by-pass them, and shall be compelled in the end to negotiate with them along with representatives of the less important parties. Even if Gandhi and Jinnah disappeared tomorrow (and I do not think that Gandhi today would be described by Insurance companies as a good life) I can see nor prospect of our having more reasonable people to deal with. We have had to negotiate with similar rebels before, e.g. De Valera and Zaghlul. (vi) When we should make any fresh move is a difficult problem. I am quite clear that it should be made some considerable time before the end of the Japanese war. When the Japanese war ends, we shall have to release our political prisoners. They will find India unsettled and discontented. Food will still be short; demobilisation and the closing down of the war factories, and overgrown clerical establishments, will throw many people out of employment. They will find a fertile field for agitation, unless we have previously diverted their energies into some more profitable channel, i.e. into dealing with the administrative problems of India and into trying to solve the constitutional problem. We cannot move without taking serious risks; but the most serious risk of all is that India after the war will become a running sore which will sap the strength of the British Empire. I think it is still possible to keep India within the Commonwealth, though I do not think it will be easy to do so. If we fail to make any effort now we may hold India down uneasily for some years, but in the end she will pass into chaos and probably into other hands. (vii) To be effective any move we make must be such as to capture the Indian imagination. If India is not to be ruled by force, it must be ruled by the heart rather than by the head. Our move must be sincere and friendly, and our outlook towards India must change accordingly. I am prepared to put up proposals for a move, which will involve risks, but which I think constitute the best chance of making progress. What I have in mind is a provisional political Government, of the type suggested in the Cripps declaration, within the present constitution, coupled with an earnest but not necessarily simultaneous attempt to devise means to reach a constitutional settlement. Amery knows my views, and I drafted a paper for the Cabinet, which I have asked him to withhold for the present. But the real essential is a change of spirit, a change which will convince the average educated Indian that the British Government is sincere in its intentions and is friendly towards India. It will not be easy to do, there is a very deep-rooted feeling of suspicion to overcome, but certain steps could be taken which would help to reduce the mistrust and enmity now generally felt. In fact, if we want India as a Dominion after the war, we must begin treating her much more like a Dominion now. If certain measures, which I would suggest, were taken by H.M.G., and I were permitted within a policy approved by H.M.G. to try and convince India of British sympathy, I believe it would be possible to effect a considerable improvement. I should like to add that the view that something must be done before long is not merely my opinion. It is the considered opinion of the Commander-in-Chief, of all eleven Governors of the provinces of British India, and of all the senior members of the Services with whom I have discussed the question. I do not think H.M.G. can afford to ignore the entire weight of British official opinion out here. If the Cabinet is opposed in principle to any move during the war, I think a clear statement to that effect should be made so that we may all know where we stand. But if it is a matter of timing and of method my advice is entitled to due weight. I think the failure of the Gandhi-Jinnah talks has created a favourable moment for a move by H.M.G. It is easy to condemn any plan for betterment of the Indian situation on the ground of risk or probable failure. If we are to make any progress, we must take risks and be prepared for failure; but a move made generously and honestly, even if it failed, would do good. I have, as you know, no axe to grind. I did not seek this appointment or wish it; but since I have been placed in a position of such immense responsibility for the future of the British Commonwealth which we serve. I am bound to place my views in front of you; "without partiality, favour or affection".
Yours sincerely
(Sd. - WAVELL)
Lord Wavell's papers:
1. The transfer of political power in India to Indians will affect Great Britain and the British Commonwealth in three principal issues: Strategy, Economics and Prestige. This note is an attempt to assess very briefly our prospective gains and losses in each of these fields.
2. The principal advantage that Britain and the Commonwealth derive from control of India is Strategic. The greatest asset is India's manpower. The War of 1939-45 could hardly have been won without India's contribution of two million soldiers, which strengthened the British Empire at its weakest point.
India was also, during this period, a very valuable base of war. Her contribution in material was very considerable: and the potentialities will increase as India's industrial capacity expands.
The Naval bases in India and Ceylon have enabled the British Navy to dominate the whole of the Indian Ocean region, except for a short interlude in the last war; these bases are of importance for the protection of oil supplies from Persia and the Persian Gulf.
India will also be an indispensable link in the Commonwealth air communications both in peace and war.
Before the war some 60,000 British troops were stationed and trained in India and were paid for by the Government of India, which thus made a very substantial financial contribution to British defence. India also formed a valuable training ground for officers and men. In view, however, of the deficient manpower of the UK, and the increasing unwillingness of the youth of Great Britain to enlist for service abroad, the above advantages are at least partly outweighed by the relief afforded to her manpower.
3. On the Economic side there is a very valuable trade connection between India and the UK. In 1944 India was one of the countries with the largest import and export trade with Britain.
British business has also had in the past a considerable share in industry in India, especially jute and tea. There has lately been a tendency to sell out British undertakings at high prices to Indian capitalists, but the British stake in Indian industry is still large. As India's commerce and industry expand, there seems every reason that British business, both in India and in the UK should also benefit increasingly. Britain is still the natural market from which Indian importers are likely to seek their requirements; and sterling balances will greatly strengthen the connection. British technical skill is also highly valued in India. As the prosperity of India expands it will become a most important market for the import of consumer goods of every kind, in which Britain should have a great share. Although Britain is likely in time to lose her privileged position in regard to shipping on the UK - India routes, it will take India some considerable time to build up a shipping industry.
4. By giving up political power in India, Britain will lose a valuable field of employment for the professional classes in the India administrative and technical Services. The earnings of British personnel in these Services are estimated at about £2,000,000 a year, and civilian pensions paid by India in the UK amount to £3,000,000 a year. Britain is not likely however to lose the whole of these amounts, as there is likely to be a demand in India for British technical and other experts for some time to come.
5. In International Prestige, Great Britain should on the whole gain by her transfer of power, provided that this results in an orderly and friendly India.
The general conclusion is that on the whole Great Britain should not lose, but on the contrary, may gain in prestige and even in power, by handling over to Indians, provided that the following main conditions are fulfilled:
A. Power can be transferred in an orderly manner to a friendly and united India.
B. A satisfactory defensive alliance can be secured.
These two provisions are the crux of the whole matter. If India lapses into chaos, Britain will lose trade, strategic advantages, and prestige, and a danger to world peace will be created. The worst possible outcome from Britain's point of view will be if India, either through lack of responsible Government or by communist revolution, or by deliberate choice, falls under the control of Russia. Britain will then have sacrificed her own position and given nothing to India.
6. The strategic consequences of independence for India are set out in the G.H.Q. paper attached. It is clear that a defensive alliance with India is of great importance to Britain. Such an alliance cannot be forced on a free India, but is likely to be sought by India itself, if we manage well. It should secure our naval position in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, the maintenance of the link in air communications and so far as possible the use of Indian manpower. Without such an alliance Britain stands to lose very heavily by abandoning India.
7. The greatest danger is that an independent India may come under the domination of Russia. It is very difficult to estimate how likely this is to happen. An independent Indian Government could hardly be unconscious of the length of its seaboard or of the fact that 90% of its trade is sea-borne. The defences of the country are so much stronger by land than by sea that India would naturally look first for a naval alliance, especially at a time when a steady flow of imports is so vital to the development of the country. And it must surely be many years before Russia can become a formidable naval power in the Indian Ocean. Again communications by land with Russia are so bad that Russian help would be no substitute for British or American help in developing [the] country. It seems therefore that the future Government of India will not of its own choice go for Russian protection.
8. Russia might however try to employ her usual tactics of giving support to a revolutionary party. Conditions in India are not unfavourable - a few capitalists and Princes have enormous fortunes, while labour is still exploited, has genuine grievances, and has begun to feel its power. Maladministration can easily cause local scarcity and famine. The nucleus of a communist organisation already exists and is making itself felt. It would not be difficult for Russia to gain a foothold in the country by its usual methods if the Government is weak and if the gateway of Afghanistan is not effectively barred.
9. Unfortunately there is every prospect of an Indian Government being ineffective. It is a tremendous task to take over control of a country as large and diverse as India. There is no evidence that either the political or the administrative capacity to do so exists. If the Indian Government does turn out to be weak and incompetent, the country is likely to lapse into chaos and disorder. If that condition occurs, the loss to Britain in strategic position, manpower resources, communications and trade, will be very serious even if Russia does not intervene. Indeed any advantages to Britain that can be anticipated as a result of handing over political power are all conditional on there being a stable successor Government that can rule the country.
10. To sum up it is vital to Britain that when she gives over political power in India she may be able to hand over to a stable and friendly Government and contract with it a genuine defensive alliance. Fortunately India's interests quite obviously point the same way. If this objective is achieved the demission of political power may bring advantage and not loss. In all other circumstances the debit balance will be heavy
Letter from Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin to Prime Minister C.R. Attlee, 1 Jan 1947


Prime Minister.
I must express my strong views with regard to India, as I mentioned to you this morning. I have examined this problem in relation to Egypt, Palestine the Middle East, and all the Arab States and Persia, and I cannot help feeling that the defeatist attitude adopted both by the Cabinet and by Field-Marshal Wavell is just completely letting us down. I do not believe that, with leadership, the Indian Army is in the bad way that people suggest. I can quite understand that with a mind like Wavell's the demoralisation of the whole of the Army and the Police must be inevitable and I would strongly recommend that he be recalled and that you find somebody with courage who, even if he were the last man left there would come out with dignity and uphold the British Empire and Common-wealth.
2. Further, I cannot help feeling that the President of the board of Trade is so pro-Congress that a balanced judgement is not being brought to bear on the importance of the Moslem world, while, on the other hand, probably, the Minister of Defence is too pro-Moslem. I listened to yesterday's discussion and, frankly, I was despondent and did not think that the facts justified the pessimism that seemed to pervade the whole Cabinet. I am against fixing a date. I am willing to support a declaration, as we have done, that we are ready to hand India over as a going concern to established governments. I do not mind, even, using the plural in this sense, if Nehru and Jinnah are not going to agree, but the qualification should be that they can preserve law and order. I cannot get it out of my head that there must be millions of Indians who, as a result of the murder incidents in the last few months, would welcome a strong and courageous lead so as to preserve their safety. Personally, I do not think it depends on the number of British troops there, but it is the complete lack of leadership in the Indian Army which I believe will cause the disaster that will overtake the British Empire. In fact, you cannot read the telegrams from Egypt and the Middle East nowadays without realising that not only is India going, but Malay, Ceylon and the Middle East is going with it, with a tremendous repercussion on the African territories. I do beg of you to take a stronger line and not give way to this awful pessimism. When I saw Wavell and Alexander on the 21st December, I was filled with dismay.
3. Now, as regards administering the country under Section 93; with an army of over 30,000 in India I cannot be persuaded that, if such a situation arose, we could not find the men from the Indian Army and at home to administer Section 93. What would happen if the Congress withdraw? The people of the Provinces would want government, and stable government. They would be just terrified at the idea of no government. The Indian Army itself would not know what to do. Therefore, If we were able to move into Germany and other occupied countries and find administrators among the young men from the Services, as we had to do, why can't we find them from the Forces in India and at home? Secondly, continued searching for men with reputations leads us, I believe, into a morass. Try some one untried and it is remarkable how they will rise to the occasion.
4. Therefore, my view is that while we issue a declaration that it is our determination to clear out of India and to hand the responsibility to the Indians, we should declare that it is our determination to hand it over as a going concern and to place the responsibility squarely on their shoulders of failure in that respect. I would impress you with this fact. As Foreign Secretary, I can offer nothing to any foreign country, neither credit, nor coal, nor goods, (and) expected to take bricks without straw - to use that old proverbial phrase. And on top of that, within the British Empire, we knuckle under at the first blow and yet we are expected to preserve the position. It cannot be done and I beg of you in all sincerity, even if does involve a certain risk, to take it, and I believe the world will respect us.
5. Now as regards the United States: I sent you report from America which was handed to me by Byrnes. I have not had a reply but why cannot we use the United States to put pressure on Nehru and on Jinnah? Why not bring the whole of our diplomatic power to bear at this stage to make the Indian politicians realise that it is not merely Great Britain they are facing but a very much wider area. It would be especially useful if they could be made to say that Great Britain is taking a magnanimous attitude and I believe the United States can be honest in such a way to bring a tremendous amount of pressure to bear on the Indian politicians. We appear to be trying nothing except to scuttle out of it, without dignity or plan, and I am convinced that if you do that our Party in this country, as a leading Party in this new world settlement, will lose and lose irrevocably when the public become aware of the policy of the Cabinet at this moment.
Private and Confidential
2nd January, 1947
My Dear Ernie,
I agree with you that Wavell has a defeatist mind and I am contemplating replacing him, but in fairness to him I must say that he has the support of the most experienced civil servants in India. I am not defeatist but realist.
The Indian Army has so far stood up well and has not exhibited communal learnings, but I do not think that anyone doubts that in the event of communal strife breaking out on a large scale, the Army would be split. This is admitted with regret by Indian officers who themselves are on the best of terms with their fellow officers of other communities. The loyalty of Indian soldiers has been to the Crown and the British Raj. If the British Raj is not to continue, that loyalty must be transferred to an all India Government we hope, but if we fail to get that it will inevitably pass to the communities. By all accounts Auchinleck has the confidence of all.
It has been common ground with all of us who have had to study the Indian problem that there are millions of Indians who do not really wish for a change of Government, but they are passive. The active elements in the population including practically all the educated classes have become indoctrinated to a greater or lesser extent with nationalism. This was largely true even at the time of the Simon Commission. Since then the pace has accelerated.
We have always governed India through the Indians. Without the tens of thousands of lesser functionaries we could not carry on. In a typical district of one or two million population it is quite common for there to be only one or two white officials. Under the regime of constitutional governments, which have now been in existence with some intervals for a number of years, the loyalty of Indian officials is increasingly directed towards the Indian Governments and not to the British Raj. With the knowledge that the termination of British rule in India is not far off, how can you expect them not to look to the future?
It would be quite impossible even if you could find the men for a few hundred British to administer against the active opposition of the whole of the politically minded of the population. I presume when you suggest getting administrators from the Indian Army you mean the British units in India. How could Army officers with only a slight knowledge of the language and no knowledge of administration deal with such a matter as the collection of land revenue, the backbone of Indian Finance, if they had not even got Indian clerical assistance? If you proposed to govern by main force, you would be driven into shootings and the like for which you would find very little support in this country.
You suggest that we are knuckling under at the first blow, but this entirely ignores the history of the past twenty-five years. I must ask you if you are prepared to take the strong hand in India, to announced that we intend to stay there and to put in enough troops to enforce our rule? This is to go back on the pledges that have been given by Governments of every political colour.
We are seeking to fulfil the pledges of this country with dignity and to avoid an ignominious scuttle. But a scuttle it will be if things are allowed to drift. I do not understand your paragraph 4. The declaration that we are determined to hand over as a going concern is precisely what we are making clear to the Indians and we are placing responsibility on their shoulders.
The American representative in Delhi has tried his hand but without success. The Indians are very willing to get support from America, but have very little inclination to take advice from them.
If you disagree with what is proposed, you must offer a practical alternative. I fail to find one in your letter.
Yours ever,
Clement (signed)

The Right Hon. E. Bevin, M.P.

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