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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 5, No. 8. October 6, 1942

India

India

At this most critical time in the war against Fascism, a situation has arisen in India which is nothing short of catastrophic, a situation where a vast mass of potential allies are not only outside the struggle, but are causing a diversion of effort which should be directed against the Axis powers.

How is it possible that in a country where the sympathies of the people are clearly anti-fascist, and where the victory of the United Nations is a precondition for real and complete independence, that such a situation can arise? It is easy for people over here to say that the Indians are blind, or that the Congress is a wicked organisation. This attitude is based on a complete lack of understanding of the real situation, and is sometimes a deliberate attempt to drive the Indian people further than ever from the allied cause, and to confuse the issue in the minds of the British, people by newspaper reports of a prejudiced nature, which drive a wedge between the British and the Indian people. In any case it is an attitude which makes impossible any solution of the problem.

If we are to be realistic, we must understand that the fundamental cause of the present disruption is the inability of the British Government to realise the needs of India to-day and to put forward a policy which will win over the mass of the Indian people by giving them the means to play a full part in the war. As a result of the failure of the Cripps mission, and the refusal on the part of the British-Government to reopen negations with Indian leaders, to transfer real political power to India itself, a feeling of great bitterness has arisen in India, and it is in this atmosphere that the pacifist and objectively pro-Japanese policy of Gandhi has been able to gain such support.

This policy is a disastrous one, and is splitting the anti-fascist movement of the Indian people from top to bottom, but the present attitude of the British Government is only driving the wedge deeper and making it more difficult to reach a solution.

The need for a national Indian Government in which Indians are given the power to mobilise their people in the war, a government which on an equal basis can co-operate with the Allied countries in the defence of India, this need remains, and it is more urgent than ever that the Government be made to understand this and to act accordingly.

It would be wrong to think that the whole of India is united behind the policy of Gandhi. Part of the Congress resolution itself reveals the element which understands that the future of India lies with the victory of the United Nations and is anxious to reach an agreement which will enable India to take its rightful place in the war to destroy Fascism. This element, represented by such as Nehru and Azad, could be won over if the British Government put forward a really constructive and helpful policy. The All-India trade unions, peasant unions and student federation have shown in past resolutions their understanding of the need to destroy Fascism and their desire to participate fully in the struggle, and there is no doubt that they would respond to an encouraging approach on the part of this country.

The question of India to-day is a question which is bound up with the fight of the United Nations, and from the point of view of the critical battles on the Eastern front, from the point of view of the opening of the second front, from the point of view of the menace of a Japanese invasion, it is desperately urgent that a solution be reached immediately, and the initiative in this has to come from Britain.

—U.F.L. Bulletin.)