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International Socialism, Summer 1964

David Breen

Movement and Men

From International Socialism (1st series), No.17, Summer 1964, p.32.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The Essential Gandhi
Edited by Louis Fischer
Allen & Unwin, 30s.

The Last Years of British India
Michael Edwardes
Cassell, 25s.

After Nehru, Who?
Welles Hangen
Rupert Hart-Davies, 30s.

Canonisation is now a routine. Take a major public figure, select passages from his speeches and writings, classify under broad subject headings, publish and you have The Essential Gandhi – timeless, placeless and characterless. The publishers must have hoped to provide a handbook for civilly-disobedient nuclear disarmers (and then made the mistake of bundling Sex, Sanitation and Segregation into one chapter).

Edwardes shows something of the other Gandhi: the recruiting sergeant for the British during World War I, the canny lightning-conductor for the foreign Raj, the pacifist that added his brand to the communal conflagration that scorched independent India. He details the importance of the fight for Pakistan in the total Independence ‘struggle’; the weakness disunity and pettiness of the Congress leadership in general; the very pragmatic considerations which brought the Labour Government to grant Independence in 1947; and much else. His is a readable, popular account, perhaps too prolix about the diplomacy of Independence, too thin elsewhere (for example, why are communal passions so close to the surface and so fierce?) and unforgivably lacking in references.

Neither the eight leading Indian political personalities that form the subject of Welles Hagen’s book, nor the author’s treatment are of much intrinsic interest to readers of this journal. Besides, the question now seems to have found an answer in Lal Bahadur.

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