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Henry Judd

Behind the Struggle for Indian Independence

(March 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 11, 16 March 1942, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“As we write we are told that the Cabinet has failed to arrive at the agreed solution. The Cabinet need not worry. The matter is out of their hands. No half measures have any value now. The Indian revolution is on. There is only one possible chance to make up a little of the lost time …

“Nehru must be asked to become Prime Minister and Minister of Defense with full powers and with a provisional All-Indian Legislative Assembly to act as the representative organ of the state.

“Make no mistake. This is not opportunity knocking at our door – it is history battering it down.” (The Tribune, weekly magazine of Sir Stafford Cripps)

Rangoon, port of entry for the Burma Road, has fallen. The Japanese forces are now conquering the remainder of the former British crown colony of Burma. Their forces are gathering in the Indian Ocean in preparation for a land, air and sea attack on Ceylon and the shores of the Indian coast. Submarines have already been reported off of Bombay.

And it is announced in London that the British Cabinet is not yet prepared to make a statement on the question of India and the war. The debate which was supposed to take place in the House of Commons this week is reported postponed indefinitely.

It is clear what is wrong. A bitter struggle is on between various groups in the British Tory ruling class. This struggle is not over the the question of “Freedom for India” versus continued enslavement, but over the question: How little can we give? Churchill against Cripps; Tory against so-called “Liberal.” it is clear that the British Cabinet is being torn to pieces and may fall as a result of the “Indian Question.”

The press is filled with rumors about India and “concessions” to it. “Dominion Status Immediately”; “Dominion Status After the War is Over”; “Indianization of the Viceroy’s Executive Council”; “provisional Government,” etc. These are some of the rumored propositions. Meanwhile, reflecting the mortal crisis of the British Tories, NOTHING HAPPENS!

But the 385 million people of India still continue to speak. They speak the same language as always. They will accept nothing less than a complete transfer of power into their own hands, with full and unhampered independence accompanying this transfer.

So powerful is this feeling among the people of India that even the nationalist leader Nehru is compelled to reject IN ADVANCE the various half-hearted “concessions” and reforms put forward by Cripps and British liberals. Says Nehru:

“The Indian problem can be approached only on a basis of Indian freedom. Nothing else will make a vital difference or move our millions to effective action. Until they realize that they have achieved freedom and are fighting to defend and preserve it, all else is unimportant, talk of reforms and minor changes and what will happen after the war will be mere quibbling.”

Exactly. This is why the only real settling of the “Indian Question” remains in the hands of the workers and peasants. What the Churchill-Cripps Cabinet does is not decisive; what the people of India do is.

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