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Henry Judd

Britain Offers a Rubber Check to Indian People

(April 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 14, 5 April 1942, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The British government has delivered a “take it or leave it” ultimatum to the people of India.

Through the medium of its agent, Sir Stafford Cripps, the British have made it clear that if the proposed plan “were to be rejected by the leaders of Indian opinion, there will be neither the time nor the opportunity to reconsider this matter till after the war.”

At the moment, the various political groups of India are considering the proposition of Cripps. The leading body of the Indian National Congress Party – made up entirely of conservative nationalists – is clearly split and divided on the question of acceptance or rejection. The remarks of Gandhi have indicated his opposition to accepting this phoney proposal of British imperialism!

As for the plan itself, it is a typical British fraud from start to finish. Indeed, if it were ever put into effect it would prove the most reactionary scheme imaginable for further dividing India.

  1. Cripps offers absolutely nothing now. Everything is for after the war. In the meanwhile, Britain is to continue its political, economic; and military domination of the country. It is to have full charge of defense. Not one iota of democracy is to be extended to India’s 385 million people NOW! In this respect, the Cripps plan does not differ from a dozen and one other offers made by British imperialism for the sake of maintaining its rule.
  2. The post-war proposal for dominion status makes no provision for a genuine rule of India by the people. That could be accomplished only if the British ownership of the nation’s resources, industry, commerce, etc., were to be liquidated. All that is proposed is a scheme by which the Indian politicians exercize political administration of the country, while the British remain in real power, through their economic stranglehold.

    The offer permitting provinces to secede opens the door for further dismemberment of India and for a division along communal (Hindu and Moslem) lines. Such a proposal can only add more fuel to Hindu-Moslem antagonisms – something very much desired by the British. It is just as reactionary as if someone were to propose that America be divided between Protestants and Catholics.
  3. Most shameful proposal of all is the method by which India is supposed to frame a new constitution. A constitutional assembly chosen by proportional representation by the members of all the provincial legislatures is provided for.

    Such an assembly is loaded in favor of the British from the very beginning. They call it; their supporters dominate it; they write the new constitution. For the provincial legislatures are elected by a very restricted vote to begin with. Less than 5 per cent of the population can vote. As a result, since the workers and poor peasants are deprived of the vote, the legislatures in the provinces are made up of the most conservative congressmen, plus open British supporters.

    Also the Indian states will be represented at this assembly by men APPOINTED by the, princes themselves. Since the British created the princes, this is equivalent to a DIRECT representative of British imperialism in the assembly.

And such an assembly is supposed to draft a constitution for a Free India! The only assembly that could do that would be a constitutional assembly of the people themselves, called through their own action and elected directly on the basis of universal suffrage.

To sum up, the Cripps scheme is a continuation of the same old run-around; seeking only to drag the unwilling people of India into the imperialist war. Even if the Congress leaders should accept it, it will obviously fail to arouse any enthusiasm or support among the population as a whole.

But it is difficult to see even how the most conservative leaders could accept such a proposition. Gandhi has referred to it as a “post-dated check,” one that cannot be cashed until some indefinite date in the future.

On the basis of experience and according to customary British trickery in the past, it could better be described as a RUBBER CHECK, issued by a Tory ruling class whose credit has less and less value each day.

Even Nehru (who is reported as being ready to accept) recognizes this and understands what the masses would say if Congress says yes.

“Suppose we did come to an agreement with Britain, short of independence. Various political groups would immediately say that the Congress was selling out. We can only resist the Japanese through the creation of a nation-wide feeling that India is already free.”

Exactly, and only complete independence now will create that feeling. The Cripps mission to India has failed. He brought nothing but a promise of “blood, sweat and tears for the preservation of the British Empire.”

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