Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

It is to uphold indian princes by coercing their

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It is to uphold Indian princes by coercing their subjects into submission. It is strange to be told that the British Government do not want to use coercion. What else do they use in India? Again, how is one to tell that an important group does not want a particular system of government? Ordinarily that group votes, and other groups vote, and then it is possible to know what the feelings or intentions o various groups are. They come to a mutual arrangement, trying to find some common measure of agreement, or, unhappily, they do not, and there is conflict. The British proposal is ideally suited to prevent any progress or major change. Even British interests will bar the way. As a matter of fact the Government have gone further and stated that in any event they are not going to divest themselves of responsibility for the protec tion of these interests. Whatever happens, these interests remain; and so, whatever happens, the British financial and industrial structure dominates India. It so happens that this is exactly what we want to get rid of. There is no progress or lessening of India's appalling poverty till we succeed in this. All else is secondary. We have an intimate glimpse from the Viceroy's statement of the blessings of Dominion status that is held out to us as a lure. Many of us, I fear, are not attracted by this picture. It may be said that the Viceroy's statement about not coercing any large element which disapproves of a system of government applies chiefly to the religious minorities. Certainly let us agree that there must be no such coercion, and the British Government must on no account do it. Nor should others. But where does coercion come in? Who sug gests it? The Congress proposal was not that the Congress or any party or religious groups should be given power. It asked for power for the Indian people as a whole and wanted the Indian people to decide what they wanted in a democratic manner. It went further, in its desire to protect all minority interests. It agreed to separate electorates for such minorities as desired it and laid down that matters relating to minority rights must not be settled by a majority vote. They must be settled by agreement or, if unhappily this is not possible in regard to any par- 381
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ticular matter, through an impartial tribunal. It is difficult to conceive any more comprehensive or effective method for minority protection, short of throwing overboard all pretense at democracy and establishing a dictatorship of the minority. So far as the Moslems in India are concerned, they are only tech nically a minority. They are vast in numbers and powerful in other ways, and it is patent that they cannot be coerced against their will. Just as the Hindus cannot be coerced against their will.
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