Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

We tried hard to find a way out honorable and

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We tried hard to find a way out honorable and advantageous to both India and England. We made new proposals, even going beyond our own mandate given at the last sessions of the Congress at Ramgarh. We pledged ourselves for the organization of Indian defense and help in the war effort. But we could only do so as free people, with the good will and co-operation of India's millions. That freedom had to be declared and a provisional national govern ment formed, which would represent not one party only but various 375
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important elements. The fundamental basis for this proposal was the recognition that the imperialist structure had to go. The Viceroy and the British Government have said a final no to us and to India. On the eve of the French collapse, Britain's rulers were unorthodox enough to propose a union of England and France. That was an astonishing proposal. It came too late. But it showed that the British Government had got out of the rut and could take a big step if the situation demanded it. But where their own interests are so vitally concerned, as in India, they still live in the rut, and not all the shock of war and danger has taken them out. Even an obvious advan tage in this war cannot make them give up the special position that imperialism has conferred upon them. They talk complacently still of their Empire and of their desire to maintain it, forgetting perhaps that the word, which sounds so good to them, is a symbol to us of our own subjection, degradation, and poverty. I repeat that it is incorrect to say that there is any new parting of the ways, for our ways never lay together. But this declaration of the British Government means the final breaking of such slender bonds as held our minds together; it means the ending of all hope that we shall ever march together. I am sorry, for in spite of my hostility to British imperialism and all imperialisms, I have loved much that was England, and I should have liked to keep the silken bonds of the spirit between India and England. Those bonds can only exist in freedom. I wanted India's freedom for India's sake, of course; but I also wanted it for England's sake. That hope is shattered, and fate seems to have fash ioned a different future for us. The way of co-operation does not lie for us; the hundred-year-old hostility will remain and grow in future conflicts, and the breach, when it comes, as come it must, will also not be in friendship but in hostility. I am told that the British Government has been led to believe that we shall tamely submit to their decrees because so far we have been quiescent. Our very restraint appears to have made them think that we were incapable of any action. In this world of force, of bombing air planes, tanks, and armed men, how weak we are!
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