Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

But in india in the twentieth century on the eve of

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But in India, in the twentieth century, on the eve of the new order that was promised, in the face of loud declarations in favor of freedom and democracy, in India, parliamentary government, such as it existed in the provinces, was suspended. The Viceroy's authority was supreme; he could make laws and unmake them, tax people and coerce them without the slightest reference to any representative body. The Congress ministries had resigned, it is true, though they had the great majority of the members f the assemblies behind them. They resigned because they could not accept the Viceroy's mandates or the British Government's policy. But the assemblies were still there. The Viceroy or the governors could have dissolved them and had a fresh election. But they knew well that such an election would result in an 374
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overwhelming majority in favor of the Congress governments that had resigned. No other ministry was possible, as it could not command a majority. So the only course was for the provincial assemblies to be suspended, no fresh elections, and the Viceroy and governors to exer cise dictatorial powers. It was a clear case of conflict between the people and parliament on the one side and the King's representatives on the other. One party had to be suppressed or to give in. Parliament was suppressed. It was as if Mr. Neville Chamberlain, unable to carry Parliament with him, had advised the King to suspend it and to rule by decree; or President Roosevelt, in a like predicament, had ignored the House of Representatives and the Senate and constituted himself the dictator. We hear a great deal about authoritarianism and dictators, and England's chiefs condemn both in resonant and forcible language. Yet in India today there is a full-blooded dictatorship and authorita rianism. Our course was clear. Yet we restrained and held ourselves, even though many among us were indignant with us, even though many colleagues of ours found their way to prisons for the offense of explain ing our policy to the people. We were hesitant because we hoped against hope that England's Government, including some progressive and labor elements, might, in this hour of supreme trial, shake itself out of its deadening imperialism and act according to its professions. We had no desire to encourage the Nazi rulers in any way; the thought of their domination over Europe and elsewhere was a painful one. We who had suffered as a subject people knew well what this would mean for others. We, of all people, could not tolerate the racial views and racial oppression of the Nazis. The horror that enveloped Holland and Belgium, the supreme tragedy of France deeply moved us. The imminent peril of England made us feel that we should not add to her difficulties and embarrassments. Though England's ruling classes may have treated us badly and her imperialism may have crushed us, we had no ill will for her people, who were bravely facing peril and extreme danger.
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  • Fall '16
  • Alan Kolata

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