Showing 129 results

Archival description
Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand (1869–1948), Indian political leader and religious and social reformer
Print preview View:

29 results with digital objects Show results with digital objects

Carbon copy of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Aldous Huxley

Praises his book Grey Eminence, and discusses the involvement of mystics in politics. Refers to Gandhi’s inflexibility on certain subjects, and suggests that his policy may result in calamities comparable to those created by Father Joseph.



29th. November, 1943.

Dear Huxley,

A colleague M.P. {1} who had read my autobiography insisted that I should read your book “Grey Eminence” {2}, and I have now done so with absorbing interest. The double riddle that you set yourself to solve, first as to why a mystic should engage in politics at all and secondly, why if he did so he should play such an abominable part, is in itself a most fascinating one; and your solution appears to me as nearly satisfactory as any appreciation of somebody else’s pyschology† can possibly be.

I agree broadly with you that it is not the function of a mystic to engage in “activities” at all and that he is wise to refrain from so doing until he has reached a degree of spiritual discernment which enables him to discriminate between good and bad action. I think you are also right in pointing the danger of that school of Christian mystics who transfer their attempt at union with the Central Life to union with Christ (though no doubt some of them believe that this is the same thing). It seems to me moreover that if Father Joseph had concentrated his mind on Christ the Lover of men who suffered little children to come to Him and told us that we must enter the Kingdom as little children, he might not have been so regardless of human suffering as he became in contemplating the sufferings of Christ on the Cross.

Of course it is in general true that a man of some eminence in his own sphere should hesitate before entering a sphere other than his own. I have noticed the unfortunate result of neglecting this in many cases and I have noted also that the most eminent are usually too wise to fall into this mistake.

But for those whose sphere is religion and who have attained to {3} some measure to union with the Central Life the danger is much greater, both for themselves and also for the public who are wont to assume that their saintly life has given them a discernment in worldly af[f]airs which they do not necessarily possess. I was reading in The New Statesman a few weeks ago a remark which it is said was used by Oliver Cromwell to a number of Northern Ireland Divines “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ to think that ye may be mistaken”. The religieus† i4} is apt to assume that he is never mistaken and the words that fall from his lips belong to the category “Thus saith Zoroaster”.

I expect your mind has turned, as mine has done, from the mystic politician of the 17th century about whom you write to the Mahatma politician of our own day. I wonder whether it has occurred to you to write a companion volume dealing with his “activities”? If not, perhaps some future writer a century or two hence will write up the story and sum up the result in somewhat the same way that you have done with regard to Father Joseph.

I do not of course attribute to Gandhi the political malpractices performed by Father Joseph which seem so disreputable to us and even to his contemporaries. I have known Gandhi personally for a great many years and have been a great admirer of him; and I know his meticulous care to be fair and just. Nevertheless the result of his policy may bring upon India and indeed upon the whole world calamities comparable to those which Father Joseph created. I will give you three examples:—

1) Gandhi feels deeply the spiritual wrongs inflicted by Hindu castes on the untouchables and has his own approach to this question. But the untouchables must be saved his way and this makes him very intolerant of Ambedkar the leader of the untouchables. I saw this myself on the Round Table Conference and its sequel.

2) Gandhi preaches the spiritual view of continence. Therefore he will have nothing to do with birth control. But Gandhi’s spiritual doctrine is quite above the heads of the vast mass of his fellow countrymen. Therefore we have the appalling picture of an India already over populated, having some 50 million extra souls to its population in the course of the last ten years.

3) Gandhi has a spiritual conception of the independence of India. This makes him intolerant of any compromise and I think there is no doubt that it was his influence which caused the Cripss† olive branch to be rejected in the summer of 1942. This has resulted in the further drawing apart of the Hindus & British, of the Moslems & British, and the Hindus & Moslems; and though one can never predict the final closing of the gates of mercy, it may prevent a peaceful solution of the Indian problem for many years to come. I think that Gandhi himself has envisaged the breaking out of civil war.

In conclusion may I say once more what a great service I think you have rendered in writing such an amazingly interesting and penetrating book.

I remain,

Yours sincerely,


{1} Godfrey Nicholson. See 5/62.

{2} A study of François Leclerc du Tremblay (1577–1638), a French Capuchin monk more commonly known as ‘Père Joseph’ or ‘l’éminence grise’ (the grey eminence). He was the confidant and agent of Cardinal Richelieu, ‘l’éminence rouge’.

{3} Altered from ‘in’. ‘to’, the next word but two, should have been altered to ‘of’.

{4} Typed ‘religieuse’ and altered by hand to ‘religieus’.

† Sic.

Carbon copy of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to J. M. Keynes

Has returned from India. Encloses a letter summarising his views of the situation in that country (see 6/135), and two others describing the Indian National Congress (wanting) and his meeting with Gandhi, Tagore, and Bose (see 6/133). His wife is recovering from the illness she suffered on board ship. Refers to adverse reactions to his recent pronouncements on the subject of free trade.

Carbon copy of a letter from L. S. Amery to Sir George Schuster

India Office.—The Viceroy (Linlithgow) does not think this the time for the kind of good-will mission suggested. Explains why he agrees with this view, and points out other methods which might be used to ease the deadlock.

(Carbon copy of a typed transcript.)




India Office, | Whitehall.
21st. November, 1941.

My dear Schuster,

I have just heard from the Viceroy that he does not think that this is really the time for the kind of good will mission suggested. He does not think it could do any good in the present situation and might even do harm. I am afraid I must agree with his conclusion. I fear that there might be every danger of the leaders of the main parties, short of a Government decision to accord Dominion status now, giving a public rebuff to the visit. As you will remember, your very friendly and helpful open letter last year met with a cool reception and Miss Rathbone’s earnest and sincere appeal only provoked the most violent criticism.

I imagine that both Gandhi and Jinnah might not only ignore the mission, but order their followers to do so.

On top of all this there is the terrific difficulty about securing priority for air passages.

Isn’t the best chance under present conditions of easing the deadlock to give Indians themselves the opportunity of creating credit for any constructive move—assisting them entirely sub-rosa, which might be done to some extent by people like Wint or Hodson or Coupland, and by reading your book {1}, but not by a Parliamentary mission which could not but attract attention, and might very well be suspected of being really a disguised official mission?

I don’t think you should assume that because the major deadlock is unsolved, and likely to be unsolved for some time to come, we are pursuing a purely negative policy. On the contrary, I cannot but hope that in actual working the new Executive and the National Defence Council will begin to exercise a very real influence on the outlook of India, and be increasingly contrasted with the purely negative attitude both of Gandhi and of Jinnah. In all these things one has, after all, to take time into one’s counsels. Incidentally time, in the shape of a German advance in the Caucasus or a Japanese invasion of Burma, may help the process of reflection.

I have telegraphed to Wint saying that we both think he had better go on with his investigations into Pakistan.

Yours sincerely,
(Sgd) L. S. AMERY


{1} George Schuster and Guy Wint, India and Democracy: A Summary (1941).

Carbon copy of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Clement Attlee

Reports on the progress of the Cabinet Mission, and alludes to the possible arrest of Aung San in Burma.



7th April, 1946.

Secret and Personal

My dear Clem,

I expect you will like me from time to time to send you a letter reviewing the situation.

As I think you know, we have arranged a programme of interviews covering the 1st–15th April. The representatives include the Premiers and Leaders of Oppositions from all Provinces and also representatives of the principal political parties. By giving an additional two or three days to these interviews and by allowing some of the minor parties to come and be heard by Cripps and Alexander only, we have managed to meet all claims to be heard which have any reasonable substance. This is a lengthy process, but I think it is proving of value even though all we are doing at this stage is to hear the statement of existing views.

This week our interviews have included Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Jinnah, and the Sikhs, and also a meeting with a deputation of the Chamber of Princes.

There is, I am afraid, no sign of any accommodation at present as between the Congress and the Muslim League. The Congress are, however, prepared to consider the widest provincial autonomy. Their proposal is that there should be a minimum list of compulsory federal subjects which might be foreign affairs, defence, communications and probably customs. There would then also be an optional list of federal subjects which in practice only the Hindu provinces would be likely to adopt, but they appear to set great store on immediately setting up an Interim Government which will be responsible for bringing into being a constitution-making body charged with making a constitution on these broad principles. Their proposal is that this Interim Government should be formed by inviting the eleven Provincial Governments to nominate one person each. These nominees need not be drawn from the Province itself, or be members of legislatures. In reply to a question, Azad said that he thought that if it were desired, more than one nominee could be put forward by each Province and that he personally would not be opposed to a panel of nominees being put forward. The Minorities would be represented by selection to the extent of three seats in a total of fifteen.

I put it to Azad that, in view of the results of the elections, the Muslim League would under this procedure not have more than two or possibly three representatives in a Council of fifteen. Azad seemed to admit the force of this and thought, speaking personally, that arrangements may be made whereby four Muslim League representatives would be included. He said definitely that Congress would not under the present constitution agree to parity with the Muslim League. Cripps asked Azad whether, in view of the fact that the Hindu Provinces only would in fact take optional federal subjects, the Congress would agree to a separate list of optional subjects for the Muslim Provinces which would enable them to come into closer co-operation among themselves for subjects within the special list. At first Azad seemed wholly opposed to this idea but subsequently said that it was a matter which might be considered.

Jinnah, on the other hand, in a three-hour interview insisted that eastern and western Pakistan must be sovereign States and that there could be no relations between those States and Hindustan except by way of treaty or agreement. Anything else would be a surrender of sovereignty. On the question of areas, he made it clear that he was willing that substantial Hindu areas in Bengal and the Punjab should go into Hindustan, but he insisted that limitation of Pakistan to the areas in which Muslims constitute 50 per cent or more would be quite unacceptable since such a Pakistan would not be economically viable. In particular, he said that Calcutta must be in Pakistan. We put to him the possibility that Calcutta might be a free port and, while he did not reject this positively, he raised no objections to it. Jinnah made a fairly good case for Pakistan on cultural and religious grounds, but he was completely unyielding and showed no signs of any intention of making a proposition to meet the Congress. We went for him on the question of defence and, although Cripps made a strong attempt to pin him down as to what he contemplated should be the subject matter of a treaty between Hindustan and Pakistan, we got very little out of him.

The Sikhs were, of course, opposed both to Hindustan and Pakistan. They wanted a united India but in the event of a divided India a separate autonomous state for Sikhs. They based their case for that on the high proportion of land revenue paid by the Sikhs in a substantial area of the Punjab even though nowhere are they in a majority of the population.

We also had a satisfactory meeting with the Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes and four other members of the Standing Committee of the Chamber. I gave them full replies to a series of questions they had put to me and in the course of doing so I made it clear that Paramountcy was coming to an end when a fully self-governing constitution came into operation in British India. I also made it clear that in those circumstances we should not be able to provide troops for the internal protection of the States and that therefore the States on their part would be liberated from their obligations under the treaties. They took this quite well. I was a good deal impressed with Bhopal and I think he may be a helpful factor though there is no sign of the States showing any desire to take an initiative which might ease the British Indian situation.

You will see from this that so far as interviews go we are getting on, but from the point of view of reaching any solution we have not really yet got started. In addition to the official interviews we have had a number of private talks including Gandhi, Jinnah, Vallabhai Patel, Nehru and many others, but these have only served to dot the “i”s and cross the “t”s of the official discussions. Gandhi is at the moment inclined to be generally helpful but I never feel sure what line he may adopt. The Indian Press has ceased to be actively hostile.

We shall probably be seeing the main parties again in about 8 or 9 days time and may lay before them some suggestions for agreement but I think that the critical phase will come in the week after Easter {1} and we may then formulate some definite course of action, and lay it before you.

I am keeping very well in spite of the heat, and the doctor here gives me a clean bill of health. Alexander has been slightly indisposed but is now fully recovered. We have decided definitely not to go to Simla though we may go away for the Easter week-end to Kashmir.

With all personal wishes,

Sincerely yours,

From telegrams I have received I am afraid Burma is giving you anxiety especially on the question of the possible arrest of Aung San on a murder charge. My personal feeling is that if we start probing into what happened during the Japanese occupation we shall stir up mud which may well give us a lot of trouble.

The Rt. Hon. The Prime Minister. {2}


{1} 21 April.

{2} This direction is at the foot of the first sheet.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

S.S. ‘Kaisar-i-Hind’.—Describes his and his wife’s meetings with Bose, Gandhi, and Tagore, their visits to Jaipur, Udaipur, and Ahmedabad, and their return to Bombay. Encloses a printed letter (6/135) recording his political impressions of India.—(Later.) His wife’s sudden illness compelled them to abandon their intended visit to Egypt.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original. The postscript was written after the Pethick-Lawrences’ return to England.)



P & O. S. N. Co.,
S.S. Kaisar-I-Hind.
January 19, 1927.

Three men in India stand out head and shoulders above the rest—Gandhi, Tagore, and Sir Jagadis Bose. We were fortunate in knowing all of them before we went out to India, and during the last few weeks of our stay there we had the opportunity of renewing our acquaintance.

We went to lunch with Sir J. Bose in Calcutta on our way to Gauhati. He has a wonderful Institute, buildings and lecture room in front and a beautiful garden court behind. He showed us many fascinating experiments. A plant feeding and automatically ringing a bell with each gulp of food; shading the plant from sunlight the gulps become less and less frequent. A plant’s pulse beating; poison supplied at the root the pulse dies down; restoratives supplied, the plant recovers. But Bose is not merely the world-famous plant physiologist, he is also a great artist, philosopher and patriot, and his explanations of the panels on the walls of his house were full of poetry and beauty.

Gandhi we met at Gauhati, in simplicity of life reminding us forcibly of John the Baptist. Dress a single loin cloth, food the humble fruits of the earth. Surrounded everywhere by hundreds or thousands of devoted followers to whom he is a Mahatma he remains a quiet unassuming man without the slightest pose of saintliness. He discussed mundane affairs quite simply with us in his tiny hut and told us that though on the surface things were not going exactly as his intellect would like, deep down in his consciousness he was content that all was well.

Tagore we went specially to see at his University a hundred miles away from Calcutta. He is a superb figure with his gracious smile and wide understanding and acceptance of life. Very different from the austere personality of Gandhi yet to him equally the spiritual life is the fountain spring of being. Learning, poetry, social service are the channels through which the living water pours out to sustain humanity. Yet a child would have no embarrassment in his presence and the laugh of the poet and of his little playmate would ring out happily together.

Tagore’s University is two sided. One half is for Literae humanae, and here are priceless manuscripts of Sanskrit and ancient Chinese; the other half is intensely practical, the actual demonstration of improved methods of agriculture and simple preventive medicines.

We left with reluctance and sped away westward to have another glimpse of the exquisite Taj at Agra and on from there to visit some of the native States of Rajputana. The rapid fall in temperature coupled with our early arrival at Jaipur (4.27 a.m.) gave us both bad colds but in other respects we were in luck’s way, for in view of the impending visit of the Crown Prince of Sweden all the glory of Jaipur was prepared for display. Enormous State elephants with faces and ears painted with lovely floral designs, solemn bullocks decked out in red and gold cloths, disdainful camels, soldiers in chain armour riding horses padded against primitive weapons—all passed us by in gorgeous procession, first in rehearsal and next day in actual display before the royal guest. Then there were jewels—strings of pearls the size of filberts, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, jade of matchless size and splendour. Next an amazing collection of old Indian paintings. Finally ancient carpets of fabulous worth, and shawls and saris of cashmere and silk exquisite in delicacy and in colour. Of all these we were afforded a special private view in company with the Councillors of State.

After Jaipur, Udaipur, where we were guests of the State and were taken to wondrous palaces enshrined on islands in a lustrous lake. Here Shah Jehan, builder of the Taj, spent his youth exiled by his father, but guest of the Maharana of Udaipur.

The glory of princes is not incompatible with—alas it is often built upon—the poverty of the country side. In Rajputana we introduced ourselves to some of a group of social reformers who are seeking to improve the lot of the peasant, and learnt something of their story. One we tried to interview in the Udaipur jail, but permission was not granted to us and in view of the shortness of our stay we could not press our request.

From Udaipur we went to Ahmedabad where we found one of the few well run Trade Unions in India with a woman as its leading spirit—Miss Anasuya Surabhai—a very remarkable personality who has fought many a battle for freedom both for her sex and for Labour. We also ran out to Gandhi’s “Ashram” a kind of college or fraternity for students. The Mahatma himself was away but his brother showed us over and instructed us in the cottage spinning and weaving which are specialities of Gandhi’s national revival.

From Ahmedabad back to Bombay to the charming roof-flat overlooking the city, the home of our friend Sheldon Bunting where we were entertained as happily as on our first arrival in India. One morning I visited a mill, and went on to see the so-called dwellings—insanitary pigsties would be a more nearly accurate description—in which many of the workers live, I also visited the 16,500 “model” tenements of which because they are uncomfortable, inaccessible, and financially beyond the reach of the workers, no less than 13,500 are untenanted! One day Emmeline addressed a meeting. We also lunched with the Governor and had an interesting talk with him.

We are now on the Kaisar-I-Hind sailing homewards. The Crown Prince of Sweden is on board and has won good opinions among the passengers by his unceremonious behaviour.

I have already written a special letter dealing with all my political impressions which owing to its unusual length and importance I am having printed. I am arranging for a copy to be enclosed with this letter {1}. I have a number of extra copies so if you would like one or more to give to your friends and will let me know, I will send them on as far as available.

Fascinating as our time has been it will be delightful to be home once more among all our friends.


P.S. Since the above was written after our return to the ship from visiting the famous tanks at Aden, Emmeline contracted a germ which laid her unexpectedly low and made me exceedingly anxious. We abandoned our proposed visit to Egypt, and it was still not possible to land when we reached Marseilles. We accordingly continued on the boat to Plymouth and by the time we reached there her recovery was fortunately nearly complete. She will rest a few days in Weston-super-Mare before returning to London. Fortunately we were blest with beautiful weather the whole of the voyage.


{1} PETH 6/135.

† Sic.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

En route to Calcutta.—Outlines his and his wife’s activities during the last fortnight. Discusses in detail the political situation in Madras and the labour conditions there, and describes visits to Mysore and Madura.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)



En Route to Calcutta.
November 22, 1926.

It is only a month yesterday since we left England, and a fortnight ago in the train to Madras I was writing an account of our first experiences of India {1}.

I have rarely lived as strenuous fourteen days as those which I have just experienced. Thanks to the businesslike arrangements made by my friend Campbell I have seen almost everyone of any account in Madras—the Governor, all the non-elected members of the Madras Government, all but one of the elected Madras ministers, and all the principal members of the three political parties in Madras, “justisites”, “independents”, and “congressmen”; I have visited most of the factories of the city, I have addressed three trade union meetings and have discussed the labour position with the commissioner of Labour and with all the principal trade union officials; in addition I have travelled 300 miles west and spent 3 days in the State of Mysore seeing sights in the capital city Mysore and addressing two meetings in the adjacent city of Bangalor, and 300 miles south to Madura where we stayed with a landowner and spent two days visiting temples and investigating conditions in a neighbouring village.

Let me deal first with the political situation. We arrived in Madras on the day immediately following the election which had gone off quietly but not without considerable interest and excitement. We were told that quite a number of women had exercised the franchise, and that one woman had stood as a candidate in a rural constituency on the West Coast. Previous to the election the “Justice” members had formed the principal party in the Madras Legislative Council and therefore from them the Ministers had been selected. These ministers had charge of what are known as the “transferred” subjects, while the “reserved” subjects, according to the diarchy installed by the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms, were controlled by the members of the Legislative Council appointed by and responsible to the Governor alone.

My first meeting was with the members of the “Congress” party who are the Swarajists in Madras. Their main plank is the utter inadequacy of the amount of self government provided by the existing constitution. The diarchy of the provincial governments and the very limited powers given to the elected representatives in the (federal) Government of India are alike condemned by them. They do not want a commission appointed in 1929 by Britain to consider what modifications of the constitution she will be graciously pleased to grant to India, but a round table conference of Indians and British to arrange the details of the change over to complete “Dominion” status. They have abandoned the “boycott” of the Council as implied in the “non-cooperation” of Gandhi, and the “walk-out of the Chamber” as ineffective political weapons and substituted obstruction based as far as they understand it on the tactics of Parnell. On local issues they deny that they are in any sense either a “capitalist” party or a Brahmin party, pointing to the fact that most of the Trade Union leaders hold prominent positions in their ranks, and many non-Brahmins were their candidates at the recent elections. They support a wide franchise but point out that an illiterate franchise provides grave opportunities for corruption.

The Justice party consider the diarchy a piece of rather badly constructed machinery which will need very considerable repairs if it is to be made to work. But they are quite averse to jumping from that into complete self-government either in the local or in the federal government. They regard the Swaraj and Congress parties of Indian† as essentially Brahmin, and fear that they would use any power given to them [to] rivet fetters of Brahmin tyranny upon India. They look upon themselves as champions of the non-Brahmins generally including the large section of outcast “untouchables” who are so terribly oppressed at the present time.

The Independents have not any one point of view and hold many divergent opinions, some approximating to the “Congress” and others to the “Justice” party.

The Mohammedans have a special franchise of their own for the Assembly and a specially appointed member of the Legislative Council of Madras. As traders they have not troubled much about the higher education which has been so much sought after by the Brahmins, and some of those whom I saw are fearful lest greater self government may mean in practice subordination of Mohammedan to Hindu which they would resent and resist perhaps even by violence.

The English in Madras hold many varying opinions and those in official positions are naturally chary of expressing very definite views as to the future. I think however there is a general consensus of opinion that there has been a genuine attempt made both by the British and by the Indian majority-party to work the constitution and that it has not proved at all easy. Some think that self government ought to have been confined first to taluk boards and district boards (rural district councils and county councils). Few however would think it possible to go back on the provincial self-government already conferred. The most advanced x† view that I heard was that (since people prefer self-government to good government) complete self-government should be bestowed in 1929 on the Madras Presidency, the Governor becoming entirely constitutional, all the subjects including law and order and finance being “transferred” to the control of the popularly-elected assembly, and the whole government to be in the hands of ministers to be selected, as in England, from the majority party. But, and those who took this view were emphatic on this point, this handing over the reins in Madras must be accompanied by a tightening instead of s† loosening of the reins in the Government of India as a whole, and further it must by no means be assumed that self governing powers similar to those proposed for Madras should be given to all the other component parts of British India.

I do not propose, at this stage, to express any view of my own, and I will therefore only add that the result of the elections in Madras presidency has been a considerable victory for the Congress party, who are now the largest single party and will perhaps constitute an absolute majority of the elected members (out of a Chamber of about 130, 30 or more are official or nominated). The woman in S. Canara just missed being elected. Whether the Congress party will accept office—as minister for the “transferred” subjects remains to be seen. Their originally avowed policy was the reverse and they have given pledges to the Indian National Congress itself to this effect. But it is thought that Congress itself this December may give them absolution from this promise and that that may not be too late for their final reply to the Governor.

I pass now to Labour conditions. It is essential in this connection to remember that town factory labour forms but a tiny part of the total labouring population of the country. This is of the greatest importance both in itself—in order that true proportion may be preserved in the mind—and also because the conditions of agricultural labour have necessarily a great effect upon wages and conditions in the factories. If the factory worker retains one foot on the land he has to that extent a refuge from unlimited oppression in the factory. If there is a horde of ill paid half-starved agricultural labourers at the factory gates that will make a successful strike very difficult.

I am glad to say that after considerable investigation I obtained substantial agreement as to facts from the employers’ and workmen’s sides. But here the satisfaction ends, for the conditions are certainly deplorable. In the cotton mills of Madras a skilled man working nine hours earns from less than a rupee a day or some R24 a month (8/- a week) up to about R36 (12/- a week) with a few at higher amounts. At the railway works the hours are 8 and the wages of about 50% of the skilled men vary from about R18 a month up to R24 (6/- to 8/- a week), another 30 or 40% getting 9/- to 12/- a week, with some at higher levels. The coolies (labourers) get R10, R12, and sometimes as much as R15 a month (3/6, 4/-, and 5/- a week).

Of course the Indian has far fewer expenses than the British worker having next to nothing to find for clothes and fuel, while rent will be from 4d to 1/- a week. Nevertheless at least R32 a month (11/- a week) is needed for bare subsistence for man wife and 3 children, while R72 a month (24/- a week) was given me by some of the workers as a real living wage for a family. Consequently existing wages do not in many cases provide even a subsistence level unless several other members of the famil[y] are also working.

One of the obnoxious features of Indian factory life is that wages often do not commence to be paid until full six weeks after a man starts work. In the meanwhile he often gets into the hands of the moneylender and can never extricate himself again. Other complaints are as to fines and victimisation, and the fact that while there are elected representatives of employers on the legislative councils there are no elected representatives of Labour, also the utterly disproportionate wages given to Europeans and Anglo Indians (children of mixed marriages) who probably start at R84 a month (28/- a week) and rise to far higher figures.

In fairness I should like to say that I found one of the British-owned cotton mills considerably superior to the Indian ones. Some attempts were being made at good housing, education of children of the operatives, and welfare work generally including the provision of well ventilated rooms for mid-day dinner. In the Indian mill I was shocked to see workmen eating their food squatting on the floor in the midst of the machinery.

Behind the town operative lies the ryot (peasant farmer), behind the ryot lies the landless agricultural labourer of whom perhaps 50% are outcasts. Taking one year with another the peasant with the help of his family may get an average monthly income of R10 (3/6 a week) and upwards, the landless may get R9, R12, or even R18 or R24 (3/6, 4/-, 6/-, 8/- a week) in busy times for his own labour alone but his wages will sink to R9 a month (3/- a week) or less or nothing when times are slack. Of course his wife and children may also be able to earn something and there may be something to be got out of a cottage industry or even a village industry. But the total family income may very likely not reach R100 a year (£7. 10. -) and of that pittance the money-lender and other harpies may secure a considerable part. I do not give these figures as in any way accurate but rather as a rough estimate from the general talks that I have had. Possibly I may have occasion to correct them later. In any case they relate only to Madras.

{2} In the early part of my letter I spoke of my visits to Mysore and Madura. My wife and I went to the former as guests of the native ruler, the Maharaja. This Indian State is governed exclusively by Indians and has recently received a constitution from him in which there are two properly elected Houses. Though the Maharaja is not obliged to accept their advice I gather that he usually does so except on certain questions which he reserves exclusively for himself. The State is acknowledged to be very well governed and has to its credit the construction by exclusively Indian design and labour of the second largest dam in the world.

In madura† we were entertained by Mr. Foulkes a friend of Mr. Campbell’s. We went inside two most interesting Hindu temples, one of them having an area of some 40 acres including a beautiful artificial lake. I climbed an intricate stairway to the top of one of the towers and overlooked the city. On our second visit it was festival night and the temple was illuminated. Great crowds of worshippers as well as sacred cows wandered everywhere at will except into the holy of holies.

Not far from Madura is the village of Usilempatti where the interesting experiment is being made of weaning the tribe of Kullahs from dacoity (robbery) by the simple expedients of giving them water and thus enabling them to earn their own living from their irrigated fields, & by giving their children education in an elementary school. It appears to be quite successful so far, showing once more that the roots of crime are poverty and ignorance.

This letter should reach you a few days before Christmas. Please accept from my wife and myself for your own circle and for all your friends our hearty good wishes for Christmas and the New Year.



{1} PETH 6/125.

{2} The last sheet, which begins here, is marked “Keep Carefully only Copy.” and there is a cross in the margin alongside the paragraph about the village of Usilempatti. At the foot of the preceding sheet is written, ‘Note last Page taken by FWPL to Edinburgh 22/2/45 EK.’

† Sic.

Copy of a letter from M. K. Gandhi to Sir Stafford Cripps

Camp: Gauhati (‘as from’ Sevagram, Via Wardha).—Acknowledges the receipt of his letter, and expresses the hope that ‘this time there is determination to do the right thing in terms of Indian thought’.

(Typed transcript.)



As from Sevagram, | Via Wardha (India)

Camp: Gauhati,
12th January, 1946.

Dear Friend,

I was delighted to receive your letter of 19th December ’45. As I am touring Bengal and Assam, your kind greetings were received only yesterday. The Rajkumari {1} had described her talks with you and told me how affectionate you were towards me. I am hoping that this time there is determination to do the right thing in terms of Indian thought. I well remember what King Edward had said about right dealing. I was then in South Africa. The question was of interpreting the treaty between the British and the Boers, and the King had gently insisted on the Boer interpretation being accepted in preference to the British. How I wish that the admirable canon be repeated this time.

I hope with you that this New Year will bring to the thirsting earth the much needed shower of peace and goodwill for which the “Prince of Peace” lived and died.

Yours sincerely,
(sgd) M. K. GANDHI

Sir R. Stafford Cripps,
Board of Trade,
London, S.W.1.


{1} Amrit Kaur.

Copy of a memorandum from Edwin Montagu to Sir Thomas Holderness and Sir Malcolm Seton

Is anxious that the Viceroy should not inaugurate an inquiry into the recent occurrences in India (which Montagu has assured the House the Viceroy always intended) without further consultation at home, since he believes the Viceroy is unaware of the general desire that the inquiry should be impartial and fearless, and should examine questions such as the use of dum-dum bullets, the needless firing on the crowd, the deportation of innocent people, the unnecessarily harsh use of military law, the mishandling of Gandhi’s prohibition as regards Delhi, the immediate causes of the outbreaks at Lahore, Amritsar, and Ahmedabad, and the actual results of recruiting on temper and economics in the Punjab. Is prepared to let the Viceroy to decide the time, provided there is no postponement, but wishes to be satisfied as to the terms of reference and personnel. The inquiry should, he thinks, be conducted by one man ‘from home’, with an Indian and an official assessor, and he has written to the Viceroy proposing Lord Cave for the appointment. Asks them to draft an official telegram asking that he may be consulted on these matters.

(Carbon copy.)

Copy of a telegram from Edwin Montagu to Lord Reading

(Official.) Has received A3/35/1. The Government is anxious about the situation in India, particularly the reports of outbreaks at Bareilly and Chauri Chaura, and Gandhi’s continued freedom. Gandhi’s letter is the direct challenge for which the Government of India was wait-ing [see A3/27/1], and they must act to protect those who would otherwise become his dupes. Montagu and his Council have concluded that the instructions given by the Viceroy to Local Governments on 24 November do not go far enough; the organisation of civil disobedience must be prevented; and the leaders of the movement, including Gandhi, must be dealt with promptly. It is up to Reading to decide what measures should be taken.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Chelmsford to Edwin Montagu

Continues his telegram of the 15th [A2/1/7]. Has sent a communication to Lloyd, based on Montagu's suggestion [in A2/1/6]. Lloyd has replied that action against Horniman cannot be delayed, and he will probably be deported today or on Friday. Lloyd prefers deportation to trial, since there are signs that students and others are attempting to tamper with the military and the police, and thinks it best, if there is to be trouble, to have it now; he adds that the situation is so complex to diagnose that it is impossible to be certain of the better course of action, but that they have decided to deal with Horniman first, leaving the others till they see the general mood. Chelmsford has advised in reply that he also prefers deportation. Lloyd, who will address a meeting of leading citizens tomorrow, advises that Gandhi seems 'genuinely perturbed' by recent events, but although his statement may allay the feeling somewhat, Gandhi 'intends to pursue the methods whose results he so easily deplores', and that his actions will not affect the revolutionists, of whom he is merely a tool. Gait [Lieutenant-Governor of Bihar and Orissa] is concerned by the situation in his province, where Hasan Iman has taken the satyagraha vow. Calcutta seems to have settled down. The security of Amrita Bazar Patrika has been forfeited owing to inflammatory articles. Delhi is in a state of nervous tension, and shops are still unopened. In the Punjab, the action by the military at Amritsar appears to have had a good local effect, but the effect on the rural population is still unknown. Sporadic outbreaks of different intensity have occurred across the Punjab, and martial law has been extended to the Gujrunwala district. The Seditious Meetings Act has been brought into operation in the districts of Multan and Jullundur. [The Maharaja of] Patiala sent his Imperial Service Troops to help the patrol line in Bhatinda. Chelmsford is writing to the chiefs in the vicinity of the disturbed areas to urge them to co-operate.

(Carbon copy.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Chelmsford to Edwin Montagu

With the previous approval of the Government of India, the Bombay Government have ordered that Horniman, editor of the Bombay Chronicle, should leave British India and proceed to England. He was placed on board the S. S. Takada, which sailed from Bombay on the 27th. This action was taken in view of the inflammatory propaganda being conducted by him, which was likely to cause a recrudescence of recent trouble and to foment discontent among the troops, to whom his paper was distributed freely. All is quiet in Bombay. Gandhi has issued a manifesto enjoining moderation.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Chelmsford to Edwin Montagu

Has instructed the Home Department to send Montagu a daily summary of events. With regard to martial law in parts of the Punjab, open rebellion in two districts made it imperative that he should give powers to deal drastically with the situation; but he has modified the 1804 regulation so as to preclude the possibility of sentences being passed by young and inexperienced military officers. The situation is grave but not critical; their military arrangements are ‘admirable’ and they are determined to restore law and order. Gandhi appears to have been greatly shocked by events at Ahmedabad, and has expressed to the Commissioner of the Division his determination to obey Government orders. Rioters at Ahmedabad and Amritsar have suffered heavily. In the Punjab looters played a prominent part. Will today issue a resolution of the Government of India, with the assent of Sankaran Nair, stating their determination to restore law and order, and use the powers vested in them, however drastic, to do so.

(Carbon copy.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Has met with Malaviya, who thinks the visit of the Prince of Wales should not be cancelled, and proposes that the Government of India should call a conference of Gandhi and his representatives, along with supporters of constitutional agitation, moderates, and Government members, to address the problems connected with the Punjab, the Khilafat, and the question of giving some measure of responsibility to India; he said that a constitutional party was being formed, of which he is a member, and that he will probably enter the Assembly next year; he believes that it will take twenty years before India can get complete dominion status, as she will have to organise her own defence force and higher command, and observed that his own views as to the composition of the Executive Council had been adopted by the party; and he urged again that an Indian, preferably Sir [M.] Visvesvarya, should be appointed Minister of Commerce and Industry. Reading pointed out to him that it was too late to consider the conference, as a decision must be made about the Prince’s visit. Malaviya’s main plea was that Government should forestall constitutional agitation by a magnanimous action to be announced on 1 November; he did not believe Government should be bound by the decisions of the conference, and thought that Gandhi would probably attend. Reading had already been considering the possibility of a conference, but difficulties would be presented by the likely demand for more responsibility. Discusses the revision of the Punjab martial law cases. Is going to Kashmir. His mind is hardening against the arrest of Gandhi.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Has told Malaviya that, by refusing to suspend controversy during the Prince of Wales’s visit, Gandhi had given the impression that India was disloyal; and he repudiated the rumour that if the Prince was well received the Government would claim that India had no real grievances. Malaviya suggested that Gandhi might yet relent if the obstacle of the Ali brothers could be negotiated, but Reading refused to discuss their case, which is now in the hands of the courts. The Statesman, The Englishman, and the Times of India are opposed to the arrest of Gandhi.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Part 2. With regard to amending the [Government of India] Act, they are bound by the period mentioned in it, though Parliament might consent to an earlier period if it chose; but though he can conceive proposals for amendments to improve the constitutional machinery and advancing towards Dominion status, he is not prepared to advise this step at present. Malaviya has asked him to receive a deputation on the 21st to request a conference, but he has refused to do so unless the boycott of the Prince of Wales’s visit was called off. He added, however, that if Gandhi and his associates were to make such a gesture he would withdraw the proclamation against volunteers and release certain prisoners, and Ronaldshay is pursuing a similar course. He has made a number of cautious reservations to Malaviya about the holding of a conference.

(Carbon copy. Continued from A3/15/1.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

(Official.) Continues A3/46/6. Gandhi has left Ahmadabad for Ajmer. As the Ajmer authorities are apprehensive of the results of arresting him there, it is proposed to arrest him at Sabarmati station, Ahmedabad, where he is expected to arrive on the afternoon of the 10th.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Simla.—Section 2. Violence has been reported in connection with the Buckingham Mills strike. The Governor has visited the area and held discussions with a deputation. (Bombay.) The Ali brothers and Kitchlew visited Poona and Gokak, where Kitchlew made objectional speeches and Mohammad Ali referred to the emptying of police barracks. In an article in Young India Gandhi claimed that the Ali brothers’ apology was instigated by him, and was not made to evade prosecution but to put them right with their consciences and their friends, adding that the Government was free to prosecute them in connection with the prohibition of the meeting of the City Congress Committee at Lahore. He also stated that officials were provok-ing non-co-operators to disobedience. Gandhi has directed wholesale piece-good merchants to clear their stocks of foreign cloth and cancel orders, and has appealed to mill owners not to raise prices. The Bombay Provincial Congress Committee has arranged to collect and burn clothes made from foreign cloth. A committee has been appointed to manage local Tilak Swaraj funds, which are to be used only for the spread of charkas, the conduct of national schools, the elevation of depressed classes, famine relief, and liquor prohibition.

Section 3. The All-India Khilafat Conference at Karachi was poorly attended and excited little local interest.

Section 4. The resolutions at the conference at Karachi included a declaration of allegiance to Turkey, a decision to send emissaries to other Moslem countries to promote Islamic brotherhood, congratulations to Kemalists on efforts to save Islam and drive foreigners out of Turkish territory, and a reiteration of the decision to start civil disobedience if Britain declared war on Angora. In that case Indian Mussulmans would establish complete independance at the Christmas session of the National Congress and hoist the national flag of the Indian Republic. Service in the British Army was declared sinful for all Muslims. Mohammad Ali made a long speech largely concerning the apology to the Government; he also referred to the interview between the Viceroy and Gandhi, saying that if the Viceroy did not agree to a joint announcement Gandhi would issue a separate one, and that the people would sooner believe Gandhi than the Viceroy. The Bombay Congress Committee has stopped the picketing of liquor shops to allow shopkeepers to press Government to refund licence-fees. There are reports of a strike on the Gondal Railway and of disorder at Matiari in the Hyderabad District, Sind.

Section 5. The conduct of local authorities in the disorder at Dharwar is much regretted in the extremist press. (Bengal.) The excitement over the exodus of coolies is dying down, but unrest is reported among them in the tea gardens of Darjeeling and Dooars.

Section 6. A resolution in the Legislative Council to appoint an inquiry into the Chandpur incident has been defeated, but there is much recrimination against officials.

Section 7. An attempt to excite coolies in the tea gardens of Chittagong has so far been unsuccessful. An attempt has been made in Tharawandi division to control supplies by forming village unions, to prohibit exportation of rice, corn, and jute, and to sell to non-Indians only at exorbitant rates, in order to injure European interests and secure control over the merchant classes.

Section 8. Local Government has issued a circular in Eastern Bengal pointing out the folly of strikes which increased the cost of living.

Section 9. There are signs of reaction against non-co-operation. Picketing and forcible acts in connection with the temperance movement are abating.

Section 10. At a meeting at Calcutta it was disclosed that a large proportion of the money realised from the sale of Khilafat notes has been misappropriated.

Section 11. Revolutionaries released under the amnesty are taking advantage of non-co-operation to strengthen their organisations. Many may be waiting to begin campaigning again, but many are known to be working earnestly for reforms.

Section 12. The Assam-Bengal Railway strike continues, but passenger traffic has re-sumed.

Section 13. Volunteer corps in Faridpur, whose number has been increased, are active in enforcing the boycott of courts and liquor-shops and carrying on village propaganda. The success of anti-non-co-operation propaganda is encouraging. A Khilafat worker and two non-co-operation workers have been imprisoned. The attempted escape from Midnapur jail has been proved to be due to ideas about Gandhi, the prisoners having been led to believe that the British Raj was over. Calcutta piece-good merchants are uncertain about the boycott of foreign cloth, but it is generally believed that the movement will fail because Indian mills are unable to supply the country’s needs and because important Indian interests are involved in the import trade.

Section 14. (United Provinces.) Many arrests have been made at Aligarh. S. A. Sherwani, a barrister, has been imprisoned for a year, and Motilal Nehru has been served with a notice under the CR.P. Code (the relevant section is cited in full).

Section 15. (Punjab.) Extremist Sikhs are hoping to secure strong non-co-operation members at next month’s Committee election. Non-co-operators are jubilant at Gandhi’s success in raising a crore of rupees. There are continuing signs of dissension among non-co-operation Panchayats in Jullundur division.

Section 16. (Burma.) K. Oktaca, a Buddhist monk, has been imprisoned for ten months for making speeches. The hartal previously reported is very extensive. A meeting of Burmese ladies has resolved to boycott British goods in protest at Oktaca’s conviction.

Section 17. (Bihar and Orissa.) The political situation is improving. Panchayat is becoming unpopular, the picketing of liquor-shops is ceasing, and some cases of illegal distillation have been detected. The boycott of foreign goods is making little progress.

Section 18. The Provincial Congress Committee discussed resolutions (A) to start civil disobedience on 1 August, (B) to organise and train volunteers, and (C) to provide for families of non-co-operators in jail. (A) was opposed and may lead to a split; (B) and (C) were adopted.

Section 19. The split between Hindus and Mohammedans continues, but Gandhi’s instructions that Hindus are not to interfere with cow-killing are becoming known. The industrial situation remains quiet. (Central Provinces.) The situation is greatly improved. Political activity is reduced, largely because agricultural operations are in progress. The suspension of land revenues and the distribution of loans and relief have convinced people that the Government is more their friend than the non-co-operators. In towns the improvements are attributed to prosecutions, which have been most useful against picketing. Several non-co-operation leaders have resumed practice. The arbitration courts have expired. The charka movement is considered a failure. Attendance at schools and colleges is becoming normal. Local Governments are uncertain whether the improvement is permanent; much depends on the monsoon. (Assam.) There is little activity on the part of non-co-operators, and there are no further strikes in the tea gardens.

Section 20. The Assam-Bengal Railway strike continues, but more trains are running. Two minor strikes for increased wages have been settled, one of coolies at Dibrugarh Ghat and the other at the Assam Saw Mill Co. works.

Section 21. (North West Frontier Province.) The Central Khilafat Committee’s visit to Bannu has been stopped under Defence of India Rules. Efforts to revive agitation among Sikhs have been reported from Hazara and Peshawar. (Delhi.) The monsoon has arrived. The immediate political future is dependent on economic conditions. Meetings continue, at which C.I.D. reporters have been hustled. Most piece-good dealers believe the boycott of foreign cloth will fail. (General.) The situation is better. Many people doubt the success of Gandhi’s boycott policy. Local Governments have been asked to be especially vigorous in prosecuting offences committed by picketing parties. A decision on civil disobedience will probably be made at the Congress Committee meeting on 28 July. The venue has been shifted from Lucknow to Bombay to accommodate Gandhi. Declarations by extremist khilafat leaders against service in the army and the police are becoming more frequent, and prosecution is being considered.

Section 22. (Calcutta.) The Bar oppose the constitution of a Court of Ultimate Appeal in India, as it would command less confidence than the Privy Council. The recommendations of the Press Act Committee are generally approved by both the Indian and European Press. The Committee on Repressive Law is now sitting in Simla.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Council have not yet decided whether to arrest Gandhi, as replies have not yet been received from the Bombay Government. Inquiries are also being made as to the effect of the Ali brothers’ speeches on the army. They are anxious not to be precipitate, but Reading believes that Gandhi will be arrested. It is possible that the prosecution will take place during the Prince’s visit.

(Mechanical copy of typed original. A duplicate of A3/24/4.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

(Official.) The Governor of Bombay [Lloyd] has recommended that Gandhi should be prosecuted immediately, and has sought the Governor-General [Reading]’s approval. The Governor thinks the main charge should be based on certain articles by Gandhi, particularly ‘A Puzzle and its Solution’, the object of which is to create disaffection against, and so overthrow, the Government. In reply, the Government of India have signified their general agreement with this view, but as they believe that Gandhi’s next move must involve a more direct challenge to the Government than any hitherto attempted, and as they wish to avoid the idea that Gandhi is being prosecuted because he has made a conference impossible, they suggest that prosecution should be deferred till after 31 January, when Gandhi will probably institute civil disobedience. They also prefer that prosecution should be based on more recent statements than those mentioned by the Governor. No fresh reference need be made to them before prosecuting, if Gandhi embarks on an active campaign of civil disobedience.

(Carbon copy.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

(Official.) Continues A3/27/8. At Surat yesterday the Congress Working Committee congratulated Bardoli Taluqa on their resolve for mass civil disobedience and called upon all parts of India to refrain from aggressive civil disobedience without Gandhi’s consent. The Committee also requested people to pay taxes, except in such cases of direct payment where Gandhi’s consent had been obtained for suspension of payment in preparation for mass civil disobedi-ence.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

(Official.) In view of the resolutions of the All-India Congress Committee, which make it clear that there is to be no fundamental change in the policy of the non-co-operation party, the Government of India have decided to instruct the Government of Bombay to proceed with the arrest of Gandhi.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Part 3. […] but he has agreed to listen to the views presented to him and report to the British Government according to his own conclusions. He has insisted, however, that the calling of the conference must not be taken to commit the Government to any course except that of hearing representations. He has called a meeting of Council to obtain their approval, and has informed the Governors of the deputation and the suggested course to be taken. Gandhi has agreed to attend the conference, but has not yet replied about the Prince’s visit. Reading wishes to obtain the British Government’s approval of his intended action.

(Carbon copy.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Refers to A3/8/3. Council has considered Gandhi’s pronouncements, but will not make a decision till they have received legal advice and further information about a manifesto issued by Gandhi in which he asserts the right of Indians to advise civilians and soldiers to leave Government employment. It is not easy to see how the prosecution of Gandhi can be avoided, and other arrests will necessarily follow. With regard to the Prince’s visit, he believes that Gandhi’s arrest will increase the risk of disturbances, despite Gandhi’s pronouncement exhorting the people to refrain from violence and not to indulge in hartals; but he does not recommend cancelling the visit, as this would create a misleading impression of disloyalty in India. Malaviya is distressed at Gandhi’s attitude, and wishes to help.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Results 1 to 30 of 129