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Nehru, Jawaharlal (1889–1964), Prime Minister of India Item With digital objects
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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.

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Transcript

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,
PETHICK.

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}

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{1} 21 April.

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

Carbon copy of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Indira Gandhi

11 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London, W.C.2.—Has returned to England, and Helen is on the way to America to see her children. Thanks her and her father (Nehru) for their hospitality. His interview with Miss Naidu at Calcutta was brief, as she was recovering from influenza. Has sent a letter of thanks for Miss Rao (see 2/112).

Carbon copy of a letter from V. K. Krishna Menon to S. C. Roberts

Advises him of Nehru’s decision not to become a candidate for the chancellorship of the University of Cambridge.

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Transcript

4th November, 1950

Dear Vice-Chancellor,

I have now had the opportunity of ascertaining the views of my Prime Minister about the nomination of his name for the Chancellorship of University of Cambridge. I am to say, that Pandit Nehru is deeply conscious of the honour sought to be done to him and is very grateful to those who were good enough to think of him in this connection.

Pandit Nehru, however, does not wish to enter into any contest and therefore asked me to convey a request to those who have done him this honour to nominate him, to take such steps as they may consider suitable to effect its withdrawal. I have conveyed Pandit Nehru’s request to those concerned, and I have no doubt that in view of the high esteem in which they hold Pandit Nehru they would respect his wishes and accede to his request.

The Prime Minister is most anxious that you and the members of the University should not feel that any discourtesy whatsoever either to the University or to its Senators is intended or implied in the decision which he has made.

Yours sincerely,
[blank]

S. C. Roberts Esq.,
Vice-Chancellor of the University,
The Lodge, Pembroke College,
CAMBRIDGE.

Copy of a letter from Jawaharlal Nehru to Sir Stafford Cripps

Anand Bharnan, Allahabad.—Acknowledges Cripps's wish see India free, but emphasises the difficulties on both sides and the powerlessness of individuals to control the situation.

(Carbon copy of a typed transcript.)

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Transcript

COPY
VERY CONFIDENTIAL

Anand Bharnan, | Allahabad.
Dec. 3, 1945

My dear Stafford,

Your letter of the 20th Nov. reached me three days ago. I think I have some realisation of your wish to see India free, also of your difficulties. I do not underrate these difficulties. Many things that have been said and done during the past few years have hurt me and a dull pain endures, but at no time did I doubt that you had the cause of India at heart. It is seven years since I was in England and vast changes must have taken place there during these years. I think I have some conception of them also. But I often wonder if our friends in England, and those who are not our friends, have any realisation of what has happened in India, of the changes that have taken place here, and of the passion that lies behind India’s demand for independence. People have grown desperate and it is no easy matter to hold them in check. We have our difficulties also. On both sides, whatever our personal feelings in the matter, we become the agents of powerful forces which we may influence somewhat but cannot control. Individuals count of course but the reality is impersonal, the resultant of a chain of action.

We do not want anything untoward to happen till the elections are over and your Government has had a fair chance to take the next steps. We shall do our utmost to avoid conflict and to restrain the hotheads. But if even then there appears to be delay or what appears to be prevarication, then it is beyond our power or anyone else’s power to control the situation. You must remember that existing conditions in India are a grave and constant irritation and provocation.

Forgive me if I do not paint an easy picture. I do not want to delude you. Having spent a good part of my life in this business, I am tired of conflict and long to do something more worth while. But the fates have so far been against this.

I can have faith in an individual but not in a machine, and it appears that the machine counts in the long run. It is your presence in the British Govt. that gives me some hope. No one else then means much to me so far as India is concerned.

Yours,
(Sgd.) JAMAHARLAL†

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Marked at the head ‘3148’.

† Sic.

Draft of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Jawaharlal Nehru

Sends good wishes on the occasion of India’s independence. The arrangements fall short of what he should have liked to see, but are far better than he once dared hope for. Is sorry he was unable to stay the full course (as Secretary of State), but is pleased by the appointments of Mountbatten and Mrs Naidu.

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Transcript

Copy

Aug 26. 47

My dear Nehru,

I h waited until now to write to you to send you my heartfelt good wishes, for though you are probably none the less busy, at least the excitement of the transition is over & you will be able to settle down to your stupendous task.

I imagine that you & I are in pretty close agreement about what has taken place. To me the solution falls far short of what I should have liked to see & yet it is far better than at one time I dared to hope. Looking back over the little more than two years tht have elapsed since I was directly association with Indian affairs I feel profoundly thankful tht such great changes have been peacefully accomplished & tht you have the opportunity for which your life has so well prepared you for directing the destiny of so large a part of the human race.

I was sorry not to be able to stay the full course myself. You know the American who said “in our country the trees are so tall tht it takes two men to see them, one looks as far up as he can & the other sees from there to the top” I went as far as I could & my successor saw to the end. And I think the same was true of the viceroyalty. I feel that in sending you Mountbatten we sent you one of the very best statesmen & I gather tht you & your colleagues have felt this too by the honour you have conferred on him in making him to be your first Governor General.

I was delighted tht you made our dear Mrs Naidu a temporary Governor. With her great heart & her sense of humour I am sure she will justify your appointment.

I shall write to Gaubliger {1} on his birthday.

With all my good wishes
I remain

Ever Sincerely Yours
[blank]

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In spite of the heading, this appears to be a draft rather than a copy. The shortened words, e.g. ‘h’ for ‘have’, are in the MS.

{1} Reading uncertain.

Draft of an article by Lord Pethick-Lawrence entitled ‘India’s Place in the World’

A tribute to Nehru, written for an unidentified volume.

(Carbon copy of a typed original, corrected by hand in pencil. Written some time after the assassination of Gandhi on 30 Jan. 1948.)

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Transcript

INDIA’S PLACE IN THE WORLD.
by Lord Pethick-Lawrence.

I am happy to be given the opportunity to pay a tribute to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in the pages of this volume. During the years that I have been privileged to count him among my friends my admiration for his qualities has steadily grown. But he has told me that where so many have rendered service to his country he dislikes being singled out for special praise. On the personal side I will content myself therefore with the one incontrovertible statement that India has been indeed fortunate to have as her first Prime Minister a man of his noble character, rich and varied experience and exceptional breadth of outlook.

India has secured control of her own destiny at a time when the whole civilisation of the world is being reincarnated. Old customs and old ideas which have held sway almost from the dawn of history are being discarded. The nation-states of Western Europe in which these ideas were recently embodied are fallen from their high estate. New thoughts are filling the minds of men and women. Some of these have already taken shape. Others are in the realm of the subconscious waiting to be born. India has not merely to adapt herself to these kaleidoscopic changes in the pattern of human life, she has also to play an active part in the conception and gestation of the civilisation that is to be. How important this part is will be realised when we descend from the general to the particular.

First, on the purely material plane, the world is being transformed by the new powers of mass production, radio, television, flight, radar and atomic fission. Every one of these is capable of being used to set men and women free from the sordid scramble for animal existence and enable them to develop to its full stature their physical, moral and spiritual being. But alternatively they may be abused so as to bring about the greater enslavement and degradation of the human race. Which shall it be? The voice of India will be an important factor in the decision.

Next come the recent biological discoveries including new means of eradicating disease in men plants and animals. It is even possible that we are on the eve of revolutionary changes in the whole matter of the growth & production of food. India has suffered grievously in the past from malnutrition and preventible ill health. The responsibility now rests upon her own scientists to find out the remedy and upon her statesmen to apply it.

The civilisation now passing away was founded upon inequality. Even upright and religious men and women seemed to see nothing wrong in a structure of society in which some people lived in luxury while others toiled unceasingly and remained in squalor and degradation. But Gandhiji was one of those who saw in this system an affront to human dignity; and he inveighed against it unceasingly by precept and example. At first the doctrine of communism in its pure form seemed to be the answer but in its application it has got entangled in power politics and totalitarian dictatorship. The new civilisation has to be founded upon human equality; and India in memory of her Mahatma and in accord with the generous impulses of her Prime Minister will wish to take a foremost place among the nations who are imbued with the new spirit.

In the realm of internal government India has astonished the world by her achievement. Even those of us who had the greatest faith in her statesmen scarcely dared to hope that she would be able to integrate the whole of her territory in so short a time and with such general approval. The highest praise is due to all those who have contributed to this remarkable result. It augurs well for the future stability of her State and provides a fine example to other nations.
What of the international outlook? Here I am convinced that India has a part of paramount importance to play. She occupies a pivotal place on the map of the world. She looks westward to Europe and the Atlantic Ocean, eastward to China to the Pacific and to the Americas, northward to the lands of the Soviet Union in Asia, South West to the varied races of Africa and South East to the new civilisation of Australia and New Zealand. So situated she cannot exist isolated and detached.

The world needs friendship and co-operation. It needs the mutual interchange of materials and ideas. Above all it needs peace. But peace like liberty requires eternal vigilance for its preservation. It requires the constant avoidance of the pairs of opposites—arrogance and cowardice, aggressiveness and subservience, self-sufficiency and undue dependence, anarchy and regimentation. A free and democratic India in close association with other likeminded free and democratic peoples can be a great bulwark of peace and of constructive fellowship in the community of nations.

Long may Panditji be spared to exercise his wise leadership in guiding the destinies of his country!

Letter from Jawaharlal Nehru to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

External Affairs Department, New Delhi.—Thanks him for his letter. He fully realises the difficulties they face, but hopes they will be overcome. The present atmosphere of suspicion will have to pass as new problems arise and people’s minds are diverted from old issues to living problems.

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Transcript

Personal

New Delhi
27. 7. 46

My dear Lord Pethick Lawrence,

I am grateful to you for your letter and the good wishes you have sent. I fully realise the difficulties facing us but I have every hope that we shall be able to overcome them. For the present the burden is heavy and the air is full of suspicion of each other. This will have to pass as new problems come up before us and people’s minds are diverted from old and stale issues to these living problems.

With all good wishes,

Yours sincerely
Jawarharlal Nehru

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Letter-head of the External Affairs Department, India.

Letter from Jawaharlal Nehru to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

17 York Road, New Delhi.—Apologises for the delay in replying to his letter (see 5/75), which was greatly appreciated. India is enduring hard times, and though the forces of evil will no doubt be overcome, a heavy price will have to be paid.

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Transcript

17 York Road | New Delhi
Oct 2. 1947

My dear Lord Pethick Lawrence,

Please forgive me for the delay in answering your letter which I was happy to receive. And yet when it reached me, it did not quite fit in with what was happening. There was little to feel happy about in India then or now. We have had a hard time and the forces of evil have surrounded us. We shall no doubt overcome them but the price we have paid, and will pay, is heavy.
But this note is not meant to contain an account of events here. I wanted to thank you for your very friendly letter which I appreciated greatly. Some time or other I suppose I shall visit England and then I hope to see you again.

Yours Sincerely
Jawaharlal Nehru

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Reflects on the colourfulness of Indian life. The mission are awaiting the results of their statement, and he has made his broadcast and addressed the press.—(Later.) Jinnah threatens not to answer for three or four weeks, but others have made encouraging signs.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
May 18. 46

My own very dear Beloved.

I have had to say to myself tht it is no good letting my heart or my head be obsessed with the idea tht I want to be home for 26th May. I came out here to do a certain job & I have just got to stay till it’s finished; & that’s that. As soon as it is finished I shall come home as fast as I can, you may be sure, to be with my old love again, & the day I come back & see you whatever it be according to the calendar will be our 26th May—our 45th anniversary!

I am so delighted to hear in your letters of how full your days have been with pleasurable activity. It is music in my ears; for I do so love to know tht you are enjoying yourself.

As for me my life here is full of colour & experience. Colour on the physical plane. The powerful sun, the flaming trees, the flashing birds, the darting chipmunks & lizards. The trees are red (Gold Mahar), gold (Cassia Sistilla) & apple-blossom tinted (Cassia Nodosa). Colourful personalities Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah, Wavell[,] to say nothing of people like Meliscent Shepherd, Mrs Naidu, Agatha Harrison & our own delegations & the secretaries.

So far in all the “changing vicissitudes of this mortal life” I have been upheld to keep my balance & my health. I eat well, digest well, sleep well & remain unfretted, remembering as Maud {1} said in Kashmir tht it is nt I that am doing it but He.

So my beloved I am patient & I am sure you will be also to await the day of our recession when it comes in His good will. I do not think it will be so very long before the work is finished here but it is still quite impossible to say.

Our D-day has come & gone, & we are awaiting its result. Our message {2} has not so far evoked any violent antagonism. I have made my broadcast {3}[,] addressed my press conference, met individual editors & so far it has been sunny weather. All this may be dashed at any minute but let us at any rate bask in the sunshine while it lasts!

Evening. As I anticipated, some clouds have darkened the sun & Jinnah threatens not to give us an answer for 3 or 4 weeks! {4} I really don’t know what to make of it. But there are still many encouraging signs. Brailsford, Sapru & many others have sent us delightfully enthusiastic congratulations. At the moment it looks as if Congress will come in. I see Lord Samuel spoke some very kind words about me in the H of Lords on Thursday May 16. I hope you got a copy.

And so my darling, my true heart, my beloved, my dear Wife I send you my love & blessing for May 26.

Your very own loving Boy.

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There are a number of characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} Maud Coote.

{2} The statement by the Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy, published on the 16th. See Transfer of Power, vol. vii, No. 303.

{3} Transfer of Power, vol., vii, No. 303.

{4} See Transfer of Power, vol., vii, No. 322. The word ‘weeks’ is underlined three times.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Is unlikely to return to England before she goes to the Isle of Wight. Gandhi is being awkward, but the Congress High Command is resisting his suggestion that the interim scheme should be rejected.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 19. 46.

My dear One.

I am afraid it is quite clear by now tht I shall not be home before you go to I W. I may be able to get off by the middle of next week or it may be the end of the month.

At the moment Gandhi is being very awkward. He suffers from high blood pressure & when he gets an idea he cant let go of it even if it goes contrary to wht he has been urging up to the day before. He prefers theoretical perfection as he sees it & is not really interested in the practical considerations of Governt which involve mutual accommodation. At the moment, almost for the first time in its history the Congress High Command {1} having been converted by him to sup-port our interim scheme are refusing to “right about face” at his suggestion & wreck it. Whether they will stand firm on this remains to be seen. But Nehru has chosen this moment to go to Kashmir about some internal trouble & may get himself into trouble there. In any case he is likely to be away for 2 or 3 days. It is Alice’s croquet party all over again. But we still remain hopeful.

The weather here is both hot & humid. The monsoon is expected soon. It looks like rain to-day.

I do so hope tht you will enjoy I W & that your holiday will not be spoilt by my non-arrival. You may be sure I will come as soon as even I can. Give my dear love to Tom. And for yourself old darling arms round tight.

Your very own
Boy.

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This letter includes the abbreviated forms ‘tht’ for ‘that’ and ‘wht’ for ‘what’.

{1} ‘The term “High Command” refers to the members of the Working Committee, the Con-gress president, and the general secretaries of the Congress appointed by the president.’ Marcus F. Franda, ‘The Organizational Development of India’s Congress Party’, Pacific Affairs, xxxv (1962). 249 n.

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