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Letter from Sir George Schuster to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

179 City Road, E.C.1.—Suggests holding another meeting of the informal all-party group that sent an open letter to India last December. Is concerned at the state of negotiations between the British Government and Indians.

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Transcript

179 City Road, E.C.1.
9th October, 1941.

Dear Pethwick-Lawrence†,

I believe that the time has come when it might be valuable to have another discussion among the small informal All Party Group that joined together to write an open letter to India last December.

I must confess that I am not happy about the Indian situation. It is quite possible to find logical grounds for comforting oneself and saying that the British Government has done everything possible and that it is for Indians to make the next move. Nevertheless all the time it seems to me that things are going in India in such a way that there is being built up beneath the surface a situation which will ultimately confront us with another Ireland on a much larger and more dangerous scale. By that I mean a situation which has deteriorated beyond repair. I think it is dangerous to be comforted by the mere outward signs of the declining Congress membership and the steady flow of recruits to the Colours. After the war public interest will swing back to internal political problems and it will be political extremists, embittered beyond repair, who will control the situation. On the British side there has clearly been a hardening recently. I need only refer to two such matters as the further extension of Linlithgow’s term of office by a year and the Prime Minister’s deliberate, pointed reminder that, so far as India was concerned, it was for the British Government to interpret the Atlantic Charter. I am not saying that either of these things is right or wrong; but I do feel that they represent—as I have said—a hardening on the British side and have been interpreted with a good deal of misgiving, even among our friends in India. Sir Sikander Hyat Khan’s comment on the Prime Minister’s interpretation of the Atlantic Charter was significant.

Hopeless as the situation seems I feel that it is still up to all those who have the time to be interested in India to consider without resting whether there are any constructive steps that can be taken which might result in breaking the deadlock.

Can you let me know whether it would be possible for you to attend a meeting? It seems to me most likely that we should be able to get everybody together if the time could be fixed at 5 p.m. on some day when Parliament is sitting. Can you suggest a day to me when such a time would suit you?

Yours sincerely,
George Schuster

The Rt. Hon.
F. W. Pethwick-Lawrence†, M.P.,
House of Commons, S.W.1.

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† Sic.

Script of a farewell message by Lord Pethick-Lawrence, recorded at All India Radio, Calcutta, on 21 Dec. 1957

Encourages the Indian nation in their efforts towards social reform. Is pleased that India has decided to continue as a member of the Commonwealth.

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Transcript

Farewell Message by Lord Pethick Lawrence
recorded at All India Radio, Calcutta on
21. 12. 57

My wife and I have spent a wonderful month in India. Kindness has been showered upon us in overflowing measure. The treasures of the past have been opened to us to see; and most interesting treasures they are! But what is even more important we have been given opportunities to learn what is beginning to be done to create the India of the future.

In the long years during which I have had close associations with India I have known much of your many problems. During this visit I have realised more than ever how great they are. I can well understand how easy it would be for you to sit down and say, “The obstacles to change and progress are too great. Let us not try to overcome them. Let us continue to live as we did in the past.”

But you are not saying this. You are saying instead “Now that we are in charge of our own destiny we must set our house in order and we must not lag behind other nations in getting rid of the evils in our midst.”

I come from a country where we have full employment and the Welfare State. As a result, the standard of life of our people is higher today than it has ever been before. There is no need for anyone to go hungry or to be without shelter and if he or she is taken ill or has an accident, skilled medical attention is available.

You have much unemployment and you have not the resources today to create the Welfare State. But in your five year plans you are taking steps to deal with both these things; and the best that I can do is to wish you well in your labours. Both you and I realise that it is an uphill task that will take all your resources and all your energies. You are getting, and, I am confident, you will continue to get help from other parts of the world on the material side but of course most of the energy and the skill must increasingly come from yourselves.

That is why I have been so heartened to learn of the great drive you are making to educate your children. The vastness of your population and the remoteness of many of your villages make this a stupendous task but it is an essential element of your progress.

I would like to tell you how strong is the pleasure in my country that you decided to stay a member of the Commonwealth. Many of us view with deep apprehension the hostile alignment to one another of the Great Powers. While we intend to remain loyal members of the United Nations none of us feel that it is wholly satisfactory. We believe that in the Commonwealth we have a society which is nearer to the pattern of the righ relationship of one country to another.

Of course even in the Commonwealth we do not always see eye to eye. But at any rate we consult together and we are in a position to discuss our differences in a friendly spirit. In Britain we naturally tend to look at the world from a European point of view. You as a great Asian Power have quite a different view point and the other members of the Commonwealth have theirs. We feel that that is a great source of strength not only for ourselves but for the world as a whole. Long may it continue!

But the prevailing impression which I carry back home with me is the very real friendliness that you have in India here towards me and my countrymen. This is something much warmer and much more enduring than mere courtesy and good manners. I know it represents your real feelings and because of that I go home very happy that I have come and that I have experienced it. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Letter from S. C. Kakati to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

Congress House, Gauhati.—Invites him to contribute an article to a souvenir to be published in connection with the next session of the Indian National Congress.

(Letter-head of the Reception Committee, Indian National Congress, Sixty-third Session (Assam) 1958, Gauhati. Signed as Chairman, Publicity Sub-Committee, Reception Committee.)

Carbon copy of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to John Lall

11 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London, W.C.2.—Unemployment seems a more pressing problem in India than low wages, and he was interested to learn of certain manufacturing projects. Thanks him for his kindness during his and his wife’s visit. His wife went on to Hong Kong, and then to North America to visit her children.

(Carbon copy of a typed original.)

Letter from Sushama Sen to Lord and Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Anjali, Simla-4.—Refers to their previous meeting at the celebrations organised by her late husband, P. K. Sen, for the centenary of the birth of Keshab Chandra Sen. Offers to send them a copy of her husband’s history of the Brahmo Samaj (Biography of a New Faith), and refers to his and her own political careers. Would like to meet the Pethick-Lawrences while they are in India.

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