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Part Three: THE MIDDLE YEARS - XI. Foreshadowings of Self-Government in India

Foreshadowings of Self-Government in India

FOR SEVERAL YEARS, from the end of 1924 on, I took little part in public life. In India the strength of nationalist sentiment grew steadily throughout these years. The personal leadership and authority of Mahatma Gandhi in the Congress party intensified; the Nehrus, father and son, and Vallabhai Patel were the only leaders approaching him in stature. There were periods of fierce conflict and sullen repression; there were periods of comparative quiescence. The consciousness among Muslims that they must work out their own destiny strengthened steadily. To Lord Chelmsford succeeded Lord Reading; to Lord Reading, Lord Irwin, * who, as Edward Wood, had been a Minister in Mr. Baldwin's first Government, a profoundly sincere and serious-minded man of deep religious convictions. Britain's promise of self-government by stages still stood out as the crucial decision in Indo-British relations. Agitation increased, as successive Governments seemed equally reluctant to take the first steps toward implementing this promise.

Of these events and trends I was an interested observer but little more. A full, active and eventful private and personal life engrossed me. I went to India every year; my wife was settled in the south of France; my son, Aly, his childish delicacy overcome, lived in England with his tutor, Mr. C. W. Waddington. † In the winter of 1923-1924 my wife and son came with me to India. My own interest in racing during this period was extremely active; my wife followed my racing in France but not in England.

*Now Lord Halifax.

† Formerly Principal of the Mayo College at Ajmer.

In 1926 she fell ill, and was an invalid throughout that year. The doctors offered all sorts of diagnoses, ranging from indigestion to "nerves." Later in the year she was in a great deal of pain; and now at last the doctors paid some attention to her condition, and an operation for appendicitis was suggested. The operation was performed in December. It was discovered that she was not suffering from appendicitis. She seemed to make a steady recovery. But one afternoon I was out driving in the Bois, and when I went back to the hospital I was told that she had died during my absence. A small blood clot had escaped, traveled to her heart, and killed her. She was thirty-seven years old.

More than a year passed. Early in 1928 I proposed marriage to Mlle. Andrée Carron of Chambéry, Aix-les-Bains. I had known Mlle. Carron and her family for twelve or fourteen years, indeed since she was quite a young girl. She was thirty when I proposed to her. She hesitated for a long time before accepting me; and it was not until nearly two years later -- December, 1929 -- that we were married at Aix-les-Bains. There arose a ridiculous legend -- created and fostered by the newspapers -- that I met her serving behind the counter in a chocolate shop whither I had gone to buy sweets. There was never a word of truth in it. What happened was this: when the news of our intended marriage reached the papers, all they knew was that I was going to marry someone called Carron from Chambéry. The reporters descended on Chambéry, looking for a Mlle. Carron. At last they found one -- selling candy in a sweet shop.

"There she is," they said and scurried off to telephone their newspapers that they had discovered the Mlle. Carron whom the Aga Khan was going to marry.

The girl in the candy shop had never met me; she did not know me; my Mlle. Carron was someone quite different, who for several years had had a dressmaking shop in Paris with her sister, and she had never in her life had anything to do with chocolates. But the legend got away to a flying start, and the truth never seemed to catch up with it.

Ours was for many years a happy and well-knit marriage. We had one child, my second son Sadruddin, who was born on January 17, 1933. My wife went everywhere with me. In England in 1930 she was received by Their Majesties and was invited to luncheon at Ascot. She shared my social life actively and fully for many years.

Meanwhile I was being drawn back into political and public life. Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, in a momentous pronouncement, had shown Indians what -- in the British view -- was to be their ultimate goal in their constitutional evolution, but he had omitted to indicate with any precision the steps or the road to that goal.

"In view of the doubts which have been expressed," said Lord Irwin, "both in Great Britain and India regarding the interpretation to be placed on the intentions of the British Government in enacting the statute of 1919, I am authorized to state clearly that in their judgment, it is implicit in the Declaration of 1917 that the natural issue of India's constitutional progress as there contemplated is the attainment of Dominion status."

The two words "Dominion status" were to focus and bind Indian ambitions and aspirations for a decade and more, in an ever more forceful and dynamic drive toward independence; and in the end there emerged not one but two independent and sovereign states -Muslim and Hindu -- the latter of which was, almost immediately, to throw away even the vestigial and nominal link of being called a Dominion and proclaim itself (as it had the constitutional right and ability to do) a republic within the Commonwealth.

In 1928-1929, however, all this was to be striven for. Congress met in Calcutta and prepared its own scheme for self-government and Dominion status; but it was marred by the fatal, obsessive flaw of all such Congress schemes to the end, that of underrating -- indeed ignoring -- Muslim claims to be considered as a nation within a nation. Muslim opinion was therefore alert. A Royal Commission -- that classic British instrument for tackling a grave political or constitutional problem at home or overseas -- was by now touring India, taking evidence in impressive quantities and with vast thoroughness; its chairman was Sir John Simon, * the great lawyer-poli tician, then almost at the zenith of his dazzling career; among its members was the pertinacious but personally self-effacing Mr. Clement Attlee, on whose knowledge of India this experience was to have a profound and lasting effect. The Viceroy had announced that after the Simon Commission issued its report it was intended that a conference should be held between the Government, the representatives of British India, and the representatives of the Indian states, in order to try to reach agreement on the way in which constitutional progress should be ensured.

* Now Viscount Simon.

It was decided therefore to hold an All- India Muslim Conference in Delhi at the end of 1928, to formulate Muslim views on the way in which Indian independence should evolve. I was asked to preside over this conference. It proved to be, I am convinced, one of the most important in the long series of such assemblies which marked the road toward total and final independence for the whole subcontinent. It was a vast gathering representative of all shades of Muslim opinion. I can claim to be the parent of its important and lasting political decisions. After long, full and frank discussions we were able to adopt unanimously a series of principles which we set out in a manifesto. They were as follows:

In view of India's vast extent and its ethnological divisions, the only form of government suitable to Indian conditions is a federal system with complete autonomy and residuary powers vested in the constituent states.

The right of Muslims to elect their representatives in the various Indian legislatures is now the law of the land, and Muslims cannot be deprived of that right without their consent.

In the Provinces in which Muslims constitute a minority they shall have a representation in no case less than that enjoyed by them under the existing law (a principle known as weightage).

It is essential that Muslims shall have their due share in the Central and Provincial Cabinets.

We agreed to concede a similar kind of "weightage" to the Hindu minorities in Sind and other predominantly Muslim provinces, but we insisted that a fair proportion of Muslims should be admitted into the Civil Service and into all statutory self-governing bodies. I myself demanded appropriate safeguards for "the promotion and protection of Muslim education, languages, religion, personal law and charitable institutions" -- all causes for which, over years, I had fought as strenuously as I could. I also thought it right to warn my co-religionists and compatriots of the perils of being too easily taken in by Congress' protestations of undefined good will.

The principles which we had enunciated were henceforward to be our guiding lights in all our encounters with British or Hindu representatives and negotiators, with the Government of India or with the Congress party, in every discussion of schemes of reform and new projects for the administration of the country. We now had our code book, and we did not intend to deviate from it.

The unanimity of this conference was especially significant, for it marked the return -- long delayed and for the moment private and with no public avowal of his change of mind -- of Mr. M. A. Jinnah to agreement with his fellow Muslims. Mr. Jinnah had attended the Congress party's meeting in Calcutta shortly before, and had come to the conclusion that for him there was no future in Congress or in any camp -- allegedly on an All-India basis -- which was in fact Hindu-dominated. We had at last won him over to our view.

If India's political and constitutional evolution could be likened to a protracted and hard-fought chess contest (the analogy is imperfect, I know, for there were always at least three players in this game), then it may be said that the board had now been set for an especially crucial game, the pieces were in place, and there was a considerable lull while everyone thought out his next move. The Simon Commission set about the task of preparing its report. A General Election in Britain resulted in the resignation of Mr. Baldwin, and the formation by Mr. Ramsay MacDonald of his second Labor Administration; but although the Labor party were numerically the strongest, they did not command an absolute majority in the House of Commons and were dependent, as five years before, on Liberal support. The world scene changed rapidly and startlingly during 1929. The Wall Street crash ushered in the years of economic depression, the slump which was to send unemployment figures steadily mounting in practically every Western coun try and which was to lead desperate men -- in Germany and elsewhere -- to seek desperate remedies. The brief and deceptively sunlit epoch of the 1920's was over; we were on the threshold of what Sir Winston Churchill has described as "the terrible thirties."

I spent the first three months of 1929 in Egypt making a close study of Egyptology, having as my guide and instructor Professor Newbury, a distinguished Egyptologist, who accompanied me on a tour of all the monuments of the Nile Valley right up to Abu Simbal and back.

The British High Commissioner in Egypt was Lord Lloyd, whom I had known well in India during his highly successful time as Governor of Bombay. A strong-minded imperialist of the school of Cromer and Curzon, George Lloyd was very shortly to come into conflict with his Government at home and resign the post in which he felt that he had lost their confidence. He was a man of remarkable intellectual gifts and great tenacity of purpose. Since he believed so fervently and with so deep and unswerving a passion in the greatness of Britain's imperial destiny, it was perhaps a blessing in disguise that he died early in the Second World War while still -as statesmen are reckoned -- a comparatively young man, for bitter indeed would have been his feelings had he lived to see the final hauling down of the British flag in India and the partition of the subcontinent into the republic of Bharat and the eventual republic of Pakistan.

To me personally he was the kindest and most generous of hosts, but I could not help being uncomfortably aware of his unpopularity with all sections of the Egyptian governing class. King Fuad, whom I had known for more than thirty years and with whom I had been in particularly close contact when the British Government sent me on my mission to Egypt early in the First World War, made a special point of asking me to call and see him. He received me in private at the Abdin Palace. We were alone together for a long time and we had a revealing, if saddening, conversation. The King was already a sick man, though nobody realized the seriousness of his malady. He wept openly at the way in which he himself was rebuffed and neglected, and at the British High Commissioner's relentless refusal to permit him to have any effective voice in the governing of his own country.

"Lloyd," he said, "pulls the strings while the marionettes dance. Cromer turned Abbas Hilmi into a puppet. Lloyd is turning me into a corpse!"

At the Mohammed Ali Club, which was the great meeting place of Egypt's leaders, where they could talk, play their beloved cards, and canvass all their countless political and business schemes and plans, I heard -- from one friend and acquaintance after another -the same story: Field Marshal Lord Allenby, for whose inflexible sense of justice they had a profound admiration, had made promises which had led them to expect increasing independence; but now they found that the "strings" which Allenby had reserved for the High Commissioner had been converted by Lloyd into iron chains -- not, I may say, my own words but the precise phrase used to me by more than one Egyptian Minister.

Why had Lord Lloyd, who in India had been quite liberal and had always acted in the spirit as well as the letter of the constitution under which he governed, shown so different a face in Egypt? Why had he indeed acted not as a High Commissioner but as a Viceroy with plenary powers? May the answer not be that when he was in India as Governor of Bombay, the Montagu-Chelmsford constitution, whose principles he applied liberally and generously, limited home rule to certain clearly specified spheres of activity and administration, and within those well-defined limits there was neither need nor excuse for Lloyd to interfere? But in Egypt the glove came off his iron hand; for there the whole relationship was fluid and indeterminate, and there were no clear-cut lines of demarcation to divide and define the respective spheres of authority of the King and his Ministers and of the British High Commissioner. The Egyptians considered that their country was an independent sovereign state and that the King and his advisors were absolutely their own masters, not only in all matters of internal, executive, day-to-day control and administration of their country's affairs, but indeed in external relations, whereas the High Commis sioner's function was merely to watch Great Britain's interests and see that Egypt took no action and joined no diplomatic combination hostile or injurious to Britain. George Lloyd, on the other hand, saw no clear definition of his powers or of those of the King and his Ministers, and he realized that if he did not keep a close watch and a firmly guiding hand, the whole team might get out of control.

In the summer of 1930 the Simon Commission issued its report. Its analysis of India's political history under British rule and of her contemporary situation was as masterly as it was lucid; it was however on the constructive side of its task that the Commission's report fell sharply short of the high expectations and hopes which its appointment had aroused. It particularly disappointed the Congress leaders, and their resentment of it was loudly and unequivocally expressed. Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, was on leave in England in the earlier part of 1930, and when he returned to India he announced that His Majesty's Government proposed to convene a Round Table Conference in London to consider the future of the country and to reform its constitution. The announcement came at a time of considerable tension, when a civil disobedience campaign, launched by Mahatma Gandhi, was at its height. It eased the tension for the time being; and the Viceroy was able to receive, in a calmer political atmosphere than had seemed possible a few weeks before, a representative delegation * to discuss the date and the personnel of the Round Table Conference and the question of an amnesty for political offenders jailed in connection with the civil disobedience campaign. Agreement, however, was not reached at this preliminary meeting; Mahatma Gandhi withdrew and refused to give any undertaking that Congress would attend the Round Table Conference. The Indian National Congress, in session at Lahore, passed a resolution in favor of a renewed resort to civil disobedience.

*The members of the delegation were Mahatma Gandhi, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Pandit Motilal Nehru, Mr. M. A. Jinnah and Mr. V. J. Patel, then President of the Indian National Assembly.

The Viceroy pertinaciously maintained his hopeful, sympathetic and wise attitude. If Congress would not, at the outset at any rate, co-operate in the attempt to find a way out of India's political perplexities, the attempt would still be made. As many eminent and representative leaders of Indian political thought and feeling as possible -- outside the ranks of Congress -- would be invited. Mr. Nehru, in his Autobiography which was published in 1936 (when the whole issue of Indian independence was still unsettled), made some caustic observations about the personal qualifications of the delegates to the conference; in the longer perspective of history, however, it can be seen as a remarkable assemblage of men and women of widely differing background and outlook, all genuinely anxious to discover a peaceful and honorable path to the independence and self-government which had explicitly been proclaimed to be the objectives of Britain's rule in India.

The British representatives included the Prime Minister, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald; the Lord Chancellor, Lord Sankey; the Secretary of State for India, Mr. Wedgwood Benn * ; and -- representing the Conservative Opposition -- Sir Samuel Hoare, † who was later, in some years that were crucial to India's destiny, to be Secretary of State for India; and Lord Reading, a Liberal leader and former Viceroy. The British-Indian delegation, of which I had been appointed a member, included Muslim, Hindu and Parsee representatives drawn from many shades of political opinion and other delegates representing numerous smaller communities; among the Muslims, Mr. M. A. Jinnah, Sir Mohammed Shaffi, Sir Zafrullah Khan and Maulana Mohammed Ali; and two women delegates, the Begum Shah Nawaz and Mrs. Subbaroyan; among the Hindus, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, the Rt. Hon. V. S. Srinivasa Sastri; Sir C. P. Ramaswami Alyar, Sir Chimanlal Setalvad, Mr. M. R. Jayakar and Diwan Bahadur Rama Mudaliyar; among the Parsees, Sir Phiroze Sethna, Sir Cowasji Jehangir and Sir H. P. Mody. Mr. Ambedkar, himself born an "untouchable," represented the Depressed Classes; Sir Henry Gidney, the Anglo-Indian community.

*Now Lord Stansgate.

† Now Lord Templewood.

The rep resentation of Ruling Princes was as impressive as it was stately, including as it did many of the bearers of the greatest and most famous names in Indian chivalry. The Maharajah Gaekwar of Baroda was their leader, and others with him were the Maharajahs of Bikaner, Patiala, Bhopal, Kashmir, Rewa and Jamnagar -- better known perhaps to millions of British citizens as the unforgettable "Ranji" of cricket fame. The Princes were accompanied, many of them, by their Diwans -- their Prime Ministers -- who included statesmen of the quality and distinction of Sir Akbar Hydari and Sir Mirza Ismail, and other eminent men.

We assembled in London in the autumn of 1930 I had the honor of being elected leader of the Muslim delegation. We established our headquarters in the Ritz Hotel, where it has long been my custom to stay whenever I am in London. It is no formality to say that it was an honor to be chosen to lead so notable a body of men -- including personalities of the caliber of Mr. M. A. Jinnah, later to be the creator of Pakistan and the Quaid-i-Azam, or Sir Mohammed Zafrullah Khan, for many years India's representative at numerous international conferences and first Foreign Minister of Pakistan, or my old and tried friend, Sir Mohammed Shaffi, one of the founders of the Muslim League.

The happiness of being thus chosen was for me one of the many joys of an exceptionally happy, as well as eventful, period of my life. It was the first twelvemonth of my marriage to Mlle. Andrée Carron, and I had also had the by no means negligible experience of winning the Derby with Blenheim.

Later, then, in this memorable year the full first Round Table Conference began with a formal inaugural session in the House of Lords, presided over by His Majesty, King George V. My colleagues then accorded me the further honor of electing me to be chairman of the British-Indian section of the conference, that is, of all the Indian representatives except the Ruling Princes, who had come, of course, as their own representatives and in their own capacity as the sovereigns of their various principalities and states.

The King, not long recovered from his extremely serious illness, made of his opening speech a most moving appeal to us all to con template the momentous character of the task to which we had set our hands.

"I shall follow the course of your proceedings," said the King, "with the closest and most sympathetic interest, not indeed without anxiety but with a greater confidence. The material conditions which surround the lives of my subjects in India affect me dearly, and will be ever present in my thoughts during your forthcoming deliberations. I have also in mind the just claims of majorities and minorities, of men and women, of town dwellers and tillers of the soil, of landlords and tenants, of the strong and the weak, of the rich and poor, of the races, castes and creeds of which the body politic is composed. For those things I care deeply. I cannot doubt that the true foundation of self-government is in the fusion of such divergent claims into mutual obligations and in their recognition and fulfillment. It is my hope that the future government of India based on its foundation will give expression to her honorable aspirations."

Other eloquent and stirring orations followed; and the conference, moving to St. James's Palace, settled down to its complex and formidable task. We achieved a surface harmony, but underneath there were deep and difficult rifts of sentiment and of outlook whose effect was bound to be felt from the outset. In order to understand this it is necessary to restate briefly the political situation and the state of Indo-British relations as they both stood in this autumn of 1930. The Simon Commission's Report advanced a scheme which denied central responsibility and also relegated the idea of a federation of India to a distant and undefined future. This could not really be satisfactory to anybody, for it offered, not a workable compromise, but an evasion of an existing -- indeed a pressing -political conflict. For while the whole drive of the Hindu movement to self-government was concentrated on the idea of a strong central government and the establishment of an immediate democracy, conceived solely in terms of numbers, in which religious differences counted as such and as nothing more, Muslim opinion had crystallized steadily in favor of a distribution of powers from the center to virtually self-governing and autonomous provincial governments. Finally, no one had as yet evolved the conception of an All-India federation in which the states would be partners. Therefore none of the major parties at the conference arrived with any definite scheme -- only with conflicting claims. The British Government, not unnaturally, was somewhat at sea when presented with what seemed to be a series of contradictory and irreconcilable claims and counterclaims.

The first essential task, as I saw it, was to find some way of bridging the gulf between the Muslim and Hindu sections of the BritishIndian delegation. Only when we had achieved that bridge did it seem to me that we could offer to the British representatives our conjoint proposals for the constitutional development of India.

Pre-eminent among those whose efforts were devoted with zeal and enthusiasm to the same or closely similar ends was my friend, His Highness the Nawab of Bhopal. He was an outstanding figure among the Ruling Princes of his time -- a devout Muslim, a man of driving energy and will power, of great physical strength, a sportsman and athlete and a first-class polo player. He was also a convinced Indian nationalist, eager to throw off India's semicolonial yoke and do away with her dependent status. He agreed with me entirely that if we of British India could not find ways and means of settling our own differences of opinion, we could not go to His Majesty's Government with any formulated set of demands; and this was leaving out of consideration altogether the protected states. From the first moment that we met at the Nawab's house, it was my deep conviction that this was what mattered most, which made me a champion of a Muslim-Hindu understanding about our ultimate view of an independent India -- on the one hand, a truly confederate state or on the other, a state such as Canada in which the principal and overriding authority and power are reserved for the central government.

As a preliminary to reaching agreement with our Hindu colleagues we had to secure agreement inside our own Muslim delegation. At first several of the Muslim delegates, in particular Mr. Jinnah, were -- as they had long been before the conference -- suspicious of the idea of federation. Its dangers were, I well knew, neither remote nor unimportant; to associate a growing democracy with a number of states in which personal rule was the established and, as it then seemed, inalienable custom might well be a risky as well as complex innovation; and also there was the danger that since the majority of Ruling Princes were Hindu, there might be a serious diminution of the political influence of the Muslim community within the federation as a whole. However I was convinced that whatever the temporary difficulties and risks involved in a federal scheme, it still offered the best and the most acceptable solution of India's political problems, that it offered an opportunity which might never recur, and that if it required compromise to make it effective, it would be a small price to pay for its obvious and numerous advantages.

I am happy to think that when within the Muslim delegation we had made our decision in favor of federation, Mr. Jinnah, who had been its doughtiest opponent, was an inflexibly loyal and irreproachably helpful colleague throughout all the subsequent discussions and negotiations.

Since the Ruling Princes had signified their assent to some federal form of government, it remained now only to win the agreement of the Hindu representatives. I strove to convince them that if they made the concession of accepting the principle of a federated and not a united India they -- and we -- would reap the harvest of the benefits of immediate and large-scale political advancement for the country as a whole. The guarantees which we asked consisted of a truly federal constitution; understandings that the Muslim majorities in the Punjab and Bengal would not, by artificial "rigging" of the constitution, be turned into minorities; the separation of the Sind from Bombay and its establishment as a separate Province; the introduction of a full-scale system of constitutional government in the Northwest Frontier Province; and the assurance of the statutory reservation of a certain proportion of places in the Army and in the Civil Service for Muslims. If they gave us assurances of this character, we in our turn would offer them a united front in face of the British. I even went further and offered, as a special concession, unity of command under a chosen Indian leader whose orders we would bind the Muslim community to accept. In his memoirs Sir Chimanlal Setalvad has referred to these offers of mine, and his evidence at least stands firmly on record that if the first Round Table Conference did not achieve all that was expected of it, and if, ultimately, not only was Dominion status not brought about but India had to be partitioned, some at least of the beginnings of these momentous happenings are to be found in the Hindu delegations' refusal to accept my offer. I am certain that Sapru and Sastri, in their heart of hearts, wanted to accept our Muslim proposals, but they were afraid of their Hindu colleagues and, above all, the influence of the Mahasabha. I must formally record my solemn conviction that had my views been accepted then and there, later history would have taken a profoundly different course, and there would now have long since been in existence a Federal Government of India, in which Muslims and Hindus would have been partners in the day-to-day administration of the country, politically satisfied and contentedly working together for the benefit of India as a whole. In a subsequent chapter I shall have occasion to refer to the continued stubbornness and intransigence of Hindu opinion, which at a much later date rejected the constitution offered it by the British Cabinet Mission. The formulation of this constitution, in outline and in principle, should have marked the beginning of the Round Table Conference, if the Hindu representatives, when we met them in the Nawab of Bhopal's house, had accepted my offer on behalf of the Muslims with the sincerity with which I put it forward.

That acceptance denied us, the rest of the first Round Table Conference was not of much essential or practical importance, since the foundation on which its deliberations should have been built was vague and fragile instead of strong and firm.

One successful step forward seemed then to be of great importance, but time and a train of great events have shown it to have been minor and transient. This was the Princes' announcement of their acceptance of the idea of federation. The British representatives at the Conference hailed it -- perhaps not unnaturally from their point of view -- as a significant and constructive advance, of real assistance in the task of securing a devolution of power from the United Kingdom Parliament to a so-called Indian Federal Parliament.

It gained in impressiveness from the fact that Lord Reading, leader of the Liberal party in the House of Lords, enfolded with the august aura of prestige which his status as an ex-Viceroy gave him, and strongly convinced as he was of the importance of a centralized responsibility in all major spheres of administration and executive authority, gave it his hearty if measured approval. To the Prime Minister, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, it seemed salvation and success for the conference rather than the shipwreck which, so it appeared at the time, would have been disastrous. Mr. MacDonald's situation throughout the conference was complicated and delicate, though hardly unique, for it was the kind of situation which he frequently had to face in his career. At the height of his power he faced it with aplomb and adroitness, but it was difficult to disregard the fact that, despite all his diplomatic skill and finesse, he was not unlike the driver who has eight spirited horses in his coaching team and is aware that any couple can and probably will go off on its own and seek to pull the coach in a totally different direction from that which he intends.

To the Indian representatives at the conference Mr. MacDonald had to be -- and was -- our chairman, presiding with shrewd and benevolent impartiality over our deliberations, wise and venerated, our guide, philosopher and friend in the tricky mazes of democratic, constitutional procedure and theory in which we were having our protracted initiation. To his own party, burdened with office -- in 1930, that year of dark foreboding and hints of the turbulence and the sorrow that were imminent -- but without that support of a solid and unthreatened majority in the House of Commons which alone could ensure effectiveness and permanence to its decisions, he had to appear as the leader in the long crusade against out-of-date imperialism, obstructive vested interests, and the emancipator, the creator of Indian freedom and independence which he sincerely desired to be. In this role he was conscious that his was an ad vanced and most progressive view of India's problems and that he and his party were eager to travel swiftly the whole road to Dominion status, with few and minor reservations or restrictions. But the Conservative Opposition, whose patience he could not possibly afford to test too highly, was jealously watchful of Britain's imperial interests; and both in Parliament and in the Press the right-wing "die-hard" element of the Conservative party possessed powerful and authoritative citadels whence to challenge-perhaps to overthrow-him, if he too flagrantly disregarded their views.

In these circumstances it was perhaps inevitable that an especial atmosphere of hopefulness and optimism should envelop this, the conference's one major tangible achievement. Something, it was felt, above and beyond mere provincial autonomy had been established and ensured. The lawyers among us, like Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, let themselves become zestfully absorbed in the details of what they then believed would lead to a serious and permanent advance along the road to Indian self-government. I must say that I in my heart of hearts was always suspicious that our work might not procure any real or lasting results because the great realities of India in 1930 were being forgotten.

It was forgotten that there were, first and foremost and all the time, fundamental differences between the Muslim and Hindu peoples that inhabited the subcontinent, and that these differences were most apparent between the Muslims of the two Northwestern and Eastern sections of India and the Hindu majority in the rest.

It was forgotten that the intelligentsia -- although only ten per cent of the total Hindu population -- numbered between forty and fifty million, and could not possibly be dismissed as "a mere microscopic minority." It was forgotten that they desired the British to quit India, bag and baggage, finally and forever; this was the aim for which they labored and strove, and indeed it was brought to pass in 1947. All the minutiae of an elaborate paper constitution, with all its cautious safeguards, its neat balancing of power by abstract and theoretical formulas which were to be embodied in it, seemed to them a pack of cunning and pernicious nonsense, a lot of irksome tricks by which all that the British seemed with one hand to give could be -- and would be -- snatched back with the other.

It was forgotten that the Princes, for all their wealth, ability, personal charm, prestige and sincere loyalty to the British connection, had in fact very little power or influence. They were not, of course, the sinister stooges that hostile propaganda often dubbed them, but both their actual authority and their capacity to sway opinion by their influence had been sapped in long years during which their subjects -- and the Indian people at large -- had come to realize that they were powerless, and incapable of holding an independent view or making an independent decision, if that view or that decision conflicted with the policy of the all-powerful British Residents. Thus gradually their support of the federal constitution -though it took in the British ruling class -- was shown to possess very little reality, and to be a shadow without the substance of power.

By the time the second Round Table Conference assembled in the autumn of 1931 the world situation had changed vastly, and so had the state of Indo-British relations. The economic crisis, in all its sharpness and severity, had hit Europe and the United Kingdom. The collapse of the famous Austrian Credit-Anstalt Bank had led to a general and hasty restriction of credit and a long steep tumble in world trade. In Britain the number of unemployed mounted to a vast, grim total in the region of three millions; the publication of the May Report, an authoritative, officially ordered survey of the country's economic, financial and fiscal condition, which contained a number of recommendations for economy measures totally inacceptable to the majority of Mr. Ramsay MacDonald's Cabinet colleagues, precipitated a major political crisis. In September the King interrupted his annual and cherished holiday at Balmoral and returned to London, summoning to meet him the various leaders of the political parties. Thereafter a National Government was formed, charged with the task of dealing with the crisis; Mr. MacDonald was Prime Minister, supported by Conservatives and Liberals like Mr. Baldwin, Sir Austen Chamberlain, Sir John Simon and Sir Herbert Samuel. In the General Election which followed quickly on the formation of this government its supporters, mainly Conservatives and National Liberals, were returned to power with an overwhelming majority, and Labor representation in the Commons was reduced to "rump" propositions -- almost the only ex-Ministers left in the House being Mr. George Lansbury, the veteran pacifist, and Mr. Attlee.

These changes could not but affect the second Round Table Conference; but, grave and preoccupying as were the events in which Britain and the British Government were involved, they did not cause its postponement. Meanwhile the patience and the considerable powers of persuasion of the Viceroy, Lord Irwin -- "the tall Christian" as Mr. Mohammed Ali called him in an historic phrase -- had prevailed and Mahatma Gandhi agreed to come to London. He went in his own personal capacity, but it was generally felt that, even if he did not come as the nominated leader and representative of Congress, his was the voice of authority and decision so far as the vast majority of Hindus were concerned.

We Muslims for our part hoped that Mahatma Gandhi, with his unique political flair allied to his vast personal prestige, would appreciate the fact (and act upon it) that to make a combined front of Hindus and Muslims would in itself be a major step forward, and that all would realize that it would offer an unparalleled opportunity for extracting out of the Round Table Conference a constitution which would be a genuine transference of power from British to Indian hands and which would give India the status of a world Power. Though Mahatma Gandhi could not possibly in 1930 have foreseen or hoped for anything like the final solution of 1947, he must, when he arrived, have hoped -- as did most of us from the East at the Conference -- that real power would be transferred, even if India and Whitehall were still linked by one or two silken strings.

Mahatma Gandhi arrived in London in November, 1931, as the sole representative of Congress. He was accompanied by the eminent Indian poet, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu. Our first meeting in our capacity as delegates to the second Round Table Conference occurred at midnight in my own room at the Ritz Hotel. It may be a suitable moment therefore to pause in my narrative and sum up my im pressions and recollections of two truly remarkable personalities.

In one way or another I knew and was in touch with Mahatma Gandhi for more than forty-five years. I first heard of him about 1899 or 1900 when both he and I were actively concerned with the status and future of Indians in South Africa, a perennial problem which was to engage our attention across many years. At that time his philosophy was only beginning to coalesce, and he had not made the major personal decision of his life, which was the break with, and the turning away from, modern material progress. On and off we were in touch for the next ten or twelve years, usually on some facet of the Indian problem in South Africa. We were in London at the same time shortly after the outbreak of the First World War; as he had done at the beginning of the South African War he offered his assistance to the British Government for ambulance and field hospital work. Already he had, however, traveled far along his own mental and spiritual road, and I was aware that he had decided that salvation for India and for his fellow countrymen lay in renouncing contemporary, industrialized and materialistic so-called civilization. I have given an account of our contacts at the time of the Khilafat agitation in 1920-1921; thereafter Mahatma Gandhi was, for the rest of his life, a major figure in world history.

I believe that both in Mahatma Gandhi's philosophical outlook and in his political work there were certain profound inconsistencies, which all his life he strove, without complete success, to reconcile. The chief, formative spiritual influences of his life were Christ, as revealed in the New Testament, Tolstoy, Thoreau, and certain exponents of various forms of Hindu asceticism; yet he was not, in the ordinarily accepted sense, a pure ascetic; he had little patience and no sympathy with the merely contemplative life of the mystic totally withdrawn from the world, or with monks, whether Buddhist or Christian, who accept the rule of an enclosed order. If I may say so, I am convinced that Gandhi's philosophy was not renunciation of this world but its reformation, with mutual and associative human love as the dynamic spark in that reformation. Yet this involved for him a certain degree of renunciation. This attitude toward the products of the industrial and technical revolution of our time was characteristically ambivalent. He believed that all men ought to have the full benefits -- in generally diffused well-being -- of the power over nature which science has put at man's disposal. Yet he felt that, at man's present level of social and spiritual development, if some individuals accepted these benefits, then the vast majority would be deprived of them and would be both proportionally and absolutely worse off than before.

This ambivalence, rooted as it was in a profound mental and spiritual contradiction, was always evident throughout his life, in his relations with his nearest and dearest friends and in his teaching and in his practice.

I remember that I once had a long conversation with him in Poona after he had been gravely ill and had undergone an operation. He was in bed at the Sassoon Hospital, where I went to see him. His praise and his admiration for the hospital, for the British surgeon who had operated on him, for the consultants and the nursing staff were unstinted. Yet he could not but feel that since such a standard of treatment and attention could not be given to every single one of the millions of India's population, it must be wrong for it to be at his disposal in Poona. Just as much as everyone else, however, he realized that it would be a crime to abolish the Sassoon Hospital -- and everything which it symbolized and represented -- that its benefits must go to some, since they could not go to all, but to whom? And yet, he felt, and yet, and yet...his philosophy trailed off into a question mark that was also a protest.

There in his bed in that Poona hospital he faced the impossibility of complete adjustment. It was this hard fact of incomplete adjustment, in the world as it is, which made him appear at some moments "for" material progress, and at others "against" it. It gave some critics cause to doubt either the sincerity of his Christian Tolstoyan ideals or the efficacy of his activities on the world of practical politics and economics. It would perhaps be more just as well as more charitable to realize that Mahatma Gandhi was far from alone in the contradictions and the conflicts of his inner and his outer life. Are not such contradictions the very foundation of life for all of us, in its spiritual as well as its material aspects; and if we seek to be of any use or service to ourselves and to our fellow men, can we do otherwise than live, as best we may, in the light of these contradictions?

Our last talk in 1945-1946 was in its way a reflection in miniature of the whole of Mahatma Gandhi's spiritual and intellectual life. Its setting and its circumstances illustrated, forcefully enough, the simple fact that in our world as it is we can never get away from contradictions. I had come to talk politics with Gandhi; since I was no longer actively a participant in Indian politics, I had to some extent come as a companion of my old and valued friend, the Nawab of Bhopal. Bhopal, Chancellor of the still existent Chamber of Princes, was a free lance in the Muslim ranks of the time, for he had not accepted the Quaid-i-Azam's conviction that only a partition of the subcontinent could give the Muslims what they wanted. I for my part still cherished some hopes that the full and final amputation could be avoided, if something on the lines of the constitution proposed by the last British Cabinet Mission could have been acceptable. Now I see clearly that I was wrong; amputation was the only remedy. Mahatma Gandhi and I talked of these matters; we talked of South Africa; then as I walked out, I changed the subject and asked: "What really is your opinion of Marxism -of Marx himself, of Engels, of Lenin and of Stalin?"

His answer was as characteristic as it was adroit: "I," he said, "would be a hundred per cent communist myself -- if Marx's final stage were the first stage, and if Lenin's economic ideals were put immediately into practice."

If -- there lay the contradiction. If, as Marx had laid it down, the state would "wither away" not as the last phase of the revolution but as the first; and if Lenin's economic axiom, "From everyone according to his capacity; to everyone according to his needs," could be put immediately into practice, then indeed the Marxist millennium would begin. I countered him with the orthodox Stalinist argument: the world as it is today contains capitalist-imperialist states, whose productive capacity is geared not to peace and utility but as a means to the possible end of aggressive and imperialist war; in such a world the communist state must be organized in its own defense; and how can there be a free society in which the state has indeed "withered away" without the essential preliminary phase of the world triumph of organized socialism?

"Well," said Gandhi, "let one country do it. Let one country give up its state organization, its police and its armed forces, its sanctions and its compulsions. Let one state really wither away. The happiness that would there prevail would be so great and so abiding that other countries would, for very shame, let their capitalist-imperialist societies and states wither away."

Mahatma Gandhi no more than anyone else could evade the contradiction that lies at the base of life in this epoch. We have constantly to put up with second-best and probably worse, since we cannot achieve our full ideal. Gandhi too realized this, despite his hope that mankind could attain Marx's final phase -- a goal which, if it is ever attainable at all, will be reached by another route than an immediate short cut by way of selected portions of the lives of Christ, Mohammed and Buddha.

Mrs. Naidu, Gandhi's companion in his midnight conference with me at the Ritz that autumn night in 1931, was in her way hardly less fascinating a personality. She was one of the most remarkable women I have ever met, in some ways as remarkable as Miss Nightingale herself. Her home after her marriage was in Hyderabad. Although her original inclinations and her upbringing were extremely democratic, she was a poet. Her sensitive and romantic imagination was impressed by the originality and strangeness as well as the glamour of the character of the then Nizam of Hyderabad -- the father of His present Exalted Highness -a gentle and timorous man, of a delicate and refined sensibility and sentiment, yet endowed with great clarity of vision, independence of judgment, and generosity and withal the possessor of a great heart in a sadly frail frame. He too had poetic aspirations, and some of his Urdu writings could indeed almost be dignified with the name of poetry. Mrs. Naidu sang his praises; but she herself was a real poet, who wrote strongly and tenderly of love and of life, of the world of the spirit and the passions. In that linking of tenderness and strength which was her nature there was no room for malice, hatred or ill-will. She was a vigorous nationalist, determined that the British must leave India and her destiny in the hands of India's children, yet her admiration for Western civilization and Western science -- above all for English literature -- was deep and measureless. Her proud freedom from prejudice she demonstrated at the time of the death of Rudyard Kipling. Kipling's out-andout imperialism, the rigid limitations of his view of India's political capacity and potentialities -- despite his recognition of their qualities of intelligence and fidelity -- were inevitably at the opposite pole from Mrs. Naidu's outlook. Yet when he died Mrs. Naidu published a statement in which she paid her full and generous tribute of admiration to his genius -- to the poet, the novelist, the unequaled teller of tales -- making it clear beyond all argument that this recognition of the artist by the artist was utterly distinct from and unaffected by her profound and abiding dislike of his racial and political philosophy.

Such then were the notable pair who were ushered into my sitting room at the Ritz at midnight. We posed together for the press photographers, and then settled down to our conversation. I opened it by saying to Mahatmaji that were he now to show himself a real father to India's Muslims, they would respond by helping him, to the utmost of their ability, in his struggle for India's independence.

Mahatmaji turned to face me. "I cannot in truth say," he observed, "that I have any feelings of paternal love for Muslims. But if you put the matter on grounds of political necessity, I am ready to discuss it in a co-operative spirit. I cannot indulge in any form of sentiment."

This was a cold douche at the outset; and the chilly effect of it pervaded the rest of our conversation. I felt that, whereas I had given prompt and ready evidence of a genuine emotional attachment and kinship, there had been no similar response from the Mahatmaji.

Years later -- in 1940 -- I reminded him of this. He said that he completely recollected the episode. "I am very, very sorry," he said then, "that you misunderstood that answer of mine. I didn't mean that I was aware of no emotional attachment, no feeling for the welfare of Muslims; I only meant that I was conscious of full blood brotherhood, yes, but not of the superiority that fatherhood would imply."

And I, on my side, had only meant in that word "father" to show respect for the frailty of his age -- not, of course, frailty in health or mental capacity -- and not to hint at any superiority.

This unfortunate initial misunderstanding over words had more than a passing effect. For it left the impression, which persisted not only that night but throughout the Round Table Conference, that our attempts to reach a Muslim-Hindu entente were purely political and without the stabilizing emotional ties of long fellow citizenship and admiration for one another's civilization and culture. Thus there could be no cordiality about any entente we might achieve; we were driven back to cold politics, with none of the inspiring warmth of emotional understanding to suffuse and strengthen our discussions.

This preliminary talk did not take us far. Thereafter we had a further series of conversations -- usually at midnight in my rooms at the Ritz -- I myself presiding as host, and Mr. Jinnah and Sir Mohammed Shaffi negotiating on one side, and Mahatma Gandhi on the other. The story of these discussions is long and not, alas, particularly fruitful.

They were informal talks and no record was kept. I said little and left the bulk of the discussion to Mr. Jinnah and Sir Mohammed Shaffi, and to other delegates who from time to time took part, notably Sir Zafrullah Khan, Mr. Shaukat Ali and the late Shaffat Ali Khan. Much of the disputation vividly recalled Fitzgerald's quotation:

Myself when young did eagerly frequent

Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument

About it and about: but evermore

Came out by the same door as in I went.

Always the argument returned to certain basic points of difference: Was India a nation or two nations? Was Islam merely a religious minority, or were Muslims in those areas in which they were in a majority to have and to hold special political rights and responsibilities? The Congress attitude seemed to us doctrinaire and unrealistic. They held stubbornly to their one-nation theory, which we knew to be historically insupportable. We maintained that before the coming of the British Raj the various regions of the Indian subcontinent had never been one country, that the Raj had created an artificial and transient unity, and that when the Raj went, that unity could not be preserved and the diverse peoples, with their profound racial and religious differences, could not remain fellow-sleepers for all time but they would awake and go their separate ways.

However close therefore we might come to agreement on points of detail, this ultimate disagreement on principle could not be bridged.

The Mahatma sought to impose a first and fundamental condition: that the Muslims should, before they asked for any guarantees for themselves, accept Congress' interpretation of Swaraj -self-government -- as their goal. To which Mr. Jinnah very rightly answered that, since the Mahatma was not imposing this condition on the other Hindu members of the various delegations attending the Round Table, why should he impose it on the Muslims? Here was another heavy handicap.

Our conditions were the same throughout: very few powers at the center, except in respect of defense and external affairs; all other powers to be transferred, and especially to those provinces in which there were Muslim majorities -- the Punjab, Bengal, Sind, Baluchistan and the Northwest Frontier. We were adamant because we knew that the majority of the Muslims who lived in Bengal and the Punjab were adamant.

Mahatma Gandhi fully recognized the importance of having us in his camp. Who knows? -- perhaps he might have seen his way to accept our viewpoint, but Pundit Malaviya and the Hindu Mahasabha exerted great pressure against us, deploying arguments based on abstract political doctrines and principles which, as the partition of 1947 proved, were totally unrelated to the realities of India.

As time went on the hair-splitting became finer and finer, the arguments more and more abstract: a nation could not hand over unspecified powers to its provinces; there was no constitutional way of putting a limit on the devices by which a majority could be turned into a minority -- fascinating academic issues, but with little or no connection with the real facts and figures of Indian life.

In fairness I ought to mention one practical reform which did emerge from all our discussions and in the end contributed something to the settlement of 1947. This was the separation of Sind from Bombay and its establishment as a Province with a Governor and administration of its own. For at least thirty years previously the continued connection of these two had been an anachronism; its existence explains much of Sind's so-called backwardness, and the rivalry and the jealousy that arose between Bombay, the older city which ruled, and Karachi, the younger city which was ruled.

In the Province of Bombay the I.C.S. officials who attained the highest ranks of the service tended to have spent years in Marathi or Gujerati districts. Sind differed from other parts of the Province in race, language, religion and the physical shape of the land, and service in it required a quite different outlook, mentality and training. Sind had been neglected in matters like communications, roads and internal development, by an administrative center from which it was far distant and with which its only connections were by sea or across the territories of princely states.

A special committee was set up to consider the whole question of the separation of Sind. The Muslim representatives on it -- of whom I was one -- did not argue the case on communal lines; we urged that Sind be separated from Bombay as an act of common justice to its inhabitants, and on practical and administrative grounds. Apart from one or two members who represented Bombay and were anti-separation, our other Hindu colleagues supported us, and our proposal was carried.

The chairman of this particular committee was the late Earl Russell, the elder brother of the present Earl, better known as Bertrand Russell. He was a lively and interesting personality, who had endured -- and surmounted -- the difficulties and the legal and social complications of a stormy marital career in his early life. He was a grandson of the first Earl -- Lord John Russell, Queen Victoria's famous Whig Prime Minister. Born and reared in this inmost circle of the old Whig oligarchy of England, he was himself supremely unclass-conscious, endowed with a wonderful memory, richly stored, and with great gifts as a raconteur.

He died in the south of France not long after the end of the conference; the news of his death came as a shock, for I had looked forward to our friendship continuing and enriching itself for the rest of our lives.

One of his former wives, who lived not far from my own home at Antibes, was no less remarkable and original a character -- the tiny, inimitable and indomitable Elizabeth, of Elizabeth and her German Garden. She maintained her passion for garden-building to the end. She lived not far from the country club and golf course at Mougins; she designed much of its landscape gardening and floral planning; and my wife, Princess Andrée, and I consulted her more than once about our own garden.

To return to the Round Table Conferences: in the end, their many long sessions achieved little. The Mahatmaji returned to India; the sum total of all our work was a vast array of statistics and dates, a great many speeches and little or no positive understanding. The second conference finished, all the delegates dispersed, and we awaited what was in fact the third Round Table Conference -- it was officially known as the Joint Select Committee appointed by Parliament under the chairmanship of the Marquis of Linlithgow -- to draw up the Indian Federal Constitution.

Meanwhile my ordinary life outside politics had continued tranquilly and eventfully. My wife, Princess Andrée, had throughout the exhausting and protracted sessions of the first two Round Table Conferences been of quite invaluable support and help to me. For the conferences had a circumambience of hospitality and sociability, parties, receptions and dinners innumerable, at which my wife was my constant, graceful and accomplished partner. In January, 1933, my second son, Sadruddin, was born in the American Hospital at Neuilly, just outside Paris. At the end of that year Princess Andrée paid her first visit to India with me, leaving our son in the south of France. We traveled all over the country, seeing most of the famous, beautiful and historical sights; stayed several days with the renowned old Maharajah of Bikaner; stayed in Calcutta as the guests of the Governor, Sir John Anderson * ; went up to the hills for a time and traveled on to Burma. We were home in Cannes by April, 1934, delighted to be greeted by a much-grown, healthy, strong little boy.

* Now Lord Waverley.

Then I found myself fully back in political harness. The third of the series of Indian Round Table Conferences was upon us. On the British side there had been changes, consequent upon the formation of the MacDonald-Baldwin National Government. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald was still Prime Minister, but his support in the House of Commons came now from the enormous Conservative majority of which Mr. Baldwin was the master. This removed Mr. MacDonald from direct and close concern in our deliberations about India; consulted in all important matters he doubtless continued to be, but the effective decisions were, one could not help feeling, being made by the man in charge of the India Office. This, of course, was Sir Samuel Hoare, a sensitive, sagacious, broadminded and keenly intelligent statesman, who was acutely aware of the realities of our mid-twentieth-century world, and -- so far as India was concerned -- fully realized that the day of the die-hard imperialist was ended.

The Joint Select Committee assembled in London in the spring of 1934. The Chairman, Lord Linlithgow, was later to be Viceroy of India. The composition of the committee was as varied as it was strong. The British representation contained inevitably a heavy Conservative preponderance; the knowledge and experience of India of individual members varied in quantity and quality. Respected and influential leaders like Lord Derby and Sir Austen Chamberlain were at the outset noncommittal; there were others who were frankly opposed to the whole idea of a federal solution to India's problems. India's representation was on the whole good; Mahatma Gandhi did not attend, but there was a sizable element of advanced Indian nationalism, drawn from outside the ranks of Congress. Looking back now on what happened in the course of this committee, I think I regret Mr. Jinnah's absence as much as that of the Mahatmaji. It was, I think, extremely unfortunate that we Muslims did not insist on having Mr. Jinnah with us; had he been a member of the delegation he might have subscribed to what I consider was the most valuable result of these Round Table Conferences.

This was the Joint Memorandum, which -- for the first time in the history of Indo-British relations -- put before the British Government a united demand on behalf of all communities, covering practically every important political point at issue. It propounded what would have been, in effect, a major step forward -- the penultimate step indeed before Dominion status. By it we sought to ensure continuity in the process of the further transfer of responsibility. It was signed by all the nonofficial Indian delegates; it had been drafted by the delegation's brilliant official secretary and myself. It was a claim for the transfer to Indian hands of practically every power except certain final sanctions which would be reserved to the British Government. Had a constitution been granted along these lines, later critical situations -- India's declaration of war in 1939, the problems which faced the Cripps Mission in 1942, and the final and total transfer of authority -- might all have been much less difficult. Had this constitution been fully established and an accepted and going concern, it would have been in due course a comparatively simple operation to lop off those reserve powers which in our draft marked the final stage of constitutional devolution.

As I said in the course of evidence which I gave before the Joint Committee on the Government of India Bill:

"I accept the term 'Responsible Government,' though as an ideal my preference is for self-government either on the American federal plan or on Swiss lines leaving ultimate power through the Initiative, the Referendum, and perhaps the Recall. But the facts of the situa tion have to be recognized.... 'Responsible Government' must be our way toward evolving in the future some plan more suited to a congeries of great states, such as India will become, and I believe the way will be found in something akin to the American federal plan."

Despite all (as we thought) its merits, our Joint Memorandum was disowned by Congress, and therefore the British Government felt compelled in their turn to reject it. In its stead they brought into being the constitution adumbrated by the Government of India Act of 1935, which left far too many loopholes for British interference, and indeed actual decision, on matters which every Indian patriot believed should have been solely for India to decide -- for example, India's entry into the Second World War. Its grossest failing was that it offered no foundation on which to build; Sir Stafford Cripps, during his mission in 1942, and Lords Alexander of Hillsborough and Pethick-Lawrence on their subsequent mission were halted by this unpalatable fact. Neither did the Act supply an impetus to any effort to bridge the rift between Hindus and Muslims; and in the testing times of 1942 and 1946-1947, the emptiness in the Act was glaringly revealed. By its reservations and by its want of clarity about the real meaning of Indian independence, the 1935 Act made a United India an impossibility. It had to be set aside and the effort made to build up Indian independence from scratch. Then it became harshly clear that Indian unity was impossible unless it were based on extremely wide federal, or confederate, foundations.

The second Cabinet Mission of 1947 did finally propose a constitution which would have maintained the unity of India, but at the price of handing over all ultimate power to the three confederate states of a Federal India. This was the sort of constitution for which our Joint Memorandum of 1934 could have naturally and steadily prepared the ground. Congress' attitude to this last effort was, to say the least, lukewarm; and it too fell by the wayside. In the end the only solution was that which occurred, and those strange Siamese twins -- Muslim India and Hindu India -- that had lived together so restlessly and so uncomfortably, were parted by a swift, massive surgical operation.


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