Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

The Anglo-American Powers Stand for an Imperialist Policy in India

This is Subhas Chandra Bose speaking from Berlin.

Countrymen and friends! Since I spoke to you last over the radio, I have been travelling in another part of Europe in order to see conditions with my own eyes, and to establish contacts with my countrymen living there. On my return lo Berlin, I have once again accepted the hospitality of the short-wave station here in order to speak to my countrymen all over the world. I desire to put before them the world situation so that all of us may clearly understand and determine our duty in future.

Every Indian, whether at home or abroad, must have realised that since September 1939 the position of India vis-à-vis Britain has not undergone any change for the better, no matter what the military situation may have been during this period. There is not a single Indian who believes that if Britain were to win the war by some chance the position of India would improve as a consequence thereof. But I know that there are responsible Indians in high positions who believed at one time that if Britain suffered some serious reverses in the war the British Government would be in a chastened mood and would then contemplate a compromise with India. This expectation has not been fulfilled owing to the fact that the minds of British imperialists, like Churchill and Amery, work in a different way, and their political strategy is of a different sort. From the beginning, these imperialists had decided once for all not to surrender one jot to the demand for Indian independence. According to the needs of the situation, they would rather surrender to the United States of America, and later on they would try to make up for their losses by exploiting India even more than before. For this reason liberal-democrat politicians like Sir Stafford Cripps, who advocated some sort of an understanding with India, were kicked out of the war Cabinet.

The policy of the ruling classes in the United States of America is now clear to the whole world. There is no hush about it anymore. One has only to hear all the utterances of their public men in order to comprehend it. It is claimed by them that this country is in the American zone of influence and all other Powers, including the British, should acknowledge this fact and act accordingly. Strangely enough, even among British politicians a school of thought has already grown up which openly declares that Britain's place is a subordinate one; that the British should accept the world hegemony of the United States as an indisputable fact, and that it should merely try to hold together the Empire by some means or other. There can be no surer indication of demoralisation in the British camp than the fact that British politicians have accepted defeat in advance. To the neutral observer, the British Empire presents a tragic spectacle indeed, because it is handing over one part of its territory unwillingly to its enemies and another part voluntarily to its great ally.

President Roosevelt is not committing the mistake which President Wilson did in the last war. Consequently, he is not helping Britain by a supply of war material and economic assistance gratis. His Government is insisting on cash payment everywhere and, in consequence British assets and securities all over the world are evaporating into thin air while the Americans are taking control of them. The US Government has been occupying military bases all over the world at the expense of the British and the French Empires. And who is such a fool as to think that it will voluntarily return these bases at the end of the war? American troops are now to be found all over the British Empire, including England and Northern Ireland and also India. Everywhere within the Empire, American troops are under their own command and in some places, as in Australia and New Zealand, even British troops are under American command. In other words, America Is slowly, but surely, carrying out a peaceful military occupation of the British Empire.

As this military occupation is proceeding, the Americans are gradually asserting themselves in the political sphere as well. A shining example of this American self-assertion is the fact that American troops in England and in other parts of the empire are above the law of the land. They are directly under Washington and under the jurisdiction of American Law; consequently, the Americans today have the same extraterritorial rights which the British enjoyed for a long time in China, Egypt and other countries.

A recent example of American self-assertion at the cost of Britain is the manner in which General de Gaulle and his claims were brushed aside and Admiral Darlan, the protégé of the White House, was pitch-forked into General de Gaulle's place in North Africa, in spite of all protests from the junior partner in the Anglo-American alliance. I confess that I was staggered the other day when the BBC announced that Prime Minister Churchill had declared that the orders of an American, General Eisenhower, would be obeyed by the British authorities. One can hardly believe that the British Lion has been metamorphosed into a tame lamb by the master of the White House. But facts stare us in the face. The once almighty British Parliament cannot even venture to discuss in a public session the Darlan episode lest the American President be offended by it.

So far as India is concerned, my countrymen are aware that American troops, American technical missions, American diplomatic agents are already there. The Americans are now openly saying that the Americans in India are not under the jurisdiction of London but of Washington, and along with this announcement, the White House is taking steps to tighten American hold over India at the expense of the British Government. No doubt Churchill and Amery and their colleagues are submitting to every humiliation at the hands of the White House because they hope that they will thereby save the Empire somehow. But the American President is a superior tactician. While thankfully accepting the abject submission and surrender of British politicians, he is relentlessly proceeding with his own plan of taking over the British Empire, lock, stock and barrel. He has now sent out as Ambassador to India Mr William Phillips, because he was not content with the regime of the British Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow. India will now have a new master in place of the worn-out Scotch Marquis. For the present, Mr Phillips will be content with being the power behind the throne. But if the American plan were to prevail and the United States were somehow to win the war, then Mr Phillips would openly step into the shoes of the last British Viceroy. But India has no desire to substitute an American Pro-Consul for a British Viceroy, and we must, therefore, fight this latest American threat to India.

Countrymen and friends, let us have no illusions about the role of the United States in the politics of the British Empire and of India. We thankfully recognize the fact that a large section of the American people have sympathy for Indian independence, but unfortunately they are powerless to influence their own Government. So far as American official policy towards India Is concerned, it is as imperialistic as that of Britain. If the White House really wanted to do so, it could have forced Whitehall to concede independence to India, but instead of doing that, it is itself carrying out a peaceful occupation of India. And now Mr Phillips is going out to India to make the necessary social contacts with the Indian people, so that in the fullness of time he and the US Army can quietly replace Lord Linlithgow and the British Army and take over the reins of Government. Countrymen beware of him. Boycott him.

Anglo-American propagandists have been conducting a terrific propaganda campaign regarding what would happen to this poor world if the Tripartite Powers win this war, and they are shedding crocodile tears over the fate of the small nations and of the minorities. But we the people of India, who represent one-fifth of the human race, know what will be our fate if the so-called United Nations were to win this war by any chance. The Atlantic Charter, of which we have heard so much, is as much a scrap of paper as President Wilson's Fourteen Points in the last war. But the application of even this scrap of paper has been officially denied to India because the Anglo-American Powers stand for an imperialist policy in India in an open and unashamed manner.

British plans for post-war India have been made, and if British politicians were to have their own way, they would split up India into four or five States, under a strong imperialist Government which would exploit the country more intensively than hitherto, in order to make up for their losses in this war. The Union Jack would then fly not only over the capital of India as at present, but over the capitals of 'Hindustan’, 'Pakistan', 'Rajasthan’, 'Khalistan' and 'Pathanistan'. And, the Indian people would be given a British guarantee of permanent enslavement. Let Mr MA Jinnah and his Muslim League ponder over this.

Let us now consider what would happen to India if the British Empire were to be sent into compulsory liquidation by the White House and Wall Street, and if the American President became the 'Director of the World'. We are having a foretaste of this in the policy and the behaviour of the American Government today. This Government has always demanded an open-door policy in China; but do the people of China or Japan or India or of any Asiatic countries have an open door in the United States of America? Why has Immigration in the USA been denied to the nations of Asia? Why have a large number of Indians, who had long been settled in the States, been denied citizenship rights in that country? If the Atlantic Charter has any meaning or significance for humanity, should not this insult and humiliation to India be removed at once? And if the ruling classes of America shed crocodile tears over the fate of the minorities elsewhere, why do they not first put their own house in order? Why do they not put a stop to the lynching of negroes, which goes on even today? Why do they not remove the poll tax and similar disabilities imposed on the American negroes? And if they profess to stand for freedom, democracy and fair play, why do they not remove the social disabilities from which the negroes have to suffer in the States.

No, my countrymen, all this talk and all these high-sounding professions of American politicians and their President are sanctimonious hypocrisies, just plain tommy rot. And, if Mr William Phillips were to replace the Marquis of Linlithgow and if the Yankee troops were lo replace the Gordon Highlanders, India would remain where she is today. India's only hope of salvation lies in a complete overthrow of Anglo-American imperialism.

Countrymen and friends, it is my duty to inform you that our enemies are now trying to play once again the trump-card which they used during the last war. That trump-card was atrocity propaganda against the then enemies of British imperialism. But the world has not forgotten entirely the lies and the blood-curdling stories spread by British propagandists at that time. Who has not read such books as 'Figures' or 'Crewe House' and 'Wartime Falsehoods' written by eminent British publicists on the subject of British propaganda during that war? Who does not still remember the confessions made by General Charteris and others after the war about the lies that they had deliberately and diabolically spread against their enemies while the war was on? The world is wiser today as a result of that experience, and moreover, the development of the radio has now made it possible to expose the falsity of British propaganda at every step. So far as India is concerned I know that all this atrocity propaganda will fall flat. The Indian people know, perhaps better than anybody else, what British domination means. The foundation of British rule in India was laid by Robert Clive whom history has convincingly proved to have been a forgerer. The British Empire in India was built on bribery, treachery and fraud and not as a result of military prowess. During the long struggle for power in India, there is no cruelty, there is no atrocity that the British have not committed in that country. Who does not know that in our revolution of 1857 innocent men were bound hand and foot and shot dead by cannon fire. From 1857 till today, during a period of peace, the British police and military have indulged in every form of terror and brutality in order to break the backbone of the people. The official report of the British Government on the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre in 1919 accuses the British authorities and the British Army of inhuman cruelty, unwarranted massacre, and of every form of humiliation and torture including dishonouring of helpless women. And even after 1919, the lives of Indian men and the honour of Indian women have always been regarded by the British police and the military as mere playthings. Who in India does not know of the sufferings of the people of Midnapore in Bengal in 1930, when homes and villages were burnt and their womenfolk dishonoured because they were conducting a peaceful campaign for non-payment of taxes? The atrocities in the prisoners' camp at Hubli and in the towns of Dacca and Chittagong in 1931 are known to every household in Bengal. After the beginning of this war, I have seen with my own eyes the photos of beheaded Burmese sent by British tommies in Burma to their families in Britain. Such sadism is possible only among British tommies, and to cap everything, is there any parallel to be found for the atrocities now being perpetrated on unarmed men, women and children, by the British police and military in India for their crime in demanding freedom? It does not lie in the mouths of Britishers to accuse anybody of committing atrocities when they are themselves past-masters in that game.

Apart from the fact that India's only hope of emancipation lies in the defeat of Anglo-American imperialism, we have to acknowledge quite objectively that this war will end with the complete dismemberment of the British Empire. Part of this Empire will probably gravitate towards the United States of America. Large parts of it will emancipate themselves once for all and some parts of it will probably be distributed among the other Powers. Mr Winston Churchill may not like to preside over the liquidation of the Empire and undoubtedly he is thoroughly sincere when he says so, but the policy that he has been following will inevitably lead the Empire to its doom. His presence at the helm of affairs in Whitehall is the surest guarantee for us that there will be no compromise between, India and Britain on the road to liberty. I therefore pray that in the interests of India and in the larger interests of humanity he may be left to rule over the destinies of the British Empire till the hour of its final dissolution strikes.

It is not because of any wishful thinking that I am convinced that Britain will be defeated and India will emerge independent out of this war. There is a common world-strategy against the Anglo-American Powers in this war, which did not exist in the last. Thanks to the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis, Britain has nowhere any peace now, neither in the Atlantic, nor in the Mediterranean, nor in the Pacific. The age of sea power is over, and in spite of all her naval supremacy, Britain now finds that the weapon of blockade, which brought about the final decision in the last war is now working against her. Consequently, the food situation is just as serious in Britain today than it is on the European continent. The problem will become much more serious in future. The art of warfare has been so revolutionised that the old imperialist Powers are now at a disadvantage. Time, which in the last war was for Britain and her Allies, is now working against them; and last but not the least, the Anglo-American Powers have sustained a crushing defeat in Europe and in Asia, where the fate of the war has been conclusively decided. The Anglo-American Powers and their propagandists know very well how desperate their position is; and in order to divert the attention of the world from these dark facts they have staged a campaign in North-West Africa at the expense of the helpless and defeated French Empire. The object of this campaign is more propagandist than military; and simultaneously with the opening of this campaign, the output of propaganda has been purposely intensified. At one time the BBC used to say that the United States of America would save the British Empire. Then it went on to say that Soviet Russia, with the help of General Winter, would save the position. But when the Axis proved the falsity of this, the BBC has now come out with the assertion that the battle of Africa will turn the tide of the war. From these facts you have to come to the irresistible conclusion that the Anglo-Americans, despite all their propaganda bombast and lying, face inevitable and shattering defeat. They are doomed, and steadily they are moving towards total defeat.

In the circumstances, we Indians should mobilise all our resources and put in all that we have in a last struggle against British imperialism. The British, who have exploited India for more than 150 years, are now on their last legs; and in this dark hour of the British Empire Is India's opportunity. If we can strike hard and with determination, I have every confidence that we shall be able to destroy British power in India and attain our freedom. This can be our last fight for freedom. And, I hope and trust that when the history of this last fight is written it will be possible to say that Indians all over the world fought in this battle.

In conclusion, I would like to warn my countrymen in Bengal that difficult days are in store for them, much blood will flow in that eastern province, but our countrymen there should not fear it. It is Bengal that opened the door to the British in India, and Bengal should now show them the way out.

In the past, the British used India as a base and also used India's resources for attacking   and conquering Burma. Now that the British have been expelled from Burma, they want once again to use India, and particularly Bengal, for trying to re-conquer that land. They are thereby deliberately dragging war to the soil of India. Bengal will accordingly have the experience of the horrors of total war before any other province. But, let Bengal be proud of it. The task of the vanguard is always a difficult one, but it is also a glorious one. I am confident that Bengal will rise to the occasion and fulfil her historic role.

Once again the sun of Freedom will rise in the East. Inquilab Zindabad. Azad Hind Zindabad!