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 internal policy of free India is and should be the concern of the Indian people

Countrymen and friends, about five weeks ago, I addressed you over another radio, the Azad Hind Radio. Since then, I have travelled quite a lot and I am now in the very heart of Germany. Through the courtesy of the Berlin shortwave station, I, therefore, desire to address you again on the present international crisis.

First of all, I must congratulate you most warmly on your sense of national honour and self-respect in rejecting the impudent offer of Sir Stafford Cripps. By doing so, you have not only brought India nearer to the goal of liberty, but you have, at the same time, raised yourselves in the estimation of the whole world. As a consequence, India today stands in the frontline of world politics. After the departure of Sir Stafford Cripps from India, an attempt was made by some of our prominent men to secure India's participation in Britain's war even without a prior settlement with Britain over India's national demand. If this attempt had succeeded, the Indian people would have been shamelessly betrayed. But, thanks to the pressure of public opinion and to the opposition of Mahatma Gandhi, that danger has been averted once for all. It is now crystal clear that the Indian people will not participate in Britain's war. The only problem that remains to be solved is as to what positive steps they should take in order to achieve their liberation. The first move in this connection has already been made by the Indian public and by Mahatma Gandhi by demanding that the Anglo-American forces should withdraw from India, so that there may be no possibility of India becoming a battle ground in future. We have now to follow this up by preparing definite plans as to what we should do, if the British Government does, not respond to this demand.

It is a matter of profound gratification that Indian public opinion has registered its emphatic protest against the application of the scorched earth policy to India. Once again, Mahatma Gandhi has risen to the occasion by firmly voicing his protest in this important affair. But mere protest and agitation will not do. The Indian people must devise concrete measures for preventing the wanton destruction of property when the British Army is forced to withdraw from India.

Friends, when I took the unusual step of defying the British Government and departed from India, my principal objectives were twofold. Firstly, to find out for myself the truth as to what is happening in the world, and, secondly, to see if India has any allies in her fight for freedom. During the time that I have been away from home I have seen things with my own eyes and heard with my own ears. I have followed closely the propaganda war conducted by both sides in this world war. I am, therefore, about to form an impartial and objective opinion as to what is really happening now and what is going to happen in the future. After this long, laborious and critical study of world affairs, there is not the slightest possibility of my being misled or misguided in my judgment. I should also like to add that whatever I have done since leaving home or whatever I may do in future, has been and will be done with the sole purpose of bringing about the speedy emancipation of my country and I shall never do anything which will not meet with the approval of nationalist circles in India, Further, I may say that if the cunning, unscrupulous and resourceful British Government has failed to allure or to corrupt me, no power on earth will ever be able to do so. Whatever may happen to me, my one and only duty will be to India and to India alone.

Since coming to Europe I have seen much with my own eyes and I can, therefore, compare the actual conditions here with the lies that are propagated from day to day by the BBC, that is the Bluff and Bluster Corporation, of London. Believe me when I say that Britain is going to lose the war and as a sequel to her crushing defeat the British Empire will be completely dismembered. Whether we actively assist Britain or whether we remain strictly neutral, nothing can alter by a hair's breadth the ultimate issue of this titanic struggle. In such a situation it is not only wise and prudent but imperatively necessary for India to play a dynamic role. India must, by her own efforts and her sacrifices, contribute materially to the break-up of the British Empire so that out of the ashes of that empire may emerge a triumphant India which will be the creation of the Indian people.

Friends, it will be an act of political suicide to remain inactive or neutral in this crisis. If we do so we shall either continue to be enslaved in spite of the dismemberment of the British Empire or we shall receive freedom as a gift from the victorious Tripartite Powers. We want neither. The Indian people must, therefore, fight for and win their liberty but in this fight some help from abroad will be necessary. I have studied very carefully the struggle for liberty that has gone on all over the world during the last 200 years, but I have not as yet discovered one single instance where freedom was won without outside help of some sort. Where the enemy is a powerful world-empire, the need for outside help is even greater; and where that powerful world-empire, namely Britain, is buttressed by a combination of several other Powers it would be the height of folly not to accept any assistance that may be offered to us. When Britain has been pouring into India war material and soldiers from America, China, Africa and the rest of the British Empire, it does not lie in the mouth of a Britisher to complain if we take help from any other quarter. It will, of course, be for India to decide what help she needs, and the less she needs, the better it will be for her. We can expect help or assistance only from those who are our friends and allies. In the present case those who are trying to overthrow the British Empire are helping our liberation and are, therefore, our friends and allies, while all those who are trying to save that empire are only attempting to perpetuate our slavery. But apart from this theoretical proposition, my personal experience as well as my interviews with Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini have convinced me that in this struggle against British Imperialism, the Tripartite Powers are our best friends and allies outside India.

I know that my friends like Swami Sahajanand Saraswati may hesitate to believe in the sincerity of the Tripartite Powers But I would like to remind them that these Powers have in their own interest resolved to fight British Imperialism to a finish and they will undoubtedly do so. And the destruction of British power will inevitably help India in throwing off the British yoke. Moreover the whole world, including the Tripartite Powers, would stand to gain if India could liberate herself and the only country to regret India's emancipation would be Britain. In this fateful hour in India's history, it would be a grievous mistake to be carried away by ideological considerations alone. The internal politics of Germany or Italy or Japan do not concern us. They are the concern of the people of those countries. But even a child should understand that whatever the internal politics of the Tripartite Powers may be, their aim in the international sphere is the destruction of the British Empire which is India's one and only enemy. Do we not see with our own eyes how, regardless of ideological considerations, the British Empire is now cooperating with Soviet Russia? It is high time that my friends and colleagues at home learnt to differentiate between the internal and the external policy of free India The internal policy of free India is and should be the concern of the Indian people themselves, while the external policy should be one of collaboration with the enemies of Britain. While standing for full collaboration with the Tripartite Powers in the external sphere, I stand for absolute self-determination for India where her own national affairs are concerned and I shall never tolerate any interference in the internal affairs of free India. So far as our social and economic problems are concerned, my views are exactly what they were when I was at home, and no one should make the mistake of concluding that external collaboration with the Tripartite Powers means acceptance of their domination or even of their ideology in our internal affairs.

Friends, my task today is to lead the final struggle for India's emancipation. But when that task is fulfilled and India is liberated, it will then be my duty to report to my countrymen and leave it to them to decide what form of government they would like to have. And, as I told Mahatma Gandhi in my farewell talk with him in June 1940 before I was taken to prison, I shall again call on him when I have succeeded in my mission to achieve India's liberation from the British yoke. It is a matter of profound joy and pride for all of us that, backed by the full diplomatic support of the Tripartite Powers, our countrymen in the Far East are now assembling in a conference at Bangkok in order to devise ways and means for effecting the speedy emancipation of our motherland. As I have so often said, the last phase of our national struggle began with the departure of Sir Stafford Cripps from India. We shall soon reach a stage when we shall have to take up arms if the Anglo-American forces do not voluntarily vacate India. Friends, prepare for that auspicious day and organise simultaneously to fight the final battle and to resist the scorched-earth policy by which the British want to ruin our country before they fly from India.

The British Empire today is in such a tottering condition that I feel convinced that with the right leadership and the necessary assistance, it is possible for the Indian people to achieve their own salvation. This salvation will not be long in coming. In the course of the present war India will win her freedom and I repeat once again that when the hour strikes I shall be at your side, ready to participate in the final struggle. The power that could not prevent my getting out of India will not be able to prevent my getting in. Meanwhile, friends, please send a word of cheer to our comrades in prison. Let them patiently bide their time, for when they learn of the fighting they will be the first to hail it, and we shall then bring them the arms and equipment which will enable them to be soldiers in India's last war of independence.

Inquilab Zindabadl Azad Hind Zindabad!