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>>

Broadcast from Berlin

Brothers and sisters, I addressed you last on the occasion of the 'Jalianwala Bagh Day’ nearly three weeks ago and I then reminded you once again of the hypocrisy underlying the whole plan of the British Government which culminated in the journey of Sir Stafford Cripps to India. Sir Stafford offered, on the one hand, a promise of Dominion Status for the future, and, on the other, he demanded the immediate cooperation in Britain's war effort and he expected the Indian people to accept such an absurd proposition. Rightly enough the contemptible offer of the British was rejected unconditionally and this was a matter of joy and happiness to Indians in every part of the world. I must, however, state that it was a painful surprise to find that after the departure of Sir Stafford Cripps from India and despite the refusal of the British Government to concede India's national demand, some prominent countrymen of ours have begun to publicly advocate a policy which amounts to unconditional cooperation with Britain in the war effort.


Is human memory so short that these gentlemen have forgotten the resolutions of the Indian National Congress from 1927 to 1938, which deal with the war? Did we not reaffirm year after year from 1927 to 1938 that when the next war comes we shall refuse to participate in it and that we shall resist every attempt on the part of the British Government to drag India into that war? In September 1939, when the present war broke out, did not the Indian National Congress deliberately refuse to render unconditional cooperation to the British Government? And, did not the Congress take disciplinary action against an expel from its ranks such a prominent leader as Mr MN Roy for the crime of advocating unconditional cooperation with the British Government? We are, therefore, awaiting to see what disciplinary action will be taken against these gentlemen who are so unceremoniously flouting the principle of the Congress. I also know that these new converts to the creed of cooperation will assert that they altered their principle and policy in order to meet a new menace, the menace of aggression from without. But I would like to ask them if the aggression against which the Indian people have been fighting so long, the perpetual aggression of British imperialism, has been successfully fought and destroyed. In spite of all that British propaganda has been saying or may say in future, it should be clear to all right thinking Indians that in this world India has but one enemy, the enemy which has robbed her of her freedom, that enemy which has been exploiting her for years and years and that enemy is British Imperialism. It is a tragedy that some of our countrymen have been so duped by British propaganda that they have forgotten the real enemy, India's one and only enemy, that keeps India enslaved even now. These misguided people talk of aggression by Japan or Germany or Italy without knowing at first-hand what policy these powers have with regard to India.


Friends, I know something about these powers and their foreign policy. I have been in intimate and personal contact with them ever since I left my home more than a year ago and I can assure you with all seriousness and sincerity that these three Powers want to see India fully independent and mistress of her own destiny. The three Powers are determined to defeat and destroy British imperialism. It is the task of the rising generation of the Indian people, in whose hands rests the future of their country, to utilise the present international crisis to the fullest extent, so that out of the ashes of the British Empire may rise a free and liberated India. I am not an apologist of the three Powers and it is not my task to defend what they have done or may do in future. That is a task which devolves on these nations themselves and they are quite able to deal with it. My concern, however, is with India; and it is my duty as a patriotic Indian to find out and tell my countrymen the policy of the different powers with regard to India. If British imperialism is defeated and annihilated, India will win her freedom. If on the other hand, British Imperialism were somehow to win the war which, however, is quite impossible, then India's slavery will be perpetuated for ever. India is, therefore, presented with the choice between freedom and slavery and she must take her choice in favour of freedom. For the Indians of today, it is the chance of a life-time and for India it is an opportunity rare in human history.


Friends, I laugh whenever I hear Britain's propagandists calling me an enemy agent. I need no credentials when I speak to my own people. My whole life, which has been one long, consistent and continuous record of uncompromising struggle against British imperialism, is the best guarantee of my bona fides. Perhaps better than any other Indian today, I know foreign politics and I have known Britishers from my childhood. All my life I have been a servant of India and in the last hours of my life I shall remain so. My allegiance and loyalty has ever been and will be to India and to India alone. British propagandists, who have been well silenced by Prime Minister Tojo's historical declaration of 'India for the Indians' have now fallen back on their last argument, which is drawn from the Sino-Japanese struggle. They are now shouting from the house-tops 'see what the Japanese have done in China.' I may tell these propagandists, both British and Indian, that when I was the President of the Indian National Congress I was responsible for giving effect to the Congress resolution to send a goodwill mission to China. Those were the days when Marshal Chiang Kai-shek was fighting for his national principles and that was why he could win the sympathy of Indians in an overwhelming degree. But the Marshal, who came to India the other day to ask the Indian people to fight for England, was quite a different man, a puppet of the Anglo-American Powers. And, the Japan that the Marshal is now fighting is quite a different Japan, a Japan that is at war with Britain and America, Japan that is determined to annihilate Anglo-American Imperialism in the East, a Japan with whom Marshal Chiang Kai-shek can come to an honourable understanding today If he can emancipate himself from the grips of his Anglo-American masters.