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 over Azad Hind Radio (Germany)

This is Subhas Chandra Bose speaking to you over the ‘Azad Hind Radio' on the political situation in India. Sisters and brothers! It is rather painful to hear that even after the reactionary and monstrous character of the British proposals for India, it seems to the world that some of our countrymen are still carrying on laboured discussion with Mr Winston Churchill's envoy in India, Sir Stafford Cripps.

Isolated from the military frontiers of India and poisoned by British propaganda, some of our people at home may not realise for the moment that the British Empire is now breaking up and that it will soon disappear from the face of the earth. Consequently, even if the British were to offer to India terms that are far more conciliatory than the present British proposals there is no meaning in entering into a compromise with such a power. There is no Indian today who has the least faith in British promises which are to be fulfilled at the end of the war. In the face of these difficulties, some of our liberal friends have endeavoured to facilitate a compromise by suggesting that the Governments of the Allied Powers and of the British Dominions should guarantee to India that Britain's promises will be redeemed when the war is over. But what value is there in such guarantees when we have no power to enforce their fulfilment? Have we forgotten what happened to President Wilson's 14 points? Have we forgotten that President Roosevelt's envoy, Ronald Donovan, travelled all over the Balkans with letters from the President in his pocket urging the Balkan countries to declare war on the Axis Powers? And have we forgotten that all these countries that were provoked and instigated into joining in the war were ultimately left to their fate by the all-promising President when the Axis forces overpowered them? I am sure that even if some people are still blind the vast majority of our countrymen realise that the United States of America are playing a role of father to the insane and they regard themselves as the heirs of the British Empire that has gone into compulsory liquidation. It is comical to see men who have been and still are slaves of the British appointing themselves saviours of the British Empire. But no power on earth can save that Empire which is now going the way of all other Empires of the past. Even if India were to fight for Britain to the last man with all her resources the overthrow of the latter cannot possibly be averted. Britain has to reap the unavoidable fruits of her past policy in keeping India enslaved and impoverished. And even if a National Government were to be set up in India tomorrow it could not possibly build up and equip a modern army during the course of the present war. Is it not then typical that the Indian saviours of British Imperialism are the men who regard themselves as the National democrats? These estimable gentlemen gave their lives in the past for the glory of British Imperialism. It is because they are lionised by the wily British that they conveniently forget that India today lies under the heel of Britain. They talk of lining up with the progressive forces of the world. They do not talk frankly of cooperating with Britain but camouflage their real motives by asking the Indian people to cooperate with China or Russia or America. But, such camouflage cannot deceive the Indian people who are fully aware that the British Empire is by no means democratic. I consider it my duty to warn my countrymen that in the present crisis which faces India compromise-hunting is like war-mongering. The British have been using India as their military base partly because they want to provoke the Tripartite Powers into attacking India so that the Indian people may be ultimately persuaded to fight with Britain. The Tripartite Powers, on their part, have openly declared their sympathy for Indian Independence. They have no desire whatsoever of attacking India just as they have no intention of attacking peaceful Ireland. Their only interest is to destroy Britain's military base in India without which the war cannot be brought to a victorious conclusion.

To make a compromise with England now, on the basis of cooperation in Britain's war effort, is converting India into an enemy of the Tripartite Powers and forcing these powers to attack not only Britain's military base In India but all those Indians who cooperate in Britain's war effort. Do those who are now seeking a compromise with Britain realise that they are really working for bringing the war into India? The immediate effect of a compromise will be bringing the war to Indian soil and the destruction of India's wealth and resources and the retarding of India's freedom. It will mean the immediate declaration of war on the Tripartite Powers by the compromise hunters in India and it will mean bearing England's imminent defeat and all the hate and humiliation that it will imply.

When the British flee the country on the eve of their defeat, just as General MacArthur and General Wavell have done elsewhere, they will bum and destroy everything in accordance with their new fangled scorched-earth policy. When India is not in the war zone why are the British acting as war-mongers? Not only will the people have to experience the horrors of war at home but they will be fighting a war which can only end in abject defeat. Our countrymen will easily realise from a glance at a map how precarious Britain's position is today. Britain has been expelled from Europe. In Africa, after her preliminary victories, she is now on the retreat. In the Near and Middle East, which she had uptil now held in subjugation, is like a powder magazine and only a spark is needed for an explosion. In the Far East, she has been liquidated and kicked out from everywhere by the Japanese. Her only hope is, therefore, India, and that is why Sir Stafford Cripps is today at our door-steps. But, India cannot save the Empire from its inevitable doom. She can either go down with that Empire or maintain her neutrality. If Sir Stafford Cripps claims to be a friend of India the best service he can now render is to keep India out of this war. India will then be able to look after herself and enjoy independence. The British have at long last realised that they do not any more enjoy complete authority in India, that is why they commandeered the services of Marshal Chiang Kai-shek and that is why Mr Louis Johnson has been rushed to India carrying letters from the White House in his pocket. The Americans are warning the Indian people what dire disaster will overtake them if they do not respond to the offers made by Mr Winston Churchill and Washington. I appeal to my countrymen not to be duped by British propaganda any longer. It will be the biggest disaster for India if they fall into the trap laid by Allied politicians. Our first duty is to prevent our land becoming the next theatre of war and we can do so only by refusing to cooperate In Britain's imperialist war. I can assert with a full sense of responsibility that if India Is not used as a military base for Britain there is not the slightest possibility of India being attacked by the Tripartite Powers. My next appeal to my countrymen is that after keeping the war out of India, they should without the least delay renew the national struggle for independence in a more intensified way. Britain has turned down India's demand for immediate independence and it is now for India to fight for her own freedom. What better opportunity can one dream of for achieving India's emancipation?

In conclusion I want to tell my countrymen that we, who happen to be outside India, have not been idle all these months. We have been following the international situation with the closest interest and have also been preparing ourselves for the coming struggle — the final struggle which will bring India to her cherished goal of liberty and freedom. We are aware that British sea-power, on which the Empire was built, has already become a legend of the past. We are aware that Britain has neither the air force nor the manpower for holding India against the Japanese. It is, therefore, clear that we shall have to march to India in order to participate in the last struggle for our national freedom. We will fight with all our might and all our resources; and with God's grace and the help of friends win our freedom".