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

Friends! The fall of Singapore has been hastily followed by the collapse of other military bases of Britain's imperialistic allies in East Asia. The Japanese capture of Rangoon has revived the hopes of freedom of the Burmese. They will again breathe a free atmosphere, just as they did when they were a free nation. The prophecy, which the German Foreign Minister made on November 26, 1939, is proving true. How prophetic were his words when he said that Britain would lose her military bases one by one. The British Empire stands threatened in every quarter. The flame of British glory is flickering. Their days are numbered.

As usual, the British have been, since the outbreak of the present hostilities, striving desperately to cajole other people into shedding their blood and supplying armaments to the British for the successful prosecution of the war. But their efforts have failed. They are facing disaster and disgrace on all fronts. The Indians have been, since September 1939, entreating the British Government to apply the principles of freedom and democracy to India, and thus give practical proof of their honesty and goodwill towards them. Some Indian nationalists even went to the extent of announcing that, should the British satisfy their national aspirations, they would be prepared to help them in this war. To this appeal British statesmen paid no heed. As a matter of fact, they never gave an unambiguous reply which would have earned the goodwill of Indians. With characteristic hypocrisy and fraud, they have again made an obscure declaration.

Throughout their rule in India, the British have been seeking to create disunity among Indians. They have succeeded to some extent in this object, and on the plea of disunity among the various sections of the people, they have consistently refused to grant self-government to India. There is no end to British intrigues. Now they are uselessly making a lot of fuss over a possible enemy invasion of India. It has been frequently argued that India's frontiers lie on the Suez Canal and in Hong Kong. On this pretext, the British carried Indian troops to the Libyan desert and France and caused their bloodshed. In the East, the Indians were sacrificed in Hong Kong and Singapore in utter disregard of Indian wishes. Indian frontiers do not lie where Wavell has arbitrarily fixed them. This is only a mischievous invention of the British mind. India's geographical borders lie only where nature has created them. Britain, whether she is governed by Conservative or Labour leaders, like Churchill and Cripps, has been causing starvation in India. The Indians have been reduced to abject poverty. To ensure the safety of their Empire and to tighten the shackles of India's bondage, the British are demanding help and heavy sacrifices from her. They want the Indians to work like serfs and ceaselessly toil and fret for them.

The Indians understand that they have no enemy outside the Indian frontiers. The British have not changed their traditionally vicious policy. Indian troops are being recalled, since it is being said that the war is threatening the very gates of India. Here the question arises as to who is responsible for involving India into the war? Had not India's entry into the war been arbitrarily decided, her wealth and raw materials been tapped, her geographical situation been exploited for using her as a military base, and unlike Eire, her freedom of action been usurped, she would have never been a party to the present war. Every deceptive weapon was employed against her in order to convert her into a military base and to exact the greatest possible help from the Indians.

Friends! The proper moment for valuing British manoeuvres at their real worth and for learning the nature of their tricks has arrived. They are only anxious to spread war to India which has already been made a belligerent country. No one should be surprised to learn of these age-old British tactics, in pursuance of which they have been continuously seeking to drag other nations into their war. Wherever the situation grew critical they deserted their Allies. In other words, they have been ruthlessly and systematically bringing ruin and disaster to mankind. Right from Dunkirk up to Batavia they have caused widespread destruction. Are not you Indians still convinced of British selfishness?

My Indian brothers, it is not worthwhile to hope that the British will ever be able to help you in keeping hostilities beyond the frontiers of India. Rather, they will continually undertake to destroy India, and will not desist from resorting to the 'scorched-earth' policy in your country as well. The British Empire was founded on relentless plundering of weak nations. So long as it is their power they will persist in the exploitation of subject nations. If the Indians took it to their heart that their country should be safe from danger, their first duty would be to carry out a thorough destruction of British military objectives in India, and prevent India's raw material, wealth and youth from being harnessed by the British to their war effort.

Friends, it is crystal clear that in British decline alone lies the hope of India's independence. Every Indian who works to strengthen British hands, betrays the cause of his motherland. Such a man is a traitor to India. Whoever opposes Indian patriots and sides with the British is no better than a Mir Jafar or an Umi Chand of the present generation.

Brothers and sisters, everyone of you should understand that to come to terms with the British, who are about to perish, is a ridiculous commitment in the eyes of the world.   Churchill has recently announced the possibility of granting Dominion Status to India as soon as it is feasible. He has commanded Cripps to go out to India in order to bring together the various Indian political parties, and to find out what measure of power should be granted to the Indians under the present circumstances. No sane Indian can be pleased with this latest British offer. Today, no Indian is prepared to trust empty British promises of freedom after the war. Every Indian politician knows that the British always aim at the policy of 'Divide and Rule' in India. So long as their foot remains on Indian soil they will never abandon their vicious policies. Churchill and his Government will, before long, come to realise that Indians can no longer be hoodwinked by them. Brothers and sisters, I am witnessing, with my own eyes, the downfall of the British Empire. If Cripps or any other British statesman comes out to India, the Indians cannot evince any interest in him.

In the present world struggle one group of nations is trying to maintain the power it achieved as a sequel to the Versailles Treaty. The other group of nations is fighting with an iron will to eradicate the unhappy state of affairs looming large in the world and to establish a ‘New Order’. Brothers and sisters, you stand to lose only one thing from this war, and that is your shackles. Indians cannot be satisfied by the present rotten world order. They can be happy only in a new and a better scheme of things, which will rescue them from the jaws of destruction and serfdom. This war is bound to leave the British Empire in ruins and achieve that end.

The famous Tripartite pact has been concluded to put an end to tyrannical British Imperialism. The parties to this act are our comrades. It is absolutely ridiculous to say that a combination of Axis Powers constitutes a menace to the freedom of India. The facts are quite different. I know these nations fully well, and I can assure you that they have great sympathy for the cause of our freedom. If anyone is doubtful on this point, he may be reminded of the recent statement of General Tojo, the Japanese Premier. Let me hope that my compatriots will no longer entertain any doubts about their goodwill towards us and yield to false Anglo-American propaganda. Indians should be delighted with the brilliant victories which the Japanese are scoring against their enemies. The day when Justice and equality will assert themselves is not far off. When that time comes then alone will Indians be able to prosper and flourish   in an atmosphere of freedom and justice.

Long live Revolution.