3.4.42

Cripp’s decision to stay an extra week in India is taken as a good omen. Otherwise not much to be hopeful about. Gandhi is deliberately making trouble, [sending telegrams of condolence to Bose’s [1] family on the report of his death, then telegrams of congratulations when it turned out that the report was untrue. Also urging Indians not to adopt the scorched earth policy if India is invaded]. Impossible to be quite sure what his game is. Those who are anti-Gandhi allege that he has the worst kind of (Indian) capitalist interests behind him, and it is a fact that he usually seems to be staying at the mansion of some kind of millionaire [or other. This is not necessarily incompatible with his alleged saintliness. His pacifism may be genuine, however. In the bad period of 1940 he also urged non-resistance in England, should England be invaded].  I do not know whether Gandhi or Buchman [2] is the nearest equivalent to Rasputin in our time.

Anand [3] says the morale among the exile Indians here is very low. They are still inclined to think that Japan has no evil designs on India and are all talking of a spate peace with Japan. So much for their declarations of loyalty towards Russia and China. I said to A[nand] that the basic fact about nearly all Indian intellectuals is that they don’t expect independence, can’t imagine it and at heart don’t want it. They want to be permanently in opposition, suffering a painless martyrdom, and are foolish enough to imagine that they could play the same schoolboy games with Japan or Germany that they can with Britain. Somewhat to my surprise he agreed. He says that “opposition mentality” is general among them, especially among the Communists, and that Krishna Menon [4] is “longing for the moment when negations will break down”. At the same moment as they are coolly talking of betraying China be making a separate peace, they are shouting that the Chinese troops in Burma are not getting proper air support. I remarked that this was childish. A: “You cannot overestimate their childishness, George. It is fathomless”. [The question is how far the Indians here reflect the viewpoint of the intellectuals in India. They are further from the danger and have probably, like the rest of us, been infected by the peaceful atmosphere of the last 10 months, but on the other hand nearly all who remain here long become tinged with a western Socialist outlook, so that the Indian intellectuals proper are probably far worse. A. himself has not got these vices. He is genuinely anti-Fascist, and has done violence to his feelings, and probably to his reputation, by backing Britain up because he recognizes that Britain is objectively on the anti-Fascist side.]

[1] Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945) was an Indian nationalist leader and left-wing member of the Indian National Congress. Fiercely anti-British, he organised an Indian National Army to support the Japanese. This he led, unsuccessfully, against the British. He believed that when the INA faced Indian troops led by the British, the latter would not fight but be converted. ‘Instead, the revolutionary had reverted to his comfortable mercenary status. INA soldiers took to looting from local tribes’ (Mihir Bose, The Lost Hero [1982], p. 236). His followers long believed him to be still alive (despite two Indian government inquiries), but it seems certain he died following a plane crash on 19 August 1945 (The Lost Hero, pp. 251-52). Documents released by the War Office in November 1993 show that a substantial number of Indian prisoners of war defected to the Italians, the first 3,000 arriving in Italy in August 1942. A British Intelligence report stated, ‘We have by our policy towards India, bred up a new class of officer who may be loyal to India, and perhaps to Congress, but is not necessarily loyal to us’ (Daily Telegraph, 5 December 1993).

[2] Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman (1878-1961), evangelist and propagandist, founded, in 1921, the Moral Re-Armament movement, also known, from its place of foundation, as the Oxford Group Movement, and sometimes as Buchmanism.

[3] Mulk Raj Anand (1905-2004), novelist, story-writer, essayist, and critic. He was born in India, fought in the Spanish Civil War (though he did not meet Orwell there), and taught literature and philosophy to London County Council adult education classes. He wrote scripts for the BBC, 1939-45. After the war he returned to India and lectured at various universities and was made Professor of Fine Arts, University of Punjab, in 1963. Orwell reviewed his The Sword and the Sickle in Horizon, July 1942 (CW, XIII, pp. 379-81). In a letter of 29 September 1983 Anand wrote this of Orwell: ‘In his life his voice was restrained. He talked in furtive whispers. Often he dismissed the ugly realities with cynical good humour. And I seldom saw him show anger in his face, though the two deep lines on his cheeks and the furrowed brow signified permanent despair. He smiled at tea time and he was a good companion in a pub. But he delivered his shafts in a very mellow voice, something particularly English deriving from the Cockney sense of humour’. See Abha Sharma Rodrigues, ‘George Orwell, the BBC, and India: A Critical Study’ (Edinburgh University, PhD, 1994). 

[4] V.K. Krishna Menon (1897-1974), Indian statesman, lawyer, author, and journalist, was then living in England. He was active in British left-wing politics and was spokesman of the Indian Congress Party in England in the struggle for independence. In 1947, when India had become independent, he was High Commissioner for India and he represented India at the United Nations, 1952-61. On 31 January 1943, he was one of six speakers at the ‘India Demonstration’ at the London Coliseum (Tribune, 29 January 1943, p. 20). 

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