Авторы: 159 А Б В Г Д Е З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Э Ю Я

Книги:  184 А Б В Г Д Е З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Э Ю Я

INTERNAL UNREST

Let me now turn to our second question: internal political unrest. In clubs and other places where wise men in

arm−chairs lay down the law about affairs of state, one constantly hears expressions of surprise and

indignation that there should be any unrest in India at all. "We have," say the die−hard wiseacres, "governed

India jolly well and jolly honestly, and the Indians ought to be jolly grateful instead of kicking up all this fuss.

If that meddlesome Montagu had not put these wicked democratic ideas into their heads, and stirred up all this

mud, we should have gone on quite comfortable as before." But if we face the facts squarely, we shall see that

the wonder is not that there has been so much, but that there has been so comparatively little unrest, and that

India should, on the whole, have waited so patiently for a definite advance towards self−government.

What are the facts? They are these. Partly by commercial enterprise, partly by adroit diplomacy, partly by

accident, largely by the valour of our arms, we have obtained dominion over the great continent of India. We

have ruled it for more than a century through the agency of a handful of Englishmen, alien in creed, colour,

and custom from the people whom they rule−−men who do not even make their permanent homes in the land

they administer. Now, however efficient, however honest, however impartial, however disinterested such a

rule may be, it cannot obviously be really agreeable to the peoples ruled. This is the fundamental weakness of

our position. That our rule on these lines has lasted so long and has been so successful is due not to the fact

alone that it has been backed by British bayonets, but rather to the fact that it has been remarkably efficient,

honest, just, and disinterested−−and, above all, that we have in the past given and secured goodwill.

Superimposed on this underlying irritant, there have been of late years a number of other more direct causes

of unrest. Education, which we gave to India and were bound to give, had inevitably bred political aspiration,

and an intelligensia had grown up hungry for political rights and powers. Simultaneously the voracious

demands of a centralised bureaucracy for reports and returns had left the district officer little leisure for that

close touch with the people which in the past meant confidence and goodwill. Political restlessness had

already for some years begun to manifest itself in anarchical conspiracies and crimes of violence, when the

Great War began. In India, as elsewhere, the reflex action of the war was a disturbing element. High prices,

stifled trade, high taxation, nationalist longings and ideas of self−determination and self−government served

to reinforce subterranean agitation.

But throughout the war India not only remained calm and restrained, but her actual contribution to the war, in

men and material, was colossal and was ungrudgingly given. She had a right to expect in return generous

treatment; but what did she get? She got the Rowlatt Bill. Now, of course, there was a great deal of wicked,

lying nonsense talked by agitators about the provisions of the Rowlatt Bill, and the people were grossly

misled. But the plain fact remains that when India had emerged from the trying ordeal of the war, not only

with honour untarnished, but having placed us under a great obligation, our first practical return was to pass a

repressive measure, for fear, forsooth, that if it was not passed then it might be pigeon−holed and forgotten.

India asked for bread and we gave her a stone−−a stupid, blundering act, openly deprecated at the time by all moderate unofficial opinion in India. What was the result? The Punjab disturbances and the preventive

massacre of the Jallianwala Bagh. I do not propose to dwell on this deplorable and sadly mishandled matter,

save to say that so far from cowing agitation, it has left a legacy of hate that it will take years to wipe out; and

that the subsequent action of a number of ill−informed persons in raising a very large sum of money for the

officer responsible for that massacre has further estranged Indians and emphasised in their eyes the brand of

their subjection.

THE RISE OF GHANDI

To India, thus seething with bitterness over the Punjab disturbances, there was added the Moslem resentment

over the fate of Turkey. I was myself in London and Paris in a humble capacity at the Peace Conference, and I

know that our leading statesmen were fully informed of the Moslem attitude and the dangers of unsympathetic

and dilatory action in this matter. But an arrogant diplomacy swept all warnings aside and scorned the

Moslem menace as a bogey. What was the result? Troubles in Egypt, in Mesopotamia, Kurdistan,

Afghanistan, and the Khilifat movement in India. Hindu agitators were not slow to exploit Moslem bitterness,

and for the first time there was a genuine, if very ephemeral, entente between the two great rival creeds.

It was in this electric atmosphere that Ghandi, emerging from his ascetic retirement, found himself an

unchallenged leader. Short of stature, frail, with large ears, and a gap in his front teeth, he had none of the

outward appearance of dominance. His appeal lay in the simplicity of his life and character, for asceticism is

still revered in the East. But his intellectual equipment was mediocre, his political ideas nebulous and

impracticable to a degree, his programme archaic and visionary; and from the start he was doomed to fail. The

Hijrat movement which he advocated brought ruin to thousands of Moslem homes; his attack on Government

educational establishments brought disaster to many youthful careers; non−co−operation fizzled out.

Government servants would not resign their appointments, lawyers would not cease to practise, and

title−holders, with a few insignificant exceptions, would not surrender their titles; the "back to the

spinning−wheel" call did not attract, and the continual failure of Ghandi's predictions of the immediate

attainment of complete Swaraj or self−government, which he was careful never to define, like hope deferred

turned the heart sick.

From being a demi−god Ghandi gradually became a bore, and when he was at last arrested, tragic to relate,

there was hardly a tremor of resentment through the tired political nerves of India. The arrest was indeed a

triumph of wise timing that does credit to the sagacity of the Government of India. Had the arrest been

effected when the name of Ghandi was at its zenith, there would have been widespread trouble and bloodshed.

As it was, people were only too glad to be rid of a gadfly that merely goaded them into infructuous bogs.

I apologise for this long excursus on the somewhat threadbare subject of the causes of unrest in India. But I

want those here present to realise what potent forces have been at work and to believe that the Indian

generally is not the ungrateful, black−hearted seditionist he is painted by the reactionary press. India is going

through an inevitable stage of political transition, and we must not hastily judge her peoples−−for the most

part so gallant, so kindly, so law−abiding, so lovable−−by the passing tantrums of political puberty.