Freedom for India

March 13, 1946

Report Outline
New Attempt to Settle Indian Question
Indian Self-Government Under Act of 1935
Internal Conflicts and Indian Freedom

New Attempt to Settle Indian Question

Approaching Visit of British Cabinet Mission to India

Three members of the British Cabinet are about to leave for India to renew negotiations on the demands of Indian political leaders for freedom from British rule. The mission, led by Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Secretary of State for India, includes Sir Stafford Cripps, who went to New Delhi on a similar errand in 1942. The Cripps negotiations of four years ago foundered on the question of arrangements for governing India during the remainder of the war. But the Cripps offer of dominion status at the end of the war and, with dominion status, the implicit right to secede from the British Commonwealth, was never withdrawn. It was assumed that, upon termination of hostilities, a fresh attempt would be made to come to an agreement on the Indian question.

During the period that has elapsed since failure of the Cripps mission, Indian demands for independence have not slackened. On the contrary, they have become stronger. The recent mutiny on Indian naval vessels and repeated riots in the large cities of India have demonstrated the current intensity of anti-British feeling and, consequently, the urgency of finally determining the future political status of that country. The present threat of a famine of unprecedented proportions in India adds to the dangers of an already explosive situation.

If pressure to settle the Indian question is greater today than ever before, the difficulties standing in the way of settlement are scarcely, if any, less formidable than in the past. Indian leaders are united in demanding freedom, but they are deeply divided on the forms which freedom should take. British insistence that the Indians agree among themselves and the inability of the Indians to do so have created a deadlock that up to now has proved unbreakable. But existing tension makes it obvious that the condition of stalemate cannot be allowed to continue.

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