10th December, 1934
I have your letter of 19th November. I have not been able to understand it, in spite of the help I sought from Charlie Andrews.
I have no hesitation in agreeing with you that any solution of the present deadlock should be just and creative, and that it should be neither imposed nor extorted; in other words, it should be an agreed solution honourable to both the countries. I know too the suffering of India and the suffering of Lancashire. But if the juxtaposition of the two is meant to imply that the cause of the suffering of either is identical I would dissent from any such view. The suffering of India is imposed upon her; the suffering of Lancashire is due partly to world causes and partly to its own short¬sightedness and selfishness. So far as it was possible for me to suggest an alleviation of the suffering of Lancashire through India's help I had made a definite offer when I was in England in 1931. But my offer proved to be of no avail. The offer was this: If there was a free settlement between England and India, a favoured-nation clause was quite possible, in so far as India might need any foreign cloth in order to supplement her output of cloth, whether through the village spinning wheel or through her mills. I do not know how far such treatment is possible today for, even during the short period that has elapsed since the meeting of the Round Table Conference, India has become better organized for the manufacture of all her clothing requirements, in spite of the fact that she is importing fine-count calico both from England and Japan. The chief point, however, is not how Lancashire can send its calico to India, but how the whole of England can benefit in every way by the benefit that India must derive from attainment of complete freedom, political and economic. The more I study the villages of India the more intensely do I realize that India has no need to be a pauper country if she can get the chance to grow without the fetters that today prevent her natural growth.
Your last paragraph seems to imply that there is no longer any repression in India. I can only tell you that repression is there to be seen by anyone with the naked eye. I do not know of any single repressive law that has been repealed. The Press is effectively gagged, there is no such thing as freedom of movement in Bengal as also in the Frontier Province. If you hear nothing of imprisonments and lathi charges it is because civil disobedience is suspended and the Congress has resolved, in furtherance of the spirit of non-violence, to submit to repressive laws in so far as it is humanly possible to do so. On the top of all this comes the Parliamentary Committee's proposals for a new constitution. It is, as I read it, a bare-faced denial of freedom. I see in it no scope for expansion. I would any day prefer the existing state to the crushing burden that threatens to overwhelm India and tighten the British hold upon her. My own power of endurance is being tested beyond my capacity my way to the Frontier Province is blocked.
But, in spite of the blackness of the horizon, I have no sense of despair in me. I believe in the existence of a beneficent Power that overrides and upsets all human plans. It ever produces order out of chaos, and redresses wrongs in spite of the tyranny of tyrants.
India must come to her own one day. But she will do so chiefly if her own sons and daughters behave themselves and prove worthy of her freedom. We must exert our utmost to prove our worth, and you, friends of Conciliation Group, will, I know, do your level best according to your lights to help a just solution.
M. K. GANDHI
CARL HEATH, ESQ.,
INDIAN CONCILIATION GROUP,
FRIENDS HOUSE, EUSTON ROAD,
From a photostat: S.N. 22641