India, Old and New
SIR VALENTINE CHIROL
Author Of “Indian Unrest,” “The Egyptian Problem,” etc.
“We shall in time so far improve the character of our Indian subjects as to enable them to govern and protect themselves.”—Minute by Sir Thomas Munro, Governor of Madras, Dec. 31, 1824.
It is little more than ten years since I wrote my Indian Unrest. But they have been years that may well count for decades in the history of the world, and not least in the history of India. Much has happened in India to confirm many of the views which I then expressed. Much has happened also to lead me to modify others, and to recognise more clearly to-day the shortcomings of a system of government, in many ways unrivalled, but subject to the inevitable limitations of alien rule.
At a very early stage of the Great War the Prime Minister warned the British people that, after the splendid demonstration India was already giving of her loyalty to the cause for which the whole Empire was then in arms, our relations with her would have henceforth to be approached from “a new angle of vision.” The phrase he used acquired a deeper meaning still as the war developed from year to year into a life-and-death struggle not merely between nations but between ideals, and India claimed for herself the benefit of the ideals for which she too fought and helped the British Commonwealth to victory. When victory was assured, could India’s claim be denied after she had been called in, with all the members of the British Commonwealth, to the War Councils of the Empire in the hour of need, and again been associated with them in the making of peace? The British people have answered that question as all the best traditions of British governance in India, and all the principles for which they had fought and endured through four and a half years of frightful war, bade them answer it.