Constitution Assembly Of India - Volume VIII
Dated: May 17, 1949
The Constituent Assembly of India met in the Constitution Hall, New Delhi, at Eight of the Clock, Mr., President (The Honourable Dr. Rajendra Prasad) in the Chair.
RESOLUTION RE RATIFICATION OF COMMONWEALTH DECISION
Seth Govind Das (C.P. & Berar: General): *[Mr. President, I rise to support this motion and to oppose the amendments moved in respect to it. The first question that arises in this connection is whether the agreement accepted by our Honourable Prime Minister in any way restricts our freedom or our democracy, from the political, economic or any other point of view. I wish to say that our country will remain entirely free even after this agreement is accepted. When the question of our Prime Minister's visit to Great Britain was raised, I had asked a question in the Parliament whether any decision could be taken there which would create any obstacle in our country's future republican status. Our Prime Minister had clearly stated in reply thereto that he was not going to accept any such decision there. When Shri Damodar Swarup Seth stated yesterday that our Prime Minister had done something which he had no right to do, I was astonished to hear Shri Damodar Swarup remark that the complete independence, which we were striving for all these twenty-eight years, has ended, and that our Prime Minister had not consulted us on this issue before going to England. I wish to tell shri Damodar Swarup that the Jaipur Session of the Congress itself, under whose banner we fought our battle for independence for the last twenty eight years, had given its decision in this respect and our Prime Minister has simply given a practical shape to that decision.
The truth is that the world has now become very small. The countries of the world have come very near to each other; such means of transport are now available to us that we can go from one place to another within a few hours, whereas in olden days we used to take a few weeks in doing so. In these circumstances, can we stand aloof, and if we cannot, what should we do? Moreover, we can revoke this agreement at will.
Yesterday, Mr. Damodar Swarup had remarked that the fact of joining a bloc implies that we will have to remain in that bloc in foul as well as in fair weather. I wish to say that if this agreement has any peculiar characteristic, it is this, that while remaining in Commonwealth we are not bound to accept every decision of the Commonwealth. The next question that arises is that if we have to associate with somebody, then with whom should we do so? We have a very old connection with Great Britain. Till the achievement of our independence, we had a different kind of connection with her, but now that we have attained our freedom, another type of relationship has been established. Till the attainment of our independence a sort of struggle had been going on between Great Britain and us for the attainment of that independence, and I admit that there was some bitterness in that struggle According to the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, which is now before the world, we can have no enmity with anybody. Still there was necessarily some bitterness due to the struggle. Later on the circumstances changed. We became free and achieved an independence due to Mahatma Gandhi's greatness, without any bloodshed. Now there is no friction, no bitterness between Great Britain and ourselves. That bitterness has now given place to friendship. If we look at things from our old angle of vision, we find ourselves faced with difficulties. Yesterday Mr. Kamath had quoted a shloka from the Gita. I wish to remind the members of this Constituent Assembly of another shloka from the Gita itself. If we look at everything from the old angle of vision due to anger, we are reminded of this shloka of Lord Shri Krishna which says:-
(Anger gives rise to wrong to wrong thinking which creates forgetfulness. Forgetfulness destroys wisdom, and by that a man perishes).
Thus, in these matters, we should not allow anger or resentment to over power us, and we should make our decision after taking into consideration the present circumstances.
I heartily congratulate our Honourable Prime Minister for facing the actual circumstances of today. He is the same leader of ours under whose Presidentship we had adopted for the first time the complete independence resolution at Lahore. He has done what was best for the country in the circumstances.
The Commonwealth that we have joined, I agree, is not yet a real commonwealth. I know that the condition of our nationals in South Africa is undoubtedly a matter of pain to us. But to the people of south Africa is ought to be a matter of shame. I also admit that the White Policy which is being followed in Australia is unbecoming of the Commonwealth. But the question is whether we would be able to bring about any change in all these matters if we do not join the Commonwealth? You are aware of what is being done in U.N.O. about the question of Indians in South Africa. These questions, in fact, have no bearing in our joining the Commonwealth. We will have to solve these problems in a different way. It would not be proper for us to take any decision under the influence of anger. It is the feeling of some people that as a result of this agreement we may have to side with the Anglo-American bloc in the event of any war which may break out in future. But our Prime Minister has repeatedly made it clear that our remaining in the Commonwealth does not imply that we would be under any obligation to join them in any war that may break out in future.
I, however, hope and believe that at some future date we shall be in a position to assume the leadership of the other nations of the Commonwealth by virtue of the balance of power shifting in our favour on account of our philosophy, our approach to life, our man-power and the natural resources available to our country. A dream the dream of the federation of mankind, is already present in the imagination of people all the world over. It is a dream, a pleasant dream. I know not whether this dream is one that can ever be fulfilled, but if it be possible to translate into concrete reality. I can say, in view of the position we hold today, that our country would be able to make its contribution to the fulfillment of this dream by bringing about the establishment of the federation of mankind. I would like to congratulate the Prime Minister again, and I conclude with a personal prayer to God that the agreement entered into by our country for the stable peace, freedom and an all-round progress of the people of the world, may prove a blessing not only to us but to the world as a whole.]
Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava (East Punjab: General): *[Mr. President, I support this motion with all the force at my command. On this occasion I offer, without the least trace of hesitation in my mind my congratulations to the Prime Minister. it is not, as put by Sardar Patel, his personal triumph alone, it is also a triumph for that policy of straight-forwardness which our country has been following. Our Prime Minister has on many occasion explained the highlights of our national policy. The most fundamental and central factor in it is that India is a sovereign independent Republic. To those who seek to confuse the issue by quoting from the old speeches of Pandit Nehru I would like to say that they should not forget that it was Pandit Nehru who for the first time taught us on the banks of the Ravi to fight for complete independence and that he did so at a time when many people used to consider dominion status as the substance of independence and when many made no distinction whatever between independence and dominion status. They must remember that at that time he had put before our eyes a standard of Independence which could be a matter of pride for any first-rate power.
They must also remember that it was he who placed before us the Objectives Resolution which is considered as the very soul of our Constitution. I fail to understand why people should be surprised if he brings forward before us this Resolution which gives us status in the world. Those who give such a weight to his speeches should also have the sense to realize that the same wisdom and idealism with which he had drafted those resolutions are being used by him in seeking to secure our acceptance of this Declaration with a view to advance the interest and glory of our country. Why should they feel hesitant when he asks us to accept it? Speaking for myself I can say that I welcome and support it most heartily because I find it in accordance with the objectives which have been always before us.
The second highlight of our foreign policy is our determination to extend our aid and support to the nations which are comparatively suppressed. The third fundamental principle which we have always kept in our mind is that we should not improperly align ourselves with any political bloc and lastly that we should not be a party to the violation of the rights of any nation. It is our duty not to act contrary to these four principles.
But the agreement, the ratification of which is being sought by this resolution, is not only in complete conformity with all the four principles but is also calculated to promote them. I have not the least doubt that this Resolution is not only quite proper in itself but also reflects correctly the objective dear to our heart. I would like, Sir, to draw your attention on to some past history. It has been asked what advantage we would have by means of this agreement. We have also been asked to keep the debit side of this agreement in our view. Many people here think of weighing in a common scale the advantages and disadvantages that are likely to accrue to us by this agreement, and I agree that this is a valid criterion. I would in this connection like to submit that we should remember that the effects of history are as significant as those of geography and that we cannot escape from these effects, do what we may For the last few centuries, Great Britain had been ruling us not because we liked it but on account of the compulsions of history. So long as we needed them we retained them and they proved useful to us. We may, by the way, cast a glance at our Ordnance factories today which are producing arms and ammunition. We will find that the officers and managers of these factories are English Officers. It cannot be denied that we cannot confidently assert that we have made as much progress during these two years as other countries could make after centuries. I accept that the Government of Nehruji and Sardar Patel has raised us very high in the estimation of the world during these two years and we will achieve an equal status with other countries, which is our due. But this can be achieved only gradually. We should not foresake wisdom. We should no doubt adopt such methods as may enable us to become as free as the other nations of the world. All of us will have to admit that the consequence of their contact for centuries has been that in all aspects of our life, whether it be the composition of our Legislature or the constitution of our state, whether it is the system of our law or the organisation of our army or navy, the character of our industry or the way of our living, the outlook with which we approach life or the culture that we possess, the method of progress adopted by us or the path of advancement chosen by us, all have evolved a new pattern or way of life which is more or less like the one which the great countries of the Commonwealth have adopted. The fact is that even though we want to establish a Republic in our country we follow the Democratic way of life along with Great Britain and other democracies.
If we follow anybody today it is the Parliament of England which is the Mother of Parliaments. The Constitution that we are framing here today is in fact based on the Government of India Act of 1935. I do not suggest that we, who have an ancient civilization and are an independent nation, are seeking to copy anybody. We do not want to copy anyone at all but at the same time we should not forget that we cannot snap the connection of years all at once. At present if we need and part of an aeroplane we have to approach Britain. If at Delhi we purchase any machine, we have to approach Britain for its parts. We are at present dependent upon England for all our machinery. Why do we then ignore the fact that it is necessary for us to maintain, for some time at least, the connections we had with some countries for a very long time? It is true that we have severed our connection from the British Crown. We Have done the correct thing. But would it not be size to continue our connections with that country for some time to come when it is to our advantage to do so? We did a similar thing in 1947 in accepting in our Assembly that Lord Mountbatten would be our Governor General and General Auchinleck our Commander-in-Chief. But so long as it is not so, would it be wise to turn out all those England Officers who are running our factories? So long as it is advantageous to us, it is in our interest to stay in the Commonwealth. No association is always harmful. It is said that the British and the Americans are pleased over our decision to stay in the Commonwealth. I am also very much pleased over it because all associations are for mutual gain. It has been said that it would have been better if we had not accepted the King of England as the symbolic head, if we had solved the South-African problem and if we had put an end to the White Australian policy by entering into some agreement. I humbly submit that such things could not have been included in that agreement. If Pandit Nehru had caised this question the representatives of other countries would have told him that they were not prepared to talk to him about it, because even now there were untouchables in India who had no right even to purchase land, and that so long as such conditions prevailed in India, they were not prepared to talk to him. May I ask whether we had ended in India the evils which we want other countries to remove? It is my assertion that we have not. A number of honourable Members have tried to introduce such things here by tabling amendments. I say that this is altogether irrelevant and that we cannot adopt any new proposal in regard to such matters.
It has been said that we are entering an association which concerns the Anglo-American bloc and therefore we will become members of that bloc and as such we will cause offence to Russia. It has also been said that, if Russia so desires, her troops can reach India within hours. I humbly submit that this is altogether wrong. You will pardon me if I give a commonplace example. It is said that it was bad of such and such a person's mother to have got an husband. But if after that she left him it was all the worse. We had this association for a long time. It was possible that other countries would have cancelled this association as soon as we declared that our country was a republic and would have told us that we might go our own way as we were not associated with the King. Our Pandit Nehru had not gone to England to appeal to the countries concerned somehow to include our country in the association. He went there because these nations wanted to retain their old connections, whether we accepted allegiance to the King or not. Today every Indian can holl his head high. He is not under any other government except the Sovereign Indian Republic. This is of prime importance. Had they said that we could be included on some other condition and not on this condition, then this question could have been raised. So fare we had vehemently opposed this Commonwealth democracy because we had no equal status in it. But now that every member in an equal partner in it, why should we hesitate to join it? If today other countries feel it necessary to associate with India, India also has a need to associate with other countries. I cannot accept even for a minute that our Assembly can have any hesitation in ratifying this agreement. In fact it is a great triumph for us that while we would not owe any allegiance to the Crown, the other countries owing such allegiance to the Crown are and would be eager for our association with them. Obviously the ratification of the agreement is to our advantage. Besides, there are other factor which must be kept in view in assessing the value of this agreement today. The political and economic conditions of our nationals in the British possessions will be very adversely affected if this link is broken today.
There is a small council in the UNO which has been formed with a view to raise the standard of living of the countries that have a very poor standard. In the last parliamentary conference which was attended by the representatives of thirty four countries, there was a proposal that the name of the British Commonwealth should be changed into Commonwealth and in fact it was so changed. Dwelling upon the economic condition of my country I had said in that conference that England did not to justice to India. India has a coastal line of five thousand miles but England had left no ship with us. We have railway tracks extending over forty thousand miles but we have not a single workshop where locomotives may be manufactures. There is absolutely no justification for withholding the sterling balance of seventeen hundred million pound's belonging to a poor country like India, I would like to suggest that a council, as the one in the UNO, should also be formed in the Commonwealth so that it may help to raise the standard of living of the member countries that have a very poor standard of living. May I ask you which country can help us in getting our needs supplied today? Will Russia help us? Can we expect this help from U.S.A.? I feel, Sir it is the duty of England and other member countries of the Commonwealth to do justice in the matter and help a lending hand to India in improving her economic condition. If they desire any benefit from us, we too must gain some benefits from them. The Commonwealth has been recognised in the International Trade Charter and according to this Charter the Commonwealth must give the same privileges to other countries of the world that it receives from them. Therefore it is wrong to say that our joining the Commonwealth will antagonise Russia. There is no question of Russia being antagonised. There is absolutely no occasion to cut off our age-long connections with other countries.
It has been an ancient tradition with India that whenever she has formed friendship with any nation she has always stood true to her friends and fulfilled her obligations honestly. We should not now cut off our old connections with them and thereby give them a chance to feel aggrieved.
There is no doubt that the organisation of the Commonwealth has neither any secretary nor any president. The British King is said to be the head of the organisation. But to be frank, I fail to understand his position. However, he will nor preside over the meetings of the Commonwealth, he will not function as its president and will never give his casting vote. There is absolutely no question of veto. He will never have the occasion to use these powers. It is said that the King has no function at all in the Commonwealth. This agreement has less significance than even a treaty and you can scrap it any moment you like. Thus all the members will remain independent in the common family of Commonwealth. It is not a partnership but an association in which we all are as members and therefore it elevates our position. As members of this association we can manage our affairs, in a more effective way. With these words, Sir, I lend my full support to this motion.]
Mr. Tajamul Hussain (Bihar: Muslim): Mr. President, Sir recently Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru went to England and there entered into an agreement with six other independent countries; and now we, the representatives of the people of India, are asked to ratify that agreement. The question before us is whether we are to ratify that agreement or not. At this stage, I do not propose to discuss the merits or demerits of that agreement. It is immaterial for my purpose whether that agreement was good, bad or indifferent. I say, Sir, and I have no doubt the House will agree with me, that we have no option, but to ratify that agreement. My reason are obvious and simple. Pandit Nehru did not enter into that agreement as Pandit Nehru. He entered into that agreement as our Minister for Foreign Affairs, as our Prime Minister and as our leader, and as the sole representative and spokesman of the people of India, and in the name of the people of India. Therefore we cannot afford to let him down at this stage. I have already said it is a treaty and......
An Honourable Member: Even if it is bad?
Mr. Tajamul Hussain: He is our representative and as such he went there, and we never asked him not go, though we knew he was going. Did you ask him to consult the House as to what he was going to do? Such things never happen. Did the Prime Minister of Canada consult his people there? But we are told, and we have listened to the statements of our leaders, and we know that the people here were consulted, and the Deputy Prime Minister told us that he was in entire agreement with what had been done. Is there any sensible man who is not in agreement? When our representative goes and enters into an agreement, it does not matter what agreement it is, we must follow it and ratify it. That is my view, Sir.
Now, let us see what that agreement is. India is an independent country. Now it is absolutely independent. It is under no country, and it is as independent as the United States of America or the United Kingdom, or any other country in the world. It has full sovereign powers. It can make and unmake anything. It can make war with any country. It can negotiate peace with any country. No country can interfere with our internal or external affairs. At present we are a member of an association commonly known as the Commonwealth of Nations. The question before us is: should we continue to be a member of that Commonwealth of Nations? I say, Sir, if it is to our advantage-and it is to our advantage-we must remain in it. As far as I can see, the only objectionable feature is that the King is our Head at present but that objectionable feature is that the King is our Head at present but that objectionable feature has been very ably removed by our Prime Minister. No longer the King of England is the King of India. He will only remain as the symbolic Head of the Commonwealth of Nations. India under this Agreement or Treaty will owe no allegiance to the King. If our President of the Republic were to go to England or America or Russia or to any country in the world, he will be treated as the Head of our State. If the King of England were to come here, or the President of the United States of America, he will be treated as the Head of our State. If the King of England were to come here, or the President of the United State of America, he will be treated no more than as the Head of a free State. The King of England will not be treated as the King of India anywhere. We will respect him as the Head of his State as they would respect our President as the Head of another independent State.
And what is the Commonwealth of Nations? As I have already said, it is only an association of Prime Ministers of seven different independent countries, and each member can leave that association whenever he likes. To give an illustration. Supposing England were to declare war against Russia, what would India do? There are only three things that India can do. It can side with England as against Russia, which I am sure India will never do, and I am sure Pandit Nehru will never do that. The second is, that India may remain neutral. That will be done. The third alternative is that she might side with Russia as against England. If that happens, then the association of nations known as the Commonwealth of Nations will break up like the League of Nations. It will, ipso facto, dissolve. Therefore, I say although we remain a member of the Commonwealth, we will be absolutely free. And I am of opinion and very strongly of opinion that if India remains in it, as she is going to remain, there will be no war in the world. The possibility of war will be removed; and in this way, India would have made a great contribution to the peace of the world. This, in my humble opinion, is sufficient reason for us to remain as a member of the Commonwealth.
Mr. President: Pandit Balkrishna Sharma. But before he begins I would like to make one observation. I have received a number of slips from Members expressing their desire to speak, and slips are pouring in even today. Yesterday a Member raised the objection that I should not go by the slips, and that I should see particular Members standing in their places. I propose to follow that practice, and those Members who have sent in their names in the slips are also expected to stand up in their place, if they wish to speak.
Pandit Balkrishna Sharma (United Provinces: General): Sir, I have very carefully followed the speeches that have been delivered here in opposition to the motion of the Honourable the Prime Minister of India and I have also followed the criticisms of the so called "Left-wingers" in the press regarding this Declaration of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. After having read all those objections I have come to the conclusion that those objections can be put into more or less six categories.
One objection which has been raised is that the Declaration of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference to which India has assented is repugnant to our traditions and, in order to prove that our traditions have been anti-British, extensive quotations from 'the speeches of the Honourable the Prime Ministers himself as also from the resolutions of the All India Congress Committee have been given. This is the first objection which has been raised.
The second objection that has been raised is that by so doing we are perhaps entering into an unholy alliance with British Imperialism.
The third objection boils down to this that by our so doing we are definitely joining the Anglo-American bloc in international politics and thereby we are losing our independence in international affairs, which is our right by virtue of our being a sovereign independent Republic.
The fourth point which has been made out by the oppositionists is that even though we have become independent we are still continuing to be an appendages of the British Foreign Office, that we tie ourselves to the chariot wheels of British Imperialism and British foreign policy and British foreign policy.
The fifth point which has been made out by the oppositionists is that democracy and headship of the King are two incompatibles which go ill together. And the sixth objection is about racialism in the Commonwealth Countries.
These in the main are some of the points which have struck me to be of a fundamental nature as conceived by the oppositionists and I want to take seriatim these points.
Let me begin considering the objection that this association with the Commonwealth countries on our part is repugnant to our traditions....
An Honourable Member: Certainly.
Pandit Balkrishna Sharma: My honourable Friend without understanding the implication of his interruption comes out with a very brave exclamation "Certainly". If he will bear with me for a minute he will find that after all his certainly is not so certain as he considers it to be. We were reminded of the speech which our leader delivered at the Legislators 'Convention in 1937; and my Friend Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena said that it was definitely aid down as our policy that we will have no truck with British Imperialism, that in every sense the British connection has to be severed and that in the famous parting of the ways message our leader definitely said that we do not wish to be tied down to the coat tail of the British Foreign Officer nor that we wish to be guided in any way in our external affairs by Whitehall.
When we take into consideration all these objections we will clearly see that what this new Declaration contemplates has absolutely nothing to do with what we objected to in the British connection. When we objected to the British connection, we naturally objected to British domination, to British guidance committing us, against our wishes, even to the extent that we could be dragged into a major war without being consulted by the Britishers through a fiat from NO. 10 Downing Street or from the Mother of Parliaments. Nothing of that sort is contemplated in this Declaration. Time and again it has been said that we are free to carry on our foreign policy just as we do in our internal affairs and that we are free to do anything we like. In these circumstances I do not know how those declarations made by the Prime Minister in his capacity as the leader of the Indian Nation and how those resolutions of the All India Congress Committee or the Indian National Congress can be quoted in support of the opposition to this Declaration of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. Today the situation has altogether changed. British connection today is not what it was during those days and it was to that sort of connection that we took exception and not to the one that is contemplated in this Declaration.
The second objection, namely, that we are entering into an unholy alliance with British Imperialism seems to me to be without any foundation whatsoever. When we think in terms of British Imperialism naturally our friends are under the impression that we shall be allying ourselves with all that Britain is doing in colonial countries. Let me tell you that this is not so. We have nothing to do with that. We can very well oppose what the Britishers are doing in Malaya, what the Dutch are doing in Indonesia or what the French might be doing in Indo-China. Have we not done so? Even when we are a Dominion, which we are till today, when we have not declared ourselves a Soverign Republic except in our Objectives Resolution (we are still in the midst of our constitution), time and again have we not taken up the cause of the colonial countries and fought out their battles in the United Nations as well as in the world at large? Has this our connection with the British Government come in the way of our fight for those oppressed nations? If that is not so, then to say that by entering into this alliance or this association with the Common wealth countries, we are trying ourselves to the coat-tail of British foreign policy or that we are playing the role of the henchmen of British Imperialism is absolutely without foundation: I should say it is absolutely untrue.
The third point in that we are joining the Anglo-American bloc. I do not think we are joining any bloc whatsoever. Times without number the Minister for External Affairs, who is also our Prime Minister, has said that so far as our foreign policy is concerned it is yet in a process of evolution and so fare as possible we are trying to keep ourselves free from any blocs. We are not joining the ground that we should have right away joined the Angolo-American bloc; people who have criticised the Prime Minister's foreign policy, some of them on the ground that we should have rightway joined the Anglo-American bloc; and there are others who have maintained that we should have joined the Russian bloc. But we have steered clear of those power blocs. As a result of that in the U.N.O., even though our voice be feeble, yet it has begun to be heard with a certain amount of respect and even in those quarters where we were looked down upon as an appendage of this or that bloc our view is receiving respectful attention. And, therefore, I say, that this sort of criticism that we are joining this or that bloc is absolutely incorrect. My Friend, Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena said: "Well, one-third of Asia is Russia; then China has gone Communist; Burma, Malaya and Indonesia are going Red. Why then should we have at this hour joined what is called this Anglo-American bloc? "Firstly, his premises are wrong. We have not joined any bloc. And secondly what after all does he mean? Because China has gone Red, because one-third of Asia is already, Red, Because Indonesia and Malaya and even Burma are on the road to becoming Red, should we therefore also try to become Red? Does he mean that we should try to become Red because our neighbours are going Red? Well, Sir, if I were convinced that our going Red will be in the best interest of the country and of humanity at large, I will be the first man to raise my hand in favour of our going Red. But, unfortunately, from what we have read of the foreign policy as also of the internal policy of Russia we are convinced that it is not ultimately in the interests either of the down-trodden or of the world at large. Why? Because there is some fundamental difference, a difference which arises from the very philosophy of Communism. When we talk of the so-called scientific socialism, I am constrained to say that this scientific socialism is unadulterated, undiluted, pure bunkum, for the year simple reason that the socialistic concepts which were based on the 19th century idea of science are today no more scientific, because science has changed beyond all recognition. The 19th century science did not now what the principle of indeterminacy was. But today science declares from house-top that it cannot know anything and everything even about an electron. The so-called scientific socialism tries to explain away all human activities by certain preconceived notions, the notions of materialism. What after all is this materialism? Materialism is disappearing today in the form of mathematical equations; and yet they talk of this scientific socialism. I say, Sir, that it is neither scientific nor social. I would say it is anti-social, because before the Ogre of the State the individual is being sacrificed every minute of his existence.
Therefore, I say that if only we could fundamentally agree with the principles of socialism or communism, we shall be the first to go in for it. But, unfortunately, we find that it is unscientific, that it is unsocial. It is for this reason that we are refusing to join the Russian bloc. Similarly we are refusing to join the Russian bloc. We are perfectly free to carry on our foreign policy as we like and I see no reason why people should come here and advance all sorts of arguments against the proposition that is before this House.
One thing which I would like to point out to this House is that it will not do today to think in terms of what a philosopher like Herbert Spencer has called traditional bias. There are many kinds of biases; there is the traditional bias, there is the religious bias; there is even the scientific bias. Of course, our whole history-the history of the last 28 years of our struggle against Great Britain-is replete with anti-British feelings. But has not the Father of the Nation given us the message of hating a system, but not hating the individuals behind it? And today we who hated that system are responsible for getting that system changed by the very people who upheld that system and it is for that reason that we are joining hands with them.
As the Prime Minister himself has said there are no commitments. We have not in any way committed ourselves to the foreign policy of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Any country of the Commonwealth is free to take up any line that it likes in the United Nations Organisation. We have done so; even Australia has done so. Then to trot out the argument again and again that we are tying ourselves to the chariot wheel of British Imperialism seems to me to be absolutely futile.
Sir, I was very much impressed by the speech which my Friend, Shri Kamath, made yesterday. He very cogently and very rationally tried to pose certain questions. One of the questions that he posed was whether by entering into this association with the Commonwealth of Nations we shall be deriving any advantage. Well, we gave our consent to this policy not only in this Assembly but even in our great national organisation, the Indian National Congress. With our eyes wide open we authorised the Prime Minister to carry on these negotiations. Did we not take all the pros and cons into consideration at that time? We did and we knew and we know that it is definitely to our advantage. After all the military science in our country is till in its infancy and there are very many advantages that we can derive from our association with Great Britain in regard to our defence measures. Then again there are so many things that we have to do by way of economic rehabilitation and in these matters we can get expert advice and guidance from Great Britain and from the other Commonwealth countries. Why should we deny ourselves that advantage, especially when it has been made clear that the King does not come in the picture any where, except that he is being recognised only as the Head of the Commonwealth, which again means very little,-very little for the simple reason that he can no more interfere in our internal administration. Our Ambassadors are not to be appointed in his name; they will be appointed in the name of the Head of our State, who will be the President.
When all these factors are taken into consideration, I think we have to thank our Prime Minister for having brought round the statesmen of the Commonwealth of Nations to agree to a proposition which is in every way to our advantage.
With these words, Sir, I commend the motion of the Honourable the Prime Minister for the acceptance of this House.
Maulana Hasrat Mohani (United Provinces: Muslim): Sir, I am inclined to support my Friend, Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena, and also my Friend, Damodar Swarup Seth , for the following reason I support Mr. Saksena because he has adopted the same plea in his amendment as was adopted by me in the beginning when this Assembly met first. I said then and I say it even now that this House is not competent to frame this Constitution, because this House was elected on a very narrow electorate and that of a communal nature-rank communal nature-and it has resulted in the formation of a single partly in this Assembly, and therefore it is ridiculous and absurd to entrust the constitution-making power to it. That party represents only one view and that is the only party in existence. When I say that, when I am of the opinion that this House is incompetent to frame the Constitution, it is obvious that I must support Mr. Saksena who wants the same as myself. He says, postpone the declaration of your ultimate object and your ultimate policy until a new House is elected on the broad principle of joint electorates.
Well, Sir then I support my Friend, Mr. Damodar Swarup, on the ground that I want to meet the excuse brought forward by the Prime Minister in this way. He says: "All right, we will become a Republic, but we cannot remain isolated. We will-have to have some-sort of relation with some power." I quite see that point. But I can argue, "How is it that you are only going to placate the British Commonwealth people? Why do you not adopt the freer course which is more honest? When you claim that you have become an Independent Socialist Republic, why do you not say that you will enter into separate alliances and agreements with all free countries on the basis of the principle laid down by the political group of late Lokamanya Tilak who said that he will enter into an alliance with all other free countries by means of responsive co-operation and will co-operate with only those free countries who are willing to adopt the same cause in regard to our country?" It is no use making alliances with countries like South Africa. The attitude of that country towards our nationals is well known. Even countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not allow any of us Indians to set foot on their soil. How can we go and have alliances with such people? I cannot under stand how a man of such keen intellect as the Honourable the Prime Minister can have alliances with countries like South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand? I think it is beneath our dignity to seek such alliances. We ought to refuse to have anything to do with them. As a matter of fact we once broke off our relations with them. We recalled our representative from South Africa Now we are reversing that policy and adopting the policy of conciliation. I had to hand my head in shame when I read the other day in the papers that our Prime Minister had now become friends with Dr. Malan and Mr. Churchill. When he went to England He remained in association with such born enemies of Indian independence. I cannot understand what brought about this change of mentality in our Prime Minister. He ought not to have met and spoken to Mr. Churchill at all. He ought not to have mixed with people like Dr. Malan. My misgivings have come true as I find that after these meetings, a real change has come in his attitude. Formerly Mr. Churchill use to abuse the attitude of our Prime Minister. Now a change has come over him. That is a sure sign that we are not on the right path. When a policy of ours is appreciated by people like Mr. Churchill and Dr. Malan, we need no more proof to declare that the whole thing is absurd. Therefore I say that I support both these amendments. At the same time I know it is a futility to propose an amendment to a proposal to ratify the unfortunate Declaration of our Friend the Prime Minister. It is incapable of being amended. It must be ended. There is no possibility of amending it. This Declaration says that India will retain the full partnership of the Commonwealth of Nations and at the same time says also that the King will be the head of that Commonwealth. When you accept full partnership in the Commonwealth, how can you escape accepting the King as the Head of the Commonwealth? Therefore the King is thehead of the Indian Republic also. I cannot understand this thing. I am not given to hair-splitting and I do not find any reason to try to make a difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Either you belong to the Common wealth or you do not belong. I do not want any monster of this kind which is at once a Republic and a Dominion. It is absurd on the face of it. There fore I say that we need not propose any amendment to this Resolution. It is useless to do so. We would throw out this Declaration and the Resolution at once without anything being left to chance. I am rather inclined to say that I am at one with my friend at co-operate Sarat Bose in his description of this Declaration that it is no more and no less than a great betrayal. I am inclined to go a step further and say that it is not only a betrayal of the Independence of India, but it is a betrayal of all the efforts of all Asiatic countries who are struggling to gain their independence. We have before us the examples of Viet-Nam, Indonesia and Burma. The Members of our Delegation are trying to impose the same thing on Indonesia and Burma; Well, it is beyond my comprehension to account for this change of mentality in people like our Prime Minister. How is it that the President of Indonesia who did not believe in this camouflage and therefore said that he would not accept anything less than the re-establishment of the Republic at Jogjakarta and would not have any Pact unless and until it was re-established got the support of Soviet Russia for his proposal and how is it that our representatives intervened and got the motion postponed indefinitely? I suspect that they want to compel the Indonesia to adopt the same course which has been adopted by our Prime Minister here. Holland also is willing to accept Indonesia as a Republic on condition that the Republic remains a part of the Dutch Dominion. The European nations are making fools of us. Holland wants to make fools of the Indonesians. They say, "We will accept your Indonesian Republic provided that the Republic remains in our Empire". The same is said by France to the people of Viet-Nam. They say, "All right, we accept your Republic provided you remain in the French Empire." I find that these imperialists have coined new phrases and new technical terms. What are these terms? Sometimes they say a Republic Dominion. Our Prime Minister is going to accept that. Also in the case of Viet-Nam and the other, they want to have colonial republics. I do not understand these terms. They want to have colonial republics. I do not understand these terms. They are beyond my comprehension. I do not find in this resolution and this Declaration anything more than acceptance of these terms. As I said, as regards Burma also, these are willing to intervene and help Burma. The Burmese people were wise enough to reject the whole thing because they suspected that we and the British will go there and ask them to adopt the same policy as we are going to adopt. What it amounts to is that we are willing to support you, we are willing to help you, provided you join the British Empire. Even if you do not say this, the whole thing will come to that. We are trying to postpone a decision in Burma, Malaya and Indonesia. We are not only following a very bad policy. We are betraying the cause of Indian independence. We are betraying the cause of all Asiatic countries who are struggling to gain their freedom. You are indirectly in a way compelling them to adopt the same course as you have adopted.
I only two questions to put to the Prime Minister and I have done. My first question is this. If you do not want to remain in isolation and if you want to have some connection with the powers in the Commonwealth how is it that you do not impose any condition? If you want to enter into an alliance with any of these Dominions, England or America, you are free to do that but only as a completely free Republic, nothing less than that. If you want to have separate agreements or alliances with other countries, you are free to do that with the condition that the whole thing should be based on the good principle of responsive co-operation.
The other question is this. Our Prime Minister says that we will remain strictly neutral. We will not join the Anglo American bloc or the Russian bloc. If it is possible to remain neutral to the last, I would have nothing to say, but it may become impossible to remain neutral. It may come to your joining one bloc or the other. In that eventuality, what is your position? I am not going to make only negative criticisms. I am going to make a positive suggestion. If things come to that pass. We should refuse to join one group or the other. We should adopt an attitude of benevolent neutrality, but the benevolent neutrality should be in favour of Soviet Russia, because America and England are imperialist and capitalist. I cannot understand how a man of such foresight as our Prime Minister is even willing to hear any proposal of our joining this Anglo-American bloc which is at once imperialist and capitalist. As far as Soviet Russia is concerned, I say that we should favour it because Soviet Russia is neither capitalist nor imperialist. Therefore I say this Resolution should be rejected without any amendment.
Pandit Hirday Nath Kunzru (United Provinces: General): Mr. President, in assessing the value of the agreement entered into by our Prime Minister at the last Prime Ministers Conference in London, we have no consider whether it is consistent with our self-respect, and beneficial to our national interests. I felt when I read the agreement that it satisfied both these condition, and I never felt more convinced of this than after listening to the opposition speeches yesterday. Sir, the agreement has been criticised on the ground that it may limit the freedom of action of India in some hidden way or that it may make her an accomplice of the Anglo American bloc in its efforts to accomplish its nefarious ends. The Dominions owe allegiance to the same King. Yet it has been recognised formally since 1926 and legally since 1931 that their status is equal to that of England in all matters, internal and external. That this equality is real is proved conclusively by the neutrality of Eire during the last war. That a small country could exercise the power to arrive at a free decision in respect of matters involving the very existence of England and her daughter countries, shows that the Dominions have really as much of freedom as England herself to arrive, even in a time of crisis, at a decision in conformity with their national interests. Need we have any fear in these circumstances that India which will owe no allegiance to the British King in future will be in a worse position, will have even less freedom to order her internal affairs or to follow her own foreign policy than the Dominions, if she remained associated with the Commonwealth of Nations? I do not think, Sir, that it can be maintained even in theory that India has, because of this agreement, lost an iota of her freedom to decide the most crucial matters in accordance with her best interest.
Now, Sir, let us take the other argument. Will our continued membership of the Commonwealth of Nations in any way, directly or indirectly, make us partners in the crimes of the Anglo-American bloc, should they follow policies contrary to the freedom of small nations and to the maintenance of peace in the world? My Friend, Mr. Kamath, is reported to have said yesterday that he preferred isolation to association with the British Commonwealth of Nations, because this association involved a possible risk of India becoming so entangled in the policies followed by the Anglo-American bloc as to be compelled to fall in line with them even against her own wishes. Does the history of the last thirty years show that isolation is a complete guarantee of our non-entanglement in world affairs? America followed the policy of isolation for a century and a quarter. It was the corner-stone of her foreign policy. It was associated with the great idea of Washington and yet soon after the First World War broke out, America notwithstanding her having remained aloof from European affairs for a century and a quarter, notwithstanding the great distance that separated her from the Western Hemisphere was compelled by events to join the war on the side of the Allies.
Take again the Second World War. There were a good many Americans who wanted the America should maintain a position of perfect neutrality so that whatever happened in Europe, she might not be regarded as a partner of any bloc and yet, world events, her interests, her cultural and political affinities with the Allies compelled her to throw her weight on the side of the Allies. It is obvious, therefore, that people who think that isolation is a guarantee of our non-entanglement in the policy of the Anglo-American bloc are labouring under a delusion. They are following a chimera and if their advice were followed, India, notwithstanding her keeping aloof from the Commonwealth of Nationals would not be able to escape the compulsion of events and in the meanwhile would suffer from all the disadvantages from which those nations do that are unable out of hesitation or pusillanimity to make up their minds and declare their policies courageously.
Again, Sir, Members of the Assembly who think that India till this agreement was arrived at was following a policy of neutrality are completely mistaken. Whatever excuse they might have had for this opinion last year, they have none for it this year. The Prime Minister, in winding up the debate on India's foreign policy during the last Budget discussion, made it clear that his policy was not that of neutrality. He only wanted that India should be free to decide in a crisis what course she should follow. If there are any Members of this House who are so simple as to believe that whatever might happen in the rest of the world, India can shut her eyes to it and that we can live as if we belonged to another planet, they should have questioned the statement of the Prime Minister in March last. Not having questioned it then, indeed, so far as I see, having listened to it with approval, I do not understand how they can maintain now that India should follow a policy of isolation which leads to no advantage, but which is as disadvantageous to us as any policy can be. Sir, if I may just add a word on this subject, I should like to say that the policy followed by the Prime Minister and the Government of India in regard to Indonesia, which has received more moral help from India than from any other member of the United Nations Organisation, has shown that India in regard to Indonesia, which has received more moral help from India than from any other member of the United Nations Organisation, has shown that India is not now a tool in the hands of the British of Commonwealth statesmen. India knows what her interest are and has the courage to pursue a policy even in opposition to that of stronger nations.
Sir, it seems to me that the objections that have been urged against the agreement are based on the belief that, by joining the Commonwealth of Nations, we have conferred a favour of England or the Dominions. I think there can be no greater mistake than imagining that because our status is equal to that of any other nation, our stature, our political position in the world is also equal to that of the bigger and more advanced nations. It is obviously to the benefit to the Commonwealth that India should continue to be a member of it; but it is no less obvious that India's economic, defence and scientific interests require that she should remain in the Commonwealth at least for some time. No international agreement, in fact, Sir, no agreement between individuals can have any value unless it is of advantage to all the parties concerned. How can it than be urged against this agreement which is helpful to us that it enables England and the Commonwealth to feel that their position is stronger now that it would have been with India outside the Commonwealth? If we want industrial aid, we go to Britain; if we want to know what are the latest scientific developments in the economic or in the military sphere, we as a rule go to England. If we want weapons, if we want to give higher military training to our officers, we again think of England. What is the good in these circumstances of disregarding the reality and imagining that while other countries need our help, we can stand aloof from all of them and maintain our national existence in full vigour?
Sir, some speakers who were not for the outright rejection of the agreement urged yesterday that as Assembly was elected for a particular purpose only, it is not morally entitled to ratify the agreement. They want that the ratification of the agreement should be postponed till a new Assembly elected under the Republican Constitution comes into existence. Frankly speaking, I cannot understand this line of argument. If we feel that the agreement lowers our international position or is opposed to our national interest, let us reject it now. But, if it is to our good in all respects, if we feel that in the present world situation, it will not merely promote our interest but also promote world harmony, establish concord between the East and the West, build a bridge between two civilisations, why should we postpone its ratification till another Assembly is elected? If our ratification now were to deprive the new Assembly of its power to denounce the agreement, such a proposition would have considerable force in it. But, the next Assembly will be as free to arrive at a decision on this matter as the present Assembly is. So far as I can see, India now having entered into a treaty with England, will be free to leave the Commonwealth of Nations even without giving any previous notice. I entirely agree with the Prime Minister that had India left the Commonwealth of Nations and aligned herself with any other nation, her course of action might have led to criticism in international circles. But what India has done now is natural. She is seeking no new alliance; she is only trying to retain old friends because democratic ideals inspire all of them and because, though there may be linguistic differences between us, our outlook in social, cultural and political matters is broadly speaking the same.
Sir, I congratulate the Prime Minister on his decision and unhesitatingly ask the House to ratify this decision because it is in the best interests of India and the Maintenance of peace in the world.
Sir K. M. Munshi (Bombay: General): Mr. President, Sir, I rise to support the resolution which was moved by the Honourable the Prime Minister yesterday. I also join in the felicitations given to him by the last speaker in achieving not only a great personal triumph, but a triumph for India. By his broad statesmanship, India today is a partner with England in the common venture of the Commonwealth, not a tail of the Commonwealth as was said by one speaker yesterday. We are also, in companionship with other nations with democratic ideals, contributing towards world peace. Therefore, Panditji has not only achieved personal distinction, but invested India with high leadership in the affairs of the world and I think he deserves the congratulations not only of this House but of the whole country.
Sir, the opposition to the agreement which is entered into by Panditji in this matter is based on various grounds not only in this House, but outside. But if we analyses all the arguments put forward, in substance it is the expression of a distrust of Great Britain. For several years-for three-fourths of a century-the attitude of India towards Britain was one of hostility. It has left its legacy behind. Now most of the opposition which comes against this particular agreement arises from nothing else but a relic of the past mental attitude in considering every association with Britain to be prejudicial to India. The mental frontiers of public opinion in India were no doubt built in the past for fighting Britain but now, in the light of the new changes, they require to be readjusted. There is no reason to believe that a time can ever arise when Britain can acquire the same position with regard to India which it had before 15th August. Today it is recognised all the world over that we are completely independent of Great Britain and no more from a part of its Empire. It is recognised all the world over that India is the only stabilising factor in Asia and potentially the guardians of world peace in our part of the world. Any fear, therefore, any distrust of Britain, I submit, is entirely misplaced and most of the arguments which are advanced against the proposition moved by the Honourable the Prime Minister are based upon this distrust.
There is one argument which I would like to deal with. It is that this Commonwealth is nothing but the old British Commonwealth of Nations in another from. This argument is entirely based on a fallacy. The British Commonwealth of Nations was entirely different both in the scope and content to the new Commonwealth which is now envisaged by this Declaration. As the House knows very well the old British Commonwealth or rather the British Commonwealth, which exist and which will disappear on the 15th August next when our Constitution will be passe, was defined by the Balfour Declaration in these terms:-
Now part of this is also embodied in the well known Statue of Westminster Nothing of it has been left so far as this declaration is concerned. In the first instance, the Nations which are going to be members of this Commonwealth are to be independent nations. That is the wording of the Declaration here. Secondly they are not united by a common allegiance to the Crown. This is the most important element in the new Commonwealth. The British Commonwealth, as is well-known, depended for its existence on what is called the "Unity of the Crown". I remember to have read in one of the unity of the Crown and the allegiance to the King-I am speaking from memory-are the basis on which the British Commonwealth of Nations is founded and when that goes, the British Commonwealth of nations will be disintegrated. The fact remains that there is no allegiance to the Crown in the new Commonwealth and there is no unity of the Crown as contemplated by the old constitutional laws of the British Empire. Take for instance the word 'British Empire' in the old Balfour Declaration. In composition at that time the free countries-the self-governing Dominions-were mostly British by birth. Today we-the citizens of India-are in a majority in the new Commonwealth. The predominant composition is not British. In the British Empire and the British Commonwealth of Nations, the unity was preserved by the army, predominantly British, which functioned in the same of His majesty. After the 15th August 1947, the Indian army was the army of an independent dominion but after the 15th August next it will no longer be His Majesty's forces. There is not British army left in India which would control the country. Therefore, to the extent it is a complete departure from the old British Commonwealth of Nations.
Secondly, there is no unity of the Crown at all in the new Commonwealth. The theoretical basis on which the British Commonwealth was founded was that there was one King and all the different legislatures, different Governments and different courts throughout the British Commonwealth spoke and acted in the name of the King. Hereafter in this Commonwealth so far as India is concerned, its Government, its legislature and its courts will act in the name of the President of the Republic who will be the representative of the sovereign people of India. Take again the other basic theory which underlay the British Commonwealth. That theory was that the King was the sole depository of power and that no legislation could be enacted unless assent was given by the King or in his name. That will go so far as India is concerned. The fundamental unity of the Crown on which the old Commonwealth was based will disappear under the new Commonwealth. Therefore to say that the old Commonwealth will continue under a new name is not correct.
Another doctrine on which the British Commonwealth was founded was the allegiance of every citizen to the King. In the Stature of Westminster, it is put in the forefront as the basic doctrine on which the British Commonwealth wealth was founded. In the new Commonwealth there is no allegiance to the King. Allegiance would imply personal relation between every citizen of the Commonwealth wherever he may be and the King. So far as citizens of India are concerned, they will owe no allegiance to the King of England. Their allegiance will be to the Republic of India. No basis of the old British Commonwealth is projected into the new Commonwealth. Therefore I submit the argument that this is the same commonwealth in a different form is really not valid at all.
There is no doubt that, as in the old British Commonwealth, the King is the symbolic Head of the Commonwealth. But the Honourable Prime Minister made it clear that in the old Commonwealth the king has the status and function of the Head of the Commonwealth while in the new one he has the status but not the function. To the extent the King continues as a symbol of the free association but without any function whatever and no citizen of India would owe allegiance to him. This new Commonwealth, as I could gather from the Declaration, is a free association of independent nations; each nation member will be free to enter its own regional and international obligations. It will be only united with others by common ideals and interest. Its main advantage will be, as described by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, in the House of Commonwealth recently as 'close consultation and mutual support' and the King will only be the symbol of this free association.
I submit, therefore that this Commonwealth is an entirely new conception and no one need be under the impression that the old British Commonwealth is only being projected in another form.
Sir, many of the speakers before me have described this Commonwealth more or less like the old pandits who describe Brahman-"Neti," "Neti," "it is not this," "it is not this," "it is not this." I would humbly submit that the Commonwealth has a positive advantage, and that it is a positive factor. In my opinion, Sir, it is an indispensable alliance which is needed not only in the interest of India, but in the interest of world peace. Sir, India wants nothing more today than world peace. We can only consolidate and enlarge our new - found freedom if for a generation or more, the world is at peace. It is of the highest interest, therefore, for us that we should do our utmost, do everything in our power, by which world peace, could be maintained at any rate,. in our region. India cannot, Sir, possibly be helpful in this direction unless she enters into an alliance with others members of the Commonwealth, as it is done in this case. It is very easy to talk about world peace. We have been talking for years about collective security. But collective security is not a mantra to charm serpents with, nor is it a kind of opiate to lull people into inactivity. It really implies preparation, defensive preparations, standardisation of weapons, co-ordinated research and planning and industrial co-operation between nations on a very large scale. As I conceive it, one of the greatest merits of the Commonwealth is that it provides these benefits. Strategically India commands the Indian Ocean. But inversely, it is to my mind, the one source of danger, the one direction from which we may get the best support in days of difficulty and again the one direction from which our danger may come. And of this Indian Ocean we must not forget, Australia on the one side and South Africa on the other, are the pillars, the two extreme out-posts. And any alliance which enables us to maintain defence preparations in the Indian Ocean will be of the greatest advantage to India. From that point of view I consider this new Commonwealth as of the greatest importance to India and its future.
Sir, the Prime Minister has said on more than one occasion that it is high time we forgot our old distrust of England. Great Britain and India have for a hundred and fifty years been associated closely in culture, in though; many of our political and legal institutions and our democratic ideals, we have shared with England in common. And looking a few years ahead into the future also, I submit that an alliance between Great Britain and India in the interest of world peace will be the most effective instrument of collective security. From this point of view this House ought to congratulate itself on achieving this new alliance, the members. From this point of view, I think, this House as well as the country ought to welcome this new Commonwealth, and I have no doubt both the House and the country will fully support it. Sir, that is all I have to say.
Prof. K. T. Shah (Bihar General). Mr. President, Sir, sponsored as this resolution is by the Leader of the House, and supported as it is by the powerful advocacy of Pandit Kunzru, one feels a natural hesitation in opposing its substance. Nevertheless, I will try to place before this House a few arguments, under three main heads, according to which, in my opinion, this House would do well to reject the motion.
Sir, the form of the motion itself is, to me, objectionable. I mean the word "ratify" is open to objection. This word suggest something previously authorised and now requiring in the final form to be ratified. I am afraid I cannot recall any such authorisation for this step-previous discussion and determination by this House according to which a momentous agreement like this could have been entered into, and the House should now be called upon to ratify that decision. I entirely agree with the Honourable the Prime Minister that the matter is for ratification or rejection; and that there is very little room for amendment. A suggestion was made by some friends for deferring or postponing the matter and eliciting public opinion on it. These suggestion may have their own claims. But I feel that the word "ratification" of a proposition, not previously determination upon by this House to register a decree entered into by the Head of the Government.
Now, to that, as a mere matter of principle, I feel most reluctant to agree. The tendency to confront the House with a fait accompli, and thereby to require the House to accept or reject a proposition like this, is in my opinion not likely to lead to that freedom of discussion, that fullness of ventilation of all shades of opinion, which I think are indispensable for the healthy growth of democratic sentiment in this country.
This, however, is not the only ground on which I would like this House to reject this proposition. There are other, and in my opinion, must more weighty reasons, of a constitutional importance, which incline me to say that the proposition is ill-timed, ill-conceived, and unlikely to result in any substantial benefit to this country.
In the first place, Sir, we are told that there is no change, virtually speaking, in the existing association of the independent nations called hitherto the British Commonwealth of nations, and now re-christened into Commonwealth of Nations. If there is no change, where is the necessity now for us to make this agreement? If the situation now is as it was, if we are as we were before the Declaration of the Prime Ministers, if we are in the same position of sovereign independence, and absolutely uninfluenced by any outside authority in our domestic or foreign relations, then I fail to understand what could be the necessity for entering into or committing ourselves to this Agreement. If this Agreement does not take us any further, if it does not involve us into new commitments, then I think it is superfluous. If it does involve us into commitments, then I think it is superfluous. If it does involve us into commitments, then it would be dangerous; and we should think before we enter into an agreement like this. That, I think, is a consideration well worth pondering over, before we give our consent to a proposition like this. If there is no substantial change, then I feel it unnecessary to accept this agreement.
Secondly, we are told that the King will be the symbolic head of this loose association or loose union between the various independent nations, previously called the British Commonwealth, or the British Empire, and now called the Commonwealth of nations. This is also suggestive. I thought when we passed the Objectives Resolution, when we declared our intention to constitute our selves into a Sovereign, Independent Republic, we had said the last on our connection with the British Empire. Now, in this form and at this stage to bring in the headship of the English King, or even the symbolic headship of the English King, seems to me, to say the least, highly anomalous. We are passing through an age in which we are demolishing, dis-establishing, if I may say so, Kings and kingships in our own country, which can claim longer generation and much better record of resistance to the powers of darkness in this very country than the Kingship or Royalty of England can.
I have, Sir, no desire to involve the British Royalty in any kind of party sentiment. But I must point out that in this country there were and have been Kings who claim their descent from Rama, and who could show a record of a thousand years' resistance to the powers of darkness, to aggression and suppression, which was regarded and rightly regarded as some of the most heroic achievement in this country. I have shed no tear on the disappearance of these anachronisms because I do not believe in kingship in this democratic age, I do not regret that those vestiges those descendants of the ancient dynasties of this country have begun or been made to disappear, one after another. I am in fact of the opinion that it is one of the greatest achievements that the present Government has to its credit in bringing about the unification and democratisation of this country. But I cannot help asking:- With this record to our Government's credit, why should we at this stage accept even the symbolic headship of the British King?
We have been told, Sir, that this sentiment is the result of our recent past in which our mentality has been formed and coloured by a constant attitude of hostility, of distrust and suspicion of Britain and the British I plead guilty to that, but offer no apology for holding such apprehensions. This is a mentality which is still in most of us; and when we are asked to forget and forgive and past I cannot but feel that the forgetting is to be all on their side, and the forgiving is to be all on our side. We must forgive all the record of a century of exploitation, of suppression and oppression, of denial of our rights and liberties, of the sacrifice of our interests and sabotage of our ambitions because we have been made into an independent Republic. We must forgive all that, wipe it clean from our memory, and join hands with those who only the other day were our exploiters, who only the other day involved us in wars which were none of our seeking, and which cost us thousands of lives and crores upon crores of money, and who even today in my opinion, are not free from the suspicion that they are having their own mental reservations in inviting, in almost tempting us to accept this agreement It is not merely of the past that I am thinking of when I ask this House to remember the record that Britain has had in this country. Even at the present time, many of the so called Dominions of Britain, independent nations as they now are, not only flaunt a policy of racial discrimination and distinction against us: but they are proclaiming to the world that they would maintain a "White Australia" or a "White" Africa policy. And, what is more, today they refuse even to agree to any ordinary and peaceful method of seeking settlement of such disputes.
We have, in contradistinction to the amorphous British Commonwealth of Nations, the United Nations Organisation. This is after all a Union of those who pledge themselves to the democratic way of living. There is a definite constitution a regular charter. There are institutions: there are legislative and executive organisations. In contrast with that, on the showing of the sponsors of the agreement themselves, in the case of the Commonwealth of Nations (the word "British" is now omitted to manage or humour our sentiments) there is no common constitution, there is no charter, there is no common organisation, there is no machinery for securing justice as between the various members of that organisation or Commonwealth. There is no machinery for registering complaints or making an investigation or adjudication of a dispute.
In preference to the United Nations Organisation, what is there, for us at least in India, in the British Commonwealth of Nations, that we should now, within a year and a half of our independence, become members of that organisation? I repeat I cannot see any necessity, I cannot see any wisdom, I cannot see any advantage in asking this House of this country to accept membership of this Commonwealth: the more so as, on their own showing, there is going to be no change. After all if in the British Commonwealth of Nations we are also an independent sovereign Republic of India, so are we in the United Nations Organisation. By its very framework, by its very narrowness in that it is limited only to the members of the erstwhile British Commonwealth or the British Empire, it is suggestive of a grouping within a larger world group, a grouping within the United Nations which is highly objectionable. The United Nations is a much more world-wide organisation, claiming allegiance of many more nations of the world and actually showing itself more active in redressing wrongs than the British Commonwealth of Nations............
Mr. Tajamul Hussain: On a point of information, may I ask the honourable Member as to what are the disadvantages?
Prof. K.T. Shah: If my honourable Friend will have some patience I will deal with the disadvantages also.
Let me now proceed with my argument and I am trying to examine what advantages you are expecting from such agreement just now to ask me to agree to this proposition. I for one see no advantage so far.
I have so far placed this matter on a purely constitutional ground. Let me now take up the economic side of the matter. The economic side seems to me to be still more formidable against the acceptance of this proposition, because I see no advantage likely to result to us from joining a Commonwealth of this kind. If Britain herself in her present position is dependent for her own national recovery upon outside support, upon American help, it stands to reason that she will not be in a position to assist us on the much more widespread and much more intensive plan of development assistance of any kind, I am afraid Britain is unlikely to give us that assistance which we may need.
The Honourable the Prime Minister declared in his speech that he is not a good bargainer. I am afraid perhaps that is true. But I must also remind the House the Britain is a good bargainer, and that British statesmen are such good bargainers who by their appearance, by their suavity and by their diplomacy may seem to suggest that bargaining is the last thing in their mind; and yet all the time make the most effective bargain which the victim may perhaps discover ten years hence. At the time it may not appear as a bargain ; and so it may not seem well for us to press for a quid pro quo. Britain by its tradition of two hundred years is a nation of shopkeepers, and as such she is best fitted for securing the best bargain. Though other people may forget, the memories that we have of Britain's bargaining ability are only of the other day ; and so I cannot overlook that.
From this agreement, therefore, I personally see no economic advantage or benefit likely to result to this country by a closer association with the Commonwealth. If anything, we likely to lose by our association with that country. Here I would invite the attention of my honourable Friend who interrupted me a few minutes ago to see what the disadvantages are. I do not know whether he realise that in man-power we are more than five times the Britain and dominions combined. I am talking of the white population just now. In resources, and still more in potential resources, we are probably much more important by ourselves then they are. In actual economic situation, notwithstanding our handicaps of the day, which are passing with them. With Britain particularly the national economy is highly unbalanced and with other Dominions also for the time being. In our association with these countries, who are under the necessity of receiving more than they can give us, their whole economy is so organised that they must sell more than they consume of their own material and conversely consume more than they produce of their own requirements. For such people an organisation of this kind can only mean a hope or possibility of securing some advantage for themselves. But for us there can be no hope of advantage by a closer association.
*Translation of Hindustani Speech.