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S. Gopal

By B.R. Tomlinson
Macmillan, New Delhi, 1976, 200, 55.00

VOLUME II NUMBER 1 January-February 1977

This is a study of British and Indian policy-makers in the penultimate years of the raj. The British, both in London and Delhi, could not see that the days of Bri­tish rule were numbered and planned on the basis of staying on in India indefini­tely by utilizing the Princes and the Muslim communal elements against the national movement and keeping a firm grip on the core of central authority. When Jawaharlal Nehru met the Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, in London in the sum­mer of 1938, he asserted that the British could not stay in India for more than ten years. The Viceroy wrote off Nehru as lacking in realism; but, in the event, Nehru was not so far out. Dr. Tomlinson gives a clear account of British policy in these years. He tells us little that is new; but it is to his credit that he does not seek to muffle the trends. He recognizes that it was advantageous for the British to stay in India and they did so in their own interest. He pushes aside the platitudes in which the British concealed their self-seeking and discloses how· they exploited various forces in Indian politics to entrench their own position. The substantive section of the book, however, is a study of the Indian Cong­ress in these years. This was the time when the Indian national movement, having gained wide influence, was riven by differences of opinion on policy as well as clashes of personality. Civil dis­obedience was petering out, and there was a growing feeling within the party that there should again be a resort to parliamentary methods. In-fighting at the highest level, brought to a head by an accumulation of personal, regional and ideological causes, also distracted the Congress from its major objectives. Fac­tion and ideology coexisted. By studying the records of the party, particularly in six of the regions, Dr. Tomlinson tells us much about the local dissensions and the way in which these rivalries were reflec­ted at higher levels of decision-making. There is always the danger in this kind of study of overstating the role played by such factional elements. There was, for example, in the 1936 elections, a consi­derable element of idealism; and, especi­ally with limited electorates, many voted for the Congress because it was the party which stood for riddance of the British. Organization and local influence could ...

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