From: D R Belle
Subject: A Letter by Valaabhai Patel to Jawaharlal Nehru
Date: Sunday, May 6, 2012, 9:06 PM
From: Rear Admiral Vasanth BR
EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK:
“HISTORY OF THE FREEDOM MOVEMENT IN INDIA – VOL 3”
– DR R.C. MAJUMDAR – Firma KLM, Kolkata – (Pages 609-610)
We are now in a position to assert with confidence that the formation of the INA was one of the major grounds for the decision of the British Government to quit India This was admitted by no less a person than Clement Attlee, the head of the British Government which conceived the idea of granting freedom to India and carried out the decision in spite of opposition of die-hard Conservatives like Churchill. This is proved by the (English translation here) following extract of a letter in Bengali by Shri PB Chakravarti, ex Chief Justice of the High Court, Calcutta, on 30 March 1976.
“While I was acting as the Governor of West Bengal (in 1956) Lord Attlee, who gave India Freedom by putting an end to British rule, visited India and stayed in Raj Bhavan, Calcutta for two days. I had then a long talk with him about the REAL GROUNDS for the voluntary withdrawal of the British from India I put it straight to him like this:
“The Quit India Movement of Gandhi practically died out long before 1947 and there was nothing in the Indian situation at that time which made it necessary for the British to leave India in a hurry. Why then did they do so?”
In reply, Attlee cited several reasons, THE MOST IMPORTANT OF WHICH WERE THE ACTIVITIES OF NETAJI SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE WHICH WEAKENED THE VERY FOUNDATION OF THE ATTACHMENT OF THE INDIAN LAND AND NAVAL FORCES TO THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT.
Towards the end, I asked Lord Attlee about the extent to which the British decision to quit India was influenced by Gandhi’s activities.
On hearing the question Attlee’s lips widened in a smile of disdain. He uttered, slowly emphasising on each single letter -’ MI-NI-MAL’.
LETTER BY VALLABHAI PATEL TO JAWAHARLAL NEHRU
“Makers of India’s Foreign Policy: From Raja Rammohun Roy to Yashwant Sinha” – by – JN Dixit – published by India Today (The EMPHASISES are by INDIA TODAY)
7 November 1950
My Dear Jawaharlal,
Ever since my return from Ahmedabad and after the Cabinet meeting the same day which I had to attend at practically 15 minutes notice and for which I regret I was not able to read all the papers, I thought I should share with you what is passing through my mind.
I have carefully gone through the correspondence between the External Affairs Ministry and our Ambassador in Peking and through him the Chinese Government. I have tried to peruse this correspondence favourably(sic) to our Ambassador and the Chinese Government as possible, but I regret to say that neither of them comes out well as a result of this study, The Chinese Government has tried to delude us by professions of peaceful intentions. My own feeling is that at a crucial period they managed to instil into our Ambassador a false sense of confidence in their so called desire to settle the Tibetan problem by peaceful means.
There can be no doubt that during the period covered by this correspondence, the Chinese must have been concentrating for an onslaught on Tibet The final action of the Chinese, in my judgement, is little short of perfidy. The tragedy of it is that the Tibetans put faith in us; they chose to be guided by us; and we have been unable to get them out of the meshes of Chinese diplomacy or Chinese malevolence. From the latest position, it appears that we shall not be able to rescue the Dalai Lama.
Our Ambassador has been at great pains to find an explanation or justification for Chinese policy and actions. As the External Affairs Ministry remarked in one of their telegrams, there was a lack of firmness and unnecessary apology in one or two representations that he made to the Chinese Government on our behalf.
It is impossible to imagine any sensible person believing in the so-called threat to China from Anglo-American diplomacy or strategy. This feeling, if genuinely entertained by the Chinese in spite of your direct approaches to them, indicates that even though we regard ourselves as friends of China, ’THE CHINESE DO NOT REGARD US AS THEIR FRIENDS(EMPHASIS MINE!!). With the Communist mentality of’ whoever is not with them being against them’, this is a significant pointer, of which we have to take due note.
During the last several months, outside the Russian camp, we have been practically alone in championing the cause of Chinese entry into the UNO and in securing from the Americans assurances on the question of Formosa We have done everything we could to assuage Chinese feelings, to allay its apprehensions and to defend its legitimate claims in our discussions and correspondence with America and Britain and in the UNO. In spite of this, China is not convinced about our disinterestedness; it continues to regard us with suspicion and the whole psychology is one, at least outwardly, of skepticism, perhaps mixed with a little hostility.
I doubt if we can go any further than we have done already to convince China of our good intentions, friendliness and goodwill. In Peking we have an Ambassador who is eminently suitable for putting across the friendly point of view. Even he seems to have failed to convert the Chinese. Their last telegram to us is an act of gross discourtesy not only in the summary way it disposes of our protest against the entry of Chinese forces into Tibet but also in the wild insinuation that our attitude is determined by foreign influences. It looks as though it is not a friend speaking in that language but a “POTENTIAL ENEMY”(EMPHASIS MINE).
With this background, we have to consider what new situation we are now faced with as a result of the disappearance of Tibet, as we knew it, and the Chinese expansion almost up to our gates. Throughout history, we have been seldom worried about our North-East frontier. The Himalayas have been regarded as an impregnable barrier against any threat from the North. We had a friendly Tibet, which gave us no trouble. The Chinese were divided. They had their own domestic problems and never bothered us about our frontiers.
In 1914, we entered into a convention with Tibet, which was not endorsed by the Chinese. We seem to have regarded Tibetan autonomy as extending to (an) independent treaty relationship. Presumably, all that we required was the Chinese counter-signature. The Chinese interpretation of suzerainty seems to be different. We can, therefore, safely assume that very soon they will disown all the stipulations which Tibet has entered into in the past. That throws all frontier and commercial settlements with Tibet, in accordance with which we had been functioning and acting during the last half a century, into the melting pot.
China is no longer divided. It is united and strong. All along the Himalayas in the North and North-East, we have on our side of the frontier a population not ethnologically or culturally different from Tibetans or Mongoloids. The undefined state of the frontier and existence on our side of a population with affinities to Tibetans or Chinese has all the elements of potential trouble between China and us. Recent and bitter history also tells us that communism is no shield against imperialism, and that COMMUNISTS ARE AS GOOD OR AS BAD IMPERIALISTS AS ANY OTHER (EMPHASIS MINE!!).
Chinese ambitions in this respect not only cover the Himalayan slopes on our side but also include important parts of Assam They have their ambitions in Burma also. Burma has the added difficulty that it has no McMahan Line around which to build up even the semblance of an agreement. Chinese communist imperialism are different from the expansionism or imperialism of the Western Powers. The former has an ideological cloak, WHICH MAKES IT TEN TIMES WORSE (EMPHASIS MINE!!).
Racial, national or historical claims lie concealed in the guise of ideological expansion. The danger from the North and North-East, therefore, becomes both communist and imperialist. While our Western and North-Western threat to security is still as prominent as before, A NEW THREAT HAS DEVELOPED FROM THE NORTH AND NORTH-EAST (EMPHASIS MINE!!).
Thus for the first time after centuries, India’s defence has to concentrate on two fronts simultaneously. Our defence measures have so far been based on calculations of superiority over Pakistan We shall now have to reckon with communist China in the North and North-East, A COMMUNIST CHINA WHICH HAS DEFINITE AMBITIONS AND AIMS AND WHICH DOES NOT IN ANY WAY SEEM FRIENDLY TOWARDS US(EMPHASIS MINE!!)
Let us also consider the political conditions on this potentially troublesome frontier. Our Northern or North Eastern approaches consist of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling and tribal areas in Assam They are weak from the point of view of communications. Continuous defensive lines do not exist. There is an almost unlimited scope for infiltration. Police protection is limited to a very small number of passes. There, too, our outposts do not seem to be fully manned. Our contact with these areas is by no means close and intimate.
The people inhabiting these portions have no established loyalty or devotion to India Even the Darjeeling and Kalimpong areas are not free from pro Mongoloid prejudices. During the last three years, we have not been able to make any appreciable approaches to the Nagas and other hill tribes in Assam European missionaries and other visitors have been in touch with them, but their influence was in no way friendly where Indians were considered. There was political ferment in Sikkim some time ago. It is quite possible that discontent is smouldering there.
Bhutan is comparatively quiet, but its affinity with Tibetans would be a handicap. Nepal has a weak oligarchic regime based almost entirely on force; it is in conflict with a turbulent element of the population, as well as with enlightened ideas of modern age. In these circumstances, to make people aware of the new danger, or to increase the defensive strength is a very difficult task indeed; and that difficulty can be got over only by enlightened firmness, strength and a clear line of policy.
I am sure the Chinese and their source of inspiration, Soviet Russia, would not miss any opportunity of exploiting these weak spots, partly in support of their ideology and partly their ambition. In my judgement, therefore, the situation is one in which we cannot afford to be either complacent or vacillating. We must have a clear idea of what we wish to achieve and the methods by which we should achieve it. Any lack of decisiveness in formulating our objectives or pursuing our policy to attain them is bound to weaken us and increase the threats.
Along with these external dangers, we shall now have to face serious internal problems as well. Hitherto, the Communist Party of India has found some difficulty in contacting communists abroad, or in getting supplies of arms, literature etc. from them. They had to contend with the difficult Burmese and Pakistan frontiers in the East or with the long seaboard. They shall now have a comparatively easy means of access to Chinese communists, and through them to other foreign communists. Infiltration of spies, fifth columnists and communists would now be easier.
The whole situation thus raises a number of problems on which we must come to an early decision so that we can, as I said earlier, formulate the objectives and methods of our policy.
It is also clear that the action will have to be fairly comprehensive, involving not only our defence strategy and state of preparations, but also problems of internal security. We shall also have to deal with administrative and political problems in the weak spots along the frontier to which I have already referred.
It is, of course, impossible for me to exhaustively set out all the problems. I have, however, given below some of the problems which, in my opinion, require early solutions, around which we have to build our administrative or military policy measures.
It is possible that a consideration of these matters may lead us into wider questions of our relationship with China, Russia, America, Britain and Burma. This, however, would be of a general nature, though some may be important. For instance, we might have to consider whether we should not enter into closed association with Burma in order to strengthen the latter in its dealings with China
I do not rule out the possibility that, before applying pressure on us, China may do the same to Burma. With Burma, the frontier is entirely undefined and the Chinese territorial claims are more substantial. In its present position, Burma might offer an easier problem for China and, therefore, might claim its first attention. I suggest that we meet early to have a general discussion on these problems and decide on such steps as we might think to be immediately necessary and direct quick examination of other problems with a view to taking early measures to deal with them.