ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Winston Churchill's Plan for Post-war India

Leopold S Amery, Secretary of State for India from May 1940 to June 1945, has compared the then Prime Minister Winston Churchill with Adolf Hitler in his manuscript The Regeneration of India: Memorandum by the Prime Minister. This article dwells on the circumstances of this remark by Amery. It fi nds that Churchill's idea of redesigning Indian society by terminating the babu class and moneylenders and his policy towards Bengal famine and the War Cabinet meetings provoked Amery to make such an explosive comment.

As the victorious end of this glorious struggle for human freedom draws near, the time is coming for a policy in relation to India more worthy of our true selves. We have had enough… of shameful pledges about Indian self-government, and of sickening surrenders to babu agitation. If we went even further two years ago in an open invitation to I ndians to unite and kick us out of India that was only because we were in a hole. That peril is over and obviously a new s ituation has arisen of which we are fully entitled to take advantage.

The above is the opening paragraph of a three-page typewritten manuscript, dated August 1944 and entitled The Regeneration of India: Memorandum by the Prime Minister. It is to be found among the papers of Leopold S Amery, Secretary of State for India from May 1940 to June 1945. The manuscript is appended by the initials WSC, and appears at first glance to have been written by Prime Minister Winston Spencer Churchill at a time when the second world war was coming to a bloody but triumphant end. Two years earlier, in the spring of 1942, the shockingly rapid advance of Japanese forces onto the Indian border had created political pressures that had induced Churchill and Amery into a desperate measure: they had sent socialist politician Sir Stafford Cripps to India with an offer of dominion status after the war, in return for the cooperation of the Indian National Congress with the war effort. According to the 1944 document, how ever, Churchill hoped to rescind the Cripps offer – the “open invitation to Indians to unite and kick us out of India” – and instead to announce a new policy on the colony:

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