INDIA WITHOUT FABLE by Kate L. Mitchell

INDIA WITHOUT FABLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

I read the Yeats-Brown book, The Pageant of India, first, and was more or less resigned to acceptance of the Indian deadlock. And then I read India Without Fable, and fighting mad over what seems the unfairness of the press presentation of India's side of the problem, and utterly sunk over the apparent inability of the British to learn from Burma and Malay the lesson that defense without the native support is hopeless. Already, I visualize the Japanese hordes swarming over India with her untrained, unarmed masses -- and not because of Gandhi's policy, which the Congress Party was ready to repudiate, but because of Britain's unwillingness to take India into the comity of nations... Kate L. Mitchell is a brilliant member of the staff of the Institute of Pacific Relations and of the magazine, Amerasia. She is considered one of the authorities on India today. Her analysis of modern India is consistently critical of the British blundering. She charges the British with using the differences to their own ends -- ""divide and rule"". She claims that the Congress Party more nearly represents all India than any other group, that the Moslem League definitely does not represent even the Moslems. She makes no bones of the friction within due to opposition to Gandhi's reactionary views. She paints an India benefitted, agriculturally, commercially, by Britain's rule, but held back industrially, politically, educationally, socially. She analyzes Britain's techniques for preserving control through perpetuating division, through vested interests in civil service and army, through inadequate and unenforced constitutional reforms, through protecting the small states, through an army under British officers, through financial and commercial control. Not a pretty picture. She then goes into detailed explanation of the Indian political scene, and the personalities, including besides Gandhi and Nehru, such important figures as Azad, Ambedkar, ""C.R."" and others. Historically, she covers India immediately before the first World War -- and the effects of their cooperation on subsequent reforms, and the steps towards an acceptance of Dominion status. Then the disappointments of promises broken -- and the revolts. Finally, the coming of the Second World War, the immediate need of India as an arsenal, the growth of British controlled heavy industry, development of natural resources -- and the bottlenecks of shortage of machinery and skilled labor. Political tension grew with England's high handed action establishing power to rule by decree -- and India's demands. Then the Cripps' Mission and the reasons for failure; and the Halifax speech, with its discrepancies and misinterpretations, indicating the persistent blind spot of the department in London. The text comes right up to the August meeting -- and ends with a challenge to America to understand and support India's claims to a right to self defense. She feels the chance to repudiate Gandhi's pacifism, and go along as an active ally has been -- perhaps irretrievably lost..... It is an important and a disturbing and an exciting book. It should be read by all who are willing to see both sides. And it may help clarify a befuddled situation. Somewhere between the two viewpoints, lies the truth. In retrospect this seems a destructive piece of criticism, since she makes no effort to prove her contention that India's leaders are prepared -- in more than theory -- to carry on their share of organization for defense.

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1942
Publisher: Knopf