Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Masani's Father

CIP is reading London-based author Zareer Masani's panegyrics on Macaulay, I think.  I mention it only because the author's illustrious father, Minocher Rustom Masani (or Minoo Masani) who was not such a lickspittle, finds mention in Reginald Reynold's "The White Sahibs in India" (1937), as follows, but before you read that, read this brief biographical note.

At its Annual Conference in October, 1935, the Labour Party spent a day and a half condemning Italian imperialism in Abyssinia.  At that very time the British attempt to drive a military road through Mohmand territory on the North-West Frontier had led to a war similar in origin to the Abyssinian War.   In each case there had been "incidents"; and the British, like the Italians, claimed to be "policing" a troublesome and uncivilised neighbour.   Morever, the Mohmands, like the Abyssinians, were accused of harbouring "undesirable" refugees and agitators.

But there were also important differences, for the Mohmands were few and ill-armed compared with the Abyssinians.   They also had the misfortune not to be represented at the League of Nations.  But their worst crime was that they were opposed to being bombed by the British, which was clearly quite a different matter from being murdered by the Italians.

Hence it came about that the Labour Party at their Conference, perhaps a little embarrassed by their own past, found themselves unable to spend five minutes on a resolution condemning their own Government for the crime they so loudly denounced in Mussolini. [130].  The Executive strongly opposed any such resolution, though warned by Mr. M. R. Masani, who was at that time in England (representing the Congress Socialist Party) that
"It will be difficult for the Socialists in India and elsewhere to believe that the British Labour Party detests the Imperialism of its own Government as strongly as it does that of a foreign nation like Italy."
 The fears of the Indian Socialists proved to be justified.  An aggressive war which had been condemned even by the Indian Legislative Assembly was condoned by the silence of British Labour. [131]

Footnote [130] An emergency resolution to this effect was tabled in the name of Westminster and Birmingham.   Thanks to Atlee's opposition on the Labour Party Executive, this resolution was never even put before the Conference.

Footnote [131] The minority in the Assembly which supported the Government on this occasion consisted, as usual, mainly of officials and other Government nominees, the voting being sixty-seven to forty-four.  The debate took place on September 4th, 1935. 

Further on - (remember, this is 1937 and the clouds of WW2 are gathering)

The Congress is pledged to oppose any war in which Britain takes part for the simple reason that every government in Britain while the Empire in India lasts is in all circumstances the enemy of the Indian people. [16] Here again the Congress Socialist Party has taken the lead.   "We at least," writes M. R. Masani, "cannot be told that by fighting for the British Empire, we shall be defending our Motherland!"
The only war in which the Indian people are interested is that for their national liberation, and therefore it is possible for both nationalists and socialists to agree that the correct policy for this country is to resist India's participation in any war and to utilise such an opportunity for furthering the struggle for National independence. [17]  
To the Indian people, victims of 150 years of aggression, there is no validity in the distinction between the "aggressor" Powers and those which today hold by force the spoils which they seized in the past.  Britain to them is a much greater menace than Germany.....

Footnote [16] See the Faizpur resolutions, as reported in the Manchester Guardian, Dec. 28th, 1936.

Footnote [17] Congress Socialist, July 18th, 1936.  See also the editorial of this paper on August 1st, 1936, which completely condemns the misleading division of the powers into "aggressive" and "peace-loving" states.