Presidential address by Muhammad Ali Jinnah to the Muslim
Lucknow, December 1916
Ladies and gentlemen:
[] No mere conventional words are needed on my part to express my deep thanks for the great privilege you have conferred on me by selecting me as President of the Ninth Annual Session of the All-India Muslim League. The honour is the highest in the gift of the Muslim community, to which those alone may aspire who have given freely of their thought and time to the service of the communal cause. I am fully sensible of how little I have done to deserve such distinction, nor could I have the presumption to desire it with such a clear sense of my own unworthiness. This choice, however, has come to me in the nature of a mandate from my community, and in such cases individual considerations cannot and must not stand in the way of the larger will. I accept the great and heavy responsibilities of the position only in the belief that I can unreservedly count on your sympathy, zeal, and ready co-operation in the great task that lies before us.
[] As President of the Bombay Presidency Provincial Conference, which was held at Ahmedabad only a few weeks ago, I have had to make a pronouncement; but at the time I accepted the honour of presiding over the Conference, I did not know that I should have this unique honour and responsibility of expressing my views as your President again within so short a time. Much of the ground was covered by me in that speech of mine. I do not now wish to repeat what I said then, nor do I wish to deal with many great and burning questions and problems that affect India in its internal administration. They will, no doubt, be placed before you in the form of resolutions which will be submitted by the speakers in charge of them for your deliberation and consideration. At the present moment the attention of the country at large is entirely concentrated and solely rivetted on the war and what will happen after the war. I have, therefore, decided mainly to deal with the situation in my Presidential Address on those lines, and I will endeavour to place before you my humble views for your consideration, at the same time hoping and trusting that my feeble voice may reach those who hold the destinies of India in their hands.
[] In this great annual meeting of representative Musalmans from all parts of India, who have come to deliberate and take counsel together on the large and important issues that govern our destiny in this land, it will not be out of place to take a wide survey of the conditions in which our lot is cast. This is primarily the time for annual stock-taking, for testing our position in the light of the experience of the past year, for an intelligent preparation of ways and means for meeting the demands of the future, and above all, for refreshing, so to speak, the ideals that feed the springs of our faith, hopes, and endeavour. This I take to be the fundamental object for which the annual sessions of political bodies like the All-India Muslim League are held. The circumstances, however, in which we meet today are exceptional, and mark a new epoch in the history of our country. All that is great and inspiring to the common affairs of men, for which the noblest and most valiant of mankind have lived and wrought and suffered in all ages and all climes, is now moving India out of [=to] its depths. The whole country is awakening to the call of its destiny and is scanning the new horizons with eager hope. A new spirit of earnestness, confidence, and resolution is abroad in the land. In all directions are visible the stirrings of a new life. The Musalmans of India would be false to themselves and the traditions of their past, had they not shared to the full the new hope that is moving India's patriotic sons today, or had they failed to respond to the call of their country. Their gaze, like that of their Hindu fellow-countrymen, is fixed on the future.
[] But, gentlemen of the All-India Muslim League, remember that the gaze of your community and of the whole country is at this moment fixed on you. The decisions that you may take in this historic hall, and at this historic session of the League, will go forth with all the force and weight that can legitimately be claimed by the chosen leaders and representatives of seventy million Indian Musalmans. On the nature of those decisions will depend, in a large measure, the fate of India's future, of India's unity, and of our common ideals and aspirations for constitutional freedom. The moment for decision has arrived. The alternatives are clear and unmistakable. The choice lies in our hands.
[] The future historian, while chronicling the cataclysms and convulsions of these times, will not fail to note the conjunction of events of boundless influence and scope that have made the fortunes of India so largely dependent on the united will and effort of this generation. These events have, of course, flowed from the worldshaking crisis into which Europe was plunged in August 1914. What this dark period has meant in accumulated agony, suffering, destruction and loss to mankind, is beyond any standard of computation known to history. With the unfolding of this appalling tragedy have emerged into light, stark elemental forces of savagery that lay behind a bright and glittering mask of "Kultur," which threaten to sweep away the very foundations of civilized life and society. The issues which are in death grips on the battlefield of three continents, go to the roots of the principles on which the fabric of modern civilization has been reared by the energy and toil of countless generations. Freedom, justice, right, and public law are pitted against despotism, aggression, anarchy, and brute force, and the result of this deadly combat will decide the future of mankind, whether the end will come with a stricken and shattered world, lying bleeding and helpless under the iron heel of the tyrant, with the whole of humanity stripped bare of its hope and faith and reduced to bondage, or whether the hideous nightmare will pass away and the world, redeemed by the blood of the heroic defenders of civilization and freedom, regains its heritage of peace and reconstruction.
[] These are tremendous issues; and the blood of every Indian, with his usual gift of quick moral perception, is stirred by the feeling that he is a citizen of an empire which has staked its all in a supreme endeavour to vindicate the cause of freedom and of right. What India has given in this fellowship of service and sacrifice has been a free and spontaneous tribute to the ideals of the great British nation, as well as a necessary contribution to the strength of the fighting forces of civilization, which are so valiantly rolling back the tides of scientifically organized barbarism. In this willing service of the people of India, there has been no distinction of class or creed. It has come from every part of the land and from every community with equal readiness and devotion. In this service there has been no cold, calculating instinct at work. It has sprung from a clear ,compelling sense of duty and moral sympathy, and not from any commercial desire to make a safe political investment. India's loyalty to the Empire has set no price on itself.
[] After such colossal upheavals as this War, the world cannot quietly slip back into its old grooves of life and thought. Much of what the existing generations have known in social and political arrangements is visibly passing away under a deluge of blood and fire. The thick crust of materialism and pampered ease, the inertia of habit, the cramping weight of convention and of institutions that have outlived their use, have fallen off from the lives of the great Western Democracies under the stress of this great struggle for their existence. They have been thrown back on themselves. In the hot furnace of elemental passions, the trifles are being burnt to ashes, the gold is being made pure of dross; and when the terrible ordeal has passed, the liberated soul will feel almost primeval ease and power to plan, to build and to create afresh ampler and freer conditions of life for the future. The range of choice would be unlimited, and the need for bold constructive efforts in various directions vital and urgent. Europe after the war will call for statesmanship of a new order to undertake the gigantic tasks of peace. The greatest victory for freedom will have to be conserved. Free nations will have to learn to live freely and intensely. Freedom itself wiIl have to be organized, its bounds made vaster and its powers of self-preservation strengthened and increased.
The Indian problem
[] These tasks have a peculiar urgency and significance in the case of the vast and various communities comprising the British Empire. And among the complex series of problems relating to the Imperial reconstruction awaiting British statesmanship, none is of more anxious moment [=importance] than the problem of reconstruction in India. I need not set about to discuss in detail the Indian problem in all its bearings. It has been discussed threadbare by all manner of men from every conceivable angle of vision. However, there are two cardinal facts about the Indian situation which practical statesmanship will have to take into account while addressing itself to the study of the problem and its adequate solution. There is, first, the great fact of British rule in India with its Western character and standards of administration; which while retaining absolute power of initiative, direction, and decision, has maintained, for many decades, unbroken peace and order in the land, administered evenhanded justice, brought the Indian mind, through a widespread system of Western education, into contact with the thought and ideals of the West, and thus led to the birth of a great and living movement for the intellectual and moral regeneration of the people. Here I may quote from the speech of H[is] E[xcellency] Lord Chelmsford, delivered in Calcutta the other day: "The growing self-respect and self-consciousness of her (India's) people are plants that we ourselves have watered."
[] Secondly, there is the fact of the existence of a powerful, unifying process — the most vital and interesting result of Western education in the country — which is creating out of the diverse mass of race and creed a new India, fast growing into unity of thought, purpose, and outlook, responsive to new appeals of territorial patriotism and nationality, stirring with new energy and aspiration, and becoming daily more purposeful and eager to recover its birthright to direct its own affairs and govern itself. To put it briefly, we have a powerful and efficient bureaucracy of British officers responsible only to the Bitish Parliament, governing, with methods known as benevolent despotism, a people that have grown fully conscious of their destiny and are peacefully struggling for political freedom. This is the Indian problem in a nutshell. The task of Biritish statesmanship is to find a prompt, peaceful, and enduring solution of this problem.
[] If it were possible to isolate the tangled group of social and political phenomena and subject it to a thorough investigation by reason unalloyed by sentiment, it would be infinitely easier to find a safe and sure path for Indian political development and advance. But as you know, pure, unalloyed reason is not the chief motive power in human things. In the affairs of our common secular existence, we have to deal not with angels, but with men, with passions, prejudices, personal idiosyncrasies, innumerable crosscurrents of motive, of desire, hope, fear, and hate. The Indian problem has all such formidable complications in its texture. We have, for instance, the large and trained body of English officials who carry on the administration of the country and exercise power over the well-being and happiness of the teeming millions of this land. They are most of them hard-working, efficient, and conscientious public servants, and yet they are beset by the prejudices and limitations that mark them as a class apart. They are naturally conservative, have a rooted horror of bold administrative changes or constitutional experiments, are reluctant to part with power or associate Indians freely in the government of the country. Their main concern appears to be to work the machine smoothly, content to go through their common round from day to day; and they feel bored and worried and upset by the loud, confident, and unsettling accents of New India. All this is eminently human; but it also means an enormous aggravation of the difficulties in the path of final settlement. It means in actual experience, the growth of a tremendous class-interest, the interest of the governing class as distinct from, if not wholly opposed to, the interest of the governed. It is, in fact, the existence of this vast, powerful, and by no means silent "interest" that explains the origin and wide currency of certain shallow, bastard, and desperate political maxims, which are flung into the face of Indian patriots at the least provocation. They are familiar enough to all students of Indian affairs. As a sample, we may take the following:
1. Democratic institutions cannot thrive in the environment of the East. (Why? Were democratic institutions unknown to the Hindu and Mohammedans in the past? What was the village panchayet? What are the history, the traditions, the literature, and the precepts of Islam? There are no people in the world who are more democratic, even in their religion, than the Musalmans.)
2. The only form of government suitable to India is autocracy, tempered by English (European) efficiency and character. (All nations have had to go through the experience of despotic or autocratic government at one time or the other in the history of the world. Russia was liberated to a certain extent only a few years ago. France and England had to struggle before they conquered the autocracy. Is India to remain under the heel of a novel form of autocracy in the shape of bureaucracy for all time to come, when Japan and even China have set up constitutional governments on the democratic lines of Great Britain and America?)
3. (a) The interests of the educated classes are opposed to those of the Indian masses; and (b) The former would oppress the latter if the strong protecting hand of the British official were withdrawn. (This astonishing proposition beats all reason and sense. It is suggested that we who are the very kith and kin of the masses, most of us springing from the middle classes, are likely to oppress the people if more power is conferred; that the masses require protection at the hands of the English Officials, between whom and the people there is nothing in common; that our mterests are opposed to those of the masses — in what respect, it is never pointed out — and that, therefore, the monopoly of the administrative control should continue in the hands of non-Indian officials. This insidious suggestion, which is so flippantly made, is intended to secure the longest possible lease for the bureaucracy and [for them] to enjoy their monopoly. But it can neither stand the light of facts, nor the analysis of truth. One has only to look at the past records of the Congress for more than a quarter of a century, and of the All-India Muslim League, to dismiss this specious plea. The educated people of this country have shown greater anxiety and solicitude for the welfare and advancement of the masses than for any other question during the last quarter of a century.)
4. Indians are unfit to govern themselves. (With this last question, I propose to deal later in my speech.)
These are a few of the baseless and silly generalities in which the advocates of the existing methods of Indian governance indulge freely and provocatively ,when the least menace arises to the monopoly of the bureaucratic authority and power.
[] Again, if we turn to the internal situation in India, we meet with a set of social, ethnological, and cultural conditions unparalleled in recorded history. We have a vast continent inhabited by 315 million people sprung from various racial stocks, inheriting various cultures, and professing a variety of religious creeds. This stupendous human group, thrown together under one physical and political environment, is still in various stages of intellectual and moral growth. All this means a great diversity of outlook, purpose, and endeavour. Every Indian Nationalist who has given close and anxious thought to the problem of nationbuilding in India, fully realizes the magnitude of his task. He is not afraid of admitting frankly that difficulties exist in his path. Such difficulties have no terrors for him. They are already vanishing before the forces which are developing in the New Spirit.
India for the Indians
[] Well, these are the broad aspects of the Indian problem, and they will give you a fair idea of the obstacles that stand in the way of a full and speedy realization of the ideals of Indian patriots. We have a powerfully organized body of conservative "interest," on the one hand, and a lack of complete organization of the national will and intelligence, on the other. There is, however, one fundamental fact that stands out clear and unmistakable, which no sophistry of argument and no pseudoscientific theories about colour and race can disguise. Amid the clash of warring interests and the noise of foolish catchwords, no coolheaded student of Indian affairs can lose sight of the great obvious truism than India is in the first and the last resort for the Indians. .Be the time near or distant, the Indian people are bound to attain to their full stature as a self-governing nation. No force in the world can rob them of their destiny and thwart the purposes of Providence. British statesmanship has not become bankrupt or utterly bereft of its faculty of clear political perception; and its is, therefore, bound to recognize that the working of the law of national development in India, which came to birth with the British rule itself, and is daily gathering momentum under the pressure of the world-forces of freedom and progress, must sooner or later produce a change in the principles and methods of Indian governance. It is inevitable.
[] Then why fight against it, why ignore it, why should there not rather be honest, straight-forward efforts to clear the way of doubts, suspicions, and senseless antagonisms to that glorious consummation? Leaving aside the hare-brained twaddle of the tribe of scientific peddlers who love to sit in judgement on the East and ape political philosophy, no man with the least pretensions to common sense can affect to maintain that the Indian humanity is stamped with a ruthless psychology and cramped for ever within the prison of its skull. If the Indians are not the pariahs of nature, if they are not out of the pale or operation of the laws that govern mankind elsewhere, if their minds can grow in knowledge and power and can think and plan and organize together for common needs of the present and for common hopes of the future, then the only future for them is self-government, i.e., the attainment of the power to apply, through properly organized channels, the common national will and intelligence to the needs and tasks of their national existence. The cant of unfitness must die. The laws of nature and the doctrines of common humanity are not different in the East.
[] It is a great relief to think that some of the responsible British statesmen have definitely pronounced in recent years that India's ambition to attain selfgovernment is neither a catastrophe nor a sin. Indeed, that great and sympathetic Viceroy, Lord Hardinge, whose memory will always be cherished with affection by the people of t.qis country, for the first time recognized the legitimacy of that vital Indian aspiration. Other indications have not been wanting of late, which go to show that our national dream and purpose is gaining the stamp of even official approval. There is, however, a world of difference between a theoretical approval of an ideal, and its practical application. The supreme duty of the men that lead the forces of Indian progress is to insist that India's rulers should definitely set the ideal before them as the ultimate goal to be attained within [a] reasonable time, and should accelerate the pace accordingly. All our difficulties now arise from the steady reluctance on the part of Indian officialdom to keep this end definitely in view and move faster. Mere sympathy divorced from resolute and active progressive policy can hardly ameliorate the situation. Honeyed words alone cannot suffice. We may congratulate each other about a changed "angle of vision," and yet remain where we are till doomsday. The time for definite decision and a bold move forward has arrived. The. vital question today is: is India fit to be free, and to what extent? There can be no shelving of the issue at this juncture. It has to be settled one way or the other. If she is not fit today, she has got to be made fit for self-government. This, I maintain, is no less a duty and responsibility of the Government than of the people themselves.
Test of fitness
[] Is India fit for freedom? We who are present here today know full well that from the Indian standpoint there can be but one answer. Our critics would probably challenge our conviction. Our only reply to them would be to go forward and put the matter to the proof. After all, what is the test of fitness? If we turn to history, we find that in the past, only such [=those] people have been declared to have been fit for freedom, who fought for it and attained it. We are living in different times. Peace has its victories. We are fighting, and can only fight, constitutional battles. This peaceful struggle is not, and will not, be wanting in the quality of vigour and sacrifice, and we are determined to convince the British Empire that we are fit for the place of a partner within the Empire, and nothing less will satisfy India.
Movement for unity
[] But apart from the numerous other considerations that have repeatedly been urged in support of the claims of India to responsible and representative form of Government, the one that has grown to be of infinitely larger weight and urgency is the living and vigorous spirit of patriotism and national self-consciousness which is chafing under irksome restraints and is seeking wider and legitimate outlets for service and self-expression. The strength and volume of this spirit, this pent-up altruistic feeling and energy of youth, can be easily realised by those who have their finger on the pulse of the country. The most significant and hopeful aspect of this spirit is that it has taken its rise from a newborn movement in the direction of national unity which has brought Hindus and Musalmans together involving and [sic] brotherly service for the common cause. Bombay had the good fortune to see the Indian National Congress and the All-India Moslem League meet for the first time in the same city last December. These simultaneous Sessions were brought about with no little labour, anxiety and trouble. I do not wish to go into past controversy, but I venture to say that the Session of the All-India Moslem League at Bombay will go down to posterity as peculiarly interesting in its results.
[] The so-called opponents. of ours, although for the time being they caused the utmost anxiety and individual risks — which, after all, do not count in a national movement — have, I cannot help saying, rendered the greatest service to our cause. Their unjust. attitude served only to stiffen the back of the community. The League rose Phoenixlike, stronger, more solidified and determined in its ideals and aspirations, with added strength of resolution in carrying out its programme. And today your historic City of Lucknow, the centre of Musalman culture and intellect, where three years ago the All-India Moslem League laid down our cherished ideal of self-Government under the aegis of the British Crown, is witnessing the simultaneous Sessions of the Indian National Congress and the All-India Moslem League. once more. Indeed, the person who fails to read in the Hindu-Moslem rapproachment within the last few years the first great sign of the birth of united India has little knowledge of the political conditions of a few years ago and has no business to talk of India's future.
Ideals of the League
[] I need hardly say that the Hindu-Moslem question had hitherto lain as a colossal riddle athwart the numerous unifying forces that make for the evolution of a common Indian Nationality. The new temper that we witness today is the measure of the change that has happily come over Hindu-Moslem relations. What this change really signifies can only be judged by a reference to the state of things that obtained only a few years age, when mutual distrust and suspicion were rampant and communal bigots on either side ruled the roost. Every one of us can easily recall the .frame of Moslem mind and feeling in which the All-India Moslem League was founded at Dacca. To put it frankly, the All-India Moslem League came into existence as an organisation with the main object of safeguarding Moslem interests. Musalmans, as a community, had till then abstained from all manner of political agitation, and they were naturally moved by the loud and insistent demand for constitutional and administrative reforms which Hindu politicians were pressing on the Indian Government. They felt — and rightly — the need of organising themselves for political action, lest the impending changes initiated by a liberal Secretary of State should swamp them altogether as a community. This was perhaps the only course open to a community proud of the traditions of its past, yet weak in numbers and lacking the strength that organised political activity alone can give. The main principle on which the first All.lndia Moslem political organisation was based, was the retention of Moslem communal individuality, strong and unimpaired, in any constitutional readjustment that might be made in India in the course of its political evolution.
[] The creed has grown and broadened with the growth of political life and thought in the community. In its general outlook and ideal as regards the future, the All-India Moslem League stands abreast of the Indian National Congress and is ready to participate in any patriotic efforts for the advancement of the country as a whole. In fact, this readiness of the educated Moslems, only about a decade after they first entered the field of politics, to work shoulder to shoulder with the .other Indian communities for the common good of all, is to my mind the strongest proof of the value and need of the separate Moslem political organisation at present. I have been a staunch Congressman throughout my public life and have been no lover of sectarian cries, but it appears to me that the reproach o "separatism" sometimes levelled at Musalmans is singularly inept and wide of the mark, when I see this great communal organisation rapidly growing into a powerful factor for the birth of United India. A minority must, above everything else, have a complete sense of security before its broader political sense can be evoked for co-operation and united endeavour in the national tasks. To the Musalmans of India that security can only come through adequate and effective safeguards as regards their political existence as a community. Whatever my individual opinion may be, I am here to interpret and express the sense of the overwhelming body of Moslem opinion, of which the All-India Moslem League is the political organ.
[] It is a matter of infinite gratification to me as well as to all patriotic Musalmans that the Moslem communal position in this matter has been recognised and met in an ungrudging spirit by the leaders of the great Hindu community. This was so amply demonstrated by the happy and unanimous decision that was arrived at by the Committees of the Indian National Congress and the All-India Moslem League that met at Calcutta only last November. Our joint Conferences in Lucknow were marked by honest.efforts on. either side to find a lasting solution of our differences, and I rejoice to think that a final settlement has at last been reached which sets the seal on Hindu-Moslem co-operation and opens a new era in the history of our country. A few irreconcilable spirits in .either camp may still exist here and there, but the atmosphere has on the whole been rid of the menace of sectarian thunder, and the prospects of the future are bright with a promise that gladdens the hearts of India's devoted sons. Just as I have no sympathy with a member of my community who even with an assured communal existence would not extend the hand of fellowship to his Hindu brother, so I cannot appreciate the attitude of the Hindu patriot who would insist on his pound of flesh, though in this struggle the entire future of the country, for the sake of a small gain to one side or the other, may be marred forever. As an instance, I would like to point out the recent unfortunate controversy that was raised in these Provinces over the passing of the Municipal Act. But surely, we are not wanting in political wisdom and sagacity. Let us remember, whether Hindus or Musalmans, that New India wants a wholly different type of public worker, of more generous spirit and ampler mould, free from the egoism of sect and the narrowness of bigotry, one who can resist the temptation to crush the weak and yet would not quail before the aggression of the strong, who can rise above the petty preoccupations of the day to the higher plane of devotion and service which alone can give to a people, faith, hope, freedom, and power.
Scheme of reforms
[] With the satisfactory solution of the most formidable problem that stood in the path of Indian progress towards political cooperation and unity, our constitutional battle may be said to have been half won already. The united Indian demand, based on the actual needs of the country and framed with due regard to time and circumstances, must eventually prove irresistible. It must also be recognised that those responsible for the Government of India have already shown a disposition to treat the existing grievances of the people in a broader spirit of understanding and sympathy. With the restoration of peace, the Indian problem will have to be dealt with on bold and generous lines, and India will have to be granted her birth-right as a free, responsible, and equal member of the British Empire. How this change is to be effected, and what are to be the lines of development and methods of solution, are matters that have been fully occupying the thought of Indian publicists [=public-spirited intellectuals] for the past two years; and authoritative schemes of re-adjustment have already been formulated and placed before the Government by the nineteen elected representatives of the Imperial Council. You are aware that a committee of the All-India Moslem League was formed last year, and was authorised to draw up a scheme of reform in consultation with the Committee of the Indian National Congress. That scheme is ready, and will, at this Sessions, be submitted to you far your consideration and judgment. .
A new bill
[] After you have adopted the scheme of reforms, you should see that the Congress and the League take concerted measures to have a Bill drafted by constitutional lawyers as an amending Bill to the Government of India Act, which embodies the present constitution of our country. This Bill ,when ready, should be adopted by the Indian National Congress and the All-India Moslem League, and a deputation of leading and representative men from both the bodies should be appointed to see that the Bill is introduced into the British Parliament and adopted. For that purpose we should raise as targe a fund as possible to supply the sinews of war until our aim and object are fulfilled.
Position of India in the Empire
[] The first and the foremost question that requires to be put at rest, is that the position of India in the Empire should be defined in the most unequivocal terms. It should be made clear by the Government in an authoritative manner that self-Government is not a mere distant goal that may be attained at some future indefinite time, but that self-Government for India is the definite aim and object of the Government, to be given to the people within a reasonable time. That should be the aim and object of the reconstruction and reformation of the present constitution of the Government of India, and immediate steps should be taken after the War to introduce the reforms towards that end in view, both by the Government and the people.
[] Reading the signs of the times, it appears that the claims of the Overseas Dominions, such as Canada, Australia, and even South Africa, viz., to allow them a voice in the declaration of war and the making of peace and the Imperial foreign policy, if they are to bear the responsibilities of the Empire, cannot well be resisted, and it might follow that an Imperial Parliament may be constructed and established, England, Scotland, and Ireland having their separate parliaments for the purpose of managing their internal and domestic affairs, such as the Dominions already have. Sir Joseph Ward, addressing the meeting of the Insurance Institute at Gresham College only last month, said that "in the future reconstruction of the Empire there could not be any interference with local authority and though an Imperial Parliament was a long way off, they might now work for some effective Imperial Council and that before an organic Parliament was possible, there must be devolution in Britain to pave the way for a federal legislature overseas. The Dominions had no right even to a minority voice as to whether the nation should go to war or what the peace terms should be." He quoted Mr. Asquith's speech at the 1911 Imperial Conference, in which the Prime Minister stated that "an Imperial Parliament scheme would impair the authority of the British Parliament." "Since then," Sir Joseph said, "there had been a great evolution of opinion on the subject. Mr. Bonar Law had declared as a result of the war the time was coming when the overseas Dominions would share in the Government of the Empire with Britain. He hoped that before the War ended some modus vivendi would be established."
[] In the political reconstruction India, the largest part of the Empire, cannot possibly be allowed to continue a dependency, as an adjunct to England, Scotland, or Ireland, or to be ruled and governed by the Dominions. Hitherto the responsibility, the control, and the supervision of India has been vested in Great Britain. The question naturally arises, what will be the position of India if an Imperial Parliament with full representation of the Dominions is constituted? Is India to have new and additional masters? Is India to be ruled jointly by England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Dominions? Are we to be handed over to this Imperial Parliament and to be thus ruled, and to be governed by the Colonies? Are we not to have a status or locus standi in this Imperial Parliament? I feel sure that I am expressing the opinion of the entire educated people of this country that India will never allow herself to be relegated to such [an] intolerable position. Indeed, she does not want a change of masters, nor additional masters. If an Imperial Parliament, such as indicated above, is established, India's right should be recognised, and her voice in that Imperial Parliament must be fully and properly secured, and represented by her own sons in the Councils of the Empire.
[] Next, it is well-known that the reforms that are sought by the people of India to be introduced in the constitutional Government of India, were fully adumbrated recently by the nineteen elected members of the Imperial legislative Council; and I do not wish to repeat them here, as I believe you are all familiar with them already. I was one of the signatories, and I would urge upon you to follow them substantially, so far as fundamental principles are involved in those proposals. Those demands were formulated by responsible men who owe duty to the Government and the people alike as "chosen representatives," not in a spirit of bargaining. Those demands are the minimum in the strictest sense of the word. It is said that these are extravagant demands. It is said it is a big thing. It is said that we are not yet ready for them. It is said that if these reforms are introduced, there will be chaos, and particularly the Anglo-Indian Press is not only most unreasonable and disappointing, but alarmed. These are mere destructive methods. Similar fears were raised and arguments advanced when the Minto-Morley Reforms were on the legislative anvil. But what is the verdict now, official and non-official, after nearly seven years of actual trial? Need I give the answer?
[] We have not been favoured either by our critics or by the Government as to what is the alternative scheme. We are not taken into the confidence of the secret chambers of the Government where the Government of India, it is said, have been deliberating upon and preparing a despatch containing their proposals of reform to be submitted to the Secretary of State for India. In England, the representatives of the Colonies and the Press and the people and the Ministers are freely discussing the reconstruction of the constitution of the Empire after the War; nay, even before the War is over it is suggested to set up an Imperial Council, whereas in India we are denied the apportunity of knowing even what the Government are contemplating. It will be a great misfortune if any decisions are arrived at with regard to the future of India by the Government and the Secretary of State for India without the proposals being published and placed before the country at large for public criticism and opinion. I must earnestly urge upon the Government that before any final decision is arrived at, the proposed reforms should be published and the people should be given an opportunity to urge their views, and that they should be taken into their confidence. I feel that if the people are bitterly disappointed at this juncture, it will mean the greatest disaster to the future progress of this country.
Question of the Caliphate
[] I should be failing in my duty towards my own people and the Government if I did not, at this crisis, make it clear that of the many delicate questions, there is none that requires a closer attention and study than the question of the Caliphate by the Government and the Ministers of Great Britain. The sentiments and feelings and the religious convictions not only of the Musalmans of India but of the Musalmans of the world, are not to be lightly treated. The loyalty of the Musalmans of India to the Government is no small asset. From the very commencement of the great crisis through which the British Empire has been passing, the allegiance of the Musalmans to the Crown and their loyalty to the Government has remained whole-hearted and unshaken. May I, therefore, urge that the Government should have regard for their dearest and most sacred religious feelings, and under no circumstances interfere with the question of the future of the Caliphate. It should be left entirely to the Musalmans to acknowledge and accept their own Caliph. I do not desire to dilate on this grave and delicate subject; but much deeper currents underly this exceptional exhortation of mine, which I have ventured to make both in the interests of the Musalmans and the Government of Great Britain, than it would be expedient at present to discuss on a public platform. But the Musalmans may well claim that their feelings and sentiments relating to their most cherished traditions should receive consideration in the general policy of the Empire, particularly when they coincide with the demands of justice, humanity, and international obligations.
Holy places of Islam
[] As a spokesman of the Musalmans of India, I must here acknowledge that the noble assurance of the British Government given to them through H. E. Lord Hardinge, the late Viceroy of India, as regards the Holy Places of Islam, was received by them not only with the utmost satisfaction, but with profound gratitude.
[] I may say a. word as to the attitude of the Musalmans of India towards the Government. Our clear duty is to be loyal and respectful, without stooping to a cringing policy. We want no favours, and crave for no partial treatment. That is demoralizing to the community and injurious to the State. The Musalmans must learn to have self respect; what we want is a healthy and fair impetus to be given to our aspirations and ideals as a community, and it is the most sacred duty of Government to respond to that claim. Towards the Hindus our attitude should be of good-will and brotherly feelings. Cooperation in the cause of our Motherland should be our guiding principle. India's real progress can only be achieved by a true understanding and harmonious relations between the two great sister communities. With regard to our own affairs, we can depend upon nobody but ourselves. We should infuse [a] greater spirit of solidarity into our society. We should remove the root causes and. the evil effects of the process of disintegration. We should maintain a sustained loyalty to and cooperation with each other. We should sink personal differences and subordinate personal ambitions to the well-being of the community. We must recognise that no useful purpose is served in petty disputes and in forming party combinations. We should not lose the sympathy of our well-wishers in India and in England by creating a wrong impression that we, as a community, are out only for self-interest and self.gain. We must show by our words and deeds that we sincerely and earnestly desire a healthy National unity. For the rest, the seventy millions of Musalmans need not fear.
[] A few days ago I came across a paragraph in the "Bombay Chronicle," the well-known daily paper of Bombay, with [=that has as] its Editor Mr. B. G. Horniman, a friend of the Musalmans who has rendered great services to us. It is as follows:
The following incident, reported by the Amrita Bazaar Patrika, may well be read with profit by those whose perverse imaginations, in spite of proofs to the contrary, always see in the differences of religions in India an irremoveable bar against placing Indians in high offices of trust and responsibility:Why can't we In British India, the Hindus and the Musalmans, try the .methods which prove so successful in the territories of H. H. the Nizam, to settle our differences?This is how H[is] H[ighness] the Nizam has just disposed of a Hindu-Musalman ispute in his territory. Well, for about a year or so, there sprang a quarrel between the Hindus and the'Musalmans of Warrangal about the building of a mosque in a prominent Hindu locality. In spite of many protests from the Hindu population, the other party persisted on constructing one. The Hindus then appealed to His Highness, with the result that he was pleased to appoint a committee of enquiry consisting of two Musalmans and one Hindu to report on the matter. The report was in favour of the Hindus, and His Highness has been pleased to pass his orders accordingly.The action taken by H. H. the Nizam, it need hardly be added, was in accordance with the traditional policy always adopted by the rulers of Hyderabad."
[] In conclusion I cannot do better than quote a passage from, the recent speech of the Prime Minister Mr. Lloyd George, every word of which almost literally applies to the conditions in India. Referring to the Irish situation he said:
"He was convinced now that it was a misunderstanding, partly racial, partly religious. It was to the interest of both to have it removed. But there seemed to have been some evil chance that frustrated every effort made for the achievement of better relations. He had tried once but did not succeed, But the fault was not entirely on one side. He had felt the whole time that we were moving in an atmosphere of nervous suspicions and distrust, pervasive and universal, of everything and everybody. He was drenched with suspicion of Irishmen by Englishmen and of Englishmen by Irishmen and, worse and most fatal of all, by the suspicion of Irishmen of Irishmen. It was a quagmire of distruct which clogged the footsteps of progress. That was the real enemy of Ireland. If that could be slain, he believed, it would accomplish an act of reconciliation that would make Ireland greater and Britain greater, and would make the United Kingdom and the Empire greater than they ever were before."The Renaissance of India really lies in our own hands. Let us work and trust to God, so that we may leave a richer heritage to our children than all the gold of the world, viz., Freedom, for which no sacrifice is too great.