Page 3, 29th September 1944

29th September 1944
Page 3
Page 3, 29th September 1944 — "WE SWING THIS VAST LAND OF INDIA LIKE A TRINKET AT OUR WRIST"
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Organisations: Muslim League, Congress
Locations: Delhi

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"WE SWING THIS VAST LAND OF INDIA LIKE A TRINKET AT OUR WRIST"

by 'Andrew Boyle

DELHI OLD and new are never far apart out here; any decent-sized traffic-jam (the "ordinary-est" city block must hoast its daily dozen) contains a relic of antiquity in the rumbling filthy ox-cart—with its roughlyromsded wooden wheel, reinforced crudely by metal, its tremendous cargoes that know no Pimsoll Line, its eoked beasts that have the centuries' patience in their dark wise eyes, its flagellating driver who sometimes looks like a mock-opera turbaned Tambur

laine I Here--as a rule—you have the cause and centre of the hitch. In an age when speed is of the essence, in which Progress is a household term (though die end and goal of this desperately vital progress is not always :so clear), the ox-cart is indeed an outmoded survival Can you wonder at the impatient contemptuous hooting of the giant.

streamlined Chrysler behind ? At the nonchalant dissatisfaction of its tall, native, inscrutable owner and driver What is it that the ox-carter is anybig ? Something at any rate that seems to carry supeeb indifference Perhaps lie, too would like to know

" whither Progress ?" " What price Progiess et" And in the curve of his wrinkled old lips perhaps I read:

" Progress seems to have no end other than itself. It's the fashionable and accepted progress of chasing one's own fail—or, the car-in-front's tailboard."

I thought as much. That's maybe what statesmen mean by that glorious tailehaser, " The March of Progress," " The Progress of Progress." And if he knew or appreciated the Atabs or Aquinas he might whip up his yoked oxen reflecting on the first proof of creation—on the need of someone to pluck the human race from its garish colourfulness and give it an object.

Hinduism at Least is Logical Hinduism at least is logical; it sticks to Fatalism and Grand-High-Toryism of the spirit. It doesn't slave after or rant about Progress. And I think the ox-carter right. I've still to hear of a Hindu who dumb-belled himself to death at an open window in search of progressive physical culture. There have been (and are) autocratic Hindus who have been guilty of starving and maltreating their laboureis. But neither lord nor master felt anything out of the ordinary in beating or being beaten, in starving or being starved. But they didn't find it necessary to philosophise or to call their deeds by highsounding new names.

India takes life as it finds it. The natural way—with Nature dripping red in tooth and claw. It's cruel and it's unChdstian. But then you can't have kindness if you worship nature; you can't have democracy without a literate and enlightened demos, just as you can't have Christianity without a Christ. And all that seems to carry Lit far from the open-mouthed, looselygarbed bystanders, the scarlet policeman with his new air of self-importance, the many cyclists, the Tonga

taxintert, shouting and waving white with the ill-mannered restiveness of their breed.

Whole Roster of Contradictions he buildings seen from the atone of excitement (far or near) give the same sense of the Age and Youth of the world, of West and East, of a whole roster of contradictions nearly as flagrant as the immediate view of that phIegmatio Indian Civil Servant, immaculate in long white ducks„. standing cheek by jowl with a sweeper. Monument both of the same Adamic matter, but to how many strange and opposite loyalties. Do I see in those sun-wan pale English eyes a look of spurning rebuke and annoyance at yet another outrage against that proud badge and virtue ol Englishry-comnitin sense ? And is there not in the dusky face, cheek by jowl, a look of fresh wonder—like a child seeing its first puff-puff ?

Which reminds me that the mass ol Indians do like cuff-puffs, dote over railway stations, and are children in ways galore, I found it out on my first afternoon in India—at Bombay Terminus—awaiting the express that would take me to the North-West Frontier Provinces. What was my surprise within a few moments to find myself the cynosure or a curious, wideopen-mouthed, anmsed and interested group of natives. It wasn't that a soldier was a novelty, it was just another soldier. And presently I found that their attention was readily distracted by just another train. A Martian might have imagined that a desperate riot was in progress to judge by the yells, the helter-skelter, the cheering and the general confused excitement. But it was only the 4.50 dead on time as Indian long-distance trains cleverly and surely are. The 4.50 (l was told by a confident guard, with justifiable pride) had been arriving on time-come wind come weather—since the railway had been laid in the latter half of the last century. But the child-like wonder and inexhaustible curiosity of the original gapers had either lost little of its pristine freshness or had been handed down intact to posterity.

Oh 1 objects of despair, oh ! tearers and breakers of the heart of every good English Raj, why can't you learn common sense ? But hold, can it be that in his imperturbable self-satisfaction, the Omnipotent Sahib forgets that it is this perpetuated ignorance, the incapacity for individual (far less concerted) thought and action that keePs him Pukka and Omnipotent ? That gives him the sure sensation of belonging to the unique, gentlemanly, public-school ish. Johnsonian clubbable, dressing-for-dinner tace of men 7 It Struck Me in Delhi It has struck me in Delhi and a Delhi abnormally swollen with whites —that such ignorance, part and parcel of Hindu-Conservatism must paralyse all energy and action. I am talking, again, of the unplumbed ignorance of the Indian man-in-the-street. Colourful and still cunning, smiling in his swaddling rags. On the road we take to town, you may be the only white person for an the 6 to 8 miles, and yet you will pass hundreds of natives en route. We are indeed a tiny crushingly tiny—minority, and our strength seems purely a moral strength.

We swing this vast land of India like a " trinket at our wrist." If one day the native wakes up ... if he begins to question the unquestionable right (for that is how it is accepted) of the Englishman to rule and impose himself in the autocratic way the centuries have pounded into his skull as reasonable, if he should suddenly conceive the notion of human equality and worth —doubting the credential; of these interfering powerful foreigneis whose power is still an article of faith, a sight unseen, an unknown moral quantity that might not bear searching personal scrutiny—then the Englishman in India would be doomed, That day will trait come quickly. Decisions. such as they are, descend like dogmas from on high ; whatever their source (be it Congress. the Muslim League, or any of India's multitudinous hierarchies bent on the saleation of the country's political soul) the decision springs from the lips of the leader and the milling masses blindly but blithely obey. A spontaneous expression of popular feeling on anything other than the arrival of the 4.50 and similar phenomena whose only demand is an animated wonderment is almost as likely as the uncontrollable urge of members of the Stock Exchange to walk on their heads in procession down Leadenhall Street to find if their paper. power still looks the same from the bolder:, of topsy-turvy-dont I

If the Indian should awaken before his appointed time, and thrust the encroaching Saxon inset the sea that brought him here perhaps our unemployed (rescued from the deep) might pause on their way to the Labour Exchange and thank Sam Goldwyn for their discomfiture. But perhaps Hollywood is improving, who knows ?

Before propaganda becomes a complex (a time measurable in months) the normal intelligent native must have gathered some astounding ideas about the White Ruler's homeland and its Ways. There was dynamite in this great unintentional campaign to undermine the native's abiding faith. The fun poked at the sanctity of the home and the person; at the sacredness of property; at the universality of law and ordei. How any comprehending and unprepared mind must have shuddered ! If civilisation really meant this chaotic jumble of principles, lost and broken like reeds in a wilderness of dirty opportunity, you could keep it—for all its glint and glitter of material prosperity and individual Happiness. But nations, especially formally bap

tised " backward" nations, don't readily reach unenimous conclusions.

Making Revelation Palatable

Jehovah had a difficult enough job in making Revelation palatable to the Chosen People ! Hollywood, too, is overcoming its crazes for washing dirty linen in poblie; it seems to be aware (dimly still) of the immense power-foreocial-good of the cinema. Pius Xi's encyclieal on the eubject would still stand, of course. in its statement of p1 ineiples governing use and misuse; but its observations wouldn't be quite as true perhaps,

It may be that radio is just as pnteedal a danger to-day as the photoplay was yesterday. Stupid swung wordsentiments, rising and falling in oceans of hot sickly treacle, is what Britain and America have to tell the East of their common wealth of culture for 18 hours out of the mortal broadcasting 24. Let's leave alone the overemphasised point that these shortwave transmissions—plugged out over thousands of miles—arc destined for the mentally-arrested moronic men of WM. Forces. Suppose, for a trice. that were all P1 tic idiots who'd be wearing coot-MtilS and believing the effusions of H.G. Wells and the philnsophy of life of Sam Goldwyn—if only we had learnt to read something a stage beyond our daily newspaper.

The fact remains that 90 per cent. 06,000,000) literates are still anxious for their own very good reasons to find nut how much truth does lie in the Axis fable of Anglo-Saxon-Decadence. The radio answer can't he an altogether compelling one. Spain, warweariness, bad whisky and rigid, if fair, rationing would (on this daily and ever-wailing evidence) appear to have transformed a nation's taste into a bag of wind and whine for feeding emasculated minds. One of the best hits of Criticism tel come out of the war is the sardonic soldier's summary dismissal of the microphone crooner as the " Creunuch" I




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