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Mahatma Gandhi’s Interview to Evelyn Wrench

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Senior Gandhian Scholar, Professor, Editor and Linguist

Gandhi International Study and Research Institute, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No. – 09404955338, 09415777229


Mailing Address- C- 29, Swaraj Nagar, Panki, Kanpur- 208020, Uttar Pradesh, India



Mahatma Gandhi’s Interview to Evelyn Wrench


EVELYN WRENCH: I recently had an hour-and-a-half talk with Mr. Jinnah and heard his point of view. I do not know what following he has, but he reiterated again and again: “Never will Muslims be subservient to Hindu authority. You English and Germans are much closer to each other than Hindus and Muslims.” I would like to know what you have to say in regard to this.

GANDHIJI:  I deny absolutely what Jinnah sahib says. The Muslim is as much an Indian as I am and of the same blood. There is no fundamental cleavage between Hindus and Mussalmans. We have lived in the same land as brothers for generations and what has been possible all these years will certainly be possible in the future. With due respect to Jinnasahib, he resorts unconsciously to an untruth when he says what you have just quoted, and speaks as a disappointed man does in order to maintain his view at any cost. In any case, the fear of subservience is quite imaginary. No one can dominate a population of 80,000,000. Can such a number be termed a minority? I personally would resist the subservience even of the Parsis, who are a mere handful, i.e., 1, 00,000, because I believe in equality for all and has throughout been the Congress creed. But I admit that Jinnah sahib’s fear though in fact imaginary is a real thing in his estimation, and therefore he has my sympathy.

EVELYN WRENCH: What about the possibility of a free and equal India becoming a partner in the British Commonwealth in the sense that Canada and Australia are partners?

GANDHIJI:  Bitter experience has shown that India cannot be that in the sense that Canada and Australia are. At the moment the British Common-wealth is a Commonwealth of White nation. But I go a step further than you. Why only a British Commonwealth? Whoever is victor, there should be, after the war, a commonwealth of all nations. The British Commonwealth must give a place to this and no one must be excluded. Germany, Italy, Russia, all must come in, not only those who are today Allies of Britain. India will gladly be a member of such a common-wealth.

EVELYN WRENCH: You are indulging in undue optimism. I worked seven years for the All Peoples Association in Europe and my experiences there during the last two decades do not lead to hope that the real internationalism is round the corner. Anyhow, you’re and my goal of universal brotherhood is common. Is it thus wise to destroy or abolish what has stood for a Commonwealth of at least some nations when the world is not ready for the ultimate ideal?

GANDHIJI:  It is not a question of abolition. It is a question of extending the scope of the British Commonwealth. If Britain wins wholly, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and perhaps even Bolshevik Russia will disappear. If Britain were honest, which I dispute, she would then embrace all nations on terms of equality.

EVELYN WRENCH: According to the sentiments expressed in the Atlantic Charter?

GANDHIJI:  What is the Atlantic Charter? It went down the ocean as soon as it was born! I do not understand it. And Mr. Amery denies that India is fit for democracy, while Mr. Churchill says the Charter could not apply to India. Force of circumstances will falsify their declarations. Personally I like to believe that all become honest, the millennium is round the corner!

EVELYN WRENCH: I know your views on pacifism. But all the same you won’t impede the British war effort?

GANDHIJI:  I said I would not embarrass Britain. And so far as civil disobedience is concerned, I have demonstrated that this is so. A nonviolent man cannot desire embarrassment. And Government, in using the term “symbolic” in their recent release of satyagrahis unsought by the satyagrahis have tacitly admitted non-embarrassment. Had Congress wished, it would have been possible to ignite a spark that would have swept right over India and which would certainly have deflected British energy from the war.

EVELYN WRENCH: You want Britain to win, don’t you? Cannot you under any circumstances give active support to our war effort?

GANDHIJI:  I do not wish disaster to British arms. In saying this I may be said to have modified my original words. But I cannot give active support in the war effort without denying a life-time of practice.

EVELYN WRENCH: Compared with fifteen years ago, has not British opinion moved favorably towards India? There are two powerful sections of public opinion in Great Britain today-one which holds that she should move closer to the U.S.A. and the Dominion with a view to forming a federation between these English-speaking democracies and definitely cut loose from India, which with its alien civilization they say has little in common with the Anglo-Saxons; the other consists of those who believe that the chief glory of the British Commonwealth is that it can admit nations of any race, creed or colour to become partners within its orbit. Do you not trust us? Do you not think that we are genuine when we see the difficulties inherent in the different viewpoints of yourself and Mr. Jinnah? Would there not be civil war if we were to withdraw? Kingdom, stating certain common principles and policies on which the two leaders based their hopes for a better future for humankind after World War II. It condemned the use of force and territorial aggrandizement and defined the right of all peoples to self-determination and self-government. Though it was incorporated by reference in the declaration by the United Nations of January 1, 1942, the Atlantic Charter, like many war-time declarations, it was characterized more by vague generosity that by any precise commitment. Also vide footnote of “Interview to United Press of India”,

GANDHIJI:  I believe that a party wishing equality for India does exist in Britain. But it is an insignificant minority, and while I honour and like their opinion I cannot be enthused over it, for I know that those who shape policy and dominate are otherwise inclined. For me, therefore, it is only the Secretary of State who counts. I see no genuine ring in his statement. If he were honest he would not ask for an agreed solution among us as the first step. It is obvious that if Jinnasahib asks me for things which I cannot give him, he will naturally go to the third party where he can get what he wants, as he did in London during the Round Table Conference. The minority pact was there flung on us one fine morning unknown to any one of us. It is one of the most disgraceful chapters in British history. The Secretary of State should realize that the last word is in his hands. Hence it is that I have said you should retire and we shall have a pact in fifteen days. There may be civil war, it is highly probable there will be, but at the end of it there will be peace.

EVELYN WRENCH: At the end of all wars there is peace.

GANDHIJI: You proposition was wrong. You can only have lasting peace based on justice. We are an unarmed people. Your armies are meant to suppress an armed rebellion and are not for use by us. The Indian troops are mercenaries and would be of no use in the civil war. It is the politically conscious Muslims and Hindus who will fight. They will fight with sticks, staves and soda-water bottles, but they will soon tire, and there will be wise men enough among us to bring about an honourable peace.

EVELYN WRENCH: Are you not assuming too much?

GANDHIJI: I assume nothing. These are daily happenings. There is breaking of each other’s heads for a couple of days and then there is peace.

EVELYN WRENCH: But a Hindu cannot dine with a Muslim. Mr. Jinnah says these social barriers matter a good deal.

GANDHIJI: They do not. You inter-dine and inter-marry with Germans and yet are both saturated with hate for each other.

EVELYN WRENCH: May I take it that you would oppose Pakistan even if it were agreed upon by the Muslims and Britain?

GANDHIJI: No agreement between the British and Muslims can affect me. An agreement between Hindus and Muslims alone will affect me.

EVELYN WRENCH: Do you not think that Britain has stood for freedom and democracy–take Canada, Australia, South Africa?

GANDHIJI: You have stood for these things simply for the spoliation of the weaker races. I have lived for twenty years in South Africa and I know the quarrel between you and the Dutch was over the sharing of the spoils and the same is happening elsewhere in Africa, too.

EVELYN WRENCH: But very few are ready for a world Commonwealth. At what moment would you be willing to join a Commonwealth?

GANDHIJI: When Africa, China, Japan are all included. I cannot be subservient anywhere.

EVELYN WRENCH: Are you opposed to defence behind an international group?

GANDHIJI: I would agree to a minimum international police force.

Sir E. What about an air-force? G. On no account. I look upon air-power for destruction as a terrible crime against humanity.

EVELYN WRENCH: But if you do not agree to an armed force to stop aggression other Hitler may arise.

GANDHIJI: They will not arise if justice prevails. Hitler is a scourge sent by God to punish men for their iniquities.

EVELYN WRENCH: Take the case of Abyssinia. If there had been an armed international force we could have stopped Mussolini from that conquest.

GANDHIJI: You cannot cure a lesser evil by a greater evil. You might have succeeded in wiping out Italy, but how would that have helped? Britain’s success in the exploitation of non-European races raised the ambition of Bismarck and later Mussolini and others.

EVELYN WRENCH: But is not the mentality now passing? I assure you it is in England. Take the case of Iraq, to whom we have given independence.

GANDHIJI: I wish I could think that. I do not agree that there is freedom in Iraq today. I do not read current history as you do. Nothing is of a permanent nature. One can only talk of good intentions when the war is over. I would love to see that Iraq at least had real complete independence after the war.

EVELYN WRENCH: You may call me prejudiced, but Churchill has definitely announced that there will be no a acquisition of territory, etc.

GANDHIJI:  You are not prejudiced. You have perforce to believe what is told you. I have grave doubts. I mean no ill. Having given up arms, I can mean none. I never think of imaginary evils, however. There is no distrust of men and mankind in me. They will answer before God, so why should I worry? But where my own mission is concerned, my thought is active, and I try to wish everyone well in spite of doubts and mistrust. I will suffer the agony if that is to be my lot. But I may not unnerve myself while I can struggle against evil.

EVELYN WRENCH: Try to believe there are more people in Great Britain than you imagine in favour of India’s inclusion as a free partner in the British Commonwealth of Nations. I can give you proof. There is the Labour Party.

GANDHIJI:  I believe you are a growing party. All the same, I feel you are still insignificant. But you mention Labour Party, which is a dismal failure today. It takes its seat in the House of Lords!

EVELYN WRENCH: After the war would you consider every problem if you felt India was to be free?

GANDHIJI:  I have shut my mind against nothing and I am a friend of Great Britain. I always have been. I have no axe to grind. Whatever I do is out of love.


The Spectator, 6-3-1942

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