845.01/127: Telegram

The Commissioner at New Delhi ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State

90. Reference Department’s number 52 of March 14, 9 p.m.

During the past 2 weeks office has been called upon to function almost exclusively as a transmitter of lengthy messages in our own secret cipher to the State Department for transmission in turn to the War Department on matters dealing with the war effort which I felt had to be given priority because of their stated urgency and because political matters are being fairly well carried by the press and will be of small value or interest if the war is lost. Unless and until my own staff receives the promised increase in clerical help or General Brereton34 in his turn receives cipher in which he has more confidence than the one now at his disposal, it is going to be a physical impossibility to send timely reports of the nature I know is desired.
If further justification of my decision to give priority to war effort messages is desired it is to be found in the fact that absolutely nothing is being let out as to any proposal “formula” which Cripps is working to [apparent omission]. Nothing concrete along these lines may be expected until he arrives, the date for which is tentatively given as early next week. I am told that not even members [Page 620] of the Viceroy’s35 Executive Council on enquiring have succeeded in learning from the Viceroy what these proposals consist of. So far as known no invitations have been sent to political leaders to meet Cripps, indicating that he will be allowed perhaps to set his own pace and make his own plans.
The only reason why Mr. Churchill’s announcement on India was not met with very serious criticism may be found in the selection of Cripps as the one to bring proposals to India. Certain it is that feelings of keen disappointment were general because of further delay. There was some divergence of view between British and Indian press opinion regarding Government’s decision not to publish the proposals immediately; but there was no divergence of opinion on the appointment of Cripps and satisfaction expressed over his selection has in some measure tempered the disappointment felt at first and the tone of the opposition press appeals to await patiently the arrival of Cripps come from nearly every section of both the Hindu and the Muslim worlds together even with efforts made by some leaders here and there to bring about closer agreement between the two but with both Jinnah36 and Gandhi37 saying little.
The Muslim position put in a few words is that their leaders say that they can afford to wait. Dawn, the publication of the Muslim League, stated recently that the League will accept an interim arrangement providing nothing is done to “torpedo or prejudice the Muslim claim for a national homeland” and that regardless of numbers the major political parties are given equal say in the government of the country. All of which in my personal view is … put forward for trading purposes.
The annual two-day meeting of the Chamber of Princes was opened yesterday by the Viceroy. Archaic and innocuous better describe these performances than any other terms I know although it will undoubtedly receive a full share of publicity in the American press. The points covered by the Viceroy in his speech relate naturally to the India of the Princes which although it contrasts strangely with present-day realism has substantial values of contributions to the war fund both in money and in men, in both of which there is small reason to doubt Britain will receive from the Princes what she asks for and can equip. Requests for reform and the relinquishment of privileges and princely prerogatives will not be welcomed and will not receive the same generous response from the Princes. In his address to the Princes the Viceroy made a short reference to the visit of Cripps and described him as a “trusted friend” and a “statesman” on which the country can rely. The Hindustan [Page 621] Times of today regards this reference as “greatly appreciated as showing identity of purpose” whatever that may mean.
As time goes on some impatience is discernible which may be expected to increase until the arrival of Cripps the success or failure of whose mission definitely depends upon: (1) the nature of the proposals themselves and, (2) the speed with which they are taken up and placed before the country. Proposals which do not give to India the complete freedom she asks within a stated time coupled with effective guarantees for their fulfillment will certainly not have anything but the most deleterious effect now.
  1. Brig. Gen. Lewis Brereton, in command of U. S. Air Forces in India.
  2. Marquess of Linlithgow.
  3. Mohamed Ali Jinnah, President of the Muslim League.
  4. Mohandas K. Gandhi, leader of civil disobedience movement in India.