Thoughts on economics and liberty

Liberalism in India before independence – an article by Ray Smith

This is worth reviewing. I’ve OCRd and prepared a Word version. HTML below. Will annotate when time permits.

Highlight – that the Indian liberals played a crucial role in getting India its post-independence Constitution. India may have forgotten these quiet heroes but every day, Indians are saved from the ravages of extremism (e.g. Hindu raj, Bosean fascism/ communism) because of the hard work of the Indian liberals. If this is true, then the work Indian liberals are doing today will still bear fruit, but in a way that can’t be predicted at present. Maybe our role is to keep madmen like Modi and fools like Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi in check.

If the British could at least say in 1947, and with pride, that they had instructed India in the political system it was about to adopt, the Indian Liberals could assert with equal pride that they more than any other group of Indians had sought this instruction, pursued its goal and advertised its prospective benefits. The present Indian Constitution is as much their memorial as other men’s victory.

Ray T. Smith, The Role of India’s “Liberals” in the Nationalist Movement, 1915-1947, Asian Survey, Vol. 8, No. 7, Modernization in South Asian Studies: Essays in a Changing Field (Jul., 1968), pp. 607-624

Men who appear to have stood in the way of their nation’s liberation or consolidation are not kindly remembered by their countrymen. This has been the common fate of “moderates” in various revolutionary upheavals. The moderate politician may be as sincere a patriot as the militant nationalist, but his hesitancy to adopt extreme courses of action generates suspicion and rejection on the part of his more revolutionary-minded countrymen. As political affairs become polarized into extremes of reaction and revolution, moderation may lose any effective role for the time being, however useful it may be in more peaceful circumstances. Yet in any revolutionary era political responses range from more moderate to more extreme, and some men are destined to be the moderates of their times and hazard the loss of influence and reputation. This phenomenon, which might be termed the repudiation of the moderates, merits study in a variety of revolutionary contexts. [1]

My purpose here is to assess the fate of India’s moderate nationalists, or “Liberals” as they came to be known in their later years, in the revolutionary era of which they were a part. The origins of Indian moderate or liberal politics can be traced to the early nineteenth century. India’s foremost political organization, the Indian National Congress, was the recognized platform of Indian Liberalism from its founding in 1885 to about 1915.[2] Here, however, the focus will be on 1the period from 1915 to 1947, when the Liberals lost control of Congress and suffered a severe decline in both their political importance the and their public reputation. Known explicitly as “Moderates” from the 1890s to 1919, when their break with the Congress became final, they formed the “National Liberal Federation of India,” naming it in honor of the British political philosophy on which they had long modeled their own. Subsequently they were usually referred to as “Liberals.”[3]

The terms “moderate” and “liberal” had a significance not only functional hut also complementary. These men were genuine nationalists who openly pursued India’s emancipation from British rule and resented the more galling indignities of British imperialism. They were moderates because they preferred gradual constitutional reform to revolutionary methods as the means of achieving independence and because they attempted to secure constitutional reform by cooperating with British authority rather than defying it. The same men can ·appropriately he called “Liberals” because their goals and methods were inspired by British Liberalism. They aimed toward parliamentary democracy, including not only an institutional structure hut a system of values which emphasized the achievement of national welf are through peaceable negotiation and compromise among competing public interests. Educated in British schools and adopting such British-inspired professions as law and journalism, they avidly read British Liberal authors, spoke and wrote in their terms, emulated their policies as closely as possible, sought their aid in Indian affairs, and frankly thought of themselves as an Indian variant of the British original. They will he called “Liberals” here because the word reflects the principles which, as the men themselves believed, were fundamental to their activities.[4]


The Liberal persuasion in Indian politics developed between the time of Ram Mohan Roy in the 1820s and the founding of the Indian National Congress in 1885. British rule was in its prime during this period. The failure of the Mutiny of 1857 left little or no hope for the success of revolutionary violence. The total “public” of politically aware Indians was very small and limited largely to the cities, and only the British-educated cream of this Indian public could expect to exercise political influence in the foreseeable future. British education inspired many members of the new Indian elite to look to England for the available lines of political advance under the prevailing conditions. Meanwhile, the sympathetic help of a few progressive-minded British Liberals inspired ithese Indians to model their political goals and methods on British Liberal precepts.[5]

The nascent Indian Liberals developed a genuine admiration for domestic British political institutions, practices and values. For them, legislative and administrative reform in India therefore aimed at approximating British standards of parliamentary democracy. The official courts and councils of India became the chosen forum of Indian Liberal politics, and the Indian Liberal political style became one of studied constitutionalism and legalism. The Indian National Congress became for the Liberals a model parliament which, despite its relative powerlessness and elite composition, offered India’s new leaders a training ground in the art of self-government and a base from which they could propagate this capacity among their countrymen.[6]

Far from viewing their elitist position as selfish, the Liberals thought of themselves as at once the representatives and tutors of the Indian people at large. They refused to countenance revolutionary ideas or attitudes, considering these inimical to the constitutional and legal values which they were attempting to inculcate in the Indian public. Committed to rational statesmanship as they saw it, they rejected revolution, particularly on a mass basis, because it threatened to arouse forces and attitudes which were irrational and destructive. As an essential corollary, they believed that revolution would not be necessary to achieve India’s independence. They thought that the values of parliamentary democracy were deeply rooted in Britons, even those who were attempting to administer India as a benevolent despotism, and that persistent Indian appeals to the British “conscience,” together with equally persistent Indian efforts to prove themselves capable of parliamentary self-government, would eventually persuade Britain to grant India her independence as a willing gift. It is fair to conclude that these Indian leaders did not really care for independence without representative and “responsible” institutions similar to those of Great Britain; hence their willingness to see independence delayed while the Indian public was becoming more fully prepared for the exercise of such institutions.[7]

So stood Indian Liberalism at the turn of the twentieth century. Yet the Liberals were faced then, as later, by a dilemma. On one hand their educations, professions and political orientations drew them away from indigenous culture and society and set them at odds with the blossoming school of revolutionary, Hindu-oriented nationalism. Radical nationalists accordingly pilloried the Liberals as a narrow, denationalized elite whose interests were inimical to those of the Indian people at large. The radicals viewed Liberal relations with the British as a combination of misconception and self-interest. When the Liberals petitioned for British justice, the radicals charged that Liberal faith in British amenability to the arts of peaceful persuasion was blind and foolish. When the Liberals attempted to cooperate with British authorities, they were called sycophants and collaborators.[8]

On the other hand, the Liberals could not persuade most Britons either in India or England to accept Indians, including the Liberals themselves, as political or social equals. Thus, not only British Conservatives but even British Liberals expressed skepticism about Indian Liberal appeals for rapid constitutional progress toward self-government on the same basis as South Africa, Canada, or Australia. Like the Indian radicals, British officials would not admit that the Indian Liberals represented the Indian masses. Recognizing the success with which the radicals were beginning to arouse Hindu nationalism, Britons tended to take the threats of the radicals more seriously than the appeals of the Liberals. The rise of militant nationalism goaded British officials into sporadic efforts to “rally the Moderates” to the government side, but the Liberals were never viewed as entirely reliable friends of the Empire. Worst of all for the Liberals, the British Government tended to resist all constitutional change until its hand was forced by Indian disorder, which humiliated the moderate reformers and abetted the revolutionary nationalists.[9] In short, the Indian Liberals found themselves in a squeeze between the ultra-nationalism of India’s revolutionaries and the innate conservatism of British imperial interests. Self-appointed as intermediaries transmitting to the Indian nation the best that the British nation had to offer, the Liberals suffered by becoming intermediaries also between two warring camps, neither of which would admit the validity of the Liberal position.

Despite the sniping from both the Indian radical and the British reactionary sides, the Liberals believed that they could point to the Indian Councils Act of 1892 as a victory for the moderate forms of nationalist agitation which were their specialty-reasoned appeals to British justice, efforts to win British parliamentary friends and support, and efforts to demonstrate the equality of Indian and British public men in legislative, judicial and executive skills. They believed the same of the Indian Councils Act of 1909, during whose planning the British Liberal Secretary of State for India, John Morley, had received advice from the leading Indian Liberal of the day, G. K. Gokhale.[10] This sense of rectitude they would carry into the stormy years, 1918 and 1919, when they threw their full weight behind the reforms proposed by a latter-day British Liberal statesman, Edwin Montagu. A crisis in relations between the Liberals and radical nationalists came between 1905 and 1907, when the abortive partition of Bengal by that most masterful of British Viceroys, Lord Curzon, provoked the radicals to attempt forcible transformation of the Congress into a revolutionary sounding board. At this juncture the Liberals proved that they had sufficient control of the organization to oust the radicals and redefine the program of the Congress as strictly constitutionalist.[11] It was not until 1914 that the radicals began seeking readmission to the Congress. Within four years they would be in a position to drive the Liberals out of the organization.


There were several basic reasons for the Liberal decline from 1915 onward. The Liberals were hit hard by the deaths of the most experienced and respected leaders of the older generation. Meanwhile, they had failed to use the Congress as an active base from which to develop a large popular following in India, thus vindicating a key charge of their radical opponents. Related to this lack of mass support was the failure of the Liberals to refashion their philosophy and tactics to fit the changing times. The onset of the First World War brought a general upsurge in India of anti-colonial, self-determinist notions. The radical nationalists were able to make the ideology of self-determination a pointed challenge to Liberal willingness for a continuation of British rule. The Indian Liberals could correctly claim some success in securing constitutional reform, but their elitism and their modest constitutional expectations were endangering their future political effectiveness.

During 1914 the Liberals were divided over the question of whether radical nationalists could be safely admitted to the Indian National Congress, the constitutionalist orientation of the Congress being the main issue. Pherozeshah Mehta was representative of those who feared admitting radicals on any terms, while G. K. Gokhale represented those somewhat inclined toward readmission. The deaths of both Mehta and Gokhale in 1915 left their followers in confusion. The Liberals bowed finally to radical overtures spearheaded by Gokhale’s long-time competitor, B. G. Tilak, and the Irish “Home Rule” enthusiast, Mrs. Annie Besant. In 1916 the Liberals not only permitted the “Home Rulers” to enter the Congress but went on to cooperate with them in producing a plan of constitutional reforms in collaboration with leaders of the Muslim League of India.[12] By the fall of 1917, however, the radicals had gained a majority voice in the Congress, and some of the Liberals consequently began to agitate for a tightening of Liberal organization even if it meant breaking with the Congress itself. Radicals and Liberals now began working more and more openly to increase their power in relation to each other. What was needed to complete the rift was a new political issue of crucial dimensions. [13]

The requisite issue had been foreshadowed already in the parliamentary announcement of August 20, 1917, by Edwin Montagu, the new Secretary of State for India, that Indians would receive a new set of constitutional reforms and that Montagu himself would consult Indian as well as British opinion beforehand. Montagu, a British Liberal, set out purposely to rally Indian sentiment, hut especially Indian Liberal sentiment, to the reform scheme which subsequently came to he known as “dyarchy.”[14] During the fall of 1917 Montagu did begin to “rally the Moderates,” hut at the cost of alienating the radicals from his reform scheme and driving a wedge between the radicals and the Liberals. By the spring of 1918, when Montagu left India with Indian Liberal support in his pocket, Congressmen in India were well on the way toward a final schism.[15]

A critical move came in Bengal in June when Surendranath Banerjea and his Liberal friends formed a “National Liberal League” for the purpose of countering radical propaganda and giving Montagu’s report a fair hearing. Meanwhile, Liberal-radical squabbles were featured in the newspapers of Bombay, Madras and the United Provinces.[16] When Montagu’s report was made public on July 8, 1918, it was given a predictable reception: the Liberals welcomed it, although cautiously and with reservations; the radicals strongly condemned it and proposed to reject it completely if it were not modified to suit their conditions. As the radical conditions were based on the Congress-League scheme, which Montagu had definitely rejected, there was in fact no real hope of radical acceptance. [17]

The radicals called a special session of the Congress to consider the Montagu Report, and a Liberal-radical quarrel promptly broke out over whether the Liberals should bother to attend a meeting whose majority was likely to reject the Report. By the time of the Special Congress of August 1918, the Liberals had persuaded themselves to boycott the meeting as a mark of their disapproval. Meanwhile, they began laying plans for a subsequent Liberal Conference. [18] Again the predictable occurred: the Special Congress reiterated an essential rejection of the Montagu Report, and the “All India Moderates’ Conference” in November 1918 gave the Report their critical but clear welcome. What had begun as a boycott of one Congress session now became a withdrawal from the Congress organization.[19] Efforts by some individuals of both sides to patch up the break came to grief because the majorities could not resist rancorous public exchanges and ill-concealed suspicions of bad faith. It was also true that the Liberals and radicals were glad to be rid of each other; the majority of either school liked the prospect of an independent, united organization. Almost all the Liberals abstained from the regular Congress of December 1918, and from all future Congress sessions, and the few who braved the Congresses of 1918 and 1919 gave up entirely thereafter.[20] The “Moderates’ Conference” became in December 1919 the “National Liberal Federation of India,” in emulation of the National Liberal Federation of England.

Who was responsible for the schism of 1918? Everyone concerned, in one respect or another. The Indian Liberals were probably hasty in surrendering the field in the Congress, and were certainly over-eager to support Montagu, their new British Liberal hero. The radicals in the Congress were needlessly provocative in accusing the Liberals of being in league with Montagu and in demanding changes in Montagu’s proposals which clearly entailed a complete revision. Montagu was perhaps too eager to “rally the Moderates” without regard for its causing a Liberal-radical schism and threatening the survival of the Liberals as a force in Indian public life. He had too conservative a perspective on the political needs of the situation to try seriously to rally the Indian radicals.

Finally, the whole fabric and perspective of British rule in India contributed to the failure of far-sighted statecraft on the part of the Government of India, the British Cabinet and Parliament. This failure did not begin in 1917 or 1918, but was a continuation of the halting half-measures taken since 1892-measures the less appreciated by Indians because they were grudging, openly condescending, and marred by reactionary exceptions. Although Montagu was personally far more sympathetic to Indian appeals than his predecessor as Secretary of State for India, John Morley, he probably could not have overcome the broad spectrum of British imperial conservatism in any case.

If the Liberal-radical schism was not inevitable precisely when and as it occurred, it probably would have been so by the end of 1919 when the MontaguChelmsford Reforms were passed into law by Parliament. Another key factor was the repressive legal and military action taken in India by British authorities during the spring of 1919. The doses of “frightfulness” administered by the Rowlatt Act of March and the Amritsar (Panjab) massacre of April 1919 did not take full effect until 1920, when the official Hunter Report and the unofficial Congress report on martial law in the Panjab produced a public scandal, but rumor and recrimination had already taken their toll. The Liberals deplored British behavior in the Panjab, but were not willing to repudiate the Reform Act because of what they considered a secondary issue. The Congress radicals would make no such distinction, and the noncooperation movement launched under Gandhi’s auspices confirmed the schism between Congress and the Liberals.[21]


The enactment of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms in 1919 gave the Indian Liberals their lead. They entered the new Legislatures of India in force in the elections of 1920 and began seeking two things: to make the Reforms succeed in the face of Congress opposition; and to prove correct their thesis that these Reforms, if constructively worked by both Indian legislators and British administrators, would advance India far toward full self-government. They were persisting in the intermediary role which they had been developing all along, trying to persuade the British that Indians were a loyal opposition and well prepared for self-government, and trying also to build Indian self -respect and prove that revolutionary upheaval was unnecessary as well as dangerous.

The Liberals had a brief honeymoon with the Government of India early in 1921, but by the end of the year divorce proceedings were well launched. When the Congress not only boycotted the reformed legislatures but proceeded from noncooperation to civil disobedience, the repressive policy adopted by the government put an increasing strain on official relations with the Liberals. The Liberals wished to discourage noncooperation but, ever the middlemen, objected equally to the government’s punitive ordinances and mass jailings.[22]

As the noncooperation movement intensified late in 1921, the Liberals began to seek fresh ways to vindicate their cooperation with the British and demonstrate that revolution was unnecessary. This effort was accelerated when noncooperation collapsed early in 1922. They began to urge further constitutional reform, asking for an expanded Indian role in both provincial and central government. Their position was weakened, however, by their minority position in the legislatures, especially the central one, and by the fact that Liberal party discipline was plagued by a basic streak of Liberal individualism. Thus, they often divided when voting, and even when united they could count only on the influence of reason, not numbers. Meanwhile, the collapse of noncooperation gave British officials a renewed sense of control. Liberal pleas therefore received scant sympathy, especially after Montagu resigned as Secretary of State in March 1922.[23]

The Liberal’s failure to secure further constitutional advance, together with their opposition to the noncooperation movement, contributed to the victory of the Swaraj (or “Freedom”) Party, an offshoot of the Congress, in the legislative elections of 1923. But these elections were not a complete disaster for the Liberals, as writers on the period have sometimes suggested. Most Liberal candidates were defeated, including the main leaders, but some were returned in both the Center and the provinces, while even some of the principal leaders regained seats through nomination. The Liberals had never been a majority in the legislatures, and they had in any case relied on their political experience, skill and prestige to achieve their main influence. However, their minority was now drastically reduced, with some of their best men unreturned. They could still be heard, but their prestige suffered a loss along with their numbers. It gradually became clear to them that much of their influence would depend during the 1924-1926 session on alliances with other interests in the legislatures. Still the intermediaries, but now as much by necessity as by choice, they began using their weight more selectively.[24]

The Liberals’ influence during 1924-1926 depended largely on their relations with the other main parties in the central Legislative Assembly, including not only Motilal Nehru’s “Swarajists” but also M. A. Jinnah’s “Independents,” M. R. Jayakar’s “Responsivists,” and (in 1926) Madan Mohan Malaviya’s “Independent Congress Party.” The Liberals often voted with these other parties, though they usually went separate ways from the Swarajists on highly controversial issues. In general, however, they continued to occupy a slightly more oonservative position than the other avowedly nationalist parties. Not only did this keep the Liberals relatively ineffective as a group, hut it encouraged their younger and more progressive recruits to break out of line and move in more congenial company from time to time.

Here again, a basic weakness of the Liberals was the general absence of party discipline. They were individualists and would not abide bloc voting. The Swarajists in the central Legislative Assembly, however, always voted as a bloc. Liberal individualism even played into Swarajist hands. Crucial votes sometimes required the support of most nationalists in the Assembly due to the size of the combined official and nominee bloc, and the votes of “advanced” Liberals more than once decided a nationalist victory. This was especially true when the Swarajists took up the constitutional question, calling for a Round Table Conference to draft a Dominion constitution for India. Even the Swarajists, however, had difficulty getting their way. At first, in 1924, they got sufficient support from the Independents and the more advanced Liberals, but in 1925 they lost both Liberal and Independent support at a critical juncture during the Budget Debate; during the Budget Debate of 1926 they walked out of the Assembly rather than attempt another test of strength. By 1926, in any case, it was clear that even complete nationalist unity could not induce the British to yield on controversial issues.[25]

Meanwhile, the very weakness and frustration of the nationalist position led to fragmentation and shifting realignment of parties, and the Swarajists suffered from quarrels and defections which made the Liberals seem fairly stable by contrast! With five main nationalist parties in the running in the elections of 1926, and an electorate surfeited with Swarajist propaganda, the Swaraj Party failed to hold, much less improve, its overall position. While remaining a relatively small minority, the Liberals made some gains

both in the central and provincial legislatures. It was too early to consign them to oblivion.[26]

Alliances and coalitions were now the best that any party could hope for. The Liberals, like their main potential allies, Jinnah’s Independents and Jayakar’s Responsivists, could not quite bring themselves to accept the de· gree of interdependence which an effective coalition would require. They continued to consider themselves the most respectable of all possible mediators between British and Indian interests, but the hard fact was that, standing alone, they remained practically powerless.


The year 1927 opened with a deadlock in the legislatures and an increasingly militant stand by the Liberals. If the British government wished to preserve the Liberal position as an independent force and perhaps a po· tential ally, it now needed to think in terms of conciliation. The decennial Statutory Commission, scheduled under the terms of the Indian Reform Act of 1919 to review the case for further Indian constitutional advance, could have provided a good vehicle for this. Instead, the British Conserva· tives, fearing that by 1929 the Cabinet might be lost to the Labour Party, rushed through the appointment of a “safe” Commission under Sir John Simon in 1927. The Indian Liberals urged in advance that the Statutory Commission have both British and Indian members, but the Conservatives paid no attention. When the Commission’s all-English composition was an· nounced, the Liberals were among the first to denounce it, call for an Indian boycott, and reiterate the Indian Legislative Assembly’ s demand of 1925 for a Round Table Conference to supplant it.[27]

Tej Bahadur Sapru, already a strong Liberal leader and the foremost constitutional theorist among the Liberals, now began to emerge as the most important man in the party. Working toward a united nationalist front, he launched the idea of an all-parties conference in India to prepare an agreed constitutional scheme. Motilal Nehru, M. A. Jinnah and M. R. Jayakar welcomed the idea, and in December 1927 the Congress executive formally proposed such a conference.[28] Although the original idea was as much Sapru’s as the Congress executive’s, the Congress would clearly insist on a major role in any such conference, and the Liberals and other groups therefore accepted the invitation. Sapru became one of the leading lights of the All Parties Conference during 1928, working closely with Motilal Nehru of the Congress. Sapru probably deserves main credit for the fact that the Conference in its “Nehru Report” proposed a Dominion


constitution and did not, contrary to Jawaharlal Nehru’s insistence, demand complete independence. The major success of the Conference from the Liberal viewpoint was that it, along with the boycott of the Simon Commission during 1928 and 1929, persuaded the new Labor Goverment of 1929 to offer India a Round Table Conference. Its failure from the Liberal viewpoint was twofold. First, the Congress made acceptance of Dominion status conditional on the Government’s enactment within one year of a constitution based on the Nehru Report. Second, the Conference secured no settlement of the rising communal dispute over the proportions of Muslim and Hindu representation in the provincial and central legislatures under a Dominion constitution.[29]

The main trend of 1929 was the deepening crisis in which the British Government through its new Viceroy Lord Irwin offered a Round Table Conference but refused to offer more, while the Indian National Congress moved toward the noncooperation movement of 1930. Among the Liberals, Sapru in particular tried to avert the crisis by mediating between Congress leaders and the Viceroy. He ultimately failed, due to forces beyond his control, but he made a reputation as a free-lance negotiator. His other major crusade, next to the quest for a Dominion constitution, was for a settlement of the communal problem. In this also he would ultimately fail, but it remained true that in this sphere of negotiation the Liberal spirit of dedication to compromise was especially needed. Next to M. K. Gandhi, Sapru was probably the Indian leader most devoted to mediation in this cause.[30]

It is ironic that Sapru’s pragmatic, individualistic approach to negotiation may have marked both the highest refinement and the worst vice in Indian Liberalism. On one hand, the time had passed when the Liberals had much power as an organized group. Little but influence as individuals remained to them, and in any case neither a party nor a group within a party could carry on negotiations as well as an individual. Indian Liberalism may therefore have achieved its climactic function in Sapru’s detached, studied role as a mediator. On the other hand, Sapru’s free-lance methods overlay an impatience with colleagues who differed with him. This led him ultimately to repudiate his formal connection with the National Liberal Federation of India and, in spite of continued informal collaboration with old colleagues, style himself a “non-party politician.” Thus his individualism became a contribution in its own way to the Liberal weakness as a party, which we have already noted as a prime cause of declining Liberal fortunes since 1915. In either case, for better or worse, Sapru’s variation on the Liberal intermediary role was to exert the greatest influence left to Indian Liberalism from 1929 onward.


The year 1930 began with the launching of the second great noncooperation movement by Gandhi and the Indian National Congress. Yet the Indian Liberals fixed their hopes on the first official Round Table Conference scheduled for the fall of the year. The Congress had rejected Dominion status because it had not been granted in 1929, but the Liberals were satisfied that the British government had promised it as the ultimate goal and had not foreclosed the possibility of its being pursued at the Round Table Conference. To be sure, the specter of communalism had become a threat to any constitutional settlement which did not assure rigorous protection to Muslims and other minorities in India. It was also true that the Labour Government which had opened the subject of Dominion self-goverment for India was in a weak position in British politics and might soon yield to an uneasy coalition with the Conservatives, if not worse. The Indian Liberals, however, could not afford to hesitate; their organization had to send its best men to London and grapple with the odds.

A number of Liberals attended the first Round Table Conference (November 1930 to January 1931) . Sapru, ably seconded by V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, made it his task to rally the Indian Princes to the idea of an all-India federal union, recognizing that Dominion status would be a frail thing unless it embraced both the British Indian provinces and the princely Indian States. Sapru and Sastri likewise attacked the communal issue, working primarily through M. A. Jinnah. The two Liberals’ ultimate object was to secure a constitutional agreement, provisional if not final, on the basis of which the Congress might suspend noncooperation and renew negotiations with the British government. The Liberal representatives did have qualified success. The British representatives and the leading Princes were persuaded, largely by the maneuvering of Sapru and Sastri, to accept federation in principle, though matters of detail remained unsettled. Also, Ramsay MacDonald agreed on behalf of the Labour Cabinet to increase British efforts toward a truce with the Congress in lndia.[31]

Yet nothing was permanently settled, and the communal negotiations had become deadlocked. Sapru had difficulty getting other Liberals such as C.Y. Chintamani and C. H. Setalvad to join in a conciliatory approach to either the Princes or the Muslims. It is clear, however, that princely and Muslim demands were being pitched so high as to make ultimate agreement unlikely. When Sapru publicized his estrangement from most other Liberals at the conference by announcing his withdrawal from their ranks, it served as a milepost in their continuing decline as an organization, and it weakened not only the Liberal Party’s position but, ultimately, Sapru’s.[32]

Both Sapru and the other Liberals were determined, in spite of their internecine troubles, to use the positive results of the conference to bring together the Government of India and the Congress radicals. Returning to India, Sapru and Sastri hurried to act as intermediaries between Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, on one hand and imprisoned Congressmen, but especially Gandhi, on the other. Irwin’s magnanimity in releasing Congress leaders and the amenability of Gandhi to negotiation were no doubt the principal factors in the Irwin-Gandhi pact of March 1931 and in the uneasy truce which led to Congress participation in the second Round Table Conference. However, Sapru and Sastriperhaps Sastri more than Sapru-must be given credit for easing Gandhi’s initial and recurrent doubts about the negotiations; the two Liberals acted as a buffer against the provocative attitude of Jawaharlal Nehru and other Congress radicals.[33]

The Round Table Conference of September-December 1931 might be expected to have begun with hopeful prospects. It was in fact doomed from the first by factors which were the responsibility of every party to it. The advent of a Labour-Conservative coalition Cabinet brought into the field a conservative Secretary of State for India, Sir Samuel Hoare, who had no sympathy for India. The deepening worldwide financial crisis of the depression years made all Britons cautious about political change anywhere in the Empire-Commonwealth. Sir Samuel Hoare increased the proportions of conservative Princes and communalist Muslims in the Round Table Conference, thereby increasing the odds against either a federal or a communal settlement. Not only Muslim but also Sikh, Untouchable and even Indian Christian leaders increased their demands for legislative representation and balked at settlement of any constitutional issue which affected their demands adversely. The Congress made Gandhi its sole plenipotentiary, despite the antagonisms he was known to arouse in both Britons and Indian minority representatives. The Indian Liberals and their ally Sapru were themselves divided over the extent to whioh princely and Indian minority demands should be accepted. Despite Liberal negotiations with all factions, the result was failure. Neither the maneuvers of a Sapru nor the eloquence of a Sastri could bring together an intransigent government, a provocative Gandhi, or a bickering array of communal spokesmen. The second Round Table Conference ended in a deadlock.[34]

Renewed noncooperation and official repressive actions created an atmosphere in which the British government felt safe to abandon the Round Table Conference “method” of constitution-making for a more one-sided Joint Committee of Parliament. When Sapru led the Liberals in announcing a boycott of the new approach, however, it was enough to persuade the British Cabinet to convene a third Round Table Conference in the fall of 1932. The number of Liberals invited, however, was reduced as a mark of official displeasure, and the proportion of princely and communal conservatives was enlarged. Sapru, still a Liberal in viewpoint, led the nationalist fight as usual, but got nothing beyond polite tolerance from the now solidly entrenched British Conservatives. The final report of the conference, anticipating the British Government’s “White Paper” of 1933 and the Reform Act of 1935, was a far cry from Dominion self-government or even a viable federal union. Its terms were a mockery of the constitutional goals for which the Indian Liberals had spent three years pleading and maneuvering. The Liberals had weakened their own hand by division, but the forces of revolution and reaction around them were far more important in producing their failure.[35]


The position of the Indian Liberals as mediators reached a new low in 1933, leaving a disillusioned fragment of the old Liberal Party which talked fitfully of disbanding altogether. It remained only for Sapru and a fraction of the remaining Liberals to exert what limited efforts their individual prestige allowed them. They would now have to accept unquestionably the individualist motif of their intermediary role, which Sapru had already developed by 1930.

The Liberal Party did not dissolve itself but struggled on, meeting in formal session almost every year up to 1945; thereafter its executive council met from time to time. As a party, however, the Liberals had lost all their influence. This was demonstrated by the elections of 1936 under the Reform Act of 1935, which gave Indians the opportunity at least of erecting cabinet-style governments in the British-Indian provinces. The Liberal Party contested the elections, but the Congress dominated the polls almost everywhere. Most of the Liberals then fumed on the sidelines until the Congress ministries resigned in 1939.[36]

Only when the Congress and the British government became deadlocked in noncooperation from 1940 to 1945, while Britain sought the cooperation

of Indians in the war effort of those years, did Sapru seize a chance to renew Liberal-style influence. In 1941 he convened a “Non-Party Conference” made up of individuals representing most Indian interests except the Congress, the Muslim League and the Communists. This conference appealed to the British Cabinet to give India an all-Indian wartime cabinet as a preliminary to a Dominion constitution after the war. The British Government under Churchill would only promise postwar Dominion status. To this compromise offer, conveyed by the “Cripps Mission” of 1942, the answer of the Congress to Britain was “Quit India!” Sapru’s three Non-Party Conference sessions of 1941-42 were received with scorn from the Congress, the Muslim League and the British Government alike, and the constitutional proposals published by a subcommittee of the conference in 1945 received scant attention.[37]

The three major antagonists of the times were locked in a struggle of grave dimensions and would brook mediation by none but their own representatives. In such a situation the small party and the lone individual could have no hope of influence unless they attached themselves to one of the major parties. This the Liberals both individually and collectively had always refused to do, and they would not do so now. In these circumstances the National Liberal Federation of India clearly had no future, and its session of 1945 proved to be the last. It was ironic that after so many years of effort, the Liberals played no effective part in the final negotiation of India’s independence.


Looking back over the history of Indian Liberalism, it is possible to see that the causes of Liberal decline were already present in the rise and the basic character of this school of thought. The Indian Liberals had developed into intermediaries in two senses by 1900. First, they had purposely assumed the role of representatives of Indian interests and the Indian people at the bar of British political opinion. Then, gradually, they had been drawn by circumstances into a mediating position between the aggressive nationalism of the Indian radicals and the entrenched imperialism of the British power structure. Between this point and their departure from the Indian National Congress in 1918, the Liberals gradually lost to the radicals their claim to be the true representatives of the Indian people at large. From 1905

to 1918, and beyond to 1947, the Liberals also were never able to escape their dilemma as middlemen between the opposing forces of radical nationalism and conservative imperialism.

During the stormy years from 1918 into the 1920s, the Liberals kept trying to vindicate their constitutionalist, reform-oriented position as a correct balance of British and Indian interests. With the Indian National CongTess boycotting the Reform Act of 1919 during its early trials of 1920-1923, and with British officialdom resisting every challenge to its authority, failure stalked Indian Liberal efforts. As a group their fortunes sank, while increasingly they found that their voices counted only when coming from individuals among them whose reputation as mediators suited a particular moment or circumstance.

Even after their humiliating defeat by the Congress-bred Swarajists in 1923, the Liberals sought to preserve a middle-road alternative which might find alliances among other independent parties. No party could agree to a permanent alliance, however, and much less to a merger. Unwilling as the Liberals were to lose their separate identity and independence of judgment, they consequently had to accept a permanent minority position. This in turn made it increasingly clear that the Liberals could exert influence only through their habitual skills in persuasive argument as well as legislation and administration. Once they accepted this limitation, however, they were in some ways more free than ever to play the role of mediator-of “disinterested” negotiator. They could make a virtue of necessity. Having discovered this, a few Liberals began to enjoy, pursue and refine mediation as an individual role.

As a result, the principal development in Liberal affairs during the 1920s was the full-fledged emergence of negotiation by individual Liberals, notably Tej Bahadur Sapru, as the dominant and active feature of the Liberal intermediary position. After 1927 individual mediation became perhaps the quintessence, the ultimate refinement, of the Indian Liberal method. On the other hand, it might be said that it marked the nadir of Liberal influence as a political party, for only when the party had lost any ability to challenge other parties at the polls could its leaders present to others the credentials of men with nothing to gain from the position of mediator.

The new role also marked an essential weakness of the Liberals as a group almost from the beginning of their history. Their strain of individualism not only weakened party discipline but was capable of breaking across party lines altogether. Sapru is the supreme example, though not the only one, of a tendency to disregard the party when he could not persuade it to follow his lead. One can argue indeed that the lone mediator like Sapru ended in as powerless a position ‘as his party, whether he formally dissociated himself from the party or not. The representatives of the interests between which he was trying to negotiate might still demand ultimately that he present his “credentials.” They could reject him as a mediator because he lacked the backing of a large unified party with significant p-0pular support.

The failure of Liberal efforts to get a really advanced set of constitutional reforms for India, or to bring about a lasting truce between either the Congress and the British government or the Hindus and the Muslims, demonstrated this basic problem of the Liberals both as a group and as individuals. They lacked the sanctions which the backing of numbers alone could provide. They could reason and cajole all they might, whether collectively or individually, but they could nevertheless be ignored with impunity by the major parties to the disputes which they attempted to mediate. The Round Table Conferences demonstrated that they could not persuade any of the major combatants-government, Congress or Muslim League-to take them seriously. They remained staunch individualists pursuing a lonely course, in the conviction-not without some justification- that the extremists around them were locked in a vicious circle of rule-or-ruin. It was conclusively proved in the early 1940s that the influence of Liberals as active intermediaries had come to an end, whatever the validity of their positions might be. Like old soldiers, they faded away.

The Indian Liberals can be credited with having had the courage to persevere in an unpopular position and the honest desire to avoid extremes that assume only one’s own position to be the true one. They understood that to condemn as a mere tissue of falsehoods or injustices the character of a competing individual, party or system tends only to destroy good and bad institutions indiscriminately, while it also inhibits constructive alternatives to the series of events thus started on this violent course. They prophesied that Indian respect for constituted authority, legal processes and public order in general would be weakened and would be difficult to recreate after independence.

On the more positive side, the Liberals helped to keep in motion the wheels of nascent Indian parliamentary democracy when these might otherwise have ground to a halt. If the Liberals had not entered the legislatures in 1921, the British might have been aggravated by Congress tactics into either invoking emergency powers and operating as a simple autocracy or else packing the legislatures with an entirely loyalist body of landlords, businessmen, Princes and minority communities.

The Liberals appear to have contributed to the confidence of British officials both in India and England, especially during the noncooperation movements, that further constitutional advance along the main lines established in 1919 would secure sufficient Indian allegiance to preserve not only Britain’s rule but her honor. If the British could at least say in 1947, and with pride, that they had instructed India in the political system it was about to adopt, the Indian Liberals could assert with equal pride that they more than any other group of Indians had sought this instruction, pursued its goal and advertised its prospective benefits. The present Indian Constitution is as much their memorial as other men’s victory.

[1] A treatment of the subject can be found in Crane Brinton, The Anatomy of Revolution (New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1952). Evidence can also be traced in studies such as Elisha P. Douglas, Rebels and Democrats: The Struggle for Equal Political Rights and Majority Rule During the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1955); and Bertram D. Wolfe, Three Who Made a Revolution (2d ed.; New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1964)

[2] Useful studies of Indian Liberalism in general and especially to 1918 include Maganlal A. Buch, Rise and Growth of Indian Liberalism (Baroda: n.p., 1938); Krishna M. V. Rao, The Growth of Indian Liberalism in the Nineteenth Century (Mysore: H. Venkataramiah [1951]); and B. D. Shukla, A History of the Indian Liberal Party (Allahabad: The Indian Press (Publications) Private Ltd., 1960).

[3] The transition in terminology and the arguments supporting it can be found in the Report of the Proceedings of the Second Session of the All-India Conference of the Moderate Party, Held at the Town Hall, Calcutta, on the 30th and 31st December, 1919, and 1st January, 1920 [Calcutta, 1920], pp. 105-16.

[4] This close connection between the ideas of “liberalism” and “moderation” was featured in Mahadev Govind Ranade’s manifesto for the Deccan Sabha of Poona in 1896. Ranade was quoted in 1918 by V. S. Srinivasa Sastri in dedicating the first issue of his newspaper The Servant of India, and quoted again as late as 1941 by another key Liberal, P. S. Sivaswamy Aiyar. See The Servant of India (Poona), February 19, 1918, p. 4; and A Great Liberal: Speeches and Writings of Sir P. S. Sivaswami Aiyar, ed. By K. A. Nilakanta Sastri (Bombay: Allied Publishers Private Limited, 1965), pp. 781-83.

[5] See Bruce Tiebout McCully, English Education and the Origins of Indian Nationalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1940), pp. 217-32, 284-85. Typical Indian Liberal references to British Liberal support can be found in Surendranath Banerjea, A Nation in Making (Bombay: Oxford University Press, 1963), pp. 101-07, 251-54; also C. Y. Chintamani, Indian Politics Since the M utiny (London: George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., 1940), pp. 54-56, 75-76; and Amvika Charan Mazumdar. Indian National Evolution (2d ed.; Madras: G. A. Natesan and Co., 1917), pp. 8-19.

[6] See, for example, B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, The History of the Indian National Congress, I (Bombay: Padma Publications, 1946), pp. H-19; S. R. Mehrotra, India and the Commonwealth, 1885-1929, School of Oriental and African Studies, Studies on Modern Asia and Africa, No. 5 (London: George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., 1965), pp. 15-33.

[7] ‘See Banerjea, op. cit., pp. 289-91, 296-97; Chintamani, op. cit., pp. 83-84; R. P. Masani, Dadabhai Naoroji: The Grand Old Man of India (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1939), pp. 426-42, 499-502; Speeches of Gopal Krishna Gokhale (3rd ed.; Madras: G. A. Natesan and Co., 1920), pp. 698, 708-09, 714-21; Speeches and Writings of the Rt. Hon. V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, P. C. (Madras: G. A. Natesan and Co., 1924), pp. 3-7, 10-17, 68-70.

[8] See, for example, Bal Gangadhar Tilak: His Writings and Speeches (Madras: Ganesh & Co., n.d.), pp. 12-20, 39-44; All About Lok. Tilak (Madras: V. Ramaswamy Sastrulu & Sons, 1922), pp. 505-06, 512-13, 516-17, 526-27; Bipinchandra Pal, Writings and Speeches, I (Calcutta: Yugayatri Prakashak Ltd., 1958), pp. 25-41; Haridas Mukherjee and Uma Mukherjee, Sri Aurobindo’s Political Thought, 1893-1908 (Calcutta: K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1958), pp. 86-91, 95, 127-30, 146-51; Lala Lajpat Rai: The Man in His Word (Madras: Ganesh & Co., 1907), pp. 202-20.

[9] See, for instance, India, Minto and Morley, 1900-1910, comp. by Mary, Countess of Minto (London: MacMillan & Co., Ltd., 1935), pp. 29, 99-100, 150, 161-62, 165, and 416-17; Edwin S. Montagu, An Indian Diary (London: William Heinemann, Ltd., 1930), pp. 7-14, 42-43, 47-48, 55, 102-04, 133-34, 362.

[10] lndia Office Library, Morley Papers, MSS. Eur. D. 573/I, Morley to Minto, August 2, 1906; MSS. Eur. D. 573/II, Morley to Minto, November 29 and December 26-27, 1907; MSS. Eur. D. 573/III, Morley to Minto, June 4, November 12, and December 4, 1908; MSS. Eur. D. 573/IV, Morley to Minto, February 11, and October 14, 1909.

[11] An adequate review of the “Surat split,” unsympathetic to the Liberals but not grossly unfair, can be found in R. C. Majumdar, History of the Freedom Movement in India (Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1963), II, pp. 153-60, 198-214, 328-30. For a Liberal view, see Mazumdar, op. cit., pp. 99-120.

[12] 0n the Congress reunion see, e.g., Annie Besant, The Future of Indian Politics (Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1922), pp. 68-84, 98-107; Majumdar, op. cit., pp. 353-60. Liberal support of the “Congress League Scheme” is reflected in Speeches and Writings of . . . Srinivasa Sastri, pp. 71-74, 84-89.

[13] The Leader (Allahabad), October 1, 1917, pp. 5, 8; October 4, p. 8; October 6, p. 4; October 10, p. 8; Deccan Sabha, Poona, Correspondence File (compiled November 12, 1963), letter from P. C. Ray to several Congressmen, November 10, 1917.

[14] lndia Office Library, Montagu Papers, MSS. Eur. D. 523/41, Indian Diary, Appendix, pp. 1-13. For Montagu’s Statement in Parliament see Great Britain, Parliament, 5 Parliamentary Debates (Commons), XCVII (1917), 1694-95. Montagu had shown his sympathy for Indian Liberal aspirations as Under-Secretary of State for India during 1912- 13. See Speeches on Indian Questions by Rt. Hon’ble Mr. Montagu (Madras: G. A. Natesan & Co., n.d.), pp. 26-29, 108-11, 159-60, 201-04.

[15] Montagu Papers, MSS. Eur. D. 523/41, Indian Diary, Appendix, pp. 108-10, 435-42, 449. See also Montagu, An Indian Diary, pp. 91, 104, 122-23, 133-34, 216-17, 274, 279, 308-11, 313, 322, 325, 334, 336-37, and 373. The shift of Liberal opinion was marked in such Liberal organs as The Servant of India, February 19, 1918, p. 4; March 21, 1918, p.52.

[16] The Servant of India, March 21, 1918, p. 52; April 11, pp. 89-91. Commonweal(Madras), April 26, 1918, p. 230; May 24, p. 294; May 31, pp. 309-10. The Leader, June 14, 1918, p. 5; June 29, p. 4.

[17] The Bengalee (Calcutta), July 4, 1918, p. 3; July 13, p. 3; July 17, p. 3. The Leader, July 4, 1918, p. 7; July 11, p. 4; July 17, p. 3; July 20, p. 3.

[18] Deccan Sabha, Poona, Correspondence File (November 12, 1963), circular letter dated August 13, 1918. The Bengalee, August 11, 1918, p. 4; August 13, p. 4. The Leader, August 14, pp. 3 and 5; August 24, p. 7; August 25, pp. 4 and 5; August 26, p. 2. The Servant of India, August 22, 1918, pp. 314-15.

[19] 19For a Liberal move anticipating the Moderates’ Conference, see India, Imperial Legislative Council, Proceedings, LVII, 1918-19, pp. 93-154. See also: Report of the Special Session of the Indian National Congress, Bombay, 1918, pp. 92-94, 98-99; Proceedings of the All-India Moderates’ Conference, First Session, Bombay, 1918, pp. 1, 18-51, 63-74, 98-108, 125-32.

[20] Report of the Thirty-third Session of the Indian National Congress, 1918, pp. 64-92. V. S. Srinivasa Sastri led the few Liberals who seriously attempted reconciliation. See, e.g., The Servant of India, November 7, 1918, p. 441; December 19, pp. 509-10, 513; also, letters from Sastri to H. G. Limaye, November 11, 1918, and to S. G. Vaze, November 26, 1918, in Sastri MSS, National Archives of India, fol., 1918-19.

[21] Liberal representatives strenuously opposed the Rowlatt Bill, and two Liberals condemned the Panjab regime in the Minority Report of the Hunter Committee. See, e.g., India, Imperial Legislative Council, Proceedings, LVII, 1918-19, pp. 1183-90, 1195- 98; Speeches and Writings of . . . Srinivasa Sastri, pp. 146-64; Disorders Enquiry Committee, 1919-1920, Report (Calcutta: Superintendent, Government Printing, India, 1920), pp. 143-236; C. H. Setalvad, Recollections and Refiections (Bombay: Padma Publications, 1946), pp. 301-303, 310-313

[22] See, e.g., Proceedings, National Liberal Federation of India, Fourth Session, Alla· habad, December 28-30, 1921, pp. i-ii, 1-30.

[23] India, Legislative Assembly Debates, II, September, 1921, pp. 956, 1228-33, 1247-86; III, Part 2, January-February, 1923, pp. 1413-14; III, Part 3, February-March, 1923, pp. 2715-36. Proceedings, National Liberal Federation of India, Fifth Session, Nagpur, December 27-29, 1922, pp. 19-49.

[24] The Leader, November 19, 1923, p. 3; December 15, p. 3; December 28, p. 3. R. P. Paranjpye, Eighty-Four, Not Out (“A National Trust Book”; Delhi: The Publications Division, 1961), pp. 88-89. Setalvad, op. cit., pp. 255-57.

[25] See, e.g., India, Legislative Assembly Debates, N, Part l, January-February, 1924, pp. 221, 548, 609-20, 755-68; Parts 2 and 3, February-March, 1924, pp. 1376-1430, 1443-44, 1915-60. For a key statement on the discipline dilemma, see T. N. Jagadisan (ed.), Letters of the Right Honourable V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, P. C., C. H., LL.D., D.Litt. (2d ed.; New York: Asia Publishing House, 1963), pp. 117-19.

[26] The Leader, November 24, 1926, p. 5; December 1, p. 3; December 3, p. 3; December 6, p. 3; December 12, p. 5.

[27] The Leader, November 10, 1927, pp. 9 and 10; November 11, pp. 8-11; November 19, p. 9; November 25, p. 8.

[28] The Leader, July 18, 1927, p. 4; July 21, p. 3; November 23, p. 9; November 24, p. 9; November 26, p. 8. The Bengalee, December 10, 1927, p. 4; December 14, p. 5; January 3, 1928, pp. 4-6; January 5, p. 5. Proceedings, National Liberal Federation of India, Tenth Session, December, 1927, pp. 9-34, 80-83.

[29] All Parties Conference, 1928, Report of the Committee appointed by the Conference to determine the Principle of the Constitution for India (Allahabad: General Secretary, All India Congress Committee [1928] ), pp. 19·55, 100·24. The Proceedings of the All Parties National Convention (Allahabad: Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Secretary, All Parties National Convention [1929] ), pp. 73-95.

[30] National Library of India, Calcutta, Sapru MSS, Vol. 9, I. 10-I. 19, correspondence between Sapru and Lord Irwin, November-December, 1929; Vol. 16, N. 40-N. 41, Sapru to Motilal Nehru, December, 1929; Vol. 17, P. 11-P. 19, correspondence between Sapru and V. J. Patel. November-December, 1929; fol. J (1963), correspondence between M. A. Jinnah and Sapru, December 3, 5, 14, and 19, 1929.

[31] Great Britain, Indian Round Table Conference, 12th November, 1930-19th January, 1931. Proceedings (Calcutta: Government of India Central Publications Branch, 1931), pp. 24-74, 100-119, 141-42, 236-51, 276-78, 399-428, 445-84. See also the reports of Sub­committees I, II, and III.

[32] Sapru MSS, Vol. 14, S. 131, letter from Sapru to C. H. Setalvad, November 29, 1930. The Leader, December 7, 1930, p. 9. Letters of . . . Srinivasa Sastri, pp. 195, 198-206.

[33] Ibid., pp. 207-12. Sapru MSS, Vol. 9, I. 64, I. 68, I. 69, and I. 71, correspondence between Sapru and Lord Irwin, February-March, 1931; Vol. 24, S. 174, S. 175, and S. 178, Sapru to Mahara ja of Bikanir, February II, March 10, and June 2, 1931.

[34] Great Britain, Indian Round Table Conference (Second Session), 7th September, 1931-l st December, 1931, Proceedings of the Plenary Session (Calcutta: Government of India Central Publications Branch, 1932), pp. 7-10, 306-07, 407-22. See also The Leader, October 5, 1931, p. 9; October 7, p. 9; October 9, pp. 9-10; October 10, p. 9; Letters of . . . Srinivasa Sastri, pp. 218-22.

[35] Sapru MSS, Vol. 23, S. 7/6, letter from Sapru and M. R. Jayakar to Lord Sankey, June 19, 1932; Vol. 27, W. 35-W. 37, correspondence between Sapru and Viceroy (Lord Willingdon) during June-July, 1932; Vol. 9, I. 77, letter from Sapru to Lord Irwin. July 10, 1932; Vol. 8, H. 225, letter from Sapru to Sir Samuel Hoare, December 19, 1932. The Bengalee, July 1, 1932, pp. 2 and 4; July 6, p. 1; July 10, pp. 1 and 2. Great Britain, Indian Round Table Conference ( Third Session), 17th November, 1932-24th December, 1932 (London: H.M.S.O., 1933), pp. 6-47, 55-57, 63-87, 137-52.

[36] The reports of the Liberal Federation’s annual sessions tended to force a positive note, appealing alternately to British and Indian statesmanship. Private assessments, whether of politics at large or the future of the Liberals, were more somber. See, e.g., Proceedings, National Liberal Federation of India, Nineteenth Session, Calcutta, December 29-31, 1937, pp. 1-5, 16-22, 27-28, 41-44; Sastri MSS, Servants of India Society, Madras, letter from C. Y. Chintamani to Sastri, September 18, 1937; correspondence between Sastri and C. H. Setalvad, November 18 and 29, 1938.

[37] Non-Party Conference sessions were held on March 13-14, 1941, July 26-27, 1941, and February 21-22, 1942. See The Non-Party Political Conference. A National Government; Answers to Criticism. Statements issued by the President and the Standing Committee of the Non-Party Political Conference, and other pa pers (Allahabad: K. Ishwara Dutt, 194·1); also Constitutional Proposals of the Sapru Committee, comp. by Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, et al. (Bombay: Padma Publications, 1945), pp. 157-62, 175-77.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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