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An American Witness To India's Partition by Phillip Talbot

By Phillip Talbot

In 1938 few americans knew approximately British-governed India or the nationalist pursuits then burgeoning there. Addressing this, a brand new York-based starting place, the Institute of present global Affairs, provided 23-year-old Phillips Talbot a fellowship to spend numerous years in India studying concerning the nation. This quantity is a suite of Talbot s letters written among 1938 and 1950, at the buildup to the independence of India and Pakistan, and the early stories of the hot states. Talbot s letters and experiences from the sector, awarded right here within the unique, contain his first-hand observations on pupil existence at Aligarh Muslim collage, neighborhood lifestyles in a small Muslim neighborhood in Kashmir, a Vedic ashram in Lahore, Tagore s Shantiniketan, Gandhi s Sevagram, the Kodaikanal Ashram Fellowship, and Hindu and Muslim city groups in Lahore and Bombay, and Afghanistan. studying approximately Indian politics, Talbot attended the most important conferences of the Indian nationwide Congress, together with the Ramgarh Conclave first and foremost of global conflict II, and the All India Muslim League s Lahore consultation at which the Pakistan answer used to be followed in 1940, besides different assemblies reminiscent of the Asian relatives convention within the spring of 1947. He got here to grasp Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Jinnah and different leaders. A knowledgeable journalist, Talbot studies with aptitude, no matter if he's recounting the Lahore consultation of the Muslim League, or describing a stroll with Gandhi in Noakhali district of East Bengal after "the nice Calcutta killing" of 1946, or his final interview with Gandhi a number of weeks sooner than the latter s assassination. For anyone wishing to get a ground-level view of South Asian society in its decisive decade, those letters from an American observer will end up to be an stress-free learn.

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Tom Blakemore, who is spending five weeks in Germany, undoubtedly can tell you far more about conditions at the moment than I can. But it would be unfair to mention the evidences of the anti-Jewish campaign without describing some of the other things we saw. In the bierstuben∗ and restaurants uniformed and nonuniformed men mix easily in card-playing groups. On the streets most of the pedestrians step along alertly as if important business awaits their care. In the restaurant where Angus and I lunched we were amused to observe the stir of interest when a lad of about 8 entered the room, stretched out his arm and squeaked the universal “Heil Hitler,” and then went about asking winter help donations for the poor.

The Congress platform is grounded on democratic government, independence and economic advancement of the country. The Muslim League is attentive primarily to Muslim rights and demands. Several attempts at rapprochement have been made, but each has broken on the preliminary question of status. The Muslim League insists upon recognition as the authoritative representative of Muslims in India; the Congress retorts that it itself claims to be a national body with Muslim members (the solidly Muslim Northwest Frontier Province is pro-Congress) and cannot accept the inference that it may negotiate only on behalf of the Hindus.

Together we spent a happy evening of conversation, drifting all the way from our common fraternity brothers to German state policies and back. On Sunday I lunched with Angus Thuermer, a school mate at the University of Illinois. As we walked down Kurfürstendamm he pointed to a second-story window from which the glass was out. ” he asked. ” All along the street we noticed places where neon signs and brass markers had been torn down. We saw new plate glass windows in shops whose merchandise shelves were bare.

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