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An Appeal to Conscience 


Tan Yun-Shan

Before making my appeal, I must make myself clear to those to whom I shall appeal. All my friends know that I am a pure and simple Chinese Buddhist scholar. Though occupying the position of a University Professor, I regard myself a pilgrim to India. My humble ideal and mission is to bring these two great nations, India and China, together through cultural intercourse and co-operation, not only for the good of our two countries but for the good of the whole world. I have nothing to do with any kind of politics. I also do not know much about politics. But the present situation in India has prompted and compelled ma to make this appeal although this seems to involve political problems. However my motive is pure and unadulterated, conscientious and humanitarian, not at all political but humanitarian.

The present political deadlock and chaotic situation in India cannot in any case be any more prolonged and should not be allowed to last longer. It would do good to nobody but help the common enemy. It will serve neither the purpose of Great Britain nor the purpose of India but will be a tempting invitation to the Japanese Militarists. It is just like the kingfisher and the clam in Chinese story. When a clam exposed itself to the sun, a kingfisher struck its beak into it. The clam immediately closed its shell and caught the beak of the kingfisher. The kingfisher said to the clam: Today it will not rain, tomorrow it will not rain, then you must die. "The clam retorted:" Today you will not get out, tomorrow you will not get out, then will die the kingfisher." Then came a fisherman who caught both the kingfisher and the clam. Therefore both of them became the victims of the fisherman. Now the Japanese fisherman is watching at the gate of India with vigilant eyes and a mind made malicious by the cult of militarism. He will surely avail himself of every opportunity to catch both the clam and the kingfisher. If that happens, it will be most unfortunate and tragic, not for India alone but for the United Nations and human decency. A Chinese proverb says: "Don't let your Kinsmen feel pain and your foes feel pleasure". The present situation in India cause great anxiety to India's friends, but makes Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo laugh so loudly in their broadcast, Therefore I make this appeal.

First I must appeal to my Indian brethren.

All of you know that I am a lover of India. I love and regard your country just as much as my own; used to claim the privilege for myself of being half Indian and half Chinese. Your aspirations for the freedom and independence of India have all my sympathy and enthusiasm. In fact, your aspirations are also mine. But your present actions and movements, especially the ways and methods of your actions and movements  such as looting shops, derailing trains, burning post-offices, raiding government offices, and killing government officials, are not at all desirable and advisable. So far as I understand, such actions and movements are not included in the programme of the All-India National Congress and such methods and ways of movements and actions are hated by Mahatma Gandhiji. Mahatmaji has declared several times that India should not embarrass the British and the United Nations in their prosecution of the war against the Axis, He also said very often that India should sacrifice herself for a greater cause.

Now the present war is not merely a war between the British and the Germans. It is a war between the United Nations and the Axis. In other words, it is a war between the Democratic powers and the Aggressive Forces. It is a war between freedom and slavery, between justice and injustice, between good and evil, between morality and immorality, between humanitarianism and brutality. Therefore, India not only should not impede and harass the British and the United Nations in their effort in prosecuting the war, but also should join them to fight the Axis, especially the Japanese. For the Japanese have already knocked at the door of India and will be your most dangerous, ruthless and cold-blooded enemies when they get into your  country, Of course I quite understand your bitterness caused by the recent happenings in India. You say that you cannot fight with the British who have denied freedom to India; that until India is independent you cannot join the war with anybody or declare war against anybody; that this war is also merely a war among the hypocritical imperialists for their power, and the mastery of their colonies; and that if you join the war unconditionally at this stage it will only help the British Imperialists to perpetuate their grasp on India. If this is really the case and if the present war is really so simple, you are right to say so. But the problems in the present war are not so simple and the future of India will not be simple either. When the war is over and the United Nations have won it, India will surely be independent and free. There will be no power on earth which could refuse the right to India to regain her independence and freedom, provided only India joins the war, The British cannot and will not, in any way deny or delay India's freedom and independence, But if, unfortunately, the United Nations lose the war, there will be no such thing as independence or freedom not only for India but for the whole world. There will be only the terrible tyranny of Germany, Italy and Japan, most probably of Germany alone. All the other nations and peoples will be trampled under Hitler's iron heel; even Duke Mussolini and General Tojo will be only Herr Hitler's obedient jacks.

So I most earnestly appeal to you, my dear and respected Indian brethren, for the sake of India's own defence, for the sake of the United nations common cause, and for the sake of peace, justice and humanity; you must cease the present mass movement against the British Government, and turn the present movement into a fighting campaign against the Japanese invasion. If you do not like, for certain reasons, to join hands with the British, you can Join the war Shoulder to Shoulder With the United Nations. There are United States  troops in India. You may also join the war in various ways. If you do not all of you, like to fight with the United Nations in arms, you can fight non-violently by organising the people and giving them necessary information and instructions about the war, by telling the people about the danger of a Japanese invasion and training them how to resist it, and by doing nothing which may be considered harmful to the United Nations and helpful to the enemy. You must realise the rultlessness and mercilessness, the atrocities and brutalities, and the immorality and inhumanity of the Japanese Militarists. You must not listen to Japanese propaganda which is merely deceit and lie. You must not think of having a change of Master as Mahatmaji once said. If unfortunately the Japanese ever come to be India's master it will be worse for you, worse than any other imperialist power. You can easily see this from what the, Japnese have done and are doing in Korea, Formosa and in occupied China. Moreover, you must not be disappointed and dismayed by the present situation, The future of India is very great, hopeful, bright and glorious. You have only to fight for it now by joining the United Nations in this war. My dear and respected Indian brethen, cease your present mass movement against the British Government, join the United Nations, and fight the aggressive Axis, especially the Japanese invaders!

Now, let me appeal to our great ally, the British Authorities :

For everybody's sake and for many reasons you must first declare India independent and free immediately, then form an Indian National Government as soon as possible. This is the aspiration not only of the Indian people but also of the people of the United Nations. Even your own British people, most of them, I dare say, have the same desire too. Perhaps only our common enemies would not like you to do so; because if you declare India independent and free, their propaganda will be useless and they will lose their hope of getting the Indians on the their side. Otherwise, Hitler may cry loudly again and again: "If Mr. Churchill can set India free I will kneel down before him;" the Japs may daily broadcast to the Indian people: "The British would not give you freedom and we shall come to relieve you." I therefore, most humbly and earnestly pray to you farsighted British statesmen, to declare India free and independent immediately. Let Hitler kneel down before Mr. Churchill, let the Japs shut their evil mouths and may their day-dreams evaporate !

I say you must first declare India independent and free immediately because this is the first and most urgent thing to do. This is what we call "Cheng Ming", in Chinese, meaning 'to rectify names'. Once the greatest Chinese saint Confucius was asked by his disciple Tsu-Lu what he would do first if he had to administer the government. Confucius answered: "First, I would rectify names. "He again said : "If names be not rectified, words will not be in accordance with the truth of things. If words be not in accordance with truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success." When you declare India independent and free, then the name of India and the present war will be immediately rectified, and the present deplorable situation of India as well as of the war will entirely be changed for the better. Then you can very easily form an Indian National Government. To declare India independent and free needs not much time. But to form an Indian National Government will take a little more time. Still I hope you will accomplish this work as soon as possible. For the Indian National Government will help and join us to carry on the war against the Axis. The sooner this Indian National Government be formed the better will it be for us all. By declaring India independent and free, you will lose nothing; by forming an Indian National Government, you will get everything not only for yourselves but also for the United Nations.

You may say that you have promised India freedom and independence already, but this is not the time to declare it; and that you are ready to grant India Self-Government, but until the Indians themselves settle their internal quarrels you cannot do it. If we only think of one side and look at it from one standpoint, it is quite right to say so. But if we also think of the other side and look from the other standpoint, we shall have quite a different view. I am fond of quoting proverbs. Another Chinese proverb says : "The onlooker is always more clear than the man who is inside the affair." As an onlooker and outsider as well as a well-wisher, I think this is the best and most favourable time to declare India independent and free. This is a golden opportunity to declare India independent and free. For the desire and demand for India's freedom and independence has never been so eager, so great and so urgent. You should not miss this golden opportunity. If you declare India independent and free just now, you will not only gain the heart of the 400 million Indian people, but also obtain the praise, enthusiasm, appreciation and admiration of the United Nations. You will not only win the war but will write a glorious page in the history of mankind. When you declare India independent and free, the Indians will naturally settle their internal quarrels and come together to form a National Government. Although there are discordancies and controversies among the different reactions and parties in India, the desire and demand for India's freedom and independence are the same everywhere. Even if the Indians cannot settle their internal quarrel and form a National Government after your Declaration, the blame and fault will be theirs not yours. Then you have done your duty and justice is on your side, your Government will remain here, and it will only increase your dignity and strengthen your hold on India.

There is no need of fearing that, when India becomes independent and free and has her own national government, she may make peace with the Japanese, or she may not join the war, or she may oppose the United Nations to carry on the war in India. It will be exactly the opposite. When India becomes independent and free, she will totally and whole-heartedly join the war with us. The Indians will neither make peace with the Japs nor oppose the war to be carried on in India. For the All-India National Congress, and other parties have declared more than once that if they have their independence and freedom they will join the United Nations and fight the Axis at all cost. It was because they had not got their freedom and independence, they said, that they could not join the war. We may not believe in anybody else but we must believe in the sincerity, the honesty, the truthfulness and the sublime personality of Mahatma Gandhi. We may not trust other people but we must have trust in the zeal, the eagerness, the great effort and enthusiasm of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to fight against the Italian Fascists, the German Nazis and the Japanese Militarists. As a matter of fact the Indians also cannot make peace with the Japanese or oppose the war even if they liked to do so. For the power is still in your hands and the United Nations troops are here. But if they cannot get their independence and freedom they may be deadly disappointed and may despair, Great disappointment and despair may compel them to do anything and everything to harm not only the British authorities but also the common cause of the United Nations.

Again, you need not also fear that when India becomes independent and free you will lose your relationship with and your advantage, profit and benefit in this country. It will again be just the contrary. You will not only not lose all these things but will gain more and more. The truth is that human feelings are reciprocal and mutual, and the natural law is relative and respondent. When there is a sound, there must be an echo; when there is an action, there must be a reaction; when there is a movement, there must be a response; and when there is a cause, there must be an effect. So far as I know, most of your intellectuals and scholars do not read much of other Chinese philosophers but like to read Lao-Tsu. If your statesmen also read Lao-Tsu, you will understand all the things I have said above. It is a very small book, only about five thousand words in Chinese and there are several English translations. So you can read it very easily. Lao-Tsu told us: "The more you do for others, the more you give to others, the more you will gain." He said again: "If you want to gain it, you must give it first." Again he said : "If you want to hold it, you will lose it." The Indian people are a very philosophical and sensible, hospitable and benevolent, friendly and thankful people. If you give them freedom and independence, they will surely ever reciprocate your kindness, your goodness, and your greatness. So also will be your benefit, your advantage and your profit. Then neither Hitler nor Mussolini nor the Japanese can break the link between your two great nations. Nor can they interfere with your benefit, advantage, and profits in India. But it will be better for you not to think in those old terms, Dominion, Autonomy and Self-government. Let India be completely independent and free, make her your equal and true ally. After this war, there must be a great Union of all the free nations ; there should be no Empire either like the old German, Italian and Japanese or as the French, the Dutch or your own Empire. It will be very good for you to take the lead and start this movement just now in India. If you can take the lead and start this movement just now in India, you will surely be crowned with success. And the whole world will really bow to you.

Moreover, you have declared again and again that you and the United Nations are fighting this war for freedom, for peace, for justice, for democracy and so on. How can we deny the very freedom to India whose population consists of one-fifth of the whole world? If such a great number, as the Indians are, do not join us or unfortunately side with the Axis, how can we be sure to win the war ? Even if we can win the war without setting India independent and free what will be the significance of the war? To fight to win the war or to defeat the Axis is not enough for us. We must fight and destroy the very cause of war. Hitler might have thought that if the British could dominate such a large country as India in Asia, why we Germans could not dominate such small countries as Austria, Czecho-Slovakia, Poland, etc., in Europe? Therefore Hitler said at the very beginning of the war : "If Mr. Churchill can set India free, I shall kneel down before him." The Japanese might think that if Great Britain could rule such a great nation as India from so far away, why could not the Japanese conquer China and thereafter the whole of Asia from so near by? So the late Tanaka made the world-famous "Memorial". Of course the real cause of the war is not due to your domination of India. But by setting India free and independent, you will break the excuse and pretext of the Axis for their aggression and thereby remove one of the causes of war. At least you will set a noble example to them and relieve your responsibility for causing further wars. Until the cause of war be removed there will be no peace, no freedom, no justice; even after this war. Therefore, I most earnestly and humbly appeal and pray to you far-sighted British statesmen, for everybody's sake and for many reasons, to declare India independent and free, and to form an Indian National Government, enabling the Indian people to join the war totally and to finish wholeheartedly and the Axis as soon as possible.

The above appeal to both, my dear and respected Indian brethren and our great and honourable ally, the British Authorities, comes from the depth of my heart, It is from my conscience that I appeal to your conscience. As an admirer and lover of you both, my words are very frank and simple. I hope both of, you will not misunderstand me. Anyhow, I must wish you both well and pray for peace and an earliest settlement between you both!



September 24,1942

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