1990s >> 1992 >> no-1057-september-1992

50 Years Ago: Gandhi and the Millionaires

At the time of Gandhi’s arrest several British newspapers made much of the close association between Congress leaders and wealthy Indian capitalists, the Daily Express had the following:—

Just as ten years ago German industrialists decided to finance Hitler for their own ends, so to-day it is largely great Indian capitalists who stand behind Congress.
Men like the Birla brothers, great mill owners, and Walchand Hirachand, chairman of the £1,700,000 Scindia Steam Navigation Company, see India freed from British control, as the industrialists’ paradise, with high tariff walls.
Some rich Congressmen would like to do a business deal with Japan, too. It is against such tendencies that two new leaders have now sprung up, who are putting Congress through the greatest crisis of its career.

(Daily Express, August 6th, 1942.)

The Evening Standard (August 4th) said: “There was surely never a quainter contrast in political associates than that between Gandhi and his host for the Bombay meeting of Congress, Ghanshyam Das Birla, the millionaire of big business . . . Now and then their friendship has been criticised by Indian Socialists.” This is fair comment. A political movement which claims to represent the interests of Indian workers and peasants has got to explain why it receives financial support from Indian big business, the exploiters of the Indian toilers; but why does this apply only in India; why not nearer home? What about big business influence in British political parties? And why should Indian workers be impressed by advice from millionaire controlled British newspapers, or from politicians who likewise find close associates in the ranks of the captains of industry?

[From “Notes By The Way”, Socialist Standard, September 1942.]