The Case of India and the British Commonwealth of Nations

The challenge involved in integrating India into a British Commonwealth of Nations, exchanging the role of Britain as a colonizer for one as a co-equal participant in a larger aggregate of humanity, is one which may provide a key to the larger aggregation of all of humanity on a peaceful and harmonious basis.  It is therefore useful to review the conditions that make such a result possible, as Sri Aurobindo has described:

With respect to integrating a free and independent India into such an aggregation:  “It must allow, respect and even favour actively the free and separate evolution of India subject to the unity of the Empire.  So long as India does not entirely govern herself, her interests must take a first place in the mind of those who do govern her, and when she has self-government, it must be of a kind which will not hamper her in her care of her own interests.  She must not, for example, be forced into an imperial Zollverein which under present conditions would be disastrous to her economic future until or unless these conditions are changed by a resolute policy of stimulating and encouraging her industrial development, even though that will necessarily be prejudicial to many existing commercial interests within the Empire.  No effort must be made to impose English culture or conditions upon her growing life or make the a sine qua non for her recognition among the free peoples of the Empire and no effort of her own to defend and develop her own culture and characteristic development must be interfered with or opposed.  Her dignity, sentiments, national aspirations must be increasingly recognised in practice as well as in principle.  Given these conditions, the security of her political and economic interests and a care for her own untroubled growth might keep her in the Empire and time might be given for the rest, for the more subtle and difficult part of the process of unification to fulfil itself more or less rapidly.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part I, Chapter 8, The Problem of a Federated Heterogeneous Empire, pp. 64-65

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