JAGAN AND BURNHAM IN INDIA
Newspaper Reports from India
November 1953-February 1954
On 27 April 1953, the socialist oriented pro-independence People's Progressive Party (PPP) won an overwhelming victory in the Guyana (then British Guiana) general elections, the first to be held under universal adult suffrage. This victory apparently upset the plans of the British Government who had expected that the pro-colonial parties and elite individuals would have scored a victory.
But it was also clear that the colonial authorities were already perusing plans for intervention in Guyana even before the April elections. According to recently released British Colonial Office documents of the period, the Commissioner of Police had advised the Governor on the 10 April that the growing political strength of the PPP "may soon constitute a serious threat to the internal security of the Colony. . . ." He was subsequently requested by the Governor to evaluate the readiness of the Police and the Volunteer Forces to deal with riots expected to break out on the event of a PPP victory.
At about the same time, the British Colonial Office set about to plan how fast and effective would British troops in the Caribbean be dispatched to Guyana if disturbances should ever break out. And interestingly, on the 3 June, when the PPP Government was only two weeks in office, the Colonial Office requested that Governor Savage should inform the British military headquarters in the Caribbean on a regular basis of developments taking place in Guyana under the new Government.
Thus, shortly after the new democratically elected PPP Government was sworn in, the British Government began entertaining ideas to remove it from power.
Unaware of these machinations, the new Government, led by Dr. Cheddi Jagan, immediately set about to implement its programme as set out in its election manifesto. This included social and economic reforms such as the improvement of health, housing, and education, and expansion of agricultural and industrial development. The programme also involved the extension of rights to workers to choose their trade union representative through a democratic process, the expansion of secular education and land reform. The free movement of Caribbean people and the right to obtain access to new ideas, including reading material, were also among the PPP's legislative plans.
This programme was eagerly embraced by the vast majority of the people, but it enraged the elite elements including the landlords, leaders of the "big business" community, the sugar plantation owners, leaders of Christian denominations who controlled primary education, and heads of "company" trade unions and newspaper owners. The PPP Government, for wanting to implement these democratic reforms, was thereupon branded "communist" and all efforts were made by the British Governor, Sir Alfred Savage, in collusion with the anti-PPP forces, to hamper and undermine the efforts of the Government to implement these reforms.
Eventually, on October 5, 1953, the British Government, spuriously claiming that the PPP intended to set up a "communist" regime, landed a strong military force in Guyana, suspended the constitution and ousted the Government. Even though there were no violent or hostile street demonstrations before or after the troops landed, a wave of repression was launched against PPP leaders and supporters. Many were arrested and detained for long period without trial, while others had their movements restricted to their places of residence. In other cases, some were placed on trumped up charges and sentenced to terms of imprisonment.
Immediately after the ousting of the Government, a few elite individuals, including those who had been badly defeated in the April elections, hustled to London to congratulate the British Government for overthrowing democracy. Efforts by PPP leaders, Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham, to travel to London to protest the British action were deliberately thwarted; airlines refused to sell them tickets, and some Caribbean countries refused to admit them at their airports to make connecting flights. Eventually, they managed to privately charter a plane to Suriname where they obtained seats on a Dutch airliner to Amsterdam. From there they travelled to London where, unfortunately, they were unable to make any headway with the Conservative-led Government, and even with the leadership of the opposition Labour Party. It was obvious that in those Cold War days, the "communist" label was stuck on them and the conservative-minded political leaders just showed no interest in denouncing the trampling of democracy by the colonial power.
Nevertheless, both Burnham and Jagan addressed public meetings and trade union groups and won great sympathy for the cause of the Guyanese people.
From London, they travelled to the Indian sub-continent where they explained their case to political leaders and addressed large sympathetic crowds in major Indian and Pakistani cities.
The newswires of those days carried regular reports on the PPP leaders' visit to the United Kingdom and India, but as was expected, efforts were made to put a black-out in the Guyanese press on any positive reports of their meetings. As such, very scanty news stories of their visit to India, in particular, were reported in the Guyanese newspaper. But this was not the case in India where they were greeted profusely by the general public and where their public engagements received maximum press coverage.
This publication contains a collection of news stories from The Hindu, a leading newspaper in Chennai (Madras) during November 1953-February 1954. (An article from the Hindustan Times of New Delhi is also included). In addition, a few reports of their visits to the United Kingdom are added to the collection to give a background to the visit to India.
These reports reveal the strong influence of the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi in Indian politics of that period, and at many public meetings the Guyanese leaders were advised to follow the path of non-violence and non-cooperation in their struggle against British colonial oppression.
One interesting revelation gleaned from these news reports is the previously unpublicised information that Queen Elisabeth II on her coronation actually awarded medals to the Ministers of the PPP Government "in recognition of their public work". Ironically, it was for this same "public work" that they were eventually branded "communist" and overthrown by Her Majesty's Government four months later. The medals were never collected!
The newspaper clippings containing these reports were recently made available to the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre, and all efforts have been made to faithfully reproduce them here. The reader must note that the print on some of the clippings has deteriorated over time, and some words have become almost illegible. In a few places, words shown in square brackets indicate those almost illegible sections where the most approximate word resemblances have been inserted (by the editor). The dates shown below the news reports indicate the dates on which they were published in the newspaper.
Cheddi Jagan's own reflection of that historical visit to India more than fifty years ago provides a conclusion to this collection.
THE NEWS REPORTS
DR. JAGAN TO FLY TO LONDON
GEORGETOWN, Oct. 17.
The way had been cleared today for Dr. Cheddi Jagan, deposed Prime Minister of British Guiana, to fly to London on Monday (October 19) by way of Dutch Guiana, official British sources said.
Dr. Jagan and Mr. L.F.S. Burnham, Former Education Minister, will charter a plane to Paramaribo to connect with a K.L.M. flight for Amsterdam.
Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham said early in the crisis that they intended to fly to London to present their case to the British Government.
Dr. Jagan told Reuter, "We will go unless the British Government places some further obstacle n our way."
They will charter a plane from a local airways for the flight to Paramaribo, where Dutch authorities will allow them to wait under guard for the K.L.M. plane if they leave the same day.
Dutch officials have refused to allow them to stay overnight but do not object to a short stop over. The Dutch Government will allow them to land in Amsterdam it was confirmed today. Though the leaders of the P.P.P. have said all along that the British Guiana Government was obstructing their passage, local officials in fact helped to arrange the flight on Monday by confirming with Dutch officials at Paramaribo and Amsterdam that a passage was clear.
Both have passports already, though Mr. Burnham needs endorsement for travel to European countries which will be made tomorrow. Dr. Jagan said he was considering a further cable to Mr. Clement Attlee to follow his cable earlier today asking the British Labour Party to send a delegation to British Guiana.
Presumably he would inform Mr. Attlee of the new position and cancel the request.
Mr. Burnham had said he had been told by Sir Alfred Savage, the Governor, that Mr. Lyttelton would not see them until the Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs, Mr. Henry Hopkinson, reports to him from British Guiana.
It was confirmed here today that Mr. Sidney King, former Minister of Labour, and Mr. Ashton Chase, former Minister of Health, had also made an unsuccessful attempt to travel to London. They are both P.P.P. leaders.-Reuter.
19 October 1953
JAGAN WELCOME TO INDIA - DELHI'S REPLY TO REQUEST
NEW DELHI, Oct. 17.
A reply has been sent by the Ministry of External Affairs to the telegram addressed to the Prime Minister by Dr. Jagan, deposed Prime Minister of British Guiana.
It is learnt that Dr. Jagan has been told that he would be certainly welcome to come to India when he found it convenient to do so after his projected visit to U.K. But it would not be possible for him to address Parliament since it is not the custom in India to permit non-members to do so.
Dr. Jagan has further been informed that members of Parliament would no doubt be interested in meeting him and hearing his views informally.
Dr. Jagan had in his telegram to Prime Minister Nehru asked for assistance in the dispute with the British authorities. He had also wanted an invitation for his colleague, Mr. Burnham, and for himself to address the Indian Parliament.
While official comment on the situation in Guiana is not available there is no doubt that the Government on India is watching developments in this British colony with interest and some concern.
According to the observers here, the justification given by the British Colonial Office for the use of force to throw out a Government constitutionally established seems to lack conviction.
Political circles believe that British Guiana is another example of the strong-arm tactics the British Colonial Office has been recently using. Apart from being contrary to the British tradition and professed policy of leading colonial peoples to self-government, such tactics are considered to be harmful, in that they increase tension in the world. Neither have they succeeded elsewhere, for instance, in Kenya.
The view is also expressed here that the British Colonial Office which overthrew the legally established Government of British Guiana by violence is acting contrary to the spirit which has animated so conspicuously the efforts of the British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, to bring about international understanding and peace. Force cannot solve any problem and it will only serve to increase tension in the world.-PTI.
18 October 1953
ATLEE'S REPLY TO DR. JAGAN
GEORGETOWN, Oct. 18.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, deposed Prime Minister of British Guiana, said today he had received a cable from the leader of the British Labour Party, Mr. Clement Atlee, saying that he regretted it was impossible for him to intervene in British Guiana affairs.
Dr. Jagan also said that Mr. Nehru, Prime Minister of India, had replied to a cable to help by saying that he and Mr. L.F.S. Burnham would be welcome to visit India after their visit to London. They are due to leave for the U.K. tomorrow. Mr. Nehru said in his cable it would be unconstitutional for them to address Parliament formally but members would be prepared to hear them informally.-PTI.
19 October 1953
JAGAN TO VISIT INDIA - TO LEAVE LONDON ON THURSDAY PLANS TO MEET NEHRU
LONDON, Nov. 16.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, deposed Prime Minister of British Guiana, said tonight he was flying to India on Thursday. He told Reuter he hoped to meet Mr. Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister, and address various organisations there. He said he might also visit Pakistan and Ceylon.
Dr. Jagan who has been putting his case here against the suspension of British Guiana's Constitution and the deposition of the left-wing Ministers by the British Government, made a sudden decision to leave on Thursday.
Dr. Jagan said he had booked a seat by Air-India International which would land him in Delhi on Friday. He had earlier addressed his last public meeting here.
He did not mention the deposed Education Minister, Mr. L. F. S. Burnham, who is now visiting Britain with him.
When Mr. Burnham was informed by Reuter tonight of Dr. Jagan's plans, he was surprised and said: "Dr. Jagan said that, did he?"
Burnham also to make trip
Asked if he was accompanying Dr. Jagan, Mr. Burnham replied: "We are going together. Wherever he is going, I am going."
Mr. Burnham said that his surprise was due to the fact that he did not think that Dr. Jagan would release information just yet.
"There is no secret about it, but we got a bit tired of the excessive publicity and thought we would say nothing about our departure until the last moment."
"We have raised money for the trip from subscriptions at meetings in Britain and from friends."
In an interview tonight, Dr. Jagan said he did not know exactly when he was returning to British Guiana, although he wanted to return as soon as possible.
"I am quite ready to fight for democratic freedom but what can I do when we cannot hold meetings or publish newspapers? The Governor (Sir Alfred Savage) has absolute power," he said. - (Reuter).
17 November 1953
JAGAN REFUSED VISA TO INDIA - BRITISH GOVT.'S ACTION
LONDON, Nov. 17.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, deposed Premier of British Guiana and Mr. Burnham, former Minister of Education, were refused endorsement of their passports to enable them to travel to India via Cairo, Mr. Fenner Brockway, Labour Member of Parliament, stated today.
"The Passport Office said the application must be referred to the Colonial Office and the Colonial Office might refer it to the Government of British Guiana. Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham had intended to leave on Thursday and were to have been received in India by Prime Minister Nehru and other leading Indians. The plane would have stopped in Cairo for refuelling.
19 November 1953
JAGAN TO VISIT INDIA TODAY PERMISSION FOR TRAVEL GRANTED
LONDON, Nov. 19.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan and Mr. L. F. S Burnham, the British Guiana Ministers deposed by the British Government on charges that they were trying to set up a Communist state, left today by air for India.
They were told today after 24 hours' uncertainty over passport arrangements that the Colonial Office had "absolutely no objection" to their visit to India.
Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham reach New Delhi on Friday evening. A Colonial Office spokesman said, "There has been confusion all round. It is all a storm in a tea cup. They are British subjects and entitled to travel anywhere in the world on this side of the Iron Curtain." (Reuter)
20 November 1953
PROBLEMS OF BRITISH GUIANA DR. JAGAN SEEKS INDIA'S SUPPORT
(From Our Correspondent)
BOMBAY, Nov. 20.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, the deposed Premier of British Guiana, arrived here today from London by an Air India International plane. He was accompanied by the former Education Minister, Mr. L. F. S. Burnham.
"We expect a great deal from India, as India is the champion of the colonially-depressed people, and has recently come out of the shackles of imperialism", he said. "We expect India's support at a higher level, such as raising our issue in U.N. or in Commonwealth conferences.
Dr. Jagan told reporters at the Santa Cruz airport that they had gone to England in order to clear their position. During their tour of that country they found that the British people in general took a sympathetic view of the problems of British Guiana.
Regarding the response from the Labour Party, Dr. Jagan stated that the leaders who controlled the Labour Party were not sympathetic. "But there was a big section including Labour M.Ps. and members of the National Executive at the Labour Party, who, despite a ban on the party members addressing the same meeting along with us, defied the ban," he added.
The British Guiana leaders were of the opinion that there was no possibility of an amicable settlement with the British. "When we met Mr. Lyttelton, he was not prepared to talk peace with us," Dr. Jagan stated.
Commenting on the bombing of the Mau Mau hide-outs by the British Kenya authorities, Dr. Jagan stated that this might be described as a mighty force used against a small and defenceless people. "English democracy is a gunboat and bombing democracy. This has once again been proved."
Regarding his programme in India, Dr. Jagan stated that he would meet Prime Minister Nehru and other people who were prepared to support and help them in their cause. "If we go back to our country," he said, "there is every likelihood of our internment. The Governor who is ruling British Guiana at present is virtually a dictator, who has interned our other colleagues," he added.
"We are following", he stated, "the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi."
Attitude of Labour and Conservatives
Asked whether he found any difference between the attitudes of the Labour and the Conservative Parties towards the political future of the British colony (adds the UPI), the British Guiana leaders said: "We did not discuss such problems with the Conservative Party, but since they are in power their policies are known to us. There is not a great deal of difference in the official attitude of both the parties as far as colonial matters are concerned. It is very much the same. Whatever little difference we could see was in the support given by the rank and file of the Labour Party to the cause of the colonial peoples. This was not to be found in the case of the Conservative rank and file."
They said that they had come to India for help and support for their cause. "We will meet as many people as possible who are willing to support us. We are especially very anxious to meet Prime Minister Nehru and his colleagues. We do expect a great deal from this country which has been championing the cause of the colonial peoples," Dr. Jagan stated.
Dr. Jagan said they would leave it to Mr. Nehru to decide how India could help them - whether through the United Nations or the Commonwealth platform.
He stated that he and his party were following Gandhian philosophy. In fact, it was Gandhiji and Nehru who had inspired him to take to politics and "naturally I and my colleagues follow the path of non-violence and non-cooperation." That was what they were actually doing at present in the face of British suppression. "Our people have started a non-cooperation campaign. They are withdrawing their savings from the banks, resorting to strikes in sugar plantations and adopting go-slow tactics. They are still paying the taxes. But the next step may be a no-tax campaign."
Dr. Jagan is expected to informally address the Members of Indian Parliament.
21 November 1953
ARRIVAL IN DELHI
NEW DELHI, Nov. 20.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan and Mr. F. S. Burnham, British Guiana leaders arrived in Delhi shortly after midnight today. As their plane touched the airport, cries of "Jagan Zindabad" and "Burnham Zindabad" rent the air.
The two leaders were profusely garlanded and welcomed on behalf of the Congress, Praja Socialist and Communist parties, several local trade unions and the All-India Peace Council. Flags with Picasso's peace doves were fluttering, while the assembled crowds shouted we1come to the two leaders.
Speaking to pressmen at the airport, Dr. Jagan said: "We have come to put our case before the Indian Government and the Indian people. We know that the Indian Government has been fighting in the past for the cause of colonial peoples and other suppressed peoples. We hope that on this occasion too they will take up our cause."
Asked about the nature of help that they expected from the Indian Government, Dr. Jagan said, "I am afraid we cannot say that. It all depends to a great extent on the Indian Government. We shall put our case before them and they know what best to do. We hope that the matter will be raised in the United Nations."- PTI
21 November 1953
DEVELOPMENTS IN GUIANA JAGAN APPRISES NEHRU
NEW DELHI, Nov. 21.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, the deposed British Guiana Premier, and Mr. L. F. S. Burnham, Minister in the Jagan Cabinet, had two meetings today with Mr. Nehru.
In the morning the two leaders met Mr. Nehru at the External Affairs Ministry and had some preliminary talks with him. In the afternoon the two leaders met Mr. Nehru again in Parliament House. The Congress general Secretary Mr. Balwantrai Metha was also present at the evening meeting.
Dr. Jagan is scheduled to address the members of both Houses of Parliament on Monday evening [November 23] in the Central Hall, soon after the two Houses rise.
The Delhi programme of the two leaders also includes a meeting under the auspices of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee on November 24, and an address at a meeting of the Indian Council of World Affairs on November 25.
Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham have also planned to go round the country and acquaint the Indian people with the conditions in British Guiana. - PTI
22 November 1953
IN GUIANA - INDIA'S SUPPORT URGED DR. JAGAN'S APPEAL
NEW DELHI, Nov. 23.
An appeal to the people of India to extend their fullest support to the struggle for freedom of the people of British Guiana was made by Dr. Cheddi Jagan, deposed Prime Minister of British Guiana and Mr. L. F. S. Burnham, ex-Minister of Education, in their address to members of both Houses of Parliament today.
If one wanted to go into the history of British Guiana, said Dr. Jagan in his address, one had to go into the history of sugar plantation. After slavery was abolished, the sugar planters in the country were faced with peculiar problems. They had to compete with countries like Cuba and Brazil which had slavery. The ex-slaves in British Guiana were demanding a wage of one shilling a day. The planters, however, imported Chinese and Portuguese, but due to rigours of plantation they drifted away to business. Then came Indians from 1870 (sic) until 1917 as indentured labour. Malaria was sweeping the colony and was wiping out the population and the Indians could not maintain their number. Conditions were abominable. The British Government at that time decided that no further Indians should go there. They used their political power to prevent Indians on plantation from drifting away from sugar plantation. The malaria problem was solved in order to keep the Indians and surplus cheap labour around the plantation.
In three or four ways, the British Government used the political power to prevent the Indians from becoming independent. There was land hunger in the country Even though the population was less than half a million and the area of the country was 83,000 square miles. His Government, continued Dr. Jagan, wanted to introduce land reforms and wanted irrigation schemes. Where was the question of nationalisation and Communism which had been brought into the picture as a red herring?
"We have said at this stage we have to lay the basis of a sound economy and we could have put the economy on a footing which would not be dependent on sugar and sugar alone."
Dr. Jagan said that a large tract of land was not being cultivated. The sugar plantation owners wanted to keep half a million workers in the plantation itself. The price of rice was kept low, lest rice cultivation would become more profitable. No factory or industry was allowed to be set up. These issues were not brought before the world public but instead they were being told in the British White Paper that the People's Progressive Party in the colony wanted to set up a one-party state, a police state and a Communist state.
Referring to the charges made against him and his colleagues of violence, Dr. Jagan said that the White Paper had quoted as instances his speeches of May 3 and May 10. These two speeches were made before he took office. If these speeches were objectionable why did the Queen appoint him and his colleagues as Ministers?
[Dr. Jagan said], "The fundamental point is: Do the people have a right to put the Government they want into power? The election was run quietly under the auspices of the British Government. We were talking in the same way as we are talking now, Elections were carried out quite calmly and we swept the polls and won 18 out of 24 seats, but the British Government have now brought in their army and navy. They have deposed me and the Government."
Negation of democracy
"The issue is quite clear - no Communism and no plot to destroy buildings. It is the simple question whether you believe in democracy or not. The British Government have been proclaiming from housetops all along that they were leading the people in the colony towards self-government."
"Unlike Kenya and Malaya", continued Dr. Jagan, "where the issue has been clouded by violence, terrorism and Mau Mau activities, there have been no incidents. When this report of the landing of the army and deposition came to us, we were wondering what it was all about. The army had landed under the cover of darkness. Where was the war? There had been no incidents or disturbances. It had been a clear case of destruction of a democratic government. This is indeed a crucial test whether democracy will survive. We are told that Communism believes in violence and force but in British Guiana, in the name of democracy, democracy is being destroyed. All democracies and the people who believe in democracy and civilisation must take up the issue."
No acts of violence
"This is a challenge to us and others. We do not believe violence. We told the people to remain calm and quiet but the workers and people who are hungry and the people who feel frustrated year after year over a century may lose patience. We ask you, therefore, not to let the British Government have a chance of beginning to shoot people in British Guiana and give us as much help as possible in this issue. What is happening in British Guiana will happen all over the world. The whole movement for freedom in colonies will be put backward.
"My appeal to you in the name of democracy and in the name of civilisation is that you should rally to the fullest extent to our cause."
Mr. Burnham, in his address, said that the issue in British Guiana was whether or not the people there had a right to choose the Government they wanted. The constitution of British Guiana was a typical colonial constitution. The Lower House consisted of 27 persons - 24 of them elected and three officials - the Chief Secretary, the Attorney-General and the Financial Secretary. The Upper House consisted of nine persons, six of them chosen by the Governor in his absolute discretion, two on the recommendation of the elected Ministers, and one chosen by the Governor in his absolute discretion after consultation with the "minority bloc" in the Lower House.
The Executive Council - the equivalent of the Cabinet - consisted of six Ministers elected by the Lower House - all of them belonged to Dr. Jagan's People's Progressive Party - three officials and a gentleman representing the Upper House. The three officials held the portfolios of External Relations, Police, Civil Service, Law and Order and Finance. The Speaker was nominated by the Governor. The Governor had the power to veto the recommendations of his Executive Council.
Within the limited scope of these powers, the Peoples Progressive Party tried to carry out its election pledges. There was a law in British Guiana giving the Governor sweeping powers to ban [Caribbean trade union leaders. The PPP Government had this ban removed] on freedom of movement for West Indian trade union leaders who wished to come to British Guiana. There was, of course, opposition from the [Colonial] Government and the three official members of the Government. This too formed part of the "charges" against the P.P.P. in the British White Paper.
The popular Government wished to fulfil its election pledge that village councils and town councils would be elected on adult franchise. The Governor wished them to refer this proposal to the present councils composed of "old fogies". Naturally there was very strong opposition from them. The proposal was, however, endorsed by every public meeting. "We had intended to carry that legislation through," said Mr. Burnham, "but, unfortunately, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers landed before the Bill could actually be introduced."
Another cause of friction between the P.P.P. and the Colonial Government was its attempt to safeguard the rights of tenants. Under the existing one-sided, law, there was no remedy for tenants against landlords - the sugar plantations - who did not fulfil their obligations, namely, maintaining the drainage and irrigation works. The P.P.P. wanted that there should be provision for notices to be served on the defaulting landlords. According to their proposal, if the landlords still failed to do their part, the District Commissioner - a colonial official - would have the power to carry out the works and charge the landlord. The Upper House rejected the Bill passed by the Lower House and described it as a "piece of totalitarian dictatorship."
In British Guiana there were 265 primary schools. Government maintained the buildings and paid the teachers, but they were run by different religious denominations. Their criterion in the appointment of teachers was not their professional ability but loyalty to their denomination.
The P.P.P. wished to abolish this system, but was quite agreeable to let the religious denominations give religious instruction during certain hours. This proposal was denounced by the Church of England and by the Church of Rome as an attempt to "de-religionise the coming generations and make Communists of them."
The children of British Guiana were taught British history and the geography of England. The P.P.P., whose ultimate aim was independence, wanted them to learn something of their own history and change the educational system which was at present too academic. The P.P.P. wanted to introduce a technical bias. This too was denounced as an attempt to "set up a Communist dictatorship."
Another so-called "Communist law" which the P.P.P. wanted was based on an American Act passed in 1930 - if in an industry no trade union was recognised, the Commissioner for Labour might take a poll, and if a union was able to poll 52 per cent of the votes, it might be granted recognition. The P.P.P. also wanted that if there was already a union in an industry, and its representative capacity was challenged, the challenging union might be granted recognition if it secured 65 per cent of the votes in such a poll. The Chief Secretary described this proposed law as "nothing short of an attempt to bring the trade union movement within the clutches of the People's Progressive Party."
Landing of British troops
Mr. Burnham said that when Dr. Jagan sought to move a motion in the Lower House protesting against the landing of British troops, the nominated Speaker said that he had had no intimation that troops had landed!
The audience was deeply moved when Mr. Burnham concluded his speech saying. "We have learnt a great deal from the struggles which you, the Indian people, have waged. You have felt the jackboot before. You have known what it is. We in British Guiana, Africans and Indians, celebrate the Indian Independence Day in British Guiana every year because to us it is a symbol; it is a beacon light; it is something that tells us that one day we, other colonial peoples, will be masters of our own country. One day we shall also be free."
25 November 1953
PARTY TO DR. JAGAN
NEW DELHI, Nov. 24.
Over 50 Members of Parliament belonging to all parties attended here today a luncheon given in honour of Dr. Cheddi Jagan of British Guiana and his colleague, Mr. L. F. S. Burnham, by Dr. Ram Subha Singh, M.P.
Among those present were the Home Minister, Dr. Kailas Nath Katju, the Food Minister, Mr Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. Satya Narain Sinha, Prof. Hiren Mukherjee, Mr. Harekrushna Mahtab, Acharya Kripalani, Mrs. Sucheta Kripalani and Dr. Lanka Sundaram.-PTI.
DEVELOPMENTS IN GUIANA - LEADERS REVIEW DELHI TALKS DESIRE TO RAISE ISSUE IN U.N.
(From our Correspondent)
NEW DELHI, Nov. 26.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, the deposed Prime Minister of British Guiana, today declared here that he and his colleague, Mr. Burnham, were "very much satisfied with our discussion with Mr. Nehru on the developments in our country." Dr. Jagan added that he had learnt a great deal from Mr. Nehru, and he had received valuable advice for which he was very grateful.
Dr. Jagan said that he felt that the British Guiana question should be taken to the United Nations, but whether India should do so was a matter to be decided only by the Government of India. He indicated that Mr. Pritt had agreed to appear for the defence of the two arrested leaders of British Guiana who had been charged with sedition. He also disclosed that he was thinking of inviting Indian lawyers to defend the arrested Guiana leaders.
Asked to give the reaction of the British Labour Party to their case, Mr. Burnham said that after hearing them, the National Executive of the Labour Party had directed its branches not to give a platform to him and Dr. Jagan. While the National Executive did not approve of the suspension of the constitution in British Guiana, they remained unconvinced that the P.P.P. had no association with the Communist Party. Nevertheless, they felt that Bevanites supported their stand. Dr. Jagan intervened to say that he had information to the effect that the decision to deny a platform to them was taken by a one-vote majority. One explanation to this attitude of the Labour Party might be that the Manpower Citizens' Association (a trade union organisation in British Guiana, a body organised by the sugar planters of Guiana) was affiliated to the British Trade Union Congress.
While Mr. Burnham declared that the foremost question before them was to get rid of foreign domination in Guiana, and to that effect they were prepared to take support from whichever quarter it came, Dr. Jagan said that he was a member of the Peace Council and his point of view was that he would side with any organisation which stood for promotion of peace in the world.
Both Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham emphasised that there was no Communist Party in British Guiana. With regard to the concrete steps which he thought that India could take in the matter, Dr. Jagan said the issue might be raised in the Commonwealth Conference and through diplomatic channels.
Mr. Nehru, Dr. Jagan said, was an inspiration to the people of Guiana and indeed to all colonial people throughout the world. The freedom struggle of India was always an example to be emulated by other colonial people. The methods adopted by India to achieve freedom were there before them as a lesson. Generally speaking, non-violence would be the policy of the People's Progressive Party in achieving their end.
27 November 1953
MADRAS, Nov 28.
Dr Cheddi Jagan, deposed Prime Minister of British Guiana, and Mr. L.F.S. Burnham, ex-Minister of Education in that country, will arrive in Madras by train from Bangalore on the morning of December 12. They will stay in the city for two days and will leave for Bombay by air on December 14. They will address a meeting under the auspices of the Tamil Nad Congress Committee during their stay here.
FREEDOM FIGHT IN BR. GUIANA - DR. JAGAN EXPLAINS
(From our Correspondent)
DUM DUM, Dec. 5.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, former Prime Minister of British Guiana, said here today that he and his colleague Mr. Burnham would try to mobilise world opinion against "British oppression and repressive methods in British Guiana."
Dr. Jagan, who was addressing Calcutta journalists, said that his talks with Prime Minister Nehru were successful and he hoped to get India's support for their case.
Dr. Jagan said that on their return to British Guiana, they would start a movement for the attainment of self-determination within the British Commonwealth modelled on Gandhian lines.
Answering questions, Dr. Jagan said that there was virtual dictatorship at present in British Guiana. He explained the many impediments that stood in the way of the development of British Guiana and said that their party had plans to invite foreign capital and were prepared to encourage such of those people as would utilise the raw materials available in British Guiana and help in producing finished products in their country.
8 December 1953
BRITISH GUIANA ISSUE
NEW DELHI, Dec. 9.
The Prime Minister, Mr. Nehru, asked in the House of the People whether the Government of India were contemplating to raise the British Guiana issue in the U.N. Trusteeship Council for non-self-governing territories, said: "These matters are under consideration."
Earlier, the Parliamentary Secretary, Mr. Sadath Ali Khan, told Mr. H.N. Mukerjee that according to the 1951 estimate, out of a total population of 437,000 in British Guiana, 197,696 persons were of Indian origin. They formed the largest racial grouping in British Guiana, the next large group being persons of African origin.
An American couple, Mr. Howard Jacobson, chairman of the Department of Journalism, University of Bridgeport (Connecticut), and his wife resented the bracketing of Britain and America as "imperialists" by Dr. Cheddi Jagan, the deposed Premier of British Guiana. Dr. Jagan made this remark in the course of a speech in Patna last week.
Immediately after the function was over, they accosted Dr. Jagan and sought an explanation of his reference to "American imperialism."
Dr. Jagan, who seemed somewhat surprised, pointed out that a U.S. State Department official had supported British action in British Guiana.
Mrs. Jacobson said she had seen no such statement and that even if it had been made, it could not be regarded as the view of the American Government. Only view of Mr. Dulles, U.S. Secretary of State could be regarded as the official opinion of the U.S. Government.
She maintained that America was not an imperialist nation and that the American Government had not supported the British action in British Guiana. "Why don't you go to America and put your case before the American people?" she asked.
"We are not allowed to go to America," Dr Jagan retorted. "We have neither been allowed to go to America nor even to fly over America."
Prof. Jacobson and his wife are touring India to study the conditions here. Prof. Jacobson said that while he sympathized with the people of British Guiana he did not like that America should be dragged in what was an issue for the British Government. He said: "We don't have a king or a queen. How can we be imperialists?"
(Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 10 December 1953)
RIGHT OF PEOPLE FOR SELF-DETERMINATION
HYDERABAD, Dec. 11.
Speaking at a joint civic reception given by the Hyderabad and Secunderabad Municipal Corporation here today, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, former Prime Minister of British Guiana said that the British Government had built up a flimsy case of Communist leanings against the People's Progressive Party in their country, filling their White Paper with extracts, "some true, same false", of speeches of himself and other leaders made long before the elections took place in British Guiana. The issue there was not one between democracy, Communism or totalitarianism, as alleged by the British, but one between autocracy and the right of the people for self-determination.
Mr. M. Hanumantharao, Mayor of Hyderabad, introduced Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham, former Education Minister of Guiana, to the audience.
Dr. Jagan said that so long as British and American vested interests were allowed to defeat democracy hand use violence when necessary in that process, he was sure that security and freedom of not only of British Guiana but also of big democracies like India would be in danger. India should give the British Guianese people their support. Dr. Jagan observed that though elections on the basis of universa1 adult suffrage were granted and democracy was conceded at the bottom, it was controlled at the top in the form of the Upper House for one year and the Governor's' veto which could nullify the people's verdict.
SUSPENSION OF CONSTITUTION DR. JAGAN DEPLORES BRITISH POLICY
(From our Correspondent)
HYDERABAD, Dec. 11.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, former Prime Minister of British Guiana, addressed the members of the Hyderabad Legislative Assembly yesterday. Dr. Jagan recounted the circumstances leading to the suspension of the constitution in British Guiana. The constitution, he said was obviously based on the assumption that no single party would obtain an absolute majority, but unfortunately the plans of the British were upset, his party having been returned in a majority. The constitution was not meant to give even a semblance of democracy to the Guianese, but to vest real power in the Governor. The Governor had avoided convening of a joint session of the Lower and Upper Houses to consider measures rejected by the Upper House because, even there the Peoples' Progressive Party commanded a majority. Various Bills passed in the Lower House were bound to affect the vested interests in Guiana and it was to nullify them that action against them was taken in the Upper House.
Mr. Burnham told the meeting that they had no arms, no atom bomb or battleships yet they were dubbed as Communists and the world was told it was to nip a Communist plot in the bud that the British had suspended the constitution in Guiana. "If we are Communists all the same we had been chosen by the people and if we had not done well we would have been thrown out by the people at the end of our term." But suspension of the constitution was an outrageous act. He explained how every measure of theirs intended to improve the lot of the people was dubbed as totalitarian
Referring to the influence of United States on events in British Guiana, Mr. Burnham said on the eve of suspension of the constitution American Congressmen had visited Guiana and had stated that United States took a deep interest in Guiana. There had been a heavy press campaign in the United States against People's Progressive Party and also pointed out the importance of Guiana in respect of minerals.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan also addressed a large gathering of students in the Nizam College yesterday. Surveying the events leading up to the suspension of the constitution in Guiana by the British Government, he said that two world wars had been fought to preserve certain freedoms for the people of the world. The United Nations had publicised their Charter of human rights. They were told that people should determine their own affairs. But today in their country it was not the will of the people that was ruling but the "will of the Governor appointed by Her Majesty."
Dr. Jagan, continuing, said "we have come to this great country for help and support knowing that having waged a battle for your freedom you will be prepared to wage another for the freedom of the oppressed people everywhere."
Mr. Burnham, speaking next, pointed out that the struggle in British Guiana was part of a world struggle.
Mr. Burnham pointed out that several bills they had passed and reforms they were trying to carry out were not Communist but were in the best interests of the people. While the British Government asserted that development of industries in the colonies should be for the benefit of the natives, the fact was they in British Guiana were not allowed to spend half their dollar earnings for their betterment, which merely went to the dollar pool of the United Kingdom. They were naturally keen on establishing their right to have the fullest utilisation of the natural resources of the country with which they were gifted. They had undeniable right to raise their standard of life, to rule themselves and to obtain national self-determination.
Mr. S. S. R. Venkatesam, Deputy Mayor of Secunderabad, proposed a vote of thanks.-FOC.
12 December 1953
INDIA'S SUPPORT WELCOMED
BANGALORE, Dec. 11.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan stated here this evening that the Indian people and the Indian Government had come out strongly in favour of the oppressed people of British Guiana and that was indeed a great omen, not only for the good of British Guiana, but for the cause of humanity all over the globe.
Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham who arrived in Bangalore this afternoon from Hyderabad were accorded a reception at the airport. They were received among others by Mr. T. Mariappa, General Secretary of the Mysore Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr. K. R. Madhava Rao, President of the Bangalore Corporation District Congress Committee, Mr. Mulka Govinda Reddy, M.L.A., Mr. R. Anantaraman, M.L.A. and members of the Bangalore Peace Committee. Mysore's Chief Minister, Mr. K. Hanumanthaiya, gave a party in their honour at the Residency. Welcoming Dr. Jagan and his colleague, Mr. Hanumanthaiya said that the United Kingdom and the United States, who were committed to the policy of freeing the people who were oppressed and the people who were under the domination of imperialism or colonialism, did not show that readiness and sympathy to liberate the unhappy people. The friends In British Guiana who were undergoing a great deal of suffering must take a lesson from the Indian people. While the outside countries would give support and sympathy to the people of British Guiana, the people of Guiana themselves should organise themselves and go on the path chalked out by Gandhiji.
Thanking the Chief Minister and the people of Bangalore for the warm reception given to Mr. Burnham and himself, Dr. Jagan said that the people of British Guiana were deeply impressed with the support given by the people of India. The British and the Americans had in the case of British Guiana joined hands, and in the name of democracy were destroying democracy itself. During their visit round the country, Dr. Jagan said, they had found the people and the Government of India extremely sympathetic to their cause and the people of British Guiana were grateful for this.
Earlier, Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham were entertained at a party at the Kurubara Sangha Hoste1 by the President and members of~ the Bangalore Peace Committee. Mr. B. T. Parthasarathi welcomed the visitors.
Dr. Jagan also paid a short visit to the Law Association, Bangalore, and addressed the members. They later addressed a meeting under the auspices of the Youths' League, Basavangudi.
At a public meeting held at Chicklal Bagh, Mr. T. Mariappa. General Secretary of the Mysore Pradesh Congress Committee introduced Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham to the gathering and said that they had come to India to gain the support of the Indian: people in their struggle for freedom.
Mr. P. L. Shastri, M.L.C., who presided over the meeting, pointed out that it was but right that the British Guiana people should look to India for support in their cause, for India had just attained freedom
Dr. Jagan referred to the present condition of British Guiana ………
DR. JAGAN ARRIVES IN CITY TODAY
MADRAS, Dec. 11.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, former Prime Minister of British Guiana and Mr. Burnham, a former Minister, who will arrive in Madras tomorrow morning from Bangalore, have a crowded programme of engagements to fulfil during their two-day stay in the city.
Soon after their arrival tomorrow, they are expected to visit the Kalakshetra in Adyar and The Hindu office. Later they will visit the Secretariat. In the evening, they will address a meeting at Gokhale Hall, organised by the Y.M.I.A., at 3 p.m. At 5 p.m. they will address a meeting at the Lakshmipuram Young Men's Association and at 6.30 p.m. they will address a meeting organised by the Southern India Journalists' Federation.
On December 13, Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham will speak at the Ranade Hall, Mylapore, at 8.45 a.m. and after addressing the students of the Law College at 11.15 a.m., lunch with the City trade union leaders. At 2.30 p.m. they will visit the Hindu Prachar Sabha, Thyagarayanagar and address a public meeting at Triplicane Beach at 6 p.m. under the joint auspices of the Tamil Nad Congress Committee (Labour Section), Tamil Nad Youth Congress and the Madras District Congress Committee.
They will hold a press conference on December 14 at 9 a.m. and later leave for Bombay by plane.
JAGAN REFUSED VISA TO CEYLON
COLOMBO, Dec. 11.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan has been refused permission to come to Ceylon, it was learnt today. Dr. Jagan had applied for visa through the Ceylon High Commissioner in New Delhi.
It is understood that Ceylon Prime Minister has cabled back the refusal.-PTI
12 December 1953
RECEPTION AT STATION
MADRAS, Dec. 12.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, former Prime Minister of British Guiana, and Mr. L. F. S. Burnham, a former Minister, arrived in Madras this morning from Bangalore by the Bangalore Mail. They have programmed a two-day stay in the city.
At the Central Station the two British Guiana leaders were received by a large and representative gathering on behalf of various city organisations. Long before the arrival of the train, which was running late by an hour, volunteers of the Tiamil Nad and Madras District Congress Committees and several Circle Congress Committees and of the Communist Party, the Madras Peace Committee and various youth and labour organisations lined up at the main entrance of station to greet them.
As the train steamed in, cries of "Long live Jagan and Burnham", "Hands off British Guiana" and "Down with Imperialism" were raised by the assembled crowd. The visiting statesmen were profusely garlanded.
13 December 1953
MADRAS, Dec. 12.
BRITISH GUIANA LEADERS ADDRESS JOURNALISTS
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, deposed Prime Minister of British Guiana, and Mr. L.F.S. Burnham, ex-Minister of Education in Jagan's cabinet, this evening addressed a meeting of Southern India Journalists' Federation. Mr. N. Raghunatha Alyar, President of the Federation, welcoming Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham, stated that Madras took special interest in the movement which was symbolised by those two young leaders of British Guiana. They represented the resurgent youth of that country, a country which derived its spiritual sustenance largely from India.
Dr. Jagan explained the constitutional set-up of British Guiana and said that the constitution had been framed on the assumption that no one party would be able to secure an absolute majority in the elections. The Lower House had strength of 27 of whom three were officials and the rest elected. The Upper House, which could hold up or reject the Bills passed by the Lower House, had a strength of nine members, six of whom were appointed by the Governor in his absolute discretion, two recommended by the majority party and one recommended by the minority group in the Lower House. The Government or the Executive Council consisted of six representatives of the majority party and the three official members of the Lower House, presided over by the Governor, the official members holding important portfolios like Finance, Law and Order, Justice, etc.
Because his party, the People's Progressive Party, had secured 18 seats in the Lower House and had their two nominees in the Upper House, even in a joint sitting of both the Houses, they had a strength of 20 out of a total of 36. Therefore, if the constitution had worked a little longer, the Governor would have had to use his veto power if he wished to refuse assent to a measure passed by the Lower House and the hollowness of the constitution would have been exposed. The clue to the situation could be found in the speech of Mr Oliver Lyttelton, the other day, when he said that if there was an official majority in the Executive Council no trouble would have arisen in British Guiana.
British Guiana had proved, Dr. Jagan said, that the British Government were prepared to grant self-government to the people of the colonies, provided the administration was run in a way which would advance the interests of the planters and the mine owners. This was a danger even to the countries which had achieved independence recently because the imperialists, in their quest for profits, would use force, if necessary, to protect their own men and safeguard their interests.
Political parties in Br. Guiana
Answering questions, Burnham said that three other parties, besides the P.P.P., which contested and won two seats in the last elections, had now united to form a United Democratic Party. That party's main plank was opposition to the People's Progressive Party, and had the backing of the sugar-cane planters and other commercial interests. At the same time as Dr. Jagan and himself went to England, this party had sent four representatives to London to congratulate the British Government on suspending the Constitution.
Dr. Jagan, replying to another question, said that his party believed that America had a great deal to do with the suspension of the constitution. The declaration by Senator Jackson that British Guiana was in the strategic zone of America and the attack in the American press that the Government was a Communist Government were pointers. It was also worth noting that the chairman of a premier planting concern had stated in London that he did not see any reason for moving in troops to British Guiana.
Asked about the conditions of the workers in British Guiana, Dr. Jagan said that while wages were relatively high, the cost of living was also high. The conditions of living of workers were very bad.
Position in French Guiana
Dr. Jagan also said that Dutch Guiana was more or less independent, but French Guiana was even more backward than British Guiana. The movement in British Guiana did not receive support from those two countries and, in fact, Mr. Burnham and he were not allowed to stay for the night in Dutch Guiana for catching their plane to England.
When asked whether by referring the issue to the United Nations it would not meet the same fate as the Kashmir issue, Dr. Jagan said that they realised that. But in these days it was necessary to focus the attention of the world on such things as much as possible particularly as the U.N. Charter was coming in for revision.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, expressed pleasure over the welcome he and Mr. Burnham have received in Madras. They were also given a good reception in other parts on India, he added.
"In Bangalore City", the Guianese leader said, "unfortunately, we did not have enough time. But wherever we went we were met by large crowds, who were very enthusiastic in their support to our case."
Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham paid a visit to the offices of The Hindu today. Mr. Kasturi Srinivasan received the visitors who spent over an hour in conversation with the editorial staff.
13 December 1954
JAGAN MEETS C.R.
MADRAS, Dec. 13.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan and Mr. L. F. S. Burnham of British Guiana met Mr. C. Rajagopalachari, Chief Minister, at Rajaji Hall this afternoon. They had talks for about half an hour.
Dr. Jagan told pressmen at the end of the talks that he had explained to Mr. Rajagopalachari the situation in British Guiana.
Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham left tonight for Vijayawada, from where they will leave for Hyderabad. On Wednesday morning [16 December], they will reach Bombay.
14 December 1953
DR. JAGAN'S APPEAL TO PEOPLE OF INDIA
MADRAS, Dec. 13.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, former Prime Minister, and Mr. Burnham, former Minister for Education of British Guiana, addressing a public meeting under the auspices of the South Indian National Association Study Circle this morning, explained "The New Deal for British Guiana" which the People's Progressive Party had proposed but which could not be put through on account of the suspension of the constitution.
Dr. Jagan said that people struggling for freedom in British Guiana looked for support to countries like India which had achieved independence. Those who were now in charge of the Government of India had been supporting the cause of oppressed people even before they took up the Government in 1947. They all realised that freedom was one and indivisible. As long as there were oppressed people in colonial countries freedom was jeopardised even in independent countries. Not only should they all have political independence but they should have economic independence.
British Guiana, Dr. Jagan said, was given a constitution not very different in substance from what was given to Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica but the people's representatives in Guiana were not content to be mere puppets. They took their work seriously. They had told the people what they would do for them to improve their political, economic and social condition and they wanted to fulfil their promises. When they tried to do so, they saw troops walking in and the constitution being suspended. The European and American interests did not like their hold on the economy and the Government of the country being loosened. They were keen on their profits and on exploiting the resources of the country for their own benefit. American capital was slowly replacing British imperialism in many areas, particularly in Latin American countries. "This new colonialism" was even more insidious than the old "overt colonialism". Today the "new colonialism" was content to have others run the Government and police the States so long as its own investments and profits were safe.
The people of India, Dr. Jagan said, had won their freedom and were now facing problems of reconstruction. But nearly fifty percent of their revenues had to be spent on defence. As long as imperialist powers, anxious to export capital and armaments, set up unfriendly Governments or armed other countries it would be necessary for some countries to spend on defence money which would otherwise be available for reconstruction. The issue in British Guiana, he said, could not, therefore, be viewed in isolation. Viewed in the context of world problems, the cause of the people of British Guiana would also be the cause of Indians and others interested in freedom, as such.
Britain's action criticised
Mr. Burnham said that while the People's Progressive Party wanted to give a new deal to the people of British Guiana, the British Government had its own new deal too. This consisted of suspension of all democratic institutions, deposition of the Ministry and declaration of an emergency, under which the Governor became a virtual dictator. Another part of their new deal was the readiness with which people were being charged with sedition. Mr. D. N. Pritt once described sedition as "a peculiarly colonial offence", and this had become still more so in British Guiana to-day. The British Government also proposed to spend some money on improving housing of the native population, improvement of irrigation and drainage, etc. All this was part of what the PPP had proposed to put through. When they undertook this work, however, they were dubbed "Communists" and "seditionists". The British Government now proposed to have a constitution with an Assembly of 27 people, three of whom would be officials and 24 nominated non-officials. That was the democracy they proposed. The Executive Council was to consist of three persons chosen from the House of nominated members.
[Mr. Burnham explained that the PPP plans] consisted of a basic change in the economy of the country; a diversification of agriculture wherein the sugar planter would no longer be the king but only a part of the total agricultural economy; payment of better wages for workers and making and providing for decent working and living conditions for them, and making these the first charge on profits of industry; provision for better housing for the people who now lived in shacks no better than pig sties; better education and health services; and eventually self-government. These plans were dashed to the ground. He was sure the people would not accept the domination of the British and Americans. They would struggle and eventually win through.
"Some of us may die," Mr. Burnham said, "but many others will live so that future generations will be able to say, 'Yes, this was the most important, page of our history.' We are strengthened in our resolve to fight unto death both by the lesson taught by countries like India, Burma and Indonesia, which have won freedom, and by the great moral and material support which we receive from you. We look forward to the day when we would have won our independence and would be able to introduce our own new deal for British Guiana."
Mr. S. Narayanaswami, Secretary of the Association, thanked the two distinguished visitors, and appealed to the people to contribute their mite to the cause of the people of British Guiana.
14 December 1953
CONDITIONS IN BR. GUIANA - DR. JAGAN REVIEWS DEVELOPMENTS APPEAL FOR SUPPORT
MADRAS, Dec. 13.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, former Prime Minister, and Mr. L. F. S. Burnham, a former Minister of British Guiana, now on a visit to this country, were accorded a warm reception by the citizens of Madras at a meeting held in the Gokhale Hall under the auspices of the Young Men's Indian Association.
Addressing the gathering, Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham reviewed the developments in British Guiana and said that the real issue there was one of the right of self determination for the people of that country.
The hall was packed. Mr. S. Narayanaswami, on behalf of the Association, welcomed the guests and requested Mr. Khasa Subba Rao to preside.
Mr. Khasa Subba Rao said that the large gathering was evidence of the deep interest which the people of this country took in the happenings in British Guiana. The freedom fight, which Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham and their colleagues were carrying on, he said, was part of the struggle for freedom and for the preservation of freedom the world over. When India attained independence, one thought that the British had turned over a new leaf but events in British Guiana, Kenya and Malaya proved that this idea was not justified.
Landing of British troops
Dr. Jagan said that about two months ago, all on a sudden one fine morning, British troops landed in battle formation in British Guiana. During the day they walked round the streets of the capital, wondering and asking "Where is the war?" There were no incidents, no trouble and, unlike in Kenya or in Malaya, they did not have any excuse to so openly and blatantly "come in force and destroy democracy - in the name of democracy." The people of British Guiana, he said, would not give any excuse for British bombers converting that land into a battle-ground as they did in Kenya or Malaya in the name of destroying "terrorists", "Communists" or whatever they might consider the equivalent of Mau Mau. The people remained calm in the face of provocation. They now had an opportunity to seek world opinion, to get support and tell the world that so long as freedom of the oppressed was in jeopardy, the economic freedom of those who had got political freedom would also be in jeopardy.
Describing the conditions In British Guiana, Dr. Jagan said that people there had two masters - the British planter and the American miner. The new theme of "imperialists" was that without capital there could be no development of backward countries. That capital now came from America. Britain was no longer able to make the huge profits she once did from subject countries and colonies, or invest the same abroad. That great job was today reserved, he said, for Uncle Sam. America made enormous profits and she had entered into the field of "new colonialism" with her "dollar power". They sought to make investments in undeveloped countries with a view to making the largest profits possible with the least expense.
British Guiana, he said, was a big country with rich natural resources and a small population living only in the coast. The people had to import their food, clothing, cheese, vegetables, meat and everything, though theirs was a predominantly agricultural country. If any one asked as to why the people should not be given land for cultivation and why irrigation and drainage works should not be taken up, he was dubbed a trouble maker, a terrorist or a Communist. . . .
All that the Ministers in British Guiana sought to do, Dr. Jagan said, was to change the system of taxation on mining companies, which brought equipment without paying duties, paid no income-tax for five years at least initially, and for ten years wrote down as profits what normally could be written down in 20 or 30 years. It was all right that foreign capital should be attracted to the country, but it should be done for promoting industries and not for exploitation and extraction of raw materials to be exported.
Whenever the issue of colonialism came up in the United Nations, Dr. Jagan said, America, Britain, and other colonial powers and their satellites were all on the side of imperialism. It was strange to hear them talk at the same time of democracy and freedom in a way that must make Washington and Jefferson turn in their graves. He and his colleagues, Dr. Jagan said, had come here to ask far moral and monetary help of the people of this country, for British Guiana's cause, which was inevitably bound up with the cause of Malaya and Kenya.
Criticism of British policy
Mr. Burnham said that the British people had developed "a peculiar habit of saving people from themselves" (laughter). Britain, he said, did not land troops in British Guiana to make the country safe for profit-making by sugar planters or keep safe the mineral resources for the American miners but did so only to save the people of British Guiana from themselves. More examples of their saving the people from themselves, he said, were to be seen in Malaya, Kenya and Buganda and "the world owed an undying debt of gratitude to the English who have thus saved so many of us from ourselves." (laughterr).
The Queen of Britain was pleased to confer medals on the six Ministers of British Guiana on the occasion of her coronation - those medals were yet to be collected - in recognition of their public work. The very same activities which constituted that public work now formed the charges against the Ministers who had been deposed.
The charge of Communism against the Ministers, Mr. Burnham, said, served two purposes. It served to please America and, secondly, it had the advantage of appealing to the emotions of a large section of the world. The issue in British Guiana was a simple one, he said, and that was whether or not the people of that country had the right of choosing the government they wanted.
Refuting the several charges levelled by the British against Dr. Jagan and his colleagues who had been deposed, Mr. Burnham said that the charge of conspiracy to stir up hatred against the white people, burn down Georgetown or other places, or other similar charges were all baseless. These charges of Communism, racialism, terrorism, etc., were being raised merely to camouflage the real motives behind the drastic action taken by the British and to obscure the real issues.
British Guiana, Mr. Burnham said, was symptomatic, and its reactions would be witnessed throughout the colonial empire. Those engaged in the struggle in British Guiana could take consolation that they shared the sufferings with their brethren in Malaya, Kenya, West Africa, East Africa and Central Africa. "Win we must," he said, "and in our winning, we gather a great deal of inspiration from the struggle which the Indian people waged in the past and the struggle which they would all have to wage for getting rid of the legacies of colonialism.
At the conclusion of the speech, Mr. Narayanaswami announced a gift of Rs.84-6-9 by the members of the staff of the Southern Railway, made as a token of their goodwill to the people of British Guiana and their cause.
Mr. Narayanaswami thanked Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham for their informative addresses and appealed to the people to give their moral and financial support to the cause.
14 December 1953
RECENT EVENTS IN BR. GUIANA DR. JAGAN'S REVIEW - "A CHALLENGE TO DEMOCRACY"
MADRAS, Dec. 14
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, former Prime Minister of British Guiana, declared last night that they in British Guiana intended to adopt many of the methods which India had adopted to gain her freedom.
Dr. Jagan was addressing a public meeting, organised under the auspices of the Tamil Nad Youth Congress, the Madras District Congress and the Tamil Nad Congress Labour Section at the Triplicane Beach last evening. A specially decorated rostrum was erected from which Dr. Jagan and Mr. L. F. S. Burnham addressed the gathering explaining the case of British Guiana.
Mr. P. Ramachandran presided. Mr. D. K. Kannappar, President of the Madras District Congress Committee, welcomed Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham.
Dr. Jagan, speaking first, thanked the people of Madras for the honour done to him, and said that this was the largest gathering which he had ever addressed. "We shall always remember this." he said. They had come here, he said, "to appeal to the people to give their support to their cause, to support the cause of the repressed people, those who were unemployed, people who suffered from bad housing conditions, who had not enough food to eat. The people of British Guiana were told by the ruling power that it wanted to establish democracy in all parts of the world. But a constitution which was given to them only a few months ago was suspended and representatives elected by the people were deposed. In the name of democracy troops had been landed and in the name of democracy, democracy itself has been destroyed in our country. That is what we are faced in our country today." Dr. Jagan added, "This is a challenge not only to the people of England, not only to the people of America, but it is a challenge to the people all over the world."
Dr. Jagan observed that they knew that Indians had fought against colonialism for many years and they knew that India had succeeded. "We know," he said, "that you are today carrying on a great struggle under the leadership of Mr. Nehru. You are carrying on a struggle to uproot colonialism not only in Guiana but to uproot colonialism wherever it is found in the world. We have every confidence that you, who have struggled hard to liberate your own country, will come to the rescue of thee people of Guiana. We have come here and learnt a great deal during our short stay in this country. We have spoken to your leaders and have been advised by them. We are heartened by the advice and we intend to adopt many of the methods which you have adopted to gain your freedom." (Cheers).
Many things would be said against them, the Guianese, and the charges would include that they wanted to destroy the Government of British Guiana. Dr. Jagan said. But, he would tell them that democracy had been practised "upside down in British Guiana." He said that they had been assured that they would get the support of this country and he hoped that they would form a committee which would keep the issue of Guiana alive. People in British Guiana would be extremely happy to know that the people of India had received their leaders with such great enthusiasm and such great sympathy, he said. "I thank you very much for this sincere support which you have given us and I request you to continue to give this moral and this financial support," Dr. Jagan concluded.
Mr. T. Chengalvaroyan translated the speech of Dr. Jagan.
[Mr. Burnham, in his speech, said that the colonialists wanted] not only a make sure that the "economic slaves" did not have an opportunity to build themselves into a really strong and virile peasantry, but also to have half-starved and poor people whom they could employ on whatever wages they wanted. Many died of starvation. "Not only do the sugar planters control the economic life of the people, but they also control their political life and rule with an iron hand." he said.
When the war came, Mr. Burnham said, they were told by the British that they were fighting for their freedom. People of British Guiana believed them. Some of their brothers and relatives laid down their lives for what was described as the war to end wars and to bring freedom to the colonial peoples. War was ended, he said, Britain was safe and Hitler was defeated. But there was no improvement in their position.
Mr, Burnham said that the People's Progressive Party brought together the people of British Guiana. The P.P.P. went to the people with a manifesto which said that in every industry the first charge on profits should be payment of proper wages, that workers were entitled to decent living conditions and better education for the people. The party came into power and this upset the calculations of vested interests. They had been deposed and the constitution was suspended. They hoped to carry on their struggle to establish real democracy and they were bound to win, Mr. Burnham concluded, because history was on their side and they had the support of a glorious country with wonderful traditions and ancient culture, namely, India.
Background of the struggle
The background of the struggle in British Guiana was explained by Dr. Jagan when he addressed the members of the Mambalam Youths' Association yesterday at the Hindi Prachar Sabha, Thyagarayanagar. Mr. S. Mahalingam presided.
Dr. Jagan said: 'Fundamentally, our struggle has been one for human rights." He said the British attitude could be best described thus: "You can enjoy the freedoms if you do not try to practise them. You can have all the rights in the world, provided you do not come into the sugar estates and tell the workers there of their rights." The irony of it all was that he himself had been educated in America but he could not enter into that country now. He and his friend were not allowed to pass through America, though previously they could enter it freely. Since they began their fight, the British accused them of being Communists who were out to establish a totalitarian dictatorship. But, he would like to ask if the sending of troops to British Guiana and the suspension of the constitution were not the height of dictatorial action.
He and his friend had come to India to seek Indian support to their cause, Dr. Jagan said. They knew well that even before India attained her freedom, her leaders like Mr. Nehru had been challenging the colonial powers and championing the cause of the oppressed people everywhere. "We hope that the day will not be far distant when we will be able in British Guiana to raise the flag of Guiana and the flag of India." (Cheers.)
Mr. Burnham said that the people of British Guiana had a right to put into the saddle the type of Government which they wanted, not a Government approved of by Her Majesty's Government 3,000 miles away. The P.P.P. Government had promised better wages and conditions of work and to lead the nation into independence. He referred to a conversation he and Dr. Jagan had had with Mr. Lyttelton when the latter advised them that they could still retrieve the position, but not by strikes and non-co-operation. They had thanked him but reminded him of Mahama Gandhi whom the British [advised in the same way].
[He said the people of British Guiana] did not stand alone. There were the other British colonies and the millions living in them could not be kept down for ever. They, in their country, would ever cherish India whose people were the first in recent times to achieve their independence and who were also interested in winning freedom for colonial peoples. The people of India had realised that they lived in one world - and not in two, as the British and Americans believed.
Mr. Sampath, Secretary, proposed a vote of thanks.
To meet Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham, Mr. S. Narayanaswami gave a dinner at his residence in "Seshandri", Chitharanjan Road. Teynampet, on Saturday. A select gathering was present. After dinner, Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham moved freely among the guests and spent some time in conversation.
Reception by City Trade Union Council
A reception was organised by the City Trade Union Council, yesterday in Gokhale Hall, to meet Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham.
Addresses were presented to them on behalf of City Trade Union Council and the Corporation Employees' Union by Mr. T. S. Ramanujam and Mr. T. R. Ganesan respectively. The British Guiana leaders were garlanded by representatives of several trade unions in the City. Those present induded Mr. S. Guruswami, M.P., Mr. P. Ramamurti, M.L.A., and Mr. V. Chakkarai Chetti.
Speaking an the occasion, Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham appealed to trade unionists in India to support the cause of the people of British Guiana and contribute liberally to the Aid Fund.
Imposition of sanctions urged
Addressing a meeting in Royapettah last evening, held under the auspices of the Lakshipuram Young Men's Association, Dr. Jagan stressed the need for imposing sanctions to implement the Charter of Human Rights. To establish these rights in British Guiana, he said, it was for the U.N. to move forces as had been done in the case of Korea.
Mr. K. S Ramaswami Sastri, welcoming Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham, wished to know from the visitors whether if the Labour Government had been in power in Britain the position would have been different; where exactly the United States stood in regard to the situation in British Guiana; and whether there would be solid backing from the peop1e of British Guiana if a civil disobedience movement was launched.
Mr. T. Chengalvaroya, who presided, expressed the hope that, ultimately, the British would meet the wishes of the people of British Guiana as they had done in the ease of India.
Dr. Jagan explained how the people of British Guiana were denied political rights. He said employers refused to recognise trade unions. The United States, he added, had reason to support the British because it was financing the capitalists of America who owned bauxite and other mining industries in British Guiana.
"Our country," Dr. Jagan said, "is controlled by the British and the Americans. The British control the sugar industry and the Americans, the mining industry." The British had moved in their troops against a small country and people, Dr. Jagan said. He added that if the present state of affairs was allowed to go on unchecked, "people who have got their independence will find that even their political independence will be in jeopardy. Mr. Nixon was right when he said a new colonialism was developing. The new colonialism was the dollar imperialism."
Dr. Jagan said that he looked forward to the support of India for the cause of the people of British Guiana.
Mr. Burnham said that the issue in British Guiana was simple, namely, if the people had the right to choose the Government they wanted. Under similar circumstances, the Labour Party of England, if it had been in power might not have suspended the constitution of British Guiana. But to be frank, the argument of the front bench members of the Labour Party seemed to be "not that the suspension of the constitution was wrong in itself but it wag strategically wrong and perhaps came too early." (Laughter).
Mr. Burnham replied in the affirmative to the question whether the people of British Guiana would give support if a civil disobedience movement was launched. "The masses," he said, "are prepared to support us whatever line of resistance we propose to take." But it would be first necessary to organise fully the support they had. It would take some time to launch the campaign which they had learnt from Mahatma Gandhi in order to ensure its success.
The People's Progressive Party, said Mr. Burnham, had won the elections in spite of "abuses" from the pulpits, in the newspapers and over the radio stations. The people had been warned by the priests that if they voted for the PPP, the PPP men would take away their donkeys, their other properties and even their wives.
After rebutting the remaining accusations in the British White Paper, Mr. Burnham said that the people of British Guiana had no guns but they were meeting the threat to their freedom by non-co-operation, by strikes and by going slow. Britain acted thus in British Guiana because her Government was perturbed over the fact that the people of the colonies were taking past promises of self-government seriously. "They will succeed for the time being in British Guiana," said Mr. Burnham, "because they have the army and we have not. However, I doubt whether they will succeed through out their colonial empire."
14 December 1953
JAGAN'S VISIT TO KARACHI
KARACHI, Dec. 13.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan will be treated by the Pakistan Government as an ordinary visitor when he comes to Karachi next week, according to the Karachi English daily Dawn.
The paper understands that the Government have instructed their Departments "not to take any notice of him."-PTI.
14 December 1953
DR. JAGAN MEETS NEHRU
NEW DELHI, Dec. 28.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, deposed Prime Minister of British Guiana, and his colleague Mr. L.F.S. Burnham, who arrived in Delhi today from Bombay, met Prime Minister Nehru for 45 minutes.
It is understood that Guiana leaders told Mr. Nehru about their impressions.
They will visit Gwalior on Thursday [30 December] and leave India for Pakistan during the weekend.-PTI.
29 December 1953
DR. JAGAN CANCELS VISIT TO KARACHI
KARACHI, Jan. 4.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, the deposed Prime Minister of British Guiana, and his former Cabinet colleague, Mr. L F. S. Burnham, have cancelled their proposed visit to Karachi, it was learnt here today.
They are scheduled to return to Delhi from Lahore tomorrow by air and visit Karachi at a "later date". The change in their programme is understood to be due to the absence of nearly all Central Ministers from Karachi.
Almost the entire Pakistan Cabinet, including the Prime Minister, is at present in Dacca where it is scheduled to meet for the first time on January 8.-PTI.
6 January 1954
GUIANA LEADERS LEAVE FOR U.K.
BOMBAY, Jan. 20.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, deposed Prime Minister of British Guiana, and his colleague, former Education Minister L. F. S. Burnham, left for Cairo this evening by an Air-India International plane.
After a three-day stay in Cairo, the two British Guiana leaders will leave for London on their way home. They are expected to reach British Guiana within the next three weeks.
Speaking to the reporters at the airport, Dr. Jagan stated that they were very sorry to leave India so early. But the developments at home necessitated their return as early as possible.
Dr. Jagan expressed the hope that Indian people would continue to give their moral and financial support to the people of British Guiana.-FOC.
21 January 1954
DR. JAGAN ARRIVES IN U.K.
LONDON, Jan 31
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, deposed Prime Minister of British Guiana, arrived here by air today - 24 hours ahead of schedule - after a tour of the Middle East and India.
He said he planned to stay here for about 14 days before returning to British Guiana. He would not be seeing any British Government leaders.
"I have planned a few public meetings and I shall try to contact members of the Labour, Liberal and Communist parties," he said; "My mission in raising support for my case in Europe and Asia has been a great success."-Reuter.
2 February 1954
JAGAN CONFIDENT OF INDIA'S SYMPATHY
LONDON, Feb. 3.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, former Premier of British Guiana, told a public meeting here tonight that the people of British Guiana knew that they had powerful allies among the people of India and Great Britain.
"I feel confident that with the growing unrest and militancy in the world, the time is not far off when we will be celebrating independence in our country," he said. Dr. Jagan was addressing a meeting organised by the London Branch of the Caribbean Labour Congress.
Dr. Jagan gave details of visits to India, Pakistan and Egypt, which he has just completed with Mr. L. F. S. Burnham, former Education Minister.
Dr Jagan said that before they left they had set up in India committees in every part of the country to support the People's Progressive Party cause. "We also expect much support to come from the people of Pakistan where we told our meeting in Lahore was one of the biggest the city had seen for many years."
Dr. Jagan said: 'We are returning to British Guiana, but we realise that the struggle there will be difficult. The fight will be uphill and it will be hard going in our country. But we are going back and will put up a stiff resistance, whether that means we are jailed later."
5 February 1954
DR. CHEDDI JAGAN - RETURN TO GUIANA DELAYED U.S. REFUSES TRANSIT VISA
LONDON, Feb. 4.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan and Mr. L. F. S. Burnham, the dismissed British Guiana Ministers, did not leave tonight for home, as they had planned. The K.L.M. plane on which they had booked seats went without them.
After cables from the Governments of Curacao and Dutch Guiana saying that the two men would not be allowed to night-stop there, a K.L.M. official told the two- leaders of the People's Progressive Party that there was no alternative to cancelling their seats on tonight's plane. "It you are not allowed to pass the night in Curacao, we should have to bring you all the way back," he said. The ban a1so prevents the two men from flying direct to Dutch Guiana tomorrow.
Dr. Jagan told Reuter that he and Mr. Burnham had approached the American Embassy in London for a transit visa via New York, but had been refused this.
Dr. Jagan also said that he and his colleague would try to leave London by the BOAC plane on Monday or Wednesday. BOAC said they had booked seats aboard a plane flying direct to Trinidad at 20.30 hours on Wednesday arriving there at 23.15 on Thursday. They explained that a plane operated by the British West Indian Airways would enable Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham to leave Trinidad at 7 a.m. on Friday, reaching Georgetown at 9-40.
Trinidad has declared Dr. Jagan a prohibited immigrant. It is not known in official circles here whether this would rule out his night-stopping on the island. "It is a matter for the Government of Trinidad," a Colonial Office spokesman said.-Reuter.
6 February 1954
BR. GUIANA LEADERS IN LONDON
LONDON, Feb. 12.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan and Mr. Linden Burnham, the two British Guiana leaders, are still stranded in London and do not know when they will be able to return home Their continuous efforts to secure air passages back to Georgetown have been without success.
The Dutch Government has refused to let them stop for the night in Curacao or Dutch Guiana if they go that way by air. The Government of Trinidad has intimated that they cannot land on the island. Barbados is prepared to grant them entry only on condition that they leave immediately by another plane. This would necessitate chartering a plane from Barbados to Georgetown.
Mr. Burnham said last night that this would cost a lot of money. "The problem," he added, "is how to find it. I am to be junior counsel for the defence in the hearing of sedition charges against Mr. Fred Bowman and Mr. Nazrudeen. The case is due to start on March 1. The leading counsel for the defence is Mr. D. N. Pritt, Queen's Counsel, who leaves for Georgetown later this month (February 22). He has asked me to precede him by several days to do the preparatory work.
"I thought to be back in Georgetown by February 15. I have written explaining this to the Colonial Office", he said.
A Colonial Office spokesman said tonight ''We have received no letter from Mr. Burnham".
Told of this comment later, Mr. Burnham expressed surprise, and said his letter was addressed to Mr. Oliver Lyttelton, Colonial Secretary.-Reuter
13 February 1954
CHEDDI JAGAN: REPORTS DENIED BY GUIANA GOVT.
GEORGETOWN, Feb. 13.
Official sources here denied today reports that the British Guiana Government wants Dr. Cheddi Jagan and Mr. L. F. S. Burnham, deposed People's Progressive Party Ministers, kept out of the colony permanently.
Meanwhile, reliable sources said that the PPP was today calling upon the British Government to use its influence and remove the difficulties preventing Dr. Cheddi Jagan and Mr. Burnham from entering the colony.
The two former British Guiana Ministers are now in England on their way back home after their tour of India and the Middle East.
15 February 1954
LONDON, Feb. 16.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, the deposed Prime Minister of British Guiana, left London airport today for Paris on the first leg of a round-about trip home.
Dr. Jagan, accompanied by his former Education Minister, Mr. L.S. Burnham, planned to fly to Guadeloupe from Paris and there board a direct flight to Georgetown.
"All other routes have been barred to me," Dr. Jagan said. "It took me a few days to find the only open door."
17 February 1954
DR. JAGAN BACK IN GEORGETOWN CROWDS GREET LEADER
GEORGETOWN, Feb. 17.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan, deposed Premier of British Guiana, and Mr. L. F. S. Burnham, deposed Education Minister, returned here by air today after more than three months' absence.
Twenty-two thousand people, mostly Indians and Negroes, who lined the streets between the airport and the city shouted words of welcome to the two People's Progressive Party leaders. They waved flags and carried placards expressing support to the PPP.
Earlier this morning, the police raided the headquarters of the People's Progressive Party and carried away a few bundles of posters with words of welcome printed on them. Police squads and British troops stood by for any emergency.
One placard stating ''Welcome home to two traitors", carried by an anti-PPP group, was torn to pieces by the crowd.
The PPP Executive said today the Government had placed no hindrance to their plan of welcome.
The Governor this afternoon authorised permits to be issued to all PPP executives and relatives of Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham who wanted to go to the airport to welcome them. It was disclosed here that the French authorities had consulted the Governor, Sir' Alfred Savage, through the French consulate here before permitting Air France to fly home the two leaders.-PTI
19 February 1954
CHEDDI JAGAN: REFLECTIONS ON THE VISIT TO INDIA
We had gone to India from the United Kingdom on November 21, 1953 and had made a lightning tour of the principal cities. The highlight of the visit was an address in New Delhi to an informal assembly of the members of both Houses of Parliament with the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in the chair. Wherever we went, we were warmly received, sometimes with great pomp and ceremony. There were many embarrassing moments for me, however, particularly on two questions - language and the birthplace of my grandparents.
Actually, I had never taken the trouble to find out precisely from which village in India my forebears had come. All I knew was that they were from the State of Bihar. This of course was not a satisfactory answer, especially in Bihar, where I was pressed for details. The other source of my embarrassment was my inability to speak Hindi or Urdu; all I could manage were a few sentences of broken Hindi.
I left India somewhat disillusioned. Although protocol treatment from the government was strictly correct and support from the people unreserved, somehow I had the impression that in official quarters we were in the way. The government of India seemed hesitant to give us official sponsorship. I was made to understand that India was in trouble with the United States over Pakistan and Korea and thus needed the support of the British government. Moreover, the Indian government, preoccupied with its own Communists in Kerala, Hyderabad, and elsewhere, was somewhat influenced by the British government's anti-Communist propaganda against us.
Two things about my visit to India left their imprint on me. The first was the incredible poverty in evidence everywhere, particularly in the many refugee centres in the principal cities. It was a pitiable sight to see people sleeping at night on railway platforms, ill-clad and shivering from the cold in the North. I could not help thinking what a great country India would be if all its human resources were utilised. The second was the Gandhian creed of civil disobedience and passive resistance. Everywhere we went, we were asked whether we would adopt similar methods. We found ourselves sucked in by this tidal wave demand of questions. Soon we were saying that on our return home we would also be using the same methods of resistance.
[From Cheddi Jagan's The West on Trial (London, Michael Joseph Ltd., 1966) - Chapter 8]
Published online by:
GNI Publications, March 2006
Editor: Odeen Ishmael
© Odeen Ishmael, 2006