While 200 people were killed in riots in India last week and thousands were injured, the first volume of the findings of the Simon Commission on Indian Government was made public. Flag-waving imperialists have looked the report over and remain cold, "self-determination for India is still a matter of the dim future". Emotional natives lament, "most un-sympathetic". Chicago and greater America cast a superior glance London-wards, "won't John Bull ever learn a lesson from the days of '76?"
However much these three views illustrate typical attitudes on the Indian situation they all come very far from an intelligent appreciation of the affairs which Sir John Simon and his associates spent two years in studying. Since the World War the British Empire has gone under a considerable process of rebuilding and emerged as something entirely new in the history of colonial development, the British Commonwealth of Nations. As such it is a virtual collection of Independent states held together by trade interests, a common heritage, and the royal family.
Ten years ago certain changes were made in the Indian Government with the idea of giving the great Eastern empire of many races a suitable place in the new scheme of British policy. Along among the colonies India possessed a high non-Anglo-Saxon population which necessitates special treatment. What would work for Australia and Ireland would not do, it was thought, for India. So a make-shift arrangement was knocked together to serve in the land of the Ganges. It did not work very well, everyone admits that, and the Nationalists are demanding with an ever more loud voice that India be granted her independence. So the Simon Commission has made an exhaustive examination of the entire Indian scene. Its published report gives a graphic account of the problem which India presents to her rulers, the second section which will appear June 24 will contain recommendations for a solution.
From the intelligent and thorough presentation of the case in the first part of the Simon report it is to be expected that these suggestions when made will be the most helpful thing of their kind official England has had in a long time. One thing is certain, whatever action the British government decides to take on the Indian matter, the question of the future of this tremendous Eastern state will be one of the most important features of the twentieth century. It is a fascinating subject and Americans can not afford to shrug a disinterested shoulder at the fate of 300,000,000 odd souls. For a remarkable picture of the whole business read E. M. Forster's "A Passage To India". If this does not interest in itself there is the fact that the fate of India tells on a grand scale the story of our own Phillipine Islands.