OCR Interpretation


Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, February 08, 1942, Image 78

Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1942-02-08/ed-1/seq-78/

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001 NT OH * W
With U. S. planes, ships and troops fighting
all over southeast Asia, this question has a
vital meaning for Americans
by Sir Girfa Shankar Bafpai
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to Its (MM SMsi
as told to HENRY C. WOLFE
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MCCVLON
I
INDIAN OCEAN
Italians. When the Japanese attacked Hong Kong last
December. Indian soldiers manned the pillboxes along the
waterfront and stood off onslaught after onslaught of Nippon's
best shock troops.
In the two years that the war has raged in Europe, India’s
army has not only been expanded, it has been modernized. Its
soldiers are equipped with the latest tools of mechanized war
— and trained to use them. We only wish we had more, and
yet more, of these tools.
But perhaps even more important than India’s modern
army are its resources for producing the materials of modern
war.
Though ocean lanes from America and England have grown
so long and perilous, India still stands as a mighty arsenal for
the democracies on the Far Eastern front.
Tempi** oad St**l Mills
This statement, I find, comes as a surprise to many Amer
icans. They think of India as a land of great temples, of majes
tic mountains and diverse, picturesque peoples. Few realize
that it is also one of the eight leading industrial countries of
the world. It has huge deposits of iron ore —- among the
richest in Asia. It has the greatest single steel works in the
entire British Commonwealth — and the Indian steel industry
can turn out more than 1,000,000 tons of finished steel a year.
Its factories are converting this steel, on the spot, into artil
lery, machine guns, rifles, shells and accessories for armored
cars, tanks and airplanes.
The same story is true in other fields. From its own cotton,
India is producing most of the cloth for the uniforms of the
British Tropical Army. Indian factories are turning out tires
made from Indian rubber. Shipyards are building naval ves
sels. Aluminum plants are working at top speed. Our man
ganese, oil, hides and jute help keep democracy’s industrial
mechanism going. We raise a million tons of wheat, and
that, with our rice, maize, millet and tea help feed the soldiers
and civilians of the united nations.
These cogs for the wheels of war are being produced right
next door to the combat. They need not be shipped halfway
around the world. Thus precious ocean tonnage is saved for
other essential war shipping.
You can see from the above map why India’s geographical
position is so vitally important in the Pacific conflict. India
— on the threshold of the Burma Road (the gateway to China),
on the sea lanes from the west to Singapore, a neighbor of the
Netherlands East Indies — occupies a location of immeasur
able strategic value.
It is the seat of the Eastern Supply Council, which, from
Delhi, co-ordinates all British Empire supplies for the Middle
East and the Far East — providing not only for the armies of
India, but also for the fighting forces of Australia, New
Zealand and South Africa.
So much for our man power and resources. What of our
morale?
It is true that our country is large and complex, and, in the
political field, there is much debate as to India’s future status.
Nearly all groups feel that India is entitled to order her own
affairs, both internal and external. Some visualize India as a
Dominion within the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Others, like Mahatma Gandhi and his adherents, want com
plete independence, and want it now.
“Give India her independence,” demand Gandhi's followers,
"and we may support Britain’s war effort against the Axis.”
But this is India’s own family argument. Whatever shades
of opinion there may be on this debate, nowhere is there any
feeling that India stands to gain anything by playing Japan’s
game. We have seen what happened in Korea, in Formosa, in
Manchuria, in China, and, now, in the Philippines. We know
that under a victorious Japan our people would lose all hope
of freedom — and become the slaves of brutal and arrogant
tyrants.
Tk* Japs Woo India
By radio broadcasts, by every other type of propaganda, the
Japanese have tried to rally the Indians to their “Asia for the
Asiatics” campaign against the white man. They have sought
to lure us into their “greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere.”
But for some time now the great majority of the Indian
' people have distrusted the “Prussians of the East.”’When the
Japanese invaded China in 1937, we Indians were outraged.
The Indian National Congress declared a boycott against
Japanese goods — and this boycott has continued down to the
present day. Even then we knew that Japan would have to be
stopped, and we were ready to do our part to stop her.
We are ready now. From the battlefields oFLibya to the
beach heads in the South China Sea, India’s warriors are in
the forefront of the struggle to defeat the Axis. The Sikh
suicide defenders of Hong Kong stirred the world with their
salutation: “Sat Shiri Akal” (Truth Is Eternal). This, remem
ber, is the watchword of an old people and an old country
that are very young today. For India this is an all-out fight.
Her three hundred and ninety millions are in it for the duration.
Tk* End
ACME
SUICIDE TROOPS wrote an epic of Indian heroism in their Hong Kong stand
nrrnraovo
CRACK Punjabi desert fighters point a V for Victory trench at the Axis

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