Sir Stafford Cripps Vs Sir Winston Churchill and India

Gandhi With Sir Stafford Cripps,
Sir Stafford
As far as  modern British Indian history goes, particularly a decade or so prior to her independence from the British, three important personalities impacted the psyche of the Indian population and the staunch Indian freedom fighters. They were Sir Stafford Cripps 1889-1952, British politician, Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948 ), a prominent freedom fighter and Sir Winston  Churchill (1874 –1965), a well known leader of the British conservative party. The former two genial personalities left a positive impact on the Indians, while the latter's impact on the Indian population was on the negative side. On the contrary, Indians despised Churchill, whose forte was giving full-throated  war and political  speeches and, on the sides, making carping criticism of  Indians and  spewing venom on them that was quite replete with racial slurs.

Sir Winston

Despite their inherent  weakness and strong characters, they were important leaders  of  their respective political parties  and a comparison of their capability can not be made because they were  equally competent in their own way. Further,  they chose a path independent of each other and kept going on their own orbital paths to achieve their political goals. Their style of approach was different.

Cripps had been a key figure and one of the pillars of  the post-war Labour Government from 1945 to 1951. After 1947, his popularity had begun to shoot up because he  was for economic recovery and to achieve it, he opted for public austerity. Slowly he became a possible rival to the wartime leadership of Churchill.

Cripps was a man with true Christian commitment and  a socialist. More over he had nagging health problems to take care of in spite of his political commitments. He had to suffer pain and discomfort because he was plagued by  Colitis (inflammation of the inner lining of the colon) and consequently  through out 1930s he  was  in  poor  health. The orthodox medicines did not give him relief. Ultimately he turned to natural cure as professed by Edmond Szekély, prophet of an 'oranges-only' diet - and fruits and vegetables, combined with cold baths and abstention from tobacco and alcohol. So, he became a strict vegetarian, gave up alcohol and  smoking. He continued to follow vegetarian diet and his wife  Isobel also became a vegetarian. Following the outbreak of WWII, Cripps went on a  whirl-wind world tour, visiting India, Russia and China, returning via the USA. He admitted that India made a big impact on him. It was on 19th December, 1939 a great event took place. Accompanied by Nehru (who later became the first Prime Minister of India), he visited the  ashram near Wardha. India to meet Mohandas Gandhi, yet another strict vegetarian and god-fearing person who was leading humble life. Just like Cripps he was concerned about poor people and their welfare.. The ashram was just a mud hut, simplicity personified, but a study in  asceticism. A gentle man of very high order, as he was, he took off his shoes before entering the ashram. Several meetings followed and ultimately it was Gandhiji who was drawn to Cripps. For Cripps it was more of a private visit  than official and he was much impressed by Gandhi's calm disposition and  selflessness that propelled his creed and the sincerity with which he carried on his committed task.After his several visits to Gandhiji's Ashram, his strong belief in vegetarianism became more pronounced than before. Yet another well known Irish vegetarian was George Bernard Shaw, a great Irish-British satirist.

On his March, 1942, Cripps privately told that he would have given full independence to India right there, but Churchill would not accept it and Gandhiji would not accept nothing less and his peace mission to India was a complete failure.

On the other  hand,  Churchill  was  a  sort  of flamboyant personality and,  as a leader of the conservative party,  he was a staunch imperialist and nationalist. To him the British Crown should not loosen the strong grip on the British colonies, who were for the benefits of the British and wanted to keep the colonies under the British yoke. Further, with his aristocratic background, he had little concern for the poor labor classes  in the British society where gender discrimination was  also a moot problem in those days. He found solace in puffing cigar and enjoying   his champagne or brandy. He was a perfect British gentleman having  least  concern for the thousands of poor British living  in  the  ghetto. 
Nor was he sympathetic towards  millions  of emancipated  Indian natives living in  abject poverty in  British colonies across the globe. The major agenda  of his post-war policy  was to give the British people more red meat. The award of Nobel  Literature Prize for his history of the second world war, put him at a higher pedestal than Cripps and  almost wrote him out of history.However, in the Indian sub continent, Churchill lost his respect credibility among the well-educate Indian patriots. Every intemperate statement made by him public- ally was taken serious by the Indians. Churchill's public blabbering in a stylish manner and unpalatable actions,as a matter of fact, infuriated Indians and made them more resolute than ever before to drive out Churchill and his other down- to-  earth conservative cronies out the Indian shores.

About independence to India,  on 10 November, Churchill proclaimed his own unashamed and provocative statement of war aims: ''I have not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.'' It immediately became a widely quoted remark, not least in India. Churchill had become a WWII war hero by accident, but he was one among a few British politicians who saw to that the ''Sun had set in the west.'' In the WWII the real heroes were Americans and to, some extent, the Russians, not the British. The  Labour Government under Stafford Cripps was instrumental in granting Independence to India and was in wide contrast with the earlier conservative party under the obdurate leadership of Churchill. In his March 1944 visit to India, a meeting was arranged with Gandhiji  in the Harijan sweepers' quarter. Cripps had his initial informal meeting with Gandhi on 31 March, first joining over 3,000 people for prayers before retreating, shoe less, to the hut for forty minutes of private talk with Gandhi, the apostle of nonviolence. 

 Some facts about Cripps:

 !. A brilliant and successful patent and corporation lawyer by profession; he joined the Labour party in 1929.  

2. He  became a solicitor general in 1930, having joined the Labor Party in 1929,

3. He was knighted in 1930  and in 1931 became a Parliamentarian. He became an active s spokesman of the left wing of the Labour party.

4. In 1939  he was expelled from the party for inclusion of  Communists in the alliance.

5. After his stinct as an ambassador to the USSR  he became the leader of the House of Commons.

6. In 1942, Cripps mission to India with a self government plan was rejected by the Indian leaders.

7. Cripps,  as president of the Board of Trade in the new Labour government, again came to India in 1946 to negotiate  independence.  But, again his mission failed because the contentious issue of partition of India on communal lines was a thorn. However,  partition of India became inevitable when India got her freedom in August 1947.

8. In 1947 Britain went through economic crisis.  Cripps, as  minister of economic affairs, managed to tackle it successfully by pursuing  a policy of austerity - continuing rationing, imposing strict economic controls  and continuing full employment. An important aspect of his unique approach was he never trimmed down  the government's welfare programs, which otherwise would have affected the labor classes badly.

9. Britain's economic woes continued in the later period. Devaluation of Pound became inevitable.  Cripps retired from politics and public life in 1950.