Bipinchandra Pal on India and Clash of Civilizations (1923)


Senior Member
Sep 17, 2015
Thoughts of BipinChandra Pal from "Nationality and Empire" published in 1923

"This Pan-European combination [that we now call the West] will be a very serious menace to the non-European world. It will be bound to come into serious conflict with both Pan-Islamism and Pan-Mongolianism [metaphor for Expansionist China]. If Europe can settle her internal jealousies betimes, she will be able to dominate easily both the Islamic and the Mongolian world. Nothing will prevent in that case the parceling out of the Muslim lands on the one side, and of China on the other. But that is not very likely. It will take, at least, as long a time for the European chancelleries to forget their past jealousies and present rivalries, as it will take for China, now that she has awakened from the sleep of ages, to put her own house in order and organize her leviathan strength to hold her own against the entire world.

"The same thing is likely to happen in the Islamic world also; and the fall of Turkey in Europe will hasten this combination. It will not be an organized confederacy like that of China and Japan, but a far more dangerous, because more subtle, combination of the hearts of countless hordes who hold nothing so dear, neither land nor life, as their religion. And the real strength of this Pan- Islamic outburst will come from Egypt and India [which then included present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh], where it will be safe from the crushing weight of the Pan-European confederacy. England will not allow her European confederates to interfere with her own domestic affairs; such interference would break up the confederation at once. She will have to settle this Pan-Islamic problem, so far as it may affect her own dominions, herself."

Then describing where the danger for India will come from, Pal writes under the title "Our Real Danger". "And it is just here that our safety from this possible Pan-European combination also lies. Because of the British connection, India will have nothing to fear from any possible combination of the European powers. The same is also true of Egypt, though perhaps in a lesser degree. Our real menace will come not from Europe but from Asia, not from Pan-Europeanism but from Pan-Islamism and Pan-Mongolianism. These dangers are, however, common, both to India and Egypt and Great Britain. To provide against it, Great Britain will have to find and work out a satisfactory and permanent settlement of the Indian and the Egyptian problem, and we, on our part, will have also to come to some rational compromise with her. British statesmanship must recognize the urgent and absolute need of fully satisfying the demands of Indian and Egyptian nationalism, and India and Egypt will have to frankly accept the British connection - which is different from British subjection - as a necessary condition of their national life and freedom. To wantonly seek to break up this connection, while it will only hurt Great Britain, may positively kill every chance and possibility of either Indian or Egyptian nationalism ever realizing itself."

Predicting and pleading the need for the alliance of the West and India, Pal writes under the sub-head "Our True Safety": "Indian nationalism in any case, has, I think, really no fear of being permanently opposed or crippled by Great Britain. On the contrary, the british connection can alone offer its effective protection against both the Pan-Islamic and the Pan-Mongolianism menace. As long as we had to consider Great Britain alone or any other European Power for the matter of that, while thinking of the future of Indian nationalism, the problem was comparatively simple and easy. But now we have to think if China on the one hand, and of the new Pan-Islamic danger on the other. The 60 millions of Mohammedans in India, if inspired with Pan-Islamic aspirations, joined to the Islamic principalities and powers that stand both to our West and our northwest, may easily put an end to all our nationalist aspirations, almost at any moment, if the present British connection be severed.

"The four-hundred millions of the Chinese empire can, not only gain an easy footing in India, but once that footing is gained, they are the only people under the sun who can hold us down by sheer superior physical force. There are no other people who can do this. This awakening of China is, therefore, a very serious menace - in the present condition of our country, without an organized and trained army and a powerful navy of our own - to the maintenance of any isolated, though sovereign, independence of the Indian people. Even if we are able to gain it, we shall never be able to keep it, in the face of this Pan-Islamic and Pan-Mongolian menace. And when one considers these terrible possibilities of the world situation as it is slowly evolving before one's eyes, one is forced to recognize the absolute need of keeping up the British connection in the interest of Indian nationalism itself, for the very simple and sufficient reason that there is absolutely much greater chance of this nationalism fully realizing itself with rather than without this connection."

Global Defence

New threads