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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Prologue: The Peacock and the Sea
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    Prologue: The Peacock and the Sea
    1st of January 1936


    Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi looked out onto the Bay of Bengal from his ashram near Calcutta. He still couldn’t believe what had transpired in the last ten or so years. Yet he was there when on the 19th of October 1925, the Republic of Bengal was declared in Calcutta in the aftermath of the British Revolution. He was there when the total collapse of order happened in India. He still remembered how sad he was to see this beautiful subcontinent split into three as British troops fell back to the northwest and the Indian princes in the south imitated the Republic and declared independence. He was sad when Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan took advantage of the power vacuum and seized rightful Indian land. But Gandhi was there to ensure the stability of the Republic along with his fellow Indian nationalists. Together, they stabilized the Republic and got rid of British imperialists, who mostly fled to Delhi. The British royalists on the other hand radicalized in their colonialism after they had successfully dealt with a local Sikh uprising. In the aftermath of the rebellion, the Raj became the Dominion of India, more independent from the Empire but still loyal to the Crown. Although many in the Republic thought the state of Dominion was merely a front for further imperialism, Gandhi believed that it was also partly a result of their neighbours’ desire for freedom and democracy. While the British were consolidating in Delhi, the Princely Federation to the south was founded on the power of the local princes. Under the influence of Gandhi and his followers, the Republic of Bengal initially had a careful stance on foreign policy. Gandhi was particularly worried about a German intervention, as they had done in China. But in the early 1930s, Gandhi’s ideas about foreign policy lost popularity and the Republic of Bengal adopted a more outwards-looking stance. A large scale war is still out of the question. Instead, Bengali foreign policy is aimed at supporting syndicalist movements in neighbouring countries, hoping to bring them in the Bengali sphere of influence by doing so. In that same policy, the People’s Republic of Bengal was renamed to the Bharatiya Commune, to adopt a more pan-Indian stance. By now, it had become clear that war with the Delhi imperialists was on the horizon and that the Commune’s foreign policy was bearing fruit in Indochina and Burma. Gandhi still believed in a peaceful solution. Just by looking at the beautiful nature in this country, he could tell that there was more to life than politics between countries.


    Map of the Indian subcontinent on the 1st of January 1936.

    But at the same time, there were signs that the Commune’s internal politics would soon enter a new stage. President of the Indian National Congress, Lala Lajpat Rai, was becoming old. Gandhi’s secretary Mahadev Desai had shared his belief more than once with Gandhi that Rai would retire within the next year. Rai’s future resignation could mark a potential end to the compromise government that emerged after the Indian Civil War, with both Subhas Chandra Bose’s Maximists and Gandhi’s own faction, the Agrarians, longing for definitive influence within the Congress and the Calcutta government as a whole. Meanwhile, on the other side of the border, it was becoming clear that King George V’s reign was near its end. The question was whether the British would choose to reform to appease local nationalists, or if they finally would succumb to the Indian unrest which has been plaguing the subcontinent ever since 1925. All of these things were going through Gandhi’s head, as he was watching a peacock, an age-old symbol for India, stretching its tail feathers and revealing the beautiful and diverse patterns it had kept hidden.

     
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    Chapter I: The Satyagraha March
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    Chapter I: The Satyagraha March
    1st of January – 19th of April 1936

    17th of January, in the late evening.

    Mahadev knocked on his employer’s door. No answer. He put his ears to the wall and couldn’t hear a thing. He decided to enter the room nonetheless. Carefully and quietly, Mahadev opened the door. As he suspected, his master was meditating, probably thinking about the election campaign that within the year would be on their hands. Gandhi was planning on running for President of the National Congress. Mahadev was sure his employer could win with ease, but the main opponent, Subhas Chandra Bose, still posed a big opponent. While Mahadev had fallen into his own train of thought, Gandhi had noticed his secretary’s presence. “Well Mahadev, what a beautiful day it is, don’t you think?” he said. By the look on Mahadev’s face, Gandhi presumed that something was bothering his friend. Mahadev fell out of his train of thought and replied: “A good day it is. Bapu, I came with important news. This noon, King George V died from his illness. His son Edward will soon take up the throne. While George was too weak to lead the Empire back to Britain, Edward might usher in a new period of instability.” “Do not worry, my friend,” Gandhi said, “as is custom, the Chamber of Princes will head a regency until Edward’s coronation. His influence in the Dominion is not immediate. In the Commune, however, I expect that people will soon be celebrating on the street. I hope this won’t give the wrong signal to our neighbours.” Mahadev picked up on what Gandhi said and told him the real reason why he had come: “Indeed, I already spoke to a number of people about the news. Most of them saw this as a gift or as a blessing for a future war with the Dominion. I even heard that Bose has sent a letter to Oswald Mosley, the British leader of the Maximists, stating his support for his ideas on politics and economy. They are indeed in a similar situation. Both are not in control of their country, but for both of them, an opportunity might be looming on the horizon. We might want to take action of our own to counter Bose’s growing influence in the Congress.” Gandhi thought for a moment before sharing his thoughts with his friend. “It might be time to start holding our campaigns in public. Our support basis lies in the countryside. It is there that we must begin laying out our policies and beliefs. I propose we march along the Ganges River and gather as many people as possible. The National Congress cannot deny the millions of Indians which support our case.” “I will make the necessary arrangements”, Mahadev said while moving towards the door. “Before you go, my friend, would you be so kind to take my letters to the post office?” Gandhi asked. Mahadev nodded as he left.



    6th of February, in the early evening.

    Gandhi was walking along the banks of the river Ganges, followed by an immense crowd of people. Gandhi was getting tired, but luckily they neared a village which could provide a safe shelter for the Mahatma and his followers. Upon reaching the village, Gandhi was surprised to see his friend Mahadev Desai amidst the welcoming party. The two men embraced each other and Mahadev started speaking: “Bapu, I must inform you that the Imperial Conference in Ottawa has ended. From what was released in the press, we have learned several things about the Empire’s intentions for the following years. First of all, Mackenzie King, the Prime Minister of Canada, argued in a rather rousing speech that all efforts should be put into retaking Great Britain from the Union of Britain. Surprisingly, when his proposal was put to a vote, while all voted in favour, the Dominion of India chose to abstain.” Gandhi took this information in and replied: “I am not surprised that the Empire chooses to follow this path. As for Delhi, I feel they are too much concerned with us to worry about the situation in Britain.” Mahadev nodded and continued his report: “Next, it was Delhi’s turn. A delegate from the Chamber of Princes took the stand and ushered his concerns about India. His most important point was that a good responsible government should actively seek to reunite India. While the message might seem peaceful, his tone was very much aggressive towards the Commune and the Princes.” Gandhi once again shared his opinion on the matter: “Yes, that was to be expected from a delegate of Delhi. By setting their minds on a preparation for war, they mind up making such a war inevitable. We must try and seek a way to reunite India indeed, but an India reunited by war is not the India which I stand for.” The crowd which had gathered around the two man started applauding Gandhi for his vision of peace. Once the crowd had calmed down again, Mahadev continued: “Next to take the stand was the Caribbean Federation. They chose to not talk too much about the geopolitical situation of the Empire, but rather to focus on the economy. They suggested that the Empire could only be restored if good investments were made in the economy and industry of its Dominions. The final speaker at the Imperial Conference was the delegate from Australasia. Similar to the Caribbean delegate, he chose to avoid much of the geopolitics of the Empire. He stressed the need for the return of democracy to Australasia and the need for scientific cooperation between the Dominions.” Gandhi thanked Mahadev for his report and made a gesture to move inside, as the cold of the night was setting in. Mahadev was not finished however: “There is one last thing. I have received news from our friend Hermann that the stock market of Berlin has crashed. The Europeans call it Black Monday and Hermann expects it will spread to other countries in the next few weeks.” Gandhi looked out onto the crowd in front of him and spoke to them: “Do not worry, my friends. What happens in Berlin is not of our concern. We are a country of farmers, not traders. This Black Monday will not affect us. And if it does, in some way, affects your lives, then I will make it my personal mission to lighten your burdens.” With those last words, he disappeared into one of the village’s houses and entered the world of dreams.


    The Dominion of India’s voting behaviour at the Imperial Conference, which lasted from the 25th of January until the 6th of February.

    7th of February, around noon.

    Gandhi was on the move again, walking from village to village, gathering support for his cause and at the same time showing his support for the farmers of India. He had said goodbye to Mahadev early in the morning, expecting to see him again not until next week. How wrong he was. Just as Gandhi was preparing to take a rest and lunch under a beautiful tree by the riverside, a car stopped by and delivered his friend Mahadev back to him. “Bapu, I have more troublesome news, I am afraid. This morning, not long after you left, the newspaper was delivered. The front page was full of it, terrible news for India”, Mahadev started saying. “But what is it, my friend? What could be so terrible that you had to take a car and catch up with me?” Gandhi asked. Almost out of breath, the 40-year old man continued: “Around midnight, Afghanistan has declared war on the Dominion. The Fifth Anglo-Afghani War has begun. They must have thought King George’s death and Black Monday would give them an advantage. But they must realise the Dominion’s army is far more superior, even if fighting is hard in the hostile mountains of Afghanistan, they stand no chance.” Gandhi had a disappointed look on his face. “This is indeed troubling news. It will not be British blood that is spent on taking back Quetta and Peshawar. Indian boys are being led into the death trap called Afghanistan. Let us hope the government in Delhi intends to stop the conflict as soon as the opportunity arises.”


    Afghanistan’s offence quickly came to a halt and the Dominion started counterattacking on the 11th of February. Two main attacks were made, one in the south to retake Quetta, and one in the north to try and take Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital.

    15th of February, in the afternoon.

    The Mahatma and his followers were almost at the end of their journey. For 20 days they had marched through the Indian countryside, gathering and giving support along the way. They were now marching through the city of Rajshahi, heading towards the market square, where Gandhi would deliver a speech. While the Mahatma was preparing to take the stand, he was informed about the events in China. Two days before, on the 13th of February, unrest had begun in the Allgemeine Ostasien-Gesellschaft-controlled part of China when the Head-Office was burnt down. The event probably marked the beginning of greater unrest in China. The Mahatma was worried that the unrest against colonial rule might spread across the rest of Asia and trigger a violent response from the authorities. Gandhi decided to change his original speech and talk about the unrest in China, in the hopes of reaching audiences across colonial Asia. He took the stand and started his speech. “My friends, initially I planned to speak to you today about the need for a strong policy towards agriculture, but it has come to my attention that unrest is spreading among the oppressed in China. The message which I will bring here today is directed to those who feel oppressed, no matter where in the world. When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always. It is important to remember this fact. I know how dangerous and how tempting it can be to resort to violence to solve your problems. But what difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy? That is why I say, whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love. That, my friends, that is true power. Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment. Heed these words and spread them among your neighbours. May God be with you and guide you in your endeavours.” With those words and under a thunderous applause, the Mahatma concluded his speech.



    9th of March, at noon.

    Gandhi was enjoying lunch with his wife and his children under a big Cashew tree at his ashram. It had been several weeks now since his Satyagraha March had ended. It had been a tremendous success. People from all over the countryside flocked to the villages where the Mahatma would supposedly pass through. On several occasions, the Mahatma had had the chance to give a speech and lay out his policy of non-violence and his view on the economy. Although the latter was more intended at the bureaucrats in Calcutta than at the farmers who had gathered to listen to him. After all, that was what politicians did, use the people to gain power. But Gandhi was special in that he did not intend to cling to that power longer than necessary. He would use the power of President to reunite India, nothing more, nothing less. While his children now played on the field near the Cashew Tree, Gandhi and his wife enjoyed some privacy. Such things had become a rarity ever since Gandhi took up the fight against colonial rule back in South Africa. But even here at his own ashram, his privacy could not last for long. His trusty secretary, Mahadev, came towards the old couple, briefly playing with the children on the way. When he came under the Cashew tree, he handed over a newspaper to his friend. “For once in a long time, there’s some good news in the newspapers. I’m talking about page 2 and page 9”, Mahadev said. The Mahatma turned to page 9, his wife looking over his shoulder to see what they were talking about. “This is indeed good news. Elections in Australasia, democracy has returned at last”, Gandhi commented. “Yes, Earle Page’s Country Party managed to gain enough support in the Canberra parliament to form a minority government. Many hope that he will bring an end to the Emergency Protocols of 1924”, Mahadev said to summarize the article. “Let’s hope this Earle Pages is true to his word then,” Gandhi said while turning back to page 2, “The Treaty of Delhi was signed yesterday. So the war with Afghanistan is over at last. Delhi was wise enough to not push further and to spare Indian blood.” Mahadev agreed on that point, but added: “I’m afraid however that as a result of the massive failure in the war, some elements in Afghani society have openly called for an end of the King’s regime. While some are on the democratic side of politics, many more are conservative Muslims calling for an Islamic State of Afghanistan. I hope that the violence won’t spread to the Muslims of India.” Gandhi agreed with his friend, the relationship between Hindus and Muslims in India had always been precarious. Even in the Commune, where equality between the religions was implemented in the constitution, Hindus and Muslims occasionally fought against each other on the street. Instead of talking further about the subject, Gandhi took an apple from the tray and offered it to his friend. “Here, take an apple and have lunch. I have a goat to milk. Would you be so kind to look after my wife in the meantime?” Mahadev was not at all surprised by Gandhi’s words. “Bapu, I’m sure you’re wife doesn’t need someone to look after her, but I’ll be the best company she’s had today”, he said with a smile on his face. Gandhi burst in laughter while walking away, looking for the goat.


    Outcome of the Treaty of Delhi.

    19th of April, at dusk.

    As Gandhi was looking out onto the sea, searching for the lights of fishing boats in the distance, his friend Mahadev approached him. “Any news from Paris yet?” Gandhi asked as he noticed Mahadev. “That’s why I’ve come, Bapu. The Congress of the Third Internationale ended yesterday. The small delegation Calcutta has sent has waited until the very last day to take the stage. The young Nehru explained why India had remained so quiet during most of the Congress. While talking about the precarious state of the revolutionary government in Calcutta, he strongly called for international support in building up the Bharatiyan army to rival Delhi and Hyderabad. Of course, the government in Calcutta is enraged, as they have tried to avoid actively angering Germany or the Entente by cooperating with the Third Internationale. Calcutta quickly sent out a message to say that the army is fine and doesn’t need improvement. However, that is a blatant lie, as our army is short on 15 000 guns for its infantry.” Gandhi smiled and said: “Ah, but the young Nehru simply spoke for himself and his followers. You’ve got to admire the courage of the man, even though the message is wrong. Once he is back from France, I think I’ll have a talk with him about non-violence and its strength.” “I’ll try and arrange a meeting. In other news, you might have heard that trouble is brewing north of the Indian subcontinent, as Mongolia has declared war on the Ma Clique on the 15th of April”, Mahadev said. The Mahatma was not surprised. “The Mad Baron was always a liability. Let us hope he doesn’t drag the rest of Asia into his wars of conquest.” “Let us hope indeed”, Mahadev replied.



    ----------
    GAMEPLAY NOTE: I must give credit where credit is due. Thank you @Tom D. for playing as the Dominion of India and to ensure that events in the Dominion happen as they should happen. Without you, this playthrough would not have been possible.​
     
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    Chapter II: Two Meetings and a Funeral
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    Chapter II: Two Meetings and a Funeral
    20th of April – 15th of August 1936

    7th of May, in the afternoon.

    Gandhi and some of his followers, after having talked about Tibet joining the war against the Ma Clique just four days ago, were now clutched around the radio. Main topic of the programming today was the Imperial Durbar in Delhi. King Edward VIII had come all the way from Canada to celebrate his coronation as King-Emperor of India. His speech was now broadcasted all over the Indian subcontinent, of course commented on by different propagandists. He expressed his hope that one day the Entente would rule over all of the Indian princedoms again. This hope was quickly put away by the radio host as imperialism and colonialism, not far from the truth in fact. Edward VIII also announced that Maharaja Ganga Singh would become his Viceroy of India and that he would leave the matters of state to him and his government, so that he could focus on Canadian politics. Viceroy Singh then took the stage and talked about the coming Indian elections. He expressed his belief in the democratic process and his willingness to govern India with whatever party wins the elections. Edward VIII didn’t stay in Delhi for long, as the debate about his Bill C-7 was heating up. Gandhi and his followers were somewhat surprised by this turn of events. Many thought that Edward’s brother Albert would take up the role of Viceroy. Gandhi was not so sure, however, what this meant for the role of the Viceroy. Would the Maharaja merely be a figurehead, or would he actively involve himself in the daily governance of the Dominion? The Mahatma and his followers discussed on this matter for the rest of the day, overlooking the fact that elections would soon be held in their neighbouring country.


    Portrait of King-Emperor Edward VIII, made in honour of his coronation.

    10th of May, in the late evening.

    Gandhi had invited some Chinese friends over at his ashram, mainly to talk about the current situation in their country. That day, the unrest in the Allgemeine Ostasiengesellschaft had come to an end, with their reintegration into Qing China. A series of reforms had failed to revive the German controlled economy and as unrest mounted, the administration saw reintegration as their only solace. Gandhi was somewhat disappointed that the unrest didn’t take another, more radical turn. Instead of reintegration into Qing China, he had hoped for the establishment of a Republic of China. His Chinese dinner companions agreed on the opportunity that was lost here, but they hoped that the Qing would somewhat counter the Japanese and the Mongolian aggression in the region. For them, the bigger threats these countries posed outweighed the need for a democratic government. Gandhi couldn’t disagree more. He believed a democratic government would be all the more worth fighting for and defending.

    21st of May, in the late afternoon.

    Mahadev Desai hurried to where Gandhi was taking his nap. Some disturbing events had occurred of which Gandhi had to be notified. Yesterday, the Trade Union Congress in the Union of Britain was forced to elect a new Chairman as Philip Snowden resigned. Out of the four major factions in the TUC (Maximists, Autonomists, Federationists and Congregationists), Oswald Mosley’s Maximists managed to maintain the loudest voice and get their leader elected as Chairman. Mahadev was worried, as Mosley was much more in favour of military action than any other faction. But much more worrying was the fact that Bose had congratulated Mosley on his victory in such a manner that it seemed like he was speaking for the government in Calcutta. Of course the people actually in charge of the government were furious. But this action demanded that Gandhi also sent a reply out into the media. Mahadev was not sure what his friend and employer could say that wouldn’t be a harm to their cause. Calling out Mosley on his militarism might turn even more Congressmen against Gandhi, while congratulating him might provoke Delhi and Hyderabad. When Mahadev approached Gandhi, the Mahatma was no longer asleep. “Yes, Mahadev, what’s the matter?” Gandhi asked his friend, who clearly looked out of breath. “It’s that damn Bose again. He is at it again with his big mouth. This time he has sent a letter to Mosley, congratulating him on his victory, but he made it seem like he spoke for the entire Congress”, Mahadev said, with the little breath he had left. “Don’t be angry, my friend. Spare your breath for a cause more worth of your effort. I’ll be sure to send Mr. Mosley and Mr. Bose a message of my own. Let’s show these men that we won’t be bullied and that we’re fine speaking for ourselves”, the old man said. By now, Mahadev had found back his breath and asked: “Bapu, shall I write your answer down for you?” Gandhi nodded and started dictating the words: “As a great statesman and leader, one must shake many hands. But one cannot shake hands with a clenched fist. As a great statesman and leader, one must not only act in the present, but also regard the past and build the future. Your tomorrow depends entirely on what you do today. Mankind may remember you a hundred years from now, but only the most holy of men last a thousand years. What you must do as a statesman and as a leader is simple. Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man you have seen, and ask yourself if this step you contemplate is going to be any use to him. Only if you act on trying to better the lives of the poor, you can call yourself a great leader. If your own gain is all you seek, you may count yourself among your tyrant predecessors.” Mahadev was impressed, this answer was perfect. After adding the usual opening and closing sentences, Mahadev would send this letter as soon as possible.



    28th of May, around tea time.

    Six days ago, elections were held in the Dominion of India. Gandhi, and the rest of the world, learned of the results the next morning. He was surprised to see that Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his social democrats, the All-India Home Rule Party, had won most of the votes. Viceroy Singh kept his promise of respecting the elections’ outcome when he opened negotiations with Jinnah to form a cabinet. Yesterday, Jinnah reached an agreement with the social liberal Swaraj Party of Narasimha Kelkar, giving the new government with Jinnah as PM a slight majority in parliament. Gandhi decided to pay a visit to his friend Rabindranath Tagore to discuss the matter. Tagore was a poet, and a good one to say the least. His work was widely read throughout the syndicalist world and beyond. His words of wisdom were considered by many to touch on the basic truths of mankind. Gandhi did not always agree with his friend on ideological matters, but as a friend, Gandhi knew he could count on Tagore for advice at any time. Over a cup of tea, the two discussed the elections. “What do you think about Jinnah?” Gandhi asked. “He is the best possible outcome of all the parties in my opinion. I’m certain that if the Conservatives had won, the Dominion would have mobilised already. At least Jinnah has an ear for negotiations. He has proved this through his alliance with the social liberals”, Tagore said. “My only worry is that he will use his religion as an argument against unification”, Gandhi replied. “How so?” Tagore asked with a slight surprise. “After the Revolution, many Muslims fled from the Bengal Republic to the Dominion. They feared heavy regulation on everything to do with religion. So now the Dominion is a majority Muslim country, while the Commune is a majority Hindu country. Jinnah will certainly use this to either push his own religious agenda, or to refuse reunification altogether”, Gandhi explained. “Then we must show that we are willing to listen to his religious concerns. My friend, you of all people have the power to do this. You have such an open mind regarding the Muslim, Hindu and Christian religions. Use that open mind. Unite the people of India, whatever religion they adhere to. The peaceful reunification of India is just too important to be poisoned by religious debates. Know that I support you, even though we might have our differences from time to time”, Tagore spoke wisely. Gandhi agreed fully with his friend. They continued to discuss other matters for the rest of the day, until it was time for Gandhi to return to his ashram.



    8th of June, late in the evening.

    Gandhi had just arrived in the big capital of the Commune, Calcutta. His presence had been requested by President Rai. Gandhi did not know why he was being summoned. It might have something to do with his plans to resign, but Gandhi was surprised to see a foreigner in Rai’s office. The man introduced himself as the new ambassador for Siam. Apparently, a coup d’état had occurred in Siam earlier that day. They certainly were quick in replacing their ambassadors. The ambassador explained what had happened: “A group of officers and intelligentsia calling themselves the ‘Khana Ratsadon’ or ‘People’s Party’ (nothing to do with syndicalism), have seized control of the government. The King and his heir are safe and looked after by the new government. This is not a military coup but rather a peaceful transfer of power while a constitution is put in place. I was sent here to ask for recognition of our new government. We have asked Japan and Germany the same.” Rai looked at Gandhi and said: “Mahatma, I did not intend to bring you here to discuss Siam, but as you’re here now, you might as well share your thoughts.” Gandhi pondered over this question before speaking out loud: “I must be honest, I did not expect the Siamese people to be this quick in handling a matter so delicate as foreign policy. President Rai, I think it would be most wise to wait a few more days, or even weeks, to see if this new government is stable enough to be worthy of our recognition. I think that would be the best option at the moment. Who is to say that in a few hours, a representative of the old government will come knocking on someone’s door and ask for support. We must try and avoid open confrontation with Germany or Japan at all costs. India is not prepared for war. That said though, opening diplomatic relations with this new government does not require an official recognition.” The ambassador finished his plea for recognition and left President Rai and Gandhi to discuss their own matters.

    17th of June, at noon.

    Gandhi was still in Calcutta. His talk with the President had not been very productive. While Rai was a more careful person than he was ten years ago, he also wasn’t as influential as ten years ago. Gandhi could already see the influence Bose was exerting in some matters. For example, Bose had been appointed as Field Marshall, along with his protégé Lakshmi Saghal who became a general in the Commune’s army. Today, Gandhi had another meeting with the President. They were to have breakfast in one of Calcutta’s many restaurants. Not a place where Gandhi would go if it were up to him, but the President insisted. When Gandhi turned up at the restaurant, President Rai was already there, two guards standing next to the table. Gandhi approached the President and greeted him wholeheartedly. Gandhi broke the ice by addressing one of the guards: “Will you and your friend join us at lunch?” The guard was confused and looked at the President for an answer. “Please, I insist,” Gandhi continued, “after all, you are just human and you need to eat something.” President Rai nodded approvingly at the guard. For the people walking by, it must have been an odd sight, the President of the Commune lunching with the most esteemed Mahatma and two guards clearly out of their comfort zone. “These two men have been kindly provided by Field Marshall Bose,” President Rai explained, “the Field Marshall has been particularly interested in my safety lately.” Gandhi was not surprised by this news and expressed his thoughts: “Mr. President, I must express my concern regarding Field Marshall Bose and his followers. He’s clearly trying to wrap you around his fingers.” “Oh I know, Gandhi. That is why it isn’t going to work. You see, these guards might be provided by the Field Marshall, but their loyalty is to me. I’ve simply replaced the individuals which Bose had sent without him knowing. He still pays their wages, while I am certain of their allegiance,” the President reassured. Gandhi was not entirely convinced and turned his attention to the guards, who were having a conversation of their own. They were talking about some French guy called Louis Roubaud, Gandhi had never heard of him. Gandhi asked them what they were talking about. One of the soldiers explained: “Didn’t you hear, Mr. Gandhi? About Indochina? About the German violence?” “I can’t say I have. My secretary Mahadev usually fills me in on these things, but he’s out of town to see his family,” Gandhi answered. “Ah yes, Indochina. Yesterday, thirteen anti-colonialist rebels were brutally executed by the Germans,” the President said, “I’ve already sent the order to send equipment and volunteers. An uprising in Indochina would finally get rid of the Germans in the region, as they have already lost their holdings in China.” “President, as horrible as that violence might have been, I disagree with meddling directly in German affairs,” Gandhi said, “By the way, the Germans still have a strong foothold in Ceylon.” The President clearly disagreed: “Weakening Germany is in our best interest. And by the way, our intelligence service has information about a possible trade between Germany and the Princely Federation regarding Ceylon.” It was looking more and more like Gandhi’s second talk with the President this month would be as productive as his first talk. But Gandhi needed his support to sway the Indian National Congress. There was still time, but the President was slipping deeper and deeper into Field Marshall Bose’s pocket. Where was Mahadev when you needed him?



    25th of June, in the morning.

    Mahadev hurried towards the house where Gandhi had been staying. He had returned yesterday from a visit to his family in the north. But more importantly, Gandhi had to be informed about the latest news from Canada. It was disturbing to say the least. Mahadev was greeted at the door by Gandhi’s host, an influential Hindu leader of Calcutta: “The Mahatma is upstairs, enjoying the morning sun.” Mahadev ran up the stairs and found his friend on the flat roof terrace of the house. “Bapu, I have some troubling news,” Mahadev said, clearly out of breath. “Ah Mahadev, you’re back. How is your aunt doing these days?” Just as Mahadev was going to answer Gandhi’s question, the Monsoon rains started pouring down on them. Gandhi always had the worst timing regarding his outdoors habits. Mahadev was just about to hurry inside, when Gandhi said: “Mahadev, my friend, stay outside for a while. I did not come here to only enjoy the sun, the rain is enjoyable too. Just as the sun, the rain provides life to this country. It is only fair that we pay similar homage. Now, tell me, what was so important?” Mahadev stayed in the doorframe to stay dry and began talking, his breath regained: “King Edward VIII has disbanded his parliament yesterday. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he declared the Kingdom of Canada by Royal Decree just after that. New elections are not expected until September, so that gives King Edward enough time to counter liberal opposition and ensure that his supporters get elected.” Gandhi was slightly shocked. So much so that he did no longer enjoy the raining pouring down from the sky and went inside to discuss the matter further. “This is certainly worrying. The Entente, pretending to defend the free world, is starting to show authoritarian tendencies. However, this crisis might help us in the long term. Think about it. The people in the Dominion of India want to move towards more democracy and self-rule, Canada and the King have just gone in the other direction. The people of India might have an ear for reconciliation again, once Ottawa is threatening to take their freedom away.” “Let’s hope so. If Edward would be so stupid to try the same in India, I’m certain that blood will spill on the streets. If it depended on Bose, war would certainly be declared,” Mahadev said in response. “About Bose, he’s the Field Marshall now”, Gandhi said, assuming his secretary did not hear the news yet. “Well this makes our goal even harder as it already is. Bose is moving closer and closer to the presidential office, while we are yet to hold a major rally in the capital”, Mahadev said, the feeling of melancholy seeping through his words.

    15th of August, in the almost darkness of the late evening.

    Gandhi did not have the opportunity to pay a visit to his wife back at the ashram during the summer months. Constant political campaigning kept him from leaving the capital. But now his wife had come to Calcutta to attend a funeral. Bhikhaiji Rustom Cama, also known as Madame Cama, had lost her battle against a strong fever two days ago. Gandhi and his wife, along with all other major leaders of the Bharatiya Commune and even some international syndicalist leaders were invited. Even though Madame Cama, as a Parsi, was a follower of Zoroastrianism, she had requested a Hinduist funeral ceremony. Of all the people invited, Gandhi was selected as the lead mourner, something Madame Cama herself had requested on her deathbed. [The lead mourner in Hinduist funeral tradition is the eldest son, a priest or a male mourner who bathes himself before leading the cremation ceremony, saying a eulogy or reciting a hymn among other things] Before the Mahatma took the stage for the eulogy, he circled around the dry wood pyre with the body, passing by Field Marshall Bose and General Saghal in the process. The former giving him an angry look. Next, he took the stage so that everyone could hear and see him. Gandhi had prepared this eulogy with great care. He didn’t want to give the impression of using the funeral as a means of gaining support. Nevertheless, there was a reason why Madame Cama asked for this with her dying breath. Gandhi took a deep breath and began his speech: “In 1907, a wonderful woman from Mumbai raised the first Indian national flag at the Stuttgart International Socialist Conference. Her name was Bhikhaiji Rustom Cama, but we all knew her as Madame Cama. The things she has done for this country are remarkable to say the least. The foundations she built are the very same on which we build our country and our laws every day.” Gandhi continued with summing up Madame Cama’s many achievements before getting to the end of the eulogy. “With sadness we must say goodbye to one of India’s greatest. But one never truly is gone. Madame Cama will live on in all of us, because she knew that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. It is therefor that I say, Vande Mataram. We bow to thee Mother India. May you someday be reunited in peace.” Gandhi left the stage and approached the dry wood pyre. Gandhi revealed Madame Cama’s face by lifting the 1907 Indian flag, a shame that the museum-worthy object would burn and accompany Madame Cama to the afterlife. The Mahatma put rice in her mouth and sprinkled the body and the pyre with ghee. He then drew three lines, each one signifying death in one way or another. Before lighting the fire, Gandhi circled the pyre again, this time with a pot filled with water, which he lobbed over his shoulder once he was done. Then the pyre was set ablaze, Gandhi now circling it again, this time accompanied by Madame Cama’s relatives and closest friends. When the time was right, Gandhi set Madame Cama’s spirit free by opening up her skull. “Her spirit will now watch over all of India”, Gandhi mumbled to himself, watching the flames soar into the night sky.



    ----------
    GAMEPLAY NOTES:
    1) The ingame conflict between Tibet, Mongolia and the Ma Clique is something to follow, as it will have consequences for the future of China as a whole. It was mentioned before in my In Flanders Fields AAR, but now we can follow it as it unfolds.
    2) The unrest in Indochina which started here is basically the root for the future Indochinese war which we already encountered in the Golden Circle AAR.​
     
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    Chapter III: The Mahatma and the General
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    Chapter III: The Mahatma and the General
    16th of August – 31st of December 1936

    16th of August, just before sunrise.

    General Lakshmi Saghal was moved profoundly by Madame Cama’s funeral yesterday. Gandhi’s words had made her rethink the choices she had made in her life. Her entire military career had been at the side of Field Marshall Bose. Until yesterday, there was no doubt that her loyalty was with him. But now, she started doubting every word the Field Marshall had ever said to her. Was it all a big lie to get her to his side? Was the Field Marshall preparing for a devastating civil war in case Gandhi won the upcoming presidential election? If that was the case, then Lakshmi had to tell Gandhi about this. That’s why just before sunrise on the 16th of August, the young female general of the Commune army stood at Mahadev Desai’s door. When Mahadev opened the door, he was scared at first. Was this the day Bose sent someone to get rid of him in order to get to Gandhi? Lakshmi pushed Mahadev inside and started talking: “Your name is Mahadev Desai, right? Gandhi’s secretary? I have an important message for your employer. It is a matter of life and death.” “And why would I believe you?” Mahadev asked. “Look, we don’t have time for this. I must inform the Mahatma of what is happening in the army”, General Saghal said. “Tell me, I’ll pass it on to my employer if I deem it worthy enough”, Mahadev replied. “Fine, that’s what I was counting on. Field Marshall Bose is preparing for a civil war. If he doesn’t get the support of the Indian National Congress in the upcoming elections, he will start one. Gandhi must be prepared. I’m afraid he stands no chance if he pursues his peaceful way. Mahadev, I know you are concerned with his safety all the time. Listen to me, you know I speak the truth”, Lakshmi said. “Alright, you have my attention,” Mahadev replied, “What more can you tell my about Bose’s plans?” “He’s collecting a massive amount of weapons at the border with the Dominion. He plans to incite his rebellion there. At his current strength, he has half of the Commune’s army behind him. But I know how to decrease those number”, General Saghal said. “Tell me, how do you plan to do that?” Mahadev asked, slightly worried about what this revelation meant for the Commune. “Most of the soldiers don’t want a civil war, it’s mostly the generals loyal to Bose who want to keep you from getting to power. What we need to do is station our most valuable and loyal troops in defensive positions and put a general in command who is loyal to Gandhi”, the General said with a subtle tone in her voice. Mahadev picked up on the subtlety and replied: “I assume that you refer to yourself when talking about this loyal general.” “At the moment, I’m the only general Gandhi can trust. None of the others have to you to talk about this, have they? Think about that, I’m the only one”, Saghal said. “I’ll think about it, and I’ll let the Mahatma know about this. He’ll be the better judge for this”, Mahadev said, while leading the General back out the door of his house.

    16th of August, around noon.

    Mahadev was still a bit shaky after what had happened in the morning. But nevertheless, Gandhi had to be informed, even if the General was lying, or worse, sent by Bose himself. The Mahatma was spinning some cloth on his porch when his secretary arrived at his residence. “It’s time I had some new clothes, isn’t it?” the Mahatma asked, “I mean, a little bit of change can’t be that bad, can it?” Mahadev ignored Gandhi’s question and went straight to business: “Bapu, something has come to my attention. Early this morning General Saghal payed me a visit. She has shared with me some information that, if true, is quite troubling.” Gandhi had stopped spinning by now and was paying full attention to his secretary: “Mahadev, I’m listening. What could be so troubling that you’re shaking all over?” Mahadev hadn’t even realized that he was doing that and said: “According to the General, Field Marshall Bose is preparing for a rebellion in case you win the presidency. She talked about a massive amount of weapons being stored at the border.” Gandhi’s eyes turned towards the courtyard, where children were playing some kind of game. “We must not allow the Commune to be torn apart by civil war. Did the General give any reason why she shared this with you?” Gandhi asked. “She said she can prevent Bose from getting too strong. She estimates that currently half of the forces are in his control. If she could take personal command of the troops, she promises to half Bose’s numbers and giving us the upper hand”, Mahadev explained. “And why would we do that?” Gandhi asked. “She said that she is the only general you can trust”, Mahadev replied. Gandhi thought for a moment, going through everything he knew about the young female general. “If what she says is true, she has risked her own career by coming to you. Bose would certainly get her killed if he found out. If she’s telling the truth, she must be really scared right now. I will have her followed to see if her behaviour corresponds with someone who is scared. Then I will make my decision”, Gandhi said. Mahadev agreed that this was the best way to move forward and left Gandhi and his spinning wheel to make the arrangements.



    7th of September, late in the evening.

    Gandhi, accompanied by his secretary Mahadev Desai and his friend Rabindranath Tagore, stood at the door of General Lakshmi Saghal. The past few weeks, the Mahatma’s loyal eyes and ears on the street had followed her, gathering information on her behaviour. She had no meetings with Bose outside of the usual military schedule and she regularly asked for reports on the western border behind Bose’s back. Gandhi and Tagore deemed this behaviour as proof of her truthfulness. So one day, Mahadev decided to arrange a meeting between the Mahatma and the General. The Mahatma insisted that Tagore and Mahadev come along. That brought them to this moment. Mahadev was a bit nervous, remembering his last encounter with the General. The Mahatma was his usual self, calm and confident. Tagore was lost in thoughts, probably thinking about a poetic way to introduce himself to the General. Lakshmi let the three men enter into her reasonably sized house. She made some tea and started talking business: “Mahatma, I am honoured with your presence. Your speech at Madame Cama’s funeral touched something in me. I started doubting Bose’s every word. Just after the funeral, I checked the logistics of the Commune’s army and they didn’t make sense. Weapons were disappearing from the record. At that moment I realized that Bose was preparing for a coup or a rebellion of some kind. I had to inform you of this and that is why I went to visit Mahadev the next day.” “Tell me General, how do you propose to halt Bose’s plan?” Tagore asked. “Bose’s strength is based on how many soldiers are willing to die for his cause. Our strength will be based on how many soldiers are not willing to die in a civil war and how many soldiers are willing to defend the ideals of the Mahatma with their lives. If you think about it, we actually have the numeral advantage. The problem is that currently, many soldiers are under Bose’s direct command. They would rather follow his commands than be court-martialled. But once you are President, Mahatma, you can remove him from his position and put someone there that can convince enough soldiers not to join Bose.” “And of course you are referring to yourself”, Tagore assumed. “It would only be fair to give the General this position after what she has risked to help us”, the Mahatma said. “Are you sure about this?” Tagore asked Gandhi. “Mahadev was right about bringing this issue to me. A warned man is worth two. Now, we should not ask ourselves whether General Saghal should lead the Commune’s forces or not. We should rather seek a way to reduce casualties in this upcoming war as much as possible. The less lives are lost, the more believable our cause of non-violence is to the rest of the world”, Gandhi replied. “I agree with the Mahatma. If we trust you, General Saghal, you must promise us that you will see to a minimal amount of casualties in the coming conflict”, Mahadev said. The General, the Mahatma, the Poet and the Secretary continued to discuss how to act in the face of rebellion. In the end it was decided; the General would lead under the banner of non-violence and effectively halt Bose’s uprising before it had even started.

    3rd of October, in the evening.

    “So is it true then? Is the war over?” Gandhi asked Mahadev, referring to the conflict in China. A month ago, one would think that the Ma Clique was lost, driven back to the most southern area of the Gobi Desert. Their supplies would not have lasted any longer in the hostile environment. But on the 10th of September, Qing China chose to intervene on behalf of the Ma Clique. The Emperor of China was supported by Russia, a strong sign to both Mongolia and Tibet that no-one had the right to redraw borders in East Asia without asking either Russia or China. Soon, it became obvious to Mongolia that they were outflanked by the Chinese army. In a matter of days, the Great Khan sounded the retreat. With pressure being relieved in the north, the Ma Clique could now focus all its manpower against Tibet, and soon, they were fighting at the foot of the Himalayas. The Great Khan knew he could no longer win this war. Qing China simply had way more access to goods and military equipment than Mongolia and Tibet combined. “Yes, it’s true,” Mahadev answered, “I’ve received a telegram from our ambassador in the Legation Cities. He informs me that China has entered a cease-fire with Mongolia and Tibet. At the same time, our spies across the Himalaya’s have told the National Congress that China will probably annex the Ma Clique soon.” “It was to be expected,” the Mahatma said, “The return of the Qing dynasty is indissolubly connected to the waning power of the Germans in the region. I expect that Japan will soon challenge the Qing for control in the region. I do hope that whatever happens in the region will not affect India too much. International instability is the last thing we need. Now if you’ll excuse me, my friend, I must prepare myself to bath in the holy Ganges river.” “At this time? A bit unusual isn’t it?” Mahadev asked. “It’s always calm at this time of the day. It helps me clearing my mind”, Gandhi said. As Gandhi left, so did Mahadev, off to resume working on Gandhi’s election campaign.


    Qing China after the Mongolia-Tibet-Ma Clique War, due to interference by Japan, Qing China wasn’t able to demand Inner Mongolia, previously Chinese territory.

    7th of October, in the afternoon.

    Mahadev and Gandhi went to visit Tagore once again. Apart from discussing Bose’s coming uprising, the Mahatma, the Poet and the Secretary discussed the politics of the Dominion. The way Jinnah’s social democrats handled the Indian economy would impact how a unified India would handle its economy once East and West were united. Black Monday didn’t impact India directly, but that didn’t take away the fact that the effects could be felt on export sales and that the Indian economy was already a mess. Today, a broad coalition of social democrats and social liberals implemented the Indian Economy Act, turning the Dominion into a single market. After Mahadev explained the outlines of the Act, the Mahatma shared his vision: “I have doubts about the benefits of a uniformed economic legislation. After all, the local needs must dictate the economy, not the international fluctuations of capitalism.” Tagore was more in favour of the Act: “I can imagine that the establishment of government offices to review the state of the economy will also benefit the local level, if of course they are put to good use. If these government offices are used to impose national legislation, they will not be beneficial. Their true value lies within the ability to bring local needs to the attention of the national government.” “I agree, but I must add that these offices will all come to the same conclusion,” Gandhi argued, “namely that the soul of India is her villages and that agriculture is the biggest and most important sector in the economy.” Mahadev picked in on this issue: “Bapu, I know your biggest selling point is your support for agricultural communities, but you must also take into account the countless pockets of industry dotted across the Indian subcontinent. Some within our own National Congress want to develop the industry rather than the countryside, we have to at least listen to their proposals.” “And we will,” Gandhi said, “At the current level, our industry isn’t developed enough to provide for everyone’s needs. Think of it, an improved industry could provide farmers with the means to modernize and increase production. Now, the real danger is to not go to far in increasing production. We must always produce just enough for everyone’s need, not for anyone’s greed. True wealth lies in self-sufficiency, not in what a country exports to foreign countries. Look at for example the United States. Before the Great Depression, one could arguably say that the US was the biggest exporter. But nevertheless, the gap between the rich and the poor increased day by day. And now we’ve come to the point where another American Civil War might be coming.” By mentioning a possible future civil war in America, Gandhi unintentionally triggered a debate between Tagore and Mahadev about the upcoming US presidential elections. Gandhi took mental notes on their comments, while the Poet and the Secretary talked for the rest of the afternoon.



    17th of October, around noon.

    The Mahatma was visiting Jawaharlal Nehru and his family, mainly to discuss the coming elections and a possible alliance between Gandhi’s Agrarians and Nehru’s more moderate group of trade unionists. While strolling through the big garden of Nehru’s estate, an elephant had entered through one of the more tree covered areas. The majestic beast had no idea it was in the presence of the two great men, but the elephant itself did not go unnoticed by the Mahatma. Gandhi had a tremendous respect for all living creatures. Each and every one occupied a special place within the realm of God. So did the elephant. Someone like Nehru, who cared about the beauty of his garden, would rather see the elephant gone, but Gandhi pointed out the inherent beauty the elephant added to the garden. This was a moment to cherish, but alas it did not last for long. A young boy soon came out of the path of trampled shrubbery which the creature had created. The elephant was apparently a runaway from a local lumber mill, now to be taken away by the mahout. Just as the boy disappeared again behind the big shape of the elephant, Nehru’s daughter, Indira, approached the two men with a telegram. “Father, this message arrived for you. It is from our consul in Burma”, the young girl said. Nehru first read the telegram himself before sharing the content with the Mahatma: “It says here that a large crowd of young people are rioting and protesting at the Rangoon University. Probably because they have no say in Burma’s politics because of the corruption and autocratic rule of the Konbaung dynasty. The foreign policy of the Commune is beginning to pay off.” Gandhi knew quite a lot about Burma and the importance of its rice fields. As famines were very common in India, who knows one might occur within the next ten years, the importance of the Burmese rice paddies would prove themselves valuable once again. “These students simply need to find a way to cooperate with the discontent workers at the oil fields and a government change could happen, maybe even leading to a socialist regime”, the Mahatma said. “The current Burmese government won’t be happy with the Commune though”, Indira, Nehru’s daughter, said. “Indira, this is a topic which you shouldn’t talk about”, Nehru said to his daughter. “It’s alright, my friend. Your daughter is the future of India. It’s a good trait to show interest in politics and current events, it’s a sign of intellect. You should encourage rather than discourage such things in your children”, Gandhi said. The three continued to discuss things, Indira closely listening to every word the Mahatma said.



    16th of December, late at night.

    Mahadev entered Gandhi’s residence in Calcutta with good news. “Bapu, I have some good news from the Dominion.” Gandhi was slightly surprised by Mahadev’s sudden appearance in his house. “Tell me, my friend, what did Jinnah do this time?” Gandhi asked. “Today, they enacted the Indian Industry Act. It might sound like the next legislation in line concerning their industry, but this time it’s different. Do you remember those lobbying labour activists and trade unionists I told you about? Well, their concern about the Indian Economy Act was picked up by Jinnah and his social democrats and they’re taking protective measures in favour of these workers”, Mahadev explained. “That is good news indeed,” Gandhi said, “Although Jinnah probably enacted this to steer the trade unions away from syndicalism. Nevertheless, it makes a good step towards ending class struggles. Now, my friend if you’ll excuse me, you’ve come at quite a late time. I was actually just about to end the day and go to sleep. If you wish to, we can resume this conversation tomorrow morning.” And with that, the two men each went their own way, one going to sleep and one going to set another foot in the nightlife of Calcutta.



    -----------
    NOTES

    1) Ingame, if you take the 'Path of Peace' and try to reunite India peacefully, Bose's Maximists rise up and you end up in a civil war. General Saghal, along with other Maximist generals, get deleted and join the other side. I liked the idea of a strong female general for this AAR, so what I did was change it up a little bit. Lakshmi Saghal, in this AAR, will not join Bose but will fight on Gandhi's side.

    2) Indira Nehru, or more famously known as Indira Gandhi, daughter of Nehru, in OTL became premier of India. So when Gandhi said to Nehru that his daughter is the future of India, you can take that quite literally.

    3) Of course the mod doesn't include a way for Qing China to annex the Ma Clique in the manner that was described here, but a resurgent Qing dynasty is far more interesting regarding the Chinese-Japanese dynamics which will happen later in this timeline.​
     
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    Chapter IV: The 1937 Indian National Congress
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    Chapter IV: The 1937 Indian National Congress
    2nd of March – 4th of March 1937

    2nd of March, in the afternoon.

    Calcutta was steaming with excitement in the face of the 1937 Special Session of the Indian National Congress. The red flag fluttered boldly from the Writers' Building to the General Post Office and Indians from all over the Commune had come to Calcutta to follow the debates. Inside the Calcutta High Court, the collected leadership of the republic's government convened for the ensuing election of Lala Lajpat Rai's successor. It was expected that the appointment of a new head of state would mean a change within the nation's cabinet, prompting the various factions to vie for the most influence in all the various commissaries and committees that managed the country. Three wings had emerged within Congress over the years: Bose's Maximists who emulated Mosley's British Totalitarian Socialism and regarded military force as a necessary revolutionary act for India's unification while Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi lead a pacifist, egalitarian and agrarian wing - striving for a negotiated end to the subcontinent's fragmentation. Standing between the two extremes was a coalition of trade unionists and ardent proponents of industrialism led by A. K. Fazlul Huq and his young protege, Jawaharlal Nehru. As the opening speeches began to ring across the floor, the 1937 Special Session seemed bound to change the path of free India in the next years.

    The Calcutta High Court, seat to the Indian National Congress.

    First, Bose came to the stage, accompanied by a thunderous applause. In full military uniform he looked like a General preparing to pep talk his soldiers before battle. With a loud voice, Subhas Chandra Bose started his speech. “There is a truly terrible system which still lingers in our countryside. Truly terrible. Lingering in the villages and the smaller cities, the Zamindar system of the old days continues to shape the days and lives of those who should have been lifted into prosperity by the glorious revolution almost a decade ago. This feudal instrument of oppression still remains today. We must ask ourselves why this has been allowed to still exist. I blame the previous administration. They did not have the courage or the will to subjugate these landlords and implement complete state control. These landlords continue to live in big mansions and oppress the communities which they depend on. This feudal practice must be eradicated! Some parties in this Congress will disagree with me, and it is their fair right. Some want to improve upon agriculture, but don’t dare to touch the Zamindars. Others want to improve our industry and aren’t interested in the Zamindars. If you elect me as your next President, I promise to work in both fields. I will subjugate the Zamindars and improve our industry. I will transform the Commune into a true modern industrial state. Long have the British taken away our jobs and our income by importing cheap British made clothes into India. That system ended with the Revolution, but still our industry can’t provide our people with sufficient amenities. I will change that, I promise. Now to talk about the elephant in the room, and no I’m not talking about the Mahatma, how do I see the reunification of India? Many people have asked this. In my opinion, there is only one valid answer. The princes and British lapdogs must and will be driven out at bayonet point! And if they try to attack us, I’ll make sure they’ll regret it. I want to build a great wall of fortifications along our western and southern border. A wall they will pay for with their blood.” Bose continued to rant about his enemies for another couple of minutes. When he was finally finished, a lot less people applauded him than when he had come onto the stage. Apparently, his radical ideas had turned some people away.



    Next was Nehru, a moderate voice who hoped to sway the least radical elements of the Congress in his favour. Nehru clearly sought to bring elements from both the Maximists and the Agrarians together in his speech. “My brothers, politicians rarely agree with their opponents, but Bose is right about the Zamindar system. It is indeed a terrible, ancient system which must be eradicated. But at the same time, many Zamindars have integrated into our new syndicalist society. We must strive to nationalize those big estates, which up until today refuse to cooperate with the regime and still oppress the working classes. My brothers, the Moderates stand for a strong and stable government. A strong and stable government which seeks to manage the economy and better the lives of all Indians. We must do this by making industry our priority. If we want to make a difference in the world, we must be a modern industrialized state. My travels to syndicalist Europe have shown me that with foreign help, the Commune can industrialize on a five-year basis. Five year plans would be the foundation of economic policy under a Moderate regime. By building up our industry, we can also build up our army. A strong industry means a strong army. A strong army means we can unite our beautiful motherland again. Unification is paramount, the methods used are not. If somehow the opportunity presents itself to unite India without using violence, then so be it. But I will not hesitate to unify India by means of war. We will defend the ideals of the Commune against the princes to the south and the British imperialists to the west. Together with the French Commune and the Union of Britain, India will become a beacon of syndicalism.” Nehru clearly aligned himself with other syndicalist nations in his speech. This might’ve turned away some of Bose’s supporters, who were disappointed in Bose for not openly talking about foreign alliances. In the end, Gandhi’s speech left a bigger mark on Indian politics than any speech had done ever before.



    The Mahatma took the stage after Bose and Nehru had done the same before him. Old as he may be, his words still echoed throughout the High Court and shook the Congress members to their bones. “This Congress tells the world it represents India. My brothers, India is 700 000 villages. Not a few hundred politicians in Calcutta. Until we stand in the fields with the millions who toil each day under the hot sun, we will not represent India, nor will we be able to challenge the British as one nation. The soul of India is her villages, therefor we should focus on agriculture. The average Indian will benefit more if we invest in the countryside. Rationalisation is paramount in this endeavour, as it will ensure that our nation can provide for itself. Industrialisation of our cities on a massive scale will only lead to exploitation, the very thing we are opposed to. My brothers, not industrialization, but rationalisation is the road to self-sufficiency. Now, some of you have already touched on the subject of the Zamindars, the feudal landlords which in some parts of our nation still have a big influence. Some of you have proposed we should seize their lands so that our nation can finally become what is has strived to be: a truly socialist society. My brothers, seizing land is wrong, as it is an act of violence. Moreover, what does the government get from owning so much land? Is the land not better looked after in the hands of the farmers themselves? I propose a different solution to the problem of the Zamindars. I propose to implement the system of Bhoodan, the Zamindars should gift the majority of their lands and agricultural resources to their tenant farmers. It is a peaceful solution and does not require the use of violence, we simply give these landlords something in return. I already hear the critics among you ask what we would give these landlords. To them I say, private property is a gift these landlords will learn to appreciate. They in turn will learn that the earth has an abundance of goods and resources for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed. Now, my brothers, there is one last issue I’d like to touch. It is the simple reality that we are heading towards uncertain times. In Burma to the East, students have become restless. Violence is spreading in China as both governments and subjects are picking up arms against each other. In Indochina, a rebellion against the colonial establishment is brewing, the same might be true for Indonesia. We must show them there is another way, we must show them that non-violence is a stronger weapon. For one thing is sure, non-violence doesn’t needlessly spill Indian blood. There is a path of peace for India. Our brothers and our sisters across the border know this. War is not the way to reunify our glorious nation. An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind. I stand before you today with just one message. A vote for the Agrarians is a vote for peace. A vote for the Agrarians is a vote for reunification. And a vote for the Agrarians is a vote for the future.”



    Debates continued to run high in the High Court. The members of several smaller factions in the Congress also took the stage, mainly to ask their supporters to vote for one of the three major factions. After what seemed like an eternity, President Rai took the stage to give a final speech, before announcing the official start of the vote. One by one, members of the Congress came to the voting booth at the front of the big room, putting a piece of paper in a box. It took at least an hour for everyone to have casted their vote. Counting all the votes lasted even longer. It wasn’t until late into the night that Rai’s successor was known. At 11 PM, the Chairman of the INC announced that Gandhi had won with 52% of the votes, while Bose had 31% and Huq 17%. Gandhi was relieved, but at the same time worried. 52% was a narrow victory, one of which Gandhi would probably be reminded every day of his presidency, certainly with Bose preparing for a rebellion. Gandhi would need to do some concessions to win over the Moderates. He had to show them that Bose was a common enemy.

    4th of March, just before noon.

    Gandhi had gathered some of the most prominent members of his party and loyal followers of his doctrine. His election just two days ago required him to form a new government cabinet, also called the Working Committee. Gandhi as President was Head of State, but the political system of the Commune also required a Premier who would be Head of Government. Gandhi’s choice for Premier had been an easy one. Rabindranath Tagore, the famous Indian poet, was made for the job. Gandhi had often shared his thoughts with him and they both strongly agreed about unifying with the Dominion in a peaceful way. With the Mahatma as President and the Poet as Premier, the Commune now had two leaders who were immensely popular among its people. The next position to fill in was that of Minister of Foreign Affairs. Again, this was an easy choice for Gandhi. After all, who had been informing him about foreign affairs for the last decade and who had been in contact with various consulates and agents in other countries. Gandhi’s secretary Mahadev Desai was the ideal choice, no-one had a better understanding of what was going on in Asia at the time than him. Next on the list was the Minister of Economy. For that position, Gandhi looked to Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitaramayya. Sitaramayya had been a member of the previous Working Committee and supported Gandhi’s approach to the Indian economy. As Minister of Interior, Gandhi chose Amrit Kaur. Amrit Kaur was a staunch follower of Gandhi and had been living in his ashram since 1934. Gandhi’s choice for Kaur was also influenced by her prominence within female activism in the Commune. Her expertise on health and safety would greatly benefit the country according to Gandhi. As Head of Military Intelligence, Gandhi chose Abdul Razak. Razak would mainly handle the preparations for countering Bose’s future rebellion. In doing so, he would work together with General Saghal. The first act of this new Working Committee would be to limit the power of the Field Marshall and give more power to the Generals, resulting in Bose’s position becoming weaker. Gandhi’s presidency could now fully take off.



    ----------
    NOTES:

    And with that, Gandhi is President of the Commune. Getting this ingame was fairly easy, but what follows will be a tedious process of reunifying India.
     
    Chapter V: The 1937 Spartakiade
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    Chapter V: The 1937 Spartakiade
    17th of April – 9th of May 1937

    17th of April, in the afternoon.

    While the United States was embroiled in Civil War and Belgium just had a successful anti-German revolution, the first Spartakiade was held in Paris. The Spartakiade was similar to the Olympics, from which the syndicalist world was banned. Amongst the many international dignitaries present was also Gandhi, who had left the Commune for the first time since his presidency. Gandhi enjoyed sports as they embodied purity and truth. Athletes from all over the socialist world would compete against each other, while respecting each other and the rules of the discipline they competed in. But before all the different competitions would begin, the opening ceremony took place. The French team carried the torch and the British team the hammer. They performed a well-trained choreography, while other nations, like the Bharatiya Commune, carried pieces of the cog towards a central stage. There, workers from all over the socialist world assembled the pieces to form the international symbol of syndicalism. It was truly the pinnacle of international cooperation and peace.


    18th of April, in the afternoon.

    Gandhi mainly attended the Spartakiade to follow the Commune’s field hockey team. Field hsockey was one of those sports which became very popular under British rule and when the British left Bengal, it very much stayed the same. Professionalism in the sport even increased as the Commune’s government took an interest in developing a good hockey team. Gandhi was never really an athlete himself. In his youth, he enjoyed reading much more than he did enjoy physical effort. Nevertheless, the Mahatma did enjoy watching two teams competing for victory. It was a sign of peace, competing in sports on a field of grass rather than fighting a battle on a barren plain. India’s hockey team was one of the main contestants for the golden medal. Only England’s team proved a challenge. Other competing countries were the Commune of France, Georgia, Patagonia, Centroamerica and Mexico. The seven competing teams were divided into two groups. Group A included the Bharatiya Commune, the Commune of France, Mexico and Centroamerica while Group B consisted of the Union of Britain, Georgia and Patagonia. This afternoon, the Indians had to kick off the field hockey matches by playing against Mexico. Gandhi watched the game from the VIP area and was sitting next to the President of Mexico, Pancho Villa. The Mahatma was quite surprised that the President of Mexico was present at the Spartakiade and not busy preparing for an intervention in the US Civil War. Gandhi decided to address the topic of the Civil War: “Mr. President, it is to my understanding that the Combined Syndicates of America are gaining terrain against President Curtis. With the US being so weakened, were you perhaps considering intervention yourself?” Gandhi’s question was translated into Spanish by an interpreter and Villa’s answer was then translated back into English: “The President says that the Mexican government is currently overlooking all the possibilities in accordance with Jack Reed. Reed might be worried that the US is preparing for a coup against the Mexican government, but as of now we have no evidence supporting his fears.” The President’s answer was ambiguous to say the least. Before Gandhi could delve deeper into his motives, Pancho Villa’s attention was taken away by a goal made by the Indian team. The rest of the game was typified by a strong Indian attack, succeeding in breaking the weak Mexican defences more than once. President Pancho Villa felt humiliated with the eventual 7-0 defeat and refused to talk to Gandhi for the rest of the Spartakiade. So much for peaceful international competition. That same day, the Commune of France won against Centroamerica 3-1.

    The Bharatiya Commune’s field hockey team.

    22nd of April, in the morning.

    A quick glance at the scoreboard on the 22nd of April showed that the Bharatiya Commune and the Commune of France were both in the lead in Group A (both having secured two victories), while England was taking the lead in Group B, also with two victories. Today’s match was between India and France. It was the biggest showdown as of yet in the field hockey tournament of the 1937 Spartakiade. It was also the ideal opportunity to talk to Sébastien Faure, President of the French Commune. While Faure only held a ceremonial function, his influence within the government could still be felt. After thanking him for the beautiful opening ceremony and for the effort he put into organising the Spartakiade, Gandhi asked Faure about his opinion regarding German imperialism and what France is willing to do against it. “Currently the Commune of France isn’t really in a position to do anything against German imperialism,” President Faure said, “Our priorities currently lie in establishing a stable syndicalist system in Europe. We can only weaken the German giant if we ourselves are standing atop of rock and not sand. As President of France, I can only hope that India supports this vision and will cooperate with us in the future against the forces of capitalism.” “It is in the interest of India to weaken or even remove German influence in East Asia, but I strongly believe that India should not seek open confrontation with Germany. As long as they are in control over Ceylon, they pose a direct threat to the Commune and the vital rice imports from Burma”, Gandhi replied. For a moment, President Faure thought about proposing a trade deal to Gandhi, but he soon realised that French convoys could never reach the Commune. Suez was controlled by the Germans, as was half of the African coast, not to forget the significant portion of Africa controlled by the reactionaries in Algiers. The two men continued to discuss other things, such as economics and how much Gandhi was impressed by the Notre Dame during his previous visit to Paris in 1890. In the end, neither of the two men payed much attention to the hockey game, which the Bharatiya Commune won with ease in a 10-0 victory.


    Sébastien Faure, President of the French Commune.

    28th of April, in the afternoon.

    The Bharatiya Commune made it all the way into the final of the Spartakiade field hockey tournament after beating Patagonia 9-0 in semi-finals. It’s opponent was now England. Gandhi, as always, spectated from the VIP area. But this time, he had very special company. This time Oswald Mosley, leader of the Union of Britain, was seated next to him. Of all the heads of state at the Spartakiade, Mosley was the only one Gandhi had met before. Gandhi had met Mosley back in 1924 during the latter’s visit to the Raj, but more importantly, Gandhi had sent him a very critical letter. When Gandhi arrived in the VIP area of the stadium, Mosley greeted him, referring to the content of the Mahatma’s letter: “Mahatma, I offer you an open hand, not a clenched fist. After all, we are here to celebrate the victory of syndicalism around the world, not to wage war with words.” The Mahatma shook Mosley’s hand in a slightly awkward manner, given the fact that shaking hands is not an Indian custom. “Mr. Mosley, I see you have remembered my letter”, Gandhi said. “How could I forget it,” Mosley said with a smirk on his face, “A letter by the Mahatma, sold very well in the People’s Auction House of Britain. But not enough to rival the selling price of the Rubens from the Royal Collection.” Gandhi tried to hide the fact that he was offended by this, but the discontent was clearly visible on his face. So this was what Mosley’s Maximists stood for, instead of opening up the Royal Collection to the public, like the previous government of the Union of Britain had done, they sold the pieces in their socialist auction houses. Gandhi could only hope that Mosley’s arrogance would blow up in his face. Gandhi decided to probe for Mosley’s plans: “Mr. Mosley, how exactly do you expect to win a future war against the Entente?” “Once syndicalism prevails in the American Civil War, Canada will be a pushover. We don’t expect the Entente cooperating with Germany to defeat us, so our French comrades should be able to deal with them,” Mosley said, “and of course you will make sure the Crown Jewel of the Empire stays out of the war.” “You do have a point, Mr. Mosley, I do not intend to wage war on Indian soil and spill Indian blood needlessly, certainly not to please some madman in Europe.” Oswald Mosley picked up the insult and then had a quick glance at the scoreboard. “It is time I go back to attend state matters in London”, Mosley said. “You mean that the Royal Art Collection doesn’t sell itself?” Gandhi asked mockingly, while noticing that his team just beat England in the finale. Mosley didn’t even bother to answer Gandhi and walked away angrily.


    Oswald Mosley, Chairman of the Trade Union Congress of the Union of Britain.

    9th of May, in the evening.

    The Indian delegation was now gathered around Gandhi and the few other Indian politicians who had come to Paris for the Spartakiade. The closing ceremony was about to begin and Gandhi wanted to personally congratulate all those athletes who had either won medals or competed for them. The Mahatma had tried to memorize all of their names, but still his wife had to whisper them into his ears. In the end, most of the athletes were pleased to have the Mahatma’s blessing. In the closing ceremony which followed, new “world” records were announced and medals were distributed. At the end of it all, the giant symbol of syndicalism was disassembled again and taken away, probably to be put on some Parisian square. Despite the several failed conversations with other world leaders, the Mahatma thoroughly enjoyed his visit to France.

    ----------
    This chapter is a bit of an odd one, not really moving the story forward for Gandhi. But nevertheless, I felt this was the ideal opportunity to show the malpractices of the British syndicalists and the international politics in the red world.​
     
    Chapter VI: The Question of Bengal's Elites
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    Chapter VI: The Question of Bengal’s Elites
    1st of June – 23rd of July 1937

    1st of June, in the afternoon.

    One of the issues which dominated the Indian National Congress ever since the presidential elections in March was finally being addressed. The remnants of the old social order, mainly through the Zamindar system, were about to be dealt with. But before Gandhi took a decision in the matter, he decided to pay a visit to some of the still existing feudal regions. The Zamindars had neither the influence nor the wealth they once had, but they were not without resources. It was not uncommon for the lower classes to give them deference even when the law was in their favor. These elites often ignored laws requiring them to work with those they saw beneath them and held onto precious resources even when they were required to give them up. Gaining compliance would be tricky, considering many of the Commune’s citizens took a blind eye to their transgressions. This was were Gandhi came in. He was keen on showing his people that respect should be earned by one’s actions, not by one’s heritage. And so Gandhi found himself in the Orissan countryside, trying to persuade landlords into gifting land to the landless. Gandhi’s entourage travelled through the jungle on elephants, something the Mahatma had requested himself. Instead of taking a fast train, the Mahatma insisted on resorting to these more traditional ways of travel. Part of his reasoning was that the Zamindars would respect him more if he adhered to their customs. After being welcomed by an entire village worth of children, the Mahatma and his entourage were led to a big mansion on a hill. There they met with the local landlord. While an entire team of bureaucrats were reviewing how much property the Zamindar owned and how much landless people were in the area, Gandhi and the landlord were talking about land redistribution. “Mahatma, not to be disrespectful or anything, but how do you expect us to just gift away centuries of inheritances. I mean, much of the land you see here has been in my family for generations”, the Zamindar said. Gandhi knew this would be an issue and replied: “Are you familiar with the works of Tagore?” The Zamindar nodded and Gandhi continued his explanation: “Tagore comes from a family much like yours, embedded within the Zamindar system. But unlike your family, he has accepted the social reality of today and has adapted to it. I’m not sure if you’re aware of it, but he even made it to the position of Premier. Now imagine what your family could achieve in the future if they work with the government and not against it.” “Are you threatening me and my family?”, the Zamindar asked. “That’s not what I’m trying to say,” Gandhi answered, “Allow me to take you for a walk. Let me show you why India needs its Zamindars to help build the future.” The landlord gave in and agreed to accompany the Mahatma on his walk.

    Zamindars were still very influential in the rural areas in Bengal.

    The two men, followed closely by a curious mishmash of advisors and servants, arrived in the village at the foot of the hill. The Mahatma greeted a woman and entered her house with the Zamindar. The house was a simple, typical house one would find in the Indian countryside. A single room, divided by curtains in smaller sections, contained everything the woman and her family owned. Behind one of the curtains lay a sick man on a makeshift bed. A person educated in medicines would conclude that he was suffering from some sort of tropical disease, but unfortunately neither the Mahatma nor the Zamindar had enjoyed such an education. Gandhi began explaining why he had brought them to this house: “This man is suffering from sickness and out here, there is no way for him to get better. He will most probably die and everything you have seen in this house will then belong to his offspring. Much of what you see in this house has been in his family for generations. It is not much compared to what your family has gathered over the centuries. Yet this man and his family have to work on your land day in and day out to provide for his kin. As a result, he has become susceptible to disease. In the meantime, you sit in your mansion upon the hill, looking down on the working classes. I assume you are familiar with the teachings of the Gita: the one who receives without giving is stealing, the one who eats food which he himself hasn’t worked for is a thief. Do I ask too much from the Zamindars, who grow rich on the work of others, if I ask them to give something in return to their people? The Zamindar system is often still prominent in those areas which are difficult to reach and which cannot profit from healthcare and other services provided by the state. There are those who say that all Zamindars should be arrested, their property seized and their influence ended. I would rather prefer to solve this issue without violence and conflict and find a peaceful solution. The Zamindars do have a future in India, but that future requires them to work for the people just as much as those people work for the Zamindars.” The Zamindar realized what Gandhi tried to show him and after the group returned to his mansion, he joined Gandhi’s bureaucrats who were still discussing how to tackle the issues in this particular village and offered them his service. Gandhi had succeeded in his task. And while initially he still had doubts about how to change the system, he now knew what the solution should be.



    15th of July, in the evening.

    Gandhi had finally returned to the capital after his visit to the Indian countryside. After more than a month of meeting landlords and local feudal rulers, he and his advisors had finished the final outline of how to implement Bhoodan. Now gathered with Premier Tagore, Minister of Economy Sitaramayya and Minister of Internal Affairs Kaur, the Mahatma outlined his vision. “The state, unwillingly, needs the Zamindars and their wealth. They hold the key in developing the remote parts of India. At the same time, the local population suffers from poverty and a lack of services such as health care and education. Now, we could just seize the property of the landlords and use it to fulfill the needs of these people, but that is a violent solution and one which would not only anger the Zamindars, but also the Dominionists in the west and the Princes in the south. We are in need of a more peaceful and democratic solution. During one of my visits, the local landlord joined the experts while they were debating about land redistribution and agricultural development. At that moment I realized that this was the way to move forward. The Bhoodan Act in front of you proposes just this: the founding of local councils in those communities where the Zamindar system still exists. These councils are headed by the old Zamindars, but the real power is with locally elected officials. These ‘Bhoodan Councils’, as I call them, will see to the development of local public services, agricultural development and ending poverty. Over time, they will evolve into something similar to the ashram, a commune of like-minded people who work towards self-sufficiency and equality.” Minister of Economy Sitaramayya was somewhat skeptical and asked: “And you believe the Zamindars will voluntarily share their power and wealth with elected officials?” The Mahatma had thought about this already and said: “Of course they will. Through the Bhoodan Act, their power is institutionalized. They will have a piece of paper to refer to when they and the rest of the council reach a decision. Of course these councils will have to be monitored, so that the Zamindars don’t use their power to enrich themselves. That is why you, Amrit, will create a new ‘National Bhoodan Committee’, or NBC, under the wing of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The NBC will be the effective countermeasure should any corrupt Zamindars arise. The Zamindars must know that corruption is unacceptable, so if the NBC deems someone guilty, they will be removed permanently from office. This means they will lose control over their own property, a risk I expect most of them won’t be willing to take.” Minister Amrit Kaur nodded and put her signature under the legislation. “Bapu, I think this will positively change the country. That is why I put my signature down on this piece of paper. I hope my colleagues here will do the same and enact this reform”, she said. Minister Kaur was followed by Premier Tagore and eventually by Minister Sitaramayya with much reluctance. “Thank you my friends,” the Mahatma said, “This Act will change the Commune.” Gandhi then put his signature on the Bhoodan Act and gave it to one of his assistants.

    Mahatma Gandhi reading the final draft of the Bhoodan Act to Mahadev Desai.

    23rd of July, in the afternoon.

    Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mahadev Desai, entered Gandhi’s presidential office with some important news from Europe. A drought in the Balkans led to a food shortage in Illyria, leading to protests and even a small rebellion against the Habsburg rulers. More importantly, the unrest quickly spread to other areas in the Austrian sphere of influence. In the meantime, the Belgrade Pact countries, Serbia, Greece and Romania, were fighting a war against Bulgaria and Albania. “Bapu, I have some interesting news from Europe. Do you want to hear it?” Mahadev asked. “Of course I do. Tell me, what developments have occurred in Europe?” Gandhi replied. “There are reports of unrest from several countries in Southern and Eastern Europe. In the past week, these revolts have already made some major changes to the map of Europe. For example, while the Austrian army was busy putting down a major uprising in Hungary, the Serbian army entered Illyria and ‘liberated it from the Austrians’, their words. The Austrians have issued an ultimatum, but without the backing of Germany, and with Serbia in the Belgrade Pact, I expect the Austrians to take this loss. The unrest has also spread to Trento and Trieste. There, Italian nationalists have risen up and demanded for re-annexation into Italy. The local Austrian police forces are putting all effort in quelling this movement, but the Republic of Italy might be bold enough to copy Serbia and occupy their former territory.” The Mahatma seemed surprised and said: “And this all happened in one week? Austrian hegemony over the region seems to be at an end?” Mahadev nodded and said: “The situation in Italy and Illyria certainly seems at a loss for the Austrians, but they were quick to act in Hungary and Bohemia still is firmly under their control. In the meanwhile, Germany is still recovering from the economic crisis. They have recently sold some of their possessions in the Mediterranean including Crete to the Ottomans and Gibraltar to the Spanish. As long as the Germans are struggling, we could have free range in Asia.” “One more thing, Mahadev. I’ve been hearing about the possible reunification of Italy lately. What can you tell me about that?” Gandhi asked. “Well ever since the Republicans defeated the Syndicalists in 1919 the possibility has been there. As of now, Italy is divided between the Republic of Italy in the North, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Kingdom of Sardinia in the South and the Papal State right in the center. With Austrian influence dwindling, talks between Sardinia and the Two Sicilies have been going on. I’ve heard that even the Pope has been involved in these talks.” “If Italy were to be united peacefully, that would set an important example for India. Even more so if the opposing views of the Republicans in the north would find common ground with the Royalists in the south”, Gandhi said. The two continued discussing foreign matters until late in the afternoon, when it was time for Gandhi to review the results of the Bhoodan Act.

    The situation in the Balkans seemed unstable, no surprise there.
     
    Chapter VII: The Question of Burma
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    Chapter VII: The Question of Burma
    9th of August – 15th of August 1937

    9th of August, in the evening.

    Gandhi had called for a crisis meeting after recent events in neighbouring Burma. Premier Tagore, Minister of Foreign Affairs Desai, Head of Military Intelligence Razak and General Saghal had all gathered in Gandhi’s small office. Reason of this sudden meeting was the new regime in Burma. After the Royal Burmese Army had fired on protesting students and workers, the entire country turned against the monarchy and rose up. A newly founded National Council worked quickly to form a syndicalist government. Mahadev Desai was expecting a request for a military alliance at any moment now, part of the reason why he asked Gandhi to call for this meeting. A discussion quickly arose about whether or not the Commune should accept their request, but it soon turned into a discussion about geopolitics in Southeast Asia. General Saghal was the first to put forward her vision: “We should not only discuss a possible military alliance with Burma, we should also consider adopting them into our glorious Commune.” Abdul Razak was quick to respond: “I fully agree with the General on this point. Our intelligence services have informed me that the current government is led by U Ottoma, who has been very vocal about reunification with the Commune. I am certain that their request for a military alliance will also include some sort of possible annexation deal. It would be wise to accept that deal.” General Saghal then added: “The additional manpower from Burma would also greatly improve our chances of beating Bose if he were to rise up. Sure, we lack the equipment to make them combatworthy, but just the sheer number of extra recruits would be enough to scare the Maximalists back into the cave where they came from.” Tagore shook his head in disagreement and said: “You’re talking about this as if the Commune and Bengal are the only two countries in the world. Don’t forget why we’re all in this office in the first place. The INC elected us because they believed we could unite India peacefully. Now think of what the Dominion and the Federation would do if suddenly their syndicalist neighbour annexes a country after a successful revolution. There are already those who think that somehow our government is behind the unrest in several Southeast Asian countries, not all of them are wrong. I think the safest thing we could do here is entering a military alliance with them, but nothing more.” Mahadev saw how General Saghal and Abdul Razak clearly disagreed with Tagore and tried to convince them that Tagore was right: “I must agree with Tagore when he says outright annexation might provoke other nations in the region, but I must also agree with the contribution Burma would be to our military and our economy. I think the best way to handle this is to not rush things into unknown territory. We could use a military alliance with a neighbour, yes, but we must not lose whatever relation we have with the Dominion and the Federation.” The Mahatma had been listening to both sides very carefully, and as the votes were tied, he decided to step in: “Mahadev, prepare a deal for when the Burmese delegation arrives. A military alliance along with some sort of economic union should do for now. Also include an article which allows for future negotiations on reintegration. In the meantime, Razak and Saghal, establish contacts with your Burmese counterparts and prepare them for some joint military operations. That should be enough to make them ready for the fight against Bose. Do not, under any circumstance, mention Bose’s name. We don’t know whether or not he has contacts in the Burmese army or government.” Everyone in the room was surprised by Gandhi’s sudden outburst of authority, but with Bose breathing down the government’s neck, decisive actions were needed more than ever.



    12th of August, in the afternoon.

    The Burmese delegation had arrived in Calcutta and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahadev Desai had presented them the deal he had been working on for the past few days. The Burmese were somewhat disappointed that outright annexation was out of the question, but Mahadev put a positive spin on it. The people of Burma could now take matters into their own hands and improve their own future. And besides, the Bharatiya Commune would always be there to insure Burma’s safety and stability. On the other side of Calcutta, Field Marshal Bose held a gathering with his supporters, including General Saghal who was in fact working for Gandhi now. “We have a problem,” one of the military advisors said, “with the founding of the Eastern Syndicalist Union, Gandhi might bring the Burmese armed forces into a future civil war. Which brings the numbers even further into his advantage.” Bose took a good look at the map in front of him. Red pins dotted the map wherever one of his secret training camps was located. He then noticed that some of them were inside Nepal’s borders. He then asked Saghal: “How many men can we mobilize inside Nepal’s borders?” Saghal checked her numbers and said: “If we can remain under the radar, we should be able to at least form three divisions worth of soldiers. That would give us a slight advantage again. More so if the Indian government doesn’t suspect an attack from Nepal.” “It’s settled then,” Bose replied, “double our recruiting effort in Nepal. I expect that Gandhi and his government will soon send the invitation to the Dominion to negotiate reunion. We must act before them, a rebellion in Nepal will be the starting shot for our coup here. We cannot allow the Mahatma to sell our souls to the imperialists!” General Saghal nodded and gave out the order to one of her assistants. The gathering disbanded and Saghal prepared for her secret meeting with Razak.

    General Lakshmi Saghal and Field Marshal Bose inspecting a female volunteer corps in Calcutta.

    12th of August, late at night.

    Lakshmi Saghal sneaked out of her house, trying to avoid waking up her husband. She imagined what he would think if he saw her like this. He might suspect she had an affair of some sort, but the truth was far more important than her personal feelings. After making sure she wasn’t followed, she entered Razak’s house. Abdul Razak, Head of Military Intelligence, was waiting for her in his lounge. Saghal immediately came to the point: “I now have all the information we need to end Bose’s uprising right in its tracks. I know when he intends to rise up, but more importantly I know how we can sabotage his cause and force his hand. Bose wants to incite a rebellion in Nepal and use that as a distraction to take control in the Commune.” Razak took this information in and said: “But the Mahatma was thinking about sending the invitation next month. If Bose rises up then, we are not ready yet. The situation in Burma has strained our military forces.” “Burma is not our worry now. We have to keep an eye on Nepal. If we can stop the rebellion there without straining our military too much, Bose will be forced to rethink his strategy. That will buy us some more time and will give us the opportunity to continue Gandhi’s reunification plans”, Lakshmi said. “And how do you propose to do that?” Razak asked. “We leak the information to Nepal. Let Nepal deal with Bose’s troops for us. And who knows, maybe we can even retake the land they stole from us. We can spin things in our favour. Leak information about rebels to Nepal. When they suppress them, we can let it seem like Nepal is committing atrocities against Indians. Then we can use this as a pretence to move in and occupy the area”, Saghal explained. Razak thought about what the Mahatma would do in this situation and replied: “I don’t think Gandhi would agree to this plan. It involves too much violence and conflict. He will never sign the order to invade Nepal.” “But Mahadev might. If we don’t intervene in Nepal, we will never win the war against Bose. This is our chance to get the upper hand. This one time, we might need to go behind Gandhi’s back.” Razak reluctantly agreed and said: “Alright, prepare the damn leak, I’ll go and talk to Mahadev tomorrow.”

    13th of August, around noon.

    Razak and Mahadev met in a secluded office in the Commune’s Presidential Palace. Gandhi often spend his time in other parts of the city and only used the Palace to invite foreign visitors or hold important meetings with his cabinet. Today was one of those days when the Mahatma was out in the city addressing the daily issues of his people. The ideal moment, Razak thought, to fill in Mahadev with the details about Bose’s plan and how to stop it. “Mahadev, you’re not going to like what I’m about to say, but just hear me out. We’ve recently discovered that Bose intends to use a rebellion in Nepal as a distraction to commit a coup in the Commune. General Saghal and I have thought this through and we believe that the best course of action here is to leak this information to Nepal. Let them deal with the Maximists in Nepal. Once they’re done, we can move in and occupy the Ganges-Yamuna Basin.” “And you came to me with this plan because you knew that Gandhi wouldn’t approve of the occupation? I must say that I disagree with the plan. It’s just too risky. How could we be sure that Nepal actually acts on the information? And how do we know that they will just let us take the Basin? It might even cause a war and if Bose rises up then, we’ll find ourselves at war with two factions”, Mahadev said. Razak was afraid that Mahadev would react this way. He needed something more to convince him. “And what if we also leaked the info to the Dominionists? According to the General, Bose also had training camps in Dehradun near the Dominion border. If we can make them think that Bose intends to use these camps in a future invasion, they might try and deal with it themselves. With Nepal busy on two fronts, it’ll be more likely that they will cave to our demands”, Razak reasoned. Mahadev still wasn’t entirely convinced, but getting the Dominion on their side might be useful. “Alright, you have my approval. Let’s hope the Dominion and Nepal do exactly what you think they’ll do. But just so you know, if Nepal refuses to retreat from the Basin, I won’t go behind Gandhi’s back and declare war on them. Until that point, you better make sure the Mahatma doesn’t hear a word about this. I hate to keep things secret from him, let alone lie to him in his face.”

    15th of August, in the afternoon.

    “Bapu, we’ve got news from the Princely Federation,” Mahadev said, “They made a deal with Germany and it has some major consequences. You remember last month when I told you Germany was selling some of their overseas territories like Malta and Cyprus? Well they’ve now sold Ceylon, the Maldives, the Seychelles and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the Federation. This essentially means that the Germans are largely gone from the Northern Indian Ocean. Their influence is still felt on the African coast, but that’s it. That’s the good news, but there’s also a bad side to it. The Princely Federation now has the ability to cut off our trade in case of war.” Gandhi looked at the map which Mahadev had put on the coffee table and said: “I see what you mean. We need alternative routes to supply our country with the goods that we can’t produce ourselves. Why don’t we build a road network through Burma to connect us to the Chinese market? I’m sure the warlord in the Yunnan Clique would be open to trade with us? Mahadev, my friend, send out an invitation to the President of Burma and to whoever is leading the Yunnan Clique right now. The Burma Road sounds like the perfect distraction from all the troubles in the region right now.” And with that, Mahadev left the Mahatma alone. Gandhi waited to make sure Mahadev was gone and then called in his new secretary Sarala Devi Chaudhurani, a niece of Tagore and an old friend of Gandhi. Only three years younger than the Mahatma, she knew him through and through. At one point in time, it might even have seemed like the two were married, even though both of them already were to someone else. “Sarala, my dear, have you done what I asked?” Sarala handed out a dossier to the Mahatma and said: “These are the documents that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has leaked to Nepal and the Dominion.” Gandhi quickly read through them and asked: “Why would Mahadev go behind my back and leak these to foreign governments without even informing me about it? He isn’t working for Bose, is he?” Sarala reassured the Mahatma: “If he was working for the Field Marshall, he wouldn’t leak sensitive information about his training camps to the enemy, would he?” “You’re right, I might be slightly overreacting. Yet I’d like Mahadev to be honest to me, even though I wouldn’t like the truth,” Gandhi said, “Maybe I shouldn’t go behind his back either. Sarala, my dear, would you do me a favour and just ask Mahadev about the leak?” Gandhi’s secretary nodded and said: “Of course, Bapu. I’m sure he has the best intentions for the country.” “Let us hope so,” the Mahatma sighed, “At this moment in time, people we can trust are the most valuable resource in the Commune . You know what, my dear, have the rest of the day off. I think I’ll head home early and attend to some private matters.” The two said goodbye and both of them went home.

    Sarala Devi Chaudhurani

    ----------
    I'm finally back with another chapter. Took me a while because of real life stuff. But I thought I'd add in some more political intrigue in the Commune itself before we move into the big effort of reunifying the Indian subcontinent.
     
    Chapter VIII: The Question of Nepal
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    Chapter VIII: The Question of Nepal
    15th of September – 16th of November 1937

    15th of September, Delhi, Dominion of India.

    Maharaja Singh had called Prime Minister Ali Jinnah to his palace for an urgent meeting. Military intelligence had received an alleged report from the Bharatiya Commune about Maximist training camps in Nepal. It was unclear why this report had suddenly surfaced, but the Maharaja suspected that someone in the upper ranks of the Commune government had leaked it on purpose. The Maharaja had invited Ali Jinnah to discuss the matter. “Prime Minister, sit down. Have you had the time to read the report I sent to you?” Singh asked. “Yes, Your Highness, I’ve read it on the way here. If those training camps do exist, we must act on it. We cannot allow the Commune to surprise us with an attack from Nepal in case of war”, Ali Jinnah replied. “That’s just the thing, Prime Minister. I do not believe the Commune is preparing for a war against us. I think they’re preparing for a war against themselves. Our spies have indicated that Field Marshal Bose is preparing for a coup. I suspect Gandhi’s government is also aware of this and is trying to prevent it. By deliberately leaking this information to us, they hope we will deal with the Maximist camp in Nepal for them” the Maharaja said. The Prime Minister read through the report again and asked: “If a civil war is truly imminent, why are we not preparing for an invasion?” The Maharaja understood Ali Jinnah’s concern and said: “In ideal circumstances, we would. But we do not have the approval from Ottawa. As you know, the situation in South Africa is steaming towards a civil war. The King has tasked us with recruiting Indians who live in South Africa into a volunteer army.” “Yes, I’m aware of this,” the Prime Minister said in response, “But I do not understand how this would stand in the way of a war with the Commune.” The Maharaja took out a cigar box and offered a cigar to the Prime Minister, who kindly refused. “Prime Minister, I assume you know Mr Gandhi?”, Singh asked. Ali Jinnah nodded. “Well, our friend, the President of the Commune, is very popular among the Indians in South Africa because of his time there. As soon as we declare war on the Commune, all those volunteers, who we’ve trained and equipped with weapons, will then travel back to India and fight with the Commune against us. With the situation in South Africa looking not too good for the Dominionists, they can use all the Indians we can recruit. And as long as the hatred for the Afrikaner racists dominates over their hatred for the Dominionist imperialists, those Indians will eagerly help in case of a South-African civil war”, the Maharaja said. Ali Jinnah now understood, but perhaps there was still a way of getting something good out of a civil war in the Commune. “If a civil war breaks out in the Commune and if Gandhi comes out victorious, he will be left with a divided nation and with some areas probably devastated by warfare. If he then approaches us to unify peacefully, we could use that devastation against him,” the Prime Minister said, “I’m not against the idea of a peaceful reunification, but I’m not going to sell the Dominion off to the syndicalists. If Gandhi is faced with devastation, the Dominion could propose to help in the repairs. But Gandhi will have to agree with my terms and conditions. In particular those who guarantee the rights of Muslims throughout India.” The Maharaja put down his cigar and said: “We will discuss this matter when, or rather if, reunification becomes an issue. I invited you here because of the question of Nepal. Tell me, Prime Minister, what do you think we should do with this information?” “Well it is clear to me,” Ali Jinnah said, “As soon as this rebellion in Nepal begins, we send an ultimatum to Nepal, demanding the return of Dehradun.” A smile appeared on the Maharaja’s face. “I’ll prepare the army then”, Singh said.

    Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Prime Minister of the Dominion of India.

    30th of October, in the evening. Darbhanga, Ganges-Yamuna Basin, Nepal.

    The Dewali festivities in town were now at their height. It was time to initiate the plan. All over the Basin, Maximists would take up their arms and start uprisings against the Nepalese authorities. The Hindu festival of Dewali was the ideal moment to recruit more nationalist Hindus to liberate their land. On one of the squares in Darbhanga, the Maximists had spread out within the gathering and had started to shout anti-Nepalese slogans. Soon, other people started joining them. The crowd now started becoming violent and began to march towards the local municipal building, where the Nepalese flag was waving in the wind. The local police forces, who had heard of the approaching protesters had set up a road block to prevent them from destroying the building. Suddenly a gun shot could be heard from the crowd. One of the Maximists had fired on the police commander, but had missed. In response, the commander lost his nerve and ordered his troops to fire on the demonstrators. With nowhere to run to, the ordinary people were caught in between the police and the Maximist rebels. A bloodbath followed, leaving 50 civilians dead. Darbhanga was just one of many places that evening where innocent lives were lost.

    The press reports on the Nepali Atrocities, unaware of the Maximist involvement.

    9th of November, Calcutta, Bharatiya Commune.

    In the west, the Dominion had occupied Dehradun in response to the massacres which occurred in the Ganges-Yamuna Basin. The Nepalese army retreated and the government gave in to the Dominion’s demands. In the meantime, the Maximist uprising in the Basin was still ongoing. Gandhi had called together a meeting with Premier Tagore, General Saghal, Abdul Razak and Mahadev Desai. Gandhi was still somewhat mad at Desai for leaking the information without telling him. But there were more important matters at hand right now. The goal of this meeting basically revolved around convincing Gandhi to send an ultimatum to Nepal. Mahadev was the first to speak: “Bapu, I know you’re still angry, but if we do not act on this, Bose will rise up within a few days. We need to send that ultimatum to Nepal now, or we risk a Maximist coup.” Gandhi sighed and said: “You know how I think about violence. An ultimatum by threatening war to seize land, that is not the non-violent way.” General Saghal then stood up and said: “Bapu, the Dominion has already seized land, it is more likely that the Nepalese will just admit their defeat and leave. No violence involved at all.” “But what if they don’t? If I don’t act on my threats then, I will look weak. I’ll just give more ammunition to Bose and his followers who already criticize me for being to weak”, Gandhi said in response. The General sat down again, trying to think of another way to convince the Mahatma. Tagore then tried a different approach: “We need to send that ultimatum, my friend. If not in your name, do it in mine. I don’t care if they call me weak. We do not only have to think of the Maximist threat, we must also think about all those innocent civilians in the Basin who are caught between two fires right now. Sure an ultimatum might be a violent action, but it is essential in ending the spiral of violence in Nepal right now.” Razak, carried away by Tagore’s words, shouted out: “The Indian Red Army shall sweep into the Ganges-Yamuna Basin! There will be no violence as the Nepalese will be too scared to fight!” Gandhi, not entirely convinced, gave in to Tagore’s request: “Fine, send the ultimatum. But I won’t sign it. If this goes wrong, it is all because of your doing.”



    11th of November, Calcutta, Bharatiya Commune.

    “We’ve received word from Nepal,” Mahadev said, “They have caved to our pressure and surrender the demanded territories back to us. Not a single shot has been fired!” “I’m glad to hear this”, Gandhi replied. “The army has already begun with rounding up the Maximist rebels in the area. We can celebrate this as a victory, Bapu. No need to be sad.” Gandhi looked up to his old secretary and said: “I’m not sad because of Nepal, Mahadev. I’m said because it has become clear to me that this job has changed you. Sometimes, I’m afraid you no longer uphold the path of peace and non-violence.” Mahadev looked surprised and replied: “Of course I still do, Bapu. But this job has changed all of us. When we took on this office, we could have never imagined what it would bring to our lives. We all knew the job wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but the constant threat of a coup or of assassination attempts has been hard on most of us. And the hardest thing is yet to come. We’ve not even begun thinking about how we will approach reunification with the Dominion.” Gandhi agreed and said: “Mahadev, I think it is time we finally started figuring out how we will approach the enemy in peace. Why don’t you and Minister Kaur sit together sometime and write down all the possible issues that could arise about reunification. In the meantime, Tagore and I will draft a new constitution for a unified India. Of course Prime Minister Ali Jinnah will have some remarks about it, but it is good to be prepared when we will finally meet the Dominionists.”

    16th of November, Port Said, Suez Canal, Ottoman Empire.

    A loud explosion woke Hermann Felt from his deep sleep. The Commanding Officer of the Suez Division in the German Army put on his uniform as quickly as possible. As he came out of his room, the alarm of the military base began sounding. He was not the only one awakened by the explosion. Felt hurried towards the communications station. “What in the Kaiser’s name is going on here?” he asked one of the operators. “Commandant, Egypt has just declared war on the Ottoman Empire. They have crossed the Suez Canal and are now engaging with a small Ottoman garrison in Port Said”, the operator explained. “Establish contact with the German Mediterranean fleet. Inform them that we are still operational. Ask for reinforcements and the deployment of a battleship. We must show the Egyptians that the Germans are here to stay”, Felt ordered. As the operator was sending the message in Morse code, Felt left to have a look outside. A large black smoke plume filled the nights sky. The oil tanks at the canal must’ve been hit. How could they have missed this? An Egyptian army wasn’t something you just overlooked. The diplomatic fallout of this conflict would be huge. All Felt could hope for was that the Egyptians weren’t actually stupid enough to try and take the canal from the Germans. As sounds from far away explosions continued, Felt went back inside and decided to check in on comms again. “Commandant, we have received a telegram from the German ambassador in Teheran. It seems that Persia and Rashidi Arabia have joined Egypt in their war against the Ottoman Empire”, the operator said when he saw Felt entering. “So is this how the Sick Man of Europe dies?” Felt wondered. The Great Middle Eastern War of 1937 had begun.

    Smoke rising from burning oil tanks in Port Said on the Suez Canal.
     
    Chapter IX: The Great Middle Eastern War
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    Chapter IX: The Great Middle Eastern War
    20th of December 1937 – 19th of March 1938

    In a matter of weeks, the Middle East had found itself in a state of utter chaos. The Cairo Pact countries of Egypt and Rashidi Arabia had secretly made a deal with Persia to carve up the Ottoman Empire, inspired by the Sikes-Picot Agreement conceived during the Weltkrieg. It was time the Arabs set aside their differences with the Persians to take back what the Turks had taken from them in the past few centuries. In the Ottoman press, the Cairo Pact and Persia were soon called the Axis of Evil, in the west, they were simply called the Axis powers. However, the Great Middle Eastern War had also consequences for the Indian subcontinent. In the Dominion of India and in the Bharatiya Commune, there was a considerable Muslim population. A division quickly arose. On the one hand, there were those who saw the war as a danger to Muslim-unity. They feared that conflict would weaken the Middle East and consequentially India and open the area up for further involvement from the German Empire, which already held a key position at Suez. Muslim unity could serve as a wall against imperialism. This movement originated in the Dominion, but quickly spread to the Muslim population in Bengal. They found common ground in the call for Indian reunification. A unified India with a strong Muslim presence would lead the Islamic world of tomorrow. On the other hand, there were those who feared that the Axis, and particularly Persia, would become too powerful and eventually invade India. This movement was particularly strong in the Dominion and called for a military intervention by the Entente on behalf of the Ottoman Sultan. When it became clear that the Entente wasn’t going to intervene (mainly due to Canada prioritizing the American Civil War), the Khilafat Movement, as they called themselves, began looking towards Germany instead. This triggered an alarm for the government in Delhi, driving them to action.

    Mustafa Kemal Pasha, who has recently taken over the Ottoman government and has begun his reform program. However, he would not succeed in fulfilling his task as he would die in November of 1938 as a result of liver cirrhosis.

    20th of December 1937, Delhi, Dominion of India.

    Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Jinnah was pondering about the whole situation in the Middle East. The war had now been raging for well over a month and the end was not yet in sight. Persia had made some gains, mainly due to a Kurdish uprising near the border. The Arabians mainly relied on hit and run raids on Ottoman garrisons, but made no major gains. Meanwhile, the Egyptians had managed to take advantage of their surprise attack and were almost at the gates of Jerusalem. Jinnah was not all too worried about the war itself, but he was worried about its consequences for India. First of all, a stronger Persia driven by nationalism might challenge the Dominion of India. Delhi would then be faced by dangers from three sides: Persia in the west, the Commune in the east and the Federation in the south. Second of all, the Khilafat movement openly challenged the British hegemony and approached Germany to intervene in the war. Jinnah could not allow this. Allowing the Germans to use India as a stepping stone to Persia was a red line Jinnah would not cross. But the question still remained, how would the government deal with this growing movement? Jinnah, a Muslim himself, had heard of a countermovement. One opposed to European involvement in the Islamic world and pan-Islamic in nature. Although Jinnah wasn’t really in favour of a pan-Islamic state, he did welcome a reunification with the Muslims in Bengal if possible. After all, one of the possibilities his political advisors proposed in light of a possible reunification deal with the Commune was a two-state solution. Jinnah had grown to like the idea of a separate Muslim state and a separate Hindu state. It would liberate the Bengali Muslims from a majority Hindu socialist state. The big problem though was the fact his British overlords would never allow this. Selling half of the country to Hindu nationalists and socialists would endanger the vital steel supplies from India. Jinnah would have to settle on one unified India, for now. Then it dawned on him. What if he used the pro-reunification movement among the Muslims in Bengal and the Dominion to his own advantage? If Gandhi recognized their role in the peace process, he might be more willing to give in to Jinnah’s demands regarding the rights of Muslims. Jinnah called his secretary into the room and said: “Would you please invite Imam Hameed Bukhari? I need him to advise me on a religious matter.” The secretary left and Jinnah started writing some ideas down on paper.

    Jinnah’s Fourteen Points, the demands which he would put forward in case Gandhi invited him to reunification talks.

    26th of December, Delhi, Dominion of India.

    Imam Bukhari entered Jinnah’s office and was greeted by the Prime Minister of the Dominion. After discussing the war in the Middle East, Jinnah addressed the reason why he had invited the Imam: “You have probably heard of the unification movement among the Muslim population in the Dominion. Well, I have been trying to figure out how we as a society could gain from this. We’ve come at a point where reunification could be on the doorstep. The press already speaks about reunification fever. Some say it is getting out of our control, but the only way to get control over it is by going with it. That’s why I worked out my demands in case Gandhi invites us to a summit. I’ve invited you to inform you of the nature of the demands and I ask you to spread them throughout the mosques of our country. We need a strong base to convince the other side into accepting in.” Jinnah handed a piece of paper to the Imam. The man started reading it diligently, mumbling some words as he went along the more difficult parts. When done reading, the Imam started speaking: “Prime Minister, I wholeheartedly support your demands. However, there is one controversial issue which remains unaddressed: the status of Sindh and Kashmir. While Kashmir is a Muslim-majority state ruled by a Hindu, Sindh has a large amount of Hindus, but is ruled by Muslims. I suspect Gandhi and his Hindu cabinet will raise the question of Sindh, while we will bring up the question of Kashmir. If you want to truly unite the people of India, you will have to overcome the issues that exist between Hindus and Muslims. And Gandhi will have to do the same. Guaranteeing the rights of Muslims won’t be enough. If you and Gandhi come to some kind of deal, it will have to encompass all groups that live on this subcontinent. Only then will I spread your message, only then will we walk the path of peace.”

    15th of January 1938, Calcutta, Bharatiya Commune.

    Ever since Bose’s plans in Nepal failed, he and his followers had been trying to salvage what had been lost. The smuggling of equipment across the border into Nepal was all in vain now that Gandhi loyalists had taken control over the region. Bose’s training camps with fresh manpower were all overrun, first by the Nepalese, then by the Indian army. And to make matters worse, the valuable camp in Dehradun, the staging point for a future invasion of the Dominion, was now solidly in the hands of Jinnah’s army of Imperialists. They needed a new plan of action and soon, before Gandhi could finish his reunification plans. Then there was also the question of how Gandhi got all his information. There weren’t many people in Bose’s circle of trust to begin with, so betrayal from one of them was already quite unthinkable. And so Bose had decided to keep taps on his inner circle. His spies had never been so busy, Bose would never have imagined how many of his generals frequented Calcutta’s many brothels. But one general in particular had not been doing in that, Lakshmi Saghal. Instead of sneaking of to a shady business, she had been consistently meeting with Abdul Razak, the Government’s Head of Military Intelligence and a staunch supporter of Gandhi. Bose had found his mole. The question now was what to do with her…

    Subhas Chandra Bose inspecting his troops.

    19th of March, Teheran, Persia.

    The capital of Persia was bustling with activity as delegates from all over the Middle East were gathered for the peace conference. Some had even come from India to observe the negotiations. Both the Dominion and the Commune had sent an official delegation to Teheran. Although it was not intended by their respective governments, the two delegations sought each other out to establish some diplomatic contacts. It was a clear sign that reunification fever was running all the way up to the foreign affairs cabinets of both countries. Not surprisingly, Gandhi had foreseen this and he had prepared for this. The Bharatiyan delegation carried an official invitation with them. An official invitation to hold reunification talks. The Dominionist delegation eagerly took the invitation and promised they would deliver it to Jinnah as soon as the Conference of Teheran had ended. As the hallways were filled with Persian, Arabic and English among many other regional languages, deals were being struck left, right and centre. Even the Indian delegations managed to successfully lobby with Egypt to keep their interest in mind. The result was a complete redrawing of the map. The Ottoman Empire was reduced to Anatolia, while Egypt, Rashidi Arabia and Persia divided the spoils among them. Egypt puppeted Libya and the Ottoman territories in the Levant were put under an independent Levantine Federation. Rashidi Arabia gained the Arabian coast with the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, while also gaining some territory in Iraq and Yemen. The rest of Iraq was given to Persia, provided that their occupation would only last 10 years, after which an independent Iraq would have to be instated, something the Indian delegation had pushed for in order to keep Persia somewhat weak. The Egyptians and Arabians had accepted their demand, due to the fact that they themselves also didn’t want a strong Persia (due to Persia being a Shiite majority country). German control over Suez was formally reconfirmed, preventing a further escalation of the conflict.

    Outcome of the Conference of Teheran (1938).
     
    Chapter X: The Maximist Uprising
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    Chapter X: The Maximist Uprising
    1st of May – 31st of May 1938

    1st of May, in the evening.

    Almost three months had passed since the Commune had officially sent its invitation along with the delegation to the Teheran Conference. Gandhi had signed it personally and added a little personal note for Jinnah. The invitation was not really an invitation in the classical sense of the word. It was an invitation to hold a summit to reunite peacefully, but the details were to be filled in by the government of Delhi. This was as to assure their agreement to the summit. Now, finally, their answer had arrived and the entirety of the Commune’s government cabinet gathered in Gandhi’s ashram to discuss how to move further. Mahadev opened the letter and started reading it:

    “On behalf of Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Jinnah, I have the pleasure to inform the Government of the Bharatiya Commune that we accept your request for a summit on the reunification of the Indian subcontinent. As per your request, we have thought about the date and location of the summit. Our Government proposes to hold the conference at Lucknow on the 10th of July of this year. This gives both our nations roughly two months to prepare for the negotiations. On behalf of the Prime Minister, I have also included his Fourteen Points for the future of India. The Prime Minister wishes to make clear that these points are his demands and are to be taken as they are. If there are points of dispute, it is up to the Prime Minister to decide during the Summit whether or not changes are needed. The Government of the Dominion looks forward to seeing President Gandhi and his associates in Lucknow. May God be with you and guide India on the path of peace.”

    Gandhi was the first to speak: “This is wonderful news. Jinnah’s Fourteen Points have been circulating for a while now and they are not entirely unreasonable. This great country has a history of being divided into many smaller states. Therefor Jinnah’s proposal for a federal state is not entirely ridiculous. Now, on the matter of religion. My support goes to a secular state where ideally religion doesn’t play a role. But I do understand the concerns of the Muslims. They want to be protected and have an equal say in government. Cementing their rights in a future Constitution will be a necessary step in unifying India. With Jinnah’s demands now clear, it is time that we put our own demands forward. Any suggestions?” Minister of Internal Affairs Amrit Kaur answered Gandhi’s call: “I must say that I am very pleased with the response from Delhi. However, I must also say that unification will have mayor consequences for my cabinet. For example, the National Bhoodan Committee has been doing wonders with the country side. Our latest figures show an immense increase in education investments from the local Bhoodan Councils. We as a government should be proud of this achievement and we must try to keep this wonderful piece of legislation alive in a unified India.” Everyone in the room nodded. Then it was Razak’s turn to speak: “I’m a bit concerned about what position a unified India will take on the world stage. I mean both the Commune and the Dominion are part of an international alliance. We have our own unique bond with Burma in the Eastern Syndicalist Union, while the Dominion is an integral part of the Entente and the British Commonwealth. I feel like this issue could dominate peace talks and maybe even sabotage them. We must ask ourselves what our future relationship with Burma will be and what kind of relationship we want with the Entente and Commonwealth. We do not want to put ourselves back in the position of British subjects, but I suspect that Jinnah wouldn’t like to just cut all ties with the Entente.” Gandhi understood Razak’s concerns and said: “Part of the peace process is also mending the bond between the Indian people and the British. For too long has our relationship been one of inequality. If the British are willing to treat our people and our democratically elected government as equals, than there is certainly a place for the British in our house of friendship and peace. I’m quite sure they have too many financial and economic interests to just let the Dominion go, but we can hold that against them. If it looks like Delhi is slipping from their grasp and we can offer to guarantee trade relations with the Entente, then I suspect they’d be more than willing to accept reunification. As for Burma, I am sure that trade and cooperation will continue. My plans for the Burma road could also benefit industry in the Dominion, so they would also favour a friendly neighbour, even if they are syndicalists.” Tagore, the Commune’s premier, then chose to speak: “My friend, there is one last issue which I think is vital for our nation after reunification and that is the matter of collective industry. As it stands now, our people are shareholders in the companies they work for and this status is protected by the law. The Dominion on the other hand is a capitalist country and does not provide the same legal provisions for collective industry. If we were to join our two countries, then competition from the capitalist industries in the west might root out our collective industries in the east. We must provide legal protection for these industries and make them more competitive, without losing workers’ rights of course. This will be a difficult balance, but an important one nonetheless. I think Jinnah will have an ear for our concerns on this matter, as he’s a social democrat himself.” Gandhi thanked Tagore for his thoughts and replied: “We must indeed not forget about our own economical interests. But let’s not forget that competition is an aspect of capitalism. We must ask ourselves if capitalism is what we want to achieve. My intentions for this country’s economy have always been self-sufficiency, autarky or whatever you want to call it. Feeding and clothing our own people should be our priority. Whatever extra profits we make, we could use for foreign trade. But we must never lose sight of the poorest and weakest in the country. I have recently come across the ideas of a man called John Maynard Keynes. His thoughts on economical processes are truly wonderful and we can use them in our own nation. Keynes advocates raising the purchasing power of the people to increase the demand for goods. Our priority as a government should therefore be increasing the purchasing power and making sure that the demands of the people are filled. Increasing the supply of goods without having a population that can buy that surplus leaves our economy vulnerable to the demand of foreign countries.” Minister of Economy Sitaramayya was amazed about Gandhi’s thorough knowledge of economical theory and said: “Bapu, you have a good point. This Mr. Keynes who you are talking about is indeed the hottest new topic among economical theorists all around the world. Even in Canada his theories are put to the test. I think we could quite easily convince Jinnah with this logic.” The discussion went on for another hour before the Cabinet agreed on a preliminary draft of demands and disbanded.



    2nd of May, in the morning.

    Field Marshal Bose had called together his followers for one last time. News had reached him that the Dominion had accepted Gandhi’s invitation. Bose was furious, this was his last chance to try and stop the government. The Field Marshal had also invited the mole, he finally figured out how he could use her against Gandhi. When everyone was gathered in his home, Bose started talking: “Friends and allies of the resistance, the time has come to rid this nation of its traitors. I have received word that the imperialists in the west have accepted Gandhi’s request for negotiations. We cannot allow that fool to sell our country to Ottawa. I have therefore sent the order to our soldiers to start the dismantling of Gandhi’s weak government. Tonight, we march onto the government building and remove Gandhi himself from office. If all goes well, in the following weeks we will have taken over complete control of the Commune and we will start preparing the invasion of the Dominion.” The crowd cheered after Bose’s speech, but General Saghal was terrified. She snuck out to bring this to Gandhi’s attention. That was exactly what Bose had hoped for. Unbeknownst to the General, the Field Marshal had rigged her car with explosives. As soon as she would reach the Presidential Residence, her car would explode, hopefully killing Gandhi and Saghal in the process. Bose could then easily fill the power vacuum by proclaiming himself the Commune’s next president.

    Lakshmi Saghal hurried towards her car. As soon as she got it running, she drove towards Gandhi’s residence. But along the way, she decided to make a stop at Abdul Razak’s house and inform him of Bose’s plan, so he could start their own plan to counter the Field Marshal. She left the car running while she got out and ran to Razak’s door. When he opened the door, Razak recognized the General’s shocked face. “Abdul, I have no time to explain, but Bose will start his uprising today. He plans to storm the Presidential Residence tonight. You must get the Red Army on high alert and double security on Gandhi as soon as you can”, the General said as quickly as she could. As soon as she had arrived at his door, Lakshmi was gone again. When she got back into the car, she pressed the gas pedal as hard as she could, but her engine gave up. She tried to restart the car, but an explosion blew her car from its framework, killing the General in the process. Razak, who had seen everything and was still a bit shocked by Saghal’s sudden appearance at his door, hurried towards the car. Pieces of wreckage lay all over the street, but there was no sign of the General. If what she said was true, then Gandhi must be informed as quickly as possible. Razak hurried towards his own car and speeded towards the Presidential Residence.

    2nd of May, in the evening.

    Bose just received word that his plan to kill Gandhi had failed. In the meanwhile, military presence in the capital had nearly tripled since this morning. Bose knew that storming the Presidential Residence at this point would be suicide and he decided to flee the capital and join his forces in the Bengal countryside instead. Before he left though, he ordered his followers to spread misinformation in Calcutta and deliver an ultimatum to Gandhi. The Mahatma, as idealistic as he was, of course refused the ultimatum, leaving Bose no other option than to reorganize in the west.



    3rd of May, in the early morning.

    Bose had prepared for this very moment for months now, but so had the late General Saghal and Abdul Razak. Their focus had been on reducing Bose’s forces even before the war had started. Now it was all up to Razak to defeat Bose and at the same time keep casualties low on both sides. As it stood right now, Bose’s Maximists controlled parts of Orissa and almost the entire area bordering the Dominion. Loyalist troops were primarily stationed around the capital after the recent bombing and now had to be transported to the front as quickly as possible. In the meantime, a telegram was sent to Burma, requesting their assistance in putting down Bose’s uprising.



    4th of May.

    Razak’s first priority would be to ensure that Bose remained isolated from the rest of the world so he couldn’t receive any supplies or volunteers. To achieve this, Razak ordered the Red Army to occupy Orissa and prevent Bose’s Maximists from reaching the ocean.



    7th of May.

    While the Red Army was keeping the Maximists in the south from reaching the ocean, Maximists in the north were trying to reach Darjeeling and seek connection with their former training camps in Nepal. In the meanwhile, Razak ordered an advance into Maximist territories in between a gap of the enemy’s defences.



    10th of May.

    Instead of cutting of the Red Army’s push towards Patna, Bose made the tactical mistake of pushing south to cut of the troops that are heading towards Raipur. However, the Red Army is quick enough to fill the gap and prevent the Maximist from driving a wedge between the two fronts. In the meanwhile, a division of the Red Army is able to get closer to Bose’s hideout in Patna due to his troops being engaged in the east.



    11th of May.

    Razak’s plan to cut the enemy’s forces in half has worked. There are now two pockets of Maximist resistance. While the northern pocket is close to collapsing, the Maximists in the southern pocket are still trying to push towards the ocean, but the Red Army is holding them off for now.



    12th of May.

    Patna is taken, but Bose was able to flee south nevertheless. Razak expects him to head towards Raipur and lead the troops there. In some places, guerrilla warfare has broken out between the Maximists and the Red Army, further complicating the Bharatiyan Civil War.

    27th of May.

    The Maximists still aren’t put down, but the northern pocket is on its last legs. Meanwhile, Bose has regrouped in the south and is trying to seek a connection to the northern pocket. The south however is also close to collapse, with Raipur being taking at the moment.



    31st of May.

    The conflict is over, the Maximists have capitulated. More important though, Razak has managed to keep the casualties quite low. 245 brave men lost their lives on the side of the Red Army, while 14 140 Maximists were killed, most of them died in the last days of the war when the pockets of resistance were finally dealt with. Bose himself was found dead in Raipur. He had committed suicide to save himself from capture and humiliation in Calcutta. In exactly one month, Razak was able to defeat the uprising and end the civil war. Gandhi and his government could now fully focus on reunification. Members of the Indian National Congress raised the question of what to do with the traitors and have even suggested execution, but Gandhi refuses to sign any order to kill and has instead chosen to imprison them and has asked for their transfer to Burmese prisons. The battle’s won, but the child is lost.


    ----------
    Bonus points to whoever can spot the reference to a popular show in this chapter.​
     
    Chapter XI: The Lucknow Summit
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    Chapter XI: The Lucknow Summit
    10th of July – 29th of August 1938

    10th of July, in the afternoon.

    Gandhi and his entourage had travelled to Lucknow by train, in the utmost of secrecy. Most people in the Commune and in the Dominion weren’t even aware of the Summit. But people had died so this could happen, so Gandhi was determined to let this summit succeed. Gandhi and the Bharatiyan delegation had been welcomed by a small contingent of Dominionist troops and were put under maximum security. Gandhi’s requests to go for a walk in the city were continuously refused and the Mahatma had to settle with a short walk in the courtyard of their hotel. They had heard nothing yet from the people who were supposed to sit on the other side of the negotiation table today. It wasn’t until shortly after lunch that a representative from the Delhi government arrived and took the Bharatiyan delegation to the Bara Imambara, escorted by a military cohort. The Bara Imambara was one of the many imambaras in Lucknow. Along the way, Gandhi summarized the Commune’s interests with Mahadev, who as Minister of Foreign Affairs had come along. It mainly came down to four points: 1) collective industry should have a legal status within a reunified India, 2) implementation of Bhoodan should continue in order to gradually root out the Zamindar system, 3) a reunified India must break all ties to the Entente and the Commonwealth and 4) politicians from the Commune should be allowed to work in the new India. Gandhi and Mahadev hoped that these points would also be appealing to Jinnah and his social democrats.

    The Bara Imambara in Lucknow as it stands today. From all over the world, tourists come to visit to see the spot where Gandhi and Jinnah signed the Lucknow Declaration.

    Gandhi, Mahadev and their entourage arrived in a large hall with a round table set up in the middle. The Dominionist delegation was already seated and ready to get to the point. Gandhi recognized Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Delhi’s Prime Minister and a major advocate for Muslim rights. Gandhi expected a long list of demands and guarantees from Jinnah, and he was right. The Prime Minister had spent a lot of time thinking about a workable unified India and had come up with at least 14 points. These points would later be known as Jinnah’s Fourteen Points and would form the basis of the Indian Federation we know today. Once everyone was seated, Jinnah officially opened the summit: “Mr. Gandhi, delegates of the Bharatiya Commune, as Prime Minister of the Dominion of India, I formally open this summit.” Jinnah then went on to setting out his view on a reunified India. In Jinnah’s unified India, the rights of Muslims would be protected by devolution of government and constitutional guarantees for Muslim participation in government. Jinnah proposed a federal India, with the central government holding most of the power and the provinces getting the residuary powers. All elected bodies on the central level should include at least one third of Muslim representation. In provinces with a considerable amount of Muslims, the same principle applied. Changes to the Constitution would only pass with an approval of the provinces constituting the Indian Federation. Jinnah’s 14 points heavily touched upon a Constitution for a reunified India. While Gandhi could understand Jinnah’s concern regarding Muslims’ rights, he also thought that India should remain a secular state and that the matter of the Constitution should be something to be discussed later on in the peace talks. After Jinnah had spoken, Gandhi took the lead: “My friends. We are here in Lucknow, the place where 22 years ago a pact was made between the Hindus and Muslims of this country. The Lucknow Pact still has value today, proven by the fact that we are here to talk about peace, non-violence and reunification. My dear Jinnah, you and I are brothers born of the same mother India. If you have fears, I want to put them at rest. If I recall correctly, you and I were both here back in 1916 when the pact was made. Today I still stand by the agreements made back then and I hope you still stand for a unified and independent India, my dear Jinnah.”

    The Mahatma during the Round Table Conference in Lucknow.

    With the opening statements made, the first round of negotiations could begin. The hot topic of today was the status of a unified India in international politics. While the Commune wanted nothing to do with the British Empire, the Dominion didn’t want any ties with syndicalist countries like Burma. But both had big economic interests. While the Dominion was the Entente’s largest exporter of steel, the Commune had invested millions into expanding infrastructure between Bengal, Burma and China, Gandhi’s so called Burma Road. It was clear that both sides had to make some concessions. Gandhi began expressing his point of view: “The future relationship between India and the British Empire will have to be one of equality and not of British dominion over the Indian people. 100.000 Englishmen simply cannot control 350.000.000 Indians if those Indians refuse to cooperate. As far as I am concerned, this does not mean that private corporations should be forced to end their financial and economic ties to the Entente, but efforts should be made to integrate them better within an Indian market and not an international one.” From the other side of the room, the Dominionists were dismayed with the notion of leaving the Commonwealth. Particularly a British fellow, probably a prominent industrialist stood up and said: “This is outrageous. India is a historical and integral part of the British Empire. We have brought civilization and wealth to this country! I refuse to submit myself to a populist like Mr. Gandhi! There can only be one ruler of India: His Majesty the King-Emperor! After all, India is the Crown Jewel of the Empire and must remain so.” Jinnah was somewhat displeased that someone with such outdated views, even in the Dominion, was allowed to participate in the talks. The Prime Minister stood up and addressed his audience: “Such imperialist views serve only to drive the Indian population further into the arms of the extreme. It is time that the British gave up their claims in India and let the Indians rule themselves. But I assure you, when I will visit the Viceroy this evening and inform him of the results of today’s talks, I will tell him what I am telling you now. India will remain the largest exporter of steel to the Entente.” Upon hearing that, some within the Bharatiyan delegation were angered and one member even shouted: “India will not export steel to fuel a war machine intended on destroying syndicalism in Europe!” It began to look more and more as if both Jinnah and Gandhi didn’t have full control over their own delegations. And so Gandhi decided to ask Jinnah for a private discussion on the matter. Jinnah eagerly agreed, all was it because he loathed being kept on a leash by the British imperialists in the room.

    Gandhi and Jinnah after their private meeting in Lucknow. Historians now think that in this meeting, the two men agreed on unification and laid out its terms that would dominate the rest of the talks.

    11th of July, around noon.

    Yesterday’s negotiations had almost been a complete failure. If it wasn’t for the decision to keep the talks in private between Gandhi and Jinnah, the negotiations would surely have spiralled into accusations from both sides. The two men had come to an agreement: India would break all ties to the Entente, but would allow free trade to continue between India and its former overlords. At the same time, the Commune’s treaty with Burma would be revised and Burma would be forced to hold democratic elections if they wished to continue receiving investments from India. Today’s talks would touch on the topic of collective industry in Bengal and the status of aristocratic elites within both the Dominion and the Commune. As many of the imperialists who had threatened yesterday’s talks had become disinterested in the negotiations, as they thought there never would be a viable compromise anyway, the table was mostly filled by Social Democrats on the Dominion side and Syndicalists on the Commune side. Gandhi hoped to appeal to their common visions on workers’ rights to protect the collective industries in Bengal. With the session officially opened, Gandhi began his plea: “In the Bharatiya Commune, there is a wonderful system in place. We are one of the few countries where factory workers are shareholders in the companies they work for. Sure, this system isn’t perfect and some within the INC would rather see the industry in the save hands of the government. But nonetheless, this creates great opportunities for the workers of this country. That is why I stand here today to defend this system. A unified India must protect its workers. As I see it, allowing collective industry to be destroyed by capitalist competition is allowing the property of workers to be taken away. Therefore their right to be shareholders should be protected and collective industry must continue to exist in a unified India.” Gandhi had put his words in such a way that disagreeing with him was equal to expropriating the individual property of workers. His motion was put to a vote and due to the absence of the industrial imperialists of the Dominion, was carried almost unanimously.

    15th of July, in the afternoon.

    Over the last few days, the Bharatiyan and Dominionist delegations drafted a Constitution for a unified India. Heavily inspired by the United States’ Constitution, both delegations agreed on a final draft that would both see a strong central government and extensive autonomy to India’s provinces. In addition, the borders of the provinces were redrawn and separate constituencies were set up for Muslims and Hindus to ensure their proper representation in the Indian National Congress, the new federal parliament. Gandhi and Jinnah agreed on holding elections within the next month for a two-year term Congress and government to finish the reunification process. For the time being, an interim government was set up with Gandhi as President and Jinnah as Prime Ministers, all other posts were equally divided between members of the former Commune government and members of the former Dominion. After both Gandhi and Jinnah signed the final draft of the Lucknow Declaration, they left the Bara Imambara and were greeted by press from all over the world. Unification had been achieved, but the country was far from unified.


    Unified India’s new Prime Minister Mohammad Ali Jinnah and new President Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi after the signing of the Final Declaration of the Lucknow Summit.

    15th of August.

    The whole of northern India was going to the polls to decide how the first Indian National Congress should look like. But in fact, the elections were all about whether or not the Indian people accepted Gandhi and Jinnah’s platform of a unified India. While, in the Princely Federation war had broken out between the Deccan Federation and the Madras Presidency, millions of Indians were deciding the fate of India by putting a piece of paper in a wooden box. Gandhi ran as leader of the Socialist Party, founded on the coalition between his Agrarians and Nehru’s Moderates from the former Bharatiyan INC. Jinnah ran with his more moderate All-India Social Democrats, which was expected to do well in the Muslim provinces in the west of India. The Unionist Party, led by Sikander Hayat Khan, formed the main opposition to Gandhi and his socialists and openly opposed some of the elements of the Final Declaration of Lucknow. In the former Commune, unrest had been brewing because many Maximist politicians were not allowed to run for office. In some places this has even escalated into open terrorism against the state.

    29th of August, in the evening.

    All the votes were finally counted and the results were made public. Gandhi had chosen to remain at his ashram during the elections, so Mahadev had come all the way from Calcutta to deliver the good news. Mahadev entered Gandhi’s room and greeted his friend, who was spinning. “Bapu, I have good news. The choice of the Indian people has been made public. Our Socialist Party won 46% of the votes. This brings us close to an absolute majority. I expect that Jinnah and his All-India Social Democrats would be all too happy to form a government with us and work further towards integration and unification.” Gandhi stopped spinning and it was only then that Mahadev saw what the Mahatma had made himself: a large tricolour flag bearing the Ashoka Chakra, a 24-spoke wheel. Gandhi stood up and asked: “What do you think, my friend, would the Indian people prefer this flag?”

    The Indian flag, based on a design by the Mahatma Gandhi.

    Largest party per province: the Socialist Party (red), the All-India Social Democrats (pink) and the Unionist Party (blue) all managed to grab the majority in at least one province, while the liberal Swaraj Party saw its votes spread out all over the country.

    The composition of the new Lower House of the Indian National Congress. The Socialist Party (red) has got the most seats (279), followed by the All-India Social Democrats (pink) with 146 seats, the Unionists (blue) are the third largest party with 66 seats. The Swaraj Party (yellow) closes the ranks with 54 seats.

     
    Chapter XII: The War of Southern Aggression
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    Chapter XII: The War of Southern Aggression
    13th of November 1938 – 28th of September 1939

    13th of November 1938, Pondicherry, Madras.

    The situation looked dire as Madras was reduced to its coastline. When Madras declared war on the Deccan Federation in hopes of regaining its autonomy, many hoped that the newly unified India would come to their help. But Delhi was too busy with internal affairs, as far left resistance in Orissa and Bengal threatened the stability of the region. The Madras Armed forces would not last one more day. Around noon, the order to surrender arrived from Madras. The fighting was over and the Deccan Federation could divert its attention back to the north, where Gandhi and Jinnah were increasingly limiting the power of local princes.



    16th of November, Delhi, Indian Federation.

    Gandhi and Jinnah had been used to working with each other for a couple of months now, but never did they face a bigger issue then today. In the Indian National Congress, a more radical member of Gandhi’s Socialist Party had submitted a proposal to end the Diarchy, the shared rule between democratically elected bodies and local princes in the former Dominion. Not surprisingly, the bill managed to pass with wide support across both the Socialist Party and the All-India Social Democrats. The moment the results were made public, members of the Unionist Party stood up and left the Congress angrily. But Gandhi and Jinnah were now faced with a difficult task. How would they go about and abolish the Diarchy. Implementing something similar to the Bhoodan system would not work, at least not everywhere. The princes held far bigger power and much larger estates, so turning them into local administrators would not work. Abolishing indirect rule was a given here, but how far would Gandhi and Jinnah go? The bill which was passed mentioned expropriation, but the Swaraj Party tried to pass an amendment to replace that with granting the princes a pension, a motion which barely failed. Seeing the amendment got wide support within the Unionist Party, granting pensions instead of expropriating the princes might bring them back on board the unification process that has been going on since Lucknow. But nonetheless, Jinnah and Gandhi were powerless, as the bill was as it was. The only thing they could do within the legality of the proposal was a small compensation for the properties that the princes would lose.



    25th of January 1939, Delhi, Indian Federation.

    The Unionist Party increasingly voiced their opposition to the government’s reunification programme. As the last remnants of British rule are being swept away by Socialist and Social Democrat legislation, the members of the Unionist Party, mostly princes themselves, stood by powerless. Today was the last drop that made the bucket flow over. When Congress was debating about the defence budget for next year, a member of the Swaraj Party raised the question of whether or not funds would be set aside for the princes’ private armies. The member of parliament had no intention of sparking an intense debate, but the Socialist Party was enraged that this system still existed. In their opinion, the state should be the only one with an army, so a bill was proposed to integrate the princes’ armies under the Indian National Defence Forces. The proposal passed, being supported by the government’s parties. But this time, an amendment from the Swaraj Party did manage to pass. The Swaraj Party argued that the army was in need of new officers after the exodus of British officers and so they proposed to let the princes remain in control of their divisions. Surprisingly, the amendment passed because some members of the Socialist Party feared an outright resurrection in Bengal and recognized the need for a well-organized army. Jinnah and the All-India Social Democrats were enraged and threatened with a vote of no confidence. And so Gandhi vetoed the amendment, putting the princely armies under parliament control instead. The Unionist Party was furious to say the least. In their opinion, Gandhi had shown his true face as a dictator. Some Unionists even called for outright rebellion, but for now the party issued a statement saying that they would not participate in Congress debates until the mistakes were undone.



    27th of January 1939, India.

    After the integration of the princely armies into the Indian army, a mutiny spread among the soldiers in Kashmir. Reason being that their salary under parliament control had dropped immensely compared to what they received from the princes. Violence quickly escalated and troops from a neighbouring region were brought in to stop the mutiny. The violence spread south, all the way to Gujarat. Despite efforts of the Unionist Party, the largest party in Kashmir and Gujarat, to calm down the people, the violence continued. After a report that soldiers from Bengal fired on an unruly crowd, the princes of Kashmir and Gujarat announced the secession of their regions from the Indian Federation and their intention to join the Deccan Federation. An all-out rebellion broke out in the two Provinces and as Commander in Chief, Gandhi was forced to deploy more troops and prevent total chaos. Jinnah warned Gandhi that war with the Deccan Federation may be on the horizon as troop movements along the border had led some to believe that the South was gearing up for war. Gandhi tried to open diplomatic channels with Hyderabad, but he got no answer from the Deccan government. And so he prepared for the inevitable.

    The Kashmir Mutiny of 1939 would mark the beginning of the largest conflict on the Indian subcontinent since the colonization of the British.

    30th of January, in the vicinity of Nagpur, on the Indian side of the border.

    Under the cover of darkness, Deccan forces crossed the border into India. Their objective was clear: reach the garrison at Raipur as quickly as possible before Gandhi and his government realised that war had been declared. Unbeknownst to them, India was prepared for war. Despite Gandhi’s credo of peace, the Indian President still foresaw the threat of an invasion from the south. As a result, the Deccan forces were met with fierce resistance and as soon as the word of their attack went out, Indian forces all along the border went on the offensive.

    The Kashmir Front

    The war was spread out on three important fronts, the first one being the Kashmir Front. Five fresh Indian divisions were hastily deployed to deal with the insurgent region quickly. However, due to the harsh conditions in Kashmir, dealing with the two Princely divisions took longer than expected. By the 5th of March, the enemy was surrounded and cut off from Kashmir’s biggest city, Srinagar. Nonetheless, the Kashmiri forces were able to make a break south towards Lahore, but they were stopped in their tracks. By the 16th of April, their organization was as good as gone and the Kashmiri pocket was cleared not long after.



    The Gujarat-Bombay Front

    The second major front was located in the breakaway province of Gujarat and would later on shift towards Bombay. It was by far the most deadly front of all. After the uprising in former Indian territory, two divisions found themselves behind enemy lines and were being attacked from Ahmadabad. They managed to hold the line and gain a foothold, isolating Gujarat from the rest of the Deccan Federation. For a while it looked like Gujarat would be easily dealt with, but due to a Deccan counteroffensive on the weak southern defence line of the Indian forces, they were able to connect back to Gujarat.



    The Indian army regrouped and five fresh divisions were quickly deployed to hold the line. This resulted in the encirclement of some Deccan troops who were too quick to advance into Indian territory. Over the next few months, the front remained relatively stable with the Indian army gaining only minor advances in Gujarat. It was only because of the arrival of the troops from the Kashmir Front that a new offensive could begin. In May, an effort began to once again encircle Gujarat to cut it off from the reinforcement lines running to Bombay. By the end of May, the attack had succeeded and had even managed to create a second encirclement.



    In June, the advance continued with Bombay as its new target. By August the northern front of the Deccan Federation collapsed and Indian troops were now at the doorstep of Bombay. On the 6th of August, Bombay was taken and more Deccan troops were encircled. By the end of August, resistance north of Bombay was dealt with and the focus of the attack moved further south. With Bombay and Poona taken, Kolhapur was the next target. At this point, the Gujarat-Bombay Front became pretty much indistinguishable from the third front: the Hyderabad Front.



    The Hyderabad Front

    The Hyderabad Front was the most important front of the War of Southern Aggression between India and the Deccan Federation. Hyderabad was the Deccan capital and was therefore the main goal for the Indian army. In the early stages of the war, the Deccan forces were the ones deciding the battles. But soon they became exhausted of all the fighting and the Indian army started to push back, encircling some divisions in Nagpur. By March, the Indian army had managed to cross the Godavari River. In April, the Indian army was at the doorsteps of Hyderabad and the Deccan government was forced to flee south. In June, the Indian army finally managed to take the Deccan capital, while in the south, a breakthrough was made.



    In July, the opening in the south almost turned into a disaster as one Indian cavalry division was too bold and got surrounded. At some point it looked like the Indians were on the retreat, but by September the situation got completely turned around. Two breakthroughs could force an opening towards the western coast of the Indian subcontinent. With encirclements left, right and centre, all Deccan resistance surrendered one after another. On the 22nd of September, their fight was over as the government, now in Madras, formally surrendered itself to the Indian Federation. The war was over and South India could now be integrated, but the victory came at a high cost and resistance to occupation would last for a couple more months.



    28th of September 1939, Delhi, India.

    During the last month of the War of Southern Aggression, events occurred which shook Gandhi and his cabinet. In Europe, the Commune of France had declared war on Germany, while the Kingdom of Canada had declared war on the Union of Britain. Many inside the former Dominion were happy that a unified India had escaped this international conflict, but at the same time, bags of bodies returned from the front in Southern India. With the war over now, the Indian Federation came out on top as a power to be taken into account. While a new Weltkrieg was raging in Europe and war between Japan and China was escalating, India declared itself as a power for peace and protection. This bore results as an Omani delegation arrived in Delhi, asking Gandhi and Jinnah for protection against their Arabian and Persian neighbours. Of course Jinnah was eager to accept their request and Gandhi agreed to uphold peace in the region. It was the first sign of a new world order, one in which India would take a lead.​
     
    Chapter XIII: The 1940 Elections
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    Chapter XIII: The 1940 Elections
    23rd of May 1940 – 14th of November 1940

    23rd of May 1940 , Delhi, India.

    Time had gone by so fast for the young Indian nation. After two years of unification in the north and one year of unification with the south, much of the legislation had been harmonized. This meant that the stakes at the 1940 elections were mainly about other topics such as industry and security. Gandhi’s Socialist Party had mainly campaigned on the successes of the last two years, but the war with the Deccan Federation was a bloody stain on Gandhi’s repertoire of non-violence. Jinnah’s All-India Social Democrats had mainly campaigned against the Unionist Party, which they blamed for the escalation of violence in Kashmir and Gujarat which ultimately led to the war with the south. The Unionist Party argued that they had actively tried to de-escalate the violence, but that they ultimately failed because the Socialist and Social Democrat government was too radical with their implementation of anti-princely legislation. And finally, the Swaraj Party campaigned on a program of reconstruction in the south, funded by industrialists from the north, they avoided the topic of the war as much as possible. For weeks now, the votes of last month’s elections were being counted. Exit polls had shown a considerable loss for the Socialist Party and some gains for the Unionist and Swaraj Parties. When the final result came in, there were clear winners and losers. While still holding a majority in parliament, the Socialists and Social Democrats now had to face a much bigger opposition from the Swaraj Party and the Unionists, while Ceylon separatists also made their entry into the Indian National Congress.


    Socialist Party: 219 (V60)
    All-India Social Democrats: 120 (V26)
    Swaraj Party: 114 (^60)
    Unionist Party: 82 (^16)
    Ceylon Independence Party: 10 (^10)

    The Socialist Party still was the largest party in many provinces, but lost a considerable amount of seats due to the addition of southern India into the INC. The Swaraj Party was the strongest party in southern India, while Ceylon was won by separatists.

    The new cabinet includes two members of the All-India Social Democrats, while the rest is a continuation from the Commune’s government before the reunification. Jinnah’s demand that one third should be Muslim is also fulfilled with himself, Khan and Razak all being Muslims.

    The question of the Princely armies was one of the causes of the war and the government was often criticized for their too radical legislation which caused widespread mutiny and violence. After the War of Southern Aggression, it became clear that India’s army was not that unbeatable. On several occasions, the Deccan Federation had the upper hand. India was only able to win due to the advantage in manpower. That fact was visible in the casualty statistics. Gandhi wanted to wash this stain off his legacy. He was a pacifist at heart, but knew that in the current geopolitical atmosphere war was a real threat. In Europe, the Second Weltkrieg was still raging. Its effects could be felt on the Indian economy. The high demand for steel made the prices skyrocket. While this was beneficial for Tata Steel, a major Indian steel corporation, this also meant that other Indian producers had a harder time getting their resources. Because unlimited steel exports to the Entente were part of the reunification deal, Gandhi could not raise limit resource exports. Instead, Gandhi pushed through a bill that would see the government buying steel from Tata to sell at a much lower price to local industries. One of the side-effects was that gun manufacturers from Entente countries such as the US started an Indian branch to be able to tap into that national stockpile and produce guns more cheaply. Some members of Gandhi’s party were enraged, because in some way India was contributing to the downfall of the syndicalist nations in Europe. Gandhi simply called them back and said that these foreign corporations were giving a much needed boost to the Indian economy while also providing employment for India’s poorest workers.

    J.R.D Tata from the Tata family, India’s biggest exporters of steel.

    5th of June 1940, Delhi, India.

    Still the issue of India’s weak army remained. With Russia expanding into Central Asia to reclaim their lost territories and China and Japan fighting out a war, India was caught in between all that conflict. While Japan’s ambitions of a Greater Co-Prosperity Sphere might be acclaimed in some ways, the Russian ambitions were purely imperialist in nature. While India had the Himalayas to defend from China, its border with Persia and Afghanistan were less defended. At the same time, Burma was a possible unreliability in case of a joint Japanese-Siamese invasion. Gandhi sat together with Jinnah, Desai and Razak to discuss a possible solution to this problem. Mahadev Desai, Minister of Foreign Affairs identified three problems. First of all, India’s army was in need of new officers. Second of all, both people within India and people outside of India criticized the government’s pro-Entente course, which might spark internal rebellion or a foreign declaration of war. Last of all, India’s borders with Persia and Afghanistan and Burma’s border with Siam were mostly unguarded and would need an upgrade in fortifications. Abdul Razak, Head of Military Intelligence, proposed to pardon officers of the former Deccan Federation and accept them into the ranks of the Indian army if they were willing to swear an oath of loyalty to Gandhi and the Indian government. Gandhi agreed with Razak. A hard confrontation was the last thing they needed and reconciliation with the princes might prevent future mutinies from happening. That left two problems still unsolved. The problem of the Entente would probably remain an issue for the foreseeable future. The reunification deals left Gandhi and Jinnah with little room to move away from a pro-Entente foreign policy, even if India was officially neutral in the conflict between the Internationale and the Entente. Then Desai came up with an idea. Portugal, a member of the Entente, currently still had a colonial possession on the Indian subcontinent: Goa. If India were to seize that colony, the government would show that it isn’t a puppet of the Entente. The plan was risky and Gandhi didn’t fully agree with seizing land in such a way. Still it was the best option to show both internal critics and foreign enemies that India wasn’t a playball of European powers anymore. Jinnah stood up and proposed a different approach. Seize Goa, but inform the Portuguese that they have a week to leave. If the Portuguese comply, conflict will be avoided. If they refuse, Jinnah would take it up to the Kingdom of Canada and demand that Portugal retreat from India if the Entente wants to receive steel from India. Gandhi accepted Jinnah’s proposal and the message was sent to Lisbon. Lastly, the issue of India’s borders was discussed. Gandhi approved a small budget for upgrading fortifications, but no major agreement on improvement could be made yet.

    16th of June 1940, Goa, Portuguese India.

    Governor-General José Ricardo Pereira Cabral was taking his afternoon nap when he was suddenly awakened by one of his Indian aids. “Sir, a telegram has arrived for you.” The Governor General took the piece of paper out of the aid’s hands and started reading.

    On behalf of His Royal Highness Duarte II of Portugal, you are hereby relieved of your duties as Governor-General of Goa and ordered to return to Portugal at once. Any troops under your command are to be transported to Portugal as well to help in the defence of the Iberian peninsula against the Commune of France.

    Those damn syndicalists in France had ruined José Ricardo’s career. With them reaching across the Pyrenees and getting all the way to Barcelona, the government in Lisbon must be scouring for all available reserve troops to help in the defence of their home country. The Governor-General would never learn of the secret deal made between Portugal and India. Mere hours after all Portuguese troops and officials had left Goa, Indian forces moved in and set up their own administration, integrating the region under the Bombay Province.

    Civilians welcoming the Indian army into Goa after the departure of the Portuguese.

    14th of November, Delhi, India.

    A group of scientists entered the Presidential Palace, Gandhi had invited them personally. Among the invitees were Homi J. Bhabha and Satyendra Nath Bose, both experts of nuclear physics. Bhabha and Bose weren’t quite sure why the President had invited them, but they did suspect that he might want to get them to work on a government project. Gandhi, draped in white cloths and with a walking stick, entered the room and greeted the scientists, while an advisor followed closely behind him. After the usual getting-acquainted conversation topics, Gandhi got to business. “Gentlemen, I invited you here today because you are India’s brightest minds. I admire your thorough interest in unveiling nature’s mysteries. I personally believe that our country must put itself in harmony with nature and find a good balance between mankind and its environment. I invited you here today because I believe that you can achieve this for our nation. I believe that with adequate government funding, your research could turn India into a scientifically advanced society. That is why I ask you, gentlemen, to develop a way to produce energy in an efficient and environment-friendly way.” Bhabha looked at the President with surprise and said: “According to the latest theories, nuclear energy could provide enough electricity for entire cities.” Gandhi’s curiosity rose and asked: “And you believe that you could successfully generate energy from this?” Bhabha nodded and answered: “With enough enriched uranium and government support, yes I believe a group of specialized scientists could achieve successful generation of electricity from a radioactive source.” “It is settled then,” Gandhi said, “I will try to get you the funding you need. In the meantime, feel free to fill in my advisor here on the details of your research.” The scientists eagerly began discussing the future of nuclear technology, while Gandhi left them to attend to other matters.

    Homi J. Bhabha, often called the father of India’s nuclear programme.
     
    Chapter XIV: The Bombay Plan
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    Chapter XIV: The Bombay Plan
    1st of January 1941 – 15th of January 1942

    1st of January 1941, Delhi, India.

    The 1940s Indian elections had shown that support for Gandhi’s government was dwindling. The war with the Deccan Federation and the integration of the former Princely States had taken much of the attention, while other issues remained unsolved. One of those issues was the fate of high ranking military officials from the former Commune. Many of them remained unappointed after the reunification of India. But with an ever increasing defence force and the shortage of skilled officers, the Republic was in dire need of military leaders. The problem was that the current army staff was reluctant to accept their former enemies among their ranks as equals. After all, the Princely officers were just officers, but here they were afraid that former Commune generals would overtake them in rank. And so Gandhi and Jinnah came up with a compromise. Generals from the former Commune were given a chance to be appointed again, but they first needed to appear in front of a commission which consisted of both politicians and army staff. That way, the Dominion generals would have some say in who to appoint and who not. Some Socialist generals who were denied, however, would only see their hatred towards the unified India grow.

    12th of March 1941, Calcutta, India.

    Gandhi and some of his cabinet members were visiting the old capital of the Bharatiya Commune. While violence was increasing in the South due to opposition to the integration process, Bengal was being terrorized by syndicalist terrorists who were not happy with what they saw as Gandhi’s betrayal of socialism. Today, Gandhi would sit together with some of the socialist generals that had voiced their criticism of the government. One of their major complaints was the situation with Bhutan. In the aftermath of the Raj’s collapse, the small and mountainous kingdom utilised the chaotic situation in Northern Assam to seize several districts at the foothills of the Himalayas. With the remainder of India finally reunited, many of the hawks within the government are now demanding the return of this unlawfully occupied territory. Personally, Gandhi would rather keep Bhutan friendly and maybe even invited them into a customs union. Of course the hawkish generals were outraged with Gandhi’s pacifist stance. Gandhi decided that this issue had lasted long enough and sent an invitation to Bhutan’s King to negotiate a return of the occupied districts. Gandhi hoped that the conflict in China would push Bhutan towards seeking protection from India.

    Bhutan still holds territory which it occupied in the aftermath of the Indian Revolt of 1925.

    16th of March 1941, Calcutta, India.

    Mahadev Desai quickly read the telegram that they had received from the King of Bhutan. The King refused to come to India and negotiate with a socialist government. He wished to remain neutral and isolated. But afraid of an Indian invasion, the Bhutanese King accepted the Indian request of returning Northern Assam. Gandhi was disappointed that Bhutan refused to talk about a customs union, but at least they got their territory back.

    7th of August 1941, Calcutta, India.

    Sad news arrived on Gandhi’s desk. His friend and former premier of the Commune, Rabindranath Tagore, had passed away. In the past few years, Tagore increasingly struggled with illness. Today his agony was finally over. Along with the sad message came a poem, Tagore’s final one.

    I'm lost in the middle of my birthday. I want my friends, their touch, with the earth's last love. I will take life's final offering, I will take the human's last blessing. Today my sack is empty. I have given completely whatever I had to give. In return if I receive anything—some love, some forgiveness—then I will take it with me when I step on the boat that crosses to the festival of the wordless end.

    Tears started running across Gandhi’s face. He felt guilty that he did not visit Tagore that often since he became President of the Republic of India. He felt guilty that he never got around to combat the practice of the caste system with its large underbelly of untouchables. As Gandhi’s guilt was growing with the minute, he decided that now was the time to finally address the caste system and its malpractices.

    One of the last known pictures taken of Rabindranath Tagore.

    3rd of September 1941, Bombay, India.

    Gandhi had travelled with his cabinet members to Bombay on the west coast. Over the past few weeks, they have been meeting with important industrialists and representatives of workers’ rights. Based on their talks, President Gandhi, Premier Jinnah, Minister of Economy Khan and Minister of Internal Affairs Kaur drafted a plan, the Bombay plan. A balanced system where the government could intervene if necessary would go into action. Large scale investments would be put into strategic industries. In return, these industries promised to increase the living standards of their workers and provide them with their basic human needs. At the same time, the government would also seek ways to improve the standing of untouchables. Later historians would say the Bombay plan was overambitious, but it did get some change done. Gandhi’s biographers would also point to the fact that Tagore’s death resulted in Gandhi’s more progressive stance towards big social issues like the status of India’s untouchables.

    1st of October 1941, Bombay, India.

    Bombay was bustling with creative activity as a film festival was being held in the city. Partly funded by the government, the goal was to get young Indian filmmakers on board of Gandhi’s program to uplift the untouchables. One of the biggest hurdles for India’s film industry was the fact that there were twelve different major languages and twenty secondary ones being spoken across the subcontinent. With the emergence of talkies, the issue of language became more apparent. In silent movies there was no need for dialogue and intertitles could be easily changed in different regions. But with the possibility of spoken dialogue, language became a new issue. Another big hurdle was the stability of the film industry. Currently, the industry was trying to mirror Hollywood, with a vertical integration structure trying to establish a chain going from production all the way to distribution. The problem with this system, however, was that it required large investments and sufficient capital for mergers and takeovers. The state could easily provide investments, but it would need something in return. As part of the deal between industrialists, including movie production companies, and government officials, the deal more commonly known as the Bombay plan, the Board of Indian Cinema (BIC) was founded. The BIC would provide funding, but would also be allowed to ‘request’ certain movies to be made. As a result, a new kind of genre emerged in the 1940s. Besides the already popular mythologicals and devotionals, the already existing social movies formed the backbone of India’s Social Realism movement. And Bombay’s film industry became widely known as Bollywood and became one of the major cultural factors that changed how the Indian people looked upon the caste system, as movie theatres were required by law to desegregate their seats regardless of the caste system or race.

    Mother India (1957) became one of the more famous movies in the Indian Social Realism movement, depicting the story of a woman struggling to raise her children on her own.

    3rd of December 1941, Delhi, India.

    Homi J. Bhabha arrived at the Presidential Residency with some good news for Gandhi. His scientific task force had made some major breakthroughs in the field of nuclear science. Bhabha entered Gandhi’s officed and greeted him: “Mr. President, I am honoured to be here again. I have come with some good news”. Gandhi was delighted and said: “It always amazes me how science pushes mankind to do great things.” Bhabha nodded and said: “We have figured out a way to generate energy from splitting the atom. We will need more funding though if we would want to build a power plant and provide a city with the energy of the future.” “Of course, Mr. Bhabha. I will personally see to it that you receive adequate resources for your project”, Gandhi said in response. Bhabha thanked the President for his support. The two visionaries continued talking about all kinds of topics, ranging from science to India’s education system.

    15th of January 1942, Calcutta, India.

    Over the past few years, fewer and fewer occasions presented itself between Gandhi and Mahadev to travel together. Mahadev’s agenda as Minister of Foreign Affairs often required him to travel abroad, while Gandhi was often tied to Delhi as President of the Republic. Today was one of those rare occasions when Gandhi and Mahadev were able to see each other again. Today marked the anniversary of the Constitution of the Bharatiya Commune and both men would attend the festivities in the former Commune’s capital in Calcutta. Gandhi and Mahadev marched through the streets, as they had done a long time ago during their election campaigns. Thousands of people had come from all over Bengal to be able to see India’s President. Not only Gandhi’s followers, but also his enemies. There were a lot of people who considered themselves as enemies of Gandhi and his government. Reactionary princes in the south, Muslim nationalists in the west, Hindu nationalists and frustrated socialists in the east. All these groups proved a possible danger for the Republic of India and its leaders. Today should have been a day of celebration, but it became a day of tragedy. As Gandhi and Mahadev were heading towards the Calcutta High Court, their group was suddenly held up. Confusion arose and Gandhi’s security guards spread out to clear the way and allow them to continue their path. In the confusion and with the guards being spread out, a man managed to get close to Gandhi and take a shot with a pistol. However, Mahadev had noticed the man and had pushed Gandhi out of the way and put himself between the gunman and the Mahatma. The man was quickly caught by the security guards, but the damage had been done. Mahadev collapsed as he was hit in the stomach and was bleeding out. Gandhi rushed towards his friend and held him in his arms. “Mahadev! Mahadev!” Gandhi shouted, “Mahadev, do not leave me! India needs you!” Mahadev stopped breathing. Gandhi’s friend had died. Sadness befell Gandhi, the celebrations were cancelled.

    A drawing of Mahadev Desai.
     
    Chapter XV: A Famine Prevented
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    Chapter XV: A Famine Prevented
    16th of January 1942 – 23rd of February 1943

    16th of January 1942, Calcutta, India.

    Gandhi was still shaken up by yesterday’s events. The image of Mahadev laying in his arms still occasionally flashed before the Mahatma’s eyes. Meanwhile, the police had opened an investigation into the assassination. The man that had shot and killed Mahadev was easily apprehended after the crime and was interrogated once ad the police station. His name was Nathuram Godse, a radical Hindu from the Bombay Province. Godse stated that he loathed Gandhi’s concessions to the Muslims and was angered by the fact that thousands of Indians died in the War of Southern Aggression. Godse also stated that the Muslims intentionally escalated violence in the wake of the war to be able to bring the majority Hindu population of the South into submission of the north, where Muslims already had cemented their rights into the Constitution. Of course this was all fake news and part of some false conspiracy, but nevertheless Godse truly believed his own lies. Further investigation would need to point out whether or not Godse was aided by one or more accomplices.

    Nathuram Godse, Mahadev Desai’s killer and India’s most hated man.

    25th of January 1942, Calcutta, India.

    After the police had searched Godse’s house, they found several notes and letters which pointed to the fact that the assassin was not working alone. The letters which were found didn’t include any names, but it was clear that Godse was being fed false information by the sender of these letters. Based on the language used, the police could set up a profile. They were looking for an educated man, aware of the inner workings of the government and aware of the security details of the infamous day. There were only a few people that fit that profile. One of which was a former general of the Commune’s army who didn’t pass through the commission to become a general in the Indian Army. They had found their suspect. Military police arrested the suspect, but before they could interrogate him, he collapsed on the floor and died.

    27th of July 1942, Delhi, India.

    Over half a year had passed since Gandhi lost his best friend and advisor, Mahadev Desai. With his death, India also lost its Minister of Foreign Affairs. Desai was replaced by Jawaharlal Nehru, a member of the former Moderate Party, in order to please the Moderates and work together to prevent more uprisings in Southern India and Bengal. Recent events, however, shook the entire Foreign Affairs administration in Delhi. In the last couple of weeks, the conflict between east and west escalated as Japan and Russia went to war with each other. NATO soon joined in on the war on Russia’s side. In Indonesia, previously a Condominium ruled by both Belgians and Germans, the Belgians, with the support of the Dutch officers in the Indonesian Colonial Army, took full control over the colony. The Indian and Pacific Oceans had soon turned into the battlefield of this new war. While India was still neutral, many feared that either Japan’s ambition of a Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere or NATO’s war effort would end India’s neutrality. To make matters worse, the Burma Road project that Gandhi had been working for was ended in an instance when Japanese bombers destroyed the Chinese construction camp that was connecting the road from Burma to China. Japanese submarines were rumoured to be roaming in the Indian Ocean and it was all hands on deck in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to avoid any and all conflict with Japan or NATO.

    Japanese subs were sometimes spotted all the way up to the Bay of Bengal.

    15th of August 1942, Delhi, India.

    A delegation of scientists from Bengal had arrived at the doorstep of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They had come with worrying news. Reports had come in from all over the Bay of Bengal that crops were affected by some kind of disease. Amrit Kaur, Minister of Internal Affairs, had set up an investigative commission to look into the matter. Heading the commission was palaeobotanist Birbal Sahni, one of India’s finest scientists. Now they had returned to report their findings. Birbal Sahni entered Kaur’s office and took some photographs out of his briefcase and put them in front of the Minister. “Minister, these pictures were taken on several locations across the Bengal region. Our samples included various crops including rice and wheat, two major components of the population’s diet. Our results are worrying to say the least”, Sahni said. Minister Kaur looked at several pictures and asked: “Is this some kind of disease on these plants?” “Indeed,” Sahni replied, “This is the so called brown spot disease and it has the potential to cause massive crop failures all across the Bay of Bengal. If the government doesn’t intervene, this might cause another big famine.” “What do you propose the government should do?” Kaur asked. “Well, first of all you should ensure that there is enough food in reserve in case a crop failure occurs. Second of all, the government should look into a possible cure for this disease to prevent future outbreaks”, Sahni replied. Kaur nodded and thanked the scientist for his report. This disease was certainly a concern for the Bengal region. With war raging between China and Japan, Burma’s rice exports to Bengal had been dropping due to the threat of Japanese submarines in the Indian Ocean. Transport over land was made difficult to bad weather conditions, but Gandhi’s Burma Road did help in getting some food across to Bengal. However, if the disease were to spread to Burma as well, Bengal and Burma would need to find another source of food.

    17th of October 1942, Calcutta, India.

    Yesterday, a cyclone had swept across the Bay of Bengal, bringing destruction to everything in its path. The cyclone proved devastating for agriculture in the whole region. Not only that, but plant material being swept up in the air currents contributed further to the spread of brown spot disease. Reports now also came in from Burma that their rice paddies were infected with the disease. To prevent panic from spreading across Bengal, Minister Amrit Kaur had personally travelled to Calcutta to deal with the situation in person. She had already requested Gandhi to relief funding and additional food supplies to prevent a famine from occurring. Food stamps were already being distributed to lessen the financial burden of the rising food prices in the Bengal region. Minister Kaur did everything in her power to prevent another famine from happening.

    The cyclone of October 1942 caused massive damage and flooded certain areas for several days.

    23rd of February 1943, Calcutta, India.

    Food transports came in day in, day out. Over the past few months, crop output in the region had dropped by 40% due to brown spot disease and destruction caused by heavy storms and a cyclone in October. On top of that came the Japanese threat. By now their empire stretched all the way across the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands. In southern and western direction, the Japanese had made major gains in China, while also occupying the whole of the Philippines. But overall, India succeeded in managing any threat of wide spread food shortages. For now, a famine was prevented. One could only imagine how many people would have died if the government hadn’t been so willing to spend its resources on this matter.

     
    Chapter XVI: The 1944 Elections
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    Chapter XVI: The 1944 Elections
    28th of June 1943 – 20th of August 1944

    28th of June 1943, Delhi, India.

    Homi J. Bhabha, who was leading India’s nuclear research team, entered President Gandhi’s office with good news. “Mr. President, I have come with great news. We have finally managed to create a reliable source of energy from splitting the atom. India can properly call itself a nuclear nation now”, Bhabha said. The Mahatma, looking out of his window at the city in the distance, smiled and said: “That is indeed great news, Mr. Bhabha. However I fear that the world could be in grave danger if your research were to fall into the wrong hands. Therefore I have sat together with my Military Intelligence advisor, Mr. Razak, and he has told me that with the Japanese at war, he has increasingly uncovered Japanese spies within our borders. I’m afraid that I will have to postpone electrifying India with nuclear reactors until the war is over. Until then, I will grant you enough funding and resources to construct a prototype of such a nuclear reactor in an undisclosed location, far away from any Japanese spies.” Bhabha at first looked disappointed, but with a hopeful vision towards the future he said: “One day our entire nation will be powered by clean nuclear energy and India will become a great power. Until then, I look forward to working towards that future.” Gandhi thanked the scientist and guided him towards the exit of the Presidential Palace.



    25th of September 1943, Calcutta, India.

    Election campaigns were already running hot, even though they were still over half a year away from now. Gandhi hated to admit it, but he himself had also taken upon the politicians’ habit of going on campaign rallies. Some might even say that his Satyagraha marches were nothing but political campaigns. Now that India was unified, Gandhi had to unify its people. Today, Gandhi and his entourage found themselves back at Calcutta. One would think that campaigning wasn’t needed in Calcutta, the heartland of the Socialist Party, but recent protests and even some attempted terrorist attacks tell a whole different story. Nevertheless, Gandhi found himself in a Catholic-run school in Entally in eastern Calcutta, one of the few remaining ones after more than ten years of syndicalist rule. He was greeted by a group of children and two nuns. Gandhi was introduced by what looked like the headmistress of the convent. The headmistress then went on to introduce her Sister: “This is Sister Teresa, she will be your guide for today.” Gandhi smiled and said: “It is a pleasure to meet you, Sister Teresa.” Sister Teresa smiled back and said: “Mr. President, it is an honour to be your guide today.” The headmistress left the two of them alone and Gandhi and Sister Teresa continued their conversation. Gandhi admired the Sisters for their work and said: “If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children. That is why the work that’s been done here is so important for India. These children are literally the future of our country and if they don’t know the importance of peace, then what kind of future will that be?” Sister Teresa agreed and said: “I agree. Peace begins as a smile. A seed that is being sown into a child’s wonderful mind. We teach them to be compassionate, to be kind to other people. And while not all of us can do great things, we can still do small things with great love.” Gandhi laughed and said: “Those are the words of a true saint.” Sister Teresa continued to speak about life in the convent and showed Gandhi the classrooms where the children were being schooled. When the moment came for Gandhi to leave again and head to his next stop, Sister Teresa had some final words to share with the President: “Remember, Mr. President, God doesn’t require us to succeed, he only requires that you try.” Gandhi thanked the Sister for sharing her wisdom with him. This day would forever remain in Teresa’s memory.

    Sister Teresa, or as we know her today: Mother Teresa.

    20th of May 1944.

    Once again, it was time for India to go to the voting stations. The world’s biggest democracy would once again elect its leadership for the coming four years. The country had changed a lot over the last few years. Gandhi’s Socialist Party has seen the emergence of a new rival on the left: the Syndicalist Party, which mainly centred itself around Calcutta and the workers who were disillusioned with Gandhi’s unified India. When the final results came in, many were surprised. The expected breakthrough of the Syndicalists did not arrive and the electorate hadn’t shifted that much compared to last elections. Political analysers contributed this to the fact that the government had successfully prevented a famine in the Bengal region. The Bombay Plan had also turned many voters from the All-India Social Democrats to the Socialist Party. At the same time, the Unionist Party ran out of things to blame on the Socialists, as no real scandals rocked the government between 1940 and 1944 and the assassination attempt on Gandhi and Mahadev’s death had only made the Socialists more popular. As a result, the Socialists had overtaken Jinnah’s All-India Social Democrats as largest party in Punjab, while coming close to overtaking the Unionists in Gujarat, which was considered as a real conservative stronghold. As expected, the southern tip of India remained under firm control of the Swaraj Party, while Ceylon’s independence movement managed to stay the biggest party on the island, but did not succeed in getting another seat.


    Syndicalist Party: 13(^13)
    Socialist Party: 201 (V18)
    All-India Social Democrats: 106 (V14)
    Swaraj Party: 118 (^4)
    Unionist Party: 97 (^15)
    Ceylon Independence Party: 10 (=)

    Largest party per Province.

    When it came to choosing a new cabinet, Gandhi preferred to keep the current formula. Don’t change what works, he thought. Amrit Kaur had shown what kind of skills she possesses in her efforts to prevent a famine from occurring in Bengal. Jawaharlal Nehru proved himself by keeping India neutral in the raging conflict between the Tripartite Powers and NATO and Gandhi considered Nehru as his most probable successor. Abdul Razak had been part of Gandhi’s inner circle ever since the preparations against Bose’s uprising. And because another party was still needed to form a majority in parliament, Jinnah’s All-India Social Democrats remained the best and most obvious choice. Jinnah himself would remain Premier, while his second man, Liaquat Ali Khan would remain Minister of Economy. And so India’s governing cabinet for the next four years was formed. Its main tasks would be to deal with the demands of the separatists in Ceylon, India’s place among the big powers and the use of nuclear energy to power the country.



    15th of June 1944, Colombo (Ceylon), India.

    Gandhi and Jinnah were visiting the island of Ceylon in an effort to pacify its population. But most importantly, they met with D.S. Senanayake, leader of the Ceylon Independence Party, to talk about a possible solution to the island’s separatist demands. Under India’s Constitution, Ceylon, as a Province, already had extensive autonomy rights, so for many politicians in mainland India the independence movement wasn’t fully understood. Gandhi was among those who didn’t understand the Ceylonese, but he had shown interest in their culture and their habits. For one, Ceylon was made up of not one but several ethnic groups. The biggest group were the Sinhalese people, followed by the Tamils. This ethnic diversity was one of the major driving forces behind the independence movement, as Tamils and Sinhalese alike could increase their power under an independent state. Another major factor was religion. While most of India was either Hindu or Muslim, Ceylon was mainly Buddhist. And while the rights of Muslims to participate in the central government were set in stone in the Constitution, Ceylon and its Buddhists felt abandoned because they had no such rights. Senanayake explained all these things to Gandhi and Jinnah. And while Gandhi understood their concerns, he could not afford to change the Constitution to include a minimum amount of Buddhists in the government, because then every minority religion would come knocking on Gandhi’s door to ask for a representation in government. Perhaps there was something else that Gandhi and Jinnah could give the Ceylonese to please them. Preferably something that wouldn’t act as a domino effect and make every Province into a semi-independent nation. Then Jinnah came up with an idea. The current political system of India was bicameral, with the Indian National Congress as the most important chamber because of the fact that it was directly elected by the people. The other chamber, the Indian Congress of Provinces, was modelled after the American Senate, with each Province having the same amount of representatives, but didn’t really hold much power. Jinnah proposed to give more control to the Congress of Provinces over things like finances and foreign affairs. Both Gandhi and Senanayake agreed with Jinnah’s proposal. Upon Gandhi and Jinnah’s return to Delhi, a difficult Constitutional change would await them.

    D.S. Senanayake, leader of the Ceylon Independence Movement.

    20th of August 1944, Delhi, India.

    A Constitutional Committee had approved Jinnah’s proposal several days ago and the Indian National Congress was expected to put it up to a vote today. Gandhi’s Socialists and Jinnah’s Social Democrats didn’t achieve a 2/3rd majority together, but the Swaraj Party and the Ceylon Independence Party were both supportive of the Constitutional change. With 435 votes in favour, 59 against and 51 abstains, the Constitutional Amendment passed and the next legislature of the Indian Congress of Provinces would hold more power. For now, the Ceylon Independence Party was tempered. There were even some rumours that a merger with another big party was in the making.​
     
    Chapter XVII: When Gandhi met Churchill
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    Chapter XVII: When Gandhi met Churchill
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    10th of January 1945 – 6th of December 1946

    10th of January 1945, London, Greater United Kingdom.

    Ever since 1941, restoration efforts in Britain coincided with large scale reforms of the GUK and the British Empire. Shortly after the end of the War of Homecoming, King Edward VIII and the Canadian government instated the British Reconstruction Authority with the goal of eliminating all traces of more than fifteen years of syndicalist rule. A short-lived civilian provisional government, led by Winston Churchill, oversaw the smooth return of the British aristocracy from Canada and called for General Elections in December 1941. Some politicians, particularly those on the far-right, advocated to ban any socialist party, even Labour, from running. Instead, the provisional government only banned candidates with official ties to the Union of Britain, allowing Labour to participate, yet as a somewhat amputated party. As a result, Winston Churchill and the Conservatives won a landslide victory, now controlling both the Canadian and the British government, with Churchill even being PM in both nations. On New Year’s Day of 1942, the Kingdom of Canada and the British Reconstruction Authority formally united under a federal Greater United Kingdom, allowing more funds to flow from Canada to Britain to help in the reconstruction effort. In the following years, Churchill worked hard to kickstart the British economy and simultaneously prevent syndicalist resistance. Especially small family businesses reaped the benefit from the sudden inflow of money. Churchill also attracted major Canadian and American corporations to invest in Britain’s destroyed infrastructure and industry. Within months, the heavily destroyed industry in North England was slowly being rebuilt. In the wake of the coming war with Germany, priority was given to the military industrial complex. Britain’s involvement in the war was fairly limited compared to Canadian, French and Belgian efforts and mainly focused on producing equipment for the soldiers on the front. In 1943, the British Reconstruction Authority was officially ended thanks to Churchill’s efforts, combined with regular anti-syndicalist broadcasts on the BBC and a slow economic revival. By 1945, several voices within the British Empire called for a new Imperial Conference with the prospect of strengthening and institutionalizing the ties between the dominions. But first, Churchill focused on finishing the war effort and on establishing a new international organisation. During the Tripartite War, prominent political leaders within NATO had advocated for the founding of an international peacekeeping organisation. Inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s political memoires, people like Winston Churchill and Quentin Roosevelt called for a “League of Nations” which united all nations in the world. As early as October 1943, during a conference in Moscow, the Greater UK, the US and Russia signed a declaration in preparation of the organisation. Eventually the new ideas made their way to India and Gandhi was excited for the idea. The years before the war were characterized by the total collapse of diplomatic relations between nations. Future historians would even call the early 20th century a second Thirty Years’ War. The world needed an international platform where diplomacy could prevail over war and violence. As it currently stood, Churchill, Roosevelt and Savinkov envisioned a United Nations where a council of the world’s most powerful countries would act as policemen. This ‘Security Council’ would consist of five permanent members, each with a right to veto, and ten non-permanent members. At the moment, Russia, the United States and the Greater United Kingdom would all hold a permanent seat. That left two spots up for discussion. Churchill had already made it clear that the Kingdom of France would also get a permanent seat. The US tried to get Brazil as a permanent member, but was opposed by Russia, who would much rather have France than Brazil, which was solidly in America’s sphere of influence. That left one spot open. Currently, both China and India could claim that position, as both had been invited on several occasions by the ‘Big Three’ to discuss the matter. Russia was leaning towards supporting China, as they were natural allies in the still ongoing war with Japan. But opposing ambitions of the two nations in East Asia could drive a wedge between Russia in China in the future. Gandhi expected that convincing Savinkov wouldn’t be that hard. Convincing Churchill on the other hand was a whole other matter. While on a state visit to the Greater United Kingdom, Gandhi would have the opportunity to talk to Churchill in person.


    Gandhi was quite popular among the working classes in London. His socialist policies were seen as a good alternative to the banned syndicalist ideology in Britain.

    Churchill was quite known for his opposition, some would even call it hatred, against Gandhi. Churchill famously opposed the Lucknow Summit. In his words, it “was alarming to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Viceregal Palace, while he is still organising and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience as leader of the Bengalese Syndicalists, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor”. Luckily for the Indians, it was Edward VIII who gave his approval to the talks and allowed Jinnah’s government to negotiate a deal with the Commune. When the final deal was made public, Churchill said that he was “against this surrender to Gandhi. I am against these conversations and agreements between Mr. Jinnah and Mr. Gandhi. Gandhi stands for the expulsion of Britain from India. Gandhi stands for the permanent exclusion of British trade from India. Gandhi stands for the substitution of Brahmin domination for British rule in India. You will never be able to come to terms with Gandhi". In the end, Churchill was wrong. Not only, because trade with Britain/Canada continued, but also because Gandhi chose for cooperation instead of conflict and confrontation with the British Empire. Gandhi was aware of Churchill’s opinion about him, but still wanted to arrange a meeting between the two statesmen. In a letter, Gandhi wrote: “Dear Prime Minister, You are reported to have a desire to crush the simple 'naked fakir' as you are said to have described me. I have been long trying to be a fakir and that naked - a more difficult task. I, therefore, regard the expression as a compliment though unintended. I approach you then as such and ask you to trust and use me for the sake of your people and mine and through them those of the world.” With much reluctance, Churchill accepted Gandhi’s request and invited him to his residency in Downing Street 10. Gandhi went to the meeting with an open mind. He knew that the only way to get Churchill on board was to show that India and its people weren’t the enemy of Britain and the Greater United Kingdom.

    “Prime Minister, it is a pleasure meeting you again”, Gandhi said, referring to their previous encounter in 1906 when Churchill was still undersecretary of state for the colonies and Gandhi was still a lawyer.

    Churchill mumbled something between his lips, which were holding his signature cigar in place: “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Gandhi. Never thought you would become a statesman.”

    Gandhi smiled and said: “Neither did I, but fate called upon me to unite the people of India.”

    Churchill laughed at that and said: “Leading a country is not just something that happens to you overnight. And excuse me for saying so, but the Indian nation does not exist. There is no such thing as a unified Indian people. I believe your elections results have made that quite clear.”

    Gandhi did his best to not be offended by that and said: “Naturally I must disagree. From North to South and East to West, wherever you go, you find the yearning for freedom.”

    “Yes, that yearning for freedom clearly showed itself when your government denied the right of Kashmir and Gujarat to secede and join the Deccan Federation”, Churchill replied.

    Gandhi was becoming quite annoyed, a rare occurrence, and said: “Look Prime Minister, I have not come to argue.”

    “Then why did you come?”, Churchill interjected.

    “I came here to discuss with you the future of peace,” Gandhi said, “This world needs an international organization to stand guarantee for non-violence. Prime Minister, I want you to know that India is your best guarantee for peace in Asia.”

    Churchill saw straight through Gandhi’s words and said: “You want India to have the fifth permanent seat in the Security Council, don’t you?”

    Gandhi sighed and said: “This is not just about that position. If you grant China the seat, I fear that peace will not prevail in our part of the world. Their rivalry with Japan over control of the East and South China Seas will not disappear with the impending Japanese defeat. And their rivalry with Russia over Eastern China and Mongolia will only grow bigger once the war ends. India is friendly with all its neighbours and is the best guarantee for a stable Security Council.”

    “Mr. Gandhi, I see your point, but once Japan is defeated, their quarrel with China will no longer be something that stands in the way of peace and stability. President Roosevelt and I agree on that”, Churchill said.

    “If I may be honest, Prime Minister, I think the President would much rather have a neutral India in the Security Council than a China who leans towards Russia”, Gandhi said.

    Churchill wasn’t convinced and replied: “Earlier, you just said that Russia and China had conflicting interests and now you say they’re in cahoots with each other. Mr. Gandhi, you need to make up your mind.”

    “Look, Prime Minister, Chinese foreign policy is as unpredictable as their Emperor,” Gandhi said, clearly annoyed by Churchill’s paternalistic tone, “What I’ve learned from the past couple of years is that if China had to make a choice between Russia and the West, they’d prefer going with the power that guarantees the survival of their political system. As long as the Emperor holds on to his autocratic powers, he has no interest in aligning China with a West that calls for universal democracy and protection of human rights. Russia, on the other hand, for the past ten or so years, is firmly under the control of an autocratic ruler who has shown no remorse in dealing with democratic opposition.”

    Churchill put out his cigar and looked at the Mahatma. “What guarantee do we have that India will be a reliable partner of the Greater United Kingdom going forward?”, the Prime Minister asked.

    Gandhi, finally pleased that Churchill decided to drop his aggressive tone, smiled and asked: “Prime Minister, can you tell me who NATO’s biggest supplier of steel is?”

    “I believe that must be India”, Churchill said kind of reluctantly.

    Gandhi smiled and said: “Exactly. I think it has been proven already that India and its people are mature enough to take up their role on the international stage. It is my understanding that the British Empire is planning to hold another Imperial Conference.”

    “Yes, that is correct”, Churchill said.

    “The agreements made in Lucknow meant that India was no longer a Dominion and therefore no longer part of the British Empire. However that doesn’t mean that India can’t be an observer state and maintain friendly relations with the Empire”, Gandhi explained.

    “You want India to be represented in the Imperial Conference?”, Churchill asked.

    The Mahatma nodded and said: “Yes, the Empire still has a lot to offer for India and India still has a lot to offer for the Empire. I think that there’s still plenty of deals to be made between our two nations.”

    Churchill lit another cigar and looked at Gandhi, briefly thinking about offering the Indian a glass of whiskey and a cigar of his own. “Mr. Gandhi, I think President Roosevelt and I will be delighted to meet you again in San Francisco in a couple of months,” Churchill said, “Until then I will consider your proposal regarding the Security Council and discuss it with the US President. Enjoy your stay in London and if you need anything, don’t hesitate to give my secretary a call.”

    And with that, Churchill said his goodbyes to the Mahatma. Gandhi left the Prime Minister’s residence with a smile on his face, while he was greeted by members of the British and Indian press, eager to know of what happened inside. If only they knew…


    The Mahatma Gandhi at Downing Street 10 in London, just after his meeting with Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

    24th of June 1945, San Francisco, United States of America.

    The idea of a League of Nations became tangible as invitations were sent around the world to attend the United Nations Conference on International Organizations in San Francisco. Gandhi and many other world leaders would personally meet and discuss the path of peace, while Germany had already capitulated and fighting still went on in East Asia. On the opening day Winston Churchill held a most iconic speech about the United Nations: “[…] We must make sure that its work is fruitful, that it is a reality and not a sham, that it is a force for action, and not merely a frothing of words, that it is a true temple of peace in which the shields of many nations can someday be hung up, and not merely a cockpit in a Tower of Babel. Before we cast away the solid assurances of national armaments for self-preservation we must be certain that our temple is built, not upon shifting sands or quagmires, but upon the rock. Anyone can see with his eyes open that our path will be difficult and also long, but if we persevere together as we did in the two recent wars, I cannot doubt that we shall achieve our common purpose in the end.” Churchill was welcomed by the people of San Francisco as a true herald of peace. Even though the city had been subject of a Canadian siege no less than ten years ago, hundreds of people came out to see the former Canadian and current British Prime Minister.


    Winston Churchill as he is being driven around San Francisco.

    The other true herald of peace in San Francisco at the time was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the President of the Republic of India. The Mahatma had chosen to personally attend the Conference in the United States. For Gandhi it was the first time that he visited the US and for many Americans, it was the first time that they could see the leader of an Asian country. For Gandhi, the Conference would not only be an occasion to celebrate peace and international cooperation, but also an occasion to lead India onto the international stage. His meeting with Churchill a few months ago had been quite productive, as he had received word that President Roosevelt was considering to back India instead of China and wished to meet the Mahatma in person.


    A huge crowd in San Francisco trying to get a glimpse of the Mahatma Gandhi.

    Quentin Roosevelt was the youngest President in US history, only 21 on the day of his election. As a grandson of President Teddy Roosevelt, Quentin was assisted by a whole team of political experts. While Roosevelt officially identified as a Progressive Republican, his Administration consisted of both Republicans and Democrats, in an effort to unite the nation after the bloody 2nd American Civil War. As a result, Quentin’s Vice-President was a Democrat; Robert Wagner and would remain so until his death in 1953. Today, two days before the final draft would be signed by 35 or so governments, the identity of the fifth member of the Security Council was still kept a secret. Secretly, Roosevelt, Churchill and Savinkov had already made a deal in the last couple of months. Instead of China, India would become the fifth and final permanent member of the Security Council. In return, the US would drop its request of having Brazil as a permanent member and Russia would be allowed to establish a puppet state in Korea. Roosevelt had invited Gandhi to a meeting to break the news to him. “President Gandhi, it is an honour to meet you here on this glorious occasion. I hope the Californian sun hasn’t been too harsh for you”, Quentin Roosevelt said. “The honour is all mine, Mr. President. And don’t worry about the sun, I’m used to a lot more tropical weather than this”, Gandhi replied. The two Presidents continued with their small talk for a while until Roosevelt moved on to the subject of the United Nations Conference: “President Gandhi, I think you will be pleased to know that we have agreed on India as the 5th permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. I hope that your nation is fully on board of our concept of policemen guarding the international peace.” Gandhi smiled and said: “I am very pleased with this news, Mr. President. India and its people will take up their role as guarantor of peace with pleasure and proudness.” Both Presidents continued to talk about the upcoming ceremony where the United Nations would be officially founded and its members would sign its Charter.


    The young President Quentin Roosevelt.

    26th of June 1945, San Francisco, United States of America.

    It was a momentous day for the international community. No less than 37 countries had sent representatives to San Francisco to sign the Charter of the United Nations. Never before in the history of mankind were so many people from so many different countries present in one room. If one were to take a group photo of this moment, one could spot the Presidents of India and America, the Prime Minister of Britain and delegations from East Africa, Arabia, China and many other non-Western nations. The ceremony, held in the Veterans’ War Memorial Building, took several hours, as delegations from all participating countries were each called to the front to sign the Charter. After everyone signed, US President Quentin Roosevelt closed the ceremony with a speech in which he addressed the world. The United Nations was officially founded and Gandhi’s India had a major role to play in it.


    L. S. St. Laurent, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, signing the UN Charter.


    The UN at the moment of its founding: founding members in light blue, protectorates and territories of the founding members in dark blue. Permanent members of the Security Council have the UN logo on the map (USA, GUK, France, Russia and India).

    3rd of September 1945, Delhi, India.

    Gandhi had just read the report from his delegation at the Imperial Conference in London. It looked like London and Ottawa had extended their influence across their former Empire. The old British Empire became officially known as the Imperial Commonwealth, with the Greater United Kingdom (and its African colonies), the Caribbean Federation, the South African Federation and the Australasian Confederation all being founding members, while India remains on the side line as an observer member. With the formation of this Imperial Commonwealth also came the creation of several supranational governing bodies. One of those was the Imperial Marketing Board, tasked with coordinating the overall economy and trade within the Commonwealth. One of its first policies was working towards a monetary union. The founding members of the Commonwealth all agreed on having a common currency by 1960. This monetary union would become known as the Sterling Area and would later serve as an inspiration and an example for the Eurozone. India chose to remain out of the Sterling Area, for obvious reasons. Having control over their own monetary policy was a powerful tool for the Indian government, one they wouldn’t want to give to bureaucrats in London or Ottawa. In the Final Declaration of the Imperial Conference, the GUK, Australasia, the Caribbean Federation and South Africa all agreed to the so called system of Imperial Preference; prioritizing internal Commonwealth trade over external trade. Due to India’s observer state, however, an exception was made towards the Asian country, to insure the survival of the already quite extensive trade networks between India and the Commonwealth.


    Supranational organisations founded in the 1940s. In red: Imperial Commonwealth (observer states in pink and colonies in greyish red), in blue: European Organization for Peace and Reconstruction (°1946) which would later become the Western European Union (°1955) (colonies in greyish blue).

    6th of December 1946, Saigon, Deutsch Ostasien.

    The first real challenge for the young United Nations Organization came from South-East Asia, where a remnant of the German Empire still remained untouched. Deutsch Ostasien was a curious case in history. After the French defeat in the First Weltkrieg, French Indochina was handed over to Germany and was combined with the German Pacific colonies into Deutsch Ostasien. During the 1920s, a violent uprising led by Ho Chi Minh tried to throw out the Germans, but without any success and resulting only in the death of Ho Chi Minh. Civil unrest, however, didn’t stop there and in several places, a guerrilla warfare continued. This constant unrest resulted to the fact that Deutsch Ostasien never officially joined the war against NATO or China. However, Siam and (Belgo-Dutch) Indonesia did seize some territory during the war, when another violent revolution broke out against German rule. With the war now fully over, the various factions in Indochina have organized themselves and are looking for foreign support. While the southern part of Indochina remains firmly under control of the German Imperial remnant, the northern part has declared itself independent as the Democratic Republic of Indochina, in reality a syndicalist state. Both sides are relatively isolated, with the Germans hoping to get Russian support for a German/Prussian led puppet state in the region. The DRI on the other hand is looking towards India for support and volunteers. In the meantime, China has proposed a resolution to the UN, asking for an intervention in Indochina which would allow the Chinese to set up their own puppet government. Gandhi was quite annoyed with the whole situation. There was no real incentive on both sides of the conflict to negotiate over a peace deal. Besides, NATO would much rather see the Germans entirely gone from the region. But NATO also didn’t want another syndicalist government coming to power, fearing the consequences for their own rule in Africa. The current situation in the UN looked as following: the US, GUK and France would all support an intervention in Indochina, but only on the condition that a NATO-led invasion would be initiated from the south, to prevent the syndicalists from gaining territory in the region. Meanwhile, the Chinese would be allowed to invade from the north to get rid of the syndicalists. Russia, however, did not want Indochina to fall in either China’s or NATO’s sphere of influence and decided to veto the resolution. As a result, the UN stood by powerless while the US Congress and the Imperial Council of the Commonwealth agreed to provide equipment to non-syndicalist rebels in Indochina. Gandhi, already quite old and tired at this point, allowed official Indian support to the DRI by approving the transport of equipment to Hanoi through Burma.


    The Indochinese War would last from 1945 to 1973, when German diplomat Heinz Kissinger and Indochinese President Thich Nhat Hanh signed the Berlin Agreement, where the Federal Republic of Germany would repatriate soldiers who fought for the Imperial remnant, but allowed Indochina to trial leaders and generals who led the remnant during the war.

    ----------
    And with this chapter, we have come at the end of this AAR, unfortunately. But do not fear, I still have an epilogue for you guys and some 'Post-Credit Scenes' hinting at future events for this timeline. I will also release a short-story set in this universe this week or the next one. Hope you will all enjoy it!​
     
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    Epilogue: A Peaceful Ending at Midnight
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    Epilogue: A Peaceful Ending at Midnight

    Just before the 1948 elections, Gandhi announced that he wouldn’t run for a fourth term as President of India. And on the 11th of September 1948, a month before the elections, Premier Mohammed Ali Jinnah passed away. Liaquat Ali Khan briefly took over the office of Premier. The 1948 elections brought fresh blood in the Socialist Party and the All-India Social Democrats. The Socialist Party continued to lose seats, but remained the biggest party. Together, the Socialists and Social Democrats managed to keep their majority, albeit narrowly. Jawaharlal Nehru became India’s new President, while Liaquat Ali Khan once again took on the role of Premier. The Syndicalist Party continued to grow and became the second biggest party in Bengal. The Ceylon Independence Party had formed a new party with some southern members of the Swaraj Party to form the Tamil National Alliance. Their success remained isolated to Ceylon and Madras. The Unionist Party saw a revival, becoming the biggest party in Gujarat, Rajputana and Jammu & Kashmir. In Punjab, the Social Democrats once again took over from the Socialists.



    Indian National Congress:
    Syndicalist Party: 26 (^13)
    Socialist Party: 181 (V20)
    All-India Social Democrats: 113 (^7)
    Swaraj Party: 68 (V50)
    Unionist Party: 103 (^6)
    Tamil National Alliance: 54 (^44)

    On the 24th of June 1949, Gandhi passed away in his sleep, leaving behind a nation in mourning. Gandhi and Jinnah left a big stamp on India. Both founding fathers played a major role in bringing the Muslims and Hindus of India together. Until the 1970s, the tradition that India’s President was a Hindu and the Premier was a Muslim remained in place. It was only during Indira Gandhi’s last years as President that the position of Premier was filled by a Hindu, J.R.D. Tata. The Socialist Party remained the biggest party in India until the 1970s and between 1952 and 1964, the Socialists even managed to form a majority of their own, with Nehru as President and Abdul Razak as Premier. The hegemony of the Socialist Party lasted until the election of 1977, when both the All-India Social Democrats of Tata and the Swaraj Party of Morarji Desai had major gains in northern India and Bengal. Also in the 1970s, tensions between mainland India and Ceylon escalated over fishing disputes. A strong separatist movement exists until today, with some radicals even turning to terrorism to achieve their goals. More recently, India has been experiencing increasing violence between Hindus and Muslims, particularly in the region bordering Afghanistan. Terrorist attacks by radical Islamists, driven by the ideal of an independent Muslim caliphate in the region, threaten to destabilize the unity of India, while nationalist Hindus want to rid India of any Islamic influences. India will need strong leaders again to unite both faiths within the nation, like Gandhi and Jinnah had done before.


    Gandhi’s funeral in Delhi was attended by thousands of Indians of both Hindu and Muslim faith.

    Gandhi is one of those people in history who many look upon with great respect. Nevertheless, in some circles Gandhi is a very controversial or even hated person. For example, far-left historians of the 1960s regard Gandhi as a traitor to syndicalism, mirroring the Syndicalist Party of the 1940s or even Bose in the 1930s. They argue that the Mahatma did not hesitate for a moment to ban several syndicalist factions to participate in the elections of 1940 in accordance to the accords at Lucknow. They also argue that Gandhi did nothing to support other syndicalist nations such as the CSA or the Commune of France in their effort to defend their sovereignty. Others say however that Gandhi acted quick in taking Burma under the Commune’s protection. Another issue where Gandhi felt short according to some circles was his loyalty to non-violence. Some argue that Gandhi only applied non-violence when it was most useful to his cause. They point to the ultimatums to Nepal and Bhutan and the escalation of war with the Deccan Federation to prove that Gandhi wasn’t afraid to threat other countries with violence to achieve the unification of India. Defenders of Gandhi say that this was never a deliberate tactic. They say that Gandhi never would have ordered an actual war. They praise Gandhi for succeeding in keeping casualties low on the Commune’s side of the Maximist uprising, but forget to mention the high amount of deaths in the war with the Deccan Federation. They also point to Gandhi’s role in founding the United Nations after the Tripartite War and setting up India to be a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War. Critics of Gandhi pose that by moving forward as a neutral nation, Gandhi has limited India’s ability to build its own sphere of influence. While it is true that India never had the same influence as Russia, the Greater United Kingdom or the US, some countries still heavily relied on India. Burma and Oman for example explicitly asked the Indian government for international protection.


    British Prime Minister David Cameron reveals a new statue of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in London.

    More recent economists criticize Gandhi for his narrow view on economics. The Mahatma never sought to industrialize the Indian subcontinent. Gandhi’s economic policy was aimed at self-sufficiency and not at becoming a major exporting country. But Gandhi’s policies also improved the income of local producers as most resources were available for factories instead of exported for foreign businesses. Economists today see this as the reason why it took another ten years to industrialize centres as Delhi and Calcutta and why India has not industrialized at the same pace as China has, although they often forget to mention the role that Tata’s steel industry played in NATO’s war effort. Environmentalists praise Gandhi however for his economic policies. In Gandhi’s self-reliance, they saw restraint: produce enough for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed. It is true that India differs today from the US, Europe and China. Whereas the West and China are typical capitalist societies known for overproduction and a focus on exports, India imports only what it needs and produces rarely more than its population needs. However, due to the size of India’s population, the country still produces massive amounts of goods. In more recent decades, India has also become known for ‘exporting’ its people as cheap labour or as IT-specialists. Gandhi’s interest in nuclear energy further strengthens environmentalists in their beliefs. Gandhi took the first step in human history to move away from fossil fuels and move towards more carbon neutral ways of providing energy. There are however those who say that nuclear energy is as polluting as fossil fuels. They put Gandhi in the long list of culprits of the nuclear catastrophe in Finland, the fallout of which will probably last for another century.


    Finland’s Loviisa Nuclear Power Plant after the nuclear disaster in 1986.

    Post-Credit Scenes
    Paris, France, 3rd of March 1940

    The Belgian Army had to move quickly. German High Command was on its way to claim the most valuable pieces of art in the Louvre. Soldiers and museum employees did everything they could to hide the most prestigious works of art. In return for the help the Belgians provided, they would get their stolen artwork back. Finally, after a hundred years, the art stolen by Napoleon during the French Revolution would return to its rightful place. Sure the Germans would be angry, but these were the explicit orders of King Albert: “Return as much Belgian art as possible and keep as much French art out of German hands.” After a few hours of hard work, most of the Belgian art was already on its way to Brussels, while the walls of the Louvre were empty except for a few minor works. The most important works were safely stored in catacombs underneath the museum. Only a few people knew of their existence. The Germans would not find them and the French art was safe for the rest of the war. Around midnight, Jacques Pirenne arrived. Pirenne was one of the most trusted advisors of the King. He came with a special task: find the Golden Fleece.

    SHAPE, Mons, Belgium, 5th of May 2012

    “Are you familiar with the Mandela Effect, Mr Meunier?” the Intelligence Officer asked. Leopold Meunier shook his head. “The Mandela Effect is named after Nelson Mandela, a South African revolutionary who died in prison in 1983, yet many people seem to ‘remember’ he survived prison and became president of South Africa. According to the pseudoscientific community, these false memories prove the existence of multiple alternate realities." Meunier shook his head in disbelief. Alternate realities? And he thought he had seen everything...
     
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