Every now and then I enjoy looking through old student newspapers and literary magazines to see what issues students were talking about in times past. Consideringt he current economic situation, I was looking through some Depression-era Old Gold and Blacks to see if I could find student commentary on the Great Depression. Instead, I found an article about the International Relations Club meeting of February 1, 1932 where the students discussed the situation in India. At the time, India was still a British possession, but the Indians were struggling for independence. The IRC was a high-level group of specifically-selected students – you had to be invited to join, my predecessor, Herbert Hucks used to tell me. The article jumped out at me for another reason, as it mentions Mahatma Ghandi, who was in the news recently as some of his personal artifacts were just sold at an auction. Here's some excerpts from the story.
The International Relations Club held its regular bi-weekly meeting in the club room Monday night, February 1, at 8:30. The topic for discussion was "India's Move Toward Independence." It was ably presented by C. H. Watson. H. S. Ackerman enlightened the group by giving a brief resume of current events. After the scheduled program there was a round table discussion of the Japanese conflict and America's attitude toward war.
In his discussion of the affairs as they now stand in India, Mr. Watson began by stating that, "The present time finds India in a state of passive resistance. Mahatma Ghandi and several others are in jail due to their recommendation to their people to resist passvely the British government. The followers of Ghandi have fallen back upon the idea of a peaceful picketing to harass the British police, and have indulged in many acts of non-violence to irritate the growing wound in relations with India. In spite of the fact that England has passed a law providing for a heavy penalty for peaceful picketing, AP dispatches from Bombay declare that India women continue to station themselves outside stores and shops and try to keep the public from buying British goods. The dispatch goes on to say that scores have been arrested but there seems to be an unending line ready to take their places. The financial situation of the government seemed to be growing worse, due to the added expense caused by execution of new measures, wholesale arrests, and great expenditures entailed by other activities. "It is not unlikely that the whole of Britain will soon awake to the fact that Ghandi is much more influential in a Bombay prison than he is on the outside."
The article concludes with this assessment: "Indian affairs are darker than they have been for some time. The constitution of 1919, under which India is ruled, was to have been revived after ten years. The two countries can come to no understanding. India is too disunited to force her desires on England, and England deems India entirely too disunited for home rule such as Ireland and Canada have, much less complete independence. She is torn by internal strife and tantalized by British rule from without. India's hopes lie only in the brilliant mind and simple personality of Mahatma Ghandi."
The meeting concluded with discussion of Japanese incursions into China and American protests against those events. A few domestic issues were discussed – floods in Louisiana and the agreement by railroad workers to wage cuts.
It's a treat to find discussions of world events in these old student newspapers and to see that students had formed a club to share ideas about the world. I wouldn't mind seeing something like this revived on the campus today.