Return To India – 1960

Return To India – 1960

It isn’t easy to return to India after a twenty-year absence. So much has happened and so much changed. There is a whole new generation that has known freedom since 1947. What will it be like? Will one find the spirit of national sacrifice and struggle, so striking to a young socialist in 1940, still alive in the country?

And one’s old friends? What will they have to say of this new India? Will the inevitable disappointments of 13 years of independence have left its mark upon them?

Flying all day over the enormous stretch of barren land extending from Turkey up to the western borders of India only adds to these apprehensions. It is a relief to reach the airport near Delhi. The warm, humid air of the monsoon evening is familiar. Clouds, mist and fog swirl about as we pass from plane to airport in the pitch blackness of the Indian night. During the next two months there will be barely a glimpse of the sun during the day; fortunately, since the monsoon days range between 90 and 100 degrees even without sun.

Friends, Indian socialists, have come to meet me with the warm welcome extended everywhere in this country. Before long, at the home of P., we are in our first discussion: questions, news, arrangements for my trip. Remarks are dropped which indicate a certain air of disenchantment with both country and government; but then Indians are well known for their skeptical outlook on things in general; I will wait and see. On the apartment balcony facing New Delhi’s Connaught Circus I watch a breathtaking sight—Indians on the move, going constantly from place to place no matter what the hour—on foot, in buses, on bicycles or motorcycles, taxis and large motorcycle drawn carriages, or even ton gas pulled by horses. One is overwhelmed by the sheer sense of people.