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60 Note by Mackay of interview with Nehru

NEW DELHI, 24 May 1948


Mr. Nehru said that he wished to speak to me about the attitude of
India towards Great Britain and the other nations in the
Commonwealth, and the question of India remaining within the

He recalled that about 18 months ago, when the Constituent
Assembly first met, the very first resolution was to the effect
that India in future should become an independent republic. Later,
this was changed to a democratic republic. In the past there had
been a very considerable amount of feeling on this question and
for a long time Indians had had uppermost in their minds the time
when the change as indicated in this resolution might be brought
about. He wanted, however, to tell me what he and a number of
others thought desirable, but it would require a good deal of
working up to bring about these views. He thought that it would
not be possible ever to change the republican idea because the
introduction of such a proposal would arouse passions as in the
past. It might be possible, however, for India to become a
republic and yet maintain her position within the British
Commonwealth of Nations. For many reasons it was very desirable
that she should not sever her ties with the Commonwealth entirely
as Burma had done but, if for nothing more than selfish reasons,
it would suit India to continue the ties which had been forged,
especially with the United Kingdom. He thought that it might be
possible to have some kind of dual nationality in which each one
of the members of the Commonwealth would retain its own
nationality and for other purposes have a kind of Commonwealth
nationality. This idea would have to be worked up by the lawyers,
but he thought it should be possible to accomplish something in
this direction.

In answer to my question, he said that there was no foundation
whatsoever in the rumour that Mr. K. Menon, High Commissioner in
the United Kingdom had just come to Delhi to be present when the
decision was taken about India remaining in the Commonwealth. He
thought, however, that the question would probably be settled
within 4 or 5 months and in fairness to the United Kingdom and the
other Dominions, as well as the Indian people, it should be
settled as early as possible and certainly before the first
general election would be held in India. In answer to the High
Commissioner, Mr. Nehru said that any decision reached by Pakistan
on the question of remaining within the Commonwealth or not would
not influence the Indian Union, which would make its own decision
regardless of anything Pakistan might do.

Mr. Nehru requested the High Commissioner to present his best
respects to the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. Chifley, and to
the Minister for External Affairs, Dr. Evatt.

Later, in conversation with Sir Girja Bajpai, Secretary-General of
the Department of External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations, Sir
Girja remarked that Mr. Nehru's idea of a kind of dual nationality
was somewhat the same as the idea Mr. Churchill [1] had in mind in
1940 when he made an offer to France that that country should join
in with Great Britain in a common nationality.

[AA: A5009/2, A7/9, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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