INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 160 (5/4/1946)

This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: INR 160).


I. "THE CABINET MISSION ARRIVES IN INDIA". The Cabinet Mission arrive to try and break the political deadlock in India. The group is made up of Lord Patrick Lawrence, Sir Stafford Cripps and Mr. A.V. Alexander. II. "AUSTRALIA RUSHES FOOD TO INDIA". The Australian Wheat Board is organising seventeen ships to transport wheat to India in an effort to relieve severe shortages. III. "THE CALCUTTA UNIVERSITY CONVOCATION". The annual Convocation of the University is held at the Science College with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as its guest of honour. IV. "PANDIT NEHRU'S BIG RECEPTION IN MALAYA". Scenes of wild rejoicing mark his tour through the streets of Singapore. V. "BANGKOK ON FIRE". Dramatic pictures of a disastrous fire which lit the sky over Bangkok as it spread to the business district and gutted the silver market.



The opening item within Indian News Parade 160 introduces the three members of the Cabinet Mission on their arrival at Karachi Airport on 23 March 1946. Sir Stafford Cripps, who, in an attempt to secure Indian cooperation for the war, had famously travelled to India in March 1942 with a series of proposals, was in many respects the dominant figure behind the mission. He had continued to advocate a more conciliatory approach towards India, and after helping to secure support for the Parliamentary delegation in January 1946, had attempted unsuccessfully to convince Attlee to summon Jinnah and Nehru for talks in London. Instead, it was proposed that a delegation of three cabinet ministers, including Cripps, should visit India ‘with a wide brief to achieve a mutually agreed settlement’. Cripps was joined on the trip by Lord Pethwick-Lawrence, Secretary of State for India, and Albert Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty under both Churchill and Attlee, who was described by Wavell as ‘the very best type of British Labour, the best we breed’ (Clarke, 2008, 427, 428).

Attlee announced plans for the mission on 19 February, at a moment of heightened tension within India (The Times, 20 February 1946, 4). The previous day had witnessed the start of the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny, while the elections early in 1946 emphasised the clearly delineated popular support enjoyed by both the Muslim League and Congress. Furthermore, the decreasing British presence in India – only five hundred British policemen and five hundred civil servants remained, while the ratio of British to Indian troops also fell dramatically – raised fears that the British would be unable to quell any further civil unrest (Brendon, 2007, 402). Indian News Parade certainly noted the importance of the mission, concluding in the following issue that the problems facing India ‘can only be solved if the mission proves itself a success. If it doesn’t it will mean chaos for our people’. The mission’s progress was extensively covered in each of the News Parade’s final four issues.

On arrival at Karachi, the members of the Cabinet Mission reiterated that it was their intention to grant independence to India. Lord Pethwick-Lawrence told reporters that ‘India is on the threshold of a very great future. The British Government and the British people desire, without reservation, to consummate the promises and pledges that have been made’. ‘The precise road towards the final structure of India’s independence is not yet clear’, he added, ‘but let the vision of it inspire us all in our renewed efforts to find a path of cooperation’. Cripps was also asked here for his views on Pakistan. ‘We have not come with any set views’, he stated, ‘we are here to investigate and inquire’ (Wolpert, 2006, 100, 101). On arriving in Delhi, Cripps further stated that ‘we want to give independence to India as quickly and as smoothly as we can’ (Clarke, 2008, 431).

The second item addresses famine in India and shows the efforts of the Australian Wheat Board in shipping wheat to the country. In February, the Australian Prime Minister, Ben Chifley, announced, after a plea from the Indian High Commission, that Australia would do ‘everything possible to send 150,000 tons of wheat before the end of next month to help to avert famine in India’ (The Times, 16 February 1946, 3). In February, the Food Department of India requested four million tons of grain, ultimately receiving 2.5 million over the year (Perkins, 1997, 172).

The next two items feature Jawaharlal Nehru, delivering his convocation address at Calcutta University on 9 March and then visiting Singapore, where he first met the Mountbattens, nine days later. The British administration had initially intended largely to ignore Nehru’s visit, and against a backdrop of riots and strikes, there were fears that the visit could lead to widespread unrest and general mutiny. Yet, Mountbatten welcomed Nehru and afforded him a lavish reception (Tharoor, 2003, 137). While in Malaya, Nehru spoke of the need for Indians to fight for independence in their adopted homeland and explained that he had been sent by the Indian Congress to assure them of assistance. He also helped secure the release of prominent INA prisoners, such as John Thivy, who was inspired by Nehru to form the Malaysian Indian Congress. 



The final four issues of Indian News Parade feature extensive coverage of the Cabinet Mission and emphasise the historical significance of the trip, as the commentator refers here to the ‘historic talks which will mould India’s destiny’. As with many of these later issues, which were produced at a moment when the newsreel’s future was in serious doubt, the commentator highlights the role of Indian News Parade in recording these events. He announces that ‘Indian News Parade introduces…’ the members of the mission, while the final item similarly begins by stating that ‘News Parade brings you dramatic pictures of a disastrous fire’. Although the report on the Cabinet Mission noted that Cripps had ‘visited India before’, it makes no other reference to the Cripps Mission and his earlier failed attempt at a resolution.

The issue also directly addresses the impending famine within India. In contrast – and perhaps response – to the newsreel’s earlier treatment of the Bengal famine, which underplayed the extent of the problem, here the commentator acknowledges that the Australian Wheat Board is ‘fully conscious of the famine which is staring us in the face’. As in its earlier treatment of the Bengal famine, the newsreel again highlights the imperial response to the problem (as opposed to the causes), illustrating the ‘all-out effort’ that Australia is making. The film shows footage from Australia of farmers and factory workers, emphasising their hard work – ‘working three shifts’ – and urgency. As a film intended for Indian audiences, it shows an acknowledgment and direct response to the food shortage, and furthermore emphasises the importance of the Commonwealth. A further update on the food shortage in the next issue, showing ships from Australia and Canada bringing wheat, concludes by stating that ‘despite the food shortage, the Dominions are mobilising to help India in her fight for food’. This sense of collaboration and imperial unity is also apparent in the final item, which highlights the response from Indian and British soldiers to the fire in Bangkok. While the event may have been included primarily because it provided some dramatic footage, the commentary prioritises the ‘valuable support from Indian and British soldiers’, concluding that ‘Bangkok has cause to be grateful to the soldiers’. These items emphasise the importance of Commonwealth relations and, when related to Cripps’ visit, may be understood as a way of imagining a future of economic and ‘helpful’ cooperation beyond independence.

The newsreel is also notable for its representation of Nehru, who is celebrated as an Indian statesman and leader in two items. First, his appearance at the Calcutta University convocation serves to highlight the impending changes in India, noting once more that ‘youth was preparing for the tasks that lay ahead’. His tour of Malaya presents Nehru on an international stage, and emphasises the popular support he enjoyed overseas. The commentator states that ‘he was mobbed by thousands of Singapore’s enthusiastic Indian residents’, while he toured streets ‘lined with cheering civilians and Indian troops’. The film highlights the ‘wild rejoicing’ and ‘cheers and patriotic slogans’ that followed him, but also positions Nehru within the British establishment as he is greeted and accompanied by Mountbatten. This association serves here to downplay the anti-British sentiments within Malaya, as the film does not directly address Nehru’s political views or broader claims for Malaya, but instead shows his support and concern for Indians overseas.

Tom Rice (March 2009)


Works Cited

Brendon, Piers, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781 – 1997 (London: Jonathan Cape, 2007).

Clarke, Peter, The Last Thousand Days of the British Empire: The Demise of a Superpower, 1944-1947 (London: Penguin, 2008).

Perkins, John, Geopolitics and the Green Revolution: Wheat, Genes and the Cold War (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).

Tharoor, Shashi, Nehru: The Invention of India (New York: Arcade Publishing, 2003)

‘News in Brief’, The Times, 18 February 1946, 3.

‘Cabinet Mission For India: Three Ministers To Act With Viceroy’, The Times, 20 February 1946, 4.

Wolpert, Stanley, Shameful Fight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).



  • INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 160 (5/4/1946)
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Production Credits

Production Countries:
GB, India
Department of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India
Moylan, William J (FRGS, FRSA)
Moylan, William J (FRGS, FRSA)







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