The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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BOSTONPrime Minister Nehru of India has received endorsement from his parliament after making what for him must have been a very difficult speech. Even to contemplate India's becoming a "nation in arms" must be painful to the Prime Minister, particularly when he is obliged to do so because of Chinese aggression. He has always worked for goodwill with China, whether Communist or non-Communist, and the situation must be a sad one. But he has now won parliament's consent for a stand which commits India to the defense of Nepal.

To have these two nations at war is a terrifying prospect, and one can only hope that something will occur to change the Communist Chinese policy. Realistically, however, one must concede that Communist China is the only nation in the world today which has virtually nothing to lose by going to war. They can afford to lose men; in fact, to reduce their population is one of the things they would like to do. In addition, they probably have enough manpower to carry on whatever other work is needed or going forward at the present time.

The more modernized their industry becomes, the more difficult becomes China's economic problem. For many years they have used manpower where the rest of the world uses machinery. Now, with the aid of the Soviet Union, they are becoming mechanized, and this must pose a problem of what to do with the people.

Land holdings in China have long been very small. This was brought home to me on one occasion while driving with a Chinese National through our rolling Dutchess County countryside. "This country is like China, only it is so empty," he said to me. "In our country, this whole hill would be cut up into little fields and a family would live on each field." His words gave me a picture of what the population of China really meant; and it is increasing, of course, by leaps and bounds. I have heard they are thinking of using birth control in China; but that will be extremely difficult, since the population is largely illiterate. I do not know whether there are any religious difficulties in the way, but I do not suppose that would greatly matter in a Communist country. At the same time, I cannot help believing that it is more difficult to do away with religious feeling in China than it would be in the Soviet Union. Religion is so tied in with the whole family pattern that it would almost be like wiping out the whole family life and the traditions of both past and future.

China, not being a member of the U. N., thumbs her nose at the rest of the world. She is probably not even aware of what outside sentiment might be about anything she chose to do. All these considerations make the situation very difficult and serious, and one hopes that Mr. Nehru's great goodwill may somehow reach the conscience of the Chinese leaders.

The other evening I went to see Bernard Shaw's comedy, "Heartbreak House," which has a most distinguished cast headed by Maurice Evans. It seems as though the dialogue of any Shaw play has more meat in it and gives you more to think about than the average modern play. In any case, it was for me a delightful evening, and I congratulate the producers.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 30, 1959

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.