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ARTICLES > ECONOMICS > Gandhian Way Inevitable
Gandhian Way Inevitable
J. B. Kripalani
Gandhi left us with a fairly comprehensive and co-ordinated programme, to be worked out after Independence, for the reconstruction of the country and the establishment of a social order, where exploitation, social, economic and political, will be progressively reduced to the minimum. The various schemes devised in the light of that programme were accepted by the Congress and worked directly by it or though the various autonomous organisations it created. Naturally, before Independence, the schemes accepted had to be developed under the handicap of foreign domination, with inadequate power, funds and other resources. They could, therefore, be only of an experimental and pioneering nature. But it was expected that the scope of the work done would be extended with the achievement of Independence when adequate power, funds and other resources would be available.
In the social field, Gandhiji paved the way for the total elimination of the most inhuman and degrading, institution of untouchability. He also taught the nation to ignore caste distinctions in public life. For Hindu-Muslim unity, he laid down his own life. By inviting women to participate equally with men in the non-violent national struggle for Independence and shoulder its burdens and sacrifices, Gandhiji guaranteed to them perfect equality with men, the fruits of which they are enjoying in ample measure today. No position in the public life of the country, however exalted, is denied to them. Women occupy positions as Governors, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and members of various legislatures. The diplomatic service is open to them. They lead political parties. They are on government -appointed commissions and committees. They are in the administrative, educational and India and their recent advent in public life, the positions they occupy are more important and higher than those occupied by their sisters in other modern countries. Direct from the seclusion of the home and the 'purdah' Indian women have come to occupy positions of trust and responsibility in the public life of the county. Various other things, such as development of a greater social sense, individual and public hygiene, dignity of physical labour, simplicity in food and dress, elimination of drink and drug evils etc., were introduced in the country by Gandhiji or received a great fillip from him.
In industry, in the present mechanical age, Gandhiji conceived the revolutionary ideas of decentralisation and regional self-sufficiency. He, as it were, instinctively felt that the economic life of a backward country like India, whose commerce and industry bad been ruined through a century and a half of foreign domination, with a large and growing population, could not be strengthened unless opportunities were created for extensive employment. This would not be possible through centralized and mecheanised big industry, with a market which will necessarily be confined to India. Mechanisation in industry is introduced to save human labour, which is dearer. India does not need to save human labour but to utilise it for productive purposed. Gandhiji began pioneer work in this direction by reviving Khandi and village industry.
All industry capable of decentralisation was to be decentralised and worked by hand or electric power supplied to the villager. Such mechanised industries as could not be decentralised but were necessary for national security and prosperity, were to be socialised or nationalised. But the key-note of industrial revival was to be decentralisation and non-exploitation of the worker. All industry, decentralised or centralised, was to be protected through the cultivation of the habit of Swadeshi.
In the labour field, Gandhiji wanted the fixing of a minimum wage need for the essential requirements of life. Wages were to be periodically readjusted to the price structure. The labour movement must be kept free from party politics.
In internal politics, India must be a democracy with equal opportunities and responsibilities for all citizens, irrespective of religion, creed, caste or race. This democracy should be built up from below. A group of villages or any other convenient unit was to be organised into a semi-autonomous republic with its elected panchayat, transacting all necessary local business. Centralised democracy had the tendency to become formal and bureaucratic. There must, therefore, be as much devolution of political power as was consistent with the unity and prosperity of the whole country. Administration must not be top-heavy. The emoluments of the higher services should bear some reasonable relation to the earnings of the lower staff and the workers in the field and factory. There must be the utmost economy. Gandhiji was scrupulously careful about spending public funds. When necessary he would not mind expense. But he was against all waste. He would not countenance costly pomp and show to keep up the 'dignity' of the State. Therefore, he suggested Rs. 500 salary for a minister, all expenses that he may have to incur in the discharge of his official duties being paid by the State. Gandhiji would not have grudged a minister a big house and even a couple of cars if these were necessary for the proper discharge of is official work. But he could never have tolerated official cars being used for family marketing, for sending children to schools or for pleasure excursions of relatives and friends. He wanted all the palatial government houses, built for the foreign satraps, whether in Delhi or in the provincial capitals, to be turned into hospitals for the poor. Ministers and high officials must occupy modest houses, in keeping with the general standard of living of the masses.
In the international filed Gandhiji advocated peace, based upon international co-operation. Till that was achieved, if the nation insisted on keeping an army out of fear, it must normally be engaged in productive activity. However, Gandhiji's whole emphasis was on the building up of a healthy and progressive national life. He was not afraid of foreign invasion.
For the safety of the country, he relied upon the patriotism of the citizens of a social order that was free from internal tensions of any variety-social, economic of political. He believed that a nation, which has justly and equitably solved its internal problems and has no aggressive designs against its neighbors, need have no fear of foreign invasion. Nevertheless, if there was an invasion, it could be resisted through organised non-violence. Ultimately, such resistance would materially and morally cost the country less than armed conflict. Gandhiji's conception of foreign policy was an extension of the home policy. Whenever he was invited to foreign lands for the propagation of his ideas, he said, 'I must first make good at home.'
Gandhiji advocated a high standard of basic education, lasting for seven years, beginning with the age of seven for every child. It should be compulsory for both sexes. It must be imparted through useful work and activity, having some economic value. In such a system school fees will be realised from the proceeds of the craft work co-operatively done by the pupils. The new system was called Basic Education.
Those were, in brief, some of Gandhiji's ideas and schemes of reform for the social, economic, political and moral uplift of India. Thus only, he felt, could a 'non-violent society' be built.
If there ever was a planner without elaborate blue-prints, Gandhiji was one. In addition to being an ideal thinker, he was a practical social engineer. He often said that Swaraj would mean more strenuous and conscientious work for building the life of the nation than it had put forth during the struggle for Independence. It would mean greater devotion to the cause of reconstruction and greater sacrifice. He believed that without such social reconstruction, India would not be able to retain her freedom. It may not go under foreign domination, but its Independence will only mean freedom for the few and the usual grinding poverty, disease and ignorance for the many.
What were Gandhiji's hopes and expectations about his comprehensive programme and various schemes after Swaraj? He wanted the Swaraj governments to keep to the tradition he had built. He wanted his pioneer experimental work in the social field to continue and extend. He wanted the nation to build on the foundations already laid.
What did those, on whom power descended, do? They kept up the old traditions of the foreign government. They worked in the light of their immediate post in slavery. They retained all the conventions, etiquette, ceremonial dress, manners, houses, allowances and even the pomp and pageantry of their foreign predecessors. They maintained continuity. But continuity, not with what was initiated under Gandhiji's leadership to achieve Swaraj, not with his ideas and schemes which they and the Congress had accepted, but with all that had been introduced in this country by foreign imperialism, not for our advancement and progress but for building up its own prestige and impressing upon the Indian people, by its pomp and pageant, that the Britishers belonged to a superior race. It was all devised to maintain the foreigners' hold on the country and its people. We had no need to follow our foreign masters after freedom, especially in those things which were designed to show their superiority and to remind us of our status as slaves. We did not need their high salaries and allowances, their palatial houses and their kind of prestige, show, pomp and pageant. We had built our prestige with out people by our suffering and sacrifice for the common cause, with our identification with them and by our simple and even austere way of living. It is these qualities that made us dear to them. To impress them further, if that was necessary, we had not to deck ourselves with the paraphernalia of the departing glory of the foreigners. All this pomp and show may have looked impressive with out foreign masters but looks cheap and vulgar when practiced by us, the citizens in a democracy, however high placed. We needed no guards to protect us from our people. But in the hour of our triumph we failed Gandhiji and what was worse, failed the nation. We played false to all those ideas and schemes that had led us to National Independence. We falsified our past built under Gandhiji's inspiring leadership and guidance. We kicked away the ladder by which we had risen to our present eminence.
For instance, in the matter of Khadi and Village industry, Gandhiji was clearly of the view that Swaraj governments in their purchases should patronise such industries. He also wished our Governments so to demarcate the spheres of operation of big and decentralised industry as to eliminate competition between the two and thus afford protection to the latter, Instead of doing this we, as soon as we had the power, opened wide the floodgates of foreign consumers' goods, some of them not only useless but harmful. In a few months the spirit of Swadesh, built during the last half-a-century, was completely destroyed. There was also an indecent scramble for import licenses and permits. This was not confined to the commercial community. Congressmen and their favorites, with their political influence, managed to get a big share of these permits and licenses. As in many cases the permits were secured by non-commercial individuals and parties, they were sold to the highest bidder in the commercial community. The race for becoming rich quick was on with consequent injury to public and private morals and loss of faith of the general community.
Gandhiji had some clear ideas about the Constitution to be framed for free India and about the position the Congress was to occupy under Swaraj. He had made a constitution for the small Indian state of Aundh in Maharashtra, whose prince was a reformer and a follower of his. For this state he provided a model which could have been elaborated and altered to suit independent India. But we framed a Constitution which is a monument of complexity and an epitome of the constitutional wisdom of the western world.
What was to happen to the Congress, the organisation that had fought the good fight for freedom? He rightly held that it was not a party but a national organisation, reprehensive of all the interests in the country from the prince to the beggar. It must, therefore, retain its national character. It would lose its significance and its prestige, acquired through years of struggle, suffering and sacrifice, were it transformed into a political a political party-among other political parties of democratic India. It must retain its identity and its members should continue to be the servants of the nation, living a life of simplicity befitting their past. It must, therefore, in free India, transform itself into a Lok Sevak Sangh, while another political party might be created for the requirements of a democratic government. But what did we do? We transformed the national organisation into a political party and thus destroyed its all-embracing national character, which had appealed to our people. We swelled its membership by fresh recruits from the ranks of the vested interests and the reactionaries who flocked to its ranks, now that there was no danger but rather much advantage in joining the Congress. The organisation was also brought into disrepute by allowing those who had suffered in the freedom fight to recompense themselves for their so-called sacrifices. In Madras five acres of land were granted to all political sufferers who cared to apply for it. Similar grants or other benefits were conferred in other provinces. Even ministers did not hesitate to apply for such grants! It was, therefore, natural for rivalries to grow between those whose real or supposed claims were satisfied and those who felt that their claims had been ignored. This has led to the formation of cliques and coteries in the Congress. Each clique is led by a powerful leader, often within the ranks of Government. Many of these cliques try to strengthen themselves by the recruitment of bogus members.
I have mentioned that Gandhiji wanted the imperial palaces, built and used by the satraps under foreign imperialism, to be utilised as hospitals for the poor. I remember on the eve of Independence when once I was invited for a function at the Viceregal Lodge (now the Rashtrapati Bhavan) Lady Mountbatten talking to me about coming changes said, 'Mr Kripalani, Bapu (she too called Gandhiji Bapu) wants this palatial house with its beautiful gardens and spacious grounds to be turned into a hospital. You must all see that it is not turned into a hospital but utilised to house a museum.' Knowing the background of our Independence movement, even Lady Mountbatten did not expect the Viceroy's House to be an appropriate place of residence of the future popular head of a democratic state and as a guest house for any important or unimportant passing visitor from Europe and America. As soon as Lord Mountbatten relinquished the high office of Viceroy, he asked the Prime Minister of the interim Swaraj Government, Shri Nehru, to allow him to shift from the Viceregal Palace to the less palatial residence then occupied by the Commander-in-chief. He said that as he was no more the representative of the King-Emperor, it would be better for him, as Governor-General, the representative of the people of India, to live in a style more befitting his new position. But he was advised that it was not necessary for him to shift for the short time that he acted as the Governor-General.
I give these examples not to condemn any person or party but, by contrast, to indicate Bapu's ideas about future governmental arrangements and the reconstruction of India. Even the foreign dignitaries, just relinquishing their positions of imperial power, did not expect us to continue may of the old institutions and traditions they had built in India for their imperial purposes. Also, these examples are given to indicate tat Gandhiji had in many vital matters very clear and precise ideas of what was to be done to change the existing order into a better and more equitable one, in keeping with the culture of our people and our dignity as a nation and its poverty. But we failed and the failure is great ad glaring. For often we behave as if we were brought up in enforced renunciation and as soon as we have the opportunity to recompense ourselves we take quick and full advantage of our new position. Often we give the impression of being snobs and upstarts. Judged by the purely aesthetic standards, our conduct is often ugly. From the national view-point, it is humiliating when it is not financially disastrous. It demoralises the administrators and the rank and file of Congressmen and shocks the people. People's faith being shaken, it is no wonder that all our clarion-call for zeal, enthusiasm, co-operation and hard work fall on deaf ears. Instead of creating a new hope and a new faith, we have managed to kill the old faith and hope. I have not written this in a mood of passing judgment on others. It is for me rather a kind of natural self-analysis. For after all I am a citizen of a free country and though not in the Congress I cannot cease to be of it.
In spite of the criticisms made in the early part of this article, I am not blind to the efforts made by our governments, in various directions to put the country on its feet. Big and grandiose river-valley schemes have been floated. Unfortunately, they are too big for our slender material, technological, human and moral resources. The result is that several of them had to be altered, recast or abandoned at the considerable monetary loss to the nation and loss of prestige to the Government. The impression left on the public mind is one of administrative inefficiency and corruption.
We decided to abolish the zamindari system. In some states we have done it. In others, after seven years we are still in the ‘considering’ stage. Where we have nearly completed the process (it is nowhere complete yet), it has been of such a dilatory nature that the benefits that were expected from the reform have been almost nullified. In U.P., Bihar and elsewhere, thousands of tenants have been evicted on one pretext or another. Trees and forests that will take decades to grow have been cut down in a few years. While the process of cutting down trees has been going on apace, we have started replanting them through what is called the Vana Mahotsava. It is truly an Utsava – a ceremonial performance. Very often big personages go to plant a few saplings to the accompaniment of tea and dancing parties. The trees are planted at a heavy cost. I have this from a minister who participated in one of these ceremonial tree plantings. Half a dozen ministers with their retinue of secretaries and the elite of the city motored a distance of thirty miles to plant half a dozen saplings. After the planting there was a sumptuous tea party. The total expense incurred by the Government alone, as estimated by my informant was about Rs. 600. Even after such heavy expense, who sees to the safety and growth of these saplings? In modern times tree-planting is done scientifically. It is not trees planted anyhow, anywhere but trees planted in a scientific manner that would induce rain, save the soil from erosion and prevent damage to the crops by cold or hot winds. The authorities have to work in accordance with an overall plan and see that every individual effort is co-ordinated. If our authorities want to learn the modern art and science of tree-planting, they can do so from Russia, America and Israel. Scientific tree planting has saved the soil, improved the rainfall and the climate and turned arid lands into smiling fields and gardens. In Israel, the Government and the people co-operate in the national task of turning the desert into productive land. Individual citizens planting a tree in the co-ordinated scheme get certificates of merit from the authorities. Such certificates are given as mutual presents on suitable occasions. If there is, for instance, a marriage in the family, the friends would give tree-certificates as presents to the new bride.
In U.P., tenants wanting what are called proprietary rights in lands, where zamindari had been abolished, have to pay compensation. The collection charges of dues for getting proprietary rights are heavy. Better would it have been if the Government had not collected this money through their own expensive agency but fixed the rate of compensation obliging the zamindar to transfer his rights to the tenant. The money thus collected could have been divided between the Government and the zamindar. However, in spite of the abolition of zamindari, the tenant gets no relief. He has to pay the same rental as before, only it has to be paid to the Government and not to the zamindar. Governments have their own rules for the realization of their dues. Land tax is today realized as any other demand of the Government through inflexible procedures and appropriate sanctions. Rents are collected through petty patwaris and patels. This is bound to impose hardship on ignorant and helpless tenants. That is how the benefits of a scheme, from which revolutionary changes in agriculture were expected, are neutralized. But abolition of zamindari is only a minor part of a comprehensive plan of land redistribution and the rebuilding of the village.
In some provinces prohibition, dear to Gandhiji’s heart, has been introduced. However, it was undertaken without creating the social atmosphere for its success. Prohibition, with Gandhiji, was one item in a comprehensive and co-ordinated scheme of social reform, making life more simple, natural and moral. But the necessary social atmosphere that Gandhiji created through his example and leadership, and which made for simplicity and naturalness in life, has altogether disappeared. Rumour is current that some of the Congress leaders inside and outside the governments are not averse to their daily peg. This may not be so. But in public life it is not enough that people’s conduct is correct, it must also appear to be so. Moreover, the Centre is not only apathetic but positively hostile to the experiment going on in Bombay and Madras. In such a social and political atmosphere it would be a wonder if extensive illicit distillation, bootlegging and smuggling did not prosper. There are sought to be put down with the help of a police none too honest. Today in the two provinces where complete prohibition exists legally, it is supposed to be the personal fad of two powerful Chief Ministers who, it is held, would neither listen to reason nor see the obvious. Prohibition under these circumstances has ceased to appeal to the people as a means of social and moral reform. Moral and social reform cannot be effected merely through coercion, especially when the coercive machinery itself is corrupt. It can only prosper in a favourable moral and social atmosphere, which can be created by example in high places and proper cultivation of public opinion and by providing means of sublimation of the harmful inclinations. When Gandhiji and before him Tilak advocated this reform they sought to create the necessary atmosphere which ensured popular support. The people have not changed but our methods of approach to them have changed.
These are some of the examples which show that even when we have introduced measures of reform we have been either too tardy in their execution or we have not created the necessary public opinion and social atmosphere for their success. If the measures are to be enforced by law, the machinery through which law is enforced has to be efficient and honest. Otherwise there may be more harm than good.
Pressure of Events
Yet, though we would not admit it, we are, time and again, forced by circumstances to recognize the superiority of Gandhiji’s ideas and schemes. I said that the first thing we discarded with the advent of Independence was the use of swadeshi articles in preference to foreign goods even at a sacrifice. Those in authority after Independence assured us that there was no need of swadeshi in free India. Imports of articles could be regulated by the Government and they could even prohibit articles that were, for any reason, not wanted. However, this does not seem to have worked. For today those very authorities who considered the cultivation of swadeshi as superfluous under Swaraj, are impressing upon us the need of using exclusively swadeshi goods. Nay, they even emphasise the psychological effect of cultivating the swadeshi spirit. They are further impressing on us the need for an austerity drive both for fostering and industry and for creating necessary capital. The only difference is that Gandhiji emphasized not only the economic by also the moral duty of swadeshi. He made no distinction between social, political, economic and moral duties. If they were well conceived, they were all morally binding.
Slowly, on account of economic pressure, we are obliged to reduce higher salaries and call for voluntary cuts. In 1947 when it was proposed that members of the Constituent Assembly and Parliament draw Rs. 30 as their daily allowance and not Rs. 45 as was allowed to members of the old Central Assembly, there was such opposition that the proposal had to be dropped. A few who advocated the reform continued to take Rs. 30 per day. Their number went on dwindling with time till only three or four remained. After a couple of years, however, a cut of Rs. 5 was made in the daily allowance. Now again a further cut of Rs. 5 per day has been decided upon. These are not voluntary cuts but have been imposed by economic stringency which we should have foreseen. The Indian Governor-General continued to draw the same modest allowance of Rs. 20,000 per month that was drawn by the foreign Viceroy. No heed was paid to public opinion on the plea that the ‘dignity’ of the state required his high allowance. In one of his letters to Lord Linlithgow, Gandhiji had worked out for the benefit of the Viceroy, to the latter’s great annoyance, the ratio that his allowance bore to the common man’s earnings in India. Slowly, however, that allowance has been reduced, as we are told, to half. [After voluntary cuts Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s salary is Rs. 6,000. The deduction was to the extent of Rs. 4,000.] Posts of Governors who govern no more have lost their old significance and glamour. In the words of Sarojini Naidu, who could be humorous even at her own expense, a Governor has become a standing joke. They have no power or authority but the old emoluments and the costly imperial pomp and pageantry are kept up. The latter in an atmosphere of democracy offend good taste. However, these posts provide berths for politicians whose utility in the political field has disappeared. They also provide a field of patronage for the dominant party. Each Governor costs the Exchequer more than six lakhs per year as recently admitted by the Central Home Minister. How long can these posts, with their useless and ridiculous outlandish pomp and show, offensive to democracy, be continued? The nation will have either to dispense with the institution or make it conform to democratic standards of allowances and living. Already one Governor – an honourable exception – is voluntarily drawing a salary of Rs. 500 per month, as suggested by Gandhiji, in spite of the rise in prices. Slowly parts of the palatial residences of the foreign overlords at least in Delhi and Calcutta are being utilized for public purposes, even though the old staff, whose functions in many cases have ceased to have any purpose or utility, is retained. Gandhiji’s humanitarian idea to have these palaces converted into hospitals for the poor, which would have fired the imagination of the people, is, of course, dropped.
The salaries and allowances of the Ministers at the Centre and some states have also been slightly reduced. But the reduction has been more than offset by the increase in the number of Minister’s posts both at the Centre and in the states, designed not for efficiency but to satisfy the clamour of party men. Sometimes the increase is more than a hundred percent. One now and then hears of voluntary cuts in the salaries of the higher cadres of the services. Whether our governments wish it or not, the higher salaries will have to be reduced due to economic stringency. However, whatever measures we have taken, have been forced upon us by circumstances. Had we undertaken them voluntarily, we would have impressed the people with our reforming zeal and added to their enthusiasm for the new regime. For instance, if, as soon as we came to power, we had abandoned the palatial residences of our imperial predecessors and announced that no political office would carry more than, say, Rs. 2,000 per month as salary, the members of the higher services would have been shamed into accepting this lower standard. The moral prestige of the Congress would have remained high and our call for austerity would not have fallen on deaf ears.
When we came to power, the country was suffering from shortages of goods. For increased production we relied upon centralized industry in private hands. Our capitalists, coming as they do from the ranks of merchants and speculators, were more concerned with making quick profits, than building industry. Private industry would not and could not help national prosperity. But we woefully neglected the fruitful field of decentralized industry. The result is that the position of existing handicrafts, that had been struggling for their existence through the last hundred and fifty years of foreign rule has been further weakened. Today we find that more increased production through centralized industry cannot strengthen our economy. It does not yield the increased employment which alone can give our masses the necessary purchasing power and thus raise their standard of living. We have been now driven to the conclusion that our main chance of adequately increasing employment is through decentralized industry. We have, therefore, in pursuance of the Five-Year Plan, recently created the Khadi and Village Industries Board. Inaugurating the first meeting of the Board, the Prime Minister is reported to have said that he was surprised that the Board had not been created earlier. One is inclined to smile at this statement coming from the head of the Government and the Congress, who was the closest companion of Gandhiji and who worked with him for more than thirty years. However, with the mentality that prevails in high political and administrative circles, whether the Board will be able to do much, remains to be seen. In the First Five-Year Plan the emphasis is all on private industry. But it is some gain that we are driven, though by events and not by Gandhiji’s philosophy and his insight into the economic conditions of India, to recognize the important role that decentralized industry must play in our economy, if we are to successfully tackle the problem of unemployment and under-employment and raise the standard of living of the masses. Even now in some centralized industries our production so outstrips the purchasing power of the masses that there is unemployment. In tea, jute, sugar and cloth we are already suffering for want of profitable markets that would induce our so-called industrialists to keep the wheels of these industries moving not to talk of any expansion. The consequence is shrinkage of employment in these industries. There have been unpredictable fluctuations in these industries from year to year. These are due mainly to market manipulations. With the present defective system of education, the figures of middle-class unemployment in urban areas are mounting as the years roll on. So far as rural unemployment is concerned, we have never tried to measure its extent. We are afraid to do so.
In education, the Prime Minister, the Vice-Chancellors of Universities, teachers, reformers – all condemn the present system as too abstract, theoretical and bookish. They tell our students that they must learn to soil their hands with some manual activity and work. (Of course none sets the example.) Yet we hesitate to earnestly work Gandhiji’s system of learning by doing, in which valuable experiments were made even in his lifetime and which, according to official experts, had successfully passed the experimental stage. Recognizing the need of practical education, we yet insist upon English retaining its old dominant position in our national education. Not even 2 percent of our student population will ever see the portals of a university and yet we must burden the whole student community with the task of learning defectively a foreign language, imposed upon us by the will of the foreigners for their own advantage. We seem to think that higher education in India is impossible without a defective knowledge of English, acquired through years of hard work, which could be used for more practical and useful purposes. We must make up our minds as to what we want. But official spokesmen speak in a double tongue confounding confusion itself.
In other matters, too, we are being forced to recognize the need of change towards the plans and programmes advocated and worked by Gandhiji. Yet, there is no clear recognition of the general fact that a backward country, with a large and growing population, with limited land resources and arrested industrial development and an economy that has been deliberately injured for the last hundred and fifty years by foreign imperialism, cannot be put on its feet, except through the plans and policies laid down by Gandhiji who had his fingers on the pulse of the nation. Without being an economist in the ordinary sense of the term, he clearly recognized and formulated the economic needs of the country. Without being a politician, in the accepted sense of the term, he knew what political arrangement would best suit true democracy, conceived in terms of the nation’s genius and its past history. Without being a sociologist, he knew that all social sciences, politics, economics and ethics, act and react upon each other, and only co-ordinated and integrated action can solve the complicated and many-sided problems of community life in India and thus eliminate internal tensions.
We have wasted more than six years of valuable time trying untried experiments of our own new conceptions or those borrowed from foreign lands, where conditions are not the same as in India. We have thus not only wasted a poor nation’s resources but, what is worse, have in the process destroyed people’s enthusiasm, faith and hope and created in their place a sense of helplessness and frustration. It is my firm belief that if any worthwhile revival has to take place in India to produce a more equitable and just social order, we shall have to hark back to Bapu. Of course, changed times and circumstances will necessitate some readjustments of his plans and schemes. But he basic patterns will serve us as well today as they served us before Independence. Let us not merely repeat Gandhiji’s name to justify our own ideas and schemes and our inordinate desire to stick to power or to cover up our failures. Hero-worship has no meaning unless we appreciate the things he, whom we worship, appreciated and worked for. When one hears so much talk of the Father of the Nation one is reminded of a significant thought of the Bible, ’Would that they had forgotten my name but done that commended to them’.