Reader : I have now learnt what the Congress has done to make India one nation, how the Partition has caused an awakening, and how discontent and unrest have spread through the land. I would now like to know your views on Swaraj. I fear that our interpretation is not the same as yours.
Editor : It is quite possible that we do not attach the same meaning to
the term. You and I and all Indians are impatient to obtain Swaraj, but
we are certainly not decided as to what it is. To drive the English out
of India is a thought heard from many mouths, but it does not seem that
many have properly considered why it should be so. I must ask you a
question. Do not think that it is necessary to drive away the English,
if we get all we want?
Reader : I should ask of them only one thing, that is: "Please leave our
country." If, after they have complied with this request, their
withdrawal from India means that they are still in India. I should have
no objection. Then we would understand that, in their language, the word
"gone" is equivalent to "remained".
Editor : Well then, let us suppose that the English have retired. What
will you do then?
Reader : That question cannot be answered at this stage. The state after
withdrawal will depend largely upon the manner of it. If, as you assume,
they retire, it seems to me we shall still keep their constitution and
shall carry on the Government. If they simply retire for the asking we
should have an army, etc., ready at hand. We should, therefore, have no
difficulty in carrying on the Government.
Editor : You may think so; I do not. But I will not discuss the matter
just now. I have to answer your question, and that I can do well by
asking you several questions. Why do you want to drive away the English?
Reader : Because India has become impoverished by their Government. They
take away our money from year to year. The most important posts are
reserved for themselves. We are kept in a state of slavery. They behave
insolently towards us and disregard our feelings.
Editor : If they do not take our money away, become gentle, and give us
responsible posts, would you still consider their presence to be
Reader : That question is useless. It is similar to the question whether
there is any harm in associating with a tiger if he changes his nature.
Such a question is sheer waste of time. When a tiger changes his nature,
Englishmen will change theirs. This is not possible, and to believe it
to be possible is contrary to human experience.
Editor : Supposing we get Self-Government similar to what the Canadians
and the South Africans have, will it be good enough?
Reader : That question also is useless. We may get it when we have the
same powers; we shall then hoist our own flag. As is Japan, so must
India be. We must own our navy, our army, and we must have our own
splendour, and then will India's voice ring through the world.
Editor : You have drawn the picture well. In effect it means this: that
we want English rule without the Englishman. You want the tiger's
nature, but not the tiger; that is to say, you would make India English.
And when it becomes English, it will be called not Hindustan but
Englistan. This is not the Swaraj that I want.
Reader : I have placed before you my idea of Swaraj as I think it should
be. If the education we have received be of any use, if the works of
Spencer, Mill and others be of any importance, and if the English
Parliament be the Mother of Parliaments, I certainly think that we
should copy the English people, and this to such an extent that, just as
they do not allow others to obtain a footing in their country, so we
should not allow them or others to obtain it in ours. What they have
done in their own country has not been done in any other country. It is,
therefore, proper for us to import their institutions. But now I want to
know your views.
Editor : There is need for patience. My views will develop of themselves
in the course of this discourse. It is as difficult for me to understand
the true nature of Swaraj as it seems to you to be easy. I shall,
therefore, for the time being, content myself with endeavouring to show
that what you call Swaraj is not truly Swaraj.