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Problems of Administration
I am afraid that for years to come India would be engaged in passing legislation in order to raise the down trodden, the fallen, from the mire in to which they have been sunk by the capitalists, by the landlords, by the so- called higher classes, and then, subsequently and scientifically, by the British rulers.
If we are to lift these people from the mire, then it would be the bounden duty of the National Government of India, in order to set its house in order, continually to give preference to these people and even free them from the burdens under which they are being crushed. And, if the landlords, Zamindars, moneyed men and those who are today enjoying privileges—I do no care whether they were Europeans or Indians- if they find that they are discriminated against, I shall sympathize with them, but I will not be able to help them, even if I could possibly do so, because I would seek their assistance in that process, and without their assistance it would not be possible to raise these people out of the mire.
It will, therefore, be a battle between the haves and the have-nots; and if that is what is feared, I am afraid the National Government will not be come in to being if all the classes hold the pistol at the head of the dumb millions and say: ’You shall not have a government of your own unless you guarantee our possessions and our rights.’
The Nation’s Voice, p. 71
……...........Much as I would like to spare every price of the public treasury, it would be bad economy to do away with provincial Governors and regard Chief Ministers as a perfect equivalent. Whilst I would resent much power of interference to be given to Governors, I do not think that they should be mere figure-heads. They should have enough power enabling them to influence ministerial policy for the better. In their detached position they would be able to see things in their proper perspective and thus prevent mistakes by their Cabinets. Theirs must be an all-pervasive moral influence in their provinces.
If the Congress wants to continue as a people’s organization, the ministers cannot live as sahib log nor use for private work facilities provided by Government for official duties.
This office-holding is a step towards either greater prestige or its total loss. If it is not to be a total loss, the ministers and the legislators have to watchful of their own personal and public conduct. They have to be, like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion in everything. They have to be, like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion in everything. They may not make private gains either for themselves or for their relatives or friends. If the relatives or friends get any appointment, it must be only because they are the best among the candidates, and their market value is always greater than what they get under the government. The ministers and the legislators of the Congress ticket have to be fearless in the performance of their duty. They must always be ready to risk the loss of their seats or offices. Offices and seats in the legislatures have no merit outside their ability to raise the prestige and power of the congress. And since both depend wholly upon the possession of morals, both public and private, any moral lapse means a blow to the Congress.
A popular ministry is responsible to the legislatures and cannot do anything without their consent. Every elected member in a popular legislature is responsible to his voters. Therefore, the voter who represents the public should ponder well before embarking on any criticism of the government of his creation .Moreover, one bad habit of the people should be borne in mind, they do not like any tax whatsoever. Where there is good government, the tax –payer always resent even paying such taxes. It is, of course, true that one cannot prove the benefit of all taxes as easily as the one I have cited as an example. Bur as society grows, it is difficult to explain to the individual tax-payer, and how he gets his return for any particular TAC. This much, however, is clear that taxes as a whole should stand for the general benefit of society. If this were not so, the argument that the taxes were levied by popular will would not hold.
Crime and Its Punishment
In independent India of the non violent type, there will be crime but not criminals. They will not be punished. Crime is a disease like any other malady and is a product of the prevalent social system. Therefore, all crime including murder will be treated as a disease. Whether such an India will ever come into being is another question.
What should our jails be like in free India? All criminals should be treated as patients and the jails should be hospitals admitting this class of patients for treatment and cure. No one commits crime for the fun of it. It is a sign of a diseased mind. The causes of a particular disease should investigate and removed. They need not have palatial buildings when their jails become hospitals. No country like India. But the outlook of the jail staff should be that of physicians and nurses in a hospital. The prisoners should feel that the officials are their friends. They are there to help them to regain their mental health and not to harass them in any way. The popular governments have to issue necessary orders, but meanwhile the jail staff can do not a little to humanize their administration. What is the duty of the prisoners? ... They should behave as ideal prisoners. They should avoid breach of jail discipline. They should put their heart and soul into whatever work is entrusted to them. For instance, the prisoners’ food is cooked by themselves. They should clean the rice, dal or whatever cereal is used so that there are no stones and grit or weevils in them. Whatever complaints the prisoners might have should be brought to the notice of the authorities in a becoming manner. They should so behave in their little community as to become better men when they leave the jail than when they entered it.
Delhi Diary, pp. 113-14
I am wedded to adult suffrage ….Adult suffrage is necessary for more reasons than one, and one of the decisive reasons to me is that it enable me to satisfy all the reasonable aspirations, not only of the Musalmans, but also of the so-called untouchables, of Christians, of labourers and all kinds of classes. I cannot possibly bear the idea that a man who has got character but no wealth or literacy should have no vote, or that a man who works honestly by the sweat of his brow day in and out should not have the vote for the crime of being a poor man.
Young India, 8-10-31
In this of all countries in the world possession of inordinate wealth by individuals should be held as a crime against Indian humanity. Therefore the maximum limit of taxation of riches beyond a certain margin can never be reached. In England, I understand, they have already gone as far as 70 per cent of the earnings beyond a prescribed figure. There is no reason why India should not go to a much higher figure. Why should there not be death duties? Those sons of millionaires, who are of age and yet inherit their parents’ wealth, are losers for the very inheritance. The nation thus becomes a double loser. For the inheritance should rightly belong to the nation. And the nation loses again in that the full faculties of the heirs are not drawn out, being crushed under the load of riches.
Reform by Legislation
People seem to think, that when a law is passed against any evil, it will die without any further effort. There never was a greater self-deception. Legislation is intended and is effective against an ignorant or a small evil-minded minority; but no legislation which is opposed by an intelligent and organized public pinion, or under cover of religion by a fanatical majority, can ever succeed.
Young India, 30-6-27
The first thing is to avoid the slightest shadow of compulsion or untruth. No reform worth the name has yet, in my humble opinion, been achieved by compulsion. For whilst compulsion may lead to apparent success, it gives rise to so many other evils which are worse than the original evil itself.
Young India, 8-12-27
Trials by Jury
Trials by jury often result, all over the world, in defeating justice. But people everywhere submit to the drawback for the sake of the more important result of the cultivation of an independent spirit among people and the justifiable sentiment of being judged by one’s own peers.
Young India, 12-8-26
I am unconvinced of the advantages of jury trials over those by judges…. We must not slavishly copy all that in English. In matters where absolute impartiality, calmness and ability to sift evidence and understand human nature are required, we may not replace trained judges by untrained men brought together by chance. What we must aim at is an incorruptible, impartial and able judiciary right from the bottom.
Young India, 27-8-31
If we were not under the spell of lawyers and law courts, and if there were no touts to tempt us into the quagmire of the courts and to appeal to our basest passions we would be leading a much happier life than we do. Let those who frequent the law-courts-the best of them-bear witness to the fact that the atmosphere about them is foetid. Perjured witnesses are ranged on either side, ready to sell their very soul for money or for friendship’s sake.
Young India 6-10-26
The first thing which you must always bear in mind, if you would spiritualize the practice of law, is not to make your profession subservient to the interests of your purse, as is unfortunately but too often the case at present, but to use your profession for the service of your country. There are instances of eminent lawyers in all countries who lead a life of self-sacrifice, who devoted their brilliant legal talents entirely to service of their country; although it meant almost pauperism to them….You can follow Ruskin’s precept given in his book Unto This Last. ‘Why should a lawyer charge fifteen pounds for his work’, he asks, ‘whilst a carpenter for instance hardly gets as many shillings for his work?’ the fees charged by lawyers are unconscionable everywhere. In England, In South Africa, almost everywhere I have found that in the practice of their profession lawyers are consciously or unconsciously led into untruth for the sake of their clients. An eminent lawyer has gone so far as to say that it may even be the duty of a lawyer to defend a client whom he knows to be guilty. There I disagree. The duty of a lawyer is always to place before the judges, and to help them to arrive at, the truth, never to prove the guilty as innocent.
Young India, 22-12-27
Independent India cannot afford to have communal representation and yet it must placate all communities, if the rule of independence is not based on coercion of minorities.
Young India, 19-1-30
Our statesman have for over two generations declaimed against the heavy expenditure on armaments under the British regime, but now that freedom from political serfdom has come, our military expenditure has increased and still threatens to increase and of this we are proud! There is not a voice raised against it in our legislative chambers. In spite, however, of the madness and the vain imitation of the tinsel of the West, the hope lingers in me and many others that India shall survive this death dance and occupy the moral height that should belong to her after the training, however imperfect, in non-violence for an unbroken period of thirty-two years since1915.
I do not know of the navy but I do know that the army of India of the future will not consist of hirelings to be utilized for keeping India under subjection and for depriving other nations of their liberty, but it would be largely cut down, will consist largely of volunteers and will be utilized for policing India.
Young India, 9-3-22