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Reorganization of Provinces
The congress has already adopted the principal (of redistribution of the provinces on a linguistic basis) and has declared its intention to give effect to it constitutionally as soon as they come into power, as such redistribution would be conducive to the cultural advancement of the country. But such redistribution should not militate against the organic unity of India. Autonomy dose not and should not mean disruption or that hereafter provinces could go the way they chose, independent of one another and of the Center. If each province began to look upon itself as a separate, sovereign unit, India’s independence would lose its meaning and with it would vanish the freedom of the various units as well.
The character of India’s independence as conceived by the Congress is based on village autonomy. But all the villages are to derive vitality from the Center, as the latter in its turn derive all power and authority from the former. It would be fatal if it led to fatal provincialism, mutual bickering and rivalries…between Tamil and Andhra for instance, Bombay and Karnatak and so on. The redistribution of provinces on a linguistic basis is necessary if provincial languages are to grow to their full height. Hindustani is to be the lingua Franca-Rastra-Bhasha-of India, but it cannot take the place of the provincial tongues. It cannot be the medium of instruction in the provinces…much less English. Its function is to make them realize their organic relationship with India. The worlds outside dose not know them as Gujaratis, Maharashtrians, Tamilians etc., but only as Indians. We must therefore, resolutely discourage all fissiparous tendencies and feel and behave as Indians. Subject to this paramount consideration, a linguistic re-distribution of provinces should give an impetus to education and trade.
(Gandhiji hoped that) they would not need a Boundary Commission to delimit the frontiers on the new basis. That is the foreign way which they have discarded. The best thing would be for themselves to determine the boundaries on the new basis by mutual agreement and consent and place the same before their Prime Minister for his final sanction. That would be true independence. To go to a third party in the shape of Boundary Commission for a statement would be negation of independence. They must evolve interdependence and mutual help.
Delhi Diary, pp. 378-80
I entirely endorse the suggestion…that what is proper to be done should not be delayed without just cause, and that what is improper should not be conceded under any circumstances whatsoever. There can be no compromise with evil and since linguistic redistribution is desirable from almost every point of view, all delay in carrying out the project should be avoided.
But the reluctance to enforce linguistic redistribution is perhaps justifiable in the present depressing atmosphere. The exclusive spirit is ever uppermost. Everyone thinks of himself and his family. No one thinks of the whole of India. The centripetal force is undoubtedly there, but it is not vocal and never boisterous: whereas the centrifugal is on the surface and in its very nature makes the loudest noise, demanding the attention of all. It manifests itself most in matters communal. This has given rise to fear in other fields. The history of the quarrel between Orissa and Andhra, Orissa and Bihar and Orissa and Bengal is fresh is our minds. The whole of it has not died out even now….Now, when we have freedom; we seem not to know what to do with it. It is almost mistaken for suicidal anarchy. Even zealous reformers would postpone controversial issues to a more hopeful time when, in the interests of the county, the virtue of give and take would be freely recognized and all sectional interest would be subordinate to the one interest of the good of India, which will include the good of all. Therefore, those who, like me, want constructive suggestions to come into play at this very moment, have to work to bring about a healthy atmosphere promoting concord in the place of discord, peace in the place of strife, progress in the place of retrogression and life in the place of death. That happy day will be most manifest when the communal strife has died out.
It seems to me that if the provinces are all to make equal progress in all directions, the services should be largely confined to the inhabitants of the province concerned for the sake of India as a whole. No province and no tribe or clan can be kept backward if India is to stand erect before the world. It will never do so through its arms of which the world is sick. It must shine through its innate culture expressed in every citizen’s life and is the socialism I have recently described….That means elimination of all force for the sake of popularizing one’s doctrines or schemes. A thing which is truly popular rarely, if ever, requires force save that of public opinion to make itself acceptable to all. Therefore, the ugly scenes of violence by individuals witnessed in Bihar and Orissa and Assam should never have been. Popular governments are functioning to redress any irregularity or encroachment by persons from other provinces. The provincial governments are bound to give full protection to all the comers from outside their provinces. “Use what you consider as yours so as not to injure others”, is a famous maxim of equity. It is also a grand moral code of conduct. How apposite today?
“Live in Rome as the Romans do”, is a sound commonsense maxim so long as it dose not apply to Roman vices. The process of progressive blending must be one of rejecting the bad and absorbing the good….The bane of our life is our exclusive provincialism, whereas my province must be co-extensive with the Indian boundary so that ultimately it extends to the boundary of the earth. Else it perishes.
In his opinion an Indian was a citizen of India enjoying equal rights in every part of India. Therefore, a Bengali had every right in Bihar as a Bihari. But he wished to emphasize that a Bengali must merge in the Bihari. He must never be guilty of exploiting Biharis or feeling a stranger or behaving as a stranger in Bihar….All rights flowed from duties previously and duly performed. One thing he must stress that in both the Dominions of India, the use of force for the assertion of rights must be eschewed altogether if they were to make any progress. Thus neither the Bengalis nor the Biharis could assert themselves at the point of the sword, nor could the Boundary Commission Award similarly be changed. It was the first lessen to be learnt in a democratic independent India….Liberty never meant the license to do anything at will. Independent meant voluntary restraint and discipline; voluntary acceptance of the rule of law in the making of which the whole of India had its hand through is elected representatives. The only force at the disposal of democracy was that of public opinion. Satyagraha, civil disobedience and fasts had noting in common with the use of force, veiled or open. But even these had restricted use in democracy. They could not even think of them whilst the Governments were settling down and the communal distemper was still stalking for one province to another.
(From post-prayer speech at Calcutta on 29-8-47)
Gandhiji then referred to the movement for Dravidistan-Southern India comprising the population speaking the four Dravidian languages-Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kanarese. Why should this portion of India speaking the four languages be separated from the rest? Had not these languages, rich as they were, drawn largely upon Sanskrit for their richness? He had traveled through the four provinces and he found no difference between them and the rest of the provinces. It was a myth to consider that those living in the south of the Vindhya Range were non-Aryans and in the north Aryans. Whatever they might have been at one time, they were so intermixed that they were one people from Kashmir to Cape Comorin, notwithstanding that India was cut into two. It would be folly to make further divisions. If they did not stop at that division, there would be no end to independent sovereign States which would be useless for India and the world. Let it not be said of them that they were fit for one political system only under bondage and as freemen, savage-like they would split up into as many groups as they liked, each group going its own way. Or would they be held in bondage by one despotic State possessing an army large enough to bring them under subjection? He adjured them and especially the people of the South to give up the thralldom of the English language which was good as a language of international commerce and diplomacy. It could never become the language of the millions of India. The century or more of British rule had failed to make English spoken by more then a few millions in this ocean of Indian humanity. If they looked at the census they would discover that more millions spoke Hindustani, a mixture of Hindi and Urdu, written in the Nagari or Urdu scripts. Sanskritized Hindi or Persianized Urdu was confined to far fewer. He was asked whether they could learn it in their own provincial script. He had no objection. As a matter of fact the Hindustani Prachar Sabha allowed the boys of the South to learn Hindustani in their provincial script. They later on learnt the two scripts, so that they could become easily acquainted with the literature in the North. Patriotism demanded that much from them. There was a grave danger of their becoming pettily provincial minded. If all become petty, where would be the India of their love? He freely admitted that if it was, as it was, wrong for the Southerners no to learn Hindustani, it was equally wrong for the Northerners not to learn one or more of the Southern languages which had very rich literature. He appealed to members from the south to resolve never to ask for English speech in n Indian audience. They would then soon pick up Hindustani. Let them remember that India free could cohere as one, only if it accepted moral government. Congress as a fighting machine against bondage was held together by its moral force. Should it be different when it had almost attained political freedom?
(From post-prayer speech at New Delhi on 16-7-47)
Harijan, 27-7 47