The other day I was talking to the I.N.A. men in the Red Fort. We were discussing as to what they should do on their release. They assumed me that they would on their release serve India as true soldiers of non-violence under the Congress flag. I told them that today a true soldier of India is he who spins to clothe the naked and tills the soil to grow more food to meet the threatening food crisis. The Congress has declared that it would carry on the struggle for India's independence through the method of non-violence. But it has not yet decided whether it would adhere to that method for the protection of that freedom against possible foreign aggression. To me it is a self-evident truth that if freedom is to be shared equally by all — even physically the weakest, the lame and the halt — they must be able to contribute an equal share in its defence. How that can be possible when reliance is placed on armaments, my plebeian mind fails to understand. I therefore, swear and shall continue to swear by non-violence, i.e. by Satyagraha or soul force. In it physical incapacity is no handicap and even a frail woman or a child can pit herself or himself on equal terms against a giant, armed with the most powerful weapons.
The eighteen-fold constructive programme with the spinning wheel as
its centre is the concrete expression of that spirit in organized
society. Let us realize that spirit by devoting ourselves
prayerfully to the carrying out of the constructive programme during
the National Week.
For the I.N.A. men there were two alternatives. They could serve
free India as soldiers-in-arms or they could convert themselves into
soldiers of non-violence if they were convinced that non-violence
was the higher and the more efficacious way. They should make use of
their training and discipline to introduce non-violent organization
among the masses, learn spinning and become veteran constructive
workers. If they did that they would set a glorious example to the
"The I.N.A. men," observed Gandhiji, "have shown great strength,
heroism and resourcefulness. But I must confess that their
achievements have not dazzled my eyes. To die without killing
requires more heroism. There is nothing very wonderful in killing
and being killed in the process. But the man who offers his neck to
the enemy for execution but refuses to bend to his will shows
courage of a far higher type.
"Troublous times lie ahead of us. Our non-violence has brought us to
the gate of independence. Shall we renounce it after we have
entered that gate? I for one am firmly convinced that non-violence
of the brave, such as I have envisaged, provides the surest and most
efficacious means to face foreign aggression and internal disorder
just as it has done for winning independence." The British were
going to quit. What place would India have in the comity of nations?
Would she be satisfied with being a fifth-rate power like China?
China was independent only in name. India would have long to wait
before she could become a first-class military power. "And for that
she would have to go under the tutelage of some Western power. A
truly non-violent India will have nothing to fear from any foreign
power nor will she look to British navy and air force for her
defence. I know that we have not as yet the non-violence of the
New Delhi, 16-4-'46