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PHILOSOPHY > SELECTIONS FROM GANDHI > When Freedom came
 

When Freedom Came

Views Regarding Partition: Before the Event

523. Q. What is your objection to the establishment of a separate Muslim stage after what has happened in Bihar?
A. I have no objection to a Muslim state. The question is what will be the character of the State? This point has not been made clear so far. If the Muslim state implied freedom to make unfriendly treaties with foreign powers to the detriment of the country, then obviously it cannot be a matter of agreement. No one can be asked to sign an agreement granting freedom to another to launch hostilities against himself; that would be a suicidal policy.

Q. Would it not be better to concede Pakistan and get freedom for the whole of India?
A. When you think of establishing Pakistan first, you think in terms of getting it with the aid of a third power. When I think of the freedom of India, I think in terms of achieving it without any foreign aid, be it Russian, Chinese or any other power, but on the basis of our own inner strength. Then only that freedom will be real and lasting. Once freedom is secured for the country as a whole, then we can decide about Pakistan or Hindustan.

Q. After the recent disturbances there is neither Pakistan nor peace. What is your solution to the situation?
A. That is exactly what I am in search for. As soon as it is discovered, the world shall know it.
-In answer to some Muslim youth’s question on 14-1-47 in Noakhali. Unreported.


524. Q. Is the communal division of India inevitable? Will such division solve the communal problem?
A. Personally, I have always said No, and I say No even now to both questions. –H, 18-5-47, 156


525. In view of the sourness between the Hindus and Muslims that seemed to be growing daily, was it possible for the two to become friends?
Gandhiji answered emphatically that the enmity could not last for ever. They were brothers and must remain so in spite of temporary insanity. But perpetual feud was not an impossibility between communities as it was not between individuals. He hoped that that would not happen, for he prophesied that in that case they would bury the two religions in India and would sell their freedom for a mess of pottage.
The second question was: Could partition of Bengal be avoided in view of the rising Hindu opinion in its favour?

Gandhi recognized the force of that opinion. He himself was not in a position to pronounce an opinion. But he could say without fear of contradiction that if there was partition, the Muslim majority would be responsible for it and, what was more, the Muslim Government that was in power. If he was the Prime Minister Of Bengal, he would plead with his Hindu brethren to forget the past. He would say to them that he was as much a Bengali as they were. Differences in religion could not part the two. We and they spoke the same language, had inherited the same culture. All that was Bengal’s was common to both, of which both should be equally proud. Bengal was Bengal. It was neither the Punjab, nor Bombay, nor anything else. If the Prime Minister could possibly take up that attitude he (the speaker) would undertake to go with him from place to place and reason with Hindu audiences, and he made bold to say that there would not be a Hindu opponent left for the unity of Bengal, the unity for which the Hindus and the Muslims had fought so valiantly and undone ‘the settled fact’ of so powerful a Viceroy as Lord Corson. If he were Janab Suhrawardy, he would invite the Hindus to partition his body before they thought of partitioning Bengal. If he had that sturdy love for Bengal and the Bengalis, whether Hindus or Muslims, that love would melt the stoniest Hindu heart, as it was their fear and suspicion that had seized the Hindu mind. He could not forget Noakhal8I or even Calcutta if all he heard was true, as it was equally true of the Muslim mind in Bihar, And he had not hesitated to tell the Hindus of Bihar that they should remove all suspicion and fear from the Muslim mind. He believed in the sovereign rule of the law of Love which made no distinctions.

Q. You have advised us to work for an undivided Bengal. But can there be an undivided Bengal with a divided India?
A. The answer was that if what he had said was well understood, it followed that nothing could happen without the joint wish of both the Hindus and the Muslims. If a third party as not to decide their fate, it could be only decided by their joint will. Then there was no question as yet of a divided India. If the distant event unfortunately did come to pass, the joint and free will of Hindu and Muslim Bengalis would decide which part to join.

Q. When everything at the top goes wrong, can the goodness of the people at the bottom assert itself against its mischievous influence?
A. If the people at the top went wrong, it was certainly open to, and it was the duty of those at the bottom, to remove the wrong top even as he would remove an umbrella which appeared to be at the top but which was sustained by him.
Thus Pandit Nehru was at the top. But in reality he was sustained by them. If he went wrong, those at the bottom could remove him without trouble. Coming nearer home, if he found Suhrawardy Saheb (the Bengal Premier) to be unworthy, they at the bottom could certainly remove him, not by physical force but by the way he had the honour of putting before them.
It all boiled down to the fact that if the people at the bottom were ignorant, they would be exploited. Such was the case with the English. When they realized their strength and the fact that thee bottom sustained the top, it would be will with them. There fore, he would say that if the top was wrong there was something radically wrong with the bottom. Let them, therefore, dispel their ignorant helplessness.

H, 25-5-47, 165 and 166.

Views Regarding the Partition of India: After the Event

526. On the evening of the 3rd (of June 1947) the Viceroy followed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah and Sardar Baldev Singh spoke to the people on the radio. The reactions to H. M. G.’s announcement were mixed. Most of the Hindus were sad. They all disliked the vivisection of India. But they could not let India bleed continuously. A surgical operation was to be preferred under the circumstances. Speaking on the plan embodied in H. M. G.’s announcement Gandhiji said that he had already told them over and over again that to yield even an inch to force was wholly wrong. The Working Committee holds that they had not yielded to the force of arms but they had to yield to the force of circumstances. The vast majority of Congressmen did not want unwilling partners. Hence, after careful weighing of the pros and cons of the vital issues at stake they had reluctantly agreed to the secession from the Union that was being framed of those parts which had boycotted the Constituent Assembly.

Gandhiji expressed sorrow at what he considered was a mistaken policy of the Muslim League. They feared Hindu domination, they said, and desired to rule in what they were mistaken in calling their own homelands. As a matter of fact, however, India was the homeland of all who were born and bred in India. Would the Muslim homeland live in isolation? Was not the Punjab as much the homeland of the Hindus, the Sikhs, the Christians, the Jews and the Parsis who were of the Punjab?
Gandhiji could not blame the Viceroy for what had happened. It was the act of the Congress and the League.

Gandhiji had done his best to get the people to stand by the Cabinet Mission Statement of May 16th, but had failed. But what was their duty and theirs in the face of the accepted fact? He was a servant of the Congress because he was a servant of the country, and he could never be disloyal to them. Panditji and the Viceroy had said that nothing had been imposed upon anyone. The agreement that was embodied in the announcement being a voluntary act of the parties, could be varied by them at any stage by mutual consent.

Referring to the newspaper report that Gandhiji had differed from the decision of the working Committee and that the A. I. C. C. would raise its voice against it, Gandhiji said that the A. I. C. C. had appointed the Working Committee and they could not lightly discard its decisions. Supposing the Working Committee signed a promissory note on behalf of the A. I. C. C., the A. I. C. C. had to honour it. The Working committee might make a mistake. They could punish it by removing it. But they could not go back upon the decision already taken by it. He might differ from the Working Committee. But having stated the fact, he would recommend their decision for acceptance. He was of the opinion that they could still mend the situation to a large extent.

Some people asked him whether he would undertake a fast unto death in view of the decision of the congress working committee accepting division of India. Had not he called Pakistan a sin in which he could never participate? Replying to this such fasts could not be lightly undertaken. They could conceivably be wholly undesirable. They could not be undertaken out of anger. Anger was a short madness. He must, therefore, undertake the fast only when the still small voice within him called for it. He was servant of the country and, therefore, of the Congress. Was he to fast because the Congress differed form his views? He had to be patient. There were occasions enough for being impatient. The Congress seemed to stand for projects of industrialism in which he saw no deliverance for the masses from their grinding poverty. He did not believe in mill-made civilization as he did not in mill-made cloth. He did not believe in an army for the removal of the menace to the real freedom of the country. If he was to impatiently fast, in the symptoms he had described and others he could add, there were reasons enough to justify a fast unto death. He felt that he must be steadfast in the midst of the fire raging round him and prove his faith in the ultimate triumph of truth. –H, I5-6-47, I93, I95, I94.


527. Last evening, I showed why the coming freedom seemed to create no enthusiasm. This evening I propose to show how we can, if we will, turn the calamity into a blessing. It will profit us nothing to brood over the past or to blame this party or that. Technically freedom is yet to come a few days hence. In fact, the parties having jointly accepted the situation, there is no turning back. Only the inscrutable Providence can undo what men have agreed to do.

One easy and ready way is for the congress and the League to come together and arrive at a mutual understanding without the intervention of the Viceroy. The League has to make the first move. I do not at all suggest the undoing of Pakistan. Let that be treated as an established fact beyond dispute or discussion. But they can sit together in a mud hut large enough to accommodate not more than ten representatives and undertake not to part till they have reached an agreement. I dare swear that if such an event occurs, it will be infinitely better than the Bill recognizing the Independence of India cut up into two states enjoying equal status.

Neither the Hindus nor the Muslims are happy over what is happening before their helpless selves. This is first-hand evidence unless the Hindus and the Muslims who daily see me or correspond with me are deceiving me. But-it is a big but-I seem to be aiming at the impossible. Now that British intervention has done the trick, how can the League be expected to come down to their adversaries and produce an agreed settlement as between brothers and friends?

There is an alternative which is also, almost if not quite, as difficult. This creation of two armies be created, not in order to "face and fight common danger but to destroy one another and demonstrate to a gaping world that they were unfit for any other purpose but to fight one another unto death?

I have put the prospect in its awful nakedness so that everyone may see and shun it. The alternative escape is undoubtedly attractive. Will the vast mass of the Hindus and those who had joined them in the struggle for Independence realize the danger in its proper perspective and rise to the occasion and swear even now that they do not wish to have an army at all or at least refuse ever to use it against their Muslim brethren whether in the Union or outside it in Pakistan? This proposal is tantamount to asking the Hindus and their associates to turn thirty years’ weakness into strength of great beauty. Perhaps to state the Problem thus is to demonstrate its absurdity-may be God has been known making for the sake of all the parties who have subscribed to the dangerous division of the army into two self-destroying warring camps.—H, 20-7-47, 24I.


528. The Englishman was quitting because he had discovered that it was wrong on economic and political grounds to hold India in bondage. Herein he was quite sincere. It would not be denied, however, that sincerity was quite consistent with self-deception. He was self-deceived in that he believed that he could not leave India to possible anarchy if such was to be India’s lot. He was quite content to leave India as a cockpit between two organized armies. Before quitting, he was setting the seal of approval on the policy of playing off one community against another. And he lacked the courage to do the right so far as the States were concerned. The speaker admitted freely that if the Englishman left India in an uncertain condition and left the possibility of several warring States, all independent of England and, therefore, of one another, he could not conceive a greater reflection on the British name than this would be.

H, 20-7-47, 242.


529. The Congress has always kept a broad vision. Today it is needed more than ever before. It is permissible to say that India has accepted partition at the point of the bayonet. This settled fact cannot be unsettled in the same way. The two can be one only when there is heart unity.
The omens today seem to point to the contrary. During the crisis the Congress must stand firm as a rock.H, I0-8-47, 272.


530. The leaders had agreed to the partition as the last resort. They did not feel that they had made a mistake. Rather than let the whole country go to dogs, they agreed to the partition, hoping to give the country a much needed rest. He felt differently. He had said that he would rather let the whole country be reduced to ashes than yield an inch to violence.

-H. 27-7-47, 253.


531. A question has been and is being asked. If you are sure that India is going the wrong way, why do you associate with the wrongdoers? Why do you not plough your own lonely furrow and have faith that if you are right, your erstwhile friends and followers will seek you out? I regard this as a very fair question. I must not attempt to against it. All I can say is that my faith is asstrong as ever. It is quite possible that my technique is faulty. There are old and tried precedents to guide one in such a complexity. Only, no one should act mechanically. Hence I can say to all my counselers that they there should have patience with me and even share my belief that there is no hope for the aching world except through the narrow and straight path of nonviolence. Millions like me may fail to prove the truth in their own lives; that would be their failure, never of the eternal law.—H, 29-6-47, 209.

Non-violence in New-born India

532. There was no doubt, Gandhiji said, that murder, arson. Loot etc. were never sop rampant. He had admitted his share of responsibility for the sorry state of things by saying that what was done during the past thirty years under his leadership was no better than passive resistance. It was good enough to induce the British power to quit India. Passive resistance, unlike non-violence, had no power to change men’s hearts. The consequences they know but too well. They need not engage further attention. The Swaraj of their dreams was far off. What was to be done to convert the poison into nectar? Was the process possible? He knew that it was and he thought he knew the way too. But whereas the Indian mind was ready to respond to the effort at passive resistance, it was not receptive enough to imbibe the lesson of non-violence which, and perhaps which alone, was capable of turning the poison into the heart to adopt the golden path. He could proclaim from the house-top that non-violence had not, had never, failed. The people failed to rise to it. He did not mind being told that he did not know the technique of propagating non-violence. His critics even went so far as to suggest that he had no non-violence in himself. God alone knew men’s hearts. He could say with confidence that if the world was to have peace, non-violence was the means to that end and no other.—H, 20-7-47, 242.


533. Non-violence was his creed. It was not so with the congress. The Congress had accepted non-violence as a policy. Badshah Khan was the only leader who believed in non-violence as a creed. Even he had not imbibed the doctrine through and through.
"I have admitted my mistake, I thought our struggle was based on nonviolence, whereas in reality it was no more than passive resistance, which essentially is a weapon of the weak. It leads naturally to armed resistance whenever possible."
The struggle in the Transvaal was not passive resistance. It was based on non-violence. The source of their strength was soul force, not physical force. Intoxicated with his success in South Africa he came to India. Here too the struggle bore fruit. But he now realized that it was not based on nonviolence. If he had known so then, he would not have launched the struggle. But God wanted to take that work from him. So He blurred his vision. It was because their struggle was not non-violent that they today witnessed loot, arson and murder. –H, 27-7-47, 253.


534. I would love to attempt an answer to a question which has been addressed to me from more than one quarter of the globe. It is:
How can you account for the growing violence among your people on the part of political parties for the furtherance of political ends? Is this the result of thirty years of non-violent practice for ending British rule? Does your message of non-violence still hold good for the world? I have condensed the sentiments of my correspondents in my own language.

In answer I must confess my bankruptcy, not that of non-violence. I have already said that the non-violence that was offered during the past thirty years was that of the weak. Whether it is a good enough answer or not is for others to judge. It must be further admitted that such non-violence can have no play in the altered circumstances. India has no experience of the non-violence of the strong. It serves no purpose for me to continue to repeat that the non-violence of the strong is the strongest force in the world. The truth requires constant and extensive demonstration. This I am endeavouring to do to the best of my ability. What if the best of my ability is very little? May I not be living in a fool’s paradise? These are pertinent questions. My answer is quite simple. I ask nobody to follow me. Everyone should follow his or her own inner voice. If he or she has no ears to listen to it, he or she should do the best he or she can. In no case should he or she imitate others sheep-like. –H, 29-6-47, 209.


535. Let me make one thing clear. I have rankly and fully admitted that what we practiced during the past thirty years was not non-violent resistance but passive resistance which only the weak offer because they are unable, not unwilling, to offer armed resistance. If we knew the use of non-violent resistance which only those with hearts of oak can offer, we would present to the world a totally different picture of tree India instead of and India cut in twain, one part highly suspicious of the other and the two too much engaged in mutual strife to be ale to think cogently of the food and clothing of the hungry and naked millions who know no religion but that of the one and only God who appears to them in the guise of the necessaries of life.- 27-7-47, 251.

Regarding Kashmir

536. Gandhiji’s ahimsa forbade him from denying credit, where it was due, even though the creditor was a believer in violence. Thus, though he did not accept Subhas Bose’s belief in violence and his consequent action, he had not refrained from giving unstinted praise to his patriotism, resourcefulness and bravery. Similarly, though he did not approve of the use of arms by the Union Government for aiding the Kashmiris and though he could not approve of Sheikh Abdulla’s resort to arms, he could not possibly withhold admiration for either for their resourceful and praiseworthy conduct, especially, if both the relieving troops and the Kashmiri defenders died heroically to a man. He knew that if they could do so, they would perhaps change the face of India. But if the defense was purely non-violent in intention and action, he would not use the word ‘perhaps’, for, he would be sure of change in the face of India even to the extent of converting to the defender’s view the Union Cabinet, if not even the Pakistan Cabinet.

The non-violent technique he would suggest, would be no armed assistance to the defenders. Nonviolent assistance could be sent from the Union without stint. But the defenders, whether they got such assistance or not, would defy the might of the raiders or even a disciplined army in overwhelming numbers. And defenders dying at their post of duty without malice and without anger in their hearts against the assailants, and without the use of arms including even their fists would mean an exhibition of heroism as yet unknown in history. Kashmir would then become a holy land shedding the fragrance not only throughout India, but the world.

Having described non-violent action, he had to confess his own impotence, in that his word lacked the strength, which perfect mastery over self as described in the concluding lines of the second chapter of the Gita, gave. He lacked the tapashcharya requisite for the purpose. He could only pray and invite the audience to pray with him to God, that if it pleased Him, He might arm him with the qualifications he had just described.–H, 16-11-47, 413.

In A Moment of Supreme Anguish

537. New Delhi,12-1-48
One fasts for health’s sake under laws governing health, fasts as a penance for a wrong done and felt as such. In these fasts, the fasting one need not believe in ahimsa. There is, however, a fast which a votary of non-violence sometimes fees impelled to undertake by way of protest against some wrong done by society and this he does when he as a votary of ahimsa has no other remedy left. Such an occasion has come my way.

When on September 9th I returned to Delhi from Calcutta, it was to proceed to the West Punjab. But that was not to be. Gay Delhi looked like a city of the dead. As I alighted from the train I observed gloom on every face I saw. Even the Sardar, whom humour and the joy that humour gives never desert, was no exception this time. The cause of it I did not know. He was on the platform to receive me. He lost no time in giving me the sad news of the disturbances that had taken place in the Metropolis of the Union. At once I saw that I had to be in Delhi and ‘do or die’. There is apparent calm brought about by prompt military and police action, But there is storm within the breast. It may burst forth any day. This I count as no fulfillment of the vow to ‘do’ which alone can keep me from death, the incomparable friend, I yearn for heart friendship between the Hindus, the Sikhs and the Muslims. It subsisted between them the other day. Today it is non-existent. It is a state that no Indian patriot worthy of the name can contemplate with equanimity. Though the Voice within has been beckoning for a long time, I have been shutting my ears to It, lest it may be the voice of Satan otherwise called my weakness. I never like to feel resource less, a satyagrahi never should. Fasting is his last resort in the place of the sword – his or other’s. I have no answer to return to the Muslim friends who see me from day to day as to what they should do. My impotence has been gnawing at me of late. It will go immediately the fast is undertaken. I have been brooding over it for the last three days. The final conclusion has flashed upon me and it makes me happy. No man, if he is pure, has anything more precious to give than his life. I hope and pray that I have that purity in me to justify the step.

I ask you to bless the effort and to pray for me and with me. The fast begins from the first meal tomorrow. The period is indefinite and I may drink water with or without salts and sour limes. It will end when and if I am satisfied that there is a reunion of hearts of al the communities brought about without any outside pressure, but from an awakened sense of duty. The reward will be the regaining if India’s dwindling prestige and her fast fading sovereignty over the heart of Asia and there through the world. I flatter myself with the belief that the loss of her soul by India will mean the loss of the hope of the aching, storm tossed and hungry world. Let no friend, or foe if there be one, be angry with me. There are friends who do not believe in the method of the fast for the reclamation of the human mind. They will bear with me and extend to me the same liberty of action that they claim for themselves. With God as my supreme and sole counselor, I felt that I must take the decision without any other adviser. If I have made a mistake and discover it, I shall have no hesitation in proclaiming it from the housetop and retracing my faulty step. There is little chance of my making such a discovery. If there is clear indication, as I claim there is, of the Inner Voice, it will not be gainsaid. I plead for all absence of argument and inevitable endorsement of the step. If the whole of India responds or at least Delhi does, the fast might be soon ended.

But whether it ends soon or late or never, let there be no softness in dealing with what may be termed as a crisis. Critics have regarded some of my previous fasts as coercive and held that on merits the verdict would have gone against my sand but for the pressure exercised by the fasts. What value can an adverse verdict have when the purpose is demonstrably sound? A pure fast like duty, is its own reward. I do not embark upon it for the sake of the result it may bring. I do so because I must. Hence, I urge everybody dispassionately to examine the purpose and let me die, if I must, in peace, which I hope is ensured. Death for me would be a glorious deliverance rather than that I should be a helpless witness of the destruction of India, Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam. That destruction is certain if Pakistan ensures no equality of status and security of life and property for all professing the various faiths of the would and if India copies her. Only then Islam dies in the two Indies, not in the world. But Hinduism and Sikhism have no world outside India. Those who differ from me will be honored by me for their resistance however implacable. Let my fast quicken conscience, not deaden it. Just contemplate the rot that has set in beloved India and you will rejoice to think that there is an humble son of hers who is strong enough and possibly pure enough to take the happy step. If he is neither, he is a burden on earth. The sooner he disappears and clears the Indian atmosphere of the burden the better for him and all concerned.

I would beg of all friends not to rush to Burlap House nor try to dissuade me or be anxious for me. I am in God’s hands. Rather, they should turn the searchlight inwards, for this is essentially a testing time for al of us. Those who remain at their post of duty and perform it diligently and well, now more than hitherto, will help me and the cause in every way. The fast is a process of self-purification. –H, 18-1-48, 523.

His Politics and Economics for Free India

538. A correspondent asks whether I would leave politics after the 15th when India will be free.
In the first instance there is no freedom approaching the Kingdom of God. We seem to be as far from it as ever. And in any case the life of the millions is my politics from which I dare not free myself without denying my life work and God. That my politics may take a different turn is quite possible. But that will be determined by circumstances. –H, 17-8-47, 281


539. In Gandhiji’s opinion, the departure from the straight path of non-violence they had made at times in 1942, was very probably responsible for the aberration to which he had referred. He instanced also the spirit of general lawlessness which had seized them in as much as they dared to travel without tickets, pull chains unlawfully or in senseless vindictiveness, burn zamindars crops or belongings. He was no lover of the zamindars system. He had often spoken against it; but he frankly confessed that he was not the enemy of the zamindars. He owned no enemies. The best way to bring about reform in the economic and social systems, whose evils were admittedly many, was through the royal road of self-suffering. Any departure from it only resulted in merely changing the form of the evil that was sought to be liquidated violently. Violence was incapable of destroying the evil root and branch. –H, 30-3-47, 87.


540. Gandhiji had also a visit from the zamindars who, among other things had complained of growing lawlessness among the peasantry and labour. He deplored the fact. It was a blot on the fair name of Bihar. Such lawlessness was criminal and was bound to involve the very peasantry and labour in ruin, let alone the zamindars who were after all a handful. He was quite prepared t say for the sake of argument that the zamindars were guilty of many crimes and of omissions and commissions. But that was no reason for the peasant and the labourer who were the salt of the earth to copy crime. If salt lost its savour wherewith could it be salted?
The Kisans had a rich experience of non-violent satyagraha when their amazing restraint brought about the end of a century-old wrong in the shape of the indigo grievance and planters raj in Champaran. He hoed they would not forget the lesson of that rich experience.
To the landlords he said that if what was said against them was true he would warn them that their days were numbered. They could no longer continue as lords and masters. They had a bright future if they became the trustees of the poor Kisans. He had in mind not trustees in name but in reality. Such trustees would take; nothing for themselves that their labour and care did not entitle them to. Then they would find that no law would be able to touch them. The Kisans would be their friends.

H, 4-5-47, 134.


541. The speaker then came to the topic he wanted to discuss that evening. He reminded them that the previous evening he had said that in a free India they would neither have Birla Raj nor Nawab of Bhopal Raj. They would have Panchayat Raj. –H, 8-6-47, 183.


542. Q. The majority of Socialists claim that if there was a socialist revolution the economic question will come to the forefront throwing the communal conflict to the background. Do you agree? If such a revolution takes place, will it promote the establishment of the Kingdom of God which you cal Ramarajya?
A. The economic conflict you envisage is likely to make the Hindu-Muslim tension less acute. Even the end of the Hindu-Muslim conflict will not end all our troubles. What is happening is this. With the end of slavery and the dawn of independence, all the weaknesses of society are bound to come to the surface. I do not see any reason to be unnecessarily upset about it. If we keep the balance at such a time, every tangle will be solved. As far as the economic question is concerned it has to be solved in any case. Today there is gross economic inequality. The basis of socialism is economic equality. There can be no Ramarajya in the present state of iniquitous inequalities in which a few roll in riches and the theory socialism even while I was in South Africa. My opposition to the Socialists and others consists it attacking violence as a means of effecting any lasting reform.

Q. You say that a Raja, a zamindar or a capitalist should be a trustee for the poor. Do you think that any such exists today? Or do you expect them to be so transformed?
A. I think that some very few exist even today, though not in the full sense of the term. They are certainly moving in that direction. It can, however, be asked whether the present Rajas and others can be expected to become trustees of the poor. If they do not become trustees of their own accord, force of circumstances will compel the reform unless they court utter destruction. When Panchayat Raj is established, public opinion will do what violence can never do. The present power of the zamindars, the capitalists and the Rajas can hold sway only so long as the common people do not realize their own strength. If the people non-co-operate with the evil of zamindari or capitalism, it must die of inanition. In Panchayat Raj only the Panchayat will be obeyed and the Panchayat can only work through the law of
their making.—H, I-6-47, 172.

Provincialism

543. (Gandhiji) then referred to the provincial spirit that seemed to be infecting the provinces. Thus, he saw in the papers that some Assamese thought that Assam belonged exclusively to the Assamese. If that spirit fired every province, to whom could India belong? He held that the people of all the provinces belonged to India and India belonged to all. The only condition was that no one could go and settle in another province to exploit it or rule it or to injure its interest in any way. All were servants of India and they lived only in the spirit of service. –H, 7-9-47, 311.


544. Bihar is undoubtedly for Biharis but it is also for India. What is true of Bihar is equally true of all the provinces in the Union. No Indian can be treated as a foreigner in Bihar as he may be treated in Pakistan of today and vice versa. It is necessary to bear th8is difference in mind if we are to avoid difficulties and heart-burn.

Though then every Indian of the Union has a right to settle in Bihar, he must not do so to oust the Biharis . If the qualification was not actively operated, it is possible to conceive such an inrush of non-Bihari Indians as to flood out the Biharis. We are thus forced to the conclusion that a non-Bihari who settles in Bihar must do so to serve Bihar, not to exploit it after the manner of our old masters.

This way of examining the proposition rings us to the question of the zamindars and the ryots. When a non-Bihari enters Bihar for the sake of making money, he will in all probability do so to exploit the ryots in league with the zamindars. If the zamindars really become the trustees of their zamindari for the sake of the ryots, there never could be any unholy league as has been here conceived. There is the difficult zamindari question awaiting solution in Bihar. What one would love to see is proper, impartial and satisfactory understanding between the zamindars, big and small, the ryots and the Government so that when the law is passed, it may not be a dead letter nor need force be used against the zamindars or the ryots. Would that all changes, some of which must be radical, take place throughout India without bloodshed and without force! So much for the new-comer from the other provinces of India.

What about the services? It seems 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 kept backward if India is to stand up 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 in the socialism I have recently described in these columns. That means elimination of all force for the sake of popularizing one’s doctrines and 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 yours so as not to injure others,’ is a famous maxim of equity. It is also a and moral code of conduct. How apposite today!

Hitherto I have dealt with the question of new arrivals. What of those who were on the 15th of August in Bihar—some in Government employment and some otherwise employed? So far as I can see, they should be on the same footing as the Biharis unless they make another choice. Naturally, they should not form a separate colony as it they were foreigners. ‘Live in Rome as the Romans do’, is a sound commonsense maxim so long as it does not apply to Roman vices. The process of progressive blending must be one of rejecting the bad and absorbing the good. As a Gujarati in Bengal, I must quickly absorb all that is good in Bengal and never touch that which is bad. I must ever serve Bengal, never selfishly exploit it. 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. –H, 21-9-47, 332.

Regarding the Congress Organization

545. Gandhiji next took up the thread of his talk at Hilsa where he had dropped it the day before. He had heard from variousquarters that ever since the acceptance of office by the Congress it was abandoning its tradition of penance, sacrifice and service, so painfully built up during its glorious history of over 60 years, from its humble beginnings in 1885 to the present day when it had become a mighty organization having millions of followers. They said it was fast becoming an organization of selfish power-seekers and job-hunters. Instead of remaining the servants of the public, Congressmen had become its lords and masters. The Congress was, moreover, torn by petty intrigues and group rivalries. What he said was moreover, torn by petty intrigues and group rivalries. What he said was true of all the provinces. If that continued, he was afraid Indians would not be able to retain the precious thing that was approaching. For that they required knowledge, understanding and purity of mind. If the Congress and the League did not retain the requisite purity and strength, they would find all power slipping from their hands. They could not hope to maintain it with the help of the bayonet like the British. All their power came from the people, who were the real masters, though they might not realize it at the moment. The Congress won their confidence through years of service. If it betrayed them, he was afraid, they would fall a prey to the white-robed goondas of society in whose hands all power would pass. –H, 1-6-47, 175.


546. Indian National Congress which is the oldest national political organization and which has after many battles fought her non-violent way to freedom cannot be allowed to die. It can only die with the nation. A loving organism ever grows or it dies. The Congress has won political freedom, but it has yet to win economic freedom, social and moral freedom. These freedoms are harder than the political, if only because they are constructive, less exciting and not spectacular. All-embracing constructive work evokes the energy of all the units of the millions.

The Congress has got the preliminary and necessary part of her freedom. The hardest has yet to come. In its difficult ascent to democracy, it has inevitably created rotten boroughs, leading to corruption and creation of institutions, popular and democratic only in name. How to get out of the weedy and unwieldy growth?

The Congress must do away with its special register of members, at no time exceeding one crore, not even then easily identifiable. It had an unknown register of millions who could never be wanted. Its register should now be co-extensive with all the men and women on the voters’ rolls in the country. The Congress business should be to see that no faked name gets in and no legitimate name is left out. On its own register it will have a body of servants of the nation who would be workers doing the work allotted to them from time to time.

Unfortunately for the country they will be drawn chiefly for the time being from the city dwellers, most of whom would be required to work for and in the villages of India. The ranks must be filled in increasing numbers from villagers.

These servants will be expected to operate upon and serve the voters registered according to law, in their own surroundings. Many persons and parties will woo them. The very best will win. Thus and in no other way can the Congress regain its fast ebbing unique position in the country. But yesterday the Congress was unwittingly the servant of the Nation, it was Khudai khidmatgar –God’s servant. Let it now proclaim to itself and the world that it is only God’s servant—nothing more, nothing less. If it engages in the ungainly skirmish for power, it will find one fine morning that it is no more. Thank God, it is now no longer in sole possession of the field.

I have only opened to view the distant scene. If I have the time and health, I hope to discuss in these columns what the servants of the Nation can do to raise themselves in the estimation of their masters, the whole of the adult population, male and female.
New Delhi, 27-1-48 --H, 1-2-48, 4.


547.(The last public document handed over to the Secretary of the Indian National Congress on the forenoon of the 30th of January, 1948.)

Though split into two, India having attained political independence through means devised by the Indian National Congress, the congress in its present shape and form i.e. as a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine, has outlived its use. India has still to attain social, moral and economic independence in terms of its 700,000 villages as distinguished from its cities and towns.

The struggle for the ascendancy of civil over military power is bound to take place in India’s progress towards its democratic goal. It must be kept out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies. For these and other similar reasons, the A.I.C.C. resolves to disband the existing Congress organization and flower into a Lok sevak Sangh under the following rules with power to alter them as occasion may demand.

Every Panchayat of five adult men and women being villagers or village-minded shall forma unit. Two such contiguous Panchayats shall form a working party under all leader elected from among themselves.

When there are 100 such panchayats, the 50 first grade leaders shall elect from among themselves a second grade leader and so on; the first grade leaders meanwhile working under the second grade leader. Parallel groups of 200 panchayats shall continue to be formed till they cover the whole of India, each succeeding group of panchayats electing second grade leaders after the manner of the first. All second grade leaders shall serve jointly for the whole of India and severally for their respective areas. The second grade leaders may elect whenever they deem necessary from among themselves chief who will, during pleasure, regulate and command all the groups.

As the final formation of provinces of districts is still in a state of flux, no attempt has been made to divide this group of servants into provincial or district councils and jurisdiction over the whole of India has been established in the group or groups that may have been formed at any given time. It should be noted that this body of servants derive their authority or power from service ungrudgingly and wisely done to their master, the whole of India.

1. Ever worker shall be a habitual wearer of khadi made from self-spun yarn of certified by the A.I.S.A. and must be a teetotaller. If a Hindu, he must have abjured untouchability in any shape or form in his own person or in his family. He must be a believer in the ideal of inter-communal unity with equal respect and regard for all religions and equality of opportunity and status for all, irrespective of race, creed or sex.
2. He shall come in personal contact with every villager within his jurisdiction.
3. He shall enroll and train workers from amongst the villagers and keep a register of all these.
4. He shall keep a record of his work from day to day.
5. He shall organize the villages so as to make them self-contained and self-supporting through their agriculture and handicrafts.
6. He shall educate the village-folk in sanitation and hygiene and take all measures for prevention of ill-health and disease among them.
7. He shall organize the education of village-folk from birth to death along the lines of Nayee Talim, in accordance with the policy laid down by the Hindustani Talimi Sangh.
8. He shall see that those whose names are missing o the statutory voters’ rolls are duly entered therein.
9. He shall encourage those who have not yet acquired the legal qualification to acquire it, for getting the right of franchise.
10. For the above purposes and others to be added from time to time, he shall train and fit himself in accordance with the rules laid down by the Sangh for the due performance of duty.

The Sangh shall affiliate the following autonomous bodies: 1. A.I.S.A., 2. A.I.V.I.A., 3. Hindustani Talimi Sangh, 4. Harijan Sevak Sangh, 5. Goseva Sangh.
Finance: The Sangh shall raise finances for the fulfillment of its mission from among the villagers and others, special stress being laid on collection of poor man’s pice.—HS, 4-2-48.