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STUDENTS' PROJECTS > TO STUDENTS > A Poona correspondent writes :
 

A Poona correspondent writes:

A Poona correspondent writes:

"Students are now going on long leave for their summer vacation. Most of them will leave the cities and go to their native places. Looking to the urgent exigencies in the country due to the war situation, and its consequent responsibilities of the people of India, will it not be useful if a message is sent to the student world reminding them of their responsibility and duty at this critical juncture? May I therefore request you to kindly issue an appeal at the earliest to the students calling them for some action during the vacation and after? My humble suggestions are as follows:

1. Reading out the news to the villagers about the War and the Indian political situation and special articles from the Harijan.

2. Explaining to them the present emergency and possible events,

3. Organizing Nagarika Samrakshana Dals.

4. Propagating and organizing the idea of self-sufficiency in villages, so far as food and clothing is concerned.

5. A persistent campaign against untouchability. It is possible that the students, some of whom are under the fanatic influence of communal organizations, might harm rather than help the cause in view. But we have to take chances with the students as they are, and hence I have deliberately dropped, out of the above list. items of communal unity and Congress ideology and mentioned only such items as would give least scope for either communal or ideological difference".

Gandhiji replies:

"I have no difficulty in endorsing the suggestions made by the correspondent.

Self-sufficiency is a big word. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has adopted that and self-reliance as slogans in his U. P. speeches. They should prove catching at this juncture. Villages will be swept away, if they are not self-sufficient as to their primary wants and self­reliant as to their protection against internal disruption by dissensions and disease and external danger from thieves and dacoits.Self-sufficiency, therefore, means all the cotton processes and growing of seasonal food crops and fodder for cattle. Unless this is done there will be starvation. And self-reliance means corporate organization ensuring adjustment of internal differences through arbitration by the wise men of villages and cleanliness by corporate attention to sanitation and common diseases. No mere individual effort is going to suffice. And above all villagers must be taught to feel their own strength by combined effort to make their villages proof against thieves and dacoits. This is best done by corporate nonviolence. But if the way to nonviolence does not seem clear to workers, they will not hesitate to organize corporate defence through violence. I am not having in mind Congressmen who have adopted nonviolence as their final creed and so have no choice in the matter.

Thus the students, if they will, can have a strenuous vacation. Who knows that the vacation may not prove even indefinite? But if it is not, two months are good enough time for laying down a good foundation for self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

My correspondent is timid. There is no cause to fear communal strife. Students who take up village reorganization cannot afford to be communal. Communalism is an urban product fated to flourish only on urban soil. In rural areas the people are too poor and too interdependent to find time for communal quarrels. Be that as it may, student workers are assumed, for this note, to be free from the virus.

Harijan, 5-4-42


1. Conduct night and day schools with just a short course, well-conceived, to last for the period of the vacation.

2. Visit Harijan quarters and clean them, taking the assistance of the Harijans if they would give it.

3. Taking Harijan children for excursions, showing them sight near their village and teachings them how to study Nature, and generally interesting them in their surroundings, giving them by the way a working knowledge of geography and history.

4. Reading to them simple stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

5. Teaching them simple bhajans (devotional songs).

6. Cleaning the Harijans boys of all the dirt that they would find about their persons and giving both the grown ups and the children simple lessons in hygiene.

7. Taking a detailed census in selected areas of the condition of Harijans.

8. Taking medical aid to the ailing Harijans.

9. Every student should keep a log-book in which he should enter the details of his work, and at the end of the vacation a comprehensive but brief report of the results of their labours could be prepared and presented in their class/community after vacation.

Harijan, 1-4'33


Nagarika Samrakshana Dals - citizen protection groups

bhajans - devotional songs

Harijan - literally, man of God; the name Gandhiji gave for an 'untouchable'; name of a weekly edited by Mahatma Gandhi during1933-'48 which still continues