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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. V - THE VOICE OF TRUTH > Part II- Section IX : Political Ideas > A code of conduct for Governors and Ministers

 

67. A code of conduct for Governors and Ministers

  1. An Indian Minister or Governor should use as far as possible only Indian made goods… He and his family should wear nothing but Khadi, so that India’s poor can eke out a living. He should also ply the spinning wheel-the banner of non-violence.

  2. He should learn both the scripts (Hindi and Urdu), and avoid talking with his colleagues in English, freely use his regional language instead. Government communiques, orders and circulars should be issued, if possible in Hindustani only, which would create a widespread enthusiasm among the people to learn it and gradually, through such a natural process, it would become the national language.

  3. He should be completely free from all prejudices against any caste or creed, and from any favoritism towards his own relatives and friends. To the Minister, his own son or brother should rank no higher than any other ordinary citizen, including the poorest artisan or labourer.

  4. His private life should be so simple that it inspires respect, or even reverence. He should give one hour to productive physical labour as an incentive to the people. He should either spin for an hour or increase the agricultural output of the country by growing cereals or fruits and vegetables in his compound.

  5. Bungalows and motor cars should be ruled out of course; if he has to go far or on an urgent business, he should certainly use a car; but its use should be, definitely, very limited. I see that a car may perhaps be quite necessary.

  6. I wish that he live along with his colleagues in a compact colony, so that a group feeling is established easily. His family, too, can thereby cultivate close personal relationship with those of others Ministers.

  7. The other members of his family, including children should do the entire household work themselves, servants should be used as sparingly as possible.

  8. His rooms should not be furnished with expensive foreign-made furniture such as sofas, cupboards and chairs, especially at present, when crores of his countrymen do not have a single cotton mattress to sit upon even a piece of cloth to wear.

  9. Finally, he should neither drink nor smoke.

Biharni Komi Agman, (Gujarati), pp. 227-28


  1. An Indian Governor should, in his own person and in his surroundings, be a teetotaller. Without this, prohibition of the fiery liquid is well nigh inconceivable.

  2. He and his surroundings should represent hand-spinning as a visible token of identification with the dumb millions of India, a token of the necessity of ‘bread labour’ and organized non-violence as against organized violence on which the society of today seems to be based.

  3. He must dwell in a cottage accessible to all, though easily shielded from gaze, if he is to do efficient work. The British Governor naturally represented British might. For him and his was erected a fortified residence-a palace to be occupied by him and his numerous vassals who sustained his Empire. The Indian prototype may keep somewhat pretentious buildings for receiving princess and ambassadors of the world. For these, being guests of the Governor should constitute an education in what “Even Unto This Last” equality of all-should mean in concrete terms. For him no expensive furniture, foreign or indigenous. Plain living and high thinking must be his motto, not to adorn his entrance but to be exemplified in daily life.

  4. For him there can be no untouchability in any form whatsoever, no caste or creed or colour distinction. He must represent the best of all religious and all things Eastern or Western. Being a citizen of India, he must be a citizen of the world. Thus simply, one reads, did the Khalif Omar, with millions of treasure at his feet, live; thus lived Janaka of ancient times; thus lived, as I saw him, the Master of Eton in his residence in the midst of, and surrounded by, the sons of the Lords and Naobobs of the British Isles. Will the Governors of India of the famished millions do less?

  5. He will speak the language of the province of which he is the Governor and Hindustani, the lingua franca of India written in the Nagari or Urdu script. This is neither Sanskritzed Hindi nor Persianized Urdu. Hindustani is emphatically the language which is spoken by the millions north of the Vindhya Range.

  6. This does not pretend to be an exhaustive list of the virtues, that an Indian Governor should represent. It is merely illustrative.

Harijan, 24-8-47, p. 289