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141. Secular
Reverend Kellas, Principal of the Scottish Church College, came to see Gandhiji yesterday with some members of his staff. The principal question discussed was in connection with the relation between education, religion and the State. Gandhiji expressed the opinion that the State should undoubtedly be secular. Everyone living in it should be entitled to profess his religion without let or hindrance, so long as the citizen obeyed the common law of the land. There should be no interference with missionary effort, but no mission could enjoy the patronage of the State as it did during the foreign regime.
While discussing these matters with Principal Kellas, Gandhiji incidentally remarked that although we had thrown overboard British political supremacy, we had not yet been able to throw overboard the cultural one. In his characteristic style, he said, "We have discarded foreign power, not the unseen foreign influence." What he would like the new India of his dream to do was to lay the foundation of a new life in keeping with its natural surroundings. In every State in the world today, violence, even if it were for so-called defensive purpose only, enjoyed a status which was in conflict with the better elements of life. "The organization of the best in society," was the aim to which new India should dedicate herself; and this could be done only if we succeeded in demolishing the status which had been given to goondaism today.
One of the scientist members of the staff then asked Gandhiji what scientific men should do if they were now asked by the free Indian Government to engage in researches in furtherance of war and the atom bomb ? Gandhiji promptly replied, "Scientists to be worth the name should resist such a State unto death."
Calcutta, 17-8-'47
Harijan, 24-8-1947