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19. Superstitions die hard
Mr. Henry Eaton writes from California:
"In America many of us are sure that once Britain is out of India, Russia will step in. We cannot visualize the India of the present, the India with her caste system and her primitive methods of manufacture and agriculture, defending herself against Western invasion. You have no national organization for protection. There is no unity in India. Unity had been essential to the rise of Western culture and civilization. There also seems to be no progress, as we look on progress in the West, in India. You yourself advocate the return to the old methods of weaving. Have you, with your great intelligence, no realization of the inevitability of change, of moving forward?
You cannot go back from old age to childhood. How then can you go back from enlightened methods of weaving to unenlightened methods and hope to gain anything? While you work in the old way that is hard, you realize that there is a new way that is easy, and you cannot be satisfied with the old hard way. You see how Japan had risen to power by adopting the new way and even China is awakening. India alone seems not to realize the importance of the new ways of the world. How is it that you, her great leader, do not preach progress to your people?"
This letter betrays two superstitions. One of them is that India is unfit: to govern herself because she cannot defend herself and is torn with internal dissensions. The writer gratuitously assumes that, if Britain withdraws, Russia is ready to pounce upon India. This is an insult to Russia. Is Russia's one business to rule over those peoples who are not ruled by Britain? And if Russia has such nefarious designs upon India, does not the writer see that the same power that will oust the British from domination is bound to prevent any other domination?
Personally, I should rely more upon the capacity of the nation to offer civil resistance to any aggressor as it did last year with partial success in the case of the British occupier. Complete success awaits complete assimilation of non-violence in thought, word and deed by the nation. An ocular demonstration of the success of nationwide Satyagraha must be a prelude to its worldwide acceptance and hence as a natural corollary to the admission of the futility of armament. The only antidote to armament, which is the visible symbol of violence, is Satyagraha, the visible symbol of non-violence. But the writer is oppressed also by the fear of our dissensions. In the first place, they are grossly exaggerated in transmission to the West. In the second place, they are hardened during foreign control. Imperial rule means divide et impera. They must, therefore, melt with the withdrawal of the frigid foreign rule and the introduction of the warmth giving sunshine of real freedom.
Lastly, I do not subscribe to the belief that everything old is bad. Truth is old and difficult. Untruth has many attractions. But I would gladly go back to the very old Golden Age of Truth. Good old brown bread is any day superior to the pasty white bread which has lost much of its nutritive value in going through the various processes of refinement. The list of old and yet good things can be endlessly multiplied. The spinning wheel is one such thing, at any rate for India.
When India becomes self-supporting, self-reliant, and proof against temptations and exploitation, she will cease to be the object of greedy attraction for any power in the West or the East and will then feel secure without having to carry the burden of expensive armament. Her internal economy will be India's strongest bulwark against aggression.
Young India, 2-7-1931