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98. A Fair Hit
A correspondent writes :
"A report from New Delhi dated 16th April, published in The Times of India of the 18th says that at a prayer meeting held on Tuesday evening you said:
"1. 'The machinery and even engineers were all foreign. He had no enmity with machinery. Mills, he said, could not remove the poverty of India, but on the other hand had deprived crores of villagers of their work and practically ruined them. Those Indians responsible for ruining the villages had become foreigners and as such they should live in foreign countries.'
"How can you reconcile this statement with the gentlemen who form the Board of Trustees of the Kasturba Memorial Fund, the primary aim of which is to improve conditions in villages. The majority of these gentlemen are industrialists and owners of mills. Can they, who are responsible for ruining the villages, and still continue to ruin them by their mills, be ever capable of sin­cere help in improving the condition of villagers?
"2. You have so often talked and written against the curse of black markets. How many of the trustees of the Kasturba Me­morial Fund can lay their hands on their hearts and say they have not dealt in the black market either as buyers or sellers?"
This is a fair hit. That mill-owners and such others have joined the Kasturba Trust is a compliment to my Ahimsa. Though I express my opinions strongly,, there is no sting in them, nothing personal. I have no sense of shame in befriending mill-owners whose business, I hold, should be stopped, not forcibly but by reason. Education of the public could bring about results which no force can. I must say in favour of the capitalist class trustees that they never interfered with the decision of non-capitalist trustees. Indeed, they have always helped by their knowledge. The combination is good and beneficial to the Trust. Their sincerity cannot be questioned; for, they have faith in their capacity and the modern trend.
As to black markets, I do not know that any of the trustees have black market dealings. But should I discover any, I should think twice before inviting them to leave the Trust. They have not imposed themselves on the Trust.
Delhi, 21-5-'46
Harijan, 26-5-1946