Saturday, February 25, 2012

Action Plan for Indians by Gandhiji 1908-09 - In the Book Hind Swaraj

READER: From your views I gather that you would form a third party. You are neither an
extremist nor a moderate.
EDITOR: That is a mistake. I do not think of a third party at all. We do not all think alike.
We cannot say that all the moderates hold identical views. And how can those who want only
to serve have a party? I would serve both the moderates and the extremists. Where I differ from
them, I would respectfully place my position before them and continue my service.
READER: What, then, would you say to both the parties?
EDITOR: I would say to the extremists: “I know that you want Home Rule for India; it is
not to be had for your asking. Everyone will have to take it for himself. What others get for me
is not Home Rule but foreign rule; therefore, it would not be proper for you to say that you have
obtained Home Rule if you have merely expelled the English. I have already described the true
nature of Home Rule. This you would never obtain by force of arms. Brute-force is not natural
to Indian soil. You will have, therefore, to rely wholly on soul-force. You must not consider that
violence is necessary at any stage for reaching our goal.”
I would say to the moderates: “Mere petitioning is derogatory; we thereby confess inferiority.
To say that British rule is indispensable, is almost a denial of the Godhead. We cannot say
that anybody or anything is indispensable except God. Moreover, common sense should tell us
that to state that, for the time being, the presence of the English in India is a necessity, is to make
them conceited.
“If the English vacated India, bag and baggage, it must not be supposed that she would be
widowed. It is possible that those who are forced to observe peace under their pressure would
fight after their withdrawal. There can be no advantage in suppressing an eruption; it must have
its vent. If, therefore, before we can remain at peace, we must fight amongst ourselves, it is
better that we do so. There is no occasion for a third party to protect the weak. It is this so-called
protection which has unnerved us. Such protection can only make the weak weaker. Unless we
realize this, we cannot have Home Rule. I would paraphrase the thought of an English divine
and say that anarchy under Home Rule were better than orderly foreign rule. Only, the meaning
that the learned divine attached to Home Rule is different from Indian Home Rule according to
my conception. We have to learn, and to teach others, that we do not want the tyranny of either
English rule or Indian rule.”
If this idea were carried out, both the extremists and the moderates could join hands. There
is no occasion to fear or distrust one another.
READER: What, then, would you say to the English ?
EDITOR: To them I would respectfully say: “I admit you are my rulers. It is not necessary to
debate the question whether, you hold India by the sword or by my consent. I have no objection
to your remaining in my country, but although you are the rulers, you will have to remain as
servants of the people. It is not we who have to do as you wish, but it is you who have to do as
we wish. You may keep the riches that you have drained away from this land, but you may not
drain riches henceforth. Your function will be, if you so wish, to police India; you must abandon
the idea of deriving any commercial benefit from us. We hold the civilization that you support
to be the reverse of civilization. We consider our civilization to be far superior to yours. If you
realize this truth, it will be to your advantage and, if you do not, according to your own proverb,
you should only live in our country in the same manner as we do. You must not do anything
that is contrary to our religions. It is your duty as rulers that for the sake of the Hindus you
should eschew beef, and for the sake of Mahomedans you should avoid bacon and ham. We have
hitherto said nothing because we have been cowed down, but you need not consider that you
have not hurt our feelings by your conduct. We are not expressing our sentiments either through
base selfishness or fear, but because it is our duty now to speak out boldly. We consider your
schools and law courts to be useless. We want our own ancient schools and courts to be restored.
The common language of India is not English but Hindi. You should, therefore, learn it. We can
hold communication with you only in our national language.
“We cannot tolerate the idea of your spending money on railways and the military. We see
no occasion for either. You may fear Russia; we do not. When she comes we shall look after
her. If you are with us, we may then receive her jointly. We do not need any European cloth. We
shall manage with articles produced and manufactured at home. You may not keep one eye on
Manchester and the other on India. We can work together only if our interests are identical.
“This has not been said to you in arrogance. You have great military resources. Your naval
power is matchless. If we wanted to fight with you, on your own ground, we should be unable
to do so, but if the above submissions be not acceptable to you, we cease to play the part of the
ruled. You may, if you like, cut us to pieces. You may shatter us at the cannon’s mouth. If you
act contrary to our will, we shall not help you; and without our help, we know that you cannot
move one step forward.
“It is likely that you will laugh at all this in the intoxication of your power. We may not
be able to disillusion you at once ; but if there be any manliness in us, you will see shortly that
your intoxication is suicidal and that your laugh at our expense is an aberration of intellect. We
believe that at heart you belong to a religious nation. We are living in a land which is the source
of religions. How we came together need not be considered, but we can make mutual good use
of our relations.
“You, English, who have come to India are not good specimens of the English nation, nor
can we, almost half-Anglicized Indians, be considered good specimens of the real Indian nation.
If the English nation were to know all you have done, it would oppose many of your actions.
The mass of the Indians have had few dealings with you. If you will abandon your so-called
civilization and search into your own scriptures, you will find that our demands are just. Only
on condition of our demands being fully satisfied may you remain in India ; and if you remain
under those conditions, we shall learn several things from you and you will learn many from us.
So doing we shall benefit each other and the world. But that will happen only when the root of
our relationship is sunk in a religious soil.”
READER: What will you say to the nation?
EDITOR: Who is the nation?
READER: For our purposes it is the nation that you and I have been thinking of, that is those
of us who are affected by European civilization, and who are eager to have Home Rule.
EDITOR: To these I would say, “It is only those Indians who are imbued with real love who
will be able to speak to the English in the above strain without being frightened, and only those
can be said to be so imbued who conscientiously believe that Indian civilization is the best and
that the European is a nine days’ wonder. Such ephemeral civilizations have often come and
gone and will continue to do so. Those only can be considered to be so imbued who, having
experienced the force of the soul within themselves, will not cower before brute-force, and will
not, on any account, desire to use brute-force. Those only can be considered to have been so
imbued who are intensely dissatisfied with the present pitiable condition, having already drunk
the cup of poison.
“If there be only one such Indian, he will speak as above to the English and the English will
have to listen to him.
“These are not demands, but they show our mental state. We shall get nothing by asking;
we shall have to take what we want, and we need the requisite strength for the effort and that
strength will be available to him only who will act thus:

1. He will only on rare occasions make use of the English language;
2. If a lawyer, he will give up his profession, and take up a handloom;
3. If a lawyer, he will devote his knowledge to enlightening both his people and the English;
4. If a lawyer, he will not meddle with the quarrels between parties but will give up the courts,
and from his experience induce the people to do likewise;
5. If a lawyer, he will refuse to be a judge, as he will give up his profession;
6. If a doctor, he will give up medicine, and understand that rather than mending bodies, he
should mend souls;
7. If a doctor, he will understand that no matter to what religion he belongs, it is better that
bodies remain diseased rather than that they are cured through the instrumentality of the
diabolical vivisection that is practised in European schools of medicine;
8. Although a doctor, he will take up a hand-loom, and if any patients come to him, will
tell them the cause of their diseases, and will advise them to remove the cause rather than
pamper them by giving useless drugs ; he will understand that if by not taking drugs,
perchance the patient dies, the world will not come to grief and that he will have been
really merciful to him;
9. Although a wealthy man, yet regardless of his wealth, he will speak out his mind and fear
no one;
10. If a wealthy man, he will devote his money to establishing hand-looms, and encourage
others to use hand-made goods by wearing them himself;
11. Like every other Indian, he will know that this is a time for repentance, expiation and
12. Like every other Indian, he will know that to blame the English is useless, that they came
because of us, and remain also for the same reason, and that they will either go or change
their nature only when we reform ourselves;
13. Like others, he will understand that at a time of mourning, there can be no indulgence, and
that, whilst we are in a fallen state, to be in gaol or in banishment is much the best:
14. Like others, he will know that it is superstition to imagine it necessary that we should
guard against being imprisoned in order that we may deal with the people;
15. Like others, he will know that action is much better than speech; that it is our duty to say
exactly what we think and face the consequences and that it will be only then that we shall
be able to impress anybody with our speech;
16. Like others, he will understand that we shall become free only through suffering;
17. Like others, he will understand that deportation for life to the Andamans is not enough
expiation for the sin of encouraging European civilization:
18. Like others, he will know that no nation has risen without suffering; that, even in physical
warfare, the true test is suffering and not the killing of others, much more so in the warfare
of passive resistance;
19. Like others, he will know that it is an idle excuse to say that we shall do a thing when the
others also do it: that we should do what we know to be right, and that others will do it
when they see the way; that when I fancy a particular delicacy, I do not wait till others
taste it: that to make a national effort and to suffer are in the nature of delicacies; and that
to suffer under pressure is no suffering.”

READER: This is a large order. When will all carry it out?
EDITOR: You make a mistake. You and I have nothing to do with the others. Let each do his
duty. If I do my duty, that is, serve myself, I shall be able to serve others. Before I leave you, I
will rake the liberty of repeating:

1. Real home-rule is self-rule or self-control.
2. The way to it is passive resistance: that is soul-force or love-force.
3. In order to exert this force, Swadeshi in every sense is necessary.
4. What we want to do should be done, not because we object to the English or because we
want to retaliate but because it is our duty to do so. Thus, supposing that the English
remove the salt-tax, restore our money, give the highest posts to Indians, withdraw the
English troops, we shall certainly not use their machine-made goods, nor use the English
language, nor many of their industries. It is worth noting that these things are, in their
nature, harmful; hence we do not want them. I bear no enmity towards the English but I
do towards their civilization.
In my opinion, we have used the term “Swaraj” without understanding its real significance.
I have endeavoured to explain it as I understand it, and my conscience testifies that my life
henceforth is dedicated to its attainment.
Chapter 20 From HIND SWARAJ OR INDIAN HOME RULE, by M.K. Gandhi, 1909
Originally posted in 2047

No comments:

Post a Comment