Page:Speeches And Writings MKGandhi.djvu/55

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AHMEDABAD MILL STRIKE

Passive Resistance in some form or other has always been Mr. Gandhi’s final panacea for all ailments in the body politic. He has applied it with resolute courage, and has at least as often succeeded as he has undoubtedly failed. But success or failure in the pursuit of a righteous cause is seldom the determining factor, with men of Mr. Gandbi’s moral stamina. When in March 1918 the mill hands at Ahmedabad went on strike, Mr. Gandhi was requisitioned to settle the dispute between the millowners and the workmen. He was guiding the latter to a successful settlement of their wages when some of them betrayed a sense of weakness and despair; and demoralisation was apprehended, At a critical stage in the crisis Mr. Gandhi and Miss Anusuyabhai took the vow of fast. This extreme action on the part of Mr. Gandhi was disquieting to friends and provoked some bitter comments from the unfriendly. He, of course, would be the last person to resort to such a method of forcing the millowners by appealing to their sense of pity, knowing that they were his friends and admirers. He explained the circumstances in a statement issued subsequently:—

{{quotes|I am not sorry for the vow, but with the belief that I have, I would have been unworthy of the truth undertaken by me if I had done anything less. Before I took the vow I knew that there were serious defects about it. For me to take such a vow in order to affect in any shape or form the decision of the millowners would be a cowardly injustice done to them, and that I would so prove myself unfit for the friendship which I had the privilege of enjoying with some of them. I knew that I ran the risk of being misunderstood. I could not prevent my fast from affecting my decision. That knowledge moreover put a responsibility on me which I was ill-able to bear. From now I disabled myself from gaining concessions for the men which ordinarily in a struggle such as this I would be entirely justified in securing. I knew, too, that I would have to be satisfied with the minimum I could get from the millowners and with a fulfilment of the letter of the men’s vow rather than its spirit and so hath it happened. I put the defects of my vow in one scale and the merits of it in the other. There are hardly any acts of human beings which are free from all taint. Mine, I know, was exceptionally tainted, but better the ignominy of having unworthily compromised by my vow the position and indepen-