=== Swaraj in one year ===
Much laughter has been indulged in at my expense for having told the Congress audience at Calcutta that if there was sufficient response to my programme of non-co-operation Swaraj would be attained in one year. Some have ignored my condition and laughed because of the impossibility of getting Swaraj anyhow within one year. Others have spelt the 'if' in capitals and suggested that if 'ifs' were permissible in argument, any absurdity could be proved to be a possibility. My proposition however is based on a mathematical calculation. And I venture to say that true Swaraj is a practical impossibility without due fulfilment of my conditions. Swaraj means a state such that we can maintain our separate existence without the presence of the English. If it is to be a partnership, it must be partnership at will. There can be no Swaraj without our feeling and being the equals of Englishmen. To-day we feel that we are dependent upon them for our internal and external security, for an armed peace between the Hindus and the Mussulmans, for our education and for the supply of daily wants, nay, even for the settlement of our religious squabbles. The Rajahs are dependent upon the British for their powers and the millionaires for their millions. The British know our helplessness and Sir Thomas Holland cracks jokes quite legitimately at the expense of non-co-operationists. To get Swaraj then is to get rid of our helplessness. The problem is no doubt stupendous even as it is for the fabled lion who having been brought up in the company of goats found it impossible to feel that he was a lion. As Tolstoy used to put it, mankind often laboured under hypnotism. Under its spell continuously we feel the feeling of helplessness. The British themselves cannot be expected to help us out of it. On the contrary, they din into our ears that we shall be fit to govern ourselves only by slow educative processes. The "Times" suggested that if we boycott the councils we shall lose the opportunity of a training in Swaraj. I have no doubt that there are many who believe what the "Times" says. It even resorts to a falsehood. It audaciously says that Lord Milner's Mission listened to the Egyptians only when they were ready to lift the boycott of the Egyptian Council. For me the only training in Swaraj we need is the ability to defend ourselves against the whole world and to live our natural life in perfect freedom even though it may be full of defects. Good Government is no substitute for self-Government. The Afghans have a bad Government but it is self-Government. I envy them. The Japanese learnt the art through a sea of blood. And if we to-day had the power to drive out the English by superior brute force, we would be counted their superiors, and in spite of our inexperience in debating at the Council table or in holding executive offices, we would be held fit to govern ourselves. For brute force is the only test the west has hitherto recognised. The Germans were defeated not because they were necessarily in the wrong, but because the allied Powers were found to possess greater brute strength. In the end therefore India must either learn the art of war which the British will not teach her or, she must follow her own way of discipline and self-sacrifice through non-co-operation. It is as amazing as it is humiliating that less than one hundred-thousand white men should be able to rule three hundred and fifteen million Indians. They do so somewhat undoubtedly by force, but more by securing our co-operation in a thousand ways and making us more and more helpless and dependent on them as time goes forward. Let us not mistake reformed councils, more lawcourts and even governorships for real freedom or power. They are but subtler methods of emasculation. The British cannot rule us by mere force. And so they resort to all means, honourable and dishonourable, in order to retain their hold on India. They want India's billions and they want India's man power for their imperialistic greed. If we refuse to supply them with men and money, we achieve our goal, namely, Swaraj, equality, manliness.
The cup of our humiliation was filled during the closing scenes in the Viceregal Council. Mr. Shustri could not move his resolution on the Punjab. The Indian victims of Jullianwala received Rs. 1,250, the English victims of mob-frenzy received lakhs. The officials who were guilty of crimes against those whose servants they were, were reprimanded. And the councillors were satisfied. If India were powerful, India would not have stood this addition of insult, to her injury.
I do not blame the British. If we were weak in numbers as they are, we too would perhaps have resorted to the same methods as they are now employing. Terrorism and deception are weapons not of the strong but of the weak. The British are weak in numbers we are weak in spite of our numbers. The result is that each is dragging the other down. It is common experience that Englishmen lose in character after residence in India and that Indians lose in courage and manliness by contact with Englishmen. This process of weakening is good neither for us, two nations, nor for the world.
But if we Indians take care of ourselves the English and the rest of the world would take care of themselves. Our contributions to the world's progress must therefore consist in setting our own house in order.
Training in arms for the present is out of the question. I go a step further and believe that India has a better mission for the world. It is within her to show that she can achieve her destiny by pure self-sacrifice, i.e., self-purification. This can be done only by non-co-operation. And non-co-operation is possible only when those who commenced to co-operate being the process of withdrawal. If we can but free ourselves from the threefold maya of Government-controlled schools, Government law-courts and legislative councils, and truly control our own education regulate our disputes and be indifferent to their legislation, we are ready to govern ourselves and we are only then ready to ask the government servants, whether civil or military, to resign, and the tax-payers to suspend payment of taxes.
And is it such an impracticable proposition to expect parents to withdraw their children from schools and colleges and establish their own institutions or to ask lawyers to suspend their practice and devote their whole time attention to national service against payment where necessary, of their maintenance, or to ask candidates for councils not to enter councils and lend their passive or active assistance to the legislative machinery through which all control is exercised. The movement of non-co-operation is nothing but an attempt to isolate the brute force of the British from all the trappings under which it is hidden and to show that brute force by itself cannot for one single moment hold India.
But I frankly confess that, until the three conditions mentioned by me are fulfilled, there is no Swaraj. We may not go on taking our college degrees, taking thousands of rupees monthly from clients for cases which can be finished in five minutes and taking the keenest delight in wasting national time on the council floor and still expect to gain national self-respect.
The last though not the least important part of the Maya still remains to be considered. That is Swadeshi. Had we not abandoned Swadeshi, we need not have been in the present fallen state. If we would get rid of the economic slavery, we must manufacture our own cloth and at the present moment only by hand-spinning and hand weaving.
All this means discipline, self-denial, self-sacrifice, organising ability, confidence and courage. If we show this in one year among the classes that to-day count, and make public opinion, we certainly gain Swaraj within one year. If I am told that even we who lead have not these qualities in us, there certainly will never be Swaraj for India, but then we shall have no right to blame the English for what they are doing. Our salvation and its time are solely dependent upon us.
British Rule, an evil
The Interpreter is however more to the point in asking, "Does Mr. Gandhi hold without hesitation or reserve that British rule in India is altogether an evil and that the people of India are to be taught so to regard it? He must hold it to be so evil that the wrongs it does outweigh the benefit it confers, for only so is non-co-operation to be justified at the bar of conscience or of Christ." My answer is emphatically in the affirmative. So long as I believed that the sum total of the energy of the British Empire was good, I clung to it despite what I used to regard as temporary aberrations. I am not sorry for having done so. But having my eyes opened, it would be sin for me to associate myself with the Empire unless it purges itself of its evil character. I write this with sorrow and I should be pleased if I discovered that I was in error and that my present attitude was a reaction. The continuous financial drain, the emasculation of the Punjab and the betrayal of the Muslim sentiment constitute, in my humble opinion, a threefold robbery of India. 'The blessings of pax Britanica' I reckon, therefore, to be a curse. We would have at least remained like the other nations brave men and women, instead of feeling as we do so utterly helpless, if we had no British Rule imposing on us an armed peace. 'The blessing' of roads and railways is a return no self-respecting nation would accept for its degradation. 'The blessing' of education is proving one of the greatest obstacles in our progress towards freedom.
A Movement of purification
The fact is that non-co-operation by reason of its non-violence has become a religious and purifying movement. It is daily bringing strength to the nation, showing it its weak spots and the remedy for removing them. It is a movement of self-reliance. It is the mightiest force for revolutionising opinion and stimulating thought. It is a movement of self-imposed suffering and therefore possesses automatic checks against extravagance or impatience. The capacity of the nation for suffering regulates its advance towards freedom. It isolates the force of evil by refraining from participation in it, in any shape or form.
=== Why was India lost? ===
[A dialog between the Reader and Editor, Indian Home Rule].
Reader: You have said much about civilisation--enough to make me ponder over it. I do not know what I should adopt and what I should avoid from the nations of Europe. but one question comes to my lips immediately. If civilisation is a disease, and if it has attacked England why has she been able to take India, and why is she able to retain it?
Editor: Your question is not very difficult to answer, and we shall presently be able to examine the true nature of Swaraj; for I am aware that I have still to answer that question. I will, however, take up your previous question. The English have not taken India; we have given it to them. They are not in India because of their strength, but because we keep them. Let us now see whether these positions can be sustained. They came to our country originally for the purpose of trade. Recall the Company Bahadur. Who made it Bahadur? They had not the slightest intention at the time of establishing a kingdom. Who assisted the Company's officers? Who was tempted at the sight of their silver? Who bought their goods? History testifies that we did all this. In order to become rich all at once, we welcomed the Company's officers with open arms. We assisted them. If I am in the habit of drinking Bhang, and a seller thereof sells it to me, am I to blame him or myself? By blaming the seller shall I be able to avoid the habit? And, if a particular retailer is driven away will not another take his place? A true servant of India will have to go to the root of the matter. If an excess of food has caused me indigestion I will certainly not avoid it by blaming water. He is a true physician who probes the cause of disease and, if you pose as a physician for the disease of India, you will have to find out its true cause.
Reader: You are right. Now, I think you will not have to argue much with me to drive your conclusions home. I am impatient to know your further views. We are now on a most interesting topic. I shall, therefore, endeavour to follow your thought, and stop you when I am in doubt.
Editor: I am afraid that, in spite of your enthusiasm, as we proceed further we shall have differences of opinion. Nevertheless, I shall argue only when you will stop me. We have already seen that the English merchants were able to get a footing in India because we encouraged them. When our princes fought among themselves, they sought the assistance of Company Bahadar. That corporation was versed alike in commerce and war. It was unhampered by questions of morality. Its object was to increase its commerce and to make money. It accepted our assistance, and increased the number of its warehouses. To protect the latter it employed an army which was utilised by us also. Is it not then useless to blame the English for what we did at that time? The Hindus and the Mahomedans were at daggers drawn. This, too, gave the Company its opportunity, and thus we created the circumstances that gave the Company its control over India. Hence it is truer to say that we gave India to the English than that India was lost.
Reader: Will you now tell me how they are able to retain India?
Editor: The causes that gave them India enable them to retain it. Some Englishmen state that they took, and they hold, India by the sword. Both these statements are wrong. The sword is entirely useless for holding India. We alone keep them. Napoleon is said to have described the English as a nation of shop keepers. It is a fitting description. They hold whatever dominions they have for the sake of their commerce. Their army and their navy are intended to protect it. When the Transvaal offered no such attractions, the late Mr. Gladstone discovered that it was no right for the English to hold it. When it became a paying proposition, resistance led to war. Mr. Chamberlain soon discovered that England enjoyed a suzerainty over the Transvaal. It is related that some one asked the late President Kruger whether there was gold in the moon? He replied that it was highly unlikely, because, if there were, the English would have annexed it. Many problems can be solved by remembering that money is their God. Then it follows that we keep the English in India for our base self-interest. We like their commerce, they please us by their subtle methods, and get what they want from us. To blame them for this is to perpetuate their power. We further strengthen their hold by quarrelling amongst ourselves. If you accept the above statements, it is proved that the English entered India for the purposes of trade. They remain in it for the same purpose, and we help them to do so. Their arms and ammunition are perfectly useless. In this connection, I remind you that it is the British flag which is waving in Japan, and not the Japanese. The English have a treaty with Japan for the sake of their commerce and you will see that, if they can manage it, their commerce will greatly expand in that country. They wish to convert the whole word into a vast market for their goods. That they cannot do so is true, but the blame will not be theirs. They will leave no stone unturned to reach the goal.
=== Swaraj my ideal ===
The following is a fairly full report of Mr. Gandhi's important speech at Calcutta on the 13th December 1920:
The very fact, that so many of you cannot understand Hindi which is bound to be the National medium of expression throughout Hindustan in gatherings of Indians belonging to different parts of the land, shows the depth of the degradation to which we have sunk, and points to the supreme necessity of the non-co-operation movement which is intended to lift us out of that condition. This Government has been instrumental in degrading this great nation in various ways, and it is impossible to be free from it without co-operation amongst ourselves which is in turn impossible without a national medium of expression.
But I am not here to day to plead for the medium. I am to plead for the acceptance by the country of the programme of non-violent, progressive non-co-operation. Now all the words that I have used here are absolutely necessary and the two adjectives 'progressive' and 'non-violent' are integral part of a whole. With me non-violence is part of my religion, a matter of creed. But with the great number of Mussalmans non-violence is a policy, with thousand, if not millions of Hindus, it is equally a matter of policy. But whether it is a creed or a policy, it is utterly impossible for you to finish the programme for the enfranchisement of the millions of India, without recognising the necessity and the value of non-violence. Violence may for a moment avail to secure a certain measure of success but it could not in the long run achieve any appreciable result. On the other hand all violence would prove destructive to the honour and self-respect of the nation. The blue books issued by the Government of India show that inasmuch as we have used violence, military expenditure has gone up, not proportionately but in geometrical progression. The bonds of our slavery have been forged all the stronger for our having offered violence. And the whole history of British rule in India is a demonstration of the fact that we have never been able to offer successful violence. Whilst therefore I say that rather than have the yoke of a Government that has so emasculated us, I would welcome violence. I would urge with all the emphasis that I can command that India will never be able to regain her own by methods of violence.
Lord Ronaldshay who has done me the honour of reading my booklet on Home Rule has warned my countrymen against engaging themselves in a struggle for a Swaraj such as is described in that booklet. Now though I do not want to withdraw a single word of it, I would say to you on this occasion that I do not ask India to follow out to-day the methods prescribed in my booklet. If they could do that they would have Home Rule not in a year but in a day, and India by realising that ideal wants to acquire an ascendancy over the rest of the world. But it must remain a day dream more or less for the time being. What I am doing to-day is that I am giving the country a pardonable programme not the abolition of law courts, posts, telegraphs and of railways but for the attainment of Parliamentary Swarja. I am telling you to do that so long as we do not isolate ourselves from this Government, we are co-operating with it through schools, law courts and councils, through service civil and military and payment of taxes and foreign trade.
The moment this fact is realised and non-co-operation is effected, this Government must totter to pieces. If I know that the masses were prepared for the whole programme at once, I would not delay in putting it at once to work. It is not possible at the present moment, to prevent the masses from bursting out into wrath against those who come to execute the law, it is not possible, that the military would lay down their arms without the slightest violence. If that were possible to-day, I would propose all the stages of non-co-operation to be worked simultaneously. But we have not secured that control over the masses, we have uselessly frittered away precious years of the nation's life in mastering a language which we need least for winning our liberty; we have frittered away all those years in learning liberty from Milton and Shakespeare, in deriving inspiration from the pages of Mill, whilst liberty could be learnt at our doors. We have thus succeeded in isolating ourselves from the masses: we have been westernised. We have failed these 35 years to utilise our education in order to permeate the masses. We have sat upon the pedestal and from there delivered harangues to them in a language they do not understand and we see to-day that we are unable to conduct large gatherings in a disciplined manner. And discipline is the essence of success. Here is therefore one reason why I have introduced the word 'progressive' in the non-co-operation Resolution. Without any impertinence I may say that I understand the mass mind better than any one amongst the educated Indians. I contend that the masses are not ready for suspension of payment of taxes. They have not yet learnt sufficient self-control. If I was sure of non-violence on their part I would ask them to suspend payment to-day and not waste a single moment of the nations time. With me the liberty of India has become a passion. Liberty of Islam is as dear to me. I would not therefore delay a moment if I found that the whole of the programme could be enforced at once.
It grieves me to miss the faces of dear and revered leaders in this assembly. We miss here the trumpet voice of Surendranath Banorji, who has rendered inestimable service to the country. And though we stand as poles asunder to-day, though we may have sharp differences with him, we must express them with becoming restraint. I do not ask you to give up a single iota of principle. I urge non-violence in language and in deed. If non-violence is essential in our dealings with Government, it is more essential in our dealings with our leaders. And it grieves me deeply to hear of recent instances of violence reported to have been used in East Bongal against our own people. I was pained to hear that the ears of a man who had voted at the recent elections had been cut, and night soil had been thrown into the bed of a man who had stood as a candidate. Non-co-operation is never going to succeed in this way. It will not succeed unless we create an atmosphere of perfect freedom, unless we prize our opponents liberty as much as our own. The liberty of faith, conscience, thought and action which we claim for ourselves must be conceded equally to others. Non co-operation is a process of purification and we must continually try to touch the hearts of those who differ from us, their minds, and their emotions, but never their bodies. Discipline and restraint are the cardinal principles of our conduct and I warn you against any sort of tyrannical social ostracism. I was deeply grieved therefore to hear of the insult offered to a dead body in Delhi and feel that if it was the action of non-co-operators they have disgraced themselves and their creed. I repeat we cannot deliver our land through violence.
It was not a joke when I said on the congress platform that Swaraj could be established in one year if there was sufficient response from the nation. Three months of this year are gone. If we are true to our salt, true to our nation, true to the songs we sing, if we are true to the Bhagwad Gita and the Koran, we would finish the programme in the remaining nine months and deliver Islam the Punjab and India.
I have proposed a limited programme workable within one year, having a special regard to the educated classes. We seem to be labouring under the illusion that we cannot possibly live without Councils, law courts and schools provided by the Government. The moment we are disillusioned we have Swaraj. It is demoralising both for Government and the governed that a hundred thousand pilgrims should dictate terms to a nation composed of three hundred millions. And how is it they can thus dictate terms. It is because we have been divided and they have ruled. I have never forgotten Humes' frank confession that the British Government was sustained by the policy of " Divide and Rule." Therefore it is that I have laid stress upon Hindu Muslim Unity as one of the important essentials for the success of Non-co-operation. But, it should be no lip unity, nor bunia unity it should be a unity broad based on a recognition of the heart. If we want to save Hinduism, I say for Gods sake, do not seek to bargain with the Mussalmans. I have been going about with Maulana Shaukat Ali all these months, but I have not so much as whispered anything about the protection of the cow. My alliance with the Ali Brothers is one of honour. I feel that I am on my honour, the whole of Hinduism is on its honour, and if it will not be found wanting, it will do its duty towards the Mussalmans of India. Any bargaining would be degrading to us. Light brings light not darkness, and nobility done with a noble purpose will be twice rewarded. It will be God alone who can protect the cow. Ask me not to-day--'what about the cow,' ask me after Islam is vindicated through India. Ask the Rajas what they do to entertain their English guests. Do they not provide beef and champagne for their guests. Persuade them first to stop cow killing and then think of bargaining with Mussalmans. And how are we Hindus behaving ourselves towards the cow and her progeny! Do we treat her as our religion requires us? Not till we have set our own house in order and saved the cow from the Englishmen have we the right to plead on her behalf with the Mussalmans. And the best way of saving the cow from them is to give them unconditional help in their hour of trouble.
Similarly what do we owe the Punjab? The whole of India was made to crawl on her belly in as much as a single Punjabi was made to crawl in that dirty lane in Amritsar, the whole womanhood of India was unveiled in as much as the innocent woman of Manianwalla were unveiled by an insolent office; and Indian childhood was dishonoured in that, that school children of tender age were made to walk four times a day to stated places within the martial area in the Punjab and to salute the Union Jack, through the effect of which order two children, seven years old died of sunstroke having been made to wait in the noonday sun. In my opinion it is a sin to attend the schools and colleges conducted under the aegis of this Government so long as it has not purged itself of these crimes by proper repentance. We may not with any sense of self-respect plead before the courts of the Government when we remember that it was through the Punjab Courts that innocent men were sentenced to be imprisoned and hanged. We become participators in the crime of the Government by voluntarily helping it or being helped by it.
The women of India have intuitively understood the spiritual nature of the struggle. Thousands have attended to listen to the message of non-violent non-co-operation and have given me their precious ornaments for the purpose of advancing the cause of Swaraj. Is it any wonder if I believe the possibility of gaining Swaraj within a year after all these wonderful demonstrations? I would be guilty of want of faith in God if I under-rated the significance of the response from the women of India. I hope that the students will do their duty. The country certainly expects the lawyers who have hitherto led public agitation to recognise the new awakening.
I have used strong language but I have done so with the greatest deliberation, I am not actuated by any feeling of revenge. I do not consider Englishmen as my enemy. I recognise the worth of many. I enjoy the privilege of having many English friends, but I am a determined enemy of the English rule as is conducted at present and if the power--tapasya--of one man could destroy it, I would certainly destroy it, if it could not be mended. An Empire that stands for injustice and breach of faith does not deserve to stand if its custodians will not repent and non-co-operation has been devised in order to enable the nation to compel justice.
I hope that Bengal will take her proper place in this movement of self-purification. Bengal began Swadeshi and national education when the rest of India was sleeping. I hope that Bengal will come to the front in this movement for gaining Swaraj and gaining justice for the Khilafat and the Punjab through purification and self-sacrifice.
On the wrong track
Lord Ronaldshay has been doing me the favour of reading my booklet on Indian Home Rule which is a translation of Hind Swaraj. His Lordship told his audience that if Swaraj meant what I had described it to be in the booklet, the Bengalis would have none of it. I am sorry that Swaraj of the Congress resolution does not mean the Swaraj depicted in the booklet; Swaraj according to the Congress means Swaraj that the people of India want, not what the British Government may condescend to give. In so far as I can see, Swaraj will be a Parliament chosen by the people with the fullest power over the finance, the police, the military, the navy, the courts, and the educational institutions.
I am free to confess that the Swaraj I expect to gain within one year, if India responds will be such Swaraj as will make practically impossible the repetition of the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs, and will enable the nation to do good or evil as it chooses, and not he 'good' at the dictation of an irresponsible, insolent, and godless bureaucracy. Under that Swaraj the nation will have the power to impose a heavy protective tariff on such foreign goods as are capable of being manufactured in India, as also the power to refuse to send a single soldier outside India for the purpose of enslaving the surrounding or remote nationalities. The Swaraj that I dream of will be a possibility only, when the nation is free to make its choice both of good and evil.
I adhere to all I have said in that booklet and I would certainly recommend it to the reader. Government over self is the truest Swaraj, it is synonymous with moksha or salvation, and I have seen nothing to alter the view that doctors, lawyers, and railways are no help, and are often a hindrance, to the one thing worth striving after. But I know that association, a satanic activity, such as the Government is engaged in, makes even an effort for such freedom a practical impossibility. I cannot tender allegiance to God and Satan at the same time.
The surest sign of the satanic nature of the present system is that even a nobleman of the type of Lord Ronaldshay is obliged to put us off the track. He will not deal with the one thing needful. Why is he silent about the Punjab? Why does he evade the Khilafat? Can ointments soothe a patient who is suffering from corroding consumption? Does his lordship not see that it is not the inadequacy of the reforms that has set India aflame but that it is the infliction of the two wrongs and the wicked attempt to make us forget them? Does he not see that a complete change of heart is required before reconciliation?
But it has become the fashion nowadays to ascribe hatred to non-co-operationism. And I regret to find that even Col. Wedgewood has fallen into the trap. I make bold to say that the only way to remove hatred is to give it disciplined vent. No man can--I cannot--perform the impossible task of removing hatred so long as contempt and despise for the feelings of India are sedulously nursed. It is a mockery to ask India not to hate when in the same breath India's most sacred feelings are contemptuously brushed aside. India feels weak and helpless and so expresses her helplessness by hating the tyrant who despises her and makes her crawl on the belly, lifts the veils of her innocent women and compels her tender children to acknowledge his power by saluting his flag four times a day. The gospel of Non-co-operation addresses itself to the task of making the people strong and self-reliant. It is an attempt to transform hatred into pity. A strong and self-reliant India will cease to hate Bosworth Smiths and Frank Johnsons, for she will have the power to punish them and therefore the power also to pity and forgive them. To-day she can neither punish nor forgive, and therefore helplessly nurses hatred. If the Mussalmans were strong, they would not hate the English but would fight and wrest from them the dearest possessions of Islam. I know that the Ali Brothers who live only for the honour and the prestige of Islam, and are prepared any moment to die for it, will to-day make friends with the latter Englishmen, if they were to do justice to the Khilafat which it is in their power to do.
I am positively certain that there is no personal element in this fight. Both the Hindus and the Mahomedans would to-day invoke blessings on the English if they would but give proof positive of their goodness, faithfulness, and loyalty to India. Non-co-operation then is a godsend; it will purify and strengthen India; and a strong India will be a strength to the world as an Indian weak and helpless is a curse to mankind. Indian soldiers have involuntarily helped to destroy Turkey and are now destroying the flower of the Arabian nation. I cannot recall a single campaign in which the Indian soldier has been employed by the British Government for the good of mankind. And yet, ( Oh! the shame of it!) Indian Maharajas are never tired of priding themselves on the loyal help they have rendered the English! Could degradation sink any lower?
The Congress Constitution
The belated report of the Congress Constitution Committee has now been published for general information and opinion has been invited from all public bodies in order to assist the deliberations of the All India Congress Committee. It is a pity that, small though the Constitution Committee was, all the members never met at any one time in spite of efforts, to have a meeting of them all. It is perhaps no body's fault that all the members could not meet. At the same time the draft report has passed through the searching examination of all but one member and the report represents the mature deliberations of four out of the five members. It must be stated at the same time that it does not pretend to be the unanimous opinion of the members. Rather than present a dissenting minute, a workable scheme has been brought out leaving each member free to press his own views on the several matters in which they are not quite unanimous. The most important part of the constitution, however, is the alteration of the creed. So far as I am aware there is no fundamental difference of opinion between the members. In my opinion the altered creed represents the exact feeling of the country at the present moment.
I know that the proposed alteration has been subjected to hostile criticism in several newspapers of note. But the extraordinary situation that faces the country is that popular opinion is far in advance of several newspapers which have hitherto commanded influence and have undoubtedly moulded public opinion. The fact is that the formation of opinion to-day is by no means confined to the educated classes, but the masses have taken it upon themselves not only to formulate opinion but to enforce it. It would be a mistake to belittle or ignore this opinion, or to ascribe it to a temporary upheaval. It would be equally a mistake to suppose that this awakening amongst the masses is due either to the activity of the Ali Brothers or myself. For the time being we have the ear of the masses because we voice their sentiments. The masses are by no means so foolish or unintelligent as we sometimes imagine. They often perceive things with their intuition, which we ourselves fail to see with our intellect. But whilst the masses know what they want, they often do not know how to express their wants and, less often, how to get what they want. Herein comes the use of leadership, and disastrous results can easily follow a bad, hasty, or what is worse, selfish lead.
The first part of the proposed creed expresses the present desire of the nation, and the second shows the way that desire can be fulfilled. In my humble opinion the Congress creed with the proposed alteration is but an extension of the original. And so long as no break with the British connection is attempted, it is strictly within even the existing article that defines the Congress creed. The extension lies in the contemplated possibility of a break with the British connection. In my humble opinion, if India is to make unhampered progress, we must make it clear to the British people that whilst we desire to retain the British connection, if we can rise to our full height with it we are determined to dispense with, and even to get rid of that connection, if that is necessary for full national development. I hold that it is not only derogatory to national dignity but it actually impedes national progress superstitiously to believe that our progress towards our goal is impossible without British connection. It is this superstition which makes some of the best of us tolerate the Punjab wrong and the Khilafat insult. This blind adherence to that connection makes us feel helpless. The proposed alteration in the creed enables us to rid ourselves of our helpless condition. I personally hold that it is perfectly constitutional openly to strive after independence, but lest there may be dispute as to the constitutional character of any movement for complete independence, the doubtful and highly technical adjective "constitutional" has been removed from the altered creed in the draft. Surely it should be enough to ensure that the methods for achieving our end are legitimate, honourable, and peaceful, I believe that this was the reasoning that guided my colleagues in accepting the proposed creed. In any case, such was certainly my view of the whole alteration. There is no desire on my part to adopt any means that are subversive of law and order. I know, however, that I am treading on delicate ground when I write about law and order for, to some of our distinguished leaders even my present methods appear to be lawless and conducive to disorder. But even they will perhaps grant that the retention of the word 'constitutional' cannot protect the country against methods such as I am employing. It gives rise, no doubt, to a luminous legal discussion, but any such discussion is fruitless when the nation means business. The other important alteration refers to the limitation of the number of delegates. I believe that the advantages of such a limitation are obvious. We are fast reaching a time when without any such limitation the Congress will become an unwieldy body. It is difficult even to have an unlimited number of visitors; it is impossible to transact national business if we have an unlimited number of delegates.
The next important alteration is about the election of the members of the All-India Congress Committee, making that committee practically the Subjects Committee, and the redistribution of India for the purposes of the Congress on a linguistic basis. It is not necessary to comment on these alterations, but I wish to add that if the Congress accepts the principle of limiting the number of delegates it would be advisable to introduce the principle of proportional representation. That would enable all parties who wish to be represented at the Congress.
I observe that the Servant of India sees an inconsistency between my implied acceptance of the British Committee, so far as the published draft constitution is concerned, and my recent article in Young India on that Committee and the newspaper India. But it is well known that for several years I have held my present views about the existence of that body. It would have been irrelevant for me, perhaps, to suggest to my colleagues the extinction of that committee. It was not our function to report on the usefulness or otherwise of the Committee. We were commissioned only for preparing a new constitution. Moreover I knew that my colleagues were not averse to the existence of the British Committee. And the drawing up of a new constitution enabled me to show that where there was no question of principle I was desirous of agreeing quickly with my opponents in opinions. But I propose certainly to press for abolition of the committee as it is at present continued, and the stopping of its organ India.
Swaraj in nine months
Asked by the Times representative as to his impressions formed as a result of his activities during the last three months, Mr. Gandhi said: "My own impression of these three months' extensive experience is that this movement of non-co-operation has come to stay, and it is most decidedly a purifying movement, in spite of isolated instances of rowdyism, as for instance at Mrs. Besant's meeting in Bombay, at some places in Delhi, Bengal, and even in Gujarat. The people are assimilating day after day the spirit of non-violence, not necessarily as a creed, but as an inevitable policy. I expect most startling results, more startling than, say, the discoveries of Sir J.C. Bose, or the acceptance by the people of non-violence. If the Government could be assured beyond any possibility of doubt that no violence would ever be offered by us the Government would from that moment alter its character, unconsciously and involuntarily, but nonetheless surely on that account."
"Alter its character, in what, direction?" asked the Times representative.
"Certainly in the direction which we ask it should move--that being in the direction of Government becoming responsive to every call of the nation."
"Will you kindly explain further?" asked the representative.
"By that I mean," said Mr. Gandhi, "people will be able by asserting themselves through fixed determination and self-sacrifice to gain the redress of the Khilafat wrong, the Punjab wrong, and attain the Swaraj of their choice."
"But what is your Swaraj, and where does the Government come in there--the Government which, you say will alter its character unconsciously?"
"My Swaraj," said Mr. Gandhi, "is the Parliamentary Government of India in the modern sense of the term for the time being, and that Government would be secured to us either through the friendly offices of the British people or without them."
"What do you mean by the phrase, 'without them!'" questioned the interviewer.
"This movement," continued Mr. Gandhi, "is an endeavour to purge the present Government of selfishness and greed which determine almost every one of their activities. Suppose that we have made it impossible by disassociation from them to feed their greed. They might not wish to remain in India, as happened in the case of Somaliland, where the moment its administration ceased to be a paying proposition they evacuated it."
"How do you think," queried the representative, "in practice this will work out?"
"What I have sketched before you," said Mr. Gandhi, "is the final possibility. What I expect is that nothing of that kind will happen. In so far as I understand the British people I will recognise the force of public opinion when it has become real and patent. Then, and only then, will they realise the hideous injustice which in their name the Imperial ministers and their representatives in India have perpetrated. They will therefore remedy the two wrongs in accordance with the wishes of the people, and they will also offer a constitution exactly in accordance with the wishes of the people of India, as represented by their chosen leaders.
"Supposing that the British Government wish to retire because India is not a paying concern, what do you think will then be the position of India?"
Mr. Gandhi answered: "At that stage surely it is easy to understand that India will then have evolved either outstanding spiritual height or the ability to offer violence, against violence. She will have evolved an organising ability of a high order, and will therefore be in every way able to cope with any emergency that might arise." " In other words," observed the Times representative, "you expect the moment of the British evacuation, if such a contingency arises, will coincide with the moment of India's preparedness and ability and conditions favourable for India to take over the Indian administration as a going concern and work it for the benefit and advancement of the Nation?"
Mr. Gandhi answered the question with an emphatic affirmative. "My experience during the last months fills me with the hope," continued Mr. Gandhi, "that within the nine months that remain of the year in which I have expected Swaraj for India we shall redress the two wrongs and we shall see Swaraj established in accordance with the wishes of the people of India."
"Where will the present Government be at the end of the nine months?" Asked the Times representative.
Mr. Gandhi, with a significant smile, said: "The lion will then lie with the lamb."
Young India, December, 1920.
=== The Attainment of Swaraj ===
Mr. Gandhi in moving his resolution on the creed before the Congress, said, "The resolution which I have the honour to move is as follows: The object of the Indian National Congress is the attainment of Swarajya by the people of India by all legitimate and peaceful means."
There are only two kinds of objections, so far as I understand, that will be advanced from this platform. One is that we may not to-day think of dissolving the British connection. What I say is that it is derogatory to national dignity to think of permanence of British connection at any cost. We are labouring under a grievous wrong, which it is the personal duty of every Indian to get redressed. This British Government not only refused to redress the wrong, but it refuses to acknowledge its mistake and so long as it retains its attitude, it is not possible for us to say all that we want to be or all that we want to get, retaining British connection. No matter what difficulties be in our path, we must make the clearest possible declaration to the world and to the whole of India, that we may not possibly have British connection, if the British people will not do this elementary justice. I do not, for one moment, suggest that we want to end at the British connection at all costs, unconditionally. If the British connection is for the advancement of India, we do not want to destroy it. But if it is inconsistent with our national self respect, then it is our bounden duty to destroy it. There is room in this resolution for both--those who believe that, by retaining British connection, we can purify ourselves and purify British people, and those who have no belief. As for instance, take the extreme case of Mr. Andrews. He says all hope for India is gone for keeping the British connection. He says there must be complete severance--complete independence. There is room enough in this creed for a man like Mr. Andrews also. Take another illustration, a man like myself or my brother Shaukat Ali. There is certainly no room for us, if we have eternally to subscribe to the doctrine, whether these wrongs are redressed or not, we shall have to evolve ourselves within the British Empire; there is no room for me in that creed. Therefore this creed is elastic enough to take in both shades of opinions and the British people will have to beware that, if they do not want to do justice, it will be the bounden duty of every Indian to destroy the Empire.
I want just now to wind up my remarks with a personal appeal, drawing your attention to an object lesson that was presented in the Bengal camp yesterday. If you want Swaraj, you have got a demonstration of how to get Swaraj. There was a little bit of skirmish, a little bit of squabble, and a little bit of difference in the Bengal camp, as there will always be differences so long as the world lasts. I have known differences between husband and wife, because I am still a husband; I have noticed differences between parents and children, because I am still a father of four boys, and they are all strong enough to destroy their father so far as bodily struggle is concerned; I possess that varied experience of husband and parent; I know that we shall always have squabbles, we shall always have differences but the lesson that I want to draw your attention to is that I had the honour and privilege of addressing both the parties. They gave me their undivided attention and what is more they showed their attachment, their affection and their fellowship for me by accepting the humble advice that I had the honour of tendering to them, and I told them I am not here to distribute justice that can be awarded only through our worthy president. But I ask you not to go to the president, you need not worry him. If you are strong, if you are brave, if you are intent upon getting Swaraj, and if you really want to revise the creed, then you will bottle up your rage, you will bottle up all the feelings of injustice that may rankle in your hearts and forget these things here under this very roof and I told them to forget their differences, to forgot the wrongs. I don't want to tell you or go into the history of that incident. Probably most of you know. I simply want to invite your attention to the fact. I don't say they have settled up their differences. I hope they have but I do know that they undertook to forget the differences. They undertook not to worry the President, they undertook not to make any demonstration here or in the Subjects Committee. All honour to those who listened to that advice.
I only wanted my Bengali friends and all the other friends who have come to this great assembly with a fixed determination to seek nothing but the settlement of their country, to seek nothing but the advancement of their respective rights, to seek nothing but the conservation of the national honour. I appeal to every one of you to copy the example set by those who felt aggrieved and who felt that their heads were broken. I know, before we have done with this great battle on which we have embarked at the special sessions of the Congress, we have to go probably, possibly through a sea of blood, but let it not be said of us or any one of us that we are guilty of shedding blood, but let it be said by generations yet to be born that we suffered, that we shed not somebody's blood but our own, and so I have no hesitation in saying that I do not want to show much sympathy for those who had their heads broken or who were said to be even in danger of losing their lives. What does it matter? It is much better to die at the hands, at least, of our own countrymen. What is there to revenge ourselves about or upon. So I ask everyone of you that if at any time there is blood-boiling within you against some fellow countrymen of yours, even though he may be in the employ of Government, though he may be in the Secret Service, you will take care not to be offended and not to return blow for blow. Understand that the very moment you return the blow from the detective, your cause is lost. This is your non-violent campaign. And so I ask everyone of you not to retaliate but to bottle up all your rage, to dismiss your rage from you and you will rise graver men. I am here to congratulate those who have restrained themselves from going to the President and bringing the dispute before him.
Therefore I appeal to those who feel aggrieved to feel that they have done the right thing in forgetting it and if they have not forgotten I ask them to try to forget the thing; and that is the object lesson to which I wanted to draw your attention if you want to carry this resolution. Do not carry this resolution only by an acclamation for this resolution, but I want you to accompany the carrying out of this resolution with a faith and resolve which nothing on earth can move. That you are intent upon getting Swaraj at the earliest possible moment and that you are intent upon getting Swaraj by means that are legitimate, that are honourable and by means that are non-violent, that are peaceful, you have resolved upon, so far you can say to-day. We cannot give battle to this Government by means of steel, but we can give battle by exercising, what I have so often called, "soul force" and soul force is not the prerogative of one man of a Sanyasi or even a so-called saint. Soul force is the prerogative of every human being, female or male and therefore I ask my countrymen, if they want to accept this resolution, to accept it with that firm determination and to understand that it is inaugurated under such good and favourable auspices as I have described to you.
In my humble opinion, the Congress will have done the rightest thing, if it unanimously adopts this resolution…May God grant that you will pass this resolution unanimously, may God grant that you will also have the courage and the ability to carry out the resolution and that within one year.