Page:A Brief Study of Mahatma Gandhi.djvu/8

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

“The workers in the mills of Bombay have become slaves. The condition of the women working in the mills is shocking. When there were no mills, these women were not starving. If the machinery craze grows in our country it will become an unhappy land. It may be considered a heresy, but I am bound to say that it were better for us to send money to Manchester and to use flimsy Manchester cloth than to multiply mills in India.…By using Manchester cloth we would only waste our money, but by reproducing Manchester in India, we shall keep our money at the price of our blood, because our very moral being will be sapped, and I call in support of my statement the very mill hands as witnesses. And those who have amassed wealth out of factories are not likely to be better than other rich men. It would be folly to assume that an Indian Rockefeller would be better than the American Rockefeller. Impoverished India can be free but it would be hard for an India made rich through immorality to regain freedom.”

When Gandhi faces the realities of economic and industrial situation obtaining in India, he becomes a follower of Alexander Hamilton. He supports the demands of Indian mill owners that the excise duty of Indian cotton goods be abolished, and as an advocate of the Protectionist policy, he argues in the columns of Young India thus:

“Every Indian publicist knows that when a duty was placed on cotton goods imported, an excise cotton duty was placed on Indian production solely in the interest of Lancashire, and it still remains in spite of protests and in spite even of promises that it would be reconsidered. This duty is a continuing reminder to us of the subordination of India’s interests to England’s. Some friends who only know my strong, indeed passionate, preference for the hand spun to the exclusion of mill spun, cannot understand my advocacy of preference for Indian mill spun. A little reflection must however show the consistency between the two policies. Foreign cloth must be totally banished from the Indian market, if India is to become an economically free nation, if her peasantry is to find honorable employment during times of famine and such other visitations. Protection of her staple industry is her birthright. I would therefore protect the Indian mills against foreign competition, even though for the time being it may result in mulcting the poor people. Such mulcting can take place only if the mill owners be so unpatriotic as to raise prices owing to the monopoly they may secure. I have therefore no hestitation in advocating the repeal of cotton excise duties and imposition of a prohibitive import duty.”

While opposing the machine industry, Mahatma Gandhi most emphatically endorses the promotion of cottage industry. He does not oppose peoples producing things of comfort and convenience, and thus experiencing the bliss of prosperity. He fears, for good reason indeed, the effects of large scale productions which remove personal initiative of the consumer and which gradually but inevitably renders him hopelessly dependent upon the impersonal providers of human wants.

Why Gandhi Emphasizes the Spinning Wheel.—India in the past had a very flourishing cotton industry, and Gandhi, like other Indian nationalists, believes that it was deliberately destroyed to benefit the British merchants. Gandhi therefore wishes to revive the cotton industry to such an extent that Indians will not have to buy any foreign cloth. This is his main plea for reviving the spinning wheel and hand-looms. Without affecting the Indian cotton mills, Indian