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India'sdebttoGandhijiTheHindu

NATIONAL

Published:August14,201517:49IST|Updated:August15,201511:11ISTAugust14,2015

FatheroftheNation:India'sdebttoGandhiji
OnthisIndependenceDay,webringyouthisarticlewhichwaspublishedintheAugust15,1947editionofTheHindu.
ONthisdayofjoyfulliberationfromforeignrule,itisnowonderthatallmindsturninvenerationandgratitudetothelittleoldmanof
Wardhatheoneman,whomorethananyother,hasbeentheauthorandarchitectofthefreedomthatitisourgoodfortunetocelebrate
today.
Gandhijihasbeenthecountry'strustedpilotandthedictatorofitspremierpoliticalorganisation,theIndianNationalCongress,almost
continuouslyforaperiodofthreedecadesbutthedictatorhasbeennotatyrant,butafatherthebelovedBapu.Hisleadershiphas
permeatedeveryphaseofthepeople'slifemoral,socialandpoliticalandhastransformedasitwereanationoftimidslaves,grovelling
undertheforeignheelandbesetwithacorrupt,anachronisticsocialorder,intoadynamicanddisciplinedforceforselfassertion.Hehasre
kindledinatorpidgenerationapassionforfreedomandsocialjusticeandasenseofselfrespectthatithadallbutlost.Thenotable
contributionthatMahatmaGandhihasmadetoIndia'sfreedomstruggleiswritlargeacrossthelastthreedecadesofourturbulenthistory.
Andyetwhenhecamebacktothiscountry,onaJanuarymorningin1915,aftertwentyyearsoftrialand''ExperimentswithTruth,''though
manyfeltthatanewkindofleaderhadarrivedontheIndiansceneamantoreckonwithhisnoveldoctrinewaspronetoberegardedas
buttheeccentricvisionofanimpracticalperson.ButhisearlyskirmisheswithorganisedpowerinSouthAfricahadalreadygivenhimthat
steadfastnessofpurposeandinflexibleconfidenceinthepurityandstrengthofhismeanstomatchthejusticeofhisends.Hehadalready
acquiredtheselfknowledgeandconvictionnecessarytobeabletoenlargeonhisdoctrine.
AndinlessthanfouryearsafterhisarrivalinIndia,hehadarrestedthenation'sattention,capturedtheleadershipofnationalpoliticsand
routedthe"oldguard''ofIndiannationalism,theBesantsandthePals,whocouldnotseeeyetoeyewithhimandwereinclinedtoregard
himasanimpracticalblundereronthepoliticalarena.HisdaringlyoutspokenspeechesofthosedaysandtheobjectlessonthathegaveIndia
InIndividualCivilDisobedienceatChamparanandKairaandthesuccessthatattendedtheseaswellashisexperimentwiththehungerstrike
asapoliticalweaponoflecturingredressatAhmedabad,wherebeledanindustrialstrikein1918allthesehadwonforhimasteadfast,if
selectfollowing.WhentheIndianNationalCongressmetlatein1919,"undertheconflictingshadowsoftheMontfordReformsandthe
JallianwallaBaghtragedy,"Gandhijiseizedleadershipbythesheerstrengthofhispersonality.Ofcourse,agroupofdissidentswalkedoutof
theCongress,buthehadwontheallegianceofgiantslikeMottlalNehru,C.R.DasandLajpatRat.
GANDHIANERA
FromthattothespecialsessionoftheCongressatCalcuttainAugust1920waseasiersailing.Itwasperhapsthemostsignificantsessionof
theIndianCongress.ForitwasherethattheMahatmasecuredacceptanceofhisnewcreedofnonviolentSatyagrahatocombatImperialist
repression.ThegospelofSwadeshi,thekhadiprogramme,nonpaymentoftaxes,surrenderoftitles,,boycottoflawcourts,legislative
councils,GovernmentschoolsandfunctionsandalltherestoftheGandhiantechniqueofdirectactionwereacceptedandapproved.Inthat
session,itmaybesaid,theGandhianerainIndianhistorywasborn.Thenewcreedhadearnedrecognition,butthenewweaponhadyet
manyatrialtoface.TheamorphousIndianmasses,thatrawmaterialofourhistory,couldnotbeconvertedovernighttothemightydiscipline
thatnonviolenceindirectactiondemanded.GandhijiwithdrewhisfirstCivilDisobedienceMovementinhaste,becauseviolentsceneshad
brokenoutatBombay,whenthePrinceofWaleslandedthere.Itisoneofhisgreatnesses,thatinthefaceofdefeat,lzzatdidnotpreventhim
fromowningit,norwouldhecompromiseonhisprinciplesforreasonsofpoliticalexpediency.Itwasthisbasichonestyofthemanandhis
insistenceonnonviolenceasthesinequanonofSatyagrahathatalsomadehimcalloffhisnextcampaignin1921inBardolitalukain
Gujarat.AftertheincidentatChauriChaurawhereanangrymoblostcontrolandburntafewpolicemenintheirfuryGandhijiconfessedto
havemade"aHimalayanmiscalculation."Heagainowneddefeattotheshortsightedexasperationofevenhisfollowersandsoughttoatone
fortheviolencewithapenitentialfast.
CONGRESSANDCOUNCILENTRY
Withhishistorictrialandincarcerationforseditionin1922,Gandhijiapparentlypassedoutofthepoliticalscene.Whenhewasreleasedafter
twoyearsforreasonsofhealth,theCongresswasinclinedtotoywiththesocalledSwarajistprogrammeofwreckingtheconstitutionfrom
withinthelegislatures.Gandhijitruetohisfundamentalcreed,retiredtohisashram,tomeditateuponandperfecthisphilosophy,followed
byhisbandof'nochangers".Theyhadtobidetheirtime,becausethenationwasnotyetripeforthesupermoralordealofSatyagraha.The
retirementwasnotoneofquietseclusionbutofdynamicpreparation.Hisinfluenceonpubliclifewasallthetimethere.Whenhereturnedto
hisexperimentwiththesecondBardolicampaignin1928anddemonstratedbyamiracleoforganisationanddiscipline,withtheSardaras
hislieutenanttheefficacyofhiscreed,thenationwasallbutreadytotakerefugeintheMahatma.Dupedanddisappointed,theCongress
leaderswereattheirwit'sendwhentheallwhiteSimonCommissionsoughttoimposetheBritishwillonthecountry.Weknowhow,coming
backtoleadership,Gandhijilaunchedthefatefulmovementof1931,markedbytheDandiMarch,hetaughtatimidpeopletofacerepression
withasmileandawoketheconscienceofhumanityitselfwithhisnonviolentprotestinthefaceofthearmedmightofanEmpire.The
movementwasundoubtedlyatriumphandsucceededinraisingmen,womenandevenyoungstersintheirteenstoheightsofheroicsacrifice.
ThephenomenonofstalwartPathansmeeklytakingthelathiblowsofthepolice,withoutretaliationandwithoutcomplaint,hasfewparallels
anywhereIntheworld.
TheeconomicboycottwasalsotellingintheveryheartofBritain,inthecottoncentreofLancashire.Itwasthefirstbigeffortofthecountry
underGandhianauspicestooverthrowtheforeignyokeandthemoralandpoliticalpressureexertedupontherulersmaybegaugedbythe
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8/15/2016

India'sdebttoGandhijiTheHindu

factthattheRebelandtheViceroywereclosetedtogethersoonafter,infriendlynegotiation.TheresultantRoundTableConferencethe
secondoneofitskinddidnotfulfilthehopesentertainedbythecountry.ButitgaveGandhiji,whowentastheIndianCongress'ssole
delegatetotheConference,anopportunitytopresentIndia'scasetotheaverageEnglishmanandtothe"world.
GandhijitoldtheIndianstory,simplybutuncompromisingly.Hisgenialpersonality,hisgoodhumour,outspokennessandobvious
friendlinessfortheEnglishpeople,asdifferentfromtheimperialsystemallthesewonfortheIndiananewesteemandunderstandingand
focussedtheworld'sattentiononthejustdemandsoftheIndianpeople.Toseektoassessindividuallytheresultsofeachofthemany
campaignsthatGandhijilaunchedwouldbetomissthecumulativeachievementofGandhismasawhole.
LordWillingdon,thethenViceroy,apparentlycrushedtheCivilDisobedienceMovementthatwaslaunchedsoonafterGandhiji'sreturnfrom
theRoundTabletalks.Buinjailoroutofit,eachsucceedingstepinhispoliticalcareerwasastepforward.In1934,heagainretiredfromthe
Congress,aftercallingoffSatyagraha,butthoughofficiallyoutofit,hisfingerwasalwaysonthepulseofthenationandwhentheshortlived
experimentinofficeacceptance,cametoafitfulendwiththeoutbreakofwar,Gandhijiwastheretotakeonthereins.Evenwhileinoffice,
GandhijiwasthementorandguideoftheCongress,whocanalisedtheactivitiesofthe'ProvincialMinistriesonGandhianlines.Hisbasic
programmeofKhadi,Prohibition,ruralreconstructionandabovealltheremovalofuntouchabilityformedthemajorconcernofthe
Congressinoffice.
TheendofthepopularMinistrieswiththeonsetofthewar,theIndividualSatyagrahaof1940thathehadconceivedincharacteristicfairness
toanopponentintrouble,theCrippsOfferandthesubsequent"QuitIndia"ResolutionofAugust1942arerecenthistory.Itiscommon
knowledge,howinspiteofhisendeavourstoplacenegotiationsbeforedirectaction,theGovernmentplungedthecountryintoanorgyof
violencebyprecipitaterepression.Andthatlastbattleforfreedomwasperhapshismosttryingexperience,forconfinedinjailandpowerless
tochecktheviolentoutburstsalloverthecountry,hehadtobeasilentonlookerofallthatwasmostabhorrenttohischerishedcreed.
ThesadbereavementscausedbythedeathofhiswifeandMahadevDesal,hisfaithfulSecretaryandtheagonising21day"fastuntocapacity"
thatnearlycosthimhislife,certainlymadeitallthemorebitter.Butthelifelongsacrificeandpurposefulstruggleonthehighestplane
conceivable,hadnotgoneinvain.IftodayanEmpireisbeingwoundup,byalmostspontaneoustransferofpowerbytherulerstotheruled,
suchconversioncanbebutthefruit,inaverylargemeasure,ofGandhianstrategyandidealism.
MANYSIDEDEFFORT
Thuswhatlookedatfirstlikethecapricesofavisionaryhascometohaveitsabidingandtriumphantplaceinpracticalpolitics.With
unswervingfaithinhiscauseandhismethodsGandhijihasbroughttheIndianvesseltothehavenoffreedom.Butintheevaluationofhis
inestimableservicestothecountry,thepoliticalvictoryisbutoneaspectofamanysidedeffort.Withhisdeepsympathyandcompassionfor
thecommonman,thepoorandtheoppressedinsociety,hisrestlessgeniushaslefttheGandhiantouchinmanyphasesofournationallife.
Today,thecurseofuntouchability,thatdarkblotonoursocialfabric,hasbeenalmostremoved.TheGandhianconstructiveprogramme
whichinameasuretheCongressGovernmentsin/powerareimplementingarethemainhopeofthemasses,asthemeansoftranslating
politicallibertyintosocialwellbeing.TheBasicSchemeofeducation,theHindustaniTalimiSangh,theVillageIndustriesAssociation,the
AllIndiaSpinners'Association,theHindiPracharSanghandothersuchorganisationsaretheleader'spricelessgiftstothecommonmanIn
India.ItistruethattheGandhianprogrammehashaditsdefeatsandsetbacks,which,onehopes,arebuttemporary.
Theleader'sunceasingendeavourstopromoteHinduMuslimunityandpreservenationalsolidarity,haveforthetime,endedinfailure.
Today,thenationhasgotdrivenintotwo,aftermonthsofsenselessbloodshedunloosedbytheforcesofhatred.Thecriticwillnodoubtpoint
out,thatGandhiji'smethodspromisedmorethantheycouldperform,butifmenhadneverpromisedmorethanitwaspossibleforthemto
perform,theworldwouldbethepoorer,for"theachievedreformisthechildofunachievedideal'."Wearefortunateandgratefulthatfate
hasbestoweduponussoluminousacontemporaryabeaconforgenerationstocome",wroteAlbertEinstein,thescientist,inabirthday
tributetoGandhijiandweinIndiahaveindeedgreatercausetobegratefultoadestinythatgaveussuchsignificantleadershipinourhourof
need.Nonviolenceinpoliticsisnolongerabeautifuldreamadreamtoobeautifultobetrue.TheGandhiandoctrinestandstodayasthe
mainhopeforaworldinmortalperiloftheatombomb.

Leafthroughthepagesandexperiencehistoryinthemakingasourreadersexperienceditthatday.
Ontheoccassionofthe69thIndependenceDay,TheHindupresentstoyouthehistoricdayofIndia'sliberationfromimperialrulethrough
oureditiondatedAugust15,1947.Youcanleafthroughthepagesandexperiencehistoryinthemakingasourreadersexperienceditthatday.
WehaveextractedselectarticlesbythelikesofV.K.KrishnaMenon,T.T.KrishnamachariandC.V.Ramanforyoutoreadintothethoughts
ofthegreatmindsofthatera.Youcanclickontheredmarkeronhighlightedarticlesandproceedtothefullstory.
(Thisarticleisbestviewedonalargescreendevice.Ifyouareonamobiledevice,choosethedesktopviewoption.)
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