GandhiTopia

Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Senior Gandhian Scholar, Professor, Editor and Linguist

Gandhi International Study and Research Institute, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No. – 09404955338, 09415777229

E-mail- dr.yadav.yogendra@gandhifoundation.net;

dr.yogendragandhi@gmail.com

Mailing Address- C- 29, Swaraj Nagar, Panki, Kanpur- 208020, Uttar Pradesh, India

 

 

Mirza Ismail and Mahatma Gandhi 

 

 

Mirza Ismail was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. He worked with Mahatma Gandhi for freedom and development of India. It will be a great triumph of yours if you convert Dr. A. Having suffered like him in S. A., Dr. A. always commands my sympathy in all he says. He needs the gentlest treatment. 1 Your draft is defective. My own draft is with them. Here it is. 1. Complete Independence not to exclude partnership at will and on terms of absolute equality. 2. Therefore complete control of defence forces, external affairs and finance. 3. Resistance to any extension of special reservation or separate electorate. I think this is all the draft contains. 2 This draft seems all right so far as it goes. You know that it does not cover all the points. Please get the points they already have and work on them. 3 I came to know through the temple-entry agitation. And I was taking interest in her work for the removal of untouchability. Meantime a friend brought rumours to me about her character. I straightway put the substance of the rumours before her and invited her to come and see me if I was to take Harijan service from her. She came without hesitation. She will be with me for a few days longer. She tells me that you know her. Will you please tell me what your impressions of her and her work are? 4

With regard to the visit to the Frontier Province I hope you saw the statement I issued to the Press. I shall strain every nerve to avoid a clash. With me it is not a matter of sacrificing anything for anything else. Is not the vast meaning of sacrifice self-purification? So long as my submission to the Viceregal will does not harm the cause it shall continue. You may depend upon it that I shall take no hasty step. 5 On 16th June a Conference of workers in the Harijan cause was organized in Mysore under the auspices of the Mysore State Harijan Sevak Sangh. Shrimati Rameshwari Nehru presided. The following message was sent by the Dewan, Sir Mirza Ismail: I am very glad to hear that the Mysore State Harijan Sevak Sangh is Organizing a conference of workers engaged in the noble cause of the uplift of the Depressed Classes, better known as Harijans, to review the result of the past year’s work and to settle future lines of action. I need hardly say that I wish the conference all possible success. The keen solicitude of His Highness the Maharaja and his Government for the well being and prosperity of the people extends, as is well known, to his subjects irrespective of their caste, creed or race. The social and educational uplift of the Harijans, who form no small section of His Highness’s subjects, is therefore a matter which has received and will continue to receive the active sympathy and support of His Highness’s Government. Various measures have been adopted by Government in recent years to ameliorate the conditions of this community. In this task the co-operation of the public and of such organizations as the Harijan Sevak Sangh of Bangalore is to be welcomed. I wish this Sangh all success in its labours to create a higher tone in the social life of the community and to enable it to play its part in the public life of the State. The conference passed many resolutions of local importance from which I take the following: This conference appeals to Government to be pleased to grant the following additional facilities.

1. Lands for the starting of agricultural colonies in the Irwin Canal Area and also under the Vani Vilas Sagar.

2. Sites for the extension of Harijan quarters in the villages.

3. Definite allotment in the budget for the provision of drinking-water wells to Harijans in the villages.

4. Increased grants to aided Harijan hostels, scholarships and exemption from the payment of sports and library fees.

5. Preferential appointments to the Harijans who have passed the high schools and college examinations.

6. Appointment of a Special Office with staff and budget provisions to look after the moral and material improvement of the Harijans in the State.

7. Creation of an Educational Trust Fund and formation of an advisory board.

8. Starting of a free boarding-home for Harijan girls in Mysore.

9. Permission to the Harijans to enter and worship in all temples under the management of the Muzrai Department.

Let us hope that these reasonable requests will be granted by the authorities and perfect equality established between the Harijans and the other citizens of the State. 6

Now that I am free to attend to correspondence to a limited extent, I write this to acknowledge your kind invitation which I treasure. You know how I love to be with you and under your care. But I do not know how I shall fare during the hot weather and where fate will take me. For the moment I can only say, the wish is there. 7 It emboldens me to ask you, please put the following before His Highness. I understand Harijans are not allowed even to attend the Durbars whenever they are held. I can find no warrant in Hindu religion for the bar. Unless there are valid and insuperable objections to the relief being granted, I do hope that the prohibition will be removed. I would urge the necessity of opening all State temples to Harijans on the same terms as the savarna Hindus. I am hoping we shall meet before we leave Bangalore which we expect to do the 12th inst. With renewed thanks for the hospitality and attention we are receiving. 8

You were good enough to tell me that I was free to make use of your workshops etc., to make researches and get such assistance as was easily available. I know Mr. M. Frydman of your electrical department. He is a lover of villages and has the village mind. Though he has been helping me with his ideas for some years and has recently made me some village tools, I would like you, if it is proper, to instruct him and the Director of Industries to give me or the Village Industries Association such assistance as they can appropriately render. Being in a village myself I do need such assistance fairly often. 9 The Ahmadabad labour dispute has been absorbing me to the exclusion of most important correspondence. I am pondering over your suggestion. I have no hesitation about seeking an interview. But I ask myself: What shall I talk? What will he talk? I shall write what I have decided. Thank you very much for Navin Chandra. If he equips himself for service and earns his scholarship whilst there I shall be satisfied. Thank you also for giving the necessary instruction to Frydman. 10 I must not anticipate the Working Committee’s decision. I know it will tax all its Patriotic spirit. I am in letter and in spirit praying for God’s guidance during those days. My kindest regards to you, Lady Mirza, Hamayun and the rest of the family. 11

I must thank you for your most affectionate letter. I have never doubted your personal affection for me; I was going to say even partiality. These are things I treasure. They please me but what I want is true co-operation, if my mission of peace and goodwill is to succeed. Since you would know what I would like, I reduce to writing my thoughts as they come to me. I am quite clear in my mind that there is little real freedom of speech in British India, there is still less in ‘Indian India’ and there is no independent judiciary. Unfortunately you hold a different view. Hence there is not much prospect of co-operation. I am sure you will one day be convinced of this fundamental truth. Till then we must agree to differ. Your Chief Justice is wholly unfit for the post he holds. How can there be real justice! I know that in British India too there have been unfit Chief and other Justices. My point is that they become worse on going to the States. I feel these things keenly because I am the only true friend among public men of the Princes. This is a high but true claim. You are about to leave.

How I wish you can see truth as I feel it! By way of palliative you can restore the sands and redress the wrong done to those candidates who were rejected. Such a step will be appreciated. It won’t be of much use because the lawyers have turned the punishment to good account and they have become workers. The rejected candidates have reconciled themselves to the rejection. But as a gesture, if you can take the step, it will have a value. Don’t please expect Bhashyam or others to seek an interview with you but send for them as friends. Trust will beget trust. Surely the first step should be yours. I am asking Pattabhi to see you as early as he can. I know that even in your retirement, you will be doing useful service. May you have many years before you and may you be an instrument for doing some truly big work. Your sandal-wood box is always by my side and holds my odds and ends. This is a personal letter. I am not copying it. I have not written it for any public use, nor do I expect a reply unless you feel like sending one. 12

Mahadev is in Bombay. I have read yours to him. Why “Mr. Mahadev”? I have no faith in conferences at the present moment. We can do nothing when people come with mental reservations. Nevertheless I do not dissuade those who believe in them. Therefore, if you or Sir Tej convened one and wanted me to come, I should gladly come in my individual capacity. But I am more likely to become a cause of discord than otherwise. 13 I have your very interesting proposal for which many thanks. It does not attract me for the simple reason that I do not trust the British Government to do the right thing. Moreover any participation in conferences invited by the Government presupposes aid in the war effort by the participants. I cannot, I must not. 14

The copy of Polak’s letter is important. He has developed of late a strange attitude on Indian affairs. It is not less unfortunate because it is sincerely held. What he considers unreal is altogether real for us. Pakistan may be unreal. I hold it to be dangerous. But it is too real to be dismissed with contempt. Civil Disobedience may be unreal. But I should resent anybody calling it unreal. Sir Tej Bahadur’s wrath is not unreal. It is symptomatic of the Indian temper. I know nobody who considers this war to be India’s war. The utter disregard of the sentiment of politically-minded India is a dangerous reality. I can heartily share Polak’s hope that you may be used by God for bringing peace between the two communities. Polak has forgotten what he knew before as well as I do, that the Princes are not free agents. They have no will but the British will, they have no status but what the British may give them from moment to moment. To say that we must produce an agreement to which the Princes are party is as much as to say that the British should be party. You may send this to Polak, if you think it will serve any useful purpose. I have simply given you my reaction to Polak’s, if only in appreciation of your considerateness in sending me the copy. 15

Representatives from Hyderabad have seen me. They are Shri Kashinath Vaidya and Swami Ramanand Tirth. They have discussed with me the so-called reforms contemplated in the State. I have studied them somewhat as they appeared in the Press. The reforms seem to be only so-called. To me they appear to be a step backward rather than forward. I do not know that you can do much to alter them but I wonder why you cannot scrap them altogether. The least that any State can do at this time is to recognize the status and influence of the States’ Peoples’ Conference, of which Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is the President, and secure its endorsement before proceeding with any popular measure. This ensures smooth passage for any such thing. Rajkumari has already drawn your attention to Shrimati Padmaja Naidu’s pamphlet on police atrocities in some of the Hyderabad villages. I would like you to enlighten me on these two points. I am sorry to have to worry you when you have just begun your new career. 16

 

References: 

 

  1. Letter to Mirza Ismail, October 22, 1931
  2. Letter to Mirza Ismail, October 28, 1931
  3. Note to Mirza Ismail, October 28, 1931
  4. Letter to Mirza Ismail, February 24, 1933
  5. Letter to Mirza Ismail, December 23, 1934
  6. Harijan, 6-7-1935
  7. Letter to Mirza Ismail, March 9, 1936
  8. Letter to Mirza Ismail, June 5, 1936
  9. Letter to Mirza Ismail, November 27, 1936
  10. Letter to Mirza Ismail, December 13, 1936
  11. Letter to Mirza Ismail, June 28, 1937
  12. Letter to Mirza Ismail, March 19, 1941
  13. Letter to Mirza Ismail, July 23, 1941
  14. Letter to Mirza Ismail, August 12, 1941
  15. Letter to Mirza Ismail, October 5, 1941
  16. The Hindu, 31-12-1946

 

 

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