GandhiTopia

Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

The following article was written in Written on 6th March 1998 and published in THE HITAVADA, Nagpur.  It is equally relevant today than ever before.  Hence I chose to share this with Gandhi Topia members.

 

The world is weary of hate.  We see the fatigue overcoming the western nations.  We see that this song of hate has not benefited humanity. Let it be the privilege of India to turn a new leaf and set a lesson to the world.

- MAHATMA GANDHI

 

 

Instead of India turning a new leaf and set a lesson to the world, India itself is much weary of hate at all levels.  The country, which won independence through, a non-violent revolution, is constantly bleeding in violence of all sorts at all levels.  Innocent human lives have no value.  Everyone try to do everything and no one does what one can or one should do.

 

In the same country where even under mighty colonials great men like Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave walked through the length and breadth bear chest accompanied by non-violent soldiers constituted of constructive workers, our present day leaders move around wearing bullet proof clothes, bullet proof cars and accompanied by pistol clad commandos.  What a metamorphosical change during these fifty years of independence!

 

This state of affairs will have to change soon.  If we are ourselves not prepared to change, the nature in itself will change it with revenge.  A new leadership should emerge from amongst the present generation with a long-range view sans short-range views just populist in nature and more dangerous to the society and mankind as a whole.

 

In a democracy no individual or political party should be indispensable.  Grabbing power by any means and holding on to power at any cost is a severe threat to democracy.  But, who cares?

 

While discussing about democracy, this writer cannot forget what Late Dr.J.C.Kumarappa stated about it in his famous book “Economy of Permanence” published in 1945 with a foreword by Mahatma Gandhi.  The same is quoted below for the benefit of present generation, as the same is more relevant today than ever before, be it in Indian context or the world as a whole.

 

“India was originally a republic of villages, and each village was a self-governing unit.  It has developed certain ideas of state, based on the types of personalities commonly found in society.

 

“All activities in human society present two points of view, the long range view and the short range view.  Many of us are not capable of taking a long term view because it means working for years before the fruit of one’s labors can be seen or obtained and men do not like to wait.  We are all inclined to take a short-term view.  We want to eat, drink and be merry.  Ninety-nine out of hundred people take this short-term view.  But there are certain matters which have got to be done for the benefit of the whole society and which call for a long-range view.  This is what a democracy arranges for.  We require men with a long-range view to be at the head of Government if Government is to succeed and the well-being of the majority is to be achieved.  People who take a short range view are a danger to society, if they be at the head of Government.  They will promote wars by their shortsighted policy.

 

“Judged from the view point, England and America are anything but democracies.  Those countries are under absolute dictatorships.  When those countries were faced with the grave danger of war, what was the form of Government that prevailed, democracy or dictatorship?  Barefaced dictatorship came into being in those countries.  That was not mere a coincidence; it was bound to happen.  These countries have been using centralized methods of production, which means central control and regimentation, which ultimately leads to dictatorship.  We cannot have dictatorship in economics and at the same time, democracy in politics. If it serves the needs of the people it does not matter what such service costs.  It has got to be rendered.  That is the fundamental principle that we have got to remember.  Here is a big difference between private economy and public finance.  Public finance takes a long-range view. While planning for democracy, every citizen is to be made conscious of the part he has to play in the whole scheme.”

 

It is desirable that everyone carefully read these invaluable words, think about it, understand it fully and act swiftly so that our democracy is meaningful and beneficial to the mankind as a whole.  In that case we can turn a new leaf and set a lesson to the world.

 

While we celebrate the Golden Jubilee of our country’s independence, we have to remember Mahatma Gandhi and his contemporaries like J.C.Kumarappa, whom Gandhiji himself called a doctor of village industries.  More than remembering their faces and unveiling portraits and statues and organizing seminars and symposia, it is high time we remembered their noble words, think about the same and act sincerely in the larger interest of our countrymen in particular and the mankind in general.

 

Recent happenings in Uttar Pradesh and all the more the spreading of violence be it in Kashmir in the north or Coimbatore in south, these are assaults on our democracy that we won through the sacrifices of innumerable visionaries, constructive workers and great men like Mahatma Gandhi and J.C.Kumarappa.  Just like this writer there are millions who had no privilege to see either of them.  But one can reach their writings and take invaluable messages to mold one’s own life and the destiny of our great nation.  Let us celebrate the Golden Jubilee of our country’s independence in this manner.

 

Mahatma Gandhi was not present for the celebrations of India’s Independence on 15th August 1947.  With regard to the celebrations Gandhiji said:

 “I cannot afford to take part in this rejoicing, which is a sorry affair.

 “I am not lifted off my feet by these demonstrations of joy.

 

This country was ruled for decades by Congressmen.  Almost majority of our leaders who assumed power sans a Congress ticket were also once Congressmen.  How many of them read, remembered, think and acted on the following resolution passed by All India Congress Committee on 16th November, 1947.

 

“The All India Congress Committee has noted with regret that there is a growing desire on the part of some organizations to build up private armies.  Any such development is dangerous for the safety of the State and for the growth of corporate life in the nation.  The State alone should have its defense forces or police or some guards or recognized armed volunteer force.  The activities of the Muslim National Guards, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Akali Volunteers and such other organizations, in so far as they represent an endeavor to bring into being private armies, must be regarded as a menace to the hard-won freedom of the country.  The A.I.C.C. therefore appeals to all these organizations to discontinue such activities and the Central and Provincial Governments to take necessary steps in this behalf.”

 

During the five decades of our independence private armies have increased and the nation’s army and police also got converted into a sort of private armies.  This malignancy is what threatening the very existence of our democracy.  We have peacekeeping forces sans peace.  Can peace be achieved by force?  It can only cover the superficial symptoms.  Peace can be achieved only through truth, love and non-violence.  All other means are just destructive programs and not constructive programs to emancipate our countrymen and mankind as a whole.

 

Private armies are created to come to power by any means and safe guard one’s own chair.  Violence and force will not work.  If it worked Hitler and Mussolini would have continued to rule the world.  Just like peace cannot be brought in by violence and arms, one cannot rein the Government with arms sans peace.  One should not also force anyone to rein. 

 

Immediately after the country’s independence there was a suggestion that Gandhiji should prepare J.C.Kumarappa, Shrikrishnadas Jaju and such like to take the reins of Government in their hands.  It is worth noting what Gandhiji said then.

 

What hallucination is this? What right have I so to prepare people?  Government of the people, by the people and for the people cannot be conducted at the bidding of one man, however great he may be.  Again who are more capable or penetrating than the present holders of the reins of Government?  When more capable men are found, I am sure they will give place to their betters.  As far as I know them they are not place-hunters.  Therefore without being told by anybody they will of their own accord give place to abler hands and feel grateful for what will amount to a relief for them.

 

Let no one make the mistake of thinking that I can replace any one of them.  I know that they would welcome me if I was ready to shoulder the burden.  But I must confess that I have not unlimited capacity in me.  That belongs to God, whom I love to invoke as Ram.  But I am only His humble devotee.  His devotees cannot claim to be He.  They have got to dance to His tune.

 

This is the time the post independence younger generation should rise up above caste, class, creed and political affiliations and save the Indian democracy, which is in peril.  Ritualistic elections in itself not democracy.  It is much far from that and we have to reach it through the paths shown by Mahatma Gandhi and his contemporaries.  In that case we can realistically and joyfully celebrate the centenary of our independence.  Mahatma Gandhi and his contemporaries may also join us in the celebrations in spirit.  Let us look forward to that day and to reach that day let us construct the path through constructive work and democratic conduct in our own lives.  How can we rein a democracy when we are ourselves not democratic in our conduct and political parties are themselves not democratic.  Multiplication of parties is on account of undemocratic conduct of leaders heading each party.  Be it Congress or Communist or BJP, there have been multiplications.  This multiplication and mushroom growth of political parties can be checked if we take to heart the words of great men like Mahatma Gandhi and his contemporaries like J.C.Kumarappa.  In conclusion I cannot help remembering and quoting below the invaluable words attributed to Mahatma Gandhi:

 “Go to one, who does not come to you;

Talk to one, who does not talk to you;

Make up with one, who is displeased with you,

And all these, not for their good but for your own;

The world is a creditor and we are the debtors.

 

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