reader: You have said much about civilisation – enough to make me ponder over it. I do not now 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 the English nation, 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 propositions can be sustained. They came to our country originally for purposes 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?
This lecture, entitled ‘Does economic progress clash with real progress?’, was delivered on 22 December 1916 to a meeting of the Muir Central College Economic Society, Allahabad. It contains Gandhi's basic ideas on economic development. Note its wide intellectual culture, quoting as it were in one breath the New Testament, Shakespeare and A. R. Wallace, the co-discoverer with Darwin of the principle of natural selection. [Ed.]
When I accepted Mr. Kapildeva Malaviya's invitation to speak to you upon the subject of this evening, I was painfully conscious of my limitations. You are an economic society. You have chosen distinguished specialists for the subjects included in your syllabus for this year and the next. I seem to be the only speaker ill-fitted for the task set before him. Frankly and truly, I know very little of economics, as you naturally understand them. Only the other day, sitting at an evening meal, a civilian friend deluged me with a series of questions on my crankisms. As he proceeded in his cross-examination, I being a willing victim, he found no difficulty in discovering my gross ignorance of the matters I appeared to him to be handling with a cocksureness worthy only of a man who knows not that he knows not. To his horror and even indignation, I suppose, he found that I had not even read books on economics by such well-known authorities as Mill, Marshall, Adam Smith and a host of such other authors.
reader: I now understand the lawyers; the good they may have done is accidental. I feel that the profession is certainly hateful. You, however, drag in the doctors also, how is that?
editor: The views I submit to you are those I have adopted. They are not original. Western writers have used stronger terms regarding both lawyers and doctors. One writer has likened the whole modern system to the Upas tree. Its branches are represented by parasitical professions, including those of law and medicine, and over the trunk has been raised the axe of true religion. Immorality is the root of the tree. So you will see that the views do not come right out of my mind, but they represent the combined experiences of many. I was at one time a great lover of the medical profession. It was my intention to become a doctor for the sake of the country. I no longer hold that opinion. I now understand why the medicine men (the vaids) among us have not occupied a very honourable status.
The English have certainly effectively used the medical profession for holding us. English physicians are known to have used the profession with several Asiatic potentates for political gain.
Doctors have almost unhinged us. Sometimes I think that quacks are better than highly qualified doctors. Let us consider: the business of a doctor is to take care of the body, or, properly speaking, not even that.
reader: I appreciate your views about civilisation. I will have to think over them. I cannot take in all at once. What, then, holding the views you do, would you suggest for freeing India?
editor: I do not expect my views to be accepted all of a sudden. My duty is to place them before readers like yourself. Time can be trusted to do the rest. We have already examined the conditions for freeing India, but we have done so indirectly; we will now do so directly. It is a world-known maxim that the removal of the cause of a disease results in the removal of the disease itself. Similarly, if the cause of India's slavery be removed, India can become free.
reader: If Indian civilisation is, as you say, the best of all, how do you account for India's slavery?
editor: This civilisation is unquestionably the best, but it is to be observed that all civilisations have been on their trial. That civilisation which is permanent outlives it. Because the sons of India were found wanting, its civilisation has been placed in jeopardy. But its strength is to be seen in its ability to survive the shock. Moreover, the whole of India is not touched. Those alone who have been affected by western civilisation have become enslaved. We measure the universe by our own miserable foot-rule. When we are slaves, we think that the whole universe is enslaved.
editor: It is well that you have instanced Italy. Mazzini was a great and good man; Garibaldi was a great warrior. Both are adorable; from their lives we can learn much. But the condition of Italy was different from that of India. In the first instance, the difference between Mazzini and Garibaldi is worth noting. Mazzini's ambition was not, and has not yet been, realised regarding Italy. Mazzini has shown in his writings on the duty of man that every man must learn how to rule himself. This has not happened in Italy. Garibaldi did not hold this view of Mazzini's. Garibaldi gave, and every Italian took, arms. Italy and Austria had the same civilisation; they were cousins in this respect. It was a matter of tit for tat. Garibaldi simply wanted Italy to be free from the Austrian yoke. The machinations of Minister Cavour disgrace that portion of the history of Italy. And what has been the result? If you believe that, because Italians rule Italy, the Italian nation is happy, you are groping in darkness. Mazzini has shown conclusively that Italy did not become free. Victor Emanuel gave one meaning to the expression; Mazzini gave another. According to Emanuel, Cavour, and even Garibaldi, Italy meant the King of Italy and his henchmen. According to Mazzini, it meant the whole of the Italian people, that is, its agriculturists. Emanuel was only its servant. The Italy of Mazzini still remains in a state of slavery.
In this letter, Gandhi gave Lord Ampthill also a preview of HS. Upon receipt of the letter Lord and Lady Ampthill invited Gandhi for a private lunch and to discuss its contents. Unfortunately, the lunch had to be cancelled due to the sudden illness of their son. No new date was set for a lunch as Gandhi had to leave London for South Africa on 13 November 1909. (For the text of Ampthill's lunch invitation see his letters of 4.11.1909 and 7.11.1909 to Gandhi in the Sabarmati Ashram Grantalaya Collection, SN 5152 and 5165.) [Ed.]
October 30, 1909
I have for some time past been wishing to place before Your Lordship the result of my observations made here during my brief stay on the nationalist movement among my countrymen.
If you will permit me to say so, I would like to say that I have been much struck by Your Lordship's candour, sincerity and honesty of which one notices nowadays such an absence among our great public men. I have noticed too that your imperialism does not blind you to matters of obvious justice and that your love of India is genuine and great. All this coupled with my desire to withhold nothing from Your Lordship regarding my own activity about Indian matters as they may have a direct or an indirect bearing on the struggle in the Transvaal, emboldens if it does not require me to inform you of what I have seen.
While Hind Swaraj gives the general outline of Gandhi's political philosophy, the ‘Constructive programme’, originally addressed to the members of the Indian National Congress, discusses some of the concrete steps by which that philosophy may be implemented. The value of this document lies in the fact that it illustrates the point that according to Gandhi every sound political philosophy ought to have its corresponding constructive programme – one that contributes to the betterment of the lives of members of civil society. [Ed.]
The constructive programme may otherwise and more fittingly be called construction of poorna swaraj or complete independence by truthful and non-violent means.
Effort for construction of independence so called through violent and, therefore, necessarily untruthful means we know only too painfully. Look at the daily destruction of property, life and truth in the present war.
Complete independence through truth and non-violence means the independence of every unit, be it the humblest of the nation, without distinction of race, colour or creed. This independence is never exclusive. It is, therefore, wholly compatible with interdependence within or without. Practice will always fall short of the theory, even as the drawn line falls short of the theoretical line of Euclid. Therefore, complete independence will be complete only to the extent of our approach in practice to truth and non-violence.
reader: Then you consider Partition to be a cause of the awakening? Do you welcome the unrest which has resulted from it?
editor: When a man rises from sleep, he twists his limbs and is restless. It takes some time before he is entirely awakened. Similarly, although the Partition has caused an awakening, the comatose state has not yet disappeared. We are still twisting our limbs and still restless, and just as the state between sleep and awakening must be considered to be necessary, so may the present unrest in India be considered a necessary and, therefore, a proper state. The knowledge that there is unrest will, it is highly probable, enable us to outgrow it. Rising from sleep, we do not continue in a comatose state, but, according to our ability, sooner or later, we are completely restored to our senses. So shall we be free from the present unrest which no one likes.
reader: What is the other form of unrest?
editor: Unrest is, in reality, discontent. The latter is only now described as unrest. During the Congress period it was labelled discontent; Mr Hume always said that the spread of discontent in India was necessary. This discontent is a very useful thing. So long as a man is contented with his present lot, so long is it difficult to persuade him to come out of it. Therefore it is that every reform must be preceded by discontent. We throw away things we have, only when we cease to like them.
reader: From your views I gather that you would form a third party. You are neither an extremist nor a moderate.
editor: That is a mistake. I do not think of a third party at all. We do not all think alike. We cannot say that all the moderates hold identical views. And how can those who want to serve only, have a party? I would serve both the moderates and the extremists. Where I should differ from them, I would respectfully place my position before them, and continue my service.
reader: What, then, would you say to both the parties?
editor: I would say to the extremists: – ‘I know that you want Home Rule for India; it is not to be had for your asking. Everyone will have to take it for himself. What others get for me is not Home Rule but foreign rule; therefore, it would not be proper for you to say that you have obtained Home Rule, if you expelled the English. I have already described the true nature of Home Rule. This you would never obtain by force of arms. Brute force is not natural to the Indian soil. You will have, therefore, to rely wholly on soul-force. You must not consider that violence is necessary at any stage for reaching our goal.’
I would say to the moderates: ‘Mere petitioning is derogatory; we thereby confess inferiority. To say that British rule is indispensable is almost a denial of the Godhead. […]
Gandhi's vision of the relationship between the individual, the state and the world community is articulated in an interview he granted on 28 July 1946. [Ed.]
Question: You have said in your article in the Harijan of July 15, under the caption ‘The Real Danger’ that Congressmen in general certainly do not know the kind of independence they want. Would you kindly give them a broad but comprehensive picture of the Independent India of your own conception?
Answer: I do not know that I have not, from time to time, given my idea of Indian independence. Since, however, this question is part of a series, it is better to answer it even at the risk of repetition.
Independence of India should mean independence of the whole of India, including what is called India of the States and the other foreign powers, French and Portuguese, who are there, I presume, by British sufferance. Independence must mean that of the people of India, not of those who are today ruling over them. The rulers should depend on the will of those who are under their heels. Thus, they have to be servants of the people, ready to do their will.
Independence must begin at the bottom. Thus, every village will be a republic or panchayat having full powers. It follows, therefore, that every village has to be self-sustained and capable of managing its affairs even to the extent of defending itself against the whole world.
Written on the day before his assassination, the following document is popularly known as Gandhi's ‘Last Will and Testament’. Watching the behaviour of India's political intelligentsia after independence Gandhi became convinced that they were more interested in making personal gains than in serving the people. It confirmed his fear, already expressed in Hind Swaraj, ch. iv, that home rule without swaraj would only mean the replacement of the British ‘tiger’ by the Indian ‘tiger’. To the last Gandhi believed that political, social and economic development could become a reality only when swaraj as political self-government was accompanied by swaraj as moral self-rule. Gandhi's last political message is that in a free society political parties must be inspired by the ideal that politics is a form of public service rather than a means of dominating fellow citizens. [Ed.]
January 29, 1948
Though split into two, India having attained political independence through means devised by the Indian National Congress, the Congress in its present shape and form, i.e., as a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine, has outlived its use. India has still to attain social, moral and economic independence in terms of its seven hundred thousand villages as distinguished from its cities and towns. The struggle for the ascendancy of civil over military power is bound to take place in India's progress towards its democratic goal. It must be kept out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies.
reader: In the whole of our discussion, you have not demonstrated the necessity for education; we always complain of its absence among us. We notice a movement for compulsory education in our country. The Maharaja Gaekwar has introduced it in his territories. Every eye is directed towards them. We bless the Maharaja for it. Is all this effort, then, of no use?
editor: If we consider our civilisation to be the highest, I have regretfully to say that much of the effort you have described is of no use. The motive of the Maharaja and other great leaders who have been working in this direction is perfectly pure. They, therefore, undoubtedly deserve great praise. But we cannot conceal from ourselves the result that is likely to flow from their effort.
What is the meaning of education? If it simply means a knowledge of letters, it is merely an instrument, and an instrument may be well used or abused. The same instrument that may be used to cure a patient may be used to take his life, and so may a knowledge of letters. We daily observe that many men abuse it, and very few make good use of it, and, if this is a correct statement, we have proved that more harm has been done by it than good.
The ordinary meaning of education is a knowledge of letters. To teach boys reading, writing and arithmetic is called primary education. A peasant earns his bread honestly.
Hind Swaraj is Gandhi's seminal work. It is also a work which he himself translated from Gujarati into English: no other work of his, not even the Autobiography (translated by his secretary), enjoys this distinction. As such, the English text of this work, which is being presented here, possesses an authority all of its own. It was this text that Tolstoy and Romain Rolland, Nehru and Rajaji read and commented upon. It was through this, not the Gujarati text, that he hoped, as he put it, ‘to use the British race’ for transmitting his ‘mighty message of ahimsa’ to the rest of the world (Watson 1969, 176). And it was to this text that he returned throughout his career as if to the source of his inspiration.
Hind Swaraj is the seed from which the tree of Gandhian thought has grown to its full stature. For those interested in Gandhi's thought in a general way, it is the right place to start, for it is here that he presents his basic ideas in their proper relationship to one another. And for those who wish to study his thought more methodically, it remains the norm by which to assess the theoretical significance of his other writings, including the Autobiography.
I have written some chapters on the subject of Indian Home Rule which I venture to place before the readers of Indian Opinion. I have written because I could not restrain myself. I have read much, I have pondered much, during the stay, for four months in London of the Transvaal Indian deputation. I discussed things with as many of my countrymen as I could. I met, too, as many Englishmen as it was possible for me to meet. I consider it my duty now to place before the readers of Indian Opinion the conclusions, which appear to me to be final. The Gujarati subscribers of Indian Opinion number about 800. I am aware that, for every subscriber, there are at least ten persons who read the paper with zest. Those who cannot read Gujarati have the paper read to them. Such persons have often questioned me about the condition of India. Similar questions were addressed to me in London. I felt, therefore, that it might not be improper for me to ventilate publicly the views expressed by me in private.
These views are mine, and yet not mine. They are mine because I hope to act according to them. They are almost a part of my being. But, yet, they are not mine, because I lay no claim to originality. They have been formed after reading several books. That which I dimly felt received support from these books.
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