GANDHI IN ACTION network

the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action

Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Gandhian Scholar

Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India.

Contact No. – 09404955338

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

 

Independent day and Mahatma Gandhi

 

Mahatma Gandhi returned India from South Africa in 1915. He went and saw every part of his country. He attended meeting. But he did not speak a single word. He observed everything very minutely. He wanted a different type of Independent. He never wanted only political Independent. He wanted complete Independent. He called that Swaraj. It started from a poorest people of country.

Mahatma Gandhi declared in 1930. He wrote, “It was easy enough to pass the independence resolution at Lahore. It is difficult enough to achieve it even by ‘peaceful and legitimate means’. The first essential is to let the masses know, understand and appreciate the message of the Congress. They must know what independence means and what it is likely to cost. And so the Working Committee whose business is to make the Congress live in the daily life of the people has fixed Sunday, 26th instant, as Purna 1 That is, the civil disobedience movement contemplated by the resolution passed by the Indian National Congress on December 31, 1929, at its session in Lahore under the Presidentship of Jawaharlal Nehru Swaraj (Complete Independence) Day when a declaration approved by the Working Committee will be made by those present. It is intended to be complete by itself. No speeches are therefore necessary. They are inadvisable, because the idea is abroad that people may indulge in loose talk when independence is in the air. These should understand that loose irresponsible talk is not independence, it is licence; it is not energy generated by love of freedom, it is froth to be thrown away as useless and harmful, whereas 26th instant is intended to be one of complete discipline, restraint, reserve, dignity and real strength. It would be good, if the declaration is made by whole cities, whole villages even as happened on that ever memorable 6th of April 1919. It would be well if all the meetings were held at the identical minute in all the places. In order that these meetings may be numerously attended, there should be house-to-house visits, there may be also leaflets circulated among the people. The villages may follow the customary method of advertising the time by the drumbeat. Those who are religiously minded may as before begin the day by ablutions and concentrating on the task before the country and the means for its fulfillment. They will therefore pass the day in doing some constructive work, whether it is spinning, or service of ‘untouchables’, or reunion of Hindus and Mussalmans, or prohibition work, or even all these together, which is not impossible. Thus a Hindu may get hold of an ‘untouchable’ and invite a Mussalman, a Parsi, a Christian, a Sikh to join in a spinning competition for a stated time, and then they may all go together for say one hour to hawk khadi which they can together buy to resell and then devote an hour to visit the neighbouring liquor shop and speak to the keeper about the evil of gaining a livelihood or making money by such means. They may also speak to the visitors to such places and wind up the day by attending the celebration. It should be remembered that Sunday is also the flag-hoisting day. The day may be well begun by attending the flag-hoisting ceremony.

If the Congress Committees and Congress workers are serious about the resolution, I hope they have already begun enlisting new members and inviting old ones to pay their subscription for the current year. In doing so, they, the old and the new ones, should be informed of the change in the creed and its implications. And if Congress Committees begin methodical work, they will materially help in reorganizing the Congress on a solid foundation, and the people who may then attend the celebration on the 26th will be not merely curiosity-mongers or idlers, but men and women gathered together with a fairly full knowledge of what they are about and determined to fulfil their common purpose. It ought to be possible to make the demonstration universal and yet ensure perfect orderliness throughout the whole length and breadth of India. Nothing untoward or unintended should happen on this Independence Day. In order to enable the central office to gauge the strength of the movement and the Congress organization, it is as necessary to send an absolutely accurate account of the day’s doing in each village or locality as it is to have the celebration itself. A full and faithful record of the day’s happenings will enable the Working Committee that is to meet on the 14th February to shape its future course.

All this work requires whole-timers, in other words, permanent paid volunteers. Part-time workers are good and valuable only when and where there is at least one whole-time worker. I have already suggested that there should be a permanent Provincial Service Board formed for the U.P. which should draw up a workable constitution and immediately set about enlisting recruits. Let us hope that there will be no time lost in bringing into being this very desirable organization. If it works efficiently and honestly it will serve as a model for the rest of the provinces.”1

Mahatma Gandhi declared that 15 August and 26 January both were Independent day. Mahatma Gandhi told in point, “Though questions regarding the forthcoming Independence Day Pledge should be properly addressed to the Congress Secretary and though the President alone can give authoritative answers, they are continually being addressed to me; and as I have undertaken the duty of declaring civil resistance and leading the army, should a struggle become necessary, it becomes incumbent on me to answer certain questions before 26th January.

1. Let it be remembered that, if civil resistance is to be declared, it will have to be more civil and more non-violent than ever before, if only to show the warring nations of the earth that a big people like that of India can fight non-violently for regaining their freedom. Therefore I shall resolutely refuse to fight unless I have sufficient confidence that Congressmen will render implicit obedience.

2. There is as much valour in self-denial as there is in rushing into the furnace, provided that the motive is the same in either case.

3. The Independence Day is an annual feature in the Congress programme and is unconnected with civil resistance. Hence the forthcoming celebration must not be mistaken for declaration of civil resistance. Nevertheless it would serve as an index of the discipline among Congressmen and those millions who have hitherto answered the Congress call. There should on the one hand be the largest demonstration of all the previous ones we have had, and on the other it should be of a character so peaceful as to disarm all criticism and induce and enable women with babes, little children and aged people to join the demonstration. Such was the demonstration on 6th April, 1919, in Bombay.

4. Students have asked me what they should do. I would expect them individually to take the pledge, for it means their determination to win independence for India through truthful non-violent means symbolized in the constructive programme in which the charkha is the central activity. The other items are harmony among different communities and eradication of untouchability. These do not constitute the struggle but their fulfillment is indispensable for it. If the struggle comes, the students will not strike. They will leave their schools or colleges for good. But the students will not strike on the 26th. It will be good if the authorities themselves, as they well might, close their institutions and lead their staff and students in processions and other items of the programme. The same thing applies to labour. Those who without leave absent themselves from their work will in my opinion be guilty of indiscipline and render themselves unfit for enlisting as soldiers in the Satyagraha army. Non-violence is all discipline, wholly voluntary. It is clear from the foregoing that those who do not believe in and use khadi cannot take the pledge.

5. The pledge is not designed, as some fear, to eliminate strikes and no-tax campaigns. But I must at once confess that I have in my mind neither strikes nor no-tax campaigns as part of the forthcoming struggle, if it comes at all. In my opinion the present atmosphere is not conducive to non-violent strikes and non-violent no-tax campaigns on an extensive scale.

6. I expect the whole weight of the Congress organization to be devoted to popularizing khadi and clearing the existing stocks.

7. For me Satyagraha is a method of self-purification. The word was first used in the A.I.C.C. resolution of 1921. The constructive programme has been designed for that purpose. Though the word has fallen into disrepute, I as the author of the programme must have the courage to repeat it. We began Satyagraha with a 24 hours’ fast in 1919. I propose to observe one myself on the 26th beginning in the evening of the 25th. And those who believe in its efficacy will do likewise.

8. Though I am preparing myself in the best manner I know and inviting the country to join me for a struggle for the overthrow of the imperialistic spirit and all it means, I am making a desperate effort to avoid the struggle. I believe that the best mind of England, nay, of the world, is sick of the exploitation by the strong of the less strong. I believe in the sincerity of Lord Linlithgow. In the immediate carrying out of policies it is the individuals who count. I have worked with faith

and hope. And I have not lost the hope that we shall have an honourable settlement without a struggle which, no matter how nonviolent, must involve considerable suffering. I therefore invite all communities, all parties, including Englishmen, to join the effort.”2

Mahatma Gandhi said, “My immediate objective is and for years has been for India to gain her independence, complete in every sense of the term by truthful and non-violent means. And in prosecution of that objective, I re-pledge myself on this Independence Day not to rest; till it is gained. I seek for the fulfillment of my pledge the assistance of that divine and unseen Power which we recognize by such familiar names as God, Allah and Paramatma.”3

Mahatma Gandhi said in his prathna pravachan, “Then we shall have reason to celebrate 15th of August as Independence Day. But if this does not happen, this independence is not for me nor, I am sure will it be for you. A lot can happen in these thirty-five days.”4 It means that Mahatma Gandhi was very clear about Independent from beginning. He said it many time that he wanted complete Independent. When Independent declared at 15 August, He said that it was partial Independent.

 

References:

  1. Young India. 16-1-1930
  2. Harijan, 27-1-1940
  3. The Hindu, 24-1-1943
  4. Prarthana Pravachan–I, pp. 234-7

 

 

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