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the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action

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

 

International Diplomacy and Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

Alongside of my suggestion about Hindustani has been the advice that the students should, during the transition period from inferiority to equality from foreign domination to swaraj, from helplessness to self-help suspend their study of English. If we wish to attain swaraj before the next Congress, we must believe in the possibility, we must do all that we are capable of doing for its advancement, and one must do nothing that would not advance it or would actually retard it. Now adding to our knowledge of English cannot accelerate our progress towards our goal and it can conceivably retard it. The latter calamity is a reality in many cases for there are many who believe that we cannot acquire the spirit of freedom without the music of the English words ringing in our ears and sounding through our lips.

This is an infatuation. If it were the truth, swaraj would be as distant as the Greek Kalends. English is a language of international commerce, it is the language of diplomacy, it contains many a rich literary treasure, and it gives us an introduction to Western thought and culture. For a few of us, therefore, knowledge of English is necessary. They can carry on the departments of national commerce and international diplomacy, and for giving to the nation the best of Western literature, thought, and science. That would be the legitimate use of English. Whereas today English has usurped the dearest place in our hearts and dethroned our mother tongues. It is an unnatural place due to our unequal relations with Englishmen. The highest development of the Indian mind must be possible without knowledge of English. It is doing violence to the manhood and specially the womanhood of India to encourage our boys and girls to think that an entry into the best society is impossible without knowledge of English. It is too humiliating a thought to be bearable. To get rid of the infatuation for English is one of the essentials of swaraj.  The official language for provincial governments, legislatures and courts, within a definite period, to be the vernacular of the province of the Privy Council, the final court of appeal, to be Hindustani; the script to be either Devanagari or Persian, the language of the Central Government and of the Central Legislature to be also Hindustani and the language of international diplomacy to be English. 1

I trust you will not laugh at what may appear to you to be extravagance of thought in the foregoing sketch of some of the requirements of swaraj as I would have it. We may not have the power today to take or receive or do the things I have mentioned. Have we the will? Let us at least cultivate the desire. Before I leave this highly attractive, because speculative, theme, let me assure the Committee in charge of the drafting of a swaraj scheme, that I claim for my suggestion no more attention than it should give to any single individual’s I have incorporated them in my address only to gain greater currency for them than they would perhaps otherwise receive. 2 

Let English be, as it ought to be, language of international diplomacy, the language of intercourse between all the different nations of the world. But English can never usurp the function that specially belongs to Hindi or Hindustani. You ought to know that nearly twenty crores of the people of India can understand my broken Hindustani. Let it not be said that ten crores of India want to impose their speech or English speech on the twenty crores of India. I have said in my opening remarks what a deep grief it was to me this morning to enter 148 Russa Road. I know that that house no longer belonged to Deshbandhu Das. I knew that he contemplated making over that beautiful mansion to trustees in order to divest himself of the last vestige of wealth that he possessed in this world. But, man of the world, living still in the world as I am doing, when I actually entered the house with the knowledge that its distinguished owner had voluntarily dispossessed himself of it, I could not help shedding a tear. I felt a wrench within me that the house was no longer Das’s, and when I heard that he had not yet been able to repair his broken down constitution, I felt doubly grieved and my grief was still further increased when I received a brief but beautiful and loving message from him, written by him in pencil hand, telling me how it was impossible for him to stand the double strain and why therefore he had gone away to Faridpur in advance. May God grant him health and long life to serve the country which he loves so dearly? 3 

In spite of a resolution of the Congress and its constitution the Congress proceedings are still often carried on in English for the benefit principally of the delegates from the South and Bengal. If in both the provinces those who propose to do national work make full use of the facilities provided in these provinces, the way will be clear for the forthcoming Congress to conduct its proceedings wholly in Hindi-Hindustani surely a consummation devoutly to be wished for in view especially of the momentous resolution of the Calcutta Congress. There is no independence for the masses if their representatives cannot conduct their proceedings in the national language. When the true yearning for swaraj comes, there will be no need for English speech in the national assembly. English will still have its place and a place of importance at that. It will be and must remain the language of international diplomacy and intercourse. But it must not be allowed to usurp the function of the national language. 4

 

References:

 

  1. Young India, 2-2-1921
  2. Young India, 26-12-1924
  3. Amrita Bazar Patrika, 2-5-1925
  4. Young India, 10-1-1929

 

 

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