GANDHI IN ACTION network

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

 

Red Cross Society and Mahatma Gandhi

 

In response to a desire widely expressed by Indian students resident in the United Kingdom to take some active part in the defence of the country and in service abroad, it has been decided to organise a Field Ambulance Training Corps in connection with theRed Cross Society, and to give members of this Corps, when adequa-tely trained, an opportunity of serving with the Indian Army in Europe. The nucleus of such a Corps has already been formed in London, and drilled and trained for some weeks under Dr. James Cantlie, and steps are now being taken, with the co-operation of the War Office and the authorities of the London University Officers’ Training Corps, to expand and develop this nucleus into a highly organised corps. The Government of India has given its sanction, and Lieutenant-Colonel Baker of the Indian Medical Service (retired) has consented to act as Commander of the Corps.  The Corps is intended mainly for residents in London; but Indian students from other centres will be admitted if they desire to join. Men with medical training will be able to undertake special duties, but all men willing to train and serve will be of use.

Applicants will be asked to enrol themselves in the Indian Field Ambulance Training Corps, and will require to be passed by a Medical Board as physically fit. They will then be drilled almost every day by trained instructors in London, at an hour which will not interfere unduly with their ordinary studies or occupations; and at each week-end they will be expected to go into camp for further training from Friday night to Monday morning. A camping ground within easy reach of London will be placed at the disposal of the Corps, and uniforms and equipment will be procured. After some weeks of training which will involve hard and steady work—they will, when efficient, be entitled to volunteer to serve for six months as a Detachment under the Red Cross Society in connection with the Indian troops abroad. The terms and conditions of such service will be announced later. But it is hoped that the Red Cross Society will be able, in the first instance, to find places in the Detachment sent abroad for 10 Medical Officers and for 50 other recruits who would serve as Nursing Orderlies, Dressers, Compounders, Bearers, &c. The rates of pay on active service will probably be 20s. per day for Medical Officers and 4s. per day, with free rations, for the rest. Preference in the filling of these places would be given to recruits who, in the opinion of the Commanding Officer, were the most efficiently trained. 1 

There is, however, another sphere of public duty not less important for which in this country we are in the habit of depending very largely upon voluntary assistance, and this consists in rendering aid to the sick and wounded. The number of these in the present war may, unhappily, be large, and if that should prove to be the case, the military hospitals and military staff may have difficulty in coping with the demands made upon them. It will, therefore, be necessary to create temporary and voluntary organisations to meet this emergency. This duty is already being undertaken by a very large number of Englishmen and women in the voluntary aid detachments of the British Red Cross Society, and it is to work of this kind that Lord Crewe would direct your attention. His Lordship suggests that a committee should be formed among the Indian residents and visitors in London, and that they should undertake to get up an Indian voluntary aid contingent. It is understood that Mr. James Cantlie, who has taken an active part in the organisation of the voluntary aid detachments of the Red Cross Society, has offered to train and drill an Indian voluntary aid contingent if a sufficient number of persons are prepared to undergo a course of instruction. Lord Crewe notices that several of the signatories to your letter are qualified medical men, and if they will co-operate with Mr. Cantlie, there is reason to hope that the Indian voluntary aid contingent would become one of the most efficient detachments in the kingdom. 2

Red Cross Society one is aware of. It had at one time only military associations and used to have an imperialist flavour. Now it has expanded into civil work and covers every form of first-aid work for the relief of suffering humanity. Nevertheless its activities are largely confined to cities. It has hardly touched Indian life.  England is a country for lost causes: humanitarian and even strange causes. One such is represented by the Green Cross Society for the wild life heritage. Mrs. M. H. Morrison is its Hon. Secretary (41, Asmuns Place, London, N. W. 11). The Society aims at the U. N. O. identifying itself with it. The following resolution is to be submitted to the U. N. O. for acceptance : (a) That U. N. O. ideals should include immediate effort in each country to delimit the area of any suitable National Park incorporating Nature Reserves for the protection of unique and valuable wild life—flora, fauna, avifauna— with the distinctive terrain upon which these depend. (b) And, further, that the world at large should consent to an International Park, or World National Park in South America, Africa or Asia. If in Asia then upon, around or within—it is suggested—the immense mountains encircling Tibet, Britain, China, India, Russia and U. S. A. appointing Custodians and acting as Trustees. Reasons adduced for inviting the U. N. O. to pass the foregoing resolution are :

1. That a stand must now be made against the maddening encroachments of materialism.

2. That the idealism and realism of the United Nations Organization should include an urge to all the world and to each nation to protect our heritage of wild life—its beauty, grandeur and interest—wild birds, wild animals, wild flora (flowers, plants, trees) and wild country or landscape; to protect our heritage wherever possible; and with special care within the Nature Reserves of National Parks.

3. That the United Nations will jointly set an example to the component nations by claiming its own World Nature Park, or International Park in South America, Africa or Asia. If in Asia, then upon, around, or within the immense mountains encircling Tibet. In this case Britain, China, India, Russia and U. S. A. might appoint Custodians and act as Trustees to prevent disastrous and disfiguring exploitation.

4. And, further, that such “Far Horizon’, can give direction and cohesion to friends, allies, sympathizers and well-wishers gathering in groups along the way for the march and drive on toward the distant goal. Among the numerous signatories to the resolution are Sir Alfred J. Munnings, President, Royal Academy of Arts, Dame Laura Knight and the world famous George Bernard Shaw. Mrs. Morrison would like the signatures of leading Indians and other leaders in Asia and Africa. Those who would endorse the resolution should put themselves in communication with Mrs. Morrison. 3

 

References:

 

  1. Circular Regarding Training Corps, September 22, 1914
  2. Indian Opinion, 16-9-1914
  3. Harijan, 17-11-1946  

 

 

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