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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

 

 

Vote of thanks and Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

Mr. M. K. Gandhi, in moving a vote of thanks to His Excellency, said he thought the Indian community might take just pride and feel very highly gratified in the fact that His Excellency, in the very early stage of his administration) should come in touch with them, and that in such an agreeable manner. He recalled minding the competition between the Irish Association and the Indian community on the occasion of the visit of Lord Roberts. The Irish Association claimed His Lordship as an Irishman, and the Indians claimed him as an Indian. His Excellency had already been claimed by the Scotchmen, but he thought they had good grounds for claiming Sir Henry to be an Indian by adoption. He expressed the hope that the Government would let them have a gymnasium and singing classes they had promised. He also hoped they would grant a girls’ school on the model of the Indian Higher Grade School. 1

And if he can carry his proposal, we would certainly suggest that a vote of thanks be given to him by the Indian community. He is against Indian labour because he finds that the Indian Government will not allow the Indian to be worked as a slave to the extent that would satisfy him. We are against Indian labour under indenture because we consider that the form under which the Indian is imported into the Colony is, in the words of the late Sir William Wilson Hunter, perilously near to slavery. We can never reconcile ourselves to the Capitation Tax of £ 3 annually which is the price that the law exacts from the Indian for his freedom, a freedom which, in the words of the late Mr. Escombe, is granted to him after he has given the best five years of his life to the Colony for a paltry wage. 2 

After the lecture, Mr. Gandhi answered some questions put to him members of the audience, and the proceedings terminated with a vote of thanks to him, which he deprecated smilingly, on the ground that they were not yet deserved. The second lecture of the series will be given on Saturday evening next, the 11th inst., at the same hall. 3  Mr. Laishansai proposed a vote of thanks to the Chair, adding that he had never seen such a meeting before and hoped that the Liberal Ministry [in England] would do them justice. Mr. Israel tram, the contrast appears to be between the British in South Africa who fought the Boers and Britons like Hampden and Bunyan who went to jail. Who seconded the vote, expressed sympathy for the Indian cause and appealed to the audience to continue the struggle. The meeting dispersed at five minutes to six. Three cheers were called for King-Emperor Edward, and God Save the King was sung. For Indians, this meeting will forever remain memorable. 4 

The paper was very well received. Messrs B. J. Wadia, M.A., Parameshwar Lall, M.A., J. Gowrieshanker, M.A., Nathuram, Dwarka Das and several other gentlemen who took part in the discussion congratulated the lecturer on his broad-mindedness and the ability with which he had written his paper. Some of the speakers thought that Mr. Godfrey had over-drawn-the picture in favour of the Englishman, but Mr. Godfrey in his reply, whilst thanking the members for their sympathetic reception, said that he had purposely left out the other side of the Englishman’s character, but he wanted to place before the members of the Society what he considered was best in his character and what was worthy of imitation. A vote of thanks to the lecturer and to the Chair brought the proceedings to a close. 5 Before the meeting dispersed, a resolution expressing sympathy with the British Indians in South Africa was moved by Miss Winter bottom, the Secretary of the Union of Ethical Societies, and was passed. With a vote of thanks to Mr. Ritch, the proceedings came to a close. 6 

If jail going which we have been contemplating comes after this proposal, it will appear more graceful. The ultimate remedy is, of course, jail -going. The fact that this time we have not passed any resolution about going to jail does not mean that, if the Bill is passed, we are not to court imprisonment. No one should put the idea of going to jail out of his mind. After a vote of thanks to the chair, the meeting dispersed.   Mr. Essop Mia has resigned, and a vote of thanks for his services was passed at the mass meeting. The appreciation of his services will grow with time. He assumed the captainship of the Indians’ ship at a critical juncture. It was to help in the implementation of the jail resolution that he accepted the chairmanship. No one then was in a position to say what the Indian community would do. Much appeared then to depend on the Chairman’s courage. Mr. Essop Mia evinced the requisite courage for conducting the affairs. He curtailed his business last year in order to join battle against the Government. This year he suffered an assault. He kept himself ever in readiness for jail. He took to hawking, with two baskets hanging from his shoulders like a gold neck-wear or a garland of flowers. It is difficult adequately to realize how his action aroused the community’s enthusiasm. Through his courage, Mr. Essop Mia has enabled the community to arrive at a stage where the fulfillment of its pledge has become certain. What now remains to be done is very important something that the Indian community cannot afford to ignore and which calls for massive resistance. 7

Then, as many of them wanted to offer thanks to Mr. Kallenbach, a meeting was held after dinner was over. The Moulvi Saheb, on a motion by Mr. Hajee Habib seconded by the Imam Saheb, was elected to the chair. He said that the meeting was held to offer thanks to Mr. Kallenbach for what he had done. He certainly deserved their thanks. Messrs Polak and Kallenbach [he said] had rendered yeoman service, though they were foreigners. Mr. Ebrahim Coovadia then proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Kallenbach for his generous gift and the interest he had shown in the cause. 8 Mr. Dawson, Chairman of the Indian Association, moved a vote of thanks to Mr. Gandhi which was seconded by Mr. Joshua, the ex-Secretary of the African Political Association. Mr. Gandhi briefly returned thanks and in turn proposed a vote of thanks to the Mayor, which was carried by the whole audience standing. 9 The President, in the course of an eloquent speech, eulogized the address of the evening and suggested that the young men should band themselves for the purpose of uprooting the anarchical evil from this country. He offered a vote of thanks to Mr. Gandhi. 10 

Mr. Gandhi in closing the conversation said that for social service what was required was not money but men, men of the right sort with right sentiments, with an abiding love and charity and full of faith in their work. If they did have such men, money would come, even unasked. Much social work could be done without any money. It was very difficult for an educated man to understand and appreciate exactly the feelings that prompted the masses unless he retraced his steps; and it was impossible for any man however wealthy to do any social work if he was inspired thereto not by the work itself, but by any feeling of personal ambition. It was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for such a man to do any effective social service. With a vote of thanks to Mr. Gandhi, the meeting terminated at 4 30 p.m. 11 The president in thanking Mr. Gandhi for his address said that he was not prepared to say anything about the apprehensions and hopes which Mr. Gandhi had spoken of, but would merely mention that he did not agree with him. He had considerable experience of politics and entertained the brightest hopes for India.... The Hon’ble Mr. R. P. Paranjape proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Gandhi and the Chairman. 12 

The Hon. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya in his concluding remarks offered a cordial vote of thanks to Mr. Gandhi for his excellent address. The ideals which Mr. Gandhi put before them, he said, were so high that he did not expect that all of them would be prepared to subscribe to all of them. But he was sure they would agree with the main object he put before them, namely, that they should go for the welfare of man as the test of all economic questions with which they dealt. 13 That the Humanitarian League could accept Mr. Dhruva as its President proves that the League has been working along sound lines and that it will work more energetically in future to place its humanitarian principles before the people and cultivate public opinion. And now I move the vote of thanks to the President which, I hope, you will all pass with acclamation. 14 At the close of the proceedings, the chairman said he was glad to be able to preside at the meeting. He thanked Mr. Gandhi for his instructive address and exhorted the audience to support home manufacture. A vote of thanks to their chair brought the meeting to a close. 15 

Mr. M. K. Gandhi said no man had worked more zealously and arduously in the cause of the University than their friend, Pandit Malaviya. Whenever he had had occasion to speak to the Pandit on the subject he had told him that he should make the furtherance of the cause of the University the principal work of his life. More than that he had told him that he should, if he could, leave the field of politics altogether 1 Who were arrested under the Martial Law and subsequently released under the and devote himself entirely to the cause of the University. Bombay had always been famous for the ready manner in which it came to the help of a deserving cause and he had no doubt that Bombay would extend its support to the University with her wonted generosity. Not only Pandit Malaviya, but two Maharajas had come to them that afternoon like humble petitioners. It was their duty therefore to contribute as much as they could to the funds of the University and they should do it promptly and on the spot. He concluded by proposing a hearty vote of thanks to H. H. the Maharaja Scandia for presiding at the meeting. 16

Well, you have Chhotelal there. I hope you will succeed in making him positively gay. I should even countenance his marriage, if I could make him shake off his moodiness. I will propose a vote of thanks to you at the next meeting of our newly-formed board, if you can renew him and make him think of others besides himself. Sastri passed a pleasant afternoon with us yesterday. He asked be shown the Ashram and he looked at everything with interest. 17 Prime Minister and Friends, the privilege and the responsibility of moving a vote of thanks to the Chair have been entrusted to me, and I have taken up the responsibility and the privilege with the greatest pleasure. It is not expected of any single one of us, and least of all of me, that I should say on this occasion anything whatsoever about the weighty pronouncement to which we have all just listened. A chairman who conducts the proceedings of his meeting in a becoming and courteous manner is always entitled to a vote of thanks, whether those who compose the meeting agree with the decisions taken at the meeting, or with the decisions that may be given by the Chairman himself. 

Therefore I have the greatest pleasure in moving this vote of thanks. But there is an additional reason, and it is perhaps a greater reason why I should shoulder this responsibility and esteem the privilege that has been given to me. It is somewhat likely–I would say only somewhat likely, because I would like to study your declaration, once, twice, thrice, as often as it may be necessary, scanning every word of it, reading its hidden meaning if there is a hidden meaning in it–crossing all the T’s, dotting all the I’s, before I come to a conclusion–that, so far as I am concerned, we have come to the parting of the ways, that our ways take different directions; it does not matter to us. Even so, you are entitled to my hearty and most sincere vote of thanks. It is not given to us in this society of ours for all to agree in order to respect one another. It is not given to us always to expect meticulous regard for each other’s opinions and always to be accommodating so that there is no principle left with you. On the contrary, dignity of human nature requires we must face the storms of life, and sometimes even blood brothers have got to go each his own way, but if at the end of their quarrel at the end of their difference they can say that they bore no malice, and that even so they acted as becomes a gentleman, a solider if it will be possible at the end of the chapter for me to say that of myself and of my countrymen, and if it is possible for me to say that of you, Prime Minister, and of your countrymen, I will say that we parted also well.

I do not know. I do not know in what direction my path will lie, but it does not matter to me in what direction that path lies. Even then, although I may have to go in an exactly opposite direction, you are still entitled to a vote of thanks from me from the bottom of my heart.  Therefore I have the greatest pleasure in moving this vote of thanks. But there is an additional reason, and it is perhaps a greater reason why I should shoulder this responsibility and esteem the privilege that has been given to me. It is somewhat likely I would say only somewhat likely, because I would like to study your declaration, once, twice, thrice, as often as it may be necessary, scanning every word of it, reading its hidden meaning if there is a hidden meaning in it–crossing all the T’s, dotting all the I’s, before I come to a conclusion–that, so far as I am concerned, we have come to the parting of the ways, that our ways take different directions; it does not matter to us. Even so, you are entitled to my hearty and most sincere vote of thanks. It is not given to us in this society of ours for all to agree in order to respect one another. It is not given to us always to expect meticulous regard for each other’s opinions and always to be accommodating so that there is no principle left with you. On the contrary, dignity of human nature requires we must face the storms of life, and sometimes even blood brothers have got to go each his own way, but if at the end of their quarrel at the end of their difference they can say that they bore no malice, and that even so they acted as becomes a gentleman, a solider if it will be possible at the end of the chapter for me to say that of myself and of my countrymen, and if it is possible for me to say that of you, Prime Minister, and of your countrymen, I will say that we parted also well. I do not know. I do not know in what direction my path will lie, but it does not matter to me in what direction that path lies. Even then, although I may have to go in an exactly opposite direction, you are still entitled to a vote of thanks from me from the bottom of my heart. 18

 

References:

 

  1. The Natal Mercury, 28-6-1901
  2. Indian Opinion, 28-5-1904
  3. The Star, 10-3-1905 
  4. Indian Opinion, 22-9-1906 
  5. Indian Opinion, 29-12-1906 
  6. Indian Opinion, 29-12-1906 
  7. Indian Opinion, 6-4-1907 
  8. Indian Opinion, 9-7-1910
  9. Diamond Fields Advertiser, 25-4-1911
  10. The Amrita Bazar Patrika, 1-4-1915
  11. The Hindu, 27-4-1915 
  12. The Bombay Chronicle, 21-2-1916 
  13. The Leader, 25-12-1916 
  14. Mumbai Samachar, 23-10-1917 
  15. Young India, 20-8-1919 
  16. The Bombay Chronicle, 24-6-1920 
  17. Letter to C. Rajagopalachari, November 22, 1926
  18. Indian Round Table Conference (Second Session): Proceedings of the Plenary Sessions, pp. 289

 

 

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