From the Archives: Gandhiji on the meaning of independence
“In a well-ordered democratic society there is no room, no occasion for lawlessness or strikes”, Mahatma Gandhi said.
In his message to the prayer gathering yesterday Mahatma Gandhi said: "This day, 26th January, is Independence Day. This observance was quite appropriate when we were fighting for independence we had not seen nor handled. Now we have handled it and we seem to be disillusioned. At least I am, even if you are not.
"What are we celebrating today? Surely not our disillusionment. We are entitled to celebrate the hope that the worst is over and that we are on the road to showing the lowliest of the villager that it means his freedom from serfdom and that he is no longer a serf born to serve the cities and towns of India.
"Let it mean that he is destined to exploit the city-dwellers for the advertisement of the finished fruits of well thought out labours, that he is the salt of Indian earth and that it means also equality of all classes and creeds, never the domination and superiority of the major community over a minor, however insignificant it may be in number or influence.
"Let us not defer the hope and make the heart sick. Yet, what are the strikes and a variety of lawlessness but a deferring of the hopes? These are symptoms of our sickness and weakness. Let labour realize its dignity and strength. Capital has neither dignity nor strength compared to labour. These the man in the street also has.
‘Strikes Harmful To Society’
"In a well-ordered democratic society there is no room, no occasion for lawlessness or strikes. In such a society there are ample lawful means for vindicating justice. Violence veiled or unveiled must be taboo. Strikes in Kanpur, coal-mines or elsewhere mean material loss to the whole society not excluding the strikers themselves.
"I need not be reminded that this declamation does not lie well in the mouth of one like me who has been responsible for so many successful strikes. If there be such critics, they ought not to forget that then there was neither independence nor the kind of legislation we have now. I wonder if we can remain free from the fever of power politics or the bid for power which admits the political world east and west.
"Before leaving this topic of the day, let us permit ourselves to hope that though geographically and politically India is divided into two, at heart we shall ever be friends and brothers helping and respecting one another and be one for the outside world.
"Decontrol of cloth has been welcomed in all quarters. There never was a scarcity of cloth. How can it be when there is enough cotton and enough hands in the land for spinning and weaving? Equally welcome is the removal of control on firewood and coal.
"It is remarkable that there is now a glut in the market of gur, the poor man's supply for caloric deficiency. There would be no remedy for glut nor for reaching places outside the boundary of production unless there is quick locomotion. Let a correspondent in the know speak on this subject.
"Needless to say that efficiency of the rail and road transport is the chief factor for the success of the de-control policy. If there is no improvement in the railway transport there is a danger of countrywide famine and the entire collapse of the decontrols.
The present working of the railway transport is a living danger to these decontrols and controls alike. The terrible contrast of different prices prevalent in different parts of India for the same commodity is chiefly due to this transport bottleneck. If gur is sold at ₹8 per maund at Rohtak and at ₹50 in Bombay, we must say that there is something wrong with the working of the railways.
‘Turn-round Of Wagons’
"Thousands of wagons in the length and breadth of the country are not kept moving. Wagons are not even unloaded for months and months together. Corruption is rampant in a most virulent form in he booking of these wagons, in the garb of scarcity of wagons and coal and priority for different commodities.
For the booking of one wagon load one has to spend hundreds of rupees and spend days together in the railway yards. Even the best efforts of the worthy Transport Minister have cut no ice in so far as the supply of these wagons and their constant moving is concerned.
"The entire rail and road transport requires a complete overhauling by the Transport Minister to make the decontrols a thorough success. Then only decontrols shall prove a blessing to the poor for the benefit of whom they are being pursued. Millions of villagers, farmers and labourers are hit owing to the defective system in this rail and road transport as their produce seldom reaches the market.
"As stated in my previous letter, the rationing of petrol ought to be removed and monopoly and permit system of the road transport may be abolished altogether. This monopoly system is benefitting a few transport companies only but has rendered the lives of millions and millions of our countrymen difficult.
“Ninety-five per cent of the success in decontrols solely depends upon the efficient working of the railways and vehicles, i.e. in keeping the wagons moving, and abolishing the rationing of petrol and the permit and monopoly system of the lorries. This shall bring from the remotest corners of the country lakhs of tons of foodstuffs and all other produce profusely to the entire markets of the land.”
Corruption Must End
"The subject of corruption referred to by the correspondent is not new. Only it has become much worse than before. Restraint from without has practically gone. Corruption will go when the large number of persons given to the unworthy practice realize that the nation does not exist for them but that they do for the nation.
It requires a high code of morals, extreme vigilance on the part of those who are free from the corrupt practice and who have influence over corrupt servants. Indifference in such matters is criminal. If our evening prayers are genuine, they must play no mean part in removing from our midst the demon of corruption."
Get Updates on India News, Farmers Protest Live alongwith the Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the the world.