‘Good government is necessary for the happiness of a nation’
Good government is most necessary for the happiness of a modern nation and independence is no consolation in its place.
"Good government is no substitute for self-government,” said Campbell-Bannerman and Dadabhai Naoroji quoted it in 1906 at Calcutta. It is a very true statement.
But the converse also is true. Good government is most necessary for the happiness of a modern nation and independence is no consolation in its place. A good administrative machinery, with just, industrious and honest people manning it, is a prime requisite for national happiness and progress.
The machine should not be cluttered up with too many men and women, for that means waste in all directions. The object of an administrative machine is not either wholly or partially the removal of unemployment. Full employment must result from the policies of the government and from the enterprise, industry and integrity of citizens. To make the administrative machine itself a means of allaying unemployment would be a short-sighted and suicidal plan incapable of justification.
The character of the administration must reflect the character of the people. But this cannot be a wholly limiting principle. It would be a vicious circle indeed, if the faults of a people were not to be mitigated but just reflected in the administration guiding and serving them. The better men must pull up the weaker ones, and the administrative machinery should be one of the agencies for the upward pull.
Much more can be said and should be said on this subject. But I shall not attempt to do so here. All that I wish to emphasise on this day is that it is high time we campaigned for good administration as we did once for Independence. But this campaign should not degenerate into each one of us accusing ‘others’ of laziness or dishonesty or stupidity, all the while imagining that oneself is above blame.
This will not help but only hinder by creating a general psychology of “ We are all worthless, there is no hope.” We should rather find ways for generating self-confidence, mutual trust, creative energy and just pride. We should not say to one another “ you are sinners“ and get into the habit of finding self-satisfaction in that process. We should rather try to remind one another that we are inherently good and should not allow ourselves to go bad. One school of philosophy holds that we are all pure and sinless. Another doctrine is that we are all born in sin. Swami Vivekananda used to say the former was the better thing to preach. The campaign of righteousness that I am deprecating is a third doctrine which says “Not I, but ‘you’ are sinners.” This, of course, is worse than what Swami Vivekananda deprecated.
(The article appeared in the Hindustan Times on August 15, 1951. The writer was a freedom fighter and former governor general of India.)