Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Nehru and Hind Swaraj

The Hind Swaraj, and a fundamental questioning of modern civilization was categorically rejected on that day and age. Today, when modern development has brought us on the ecological precipice, apart from the unutterable social inequalities, maybe it is time to revisit and review The Hind Swaraj honestly and critically.

Nehru's Letter to Gandhiji Oct 9, 1945. - where he dismisses Hind Swaraj, and its axioms in totality. The bluntness with which he rejects Gandhiji's closest dreams verges on indifference and rudeness.
" ... A village, normally speaking, is backward intellectually and culturally and no progress can be made from a backward environment. Narrow-minded people are much more likely to be untruthful and violent....

It is many years since I read Hind Swaraj and I have only a vague picture in my mind. But even when I read it 20 or more years ago it seemed to me completely unreal. In your writings and speeches since then I have found much that seemed to me an advance on that old position and an appreciation of modern trends. I was therefore surprised when you told us that that old picture still remains intact in your mind.

As you know, the Congress has never considered that picture, much less adopted it. You yourself have never asked it to adopt it except for certain relatively minor aspects of it. How far it is desirable for the Congress to consider these fundamental questions, involving various philosophies of life, it is for you to judge. I should assume that a body like the Congress should not lose itself in arguments over such matters which can only produce great confusion in people's minds resulting in ability to act in the present. This may also result in creating barriers between the Congress and others in the country. Ultimately of course this and other questions will have to be decided by representatives of free India.

I have a feeling that most of these questions are thought of and discussed in terms of long ago, ignoring all the vast changes that have taken place all over the world during the last generation or more. It is 38 years since Hind Swaraj was written. The world has completely changed since then, possibly in a wrong direction. In any event, any consideration of these questions must keep present facts, forces, and the human material we have toda in view, otherwise it will be divorced from reality. You are right in saying that the world, or a large part of it, appears to be bent on committing suicide. That may be an inevitable development of an evil seed in civilization that has grown. I think it is so. How to get rid of this evil, aand yet how to keep the good in the present as in the past is our problem. Obviously there is good too in the present.

These are some random thoughts hurriedly written down and I fear they do injustice to the grave import of the questions raised. ... "

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