Saturday, 29 October 2016

Hind Swaraj

" ... Hind Swaraj puts forth some very original ideas and created a sensation when it appeared. The government promptly banned it. Even in India it was considered impractical. Both from the Left and the Right it was castigated and even Gokhale, who held Gandhi in great esteem, felt that Gandhi had written in haste and would on reflection revise the book’s philosophy.

It is true that the book was written in haste. In the course of the ten days that he wrote the book he worked at a feverish pace. When his right hand got tired he started writing with his left. It was as if he was inspired and had to put down in writing what was almost some kind of a revelation. It is in this light that the book has to be read and understood: the vision of a prophet who was looking far into the future and wrote not just for the immediate present but for the generations to come and for the environment that he could visualise unfolding as human society evolved and the ecology of the planet underwent changes.

His own heir, Jawaharlal Nehru, quietly buried it when in his correspondence with the Mahatma as late as 1945 he declared: “Briefly put my view is that the question is not of truth versus untruth or non-violence versus violence…I do not understand why a village should necessarily embody truth and non-violence. A village, normally speaking, is backward intellectually and culturally and no progress can be made from a backward environment.”

But Nehru himself realised in the closing years of his life that the path of development that he had adopted was not benefiting millions of the poor in the country. Reiterating that he was in favour of modern machinery he nevertheless felt that he needed to hark back to the words of the Mahatma who had pleaded for a very different model of development. ... "

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