Post Prayer Speech 1947-12-05


Mahatma Gandhi


The letters given to me here are sometimes too long. You cannot expect me to go through them and answer them, because it takes time even to read them. I cannot read them here for it would be wasting my time and yours. I have a note which mentions my meeting Liaquat Ali Khan. The writer asks if I am still not satisfied that nothing untoward has happened in Kathiawar. If the writer of the note is present I may tell him that nothing has happened in Kathiawar. Shamaldas Gandhi says that nothing has happened to justify the reports that I have received. There had been incidents but minor ones. They were given publicity by the Pakistan newspapers and telegrams were dispatched. The reports were terrible but such terrible things did not happen. Today I have another wire from Shamaldas. He says he has made investigations and found that such things had not taken place. Certainly after the Sardar’s visit to Kathiawar nothing untoward has happened. The reports I had earlier received appeared to suggest it was the Sardar who incited the people to rowdyism. But after he went to Kathiawar no incidents took place. This changes the complexion of things. Shamaldas Gandhi says that he will tell Muslims not to send such telegrams. I have received further telegrams from the very Muslims who had earlier made the allegations, admitting that they were exaggerated and that they had made a mistake. They have also written to say that the reports carried by the Pakistan newspapers were incorrect, that the extent of the damage reported was also wrong and it could not be said that the Muslims were scared and nervous. I am happy to hear it. I have said that I shall do whatever I can for our Muslim brethren. We must never kick one who is already down. We must raise him up. This is the demand of humanity, of love, this is civilized behaviour. I shall never throw anyone down even if he be my enemy—though of course I have no enemy. It was a mere dream that the Muslims would get everything once Pakistan came into being. After all it is not as if only those who are in Pakistan would be left alive and those outside Pakistan would be killed. Pakistan is a veritable sea of Hindus and Muslims. Will they drive out all the Hindus and Sikhs from there? Those that have come out did not really want to leave their homes. But it has happened. I have received letters from Sikhs saying that they will know no rest till they are able to go back. For instance a person may have a thousand-acre farm near Lyallpur where he had been growing wheat, bananas, cotton and fruits. How can he leave it for good? He will not rest till he can go back. And what happened in India? The displaced Sikhs were furious and wanted revenge. I said it was not humanity. It was barbarism. They should not indulge in it, that good should be returned for evil. We must not copy the wrong-doer, we must emulate the man who does good. It, therefore, gave me satisfaction when I received that wire from Kathiawar. I shall tell my Muslim brethren : if something had happened they should have toned it down to a half or even a quarter; they should not have exaggerated it and given it publicity in foreign countries. After all if Hindus and Sikhs—though there are no Sikhs there—go wild, can the world save the Muslims? Yes, they can say that we have not made the right use of our freedom. They can threaten to take it away. All that is possible. But the dead will not return to life thereby. We should therefore never exaggerate. Our agony is our own and no outsider can take it on himself. We should try to make light of it. We impress the world only when we exaggerate the good work done by another, not his folly.

There is another thing I must tell you. It does not concern you but I can convey it through you. I have told Brijkrishna not to give anyone any appointment to see me from the 6th to the 13th. That I do not want to see people does not mean that I am ill or that I want to enjoy myself. For many months now this matter has been under consideration. I cannot go to Sevagram. So people from Sevagram are coming here. The Kasturba Trust will be sitting from tomorrow. Then there will be meetings of the Spinners’ Association, Nayee Talim, and Village Industries Association. The four associations are going to meet during this time. If they are properly conducted they will certainly consume some time. How am I to give my time to these meetings and to visitors? I have therefore requested people not to try to see me during this time. Not that I shall not be doing my own work. But people coming from outside want to see me out of curiosity.

As I have already said there have been talks going on about lifting the control on cloth, also on food. Not that it is going to happen tomorrow, but a process has started and everybody says I have done a good thing by suggesting it. I have received letters from all quarters saying that it would be good if the controls were lifted. Of course if the controls are lifted it will not mean that we shall be relieved of our obligations. Once decontrol comes into effect certain obligations devolve on the traders. I must tell Ghanshyamdas also to produce more cloth. He may say that he only carries out orders. He produces what cloth he is asked to produce and he takes the price. But once the cloth is decontrolled, what will Ghanshyamdas and other friends do? Does it mean they will be free to loot the people? In that case I shall be having a very bad time. People will hold me responsible for it. I am a servant of India irrespective of my status. If what I say does not appeal to the Government, that is, to those running the Government, it will have no effect however much I may shout. I am not God so that whatever I may say will prevail. I discuss and decide and then say that the control on cloth and other articles should be lifted. It means that if five maunds of foodgrain is available today, we shall have ten maunds tomorrow because I feel that some of it has been hoarded. But if the peasants do not have any foodgrain and I say that the control should be lifted, will the people not then starve? I am not a fool who will let the people starve. I myself do not starve because Ghanshyamdas makes available to me goat’s milk and fruit and vegetables. I believe that the farmers have enough foodgrain but that the price offered is so low that they cannot even feed themselves on it. They part with whatever the Government forces out of them. For the rest they say they will declare their stocks after the control is lifted. I feel that if the farmers can clear their stocks at a good price they will not starve. Admitting that we do not have as much foodgrain as we need, does it mean that a person should eat all that he can lay his hands on, while his neighbours starve? If we have sunk so low, then there is no cure. Control certainly is not the cure. If that happens the Government which is run by our Ministers must abdicate. People indulge in deceit. They are not truthful. The traders who should carry on trade for the benefit of the people are interested in filling their own coffers and in amassing wealth for their sons and daughters. What should the Government do? Should it use force or should it shoot people down? We do not have such power nor do we want such power. We may have a police force but not for shooting down people. If we start shooting down people who will be left alive? Where is our thirty-year old training? Where is our humanity? This cannot go on. In this way we shall only lose our newly gained freedom. I, therefore, say that controls must go. If the Government says that decontrol will lead to starvation, then I shall say that Panchayat Raj has not been established, democracy has not come to us, that Ramarajya has not been established and it is for Ramarajya that I want to keep myself alive. I shall say that those who are made free from controls should have self-imposed controls on themselves and make others happy. The civil servants in the Government may call me names. They may say I have no right to interfere, that I have no experience of running a government, that afterwards it would be difficult to reimpose the controls and feed the people. I shall say they are right. I have never been in the civil service, I have never run a government, but I have moved among the millions. I know their hearts. I understand them.

Now about cloth. About food you may say that we have not enough stock of it. But nobody has yet said that we do not have enough cotton. We have so much of it that we export it. You will say we do not have enough mills. I shall say the mills are in our homes. They are in the homes of all the women sitting here. Everyone of you has been blessed with two hands. If you want clothes on your back you should spin. If you cannot, you may go naked. We have a number of mills but if the production does not come up to the requirement we must resort to hand-spinning and hand-weaving. Weaving is not difficult. We have so many weavers in our country that we can have any amount of cloth woven, but some people have a delicate taste. They will weave only mill-yarn. They cannot weave hand-spun yarn. If they start weaving hand-spun yarn there is no need to go naked. Then our beautiful country—the home of so many hundreds of millions who know their trade, who know how to produce cloth—cannot go naked. Therefore control on cloth is the limit of ignorance and the sooner it is lifted the better. So far as foodgrain is concerned the farmers and traders must declare that they produce and sell to meet the people’s needs, and they will not indulge in dishonest practices. The farmers should understand that they have to grow crops not merely to feed themselves but to feed all. We must produce one seer where we produced only a half. But let us guide the people; let us provide them incentive. There is no need for anyone to go hungry or naked in India. We have been denuded of our cloth because of our ignorance. We do not produce as much food or as much milk as we need even though we have a large number of cattle. What is this if not folly?

[From Hindi]
Courtesy: All India Radio. Also Prarthana Pravachan—II, pp. 169-74


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