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gandhi_collected works vol 98

gandhi_collected works vol 98

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Published by: Nrusimha ( नृसिंह ) on Jan 29, 2009
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06/25/2014

NEW DELHI,

December 10, 1947

BROTHERS AND SISTERS,

Yesterday I told you that I attended the meeting of the A. I. S. A.
and addressed a few words to the women. Today again I had to go to
a meeting of the Talimi Sangh. But maybe I shall have to leave that
out for today. I must speak today of the A. I. S. A. You know what the
Spinners’ Association is. It carries on khadi activity which is centred
round the charkha. First, the cotton has to be ginned, carded, made
into slivers, and then spun and woven. If the hundreds of millions of
people in India take to this work—it is easy, we can even teach it to
children—all the expenditure on cloth can be saved. If cloth is thus
manufactured in villages it becomes almost free. And if cotton is
grown in the villages the saving would be twice as much, for we would
have to spend nothing on cloth and we could also benefit from the
craft and prosper. I therefore feel that if we do not behave foolishly
there should be no dearth of cloth in our country. There should be no
dearth even if there is not a single textile mill left in India. Today we
have to look up to the mills. We have forgotten the charkha and khadi.
People do certainly sport khadi caps because they have got used to it,
having worn it during the struggle for freedom. But one feels sad that
khadi is not a living thing in our lives. The Spinners’ Association has
been working for many years. It has disbursed crores of rupees and
yet we are where we were. This is a matter to be pondered over. The
charkha teaches us ahimsa. If everybody took up the charkha the
villages would become prosperous and would not present the
depressing spectacle they do today. During the discussion at the
meeting, it was shown how, through the charkha and khadi, the
shortage in cloth could be made good and crores of rupees could be
given to the villagers, not in cash but in the saving that would be
effected from not having to buy mill-cloth. It may be said that in
manufacturing khadi we would have to pay for the cotton. But the

26

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI

price of cotton would be very little. If we use all the cotton that is
today produced, it should be enough. But the Government gives all
the facilities to the mills. It is more concerned for the capitalists than
for the farmers. It is a painful fact. I am not against capitalists, I am
myself staying in the house of a capitalist. But I know the attitude that
the capitalists have adopted. The Government may say that they do
everything for the poor. But even the British used to say it. The truth
is that the interests of the poor are not served. The Government should
humbly accept this. It is easy to say that the poor should be helped.
Let the ministers decide to go and live in the villages. If they are true
socialists—and if I have my way I would make them behave so—if
they are true servants of the poor, not only of the workers but of the
peasants who are more numerous, if they want to uplift the people, I
would tell them that they should only wear khadi. There is nothing to
prevent them from producing their own khadi at home. I will tell the
people what they are doing. Ever since I came here I have been saying
this but have been able to achieve nothing. All that I have managed to
get is a few crores of rupees for the villages. But what I want is that the
music of the charkha should be heard in every home and no cloth
except khadi should be seen anywhere. If this happened the poverty
prevailing in the villages would disappear. That it has not so far
happened is our misfortune.
One cannot say that in other respects things are going on well
here. There are speeches being made—I shall not name the speakers
because full particulars are still lacking—that the few Muslims still
remaining here will not be allowed to stay on, that the mosques still
standing will be taken over to house Hindus. What else will happen
only God knows. I think that if the Hindus occupied the mosques it
would be the end of Hinduism. So much for Delhi.
Something about Ajmer has come to our notice. And it is the
same story there. I have visited the town many times. It has Muslims
and Hindus in large numbers. There is an important Muslim shrine1
there. It is also visited by Hindus and thus the two have been living in
amity. They are one not in religion but in their ways of life. Not that
there were no quarrels between the two communities but today the
rioting has been much more serious. It seems from what little has
appeared in the newspapers that a large number of Muslims have been
killed. There was first a scare among the Muslims and those who

1

Of Hazarat Moinuddin Chishti

VOL. 98: 6 DECEMBER, 1947 - 30 JANUARY, 1948

27

could ran away leaving a few behind. Then followed the riots. I
understand that is what is happening in the villages all around. I shall
talk to you again after I have full particulars. All I say is that it is a
shameful affair. Let us pray to God to give us the wisdom not to
destroy Hinduism by our conduct. It cannot do any good to destroy
Hinduism in the process of killing Muslims. If we wish to live we must
let live. Man was not made by God to live through killing others. It
must not be allowed to happen that the Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan
and Muslims in India are killed and the rest become slaves. We are
inviting our own destruction. There is a saying in Sanskrit: “A man
loses his reason when he is to be destroyed.”1

our minds have become
perverse. The cries of “kill, slaughter, drive out the Muslims”, are a
sign of our having lost our reason. There are many other things I want
to say but I have not the time, having resolved not to speak for more
than 15 minutes.

[From Hindi]

Courtesy: All India Radio. Also Prarthana Pravachan—II, pp. 189-92

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