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Monday, 5th January, 1948.

Prime desideratum for a free India

Praising the refugees of the Wavell Canteen camp for its being run so well, Gandhiji had yet given them an important lesson applicable to many sections of the whole of the Indian population: I know the sufferings that you have had to bear. Some of you come from well-to-do homes. You must not hope to get here the comforts you had in the past. You must adapt yourselves to the new situation, and try with patient labour to improve your conditions. Bapu remarked that Indian having been enslaved for long, the people had not learnt the virtue of adaptability. He added, Now that we are free, I hope our refugee brothers and sisters will learn something from their sufferings, and make this an ideal camp. The hymn sung in today''s prayer wants us to surrender to God all that we possess, and take back only the barest minimum for our needs. If well act in conformity with this hymn, our hearts will be filled with deep inner joy.

Winter rains were coming off and on in gusts. These spells of rain saw Gandhiji use for protection a broad, woven hat with a chin-strap, acquired during his peregrinations for peace in Noakhali. Gandhiji had explained its novel type,It is a beautiful thing that was given to me when I was touring Noakhali, when it was very hot. The people there put it on also when it rains. There, Muslims who work in the fields and Hindus who are in business, all use this umbrella. The Muslims of Noakhali understood I had gone there to give them solace and they gave me the gift of this umbrella in return. Thus did the Mahatma cherish the head-gear both for its utility, and for the sentimental associations it brought to perennial flower in his mind. It had rained on Sunday evening. People could not come in large numbers to Bapu''s prayer meeting. In his room in Birla house, Bapu was told that it might not be advisable to start the session in a hurry. But he insisted with wonted firmness, No matter how small the audience, it is my duty to be present.

After prayers he said, ``I thank you for coming in spite of the rain, and it gives me satisfaction that there are so many here. It shows that you are keen on the prayer. With apprehensions of an Indo-Pak war thickening the air, the Mahatma referred to India''s moving the United Nations on the Kashmir issue, and said, You may ask if I approve of the Government of India''s approaching the U.N. I both approve, and do not approve, of what they did. It is to avoid the possibility of war that the Government has taken this step. Whether they are right in doing so or not, God alone knows.

If I had had my way, I would have invited Pakistan''s representatives to India, and we should have met, discussed the matter, and worked out some settlement. The two Dominions should come together with God as their witness, and find a settlement. If India and Pakistan do so, the Big Powers in the UNO will certainly have to endorse it.Deploring some incidents in Delhi where people had tried to take the law into their own hands and move forcibly into empty houses, Bapu stressed responsible behaviour by citizens at all times as a prime desideratum for the proper functioning of free India. He said, Today the Government is our own. But if we defy our own Government, and defy the police, that Government is not likely to last for long. It is still worse that such things should happen in the capital city of India where there are so many ambassadors of countries from all over the world. Do we want to show them such a spectacle?'''' The law-breakers had thrown a cordon of women and children as a shield to prevent the police from reaching the real miscreants and dealing with them properly. Commenting on that action, the Mahatma said, ``It is all the more regrettable that women and children were used in that manner, exposing them to danger. This is an inhuman practice. It is like Muslim rulers keeping a herd of cows in the vanguard of their armies, to make sure that their Hindu opponents could not fight and attack them through the collection of cows. It was uncivilised, barbaric behaviour. It is even more barbaric to put women and children in front to provide against a police lathi charge. This is abuse of womanhood itself. I must humbly ask the people not to behave in this way. Otherwise, apart from a war between India and Pakistan, we in India may kill ourselves in mutual strife. We may lose Delhi and make ourselves the laughing stock of the world. If we want to keep India a free country, we must stop the things that are at present going on.''''Monday, the day of silence, was again here. Gandhiji prayed, and wrote, and spun on the Charkha. To Vijaya M. Pancholi, he said in a pre-dawn letter, If the mind is cheerful, there is no danger of the body''s getting ill. It is now time for prayer, and therefore I must stop here. To Nrisimha Prasad Bhatt, a long-time Gandhian follower, he wrote, I got today your letter of the 1st. Your birthday falls on the 7th. Now tell me how my blessings in writing to you can reach you in time. Even a telegram may not do so. These days it takes even a telegram four days to get across! You, of course, have my blessings in spirit, because it is my own work that you are doing.