Tuesday, 27th January, 1948.
cannot be allowed to die''
sun had begun its return swing from the southern latitudes towards the quator,
to mark the gradual withdrawal of winter over India. But there were cold mists
over the Capital, which was a far way from being mellow and fruitful. As with
the weather, Bapu''s optimism too ebbed and flowed along with feelings of disillusionment.
The flood of congratulatory telegrams to him on successfully completing his
fast and on escaping the bomb attempt on his life made him feel,How I wish
God will keep me fit enough to render the service to humanity that still lies
in front of me! The pledges and assurances he received from all quarters made
him feel intensely that he should live that full span, serving till the last
moment - a span as learned opinion has it, of least one hundred and twenty-five
years, and some say one hundred and thirty-three, he said.
The Congress, long ago,
had declared the 26th of January as Independence Day. Gandhiji held to that
significance still, though August 15 had supplanted it in reality. In his prayer
meeting on the 26th he said, Independence means equality of all classes and
creeds in India, never the domination of the major community over the minor
ones. Let us not defer the hope of our future and make our hearts sick.
Bapu said in reference to
the state of the nation, Yet, what are the strikes and varieties of lawlessness
we see now, but a deferring of our strong and bright hope? These are symptoms
of our weakness and sickness. Let labour realise its dignity and strength. Strength
and dignity the man in the street also has. In a well-ordered democratic society,
there should be no room, or occasion, for lawlessness or strikes. In such a
society, there will be ample lawful means for vindicating justice. Violence,
veiled or unveiled, should be taboo for us. Strikes mean material loss to the
whole of society, not excluding the strikers themselves. I also wonder if in
our independent India we can be free of the fever of power politics, and the
bid to be in power which afflicts the world, East and West. Gandhiji referred
to the spreading evil of corruption, and observed,It has now become worse than
before. Restraint from it has practically gone. Corruption will go when the
large number of persons given unworthily to it realise that the nation does
not exist for them to exploit but that they exist to serve the nation. This
requires morals, and extreme vigilance on the part of those who are free of
the taint. Indifference will be criminal. If our prayers are genuine, they must
remove the demon.
Another day of unceasing
work from the early hours. The Mahatma dictated an important piece for the Harijanin
the morning. It dealt with the Congress party. Bapu observed,The Indian National
Congress which is the oldest Indian national organisation, and which has after
many battles fought her non- violent way to freedom, cannot be allowed to die.
It can die only with the Indian nation. A living organism ever grows or it dies.
The Congress has won for us political freedom, but it has yet to win economic
freedom for the people, and social freedom, and moral life. These freedoms are
harder to achieve than political freedom, if only because they are constructive,
and the way to them is less exciting, and not spectacular. All-embracing constructive
work evokes the energies of all the units of the millions. The Congress has
achieved the preliminary and necessary part of India''s freedom. But the hardest
task has yet to come. In the difficult ascent to democracy, inevitably rotten
boroughs have been created, leading to corruption and the establishing of institutions
which are democratic only in name. How are we to get out of this weedy, unwieldly
Bapu answered the vitally
important question he had raised: The Congress must do away with its special
register of members, at no time exceeding one crore, and even then not easily
identifiable. It used to have an unknown register of millions of people. The
Congress''s register ought now to be co-extensive with all the men and women
who are on the voters'' rolls in the country. It should be the business of the
Congress to see that no faked name gets in, and that no legitimate name is left
out. On its own party register, it will have a body of selfless servants of
the nation who would be workers doing the work that is allotted to them from
time to time.
Gandhiji went to Mehrauli,
where the Urs was being celebrated. He told the large assembly,I have come
on a pilgrimage. I request you, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs who have come here
with cleansed hearts, to take a vow that will never allow strife to raise its
head, but will live in amity, united as friends and brothers. We must purify
ourselves and meet even our opponents with love. On this very busy day, Bapu
gave an interview to Mr. Kingsley Martin, a well-known journalist who had come