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Tuesday, 6th January, 1948.

Stress on doing away with monopoly

To some Muslim leaders, who had written to him complaining that Hindus were arming themselves with design to let violence loose, Mahatmaji wrote, It would be more helpful if you could supply some proof in support of what you have said. Moreover, I have been receiving complaints that Muslims too have arms in plenty in their possession. Therefore, first you should presuade your Muslim brothers to get the arms from them and hand them over to me. And then, if the Government fails to provide protection to the Muslims, I will myself die first, before letting them die.

After prayers on Monday, Gandhiji''s written speech was read out. In it hehad set out evidence of prices to show how a whole range of grains and food articles had become substantially cheaper after the lifting of controls. Those details had come in a letter from a person whom Bapu characterised as a successful businessman. That gentleman had wanted controls on textiles also to be lifted, and stated in his letter, If controls are lifted, the prices are likely to fall by 60 per cent. That will lead to competition among the various mills and make more cloth easily available. But if control on cotton textiles is lifted, export of cloth should be banned. The correspondent had asked Bapu to use his good offices to have controls on petrol lifted too.

After quoting from the letter, Bapu''s address said, There is not much that one can say when faced with these figures. When the people, by and large, want a thing like decontrol, there is no room left for hesitation in action in a democracy. This is my view. Let not the learned laugh at my ignorance. I seek light. If I hide in the darkness I cannot get light. If we have a situation of controls as boon to the rich, and bane for the poor, it is shocking. And yet it is in the name of the poor that controls are imposed! If that is how monopoly operates, it should be done away with, without a moment''s thought.

Regarding Khadi, Bapu''s address said, Khadi has been described as ''the livery of freedom''. We have enough cotton and innumerable hands which can work the wheels and the looms in the villages. We can thus produce enough cloth for ourselves. This needs neither the noise of the cities nor motor transport. In former times, the railways first served the needs of the army. Then their task was to carry cotton to the ports to be sent abroad, and to bring foreign cloth into interior India from our ports. Now our calico should be Khadi. It is made in the villages, and is consumed in the villages. There is therefore no need for centralisation over khadi. Let us not ruin our villages out of our indolence, or from our ignorance.

Thoughts on transforming the nation through khadi and village industries were so much in his mind that, early on the morning of the 6th, Bapu wrote in a piece for the Harijan, that for khadi to help remove shortages of cloth very soon, two conditions were necessary. The Central and Provincial Governments should adopt the policy of encouraging hand spinning and weaving in every village. Secondly, provincial and all-India leaders should put forth greater efforts to popularise khadi. In my opinion it is the duty of the Congress to fulfil these conditions. Our indifference in this respect shows that we have failed in our duty. This is the most opportune time to get over our difference. This can be done by example and conduct, as well as the wisdom of those with unshakable faith in the programme, Bapu said.

Gandhiji''s emphasis on the khadi programme was based on his strong belief in its rationale. He wanted khadi supported, so that the money got from sale of Khaddar really went to benefit the poor in the nation''s multitude of villages. Therefore he wanted the people to buy only ''certified'' khadi. Let me indicate the meaning of the term, he said, and proceeded, Certified Khadi implies that a reasonable wage is given to spinners and weavers of that cloth, and that the price of it is fixed with an eye on the public good, and not with a profit motive. Certification of khadi by the Charkha Sangh thus becomes necessary. Uncertified khadi is open to objection and should not be used. It is open to the public to suggest improvements in the conditions presented for the certification of khadi, but it would be definitely wrong to abolish the distinction between the certified and the uncertified varieties.''''