9th January, 1948.
Hindustani as national language
as often as possible in Gujarati and Hindi, the sage of India wanted
his correspondents too to write more and more in Indian languages.
He could himself read and write in Bengali, and had a little of Urdu
besides. To show at least some initial familiarity with the scripts
of other languages he had learnt also to sign ``M. K. Gandhi'''' in
many Indian languages. Bapu left no one in any doubt that the people
of independent India, while continuing to use English as much as was
necessary, should develop skills of proper expression in their own
native tongues, and have Hindustani as their national language. To
E. W. Aryanayakum, a Ceylonese-born staunch worker in the Ashram in
Wardha, Gandhiji conveyed his happiness that the former had written
two letters to him using Hindustani. Wanting Aryanayakum to further
improve his Hindustani vocabulary and use of the script, Bapu added,
``You could even have written to me in Bengali.'''' In a letter to Krishnadas
Gandhi, Bapu wrote, ``It is quite correct that you should write in
Hindustani. I am, however, replying in Gujarati.'''' Gandhiji
added, ``All our dealings should be in Hindustani, not in Hindi or
Urdu. Hence I would not regard the expression `nirvachit'' which has
been used in the resolution that we have passed, as Hindustani. There
must be a simpler equivalent for it. If `nirvachit'' means `one who
has been elected'', why can''t we say `chuna hua''? This is only by way
of an illustration. Why should the constitution of our organisation
be in English It should be in beautiful Hindustani. Even now we should
have it rendered into Hindustani.''''
A peep into how
the hours of his packed days went was afforded in another letter Bapu
wrote on the 8th, in Gujarati. It went, ``Kakasaheb Kalelkar has been
here for the last two days. It was with the greatest difficulty that
I could find time to talk to him about Hindustani and other things.
If he had not himself spoken, he might have stayed on for weeks, and
I might not have found the time to talk to him! Innumerable people,
men and women, visit me during the day. There is a huge pile of letters
to be attended to. The work connected with the Harijan has to be done.
There is not a moment to spare. I am now lying in the bath plying
the razor to shave myself, and dictating this letter to Manu. I am
not as fit as I should be, which shows some weakness of my faith in
Rama Nama. ...I had never doubted that the removal of rationing would
bring the relief that it has indeed brought. The Government hesitated
to order decontrol, because they were afraid of hurting Vested interests.
But can a government be carried on in this way? Nothing is certain
about me. There is still fire smouldering here. One cannot say when
it may not leap into flame.''''
In his evening
speech after prayers, Bapu had said on Thursday, ``Even if there is
no Prohibition, drinking is not a virtue. All those who drink should
give up the habit. Since the Harijans and the labour classes cannot
be persuaded by themselves, the law must persuade them. These people
take to drink, deprived of other comforts. They want to drown their
poverty in drink. But what reason can there be for the rich, and for
soldiers to drink? Even among the English people, there are many who
do not drink. Everyone should give up drinking. The law of Prohibition
will apply to all. It will not make any exception in favour of the
rich.'''' Noting that members of Communist persuasion were behind the
students strike, the Mahatma said, ``Why should students support any
political party? Their job is to study for themselves, and for the
service of the country.''''
Incidents of lawlessness
with communal intolerance at their root had turned Delhi''s aspect
from its former peaceful fairness into the likes of a garrison city,
with police and army units constantly on the patrol in vehicles plying
about, gunmen in uniform at the ready in many of them. Grieving over
such a sad transformation, Gandhiji wrote in one of his earliest letters
of Thursday morning, ``Today the capital city is under a kind of siege.
Although India is free, our capital is protected by the army and the
police, and I can do nothing but sit here and watch. Votaries of non-violence
have had to shift their trust into weapons of violence. What a severe
test this is going to be for us! If this is God''s will, what strange
design does it hide?''''