Dr. Susmit Kumar, Ph.D.

[Note: This article is taken from pages 33-35 of the book 1922 Gandhi and Anarchy by Chettur Sankaran Nair. It is freely available at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/52903; Mr. Nair was 1897 Indian National Congress President and a Madras High Court Judge. You can find more about Mr. Nair from his Wikipedia page. A 2020 version reprint of book is also available at Amazon.com.]

 

It is an irony that in 1921 when average salary of a postman and a labourer were 7 rupee per month and 2 rupee per month, respectively, Gandhi collected crores of rupees in just one year in the name of getting 'Swaraj' in one year from his failed Non-Cooperation movement. Every top Congress leader knew beforehand that Gandhi’s Non-cooperation proposal was of no use but still Gandhi was able to enforce it on Congress by using fundamentalist Islamist Khilafat members.(please my article read: Gandhi “Used” the Islamic Fundamentalist Votes to Capture Congress Party in 1920 and Became Its Dictator by Changing Its Constitution which also resulted in exponential rise in communal riots all over the country and finally division of the country in 1947. It is worth noting that after the fiasco of his Non-Cooperation Movement in 1922, Gandhi took sanyas from politics for six years and joined active politics again only in 1928.

 

On 29th December, 1920, i.e. three months after the Non-Cooperation programme, Gandhi said,

 

"My experience during the last months fills me with the hope that within the nine months that remain of the year in which I have expected Swaraj for India we shall redress the two wrongs and we shall see Swaraj (Parliamentary) established in accordance with the wishes of the people of India."

 

But Mr Nair did not think for a moment Gandhi believed what he said. Gandhi used these words to dupe the people of India to follow him yet a step further and to pay him money. After about a month on the 21st of January 1921—Gandhi again confirmed his previous statement. He said:

 

"Four months of this one year have already gone by and my faith has never burnt as brightly as it burns tonight as I am talking to the young men of Bengal."

 

And he added

 

"that in case of his death before the expiry of eight months he is satisfied that the people of India will secure Swaraj before the year is out." Is this not a definite statement that the Indian people are going to get Swaraj? 

 

A few days later the purpose comes out. In a public address to the merchants of Calcutta on the 30th January, 1921, he said:

 

"What I purposed to do I can accomplish in a certain line. I Must attain Swaraj. If thirty crores of people say that they are not with me yet I shall do my work and win Swaraj.... If you wish to accomplish work of thirty crores of men then come out with your money. Try to have money and ask me to give an account of  the same. I appoint someone treasurer.... If you know that you yourself can not attain Swaraj then help one with money. If you do not help with money Swaraj will be difficult but not impossible to attain. If the students of India do not help, me it does not matter. If the pleaders do not help, it does not matter."

 

The old conditions of the boycott of schools and of the courts as conditions indispensable for the attainment of Swaraj are dropped. And he promises Swaraj and asks for money for getting it in nine months. He collected money on the faith of that representation. Earlier on the same day he got ten thousand rupees, and on the spot a large sum is said to have been collected. On the same date in addressing the students he said: "If the response continues as it has begun there is no doubt of Swaraj coming within the time prescribed". On the 23rd February 1921 he again said: "Last five months experience has confirmed me in the opinion. I am convinced that the country has never been so ready for establishing Swaraj as now." To Mr Nair, only one conclusion is possible that he was collecting the money from the people who understood him to say that Swaraj would be attained within the period mentioned by him. In March he said:

 

"The last Congress has given a constitution whose working in itself calculated to lead to Swaraj. It is intended to secure in every part of India representative committees working in conjunction with, and under willing and voluntary submission to a central organisation—The all India Congress Committee. It establishes an adult suffrage open to men and women subject only to two qualifications signing of the creed and a nominal payment of four annas. It is intended to secure due representation of the parties and communities, if then, it is honestly worked, and commands confidence and respect, it can oust the present Government without the slightest difficulty. For, the latter has no power except through the co-operation willing or forced, of the people. The force it exercises is almost through our own people. One lac of Europeans, without our help, can only hold less than one seventh of our villages each and it would be difficult for a man even when physically present, to impose his will on, say four hundred men and women—the average population of Indian village."

 

He said that we have therefore to concentrate our attention up to the 30th of June on getting:

 

(1) One crore of rupees for Tilak Swaraj Fund.

(2) One crore members on the Congress register.

(3) The spinning wheel introduced in twenty lacs of homes.

 

He added, however:

 

"This programme does not mean cessation of the other activities of Non-co-operation. They go on. Drink and untouchability must vanish. The education movement is steadily going forward. The National institutions that have sprung up will, if they are efficiently managed make headway and attract students who are still hesitating. The pleaders, always a cautious and calculating class by training, will, as they see the movement progressing more and more, fall in line with the rest of the country. Boycott of law courts by the public is making fair progress. These things do not now require concentration of universal effort. They apply to special classes. But the three things mentioned by me are the most essential: they must be done now and without them the movement, as a mass movement must be pronounced a failure." "Young India" 30th March.

 

After this it is impossible to rely upon boycott of schools &c. as conditions for Swaraj within a year. It is now admitted and the Secretaries report that the money demanded has been collected. Such money was paid on the fraudulent representation of Swaraj within the year. Judged by ordinary standards Mr. Gandhi's whole procedure with the promises, the persuasions, the evasions, the subterfuges and all the other manoeuvres, would be characterised by men of the world and of sane judgment in language, I hesitate to reproduce, for the simple reason that I believe that Mr. Gandhi is honest in his self-hypnotisation. I believe he does not really know what he is doing. At least this is the only possible charitable assumption when we watch his feats of political acrobatics which have the power of deluding such vast numbers of people making them passionately intolerant, violently intolerant often, of the slightest criticism of their hero.

 

 

…… imposed which would put off Swaraj practically for a very long time to come, the removal of untouchability of the lower classes in India without which it was said Swaraj would be a meaningless term. This means, as I have no doubt, Mr. Gandhi knew, he was putting off Swaraj indefinitely. If this had been mentioned as condition when the Congress was asked to change its policy it is very doubtful whether he would have got the Congress to agree with him. As to these two conditions themselves they are admirable. With a little tact the Government might turn the tables on Mr. Gandhi. If proof of untouchability consists only in the admission of the boys of these classes to schools of higher classes, it does not mean much, though it is a notable advance. If a contact with a low class person is placed on the same footing as contact with caste man it may be said that we have got rid of untouchability. But this will not come throughout the greater portion of India for years. On these questions the education of Mr. Gandhi has only commenced. He will find that without abrogating the ceremonial law on which the caste system rests there will be no practical reform. He is apparently not aware of the far more heinous custom of distance pollution, i.e. not only pollution by touch but by approach within a certain distance. This far from being a move against Government would support the Government contention against reform.

 

About temperance also the move is salutary. If the system of picketing adopted by the volunteers is abandoned and peaceful persuasion alone is attempted no one has any right to complain. What all this has to do with Parliamentary Swaraj or Home Rule one finds it difficult to understand. But they are necessary for the 'Gandhi Swaraj' advocated in his 'Indian Home Rule', and I have little doubt that like his other proposals they were intended to attain that object.

 

It was admitted in the Report of the Secretaries that the crore of Rupees which was required to be collected, as stated above, had been realised. [bold is by author] About the middle of July he said he still looked forward before the next meeting of the Congress for the satisfaction of his demands about the Punjab and the Khilafat and full immediate Swaraj in accordance with the wishes of her chosen representatives. August and September were devoted to the campaign of burning foreign cloth which in his view was an act of non-violent non-co-operation with the Government. This step appeared unintelligible and inaccurate to his followers who believed bona fide that he was striving for political control. But it is quite consistent with and in pursuance of his scheme of spiritual swaraj of sacrifice and self-control. On the 27th of October Mr. Gandhi spoke of his "threat to seek the shelter of the Himalayas should violence become universal in India, and should it not have engulfed me."

 

As New India points out: "that would be interesting to know when this threat was made. We all know that Mr. Gandhi said that if there was violence he would go to the Himalayas. There was a riot, but he did not go, but excused himself by saying that if it occurred a second time, he would go. A second riot occurred; he said nothing but did not go. Now we hear that he had made a threat to go, should it become universal in India. When and where was this said?"

 

Towards the end of the month the Times of India observed:

 

"Writing in the latest issue of Navajivan, his Gujarati newspaper, Mr. Gandhi makes the interesting announcement that if Swaraj is not obtained by December, he will either die of a broken heart or retire from public life, leaving the heedless people of India to their resources. Were so clear a pronouncement by any other politician, we could say definitely that when the new year dawns Mr. Gandhi will no longer be actively engaged in politics!"

 

Can there be any possible doubt that all these statements were made by him in order to impress upon his dupes the fact that they were going to get Swaraj within a year and to deceive his followers to follow him and finance him. Yet what was the situation!