Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

I have missed the theater especially and i have often

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I have missed the theater especially, and I have often read with envy of new productions in foreign countries. In northern India, even when I was out of jail, there was little opportunity of seeing good plays, for there were hardly any within reach. Recently there has been an artistic awakening, led by the brilliant Tagore family, and its influence is already apparent all over India. But how can any art flourish widely when the people of the country are hampered and restricted and suppressed at every turn and live in an atmosphere of fear? In Bombay I met many friends and comrades, some only recently out of prison. The socialistic element was strong there, and there was 257
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much resentment at recent happenings in the upper ranks of the Con gress. Gandhiji was severely critized for his metaphysical outlook ap plied to politics. With much of the criticism I was in agreement, but I was quite clear that, situated as we were, we had little choice in the matter and had to carry on. Any attempt to withdraw civil disobedi ence would have brought no relief to us, for the Government's of fensive would continue and all effective work would inevitably lead to prison. Our national movement had arrived at a stage when it had to be suppressed by Government, or it would impose its will on the British Government. This meant that it had arrived at a stage when it was always likely to be declared illegal, and, as a movement, it could not go back even if civil disobedience were withdrawn. The contin uance of disobedience made little difference in practice, but it was an act of moral defiance which had value. It was easier to spread new ideas during a struggle than it would be when the struggle was wound up for the time being, and demoralization ensued. The only alter native to the struggle was a compromising attitude to the British authority and constitutional action in the councils. It was a difficult position, and the choice was not an easy one. I ap preciated the mental conflicts of my colleagues, for I had myself had to face them. But I found there, as I have found elsewhere in India, some people who wanted to make high socialistic doctrine a refuge for inac tion. It was a little irritating to find people who did little themselves criticizing others who had shouldered the burden in the heat and dust of the fray, as reactionaries. These parlor socialists are especially hard on Gandhiji as the archreactionary, and advance arguments which in logic leave little to be desired. But the little fact remains that this "re actionary" knows India, understands India, almost is peasant India, and has shaken up India as no so-called revolutionary has done. Even his latest Harijan activities have gently but irresistibly undermined orthodox Hinduism and shaken it to its foundations.
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  • Fall '16
  • Alan Kolata

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