Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

This is partly due i think to a certain historical

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This is partly due, I think, to a certain historical growth during the last fifteen years to which we have failed to adapt ourselves, to a grow ing urgency of economic problems affecting the masses, and to a rising mass consciousness which does not find sufficient outlet through the Congress. This was not so in 1920 and later when there was an organic link between Congress and the masses, and their needs and desires, vague as they were, found expression in the Congress. But, as those needs and desires have taken more definite shape, they have not been so welcome to other elements in the Congress, and that organic con nection has gone. That, though regrettable, is really a sign of growth, and, instead of lamenting it, we must find a new link and a new con nection on a fresh basis which allows for growth of mass conscious ness within the Congress. The middle-class claim to represent the masses had some justification in 1920; it has much less today, though the lower middle classes have still a great deal in common with the masses. Partly also our divorce from the people at large is due to a certain narrowness of our Congress constitution. The radical changes made in it fifteen years ago brought it in line with existing conditions then, and it drew in large numbers and became an effective instrument of national activity. Though the control and background were essentially middle-class and city, it reached the remotest village and brought with it political and economic consciousness to the masses, and there was widespread discussion of national issues in city and village alike. One 395
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could feel the new life pulsating through this vast land of ours, and, as we were in harmony with it, we drew strength from it. The intense repression by the Government during later years broke many of our physical and outward bonds with our countryside. But something more than that happened. The vague appeal of earlier days no longer sufficed, and on the new economic issues that were forcing themselves on us, we hesitated to give a definite opinion. Worse even than the physical divorce, there was a mental divorce between the middle-class elements and the mass elements. Our constitution no longer fitted in with changing conditions; it lost its roots in the soil and became a matter of small committees functioning in the air. It still had the mighty prestige of the Congress name behind it, and this carried it a long way, but it had lost the living democratic touch. It became a prey to authoritarianism and a battleground for rival cliques fighting for control, and, in doing so, stooping to the lowest and most objectionable of tactics. Idealism disappeared, and in its place there came oppor tunism and corruption. The constitutional structure of the Congress was unequal to facing the new situation; it could be shaken up any where almost by a handful of unscrupulous individuals.
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