Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

Children and boys and girls growing up marriages

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Children and boys and girls growing up; marriages, births, deaths; love and hate, work and play, tragedy and comedy. New inter ests in life, new subjects for conversation, always there was a little ele ment of surprise in what I saw and heard. Life seemed to have passed by, leaving me in a backwater. It was not a wholly pleasant feeling. Soon I would have adapted myself to my environment, but I felt no urge to do so. I realized that I was only having a brief outing outside prison, and would have to go back again before long. So why trouble myself about adaptation to something which I would leave soon? Politically, India was more or less quiet; public activities were largely controlled and suppressed by the Government, and arrests occasion ally took place. But the silence of India then was full of significance. It was the ominous silence which follows exhaustion after experiencing a period of fierce repression, a silence which is often very eloquent, but is beyond the ken of governments that repress. India was the ideal police state, and the police mentality pervaded all spheres of govern ment. Outwardly all nonconformity was suppressed, and a vast army of spies and secret agents covered the land. There was an atmosphere of demoralization and an all-pervading fear among the people. Any political activity, especially in the rural areas, was immediately sup pressed, and the various provincial governments were trying to hound out Congressmen from the service of municipalities and local boards. Every person who had been to prison as a civil resister was unfit, ac cording to Government, for teaching in a municipal school or serving the municipality in any other way. Great pressure was brought to bear 253
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on municipalities, etc., and threats were held out that Government grants would be stopped if the offending Congressmen were not dis missed. The most notorious example of this coercion took place in the Calcutta Corporation. Ultimately, I believe, the Bengal Govern ment passed a law against the employment by the Corporation of persons who had been convicted for political offenses. Reports of Nazi excesses in Germany had a curious effect on British ofHcials and their press in India. They gave them a justification for all they had done in India, and it was pointed out to us, with a glow of conscious virtue, how much worse our lot would have been if the Nazis had had anything to do with us. New standards and records had been set up by the Nazis, and it was certainly not an easy matter to rival them. Perhaps our lot would have been worse; it is difficult for me to judge, for I have not all the facts of the occurrences that have taken place in various parts of India during the past five years. The British Government in India believes in the charity that its right hand should not know what its left hand does, and so it has turned down every suggestion for an impartial inquiry, although such inquiries are always weighted on the official side.
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