Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

But these few exceptions cannot save the universities

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But these few exceptions cannot save the universities from the charge of suppressing and deadening the fine instincts of youth. Santiniketan offered an escape from this dead hand, and so we fixed upon it, although in some ways it was not so up to date and well-equipped as the other uni versities. On our way back we stopped at Patna to discuss with Rajendra Babu the problem of earthquake relief. He had just been discharged from prison, and, inevitably, he had taken the lead in unofficial relief work. Our arrival was unexpected, for none of our telegrams had been delivered. The house where we intended staying with Kamala's brother was in ruins; it was a big double-storied brick structure. So, like many others, we lived in the open. The next day I paid a visit to Muzaffarpur. It was exactly seven days after the earthquake, and little had so far been done to remove the debris, except from some of the main streets. As these streets were cleaned, corpses were being discovered, some in curiously expressive attitudes, as if trying to ward off a falling wall or roof. The ruins were an impressive and terrifying sight. The survivors were thoroughly shaken up and cowed by their nerve-racking experiences. 298
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We returned to Allahabad, and collections of funds and materials were immediately organized, and all of us, of the Congress or out of it, took this up in earnest. Some of rny colleagues were of opinion that because of the earthquake the Independence Day celebrations should be called off. But other colleagues and I saw no reason why even an earth quake should interfere with our program. So on January 26 we had a large number of meetings in the villages of Allahabad district and a meeting in the city, and we met with greater success than we had anticipated. Soon after returning from Behar I issued a statement about the earthquake, ending up with an appeal for funds. In this statement I criticized the inactivity of the Behar Government during the first few days after the earthquake. Thousands of people were killed in Mong- hyr city alone, and three weeks later I saw a vast quantity of debris still lying untouched, although a few miles away at Jamalpur there was a large colony of many thousands of railway workers, who could have been utilized for this purpose within a few hours of the catas trophe. Living people were unearthed even twelve days after the earth quake. The Government had taken immediate steps to protect prop erty, but they had not been so expeditious in trying to rescue people who lay buried. My criticism was resented, and soon afterward a few people in Behar came out with a general testimonial in favor of the Government as a kind of counterblast. The earthquake and its demands became almost a secondary matter.
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