Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

As we were coming home from the meeting i asked

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As we were coming home from the meeting, I asked Gandhiji if this was the way to start a great struggle. I had expected enthusiasm, spirited language, and a flashing of eyes; instead we saw a very tame gathering of timid, middle-aged folk. And yet these people, such was the pressure of mass opinion, voted for the struggle. Of course, very few of these members of the Moslem League joined the struggle later. Many of them found a safe sanctuary in Government jobs. The Mos lem League did not represent, then or later, any considerable section of Moslem opinion. It was the Khilafat Committee of 1920 that was a powerful and far more representative body, and it was this Committee that entered upon the struggle with enthusiasm. 53
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X I AM EXTERNED, AND THE CONSEQUENCES My POLITICS HAD been those of my class, the bourgeoisie. Indeed all vocal politics then (and to a great extent even now) were those of the middle classes, and Moderate and Extremist alike represented them and, in different keys, sought their betterment. The Moderate repre sented especially the handful of the upper middle class who had on the whole prospered under British rule and wanted no sudden changes which might endanger their present position and interests. They had close relations with the British Government and the big landlord class. The Extremist represented also the lower ranks of the middle class. The industrial workers, their number swollen up by the war, were only locally organized in some places and had little influence. The peasantry were a blind, poverty-stricken, suffering mass, resigned to their miser able fate and sat upon and exploited by all who came in contact with them the Government, landlords, moneylenders, petty officials, police, lawyers, priests. In 1920 I was totally ignorant of labor conditions in factories or fields, and my political outlook was entirely bourgeois. I knew, of course, that there was terrible poverty and misery, and I felt that the first aim of a politically free India must be to tackle this problem of poverty. But political freedom, with the inevitable dominance of the middle class, seemed to me the obvious next step. I was paying a little more attention to the peasant problem since Gandhiji's agrarian move ments. But my mind was full of political developments and of nonco- operation, which was looming on the horizon. Just then a new interest developed in my life which was to play an important part in later years. I was thrown, almost without any will of my own, into contact with the peasantry. This came about in a curious way. My mother and Kamala (my wife) were both unwell, and early in May 1920 I took them up to Mussoorie. Peace negotiations were pro ceeding between the Afghan and British envoys (this was after the brief Afghan War in 1919 when Amanullah came to the throne) at Mussoorie, and the Afghan delegation were stopping at the same hotel. They kept to themselves, however, fed separately, and did not appear in the common rooms.
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  • Fall '16
  • Alan Kolata

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