Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

In the summer of 1937 i visited burma and malaya it

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In the summer of 1937 I visited Burma and Malaya. It was no holi day, as crowds and engagements pursued me everywhere, but the change was pleasant, and I loved to see and meet the flowery and youthful people of Burma, so unlike in many ways the people of India with the stamp of long ages past upon them. New problems faced us in India. In most of the provinces Congress governments were in power, and many of the ministers had spent years in prison previously. My sister, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, became one of the ministers in the United Provinces the first woman minis ter in India. The immediate effect of the coming of the Congress ministries was a feeling of relief in the countryside, as if a great burden had been lifted. A new life coursed through the whole country, and the peasant and the worker expected big things to happen immediately. Political prisoners were released, and a large measure of civil liberty, such as had not been known previously, was established. The Congress ministers worked hard and made others work hard also. But they had to work with the old apparatus of government, which was wholly alien to them and often hostile. Even the services were not under their control. Twice there was a conflict with the governors, and the minis ters offered their resignations. Thereupon the governors accepted the viewpoint of the ministers, and the crisis ended. But the power and influence of the old services the civil service, the police, and others backed by the governor and buttressed by the constitution itself, were great and could make themselves felt in a hundred ways. Progress was slow, and dissatisfaction arose. This dissatisfaction found expression in the Congress itself, and the more advanced elements grew restive. I was myself unhappy at the trend of events as I noticed that our fine fighting organization was being converted gradually into just an electioneering organization. A 361
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struggle for independence seemed to be inevitable, and this phase of provincial autonomy was just a passing one. In April 1938 I wrote to Gandhiji expressing my dissatisfaction at the work of the Congress ministries. "They are trying to adapt themselves far too much to the old order and trying to justify it. But all this, bad as it is, might be tolerated. What is far worse is that we are losing the high position that we have built up, with so much labor, in the hearts of the people. We are sinking to the level of ordinary politicians." I was perhaps unnecessarily hard on the Congress ministers; the fault lay much more in the situation itself and in the circumstances. The record of these ministries was in fact a formidable one in numer ous fields of national activity. But they had to function within certain limits, and our problems required going outside these limits.
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  • Fall '16
  • Alan Kolata

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