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Gandhi Made The Indian National Movement More Indian History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Gandhi made the Indian National Movement more truly Indian and national than it had so far been. He provided it with a firmer and larger indigenous base-both ideological and organizational. Gandhi brought into bolder relief the idea which Extremists like Tilak and Aurobindo Ghose had already perceived that national freedom meant something wider and deeper than emancipation from a foreign yoke, that it was a matter of preserving national culture, of building up a national character, of developing internal strength , and of renewing all departments of life. He emphasized that India would gain little if she only shook off the alien government and did not get back her soul. Every nation represents an ideal, a principle, a spirit. India must discover herself and what she stood for. She should be herself and stop imitating the West. Hence, his great preoccupation with Indian cultural, literary and religious traditions. Hence also, his insistence on Swadeshi and Satyagraha.

Gandhi converted the Indian National Movement into a genuine mass movement. He carried politics from the drawing-rooms and council chambers to the streets and fields. He was a great mobilize. By his personal charisma, by his remarkable capacity for mediating between various groups and forces, by his skillful use of popular myths and symbols, and by his Indian population, such as the peasants, workers , untouchables and women, which and hitherto remained virtually untouched by it. As Rajni Kothari rightly says: “He (Gandhi) realized clearly what few before him did, that the urbanized middle-class alone did not provide a sufficient basis for national awakening. The task was to penetrate the masses, to arouse them from their state of apathy and isolation, to provide them with self-confidence and a positive elan in place of both the defensive postures of the moderates and the inferiority complex of the “anti-western” radicals, and to confront the authorities with proof that they were dealing not with a small group of agitators, but with tens of thousands of people organized and disciplined into a great movement, drawn from all over the country.”

Gandhi was a great organizer and builder. He transformed the character of the Congress by giving it a new direction, a new construction, a new organizational structure, a new technique of agitation, a new leadership, and a new programme of action. Under Gandhi’s stewardship the Congress became a formidable instrument for marshalling public opinion and the execution of policy. It moved out from the larger towns into the smaller towns and the villages. In Satyagraha and asahayoga the Congress evolved a technique of agitation which was not only best suited to the genius and circumstances of the Indian people, but was also most effective against their British rulers. Gandhi provided the Congress with a comprehensive programme of ‘constructive work’ which kept it in good trim, especially during what may be called the slack reason- in the routs following the great rallies. Though even under Gandhi the Congress remained what it had been in the past, and amorphous and eclectic organization with a pragmatic leadership which tried to accommodate various strands of thought and commitment in order to gain the widest possible support for its chief objective of Swaraj, it did not fail to acquire a distinctive ideology which went beyond the mere winning of independence and which stood India in good stead even after she became independent.

Gandhi broke the hypnotic spell of the British Raj in India. He tried to rid the Indian people of the pervasive, perpetual and paralyzing fear with which they were seized. He taught them to say “no” to their oppressors, both foreign and indigenous. He uplifted the sprit and exalted the dignity of a vast people by teaching them to straighten their backs, to raise their eyes, and to face circumstances with steady gaze.

Gandhi aimed at bringing about both a political and a social revolution in India, though he tried to harmonize the demands of the one with those of the other. He took up with vigor and powers the cause of the untouchables and brought it into the forefront of Indian politics. Though a brahmachari, Gandhi made women his close allies and co-workers. Their emancipation in India was mainly his doing. Gandhi did not believe in deliberately stoking the fire of class conflict, but he labored hard to teach the Indian people that the measure of their capacity for self-government was their ability to feel or the lowest among them. ‘Throughout his life’, said Nehru, ‘he (Gandhi) thought of India in terms of the poor and the oppressed and the down-trodden. To raise them and free them was the mission of his life. He adopted their ways of life and dress so that none in the country may feel lowly. Victory to him was the growth of freedom of these people.’ It is ridiculous to describe Gandhi as an agent of the bourgeoisie or a champion of the rich.

Gandhi did not allow the Indian national movement to become narrow, racial and isolationist. He was the strangest rebel the world has ever known. Day in and day out he told his countrymen that they should regard Englishmen as their friends and not enemies, tat their fight was against the system and not against the men administering it, and that in so far as they failed to understand this distinctive they harmed their own cause. Even a man like Jawaharlal Nehru, who did not stand much in need of such preaching, admitted its corrective effect in his life and thinking.

Mass politics is impossible without violence. Gandhi carried on a mass movement for many years with the minimum use of violence. Only those who believe in the therapeutic qualities of blood-letting would regret that the Indian national movement had a leader like Gandhi who combined liberty as aim with non-violence as the method. Competent British observers have testified that Gandhi, by bringing the Indian national movement into the open and keeping it non-violent, freed it from sectors terroristic activities and rid the British of the ‘Mutiny complex’. Had the Indian national movement turned violent, it would have, in its turn, invited violent repression, and ended by leaving a legacy of bloodshed which would have been extremely hard to overcome. If there was no ‘Mutiny’ or ‘Amritsar’ after 1919, and if the transfer of power in India in 1947 could be what Lord Samuel called it ‘a treaty of peace without a war’, credit is as much due to Gandhi’s leadership as to enlightened British statesmanship. Any large-scale use of violence in the Indian national struggle would have almost certainly sabotaged the development of Indian polity on constitutional lines and prevented the emergence of independent India as a democratic and secular state.

Gandhi had in him, as Gokhale had observed, ‘the marvelous spiritual power to turn ordinary men around him into heroes and martyrs.’ He himself believed that the sagacity of a general consisted in the choice of his lieutenants. He could pick capable men and was not afraid to give them responsibility. One of his greatest contributions to the national movement in India was that he provided it with able leaders at various levels and ultimately made himself dispensable.

Gandhi did not believe in petty maneuverings and manipulations for gaining temporary advantages. Despite all continued to be right. Indians must develop internal straight- both material and moral. The British would relent and retire when India became strong. Disciplined agitation is the condition of national growth. Means are more important than ends.

Gandhi did not, as is commonly believed, mix religion with politics. He tried to spiritualize politics. He refused to separate ethics and politics. He reinforced the religious spirit of Indian nationalism and made patriotism synonymous with religion. He was himself a deeply religious man and avowed Hindu. But his religious faith was of the most liberal, eclectic, non-ritualistic and tolerant kind. He lived and died for the sake of promoting communal harmony and national unity in India. ‘He was’, as Nehru remarked, ‘a great unifier in India who taught us not only bare tolerance of others but the willing acceptance of them as our friends and comrades in common undertakings.’ It is the height of ignorance and intellectual perversity to accuse Gandhi of indulging in communal or communitarian politics and thereby ringing about the partition of the country.

Through Gandhi’s lasting claim to greatness and fame would rest primarily upon his leadership of the Indian national movement, it is possible to argue-as, in fact, it has been argued- that Indian independence would have come even without him, and that instead of hastening its advent, he actually delayed it by a few years. It is true that India would have been free sooner or later even if Gandhi had never lived. But without Gandhi’s leadership the national movement in India would have been deprived of a great deal of its poetry, high drama, moral elevation and spiritual enthusiasm. The special impress of Gandhi’s personality on the Indian national movement and on modern India can neither be effaced nor ignored. Whether he is deified or denigrated by his own people, whether they regard him as a splendid success or as a magnificent failure, Gandhi has, in a strange and subtle manner, become, as Nehru pointed out in 1948 and as recent events in India have confirmed, a significant part of the stuff of which India’s spirit is made.

In the regime of revolutionary saga of the Indian Freedom movement the contribution of Netaji was indeed remarkable. He enriched himself immensely being inspired by the lives of the Great Aurobindo Ghosh, C.R. Das, Lenin, Mustapha Kemalpasha and Garibaldi. He was a terror to the Britishers who unlike Gandhiji wanted to put pressure on the British Government in the light of the Italian struggle for liberation and unification, Irish struggle for freedom. He was a luminary who dreamed of a free and resurgent India by organising a National Army namely Azad Hind Fauz, later on renamed as Indian National Army (INA). These officers and Army forming part

of the INA were deployed in the north eastern front to give a valiant fight to the British Army.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was the greatest hero of our freedom movement. He never compromised on question of India’s freedom so Subhash chandra should rightly be placed above Gandhiji. Subhash had one vision free and developed India while Jawahar lal Nehru’s vision was to get power to rule. So the then Congress expelled Subhash Chandra. When Subhash was elected congress president by defeating Pattavi Sitaramayya, Gandhiji expressed his dis satisfaction saying “Sita Ramayya’s defeat is my defeat”. He was compelled to leave congress. On 26th January 1941 he left India in disguise by fooling British Police , travelled, Russia, Japan and Germany to gain support for his fight against British abroad. The great organiser then organised ‘Azad hind Brigade’ in August 1942 and declared war against British in 23rd Oct.’43, to get a free India. Interestingly, the congress leaders didn’t support to his effort. Subhash and his Azad hind brigade gave a call ‘March to Delhi” (Chalo Delhi). Azad hind Brigade on it’s root march to Delhi fully captured Imphal in Manipur and hoisted India’s tricolour. Azadhind Brigade then captured Kohima and Bishen pur of the then Asam.A majority of the then congress wanted Dominion status for India. Subhash Chandra vehemently opposed this , to him full freedom was the only demand. As congress President Subhash Boses vision was a free india and a secular socialist government in free India. The concept of five year plan taken by Nehru Government was actually the brain child of Subhash Chandra. He in the Congress session, first proposed the concept of five year plan. Ultimately however the rightist wing of the then congress succeeded to corner Subhash chandra and he was compelled to quit congress. The paradox is, our rulers made the people to forget the contribution of this greatest hero of its freedom movement. Jawahar lal Nehru Government and his successors have done this ‘crime’.

Netaji was not merely a leader and a soldier-statesman, but a great visionary too. He had a clear vision for his beloved nation. He was perhaps the only President of the Indian National Congress who presented to his countrymen a clear, if not detailed, plan of India’s reconstruction after independence. In his Presidential Address at Haripura Congress of 1938, Netaji said:

I have no doubt in m mind that our chief national problems relating to the eradication of poverty, illiteracy and disease and to scientific production and distribution can be effectively tackled only along socialistic lines. The very first thing which our future national government will have to do would be to et up a Commission for drawing up a comprehensive plan of reconstruction.

In his plan for India’s reconstruction Netaji laid emphasis on national unity as one of the immediate objectives. He visualized that unity in diversity would be the basis of an unified India in future and for this, she would require a strong central government with adequate scope for local and cultural autonomy. In his Haripura Address, he clarified his concept of national unity in the following words:

While unifying the country through a strong central government, we shall have to put all the minority communities as well as provinces at their ease, by allowing them a large measure of autonomy in cultural as well as governmental affairs. To promote national unity we shall have to develop our lingua franca and common script.

As a great visionary, Subhas knew very well that Indian national unity could never be achieved without solving the problems of the minorities. Hence, he dwelt at length on this problem in his Haripura address, and reiterated the 1937 Congress resolution on Fundamental Rights which clearly stated that ‘The State shall observe neutrality in regard to all religious matters and there should be no interference in matters of conscience, religion, or culture, and a minority is entitled to keep its personal law without any change in this respect being imposed by the majority. Subhas was, therefore, not in favour of imposition of uniform civil code on minority communities against their wishes.

Netaji was perhaps the first and foremost leader of Indian freedom movement who visualized the urgent need for population control long before India attained her freedom. In his Haripura address, Netaji categorically said that ‘for a free India, the first problem to tackle is that our increasing population’, and it will be desirable to restrict our population until we are able to feed, clothe and educate those already exist.’

For protection and promotion of national unity, he also emphasized the need to direct the process of national reconstruction after independence on ‘socialistic lines’ so that the ‘have-nots’ are benefited at the expense of the ‘haves’.

Netaji wanted multi-party democracy to prevent the future Indian state becoming a totalitarian one. He was also in favour of internal democracy or ‘democratic basis’ of political parties as that only would ensure that “leaders are not thrust upon the people from above, but are elected from below. “Unfortunately, this did not actually happen in the democratic polity of independent India as a result of which devolution of power through the Panchayati Raj could not be accomplished even 50 years after freedom.

India of Netaji’s dream was a modern scientific India without which national unity could not be achieved. He wanted to bring the different parts of India closer to one another with the help of “such modern scientific contrivances as aeroplanes, telephone, radio, films, television etc.” He also advocated a common educational policy to foster a common spirit among the entire population.

Netaji visualized that for India’s reconstruction, eradication of poverty would be the principal problem, which would require ‘a radical reform of our land-system, including the abolition of landlordism’. He also stressed upon liquidation of agricultural indebtedness by providing cheap credit facility to the rural population and through an extension of the cooperative movement.

To solve India’s economic problems, Netaji emphasized the need for agricultural improvement on a scientific basis as well as a comprehensive scheme of industrial development under state-ownership and state-control. Unlike Mahatma Gandhi who strongly opposed industrialization, Netaji with his modern outlook and progressive thinking, could not discard modern industrialism altogether, and yet at the same time, suggested means to minimize its evils and explore the possibilities of reviving cottage industries wherever they would have prospects of their survival against the inevitable competition of factories.

Netaji emphasized the role of the youth and women in the nation building exercise in free India. Speaking at Rashtriya Stree Sabha in Bombay in 1929, he said that free India would have to be built by the youth of the nation and in this work, the participation of women was necessary.

The nature of Netaji’s dream for free India could be well understood in the following observation of a British biographer Hugh Toye, “In considering this there is to be remembered his predominant feeling for the unity of India and his sense of the ingrained, vested evils which possessed her. The ills could be removed, the many social and religious components held together and India turns into a modern industrial democracy only by a very strong authority acting on a well-made long prepared plan.”

The Azad Hind Government Proclamation, signed by Netaji on the historic day of 21 October 1943 also provides a glimpse of his vision for free India in the following lines:

It (The Provisional Government of Azad Hind) guarantees religious liberty as well as equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens. It declares its firm resolves to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, treating all the children of the nation equally and transcending all the differences cunningly fostered by an alien Government in the past.

It is most unfortunate that Netaji’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle and nation building never did receive due recognition from the government of free India. Nevertheless, in the hearts of his beloved countrymen, Netaji remains, and will remain forever, as the source of inspiration and the symbol of sacrifice and sincerity, courage and conviction, nationalism and nobility. As Pattabhi Seetaramaya, whose defeat by Subhas at Tripuri Congress of 1939 led to the expulsion of Netaji from the Congress, wrote later in a frank and forthright manner:

Subhas will, I believe, he greeted by millions of men and women as, indeed, a Patriot and a Prophet of Resistance and Revolution.


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