Gandhiji the Prophet

When I read the following view of Mahatma Gandhiji in Collected Works of Gandhiji, (vol. 10 “HIND SWARAJ”1), I was taken back the way he could prophesied about our Present Parliament.  The things which he warned not only became a reality, yet still continues and become even worst.  The following need no further comments: (Gurukulam, 09-02-2013)

CHAPTER V: THE CONDITION OF ENGLAND

READER: Then from your statement I deduce that the Government of England is not desirable and not worth copying by us. (p.256)

EDITOR: Your deduction is justified. The condition of England at present is pitiable. I pray to God that India may never be in that plight. That which you consider to be the Mother of Parliaments is like a sterile woman and a prostitute. Both these are harsh terms, but exactly fit the case…. It is like a prostitute because it is under the control of ministers who change from time to time….

READER:… The Parliament, being elected by the people, must work under public pressure. This is its quality.

EDITOR:… The best men are supposed to be elected by the people….The electors are considered to be educated and therefore we should assume that they would not generally make mistakes in their choice. Such a Parliament should not need the spur of petitions or any other pressure. Its work should be so smooth that its effects would be more apparent day by day. But, as a matter of fact, it is generally acknowledged that the members are hypocritical and selfish. Each thinks of his own little interest. It is fear that is the guiding motive…. When the greatest questions are debated, its members have been seen to stretch themselves and to doze. Sometimes the members talk away until the listeners are disgusted. Carlyle has called it the “talking shop of the World”. Members vote for their party without a thought. Their so-called discipline binds them to it. If any member, by way of exception, gives an independent vote, he is considered a renegade. If the money and the time wasted by (p.257) Parliament were entrusted to a few good men, the English nation would be occupying today a much higher platform….

READER:  Will you now explain the epithet “prostitute” ?

EDITOR: … Parliament is without a real master. Under the Prime Minister, its movement is not steady but it is buffeted about like a prostitute. The Prime Minister is more concerned about his power than about the welfare of Parliament. His energy is concentrated upon securing the success of his party. His care is not always that Parliament shall do right. Prime Ministers are known to have made Parliament do things merely for party advantage. All this is worth thinking over.

READER: Then you are really attacking the very men whom we have hitherto considered to be patriotic and honest ?

EDITOR: Yes, that is true; I can have nothing against Prime Ministers, but what I have seen leads me to think that they cannot be considered really patriotic. If they are to be considered honest because they do not take what are generally known as bribes, let them be so considered, but they are open to subtler influences. In order to (p.258) gain their ends, they certainly bribe people with honours. I do not hesitate to say that they have neither real honesty nor a living conscience.

READER: As you express these views about Parliament, I would like to hear you on the English people, so that I may have your view of their Government.

EDITOR: To the English voters their newspaper is their Bible. They take their cue from their newspapers which are often dishonest.  The same fact is differently interpreted by different newspapers, according to the party in whose interests they are edited.….

READER: You shall describe it.

EDITOR:… The people would follow a powerful orator or a man who gives them parties, receptions, etc. As are the people, so is their Parliament. They have certainly one quality very strongly developed. They will never allow their country to be lost. If any person were to cast an evil eye on it, they would pluck out his eyes. But that does not mean that the nation possesses every other virtue or that it should be imitated. If India copies England, it is my firm conviction that she will be ruined.

READER: To what do you ascribe this state of England?

EDITOR: It is not due to any peculiar fault of the English people, but the condition is due to modern civilization. It is a civilization only in name. Under it the nations of Europe are becoming degraded and ruined day by day.

 Notes

1 This was originally written in Gujarati during Gandhiji’s return journey from England on the Kildonan Castle and published in Indian Opinion, the first twelve chapters on 11-12-1909 and the rest on 18-12-1909. Issued as a booklet in January 1910, it was proscribed in India by the Government of Bombay on March 24, 1910; vide “Our Publications”, (7-5-1910). This hastened Gandhiji’s decision to publish the English translation; vide “Preface to Hind Swaraj”, (20-3-1910). This was issued by the International Printing Press, Phoenix, with a foreword by Gandhiji dated March 20, 1910 and also the English translation of the Gujarati foreword dated November 22, 1909, reproduced here.