‘Hind Swaraj’ is a book written in the form of a dialogue between the ‘Editor’ and ‘Reader’, which was written in the native language of Gandhi ji while he was traveling from London to South Africa. The book is a comprehensive compilation of M.K Gandhi’s views on his basic principles, the relationship between the rights and duties, nationality, technology, education and religious communities. The book revolves around his ‘whole theory of life’ and the main objective of the book was to give a response to the “Indian school of violence and its prototype in South Africa”. It emphasizes on his views on “Modern civilization” and how it was imposed by British rulers. His methodologies revolved around attaining the very goal of ‘true civilization’ by following the quote ‘we reap exactly what we sow’. Gandhi throws light on important topics such as western medicine, railway, the judiciary and the Congress and pays special attention to the concepts such as Ahimsa, Swaraj and Swadeshi.
The book opens with the topic of Congress and its officials and how everyone should have the same feeling regarding home rule in order for this dream come true. It also lays emphasis on the functions of the newspaper, the founders of the Indian National Congress and the sacrifices and efforts made by the leaders to achieve certain goals and discard the flaws in our nation. The Partition of Bengal was actually known an awakening for Home Rule.
The methods of Plea, Prayer and petition were taken granted by Lord Curzon and the partition resulted to a new spirit, freedom of press and no fear of imprisonment or banishment. It also led to a drift in Indian Leadership leading two different wings, the Moderates and Extremists. The discontent and unrest felt due to the partition is greatly emphasized on. It was stated that the spread of unrest was necessary to generate discomfort as until and unless Indians feel discomfort they do not change their ways or their mindset. The people of the country finally understood the need for constant struggle to gain independence.
The concept of Swaraj is discussed in great detail in the fourth chapter and it is often mistaken to be British India as the Britishers left the country. The same constitution but with Indian representation, the same judicial system but with Indian judges. “The departure of the Britishers isn’t Swaraj the departure of their Ideals is”. We as people always looked up to England as the ‘epitome of human civility’, but if we look deeper, the book actually compared the parliament of England to sterile woman or a prostitute due to its non- functionality and redundancy. The next few pages focus on Civilization and how it an infectious disease which needs to be cured immediately. Greed, slavery and other topics have been emphasized to make a comparison to the dark ages.
India had lost its freedom sheerly due to greed, the Britishers had simply come as traders. The East India company had no morals and simply believed in increasing their profits, which appealed to the Indians, hence Indians should blame themselves. We were turning away from god, the violence in our country due to religion, but that is not the real cause. Pax Brittanica was pretentious and not actual peace. The editor strongly feels that it’s better to die in the hands of Pindaris and Bhils than actually be controlled by the English.
Then the condition of India is being focused on by shedding light on the railways. The editor states that the railways, doctors lawyers and other professionals aren’t good for the poor as doctors give false hope, railways have increased famines, spread the bubonic plague and made rogues reach holy places due to the ease of transportation. A contrast has been made between the good people who do not take the railways and travel as slow as a snail but the evil have wings hence transports faster, the justification given was that there was certainly a reason our ancestors set Rameshwar in the south, and Haridwar in the north as pilgrimage spots.
We have gone out of our way to defy god and found different modes of transportation, we are the very cause of all our problems, introduction of Islam hasn’t undone the country but the foreigners have merged into the Indian culture. The chapter has continued by talking about the holy cow and the concept if live and let live has been discussed in great detail. The editor believes that the Hindus and the Muslims should not have taken their problems to the English as their main purpose of their existence was to cause a rift between the two.
The editor greatly criticizes lawyers as he feels that they are immoral are cause more problems that solve them as even though the quarrel can be solved easily by moving on, he always sides his client and starts the matter again. Lawyers are born to be greedy and try making money by multiplying problems rather than solving and have also tightened the grip of the English. He also feels that going to the doctor has become a solution to every problem so people rather than improving themselves, they go on with their old habits as they always feel that the doctor can cure them. The Editor gives an example of indigestion to prove his point.
People believe that Indians are uncivilized and need to change in order to improve their conditions, the editor gives examples of Greece and Rome and how they have changed with their change in environment but India has always stayed true to their roots and has had a very strong base. Our ancestors knew best as they elevated the moral being opposed to the western civilization that propagated immorality. As the old saying says in order to remove the disease, we need to remove the cause, similarly we need to remove the cause of slavery in order eradicate it. Even though India has undisputedly the best civilization, other countries have gone through trials leading to change, the ones who didn’t outlived the trial and the changes.
In the next chapter the conditions of Italy have been specified and how change affected them and how the editor did not want such conditions displayed in India, he says India can fight like Italy only if she has arms. He says we need to sacrifice ourselves in order to gain freedom and not through assassination. Brute force is discussed in detail, the reader argued his way through by mentioning that the English got their way by using brute force, but the editor states that its true they did but does India want the same thing they obtained? Especially through these means. There is a true connection between the means and the end. The editor continues by talking about ‘soul- force’. When asked for historical evidence for its application, the editor states that the fact “that there are so many men alive is not due to force of arms but the force of truth and love”.
The editor feels strongly on the topic of education and feels it can be strongly used and abused at the same time. He also says primary or higher education is not needed if it doesn’t make a man who he is or enables them to do their duty, even though he was very well educated himself he felt that his life would not have been wasted otherwise, as he wasn’t totally dependent on letters in all circumstances. He believes it was necessary and wasn’t at the same time for home rule. The editor also feels machinery has “impoverished India” and also talks about the cloth mills and how feels it’s too late to talk about electricity as there is already a huge dependence on it. There is a strong resistance displayed against technology and electricity and it should be treated as in evil in order for it to go away.
‘Hind swaraj’ is a booklet that displays the emotions of M.K Gandhi towards all the important topics prevalent at that time. Even though the younger generation would strongly feel against his views on topics, this arguments have been backed by strong points by citing examples of relevant occurrence. This book is a true eye opener for the Indians as it tells us the true emotions felt towards occurrences that time and how everything is different now. It was extremely easy to understand even though extremely controversial topics were discussed. Overall, there a lot of points made this generation would not agree with as we cannot avoid changing the name of God and progress at the same time.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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