Author, Burning for Freedom

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

“Non”Violent Gandhi: Recruiting Agent-in-Chief in WWI . . . ! Part II

Hi, Everyone! The Government did not give Gandhi much in the way of concessions, but Gandhi was obliged—to uphold his oft-declared loyalty to the British Empire—to indeed begin the job of recruiting Indians for the WWI!
First, I shall give a sample of Gandhi’s many declarations of loyalty:
“If I could make my countrymen retrace their steps, I would make them withdraw all the Congress resolutions, and not whisper ‘Home Rule’ or ‘Responsible Government’ during the pendency of the war. I would make India offer all her able-bodied sons as a sacrifice to the Empire at its critical moment . . .
I write this, because I love the English Nation, and I wish to evoke in every Indian the loyalty of the Englishman.
I remain,
Your Excellency’s faithful servant,
(Viceroy’s April 29, 1918, letter)
“Another matter that he wished to speak to them about was the idea that self-government meant the dismissal of the British from India—this was impossible. All they wanted was to become a great partner in the British Empire.”
(speech at Patna, May 25, 1918)”
Here are some of Gandhi’s “recruitment” speeches:
“‘The time had arrived for Indians to make their choice. . . . India had been called on for another army; already some seven or eight lakhs were serving outside India and another five lakhs were to be recruited this year. . . . The self-government that the people were clamouring for was not the self-government that he had in mind. They must have a self-government army, and for this it was incumbent on them to supply the five lakhs that Government wanted without waiting for Government to recruit them.’
The advise he gave them was to raise a republican army, and he called on the people ‘to go along with him and go wherever the Government directed’. (At this stage a fairly large number of people quietly slipped away from the meeting).
Two essentials are necessary in self-government—power over the army and power over the purse, and that is why he repeatedly said that India’s ambition to obtain self-government would be blasted if they missed this opportunity of obtaining military training and assisting the Empire, and thereby obtaining self-government. This opportunity would never come again.
Bombay Secret Abstracts, 1918
“‘Recruits whom we would raise would be Home Rulers. They would go to fight for the Empire; but they would so fight because they aspire to become partners in it.’
The Bombay Chronicle, 17-6-1918”
June 22, 1918
You have just emerged successful from a glorious satyagraha campaign. You have, in the course of this struggle, given such evidence of fearlessness, tact and other virtues that I venture to advise
and urge you to undertake a still greater campaign. . . .
One meaning of Home Rule is that we should become partners in the Empire. . . .
To bring about such a state of things we should have the ability to defend ourselves, that is, the ability to bear arms and to use them. As long as we have to look to Englishmen for our defence, as long as we are not free from the fear of the military, so long we cannot be regarded as equal partners with Englishmen. It behoves us, therefore, to learn the use of arms and to acquire the ability to defend ourselves. If we want to learn the use of arms with the greatest possible despatch, it is our duty to enlist ourselves in the army. . . .
Partnership in the Empire is our definite goal. We should suffer to the utmost of our ability and even lay down our lives to defend the Empire. If the Empire perishes, with it perish our cherished aspirations. Hence the easiest and the straightest way to win swaraj is to participate in the defence of the Empire.”
There are several more where these came from! Keer sums it up like this:
“On August 1 Gandhi declared that ‘Indians were not entitled to Swaraj till they came forward to enlist in the Army!’
          Gandhi made strenuous efforts to supply the Government with military recruits and spent his energy, time and goodwill in the propagation of army recruitment.”[1]
To those who questioned his about-face, Gandhi had this answer:
“‘My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statement but to be consistent with the truth as it may present itself to me at a given moment.’”[2]
Such were the “staunch” principles of the Apostle of Nonviolence . . . !
Mahatma Gandhi Facts: Gandhi Revealed

[1] Mahatma Gandhi, Political Saint and Unarmed Prophet, by Dhananjay Keer; page 277
[2] Ibid, page 275

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