From: email@example.com (M. Jagadesh Kumar)
Subject: Swadeshi: Call for a National Debate (part 1/5)
Organization: University of Waterloo
Date: Thu, 31 Mar 1994 02:40:14 GMT
from "The Illustrated Weekly of India" dated March 28, 1992
Swadeshi: Call for a National Debate (part 1/5)
By Shri. S. Gurumurthy
The debate was hedged once in 1928, deferred again in 1945,
and never took place thereafter. None other than the Father of
the Nation himself threw the challenge originally. He challenged the
very person - Pandit Nehru - whom he had declared his heir to the
leadership of independent India. On both occasions, it was Pandit
Nehru who was not for a debate. The Mahatma stood for swadeshi
and gramodaya, and Nehru was emphatic on large industries and
globalisation. The private dialogue between the Mahatma the mentor,
and the Pandit, the disciple, speaks for itself.
Over 60 years ago, an angry Nehru shot off a letter to the Mahatma
on a January morning in 1928, charging Gandhiji with "misjudging the
civilisation of the West"
A stunned Gandhiji wrote back. "Though I was aware of our
differences, I had no notion of the terrible extent of these differences".
"You must carry on an open warfare against me and my views," said
the Mahatma. "For if I am wrong, I am evidently doing irreparable harm
to the country and it is your duty, after having known it, to rise in revolt
against me" The Mahatma continued: "The dfferences are so vast and
radical that there is no meeting ground between us". Gandhiji asked
Nehru to send a letter for publication in Young India along with
Gandhiji's reply. As an alternative, Gandhiji sought Nehru's permission
to print what Nehru had written to him. There was no response from
The first effort for a debate failed thus.
A few years later (October 1945), Mahatma Gandhi again wrote to
Pandit Nehru that "the work of swaraj will suffer" if the public were kept
in the dark about the sharp differences of opinion between "us". Here
again, Gandhiji emphasised a self-contained village economy, less
urbanisation and limiting large industries to specified areas.
Nehru responded: "The village is backward intellectually and
culturally, and narrow minded: there is no reason why millions cannot
live in up-to-date homes; India cannnot remain isolated from the
world." On the issue of dialogue, Pandit Nehru wrote: "The Congress
should not lose itself in arguments over such matters which can only
produce great confusion in people's minds." He concluded that these
questions will have to be decided by the representatives of free India.
Pandit Nehru, obviously not interested in a debate, deferred it to the
[To be concluded]