To the Editor of New India
Home and War

I am aware that your journal is guided by the excellent principle, that no patriot must do anything or say anything, during war-time, which will embarrass the Government or make their work in any way difficult.

And, in craving the indulgence of your columns for the discussion of one or two pressing domestic reforms, I hope, you will do me the justice of remembering that I was one of the earliest in the country to realize and enunciate the aforesaid principle in clear terms.

Take the instance of patriotic family, a big joint family – like the ones that were familiar in our country till a few decades ago. War comes and the family sends its finest fellows to the front. Of course, the hearts of those who remain are full of the mingled feelings of pride and satisfaction, pain and apprehension. To make a long story short, it is not conceivable that any one in such a home will say or do anything which will aggravate the difficulty of the patriarch’s work in governing the homestead or managing its affairs. But, all the same, people will eat and drink and sleep as usual. The cattle would be cared for, repairs would be effected and transactions made just as in other times.

Even so should patriots regard the question of urgent domestic reforms while the State is at war. Suggestions, which, while being absolutely beneficial to the well-being of the State, may still require the mending of certain administrative details, or the adoption of certain new administrative principles, must be eagerly welcomed by the State, especially when the common danger has evoked mutual sacrifices that ought to have definitely cleared all mists of suspicion and distrust.

India’s actual sacrifices in the cause of this war, grand and thrilling as they have been, are nothing before the further sacrifices she is prepared to make, if necessity should arise, for the defense of the Imperial household where she has so far been the eldest and most dutiful, but not the favorites, daughter-in-law. India, with her intense passion for peace, born of the series of war-pests which had been her lot, almost uninterruptedly, for long centuries together, will naturally be ready to sacrifice herself most for assuring the peace of the Empire against foreign enemies.

If any Englishman in India has doubts about her capacity for sacrifice or her devotion to the common cause let him refer to Lord Crewe and get his doubts cleared.

But the smart ones of the world think now-a-days that patience and mildness are qualities of the weak and the degraded, that gentleness and forgiveness are barbarian virtues. In former ages, men though otherwise. Then it was violence and pride, insensibility and rudeness, aggressiveness and offence that men counted as barbarians qualities.

India – So far as it is permitted for me to read her mind feels convinced that certain reforms are urgent and indispensable for the very continuance of her existence.

Firstly, she must live. And life, according to the Indian conceptions has a fourfold object: Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha – Duty, Acquisition, Enjoyment and Liberation. Unless these four things be achieved in full measure, an individual life would be imperfect, while a national existence in such a case, would be undivine, contemptible, futile. But duty and wealth, enjoyment and liberation, will be possible only where knowledge is allowed full scope to develop itself. Our first need, then is education.

We want free, universal, primary education, of course under Indian control. Safeguards you may put in, plenty of them. But give us light. Let us teach ourselves toread and write – let us have decent notions of geography and arithmetic. But it costs a lot – Does it? Don’t we pay taxes? And we shall pay more. India will never grudge money spent for knowledge.

Secondly, we come to police reform. What can the Government mean by constantly increasingly the number and prospects of the C.I.D. force in the country? If we go on manufacturing spies more and more and ever more, where will they find work? And we all know that some one finds some mischief still for idle had to do. What is worse, the idea is certainly abroad among the lower ranks of the Police that some of the higher officials will be much better pleased with a policeman for detecting a new swadeshi than, say, for discovering a gold mine! It is all the fault of that love of romance, inherent in human nature. If we have no real enemies whose very existence may be full of dark threats to our safety, well, we can create them by imagination. If we happen to be rich; we can have paid hirelings to provide us that treat.

Yet another point, which it would not be inopportune to discuss at the present moment, is the encouragement of our industries. I gratefully acknowledge that the Government have recently shown signs that they are alive to their responsibilities in this matter. But naturally we want them to do more.

I have certain suggestions to offer on this subject. But the present article is already too long and I shall revert to this topic in a future letter.

C. Subramania Bharati

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