GANDHI 150

The Ma­hatma’s mes­sage, in his own words

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Root mean­ing of pol­i­tics

Let it be borne in mind that I do not re­gard pol­i­tics as some­thing dif­fer­ent in kind from other na­tional ac­tiv­i­ties. The root mean­ing of pol­i­tics is the science of cit­i­zen­ship and it has also re­mote con­nec­tion with pol­ished man­ners and since the bound­aries of cit­i­zen­ship have been ex­tended to cover con­ti­nents, the science of pol­i­tics in­cludes at­tain­ment of ad­vance­ment of hu­man­ity along all lines, so­cial, mo­ral, eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal, us­ing the word ‘po­lit­i­cal’ here in the nar­row sense in which we are ac­cus­tomed to use it. Ever since my re­turn to In­dia in 1915, it has been my earnest en­deav­our to re­store the mean­ing of pol­i­tics to its root and if we would be truth­ful through and through, we should rec­og­nize that the pre­dom­i­nant part of the Congress pro­gramme has been pro­gres­sively so­cial, mo­ral and eco­nomic. And it be­comes a pow­er­ful pro­gramme be­cause it is in­ti­mately con­nected with the po­lit­i­cal, that is, the at­tain­ment of free­dom of the coun­try from for­eign yoke, not from for­eign friend­ship, that is, vol­un­tary in­ter­course on terms of ab­so­lute equal­ity with for­eign na­tions. If Con­gress­men for­get the con­struc­tive pro­gramme and sim­ply con­fine Congress ac­tiv­i­ties to win­ning of Assem­bly and Coun­cil elec­tions and of fruit­less de­bates in the Assem­bly and the Coun­cils, they will soon find that I have taken with me the ker­nel of pol­i­tics and they have kept for them­selves only the out­er­most husk, with­out even the vi­ta­mins. But I have no such fear. Par­lia­men­tary Con­gress­men will ad­vance the Congress pro­grammes and by their votes reg­is­ter the will of the na­tion.

State­ment to the press, Oc­to­ber 30, 1934 [CWMG 59: 264]

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