MK by MC
On the 66th anniversary of Mohandas Gandhi’s assassination today, I decided to randomly read his lean discourse called ‘Indian Home Rule.’ I could do so thanks to the Gandhi Heritage Portal, a solid resource of all things Gandhi here.
‘Indian Home Rule’ is written in a format that is like an imaginary dialogue between the reader (who is Gandhi) and the editor (who is also Gandhi). It was an unusually inventive way to write a book in 1910 that contains so much of Gandhi’s core ideas.
In particular, I was struck by the way he explains what the whole idea of the British rule is and how it is able to hold India. In the chapter titled ‘Why was India Lost?” he says, “The English have not taken India; we have given it. They are not in India because of their strength but because we keep them.”
He then describes the whole colonial rule essentially as a trade and commerce enterprise. He quotes Napoleon as describing the English as a “nation of shop keepers.” He calls it a “fitting description” and says the whole British enterprise was trade and commerce. If it had an army, it was employed to protect that enterprise. “It was unhampered by questions of morality. Its object was to in increase its commerce and make money,” Gandhi writes.
“Many problems can be solved by remembering that money is their God,” he says. He even says that the English want to “convert the whole world into a vast market for their goods.”
If I could marry what Gandhi said about the British and what the astute British comedian and actor Eddie Izzard says about colonization, it would be “The English were a bunch of traders with a flag.” See that bit in Izzard’s video here. (It is only here that you would find Izzard married to Gandhi in a manner of speaking.)
Gandhi would have been a great man merely on the basis of the enormous body of his writings.