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Sunday, August 02, 2015

Gandhi's war on the revolutionaries was the industrialists' too

This article has been co-authored by Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh and Dikgaj.
Gandhi was not consistent in his denunciations. He recognised the revolutionaries of all other countries as patriots, but he was more than step-motherly towards Indian revolutionaries

Big industrialists who sponsored Gandhi and influenced his policies were vehemently opposed to armed insurrections against the British (Section B.2.3 [12]). During the British regime, the privileged had grown through their cooperation, and they had learned how to effectively function in tandem with them. The industrialists for example relied on the British for machinery, technical knowhow and British controlled markets outside India eg, Britain, Hong Kong, China, East Africa (particularly jute industry and cotton mills which constituted an important venture of several who funded Congress) even beyond the nineteen forties (eg, a note prepared in 1946 under the instructions of Viceroy Wavell said that: "Britain is still the natural market from which Indian importers are likely to seek their requirements... British technical skill is also highly valued in India" p. 51, Vol. VIII, [16]). They could ill afford a new regime that represented a complete break from the past which would be the natural outcome of a violent overthrow of the current. In contemporary international developments, in the first decade of the twentieth century, the Bolshevik revolution displaced the existing Russian regime as also the mercantile community supporting it. Besides, armed insurrections were not conducive to smooth functioning of business, which is always the primary objective of industrialists. As a result, they opposed the revolutionaries, tooth and nail, in conjunction with the British. For example,  a prominent sponsor of Gandhi and a key member of his coterie, GD Birla has written that he urged Viceroy Linlithgow to arrive at a common position with Gandhi on "terrorists" and get rid of "terrorism" altogether pp. 164, 174, [8].

Finally, while Gandhi was condemning Madanlal Dhingra in 1909, he was leading a civil disobedience movement in South Africa to protect the rights of the Indian middle class there. We note that, immediately afterwards, big industrialists in India started generously contributing to Gandhi's struggle in South Africa. For example, on January 10, 1910, Ratan Tata, the younger son of JN Tata who had received knighthood, wrote to him: "My warm appreciation of the noble struggle our countrymen are waging. I need hardly add that I shall watch the progress of the struggle with great interest.'' p. 112, Vol. 1, [48], p. 108, [7]. Ratan Tata, Sir Purshotmadas Thakurdas and Sir JB Petit were respectively, president, vice-president and secretary of the South African Indian Relief Fund. Other business magnates and rulers including Aga Khan, the Nizam of Hyderabad and other ruling princes were among his donors. As Gandhi himself stated in 1913, "the river of gold'' flowed from India, and "Then money began to rain from India'' p. 157, Vol. 1, [48], p. 236, [49], p. 108, [7]. 
It is worthwhile to note that  British would typically not knight anyone who was not a loyalist (even Nobel laureate Rabindranath Thakur's family had a long history of loyalty and proximity to the British crown), and only the ruling princes who were loyal to the British were allowed to survive until the beginning of the twentieth century. The support extended by the British loyalists (Indian industrialists and princes) to Gandhi starting 1910 can be understood keeping in view that a revolutionary movement seeking complete severance from the British was gathering steam in India during the first decade of 1900.  As we described, such an outcome would be in conflict with the interests of the privileged British loyalists. Given his hostility to Madanlal Dhingra, Gandhi came across as a promising option to suppress a revolution and ensure continuity to the British regime, and his stature had to be advanced.
It is perhaps for the same reasons that on Gandhi's return to India from South Africa, in early 1915, the British themselves enhanced his stature among the general public, which in due course, contributed to his emergence as the Mahatma. On the eve of his return to India in January in 1915, General Smuts, the South African minister, told the press: "I am convinced that Gandhi is sincerely anxious to come to a fair settlement, and his power while it lasts, is an enormous asset to Britain in its efforts to arrive at a settlement.''  pp. 173-174, Vol. 3, [48] p. 126, [7]. 
British ensured a hero's welcome for Gandhi.  They arranged for him to land at the Apollo Bunder in Bombay - an honor accorded to Royalty, by the Viceroys and India's most distinguished sons p. 157, Vol. 1, [48], p. 126, [7]. Viceroy Lord Hardinge conferred on him the Kaiser-i-Hind gold medal for his services in Africa p. 46, [18], p. 126, [7]. On his arrival in  India, he was welcomed by those who among the knighted industrialists  - Sir Dorab Tata, Sir J. B. Petit, Sir Vithaldas Thackersay, Sir Purshotamdas Thakurdas, Sir Ibrahim Rahimtoola, Sir Jamshetji Jeejibhoy and others [2], p. 108, [7]. As many high ranking British officials including Viceroys Chelmsford, Linlithgow and Puckle (Director General of Intelligence in 1940), Ellen Wilkinson, (member of the British Parliament for several years and a member of the British cabinet from 1945-1947) would later acknowledge, British and their collaborators were welcoming  their "asset" p. 94, Vol. 3, p. 138, Vol. 4, [17],  ally p. 179 [18] and "the best policeman the British had in India'' p. 219, [1]. And, Madanlal Dhingra contributed to the discovery by the British eco-system of the above potential in Gandhi  not in any small measure.   

[12] Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh, Dikgaj, Chandra Mauli Singh, "Why Brits disliked Netaji and made a Mahatma out of Gandhi"
http://www.dailyo.in/politics/the-gandhi-bose-interaction-personality-cult-money-power-foreign-influence-divisive-politics/story/1/3967.html
[56] Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh, Dikgaj, "Subhas Chandra Bose's connections with revolutionaries of India''
http://www.dailyo.in/politics/revolutionary-association-of-subhas-bose-mahatma-gandhi-british-independence-ina/story/1/4197.html
[57] Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh, Dikgaj, "Netaji's Modernism Versus Gandhi's Spiritual Swaraj''
http://www.dailyo.in/politics/mahatma-gandhi-subhas-chandra-bose-socialism-british-raj-independence-nehru/story/1/4164.html
[88] Shanmukh, Saswati Sarkar, Divya Kumar Soti and Dikgaj, "Was Gandhi a Christian in Faith and Hindu in Name?'', DailyO, 17/07/2015.
http://www.dailyo.in/politics/gandhi-hinduism-christianity-indian-freedom-struggle-non-violence-revolutionaries-indic-ethos/story/1/5049.html

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Sri Aurobindo
KARMAYOGIN
POLITICAL WRITINGS AND SPEECHES — 1909-1910
Karmayogin: A Weekly Review
Saturday 31st July 1909 — No.6
Facts and Opinions

Madanlal Dhingra

Madanlal Dhingra pays the inevitable and foreseen penalty of his crime. We have no wish whatever to load the memory of this unfortunate young man with curses and denunciations. Rather we hope that in his last moments he will be able to look back in a calm spirit on his act and with a mind enlightened by the near approach of death prepare his soul for the great transit. No man but he can say what were the real motives for his deed. If personal resentment and exaggerated emotions were the cause of his crime, a realisation of the true nature of the offence may yet help the soul in its future career. If on the other hand a random patriotism was at its back, we have little hope that reflection will induce him to change his views. Minds imbued with these ideas are the despair of the statesman and the political thinker. They follow their bent with a remorseless firmness which defies alike the arrows of the reasoner and the terrors of a violent death. He must in that case go forth to reap the fruits in other bodies and new circumstances. Here his country remains behind to bear the consequences of his act.

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