CALCUTTA, June 29th, 1907 }
The Secret of the Swaraj Movement
The paragraphist of Capital in the course of a denunciation full of venom and adorned with one or two choice bits of
Billingsgate, describes Swaraj as a far-off divine event to be made possible by our being gradually educated to it under the
guidance of the beneficent aliens. We need not trouble about the choleric effusions with a daily output of which Anglo-Indian
writers nowadays provide their readers. But apart from the natural unhinging of the reason for which the prospect of loss of
power and prestige or of trade is responsible, there is a plentiful lack of appreciation of the nature of the movement, its causes
and probable effects not only on the part of the ruling class but of the majority of our educated people. We can understand the
ruling class doing their very best to crush the movement out of self-interest. But it is none the less our duty to return good
for evil and try our best to enlighten their intellectual haziness. It is from the want of a true perception of the nature of the
movement that much of the misunderstanding and irritation has proceeded. And in trying to present it in its true bearing we
have not been guided by any individual notions of our own but the decisions and findings of master-minds on the success of all
spiritual movements. Why do men at all turn their backs on old ideas and betake themselves to revolutionary ones? How come these ideas to rise up and fill the whole air?
Why do they command acceptance notwithstanding much that seems unseemly, alarming and often even preposterous about them? The answer is that in
spite of any defects there may be, even if they are marred by self-contradiction, shallowness or elements of real danger, such
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ideas fit the crisis. They are seized on by virtue of an instinct
of national self-preservation. The evil elements in them, if any, work themselves out in infinite mischief. The true elements in
them save a country by firing men with social hope and patriotic faith, and the good done is well worth having even at the price
of much harm and ruin. M. Taine gives the same explanation of the success of Rousseau and Voltaire in influencing the minds
of the French people, though there were Montesquieu with a sort of historic method, Turgot and the school of the economists
and, what is more, seventy thousand of the secular clergy and sixty thousand of the regular clergy, ever proclaiming by life or
exhortation ideas of peace, submission and a kingdom not of this world.
At certain critical moments in history men come out from the narrow and confined track of their daily life and comprehend
in one wide vision the whole situation; the august face of their destiny is suddenly unveiled to their eyes: in the sublimity of
their emotion they seem to have a foretaste of their future and at least discern some of its features. Naturally these features are
precisely those which their age and their race happen to be in a condition to understand. The point of view put forward is the
only one under which the multitude can place themselves. There is pronounced the unique word, heroic or tender, enthusiastic or tranquillising: the only word that the heart and the intelligence of the time would consent to hearken to; the only one adapted
to the deep-growing wants, the long-gathered aspirations, the hereditary faculties.
It might seem strange if it were not so consonant with past examples, that a man like Mr. Morley who has so heartily admired the discernment of Taine about the secret of the great movements of human history and explained and elaborated it
as clearly as possible, should look upon the present happenings in India as mere effervescence due to accidental causes that will
instantaneously subside at the mere frown of a mortal man however powerful. We have explained how this has happened in the
particular case of Mr. Morley. A mind clouded by national self-interest and perverted by European prejudices and contempt for
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Asiatics forbids him to use his reasoning powers on India as
he would have used them in the case of an European country similarly circumstanced. Otherwise he would have perhaps
understood that the same laws govern and explain all human movements whether among Europeans or Asiatics. The working
of the human mind, the correlation of causes and effects, the ups and downs in the life of a nation are never isolated phenomena
defying the scientist's attempt to systematise, co-ordinate and generalise. The movement in India, like all other movements in
history, has life and vitality in it and its root deep in the very nature of things and events. It is not artificially got up, no movement of the kind can be; it has not been engineered by a Lajpat Rai or an Ajit Singh: it does not proceed from mere discontent or
"disloyalty": it is no aberration or monstrosity. It has the uniformity, the identity of manifestations in widely-separated regions,
the similarity of thought, motive and expression which belong to great, sudden, spontaneous movements, to divine events.
India was a centre of human prosperity and a fountain of light when there was still darkness and savagery on the face
of the major portion of the earth and she has not gone into an eternal eclipse. The over-shadowing influence cannot last for
ever, it is a temporary obscuration from which the sun of her destiny is soon to emerge. This is the law of Nature and divine
dispensation, and, amidst the noise and dust and smoke of that confused struggle of myriad opinions and misunderstandings
which mark a revolution, the one thing essential which should never be forgotten by those who have once had the strength and
clarity of vision to perceive through the clamour and confusion this guiding star of hope and truth.
Passive Resistance in France
The curious struggle in the South of France which is being waged
between the vine-growing population of the South and the Government in Paris, has not yet come to a conclusion. The leaders
have surrendered, but their following seems to be still defiant.
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The cause of the pother seems to be hardly proportionate to
the results. The wine-trade in the south of France is on the decline because the French people are taking to other and cheaper
beverages, and the vine-growers demand State protection and encouragement for their industry, which the French Government
has not denied but has been somewhat dilatory in arranging. The population of southern France are hot, excitable, unstable and,
being all more or less affected— for the vine is the chief produce there— have been exasperated by the neglect into something like
rebellion. This is all that from this distance one can understand. The interest of the outbreak for us lies in the fact that it began
with a huge passive resistance movement very much on the lines we have advocated in India, the object being to paralyze the
Government and the chief weapon the voluntary resignation of the Municipalities which are indispensable instruments of
administration in France. Unfortunately a fair chance was not given to the experiment which should have been one of the most
interesting in human history. With the arrival of the Military the movement passed into a queer amalgam of passive resistance,
military mutiny and popular revolt; the leaders took fright, surrendered or bolted to Paris, wept at the feet of ministers
and returned to advise their followers to weep and surrender along with them. The whole business is somewhat farcical and
extremely French. At any rate the hot French nature, impatient and incapable of endurance, found it impossible to continue the
experiment. Perhaps passive resistance is in itself too much not only for French nature but for human nature generally; perhaps
it is always bound to pass into active resistance. But this cannot be decided until it is given a fair trial by a more politic, patient
and enduring race than the Frenchmen of the south. Meanwhile we note that the French Government has hastily passed the more
urgent clauses of the Bill for assisting the wine industry. So the demonstrators have got the immediate thing that they wanted— just as the Punjabi agriculturists did.
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By the Way
The Newmaniac is abroad again. He has been to Chandpur, in the flesh or in spirit, and the result is a fresh attack of delirium
newmans. He has discovered a Babu Kingdom in Barisal and a phantom army of secret
National Volunteers. To the unsophisticated unaided eye there are no
National Volunteers; the red shirt, the dreadful yellow turban, the
awe-inspiring anti-regulation lathi all have disappeared, but the detective ability of the Newmaniac is not to be baffled or bamboozled. He can still
discover the National Volunteer by the one thing left to him— the now world-renowned or at least
stare". Wherever there is a National Volunteer there is an insolent stare, and wherever there is an insolent stare there is a
National Volunteer. The Newmaniac is down on that stare like a flash of lightning; he has come out with a new description of
it and its accompaniments, very picturesque and painful. "The man stands with his legs apart and his hands behind his back,
and looks at you unblinking, the very picture of insolent defiance. Gradually the eyes become bloodshot, and the face puffs
out a little, then the lips twitch and the teeth are bared, and as you pass, the man either spits on the ground, or laughs a kind of
snarling laugh, a mixture of contempt and triumph." Isn't that a wonderful bit of delirium newmans, gorgeously and grotesquely
horrible? We sympathise with the Newmaniac in his lament that he is gripped by the law he himself has made and held back
from going for this apoplectic nightmare. We are glad to learn that the authorities are going to take an immediate action on the
Newmaniac's complaint. We learn by telegram from Simla that the Legal Member has drawn up for the Viceroy's approval the
following notes for a Draft Bill to amend the Indian Penal Code.
Note for additional sections (draft)
to the Indian Penal Code.
1. Whoever, being a native-born subject of His Majesty the
King-Emperor, shall be observed to separate or suspected of
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separating his nether limbs when he is in the presence or within
the vision actual or potential of an European, shall be guilty of a seditious offence henceforth to be known as breach of the legs,
and may be bound over in personal securities of not less than Rs. 10,000 to keep his legs together for six months or a year
according to the discretion of the trying Magistrate.
a. The expression "in the presence or within the vision" shall be held to apply to any distance of not more than four hundred
yards to the right, to the left, before or behind the accused.
b. The word "European" in this and the following sections
shall be understood as including Australians and Americans as well as natives of India of a white complexion and European
descent and Imperial Anglo-Indians, but it shall not be held to cover the Nawab of Dacca. Provided that nothing in this section
shall debar the Governor-General in Council from extending the section to the Nawab of Dacca by a special ordinance for a given
period in case of emergency.
c. It shall not be incumbent on the prosecution in cases
under this or the following sections to prove that any European was actually on the scene of the separation; it will be enough
to prove that an European might have been there or that the accused had reason to believe that an European was or might,
could, should or would be within 400 yards of him.
d. It shall be a sufficient defence to prove that the legs in
question were already separated, with or without any necessity, before it was possible for the accused to know or believe that an
European was, might, could, should or would be within the legal distance, and that the error was rectified within three seconds of
his becoming aware of the presence.
e. If it be proved that the crural separation was directed
against or in view of the presence of the European, no motive or necessity or plea of urgency shall be admitted in justification
or mitigation of the offence.
2. Whoever, being a native-born subject etc., puts his hands
behind his back, or joins them over his stomach, or pats his stomach, or twirls his moustache, or touches his nose, or twiddles
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his thumbs, or uses any other gesture which is or may or can
be or might, could, should or would be considered offensive, seditious, libellous, mutinous or rebellious, in the presence etc.
of an European, shall be guilty of a seditious publication and liable to prosecution and punishment under section 124a.
3. Whoever, being a native-born etc., is observed to look or suspected of looking with unblinking eyes at an European
shall be guilty of breach of the peace and liable to rigorous imprisonment for six months, with or without fine.
a. It shall not be an offence under this section to look with
unblinking eyes at the back of an European or at his legs or at his stomach or at any other portion of his anatomy except his face.
b. It shall not be a sufficient defence under this section to prove that the accused blinked once, twice or thrice during the
commission of the offence. The blinking must be continuous, as when one is looking at the sun.
4. Whoever, being a native-born etc., is observed to suffer or suspected of suffering from epilepsy or apoplexy at the sight
of an European, shall be guilty of seditious apoplexy and liable to seven years' rigorous imprisonment which shall include two
years' solitary confinement.
a. The following symptoms shall be held when found together, to constitute the offence of seditious apoplexy, viz. eyes
bloodshot, face puffed out, lips twitching and teeth bared.
b. It shall be a sufficient defence under this section to show
that the accused was suffering from eye-disease or a cold in the head, or that his teeth naturally and unavoidably project, or
that he suffers from a nervous labial disorder, or that he was frightened out of his wits, or that he mistook the European for
a lunatic or a special correspondent of the Englishman.
5. Whoever, being a native-born etc., by accident or intention forgets to retain his saliva in the presence etc. of an European, shall be guilty of seditious spitting and liable to
two years' rigorous imprisonment or in the alternative, to transportation for life.
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6. Whoever, being a native-born etc., is observed to laugh
or is suspected of laughing a kind of snarling laugh or snarling a kind of laughing snarl in the presence etc. of an European shall
be guilty of seditious cachinnation and liable to be bound over to keep the peace (which shall include abstention from inaudible
as well as audible laughing or snarling) for six months or a year according to the discretion of the trying Magistrate.
a. An ordinary or average or pure, simple, uncomplicated
domestic laugh shall not count as an offence under this section.
b. A pure, peaceable or innocent snarl directed at the
weather or any other inanimate and non-European object and guiltless of either contempt or triumph except for or over the
said inanimate object, shall not be an offence under this section.
c. As it is impossible for the offence to be precisely defined,
the complainant shall be asked to reproduce in the witness-box the said snarl or laugh as he saw or imagined it and the
nearest available canine being shall be held up by his side and induced to snarl and if there is any resemblance between the two
performances, the offence shall be considered proved.
N.B. With this exception no corroborative evidence will be
required in cases under these sections; the unsupported testimony of the complainant or the belief of the trying Magistrate
shall be considered sufficient.
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