[Its Meaning & Place]

constructive programme

[Its Meaning & Place]

Table of Contents

About This Book

Written by : M. K. Gandhi
First Edition : 1941
Total : 1,30,000 copies
ISBN : 81-7229-067-5
Printed and Published by : Jitendra T. Desai
Navajivan Mudranalaya,
© Navajivan Trust, 1941


Chapter-18: Students

I have reserved students to the last. I have always cultivated close contact with them. They know me and I know them. They have given me service. Many ex-collegians are my esteemed co-workers. I know that they are the hope of the future. In the heyday of non-co-operation they were invited to leave their schools and colleges. Some professors and students who responded to the Congress call have remained steadfast and gained much for the country and themselves, The call has not been repeated for there is not the atmosphere for it. But experience has shown that the lure of the current education, though it is false and unnatural, is too much for the youth of the country. College education provides a career. It is a passport for entrance to the charmed circle. Pardonable hunger for knowledge cannot be satisfied otherwise than by going through the usual rut. They do not mind the waste of precious years in acquiring knowledge of an utterly foreign language which takes the place of the mother tongue, The sin of it is never felt. They and their teachers have made up their minds that the indigenous languages are useless for gaining access to modern thought and the modern sciences, I wonder how the Japanese are faring. For, their education, I understand, is all given in Japanese. The Chinese Generalissimo knows very little, if anything, of English.
But such as the students are, it is from these young men and women that the future leaders of the nation are to rise. Unfortunately they are acted upon by every variety of influences. Non-violence offers them little attraction. A blow for a blow or two for one is an easily understandable proposition. It seems to yield immediate result though momentary. It is a never-ending trial of brute strength as we see in time of war among brutes or among human beings. Appreciation of non-violence means patient research and still more patient and difficult practice. I have not entered the list of competitors for the students' hand, for the reasons that have dictated my course about *kisans* and Labour. But I am myself a fellow student, using the word in its broader sense. My university is different from theirs. They have a standing invitation from me to come to my university and join me in my search. Here are the terms:

  1. Students must not take part in party politics. They are students, searchers, not politicians.
  2. They may not resort to political strikes. They must have their heroes, but their devotion to them is to be shown by copying the best in their heroes, not by going on strikes, if the heroes are imprisoned or die or are even sent to the gallows. if their grief is unbearable and if all the students feel equally, schools or colleges may be closed on such occasions, with the consent of their principals. If the principals will not listen, it is open to the students to leave their institutions in a becoming manner till the managers repent and recall them On no account may they use coercion against dissentients or against the authorities. They must have the confidence that if they are united and dignified in their conduct, they are sure to win.
  3. They must all do sacrificial spinning in a scientific manner. Their tools shall be always neat, clean, and in good order and condition. If possible, they will learn to make them themselves. Their yarn will naturally be of the highest quality. They will study the literature about spinning with a its economic, social, moral and political implications.
  4. They will be *khadi*-users all through and use village products to the exclusion of all analogous things, foreign or machine-made.
  5. They may not impose *Vande Mataram* or the National Flag on others. They may wear National flag buttons on their own persons but not force others to do the same.
  6. They can enforce the message of the tri-color flag their own persons and harbour neither communalism nor untouchability in their hearts. They will cultivate real friendship with students of other faiths and with Harijans as if they were their own kith and kin.
  7. They will make it a point to give first aid to their injured neighbours and do scavenging and cleaning in the neighbouring villages and instruct village children and adults.
  8. They will learn the national language, Hindustani, in its present double dress, two forms of speech and two scripts, that they may feel at home whether Hindi or Urdu is spoken and nagari or urdu script is written.
  9. They will translate into their own mother tongue everything new they may learn, and transmit it in their weekly rounds to the surrounding villages.
  10. They will do nothing in secret, they will be above board in all their dealings, they will lead a pure life of self-restraint shed all fear and be always ready to protect their weak fellow-students, and be ready to quell riots by non-violent conduct at the risk of their lives. And when the final heat of the struggle comes they will leave their institutions and, if need be, sacrifice themselves for the freedom of their country.
  11. They will be scrupulously correct and chivalrous in their behaviour towards their girl fellow-students.

For working out the programme I have sketched for them, the students must find time. I know that they waste a great deal of time in idleness. By strict economy, they can save many hours. But I do not want to put an undue strain upon any student. I would, therefore, advise patriotic students to lose one year, not at a stretch but spread it over their whole study. They will find that one year so given will not be a waste of time. The effort will add to their equipment, mental, moral and physical, and they will have made even during their studies a substantial contribution to the freedom movement.