March 18, 1920
DEAR MR. SASTRI,
As I took an active part in the Congress affairs last year I have been asked to interest myself still more actively to the extent of joining an organization. The demand has come from those with whom I have had the privilege of working although I was not connected with their organization. They have asked me to join the All-India Home Rule League. I have told them that at my time of life and with views firmly formed on several matters I could only join an organization to affect its policy and not be affected by it. This does not mean that I would not keep or that I do not have an open mind to receive new light. I simply wish to emphasize the fact that any new light will have to be specially dazzling in order to entrance me. I placed before the friends the following points on which I hold decided views :
- [The] highest honesty must be introduced in the political life of the country if we are to make our mark as a nation. This presupposes at the present moment a very firm and definite acceptance of the creed of Truth at any cost.
- Swadeshi must be our immediate goal. The future aspirants after membership of the Council2 should be asked to pledge them-selves to an out and out protection of the country’s industries—specially cloth manufacture.
- Definite acceptance of Hindustani—a resultant of Hindi and Urdu—as a national language of intercourse in the immediate future. The would-be members will be therefore pledged so to work in the Imperial Council as to introduce Hindustani and in the Local Councils the respective vernaculars, at least as an optional medium for the time being till we are able to dispense with English for the conduct of national affairs. They will also be pledged to introduce Hindustani as a compulsory second language in our schools with Devanagari or Urdu as an optional script. English will be recognized as a language of Imperial intercourse, diplomacy and international commerce.
- Acceptance of the principle of redistribution of provinces so far as possible on a linguistic basis at the earliest opportunity.
- Hindu-Mohammedan unity in its essence and from a political and religious standpoint as an unalterable article of faith. This contemplates mutual help, mutual toleration and recognition of the sufferings of one section to be the sufferings of all. This will exclude, from the official programme of the League, the unity propaganda by means of inter-dining and intermarriage and will include vigorous co-operation on the Khilafat question. In my discussions amongst the friends I have also told them that I will not think of asking for official recognition of my creed of civil disobedience and that I do not belong to any party and would like to make the League a non-party organization helping all honest men if they are otherwise capable of doing justice to the service they may choose irrespective of party. The League, according to my opinion, cannot become an anti-Congress organization but it should work as it is now doing to further the interests of the Congress.
Do you advise me, knowing me as you do with my qualifications and limitations, to join the League?
M. K. GANDHI
Letters of V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, pp. 69-71
1. Copies of this letter were also addressed by Gandhiji to other friends, like Natesan, for private circulation.
2. Gandhiji presumably has in mind the Imperial Legislative Council, Delhi.