Monday, June 11, 2012

Gandhi and Lord Irwin talk man to man

Reading "Gandhi Wields the Weapon of Moral Power," a book written by Gene Sharp in 1960, I came across these gems:

"According to nationalist sources, from March 12, 1930 to March 5, 1931, 100,000 Indians had entered the numerous prisons, detention camps and improvised jails. A modest estimate shows that at least 17,000 of these prisoners were women."

This was during the height of the Noncooperation Movement in 1930-31, when Indian grassroots activism reached its apex. These arrests, detentions and imprisonments were going on at a time when Lord Irwin and Mahatma Gandhi were pursuing negotiations. The below lines offer a window into the relationship between these two men, and make one wonder if among the ranks of Chinese officials there might be a leader with a humanity approaching that of Lord Irwin.

"Lord Irwin and Gandhi met again on February 27th at 2:30pm. The discussions continued until late afternoon, when Gandhi was accustomed to eating. Mirabehn brought his dinner composed of forty dates and a pint of goat's milk. Gandhi ate them and the talks continued until 5:50 pm. That evening Gandhi walked unescorted five miles from Dr. Ansari's house where he was staying to the Viceregal palace to see Irwin again. He remained with him till after midnight, and Gandhi began his walk back. "Good night," he said to Irwin. "Good night, Mr. Gandhi, and my prayers go with you," Irwin replied. When Gandhi reached the dwelling it was past 2am and the Working Committee was waiting for him. The talks that day had been free, frank and friendly. Now things had to be considered by the Working Committee."

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