India - Liberty & Freedom – United States & U.K.
By Munindra Misra
India since independence has been and still is a unique experiment in the development of
the largest democracy of the world, with the mingling of numerous peoples of different
religions and colour, belonging to totally different backgrounds.
This country has always been a country of synthesis and with open arms has accepted all
persons, willingly and with pleasure, from even outside its boundaries – Aryans, Mughuls,
Muslims, British and naturally, India’s neighbours like Chinese, Japanese, Burmese etc –
who not only visited this region, since known history, but some also decided to reside here.
In fact most of the current Indian population is immigrants from other lands, owing their
Indian-ness to the totality and the mingling of all cultures. People of all religions live here.
All have been imbibed into the Indian culture and have added colour to the current total
Indian cultural fabric.
Independence & Gratitude
The present political form of India, its unity as one country, is the gift of the British rule –
as prior to their rule, this region was consisting of various numerous small princely states.
The British education and rule has also given as a unique gift – The Gift Of Freedom &
Liberty; as before their rule this region was always under one ruler or the other, under one
conqueror or the other and the people residing herein had never know or tasted freedom or
liberty. In fact we should be saying that the Indian Mutiny and struggle against the British
rule “was not fought to obtain freedom, but to preserve the liberties . . . already had as
colonials. Independence was no conscious goal, secretly nurtured in cellar or jungle by
bearded conspirators, but a reluctant last resort, to preserve `life liberty and pursuit of
happiness’”. There can be no doubt that the midnight hour of freedom for India was also
one of the most shinning stars of the British Empire, of their honourable discharge and
handing over the reigns of governance to the people of Indian.
India’s thankfulness should never be wanting to the great American nation which stood
steadfast in the form of the United States President Roosevelt who took special interest in
India’s freedom, identifying her struggle with that of the American struggle of freedom,
and persisting to do so with the Prime Minister of Britain, Sir Winston Churchill, even
though Churchill was ever irritated on this subject.
Sir Winston Churchill in `The Second World War – The Hinge of Fate’
“The United States has shown an increasingly direct interest in Indian
affairs as the Japanese advance into Asia spreading westwards . . . . . Before
Pearl Harbour India had been regarded as a lamentable example of British
Imperialism, but as an exclusive British responsibility. Now that the
Japanese were advancing towards its frontiers the United States began to
express its views and offer council on Indian affairs.” [p.160]
“The President had first discussed the Indian problem with me, on the usual
American lines, during my visit to Washington in December 1941. I reacted
so sharply and at such length that he never raised it verbally again. Later, at
the end of February 1942, he instructed Averell Harriman to sound me on
the possibilities of a settlement between the British Government and the
Indian political leaders. I told Harriman that I was about to cable the
President, and did so on March 4.
Former Naval Person to President Roosevelt [March 4, 42]
We are earnestly considering whether a declaration of Dominion status after
the war, carrying with it, if desired, the right to secede, should be made at
this juncture. We must not on any account break with the Moslems, who
represent a hundred million people, and the main army elements on which
we must rely for the immediate fighting. We have also to consider our duty
towards thirty to forty million Untouchable, and treaties with the Princes
States of India, perhaps eighty millions. Naturally we do not want to throw
India into a chaos on the eve of invasion.” [p.161]
It is owing to the Americans and the British that the Indian soil was saved from the havoc
of the World Wars. This in no manner lessens the honour, skill, bravery and sacrifice of the
Indians fighting in the Armies of the Allied Forces during this period.
Thus Independence is a gift to the future generations of India by the `Father of our Nation’
Mahatma Gandhi, the freedom fighters who fought and sacrificed their lives for the
motherland, United Kingdom and The United States of America.
– All Indians owe these debts.
Culture and Mahatma Gandhi
India is ever proud of her culture. Gandhiji remarked `I do not want my house to be walled
on all sides and my windows be stuffed. I want the culture of all lands to be blown about
my house freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. Mine is not a
religion of the prison house. It has room for the least of God’s creations, but it is proof
against insolent pride of race, religion, or colour.’ ‘My Swaraj is to keep intact the genius
of our civilization. I want to write many new things but they must all be written on the
Gandhiji’s dream of a free India was of a land free from fear and corruption and the
common man satisfied of his basic necessities. His `Salt Satyagrah’ against the levy of tax
on salt symbolized this – yet every Indian today has to pay tax on salt as levied by the
Government. Gandhiji stated `I am not interested in freeing India merely from the English
yoke. I am bent upon freeing India from any yoke whatsoever’ – yet every Indian droops
under the pressure of one yoke or another.
`Mere withdrawal of the English is not independence. It means the consciousness in the
average villager that he is the maker of his own destiny, he is his own legislature through
his own chosen representative.’ `The outward freedom that we shall attain will only be in
exact proportion to the inward freedom to which we may have grown at a given moment.
And if this is the correct view of freedom, our chief energy must be concentrated upon
achieving reforms from within.’
Abraham Lincoln stated `As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This
expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference,
is no democracy.’
Fear and corruption is rampant in our society. We hear of top leaders in every walk of life
in India being involved in scams; responsible leaders at the helm of affairs supposed to be
the guardians, looting for personal benefit. The common man bears the burden. If the poor
steals for food (when not even getting one square meal) they are jailed and yet rarely action
is taken or seen to be taken against the `responsible’ corrupt guardians. As Gandhiji stated
`One can not teach truth by untruthfulness. Truthful conduct alone can teach truth’ – is the
nation’s path deviating from truth?
Gandhiji defined democracy: `I hold that democracy can not be evolved by forcible
methods. The spirit of democracy can not be imposed from with-out. It has to come from
within.’ He believed `means are after all every thing. As the means so the end. There is no
wall of separation between means and the end.’ Democracy based on votes secured through
fear or allurements of cash or kind is no representation of the people. `No man is good
enough to govern another man without that other’s consent’ and fear or bribery is not and
can not be the consent. `True morality consists, not in following the beaten track, but in
finding out the true path for ourselves and in fearlessly following it.’
The British Empire’s authority in India was taken over by the Indian Government in 1947
and unluckily still has yet to truly filter down to every common Indian. Some few abuse it
in democracy’s name. `Real Swaraj will not come by the acquisition of authority by a few
but by the acquisition of the capacity by all to resist authority when it is abused. In other
words, Swaraj is to be obtained by educating the masses to a sense of their capacity to
regulate and control authority.’ It is through education that this can be achieved. In India,
education is not talked about. We talk about literacy yet education is a must for any
democracy. In fact education should get a priority over literacy for democracy to truly
flourish and happiness to dwell in any society. `It is difficult to make a man miserable
when he feels he is worthy of himself and claims kindred of the great God who made him’
We talk of literacy but Gandhiji linked education with Swaraj.
`Democracy is not a state in which people act like sheep. Under democracy individual
liberty of opinion and action is jealously guarded’. If representation in any form,
government or otherwise, is procured by untruthfulness, allurement, violence or fear it can
not define democracy or liberty. `True democracy or Swaraj of the masses can never come
through untruthful and violent means, for the simple reason that the natural corollary to
their use would be to remove all opposition through suppression or extermination of the
antagonist. That does not make for the individual freedom.’ Swaraj can not be attained by
representatives acquiring representation through violence, fear or allurement. Their opinion
and say MUST be preciously guarded if we want to achieve the Swaraj of Gandhiji’s
`A born democrat is a born disciplinarian. Democracy comes naturally to him who is
habituated normally to yield willing obedience to all laws, human or divine. I claim to be
democrat both by instinct and training. Let those who are ambitious to serve democracy
qualify themselves by satisfying first this acid test of democracy. Moreover, a democrat
must be utterly selfless. He must think and dream not in terms of self or party but only of
I value individual freedom but you must not forget that man is essentially a social being.
He has risen to his present status by learning to adjust his individualism to the requirements
of social progress. Unrestricted individualism is the law of the beast in the jungle. We have
learnt to strike the mean between individual freedom and social restraint. Willing
submission to social restrain for the sake of the well-being of the whole society, enriches
both the individual and the society of which one is a member.’
`Freedom is gift of God – the right of every nation. You claim it. But if you claim it by any
means that are repugnant to God, it will not be a blessing for us.’ `No school of thought can
claim a monopoly on right judgement. We are all liable to err and are often obliged to
revise our judgements. In a vast country like this, there must be room for all schools of
In fact freedom of speech must be carefully cherished and selfishly guarded.
Disagreements will surface but it should not lead to discord. As Voltaire stated `I
disapprove of what you say but will defend to death your right to say it’
Democracy is the joint will of the people who presented by their representatives. Thus it is
imperative in any democracy that the correct will of the people is recognized. The will of
the people is recognized by the representative and the selection must be without fear or
Social Justice, Education & Truth
Gandhiji stated - `I have always held that social justice, even to the least and lowliest, is
impossible of attainment by force,’ and `village work . . . . . means real education, not the
three R’s, but in opening the mind of the villagers to the needs of true life befitting thinking
beings which humans are supposed to be.’
This dream of `The Father of our Nation’ is so lucid and unambiguous that it needs no
interpretation. If it is followed in letter and spirit the society will achieve satisfaction and
`Devotion to truth is the sole justification for our existence. All our activities should be
centered on truth. Truth should be the very breath of our life, without truth it is impossible
to observe any principles or rule in live.’ For these ideas Gandhiji and other freedom
fighters endured the pangs of freedom struggle sacrificing all – their mind, body, material
gains and soul and rose to serve their motherland – not fearing even death.
For personal gains of body, mind and greed nothing should be sacrificed.
Morals & Sacrifice
`No action which is not voluntary can be called moral. So long as we act like machines,
there can no question of morality. If we want to call an action as moral, it should have been
done consciously and as a matter of duty. Any act dedicated by fear or by coercion of any
kind ceases to be moral’.
Sacrifice for the world, country, society and family is worth recognition but sacrifice for
person gain should be shunned.
`The destiny of mankind is not decided by materialcomputations’.
Fruits of Development
Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru stated `I want nothing to do with any religion concerned with
keeping the masses satisfied to live in hunger, filth and ignorance. I want nothing to do
with any order, religion or otherwise, which does not teach people that they are capable of
being happier and more civilized on this earth, capable of becoming true man, master of his
fate and captain of his soul.’ `The French revolution of a hundred and fifty years ago
ushered in an age of political equality, but the times have changed, and that by itself is not
enough today. The boundaries of democracy have to be widened now so as to include
economic equality also. This is the great revolution through which we are passing.’
Other articles and poems by Munindra Misra are available on the following site: