Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India
Contact No. – 09415777229, 094055338
THE ROYAL PROCLAMATION
The Proclamation issued by the Sovereign on the 24th inst. is a document of which the British people have every reason to be proud, and with which every Indian ought to feel satisfied. Coming on the top of the disclosures made before Lord Hunter’s Committee, the Proclamation gives one an insight into the true British character. For, as the Proclamation shows it at its best, General Dyer’s inhumanity shows it at its worst. The Proclamation is the evidence of the intention to do justice, as General Dyer’s deed is proof of man becoming devil under fear and excitement. I believe that the juxtaposition of the two events is a pure accident. The Proclamation was the inevitable consequence of the great measure which has received Royal assent. It was the finishing touch. The Reforms Act coupled with the Proclamation is an earnest of the intention of the British people to do justice to India. And it ought to remove suspicion on that score. But that does not mean that we may sit with folded hands and may still expect to get what we want. Under the British Constitution no one gets anything without a hard fight for it. No one for a moment believes the statements made in the Parliament that the reforms have not been granted because of the agitation. We must lay to heart the advice of the President of the Congress that we shall gain nothing without agitation.
We would have been nowhere if there had been no Congress to agitate for the rights of the people. Agitation means no more than movement towards something. But just as all movement does not mean progress, so does all agitation not mean success. Undisciplined agitation, which is a paraphrase of violence of speech or deed, can only retard national growth and bring about even unmerited retribution such as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Disciplined agitation is the condition of national growth. The most correct agitation, therefore, consists in the most correct action and we have little doubt that the Royal Proclamation and the Reforms mean not less agitation and less work but more agitation and more work of the correct type. The Reforms are undoubtedly incomplete; they do not give us enough; we were entitled to more, we could have managed more. But the Reforms are not such as we may reject. On the contrary they are such as to enable us to expand. Our duty, therefore, is not to subject them to carping criticism, but to settle down quietly to work so as to make them a thorough success and thus anticipate the time for a full measure of responsibility. Our work, therefore, may now well consist in agitation turned inward. Let us concentrate on riding ourselves of social abuses, on producing a strong electorate and on sending to the council’s men who would seek election not for self-advertisement but for national service. There has been much mutual distrust between us the English and us.
General Dyer forgot the dignity of man and became unmanly because he was seized with distrust and consequent fear. He feared that he might be “assaulted”. The Proclamation, more than the Reforms, replaces distrust by trust. It remains to be seen whether the trust will filter down to the Civil Service. But let us assume that it will, and let us respond in the fullest measure. We cannot be wrong in so doing. To trust is a virtue. It is weakness that begets distrust. The best satisfaction we can show is undoubtedly to work gracefully and ungrudgingly. Our honest work will constitute the best guarantee for quickening the pace of progress towards the goal. Throughout all these years, the one figure that has laboured for India without, for a single moment, turning back is Mr. Montagu. We have had many Secretaries of State who have adorned their office. But no Secretary has so well adorned it as Mr. Montagu. He has been a true friend of India. He has earned our gratitude and for Lord Sinha? He has added luster to his country. India has every reason to be proud of him.