Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

Presidential address at the Karachi Conference of the All India Naujawan Bharat Sabha

Friends and comrades,

Today we are meeting under the shadow of a great tragedy. Our minds are too full to speak. At such a critical moment in the history of our country, you have asked me to preside over your conference. For this I feel grateful to you.

We are concerned here with the consideration of that socioeconomic structure and body politic which will help to foster manhood and develop character and the will to translate into reality the highest ideal of collective humanity. We are also interested here in investigating the methods that will bring about the earliest attainment of this goal. I am led to the conclusion that the principles which should form the basis of our collective life are justice, equality, freedom, discipline and love. Therefore, in order to ensure equality, we must get rid of bondage of every kind; social, economic and political; and we must become fully and wholly free.

To summarise what I have said, I want a Socialist Republic in India. The message I have to give is one of complete, all-round, undiluted freedom. Until the radical or revolutionary elements are stirred up we cannot get freedom, and we cannot stir up the revolutionary elements among us except by inspiring them with a new message which comes from the heart and goes straight to the heart.

The fundamental weakness in the Congress policy and programme is that there is a great deal of vagueness and mental reservation in the minds of the leaders. Their programme is based not on radicalism but on adjustments; adjustments between landlord and the tenant, between the capitalist and the wage-earner, between the so-called upper classes and the so-called depressed classes, between men and women.

I do not believe that the Congress programme can win freedom for India. The programme by which I believe freedom can be achieved is:
(1)    Organisation of peasants and workers on a socialistic programme.
(2)    Organisation of youth into Volunteer Corps under strict discipline.
(3)    Abolition of the caste system and the eradication of social and religious superstitions of all kinds.
(4)    Organisation of women's associations for getting our womenfolk to accept the gospel and work out the new programme.
(5)    Intensive programme for boycott of British goods.
(6)    Country-wide propaganda for explaining the new cult and for organising a new party.
(7)    Creation of new literature for propagating the new cult and programme.

Before referring to the Gandhi-Irwin truce, I must say something about the Lahore executions. Bhagat Singh was a symbol of the spirit of revolt which has taken possession of the country from one end to the other. That spirit is unconquerable and the flame which that spirit has lit up will not die. India may have to lose many more sons before she can hope to be free. These recent executions are to me sure indications that there has been no change of heart on the side of the Government and the time for an honourable settlement has not arrived as yet.

With regard to the truce embodied in the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, I may say that it is exceedingly unsatisfactory and highly disappointing. What pains me most is the consideration that at the time this Pact was drawn up we actually had more strength than would appear from the contents of the document. The Pact has inherent weakness, but now that the truce is an accomplished fact the question before us is what is to be done at this stage. I do not for one moment question the patriotism of those who are responsible for the truce terms. Consequently the best course for us will be to do some positive work which will strengthen the nation and the nation's demand. For this purpose I have outlined my programme which the more radical sections among our countrymen will do well to adopt and carry out. This will avoid unnecessary conflict with the Congress leaders at a time when such conflict may tend to weaken the people and strengthen the Government. Above all, let us have restraint and selfcontrol even when we have to criticise others. We shall lose nothing by being courteous and restrained, and we may gain much.

India is the keystone to the world edifice and a free India spells the destruction of Imperialism throughout the world. Let us, therefore, rise to the occasion and make India free so that humanity may be saved.