Gandhi Versus the Empire

By Haridas T. Muzumdar | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER II
THE EMPIRE ON TRIAL

As we read Gandhi's statement before the court ( March 18, 1922), we are immediately reminded that it was the Empire that was on trial, not Mr. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 53, farmer and weaver by profession, residing at Satyagraha Ashram. The British Raj was being pilloried, not the leader of the non-violent non- cooperation campaign.

Let me recall the editorial comment of the New York Call ( April 28, 1922).

"Readers of this speech ( Gandhi's Statement before the Court) will recognize it as one of the most important ever delivered by a liberator of humankind. It is worthy of preservation by the side of the speeches of Robert Emmett and Eugene Victor Debs when these two men received their sentences. Reading it one feels that British imperialism is in the dock and not Gandhi. He passes sentence upon a hateful regime, a sentence that will be approved by the free peoples of the future.

"There is no trace of fear. No retraction, no apology is made for his conduct. 'I know that I was playing with fire,' said Gandhi. 'I ran the risk, and if I were set free I would do the same. I felt this morning that I would fail in my duty if I did not say all that I have been saying here just now.'

"Nor is there any trace of the braggart or of the egotist seeking notoriety in this address. No tricks of oratory are resorted to. It is a calmly reasoned and passionless address which, with iron logic, places British imperialism in the

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