We are living in an era of change. The old order is crumbling down giving room to an age of questioning — By Jati Bhai
At this historic period in the destiny of this colony we are tempted to make a little reflexion on the Indo-Mauritius community which is in a ferment and on those persons who claim to be its leaders.
We are living in an era of change. The old order is crumbling down giving room to an age of questioning.
Both in England and in India the concept of leadership has radically changed. In U.K. just because a man is a peer or the controlling shareholder of a big trust does not become the leader of the mass. Similarly In India because one holds the little of Rai Bahadur or is a jagirdar or a rich banian lavishly entertaining film stars or foreigners commands little authority and respect.
In both these countries people want to see in their leaders such intrinsic qualities as self abnegation and sincerity of purpose. They want their leaders to indentify themselves with them and with their cause.
Though the rank and file in this colony have not reached that degree of progress, they are fast advancing in that direction. Time will come, and it is bound to come very soon, when we shall have to face a people who will refuse to do the bidding of any man simply because that man happens to be the director of a bank or the proprietor of a mill or is keen either in horse or hound racing. Aristocrats and capitalists in England and in India had to choose between evolution and revolution. They are gradually giving way to pressure of pu-blic opinion and demand. It is a tragedy that there are people in this country — and they belong to all communities including of course the Hindu community — who still think in terms of feudality and rajwara.
Fancy a man whose forefather was imported there as a slave or a coolie speaking the language of the aristocrat, and going against the progress of the mass and yet claiming the suffrage or the confidence of the people!
To be born in a gilded cradle is of course not a sin. And who wants that “heureux mortel” to throw away his riches by the window? Nehru’s parents had riches, they were learned and besides these inheritances Nehru had the advantage of being educated in Harrow. Yet Nehru identified himself with the mass, spent his fortune and learning for the benefit of his downtrodden countrymen, and no wonder he became the idol of India.
Who in fact are the true leaders of the Hindus of this colony? They are not the rich men, nor the professionals or graduates but those humble villagers who are running a school or a baitka or a co-operative or is engaged in such social works. It is they who are shaping the destiny of that community. Considering the means they have at their disposal, their financial position and their little education we must doff our hat to them. They deserve not only our praise, and gratitude but also our respect.
These people who take pride and sometime derive material benefits is dancing to the tune of the master should be given a lesson. Before them, many have tried but ultimately fell into disgrace. They were repudiated both by their people and even by the masters whom they served so faithfully.
To Indians it is not a new phenomenon. In olden days they got their Maheel, Mansingh and Gangadin. May we ask a question? Where are those people who during the struggle for independence used to crawl before the rulers, were busy denouncing the national heroes and were engaged in all sorts of treachery either to get a job, or a title or simply a pat on the back from the “sacred” hand of the master? Is it not a fact that those who challenged the might of the British Raj, those who were imprisoned several times as Nehru have become equal partners in the British Commonweath? A brave nation, whether it is English or German, scorn turncoats and despises traitors! Turncoats sometimes deserve our pity, because it has been found that as other habits slavery too is habit forming. It is the outcome of upbringing, and the environment in which one is born and bred. Nehru in a very appropriate simile describes the psychological make-up of slaves. “For many generations,” says Nehru in his Autobiography, “the British treated India as a kind of enormous country house (after the old English fashion) that they owned. They were the gentry owing the house and occupying the desirable parts of it, while the Indians were consigned to the servants’ hall and pantry and kitchen… We developed the mentality of the good country-house servant. Sometimes we were treated to a rare honour – we were given a cup of tea in the drawing room. The height of our ambition was to become respectable and to be promoted individually to the upper regions. Greater than any victory of arms or diplomacy was this psychological triumph of the British in India. The slave began to think as a slave, as the wise men of old had said.”
“Times have changed,” adds Nehru, “and the country-house type of civilization is not accepted willingly now either in England or India. But still there remain people amongst us who desire to stick to the servants’ hall…”
* Published in print edition on 26 January 2018