Excelsior 10 février 1924

India and its new prophet
The government of the province of Bombay, inspired in the circumstances by the central government of all India, has just released the Hindu nationalist leader Mohamdes Karamchand Gandhi, the inventor of Non-Cooperation, this new form of revolt against English power.
If there is a revolt, Gandhi belongs, through nobility and strength of character, to the class of great rebels. The movement he fomented could also bring about an important change in the existing relationship between India and Great Britain.
A glance at the life of Gandhi, at his origins, at his political and social activity, allows us to glimpse the deep reasons for the movement which today raises up a people of 300 million men, "formidable, by its number, its duration and its abysmal soul.”
Gandhi, universally known as Mahatma (Mahd, great; Atma, soul), Gandhi is a full-blooded Hindu, from a wealthy background, whose father and grandfather, having taken part in their time in the administration of their province, were disgraced for their independence.
But Gandhi received a Western education. He completed his studies in London. He was twenty-four years old when he returned to his country, after having lived five years in England.
Barely had he reached Bombay when he was called to South Africa to plead a certain case. There he found thousands of his compatriots, victims of abominable persecution, the white population exercising the worst violence on these colored men employed in the hardest work.
In London, Gandhi had learned to know a great nation that had reached a very high level of civilization. In the work he has just dedicated to him, Mr. Romain Rolland underlined the impression of astonishment that the gross brutality of the British colonists installed in this distant Dominion produced on the mind of the young Hindu lawyer.
Gandhi could then return to his country or go to London to denounce the scandal. He didn't think about it. Injustice fixes him where it rages. He brings together his compatriots; he organizes them; he teaches them the law and methods of Non-Resistance, the application of which will gradually force the European to modify his law and his methods.
For twenty years, Gandhi stood up to the government of South Africa, to General Smuts. Neither persecution nor imprisonment defeated him.
Finally, the metropolis intervenes. The British government appoints an imperial commission to investigate on site. In 1914, this commission submitted its conclusions, which agreed with Gandhi on almost all points.
Gandhi then returns to India. We imagine the agitator, eager to continue in Asia the task undertaken in Africa. But Gandhi does not like the fight for the sake of the fight, and these twenty years of fighting have not erased in him the feeling of what he owes to Western civilization and to Great Britain.
On the other hand, it does not seem that Great Britain learned from the failure that Gandhi had inflicted on the British authorities sitting in Pretoria. It is true that at this time European events held his attention. And Gandhi himself, when the war broke out in 1914, rushed to England to raise a corps of ambulance drivers.
The tornado, to speak like Mr. C. F. Andrews, one of the English who know the Hindu problem best, the tornado which passed over Europe from 1914 to 1918 will have its effects felt a little later in India. Throughout the war, India gave England unreserved support. Throughout the war, the British government lavished promises to India in 1917, promising responsible government; in 1918, consultation of interested parties, followed by a report on constitutional reform, which Lord Chelmsford, today a collaborator of Mr. Ramsay Mac Donald, signed. But when the war ended, the British government, absorbed by other concerns, postponed the execution of the commitments it had made towards the Hindus and Muslims.
Gandhi, a moralist, would perhaps have stayed away from the Indian national movement, which Tilak, a Hindu of rare energy, then led with great authority. But, in 1920, Tilak died suddenly and Gandhi found himself, by force of circumstances, pushed to the head of a movement whose aim was the establishment of Swaraj, Home Rule of India.


Mohamdes Karamchand Gandhi