THOUGH the Indian Union is an infant state, India is no newcomer to history, no offshoot or colony newly risen to nationhood. She is a mother country, venerable in her own right; and her past, which is ancient as civilization, belongs to the essence of man's achievement on this planet. Nor has India lain broken and buried under the tides of history for so long that, in her reëmergence, she is a mere vestige of her former self. Measured against the millennia that went before, the two centuries of British rule formed only a brief, if critical, interlude. Now that is over, and India steps once more with unimpaired vigor into the main stream of human affairs.
Not only history, but India's geographical position, the idealism of her national movement, and the personality and teachings of Gandhi have combined to give her the distinctive place she holds in men's minds today. Standing midway between the east and west in more senses than one, she is, in terms of population, the largest single political unit in the world. Her initiative in calling the Delhi Conference on Indonesia in January 1949 brought together and successfully coördinated on an important question the views of a number of nations which had never met before as a separate group. And her leaders have behind them a lifetime of devoted public work with Gandhi, under whose guidance India turned a political campaign into a moral exercise on a national scale.
It is not easy to fit in Gandhi's teachings with any of the current social philosophies. As against the abstractions of the various "isms," he pleaded for attention to the elementary needs of humanity and enjoined a method of action and an attitude of mind and spirit as the necessary preconditions of clear sight and right judgment. He reiterated the most ancient ethical precepts, but he gave them meaning in terms of practical action and deduced from them social ideals which continue to be the inspiration
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