The Logo

The best of Bhavan's Journal

English fortnightly, devoted to life, literature and culture.

Vol: 11  No: 02


16 August 1964

A National Clean-up

Rajmohan Gandhi

Without a total change in the character of leaders and the led,
our country will soon face anarchy and slavery.
The other day I met a statesman in his eighties who, all his life, has fought for the Indian people. He was in despair.
‘Our country is possibly the worst in the world,’ he declared. ‘I do not now trust a single man. All the hopes I had before freedom are shattered. I have raised up many institutions, colleges and schools, but I do not now expect the right ideas to be taught in them.’
Many feel this way. They love India, but they reckon that in free India man has become more crooked. Whether the national character has slumped since freedom or not is something historians will assess. What is definite is that without a total change in the character of leaders and the led, our country will soon face anarchy and slavery.
This change, glory be to God, is coming.Thousands of college and school students in all parts of India are bringing it about.
These youth have decided that they will place themselves in front of the tide of corruption and hate, and will fight to roll it back.They have found the strength to do so by tackling cheating, stealing, impurity and hate in their own lives.
The rise of this new army of young men and women is an extraordinary story. It started with the March on Wheels across India in October last year, when about 100 people travelled in buses from Kanyakumari to Delhi, covering nearly 5,000 miles and scores of towns and villages. The masses responded eagerly to the idea of a national clean-up. Soon the enthusiasm grew into solid action and many college and school students in Delhi took practical steps to clean up their lives.
They returned stolen books to libraries, articles to shops, and got honest about cheating in exams with teachers and professors. They produced a play Badalti Tasweeren which portrayed bluntly the deteriorating health of the nation and the determination of the students to restore it.
The revolution, because that is precisely what it was, soon spread to many colleges and schools of Bombay. Two hundred Bombay students held a rally against corruption and division on Chowpatty Sands. 75,000 came to this rally and heard 43 of the students speak in clear terms of their decision to become responsible leaders for a new India. Then the Bombay students produced two plays with the same challenge.
With amazing speed the new spirit captured the students of Poona, Hyderabad and Bangalore. With costly yet simple acts of restitution and honesty and with plays, meetings and rallies, they proclaimed to the nation their fight to halt the slide to decadence.

In Madras the prophets of cynicism got a sound licking when hundreds of students shocked the city and state with restitution to schools, colleges, homes, shops, the railways and the government. Lakhs of newspaper readers, tired of the daily dose of hopelessness, were refreshed by the story of 52 students marching up to the Southern Railway office and refunding money they owed for ticketless travel.
133 students from 28 colleges and schools hurled an attack at those who said India would never change, with a hard-hitting play Down with Cynicism! And when hundreds of them organised a rally against corruption and hypocrisy, the masses showed their support by mustering in tens of thousands on the Triplicane Beach.
The press, Tamil and English, took the news of this unusual and faith-giving demonstration to the millions.
I have had the privilege of knowing and working with these students. To me they are part of a gold mine all across and up and down India. Wherever we dig, we shall strike this gold.
Let the politicians, the industrialists, the labour leaders and the prominent men and women of our land make no mistake. The passion in these young hearts is strong and clear. They are more eager for a national clean-up than their fathers and forefathers were for national freedom.
These men and women will fight strictly without violence but definitely with determination. Their greatest asset is the fact that they have broken their pride and faced their mistakes and weaknesses squarely and have put them right. They are not perfect. Some of them are less secure and firm in their commitment than others and still depend on the encouragement and faith of those around them. But they are growing fast in their independent faith and courage. And I for one, expect these sons and daughters of India to lead a national upsurge to avert the impending disaster.
These youth of India are worth far more than all the treasures of the world. Will they multiply themselves into an army of ten thousand? An army in which everyone is able to say. ‘I fight fearlessly and daily to remake the world. I will put God and truth and country before any other consideration. I will not be bullied by the treats of the world’s strongest tyrant. I will live and be ready to die to establish God’s kingdom?’ If they do this, India will become the world’s greatest country. She will then not only bring a cure to this broken, dying world, but will lead humanity into a new age where everyone has enough for all his needs.

Bhavan's Journal

16 August 1964


Bhavan's Journal

Subscribe To Bhavan's Journal

Read it, Collect it & Preserve it for future generations.

Subscription Form →

Language: English
Periodicity: Fortnightly.
Publishing on: 15th and 30th of each month.
Editor-in-charge: P.V.Sankarankutty
Assistant Editor: Smt. Vatsala Pisharody

Editorial & Administrative Office
Bhavan's Journal
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
Kulapati Dr. K. M. Munshi Marg,
Chowpatty, Mumbai 400 007.
Phone: 022-23631261

Advertise With Us

We have various options for advertising in Bhavan's Journal.

Rate Card →


Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
Munshi Sadan, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Chowk,
Kulapati K. M. Munshi Marg,
Mumbai 400 007.

Locate Us

Contact Us

Tel. Nos.:(022) 23631261
(022) 23630265
(022) 23634462 / 63/ 64

Copyright © All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Terms and Conditions | Sitemap |