We are the World
The Mahatma's words on oneness and communal harmony ring true even today.
I BELIEVE IN absolute oneness of God and, therefore, also of humanity. What though we have many bodies? We have but one soul. The rays of the sun are many through refraction. But they have the same source. I cannot therefore detach myself from the wickedest soul (nor may I be denied identity with the most virtuous). Whether, therefore, I will or not, I must involve in my experiment, the whole of my kind. Nor can I do without experiment. Life is but an endless series of experiments. Break through the crust of limitation and India becomes one family. If all limitations vanish, the whole world becomes one family, which it really is. Not to cross these bars is to become callous to all fine feelings, which make a man.
No Religious Divisions
If a free India is to live at peace with herself, religious division must entirely give place to political division based on considerations other than religious. Even as it is, though unfortunately religious differences loom large, most parties contain members drawn from various sects.
No Privileged Class
No privileges should be given to anyone in the new India. It is the poor and neglected and downtrodden and weak that should be our special care and attention. A Brahmana should not grudge if more money is spent on the uplift of the Harijans. At the same time, a Brahmana may not be done down simply because he is a Brahmana … It is the duty of every citizen to treat the lowliest on a par with the others.
Regard for Underprivileged
What should we do then? If we would see our dream of Panchayat Raj, that is true democracy realized, we would regard the humblest and lowest Indian as being equally the ruler of India with the tallest in the land. This presupposes that all are pure or will become pure if they are not. And purity must go hand in hand with wisdom. No one would then harbour any distinction between community and community, caste and outcaste. Everybody would regard all as equal with oneself and hold them together in the silken net of love. No one would regard another as untouchable. We would hold as equal the toiling labourer and the rich capitalist. Everybody would know how to earn an honest living by the sweat of one's brow and make no distinction between intellectual and physical labour. To hasten this consummation, we would voluntarily turn ourselves into scavengers. No one who has wisdom will ever touch opium, liquor or any intoxicants. Everybody would observe swadeshi as the rule of life and regard every woman, not being his wife, as his mother, sister or daughter according to her age, never lust after her in his heart. He will be ready to lay down his life when occasion demands it, never want to take another's life.
An excerpt from Gandhi and Communal Problems, a collection of Gandhiji's writings and speeches on communal harmony. The book was published by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai, and edited by reformist-writer Dr Asghar Ali Engineer.