of body and troubled in mind, I sought escape from my
surroundings, and journeyed to Kulu, in the inner valleys
of the Himalayas."
I heard, Indra reading aloud!
"Indra! Is it how you are viewing this holiday?"
I asked, a bit worried. For, Indra was having a place,
in what is being termed as the 'ginger group' and I
did not like her describing my stay at Kulu, in that
way. Such an interpretation was most annoying.
"Papa! I am but reading the 'Discovery of India'
aloud! It is there that you have written that way,"
explained Indra. She was right —it is there, my own
What a coincidence — a curious one!
When war broke out, and there was a sort of crisis in
conscience, I went to Kulu! And now, I am here!!
I do not really understand why this place is called
the Valley of the gods. It is 'Man' —if you would excuse
me for using a capital 'M' —it is 'Man' who needs such
a beauty spot, not God! Man needs such ennobling influence
from time to time — especially men like poor me, burdened
with too many responsibilities, generating so much of
Be it called the valley of the Gods or of Man, this
is really a wonderful place. You might have noted, that
I did not add, 'to live in' —yes! One cannot always
find pleasure in looking at snow-capped mountains and
fresh blossoms! They are delightful to look at, but
not for all time. Sometimes the smoke from the chimney
is delightful to look at, for it is from out of the
abundance of that smoke, we get the needs of the modern
age fulfilled. Ah! Modern Age!! How I wish I could be
clear, and definite on this point. I am immensely pleased
with the Modern Age — but that does not mean, I do not
attach any importance to the past. The past was hoary—but
past is past—we are now moving fast —too fast, some
say — but I do not find the speed terrific. But there
is this much to be said about the Modern Age — there
is a sort of hurry-burry about it. And when one finds
himself tormented by such a 'hurry-burry,' he feels
that he should retire for some short period at least,
to gaze at the majesty of nature, inhale the sweet fragrance,
hear the refreshing motes of the birds!
Such a salubrious climate, drives off all sort of drowsiness,
and the more one inhales the sweetness here, the stronger
he becomes, physically, mentally. On viewing the grandeur
of Nature, 'Man' is reminded of the smallness of his
own stature! And yet, he is also reminded of the great,
grand achievements to his credit. Having been thwarted
almost — though not completely — in my attempts at inoculating
a new spirit in the minds of those responsible for the
governance of this vast country of ours, I have chosen
this place for calm, cool, and detailed introspection.
And I am told, that it was at this very place, that
Manu the Law-giver spent his time, formulating his schemes.
Indra reminds me, of my views, about Manu. In my 'Discovery
of India', says Indra, I have written thus,
"The legal position of women, according to Manu,
the earliest exponent of the law was definitely bad.
They were always dependent on somebody—on the father,
the husband or the son. They were treated in law, almost
Manu gave a scheme for society, which is today condemned!
Many interpretations could be —and actually are being
given—to the caste system. In fact, I have given some
very interesting interpretations. But when all is said
and done, this caste system has been a sort of canker,
eating into the very vitals of our body-politic. What
an ingeneous, and immoral method—this caste system!
And yet, one has to call Manu as a Maharishi! I have
some strong words written about and against this caste
system, though I cannot say how much influence it has
exerted on the minds of the people. There is a sort
of general opposition to the caste system. But it has
not yet lost its hold. In fact, one of the disturbing
features in the Congress camp is this casteism! Even
some of my colleagues are not free from it. For, did
not Dhebar—liberal-minded that he is —declare at Madras
meeting that he hails from the Brahmin community? I
do not know why he made that declaration. He was touring
Tamil Nad, to inculcate a spirit of liberalism—and yet
he is tempted to talk in terms of caste. This baneful
system should be annihilated. Yes! The sooner the better!!
'But, how?' —Is the problem. In fact, when I speak against
casteism, I find some of my colleagues smiling —and
there is a sort of sarcasm! Probably they are challenging.
'Dare you destroy such an ancient system?'—they seem
to interrogate. Not that anyone of them is defending
that system. They are even louder on their condemnation—but
when the practical question of how best to annihilate
the caste system is take up, these same men come forward,
with very curious arguments.
"In the context of society today the caste system
and much that goes with it are wholly incompatible,
reactionary, restrictive, and barriers to progress.
There can be no equality in status and opportunity within
its framework nor can there be political democracy and
much less economic democracy."
These are strong words—written in all sincerity.
And these words would have inspired millions of young
men and women—for my 'Discovery of India' has run to
many editions. And yet, what has been the result? Having
written so very convincingly about this pernicious system,
what are the measures taken, for annihilating it? Just
nothing! I am sorry, and a bit ashamed also. Why is
it, I have been keeping mum over this? Is it fear or
a sense of vacillation? I don't know. Perhaps, I thought
that, to mention about the pernicious nature of the
caste system, is enough! But how grievous has been the
error! No Congress committee today is free from this
canker. And the most shocking aspect of this problem
is this; one does not know who the culprit is and who
The other day, an M.P. from Madras State, was passing
some sneering remarks about the Kamaraj Ministry. He
was of course wrong in accusing Kamaraj of being caste-ridden!
No! Kamarj can never be like that. But there seems to
be some weight in that M.P.'s argument. He began a regular
analysis of the composition of the Madras Cabinet, to
prove, that Kamaraj, has carefully given a place to
every vocal community, in his cabinet.
"Mr. Ramayya," says that M.P. "hails
from the Kalla Community and Mr. Kakkan from the Pallar
Community, Mr. Manickavel from the Padayachi Community!"
I argued naturally that, that may be a mere coincidence.
But that adamant advocate swears that, that is not a
coincidence! 'It is' says he, 'it is a contrivance,
a cunning device!! 'And on that account, the Kamaraj
Ministry' claims the complainant, 'is growing unpopular
day by day.' But the reports I get from the Kamaraj
Cabinet, is quite the contrary. I do not know why, those
Congressmen who were noted for their nobility are today
presenting arguments that are born either out of peevishness
There was another M.P., who had the audacity to tell
me, another outrageous news! It can't be called strictly
news —for, much of it was his own views—prejudice, I
Mr. Morarji, is an honoured colleague of mine—and his
entry in the Central Cabinet, has been hailed by many.
But this M.P. says, to my face, that Morarji Bhai is
secretly working for my downfall! "What rot!"
I thundered forth, but undaunted, that Member of Parliament
takes me into his confidence and says, "Panditji!
Morarji is planning to tour the Big Countries—and he
hopes to get a pat from Uncle Sam, a hug from Nikita,
and he hopes to get a pat from MacMillan! And armed
with such international influence, he is going to 'replace'
you!!" What nonsensical thought! And yet with what
vehemence he puts forward such arguments!
One may—and should — brush aside such fancies! But the
other fact remains true! There is casteism! And it is
not confined to the rank and file. In fact the rank
and file seems to be not profited by this casteism in
as rich a manner as the 'bosses'.
This should be put an end to. Else none could stop the
dis-integration. Casteism should go!
"None disputes" argue my friends in the cabinet.
But yet, they go on nourishing the system, by offering
various interpretations. I should be more emphatic on
this point—at least hereafter. As a matter of fact,
I myself gave various interpretations about this caste
system in the early chapters of the Discovery of India,
but when I came to the concluding part, I had to be
emphatic, definite, and even harsh. This is what I wrote:—
"Caste is the symbol and embodiment of this exclusiveness
among the Hindus. It is sometimes said that the basic
idea of caste might remain, but its subsequent harmful
development and ramifications should go; that it should
not depend on birth but on merit. This approach is irrelevant
and merely confuses the issue.
"Caste has in the past not only led to the suppression
of certain groups but to a separation of theoretical
and scholastic learning from craftsmanship and a divorce
of philosophy from actual life and its problems. It
was an aristocratic approach based on traditionalism.
This outlook has to change completely, for it is wholly
opposed to Modern conditions and the democratic ideal."
Well, I have demanded through my 'Discovery' a radical
and complete change! But what is it I find today! Caste
is not annihilated—and casteism is found in the Congress
camp itself. And who is to be blamed for the shockingly
sorrowful state of affairs? Me? To some extent. To a
great extent! I cannot escape from that responsibility.
The trust millions and millions of my countrymen have
placed in me, is a sacred one. Have I been true to that
ideal? What efforts did I take to change that outlook?
I am not happy, when I brood over that aspect of the
problem. I have been far too much immersed in my global
tours, my plans, and my atomic research centres, little
realising that I, by my inaction, hesitation and vacillation,
have allowed this caste system to pollute the purity
in public life itself. In fact, there is much truth
in the argument, that after the advent of freedom, the
influence of caste has increased to an alarming proportion.
As a matter of fact, some of the M.Ps. who met me, convinced
me about this. They produced unassailable evidence—from
the election list! Most of the selection of the Congress
candidates was based on considerations of caste. Sickening!
Indeed sickening!! But, those lists, though prepared
at State Levels, came up for scrutiny before me, and
there is my seal of approval. How is it, that at that
time, I did not probe into the matter? Possibly I was,
as a Congressman much more interested in the problem
of winning the elections, rather than safeguarding an
ideal. That was a grave mistake—and that has landed
me and the organisation in difficulties, even dangers.
And despite this 'mercenary method', I find today, defeat
dogging the foot-steps of the Congress. Even the Kulu
Valley becomes hot when I think about Deviculam.
What a Royal welcome they gave me at Kerala, and yet
what a bitter lesson!! From Orissa comes, disgusting
news! Rajasthan is no better. And I have to hang down
my head in sorrow, at what has happened at the Tata's!
Of what use is this holiday—at the valley of the gods,
if every day I get disturbing news!
Weary of body and troubled in mind!
Kulu has not given me, the much-needed comfort. Sure!
The orchards and the flower gardens, the mountain path,
the merry salutations of these innocent folks here,
are sweet! And yet, the thought is tormenting!
"Daddy! There is already a rosy tinge on your cheeks"
—comforts Indra! Dutiful!! Wants to offer me delights!
Rosy indeed! Dear daughter! You know not that even Kulu
has got its own limitation. To a troubled mind Kulu
offers no panacea. I can get it only at Delhi—right
from my desk. It is through work—planned work—that I
can solve the riddles —not by merely trolling here.
Kulu is the "Valley of the Gods' — true!! Gods
allow men to grope in the darkness, take faulty steps,
sin and get lost. Papa is not a God! He is human in
the fullest sense of the term. And he is responsible
for the destiny of millions of his countrymen. He can't,
like the Gods, shift everything on to 'Karma'!! Let
the Gods saunter in leisure here—we will have to go
back—to work—to Delhi!
Do not think that I am carried away by what an impudent
'informer' told me about Morarji Bhai! No! I do not
attach any importance at all to such rumours. But oppressing
thought torment me — and the chirping of the birds,
offer but temporary solace! I should tell my daughter
— but should I? Unfortunately, Indra Gandhi has thought
it fit to join the ginger group—so I should not lay
bare my innermost thoughts even before Indra. So let
me tell Indra, how healthy and happy I feel, how refreshing
this holiday is, and how wonderful the bounties of nature
are. Here is a feast for the eyes—nay for the souls,
I should say! And yet, how depressing, how desolate