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The best of Bhavan's Journal: 1954 - 2003
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A National Clean-up
Rajmohan Gandhi
(Published in 1964 Annual Number)
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.


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