Lahore, Friday, October 14, 1921

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

IN one respect, the Working Committee of the Indian National Congress has belied the fears of its friends and the hopes of its enemies. It has not sanctioned a general movement of civil disobedience. Such a movement at the present time would, in the opinion of most competent judges, have been prejudicial to the best interest of the country, not only because it would have been premature, but because the assurance of a non-violent atmosphere being retained, which Mahatma Gandhi has insisted upon as being a condition precedent to the starting of such a movement. It is the consciousness of this that is responsible for the resolution recorded by the Committee on this subject. “The Working Committee considers,” says the resolution, “that it is not possible to authorise any plan of general civil disobedience in any Congress district or province, where the effective boycott of foreign cloth has not been brought about and hand-spinning and hand-weaving have not developed so as to produce sufficient khaddar for the wants of the district or the province. The Committee, however, authorises civil disobedience by individuals who may be prevented in the prosecution of the Swadeshi propaganda, provided that it is done under the authority of the Provincial Congress Committee and the Provincial Congress Committee is assured of a non-violent atmosphere being retained.” So great is the responsibility which the Working Committee throws upon the Provincial Congress Committee in the second part of its resolution, that it will be no matter for surprise if most of the Provincial Committees will deliberately refuse to accept this responsibility in any individual case, no matter how clear or strong. The resolution is permissive, somewhat like the Elementary Education Acts in the several Provinces, with the difference that the chances of it being applied are even fewer.

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