India is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its independence. Stephen Haggard writes about the role of Mahatma Gandhi
Stephen Haggard, 3 September 1987
Every morning at dawn for most of his life Mahatma Gandhi would seat himself on the ground and write until lunchtime. His collected writings are a daunting prospect – even the 90-volume set published by the Government of India is incomplete. Gandhi wrote as a political propagandist, original and candid at all times, never insidious. As part of the campaigns he waged in both South Africa and India he founded, managed and edited a number of important journals about current issues, including Young India, Indian Opinion and Harijan. In their pages he would expound his principles, report on their practice, engage in debate with his critics, and publish his speeches and interviews. In addition to this, he conducted a voluminous private correspondence, writing as many as ten letters a day on subjects ranging from family news to philosophical problems. And once a week his daily verbal output was committed to paper: this was the day of silence that he had vowed to observe.