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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. May 30, 1907

Common Sense in an Unexpected Quarter

It has given us quite a turn to find the following criticism of Mr. Morley's approaching “reforms” in the columns of India. “Tinkering with the Indian administrative machine will no longer avail. A thorough overhauling of its component parts has become imperative and unless the leaders of opinion in India are encouraged to play a part in the work of Government in a manner which is altogether denied to them today, the last state of India will be deplorably and ominously worse than the first.” Of course India is much behind the times in imagining that “encouragement” to the leaders of public opinion will meet the situation. The least that India now demands is the admission of the people of the country to the management of its own affairs. But it is at once surprising and gratifying to find that the organ of Palace Chambers has at last realised the necessity of a complete and revolutionary change in the whole system of administration. It quotes against Mr. Morley an admirable passage of his own writings in which this pregnant observation occurs. “A small and temporary improvement may really be the worst enemy of a great and permanent improvement unless the first is made on the line and in the direction of the second.” Precisely so. This is the main reason, even apart from their insufficiency, that any mere administrative reforms are looked on1 with suspicion by the Nationalist Party. The great and permanent improvement India demands is an entire change of the principles of Government in India, and a small and temporary improvement in details, leaving the principles untouched, would not be “on the line and in the direction” of the great improvement called for; it would be its worst enemy. Merely to temper absolute bureaucratic power by providing means for consulting the “leaders of public opinion” is a reform which would be the worst enemy of Indian self-government. We recommend this dictum of Mr. Morley, the philosopher, to Mr. Gokhale and other Moderates.


Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volumes 6-7.- Bande Mataram: Political Writings and Speeches. 18901908 .- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2002.- 1182 p.

1 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: upon