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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Calcutta, April 10th, 1907

Part Three. Bande Mataram under the Editorship of of Sri Aurobindo (24 October 1906 27 May 1907)

A Last Word

We publish in another column a letter from Srijut Kamini Kumar Chanda on the incidents of the Berhampur Conference, which is the last communication on the subject we shall allow in our columns. We quite agree that it would have been better if this unfortunate wrangle could have been avoided. Since, however, the veracity of our reporter had been impugned, we were bound to give him full opportunity of defending himself in his own fashion. We think his veracity has been vindicated by all impartial witnesses and our own inquiries have led us to the conclusion that the report was substantially correct in all important particulars and there is no point on which his statements have been disproved. Differences of impression on minor points will always exist among different observers of the same incident. Some, for instance, think that Mr. A. Chaudhuri raised his point about New India before the meeting was formally dissolved; others think it was after. The point is immaterial; the real question is – was Mr. Chaudhuri justified in raising the matter at all on such an occasion? We do not associate ourselves with the strong epithets which our reporter in his self-justification has applied to such incidents trifling as they were. Mr. Chaudhuri’s action, for instance, was out of place; that is all. We see nothing to object to in his original report, which was an ordinary account, half-picturesque, half-humorous such as would be taken for granted in the Press of any other country.

Srijut Kamini Kumar takes us to task for quarrelling over such trifling personalities when there are such great questions to be fought out. We beg to point out that we have not quarrelled over them, but have simply given room for our reporter to vindicate his truthfulness as prominently as it had been impugned. So much protection every journal owes to its employees, so long as it is convinced of their bona fides. As to the good or bad taste shown in publishing these details that is a matter of opinion. Such accounts are published as a matter of course in the journals of every country where politics are a real part of life and an universal subject of interest; but in this country our public men are unused to criticism and as thin-skinned as women. We do not think their delicate and refined sensitiveness is a plant whose growth we have any call to encourage.

The question of the secrecy of the Subjects Committee proceedings is another matter altogether. This secrecy is never observed in practice; on the contrary, in the absence of free and healthy publicity, partial and altogether misleading reports are circulated which delude public opinion. If secrecy is to be observed, it must be done wholly and completely, by the mouth as well as by the pen. Even so, we should not have cared to break the pseudo-secrecy of these sittings if they had not been made the field for unconstitutional proceedings of every sort. In the twilight of the Subjects Committee every kind of breach of rule and irregularity and all sorts of tactics are employed to get a party advantage; and then in the public function the results are decorously passed in the full light of day as the unanimous opinion of the Congress or Conference. If we keep silence on these expedients which is what the caucus managers desire, they will continue to flourish unchecked; for it is only by exposure that abuses can be killed. We do not believe in shrouding discussions on public matters in secrecy; but if the constitutional practice of public bodies is strictly observed in these sittings, and free public discussion is allowed on matters of great importance in open Congress, then the secrecy of the Subjects Committee may become a fact and not a convenient fiction; but not till then. But in our view the simple expedient is to throw open the Subjects Committee proceedings to public view and all irregularities and personal outbreaks will receive a wholesome check.

 

This work was not included in SABCL, vol.1 and it was not compared with other editions.