For Global Peace with Social Justice in a Sustainable Environment
Our population is increases day to day. For accommodations of them and set up industries, we are covering more land. So the agriculture lands are decreases day to day. So we will be suffering by the food crisis. We are suffered by famine every year. In time of Mahatma Gandhi people suffered food crisis. He gave some solutions to us. April 19, 1947 he gave a solution to ministers of Bihar that their personal lives should be models of simplicity. They should perform body-labour for at least an hour daily either in the form of spinning or growing food or vegetables to help the country to make good the food shortage. On October 10, 1947 he said that now we have before us a grave problem about which I have talked enough. We are facing food shortage and that creates a lot of trouble. We have won our independence no doubt, but with the coming of independence our troubles seem to have multiplied. I feel that if we can digest true independence we should not be faced with such troubles. How should truly free people behave? Ours is such a remarkable freedom that to win it we did not have to fight like soldiers. We did have a fight of some kind, but it was a fight which the whole world admires. When we have won our independence through such a struggle it must mean a great deal to us. But we do not value it so Much. That is our weakness. I have made a very simple, practical suggestion about not importing food grain. But I find that people are shocked by such a practical suggestion. Why? They say they are accustomed to importing grain. True, we have got into that habit. But it is not a very old habit of many years. It cannot be said that it is our habit to eat only when somebody feeds us. It is impracticable that we should go on issuing permits for whatever quantity of food grain can be provided. But my suggestion is absolutely practical. And what is there to be upset about it? India is vast country inhabited by hundreds of thousands of people. We have got sufficient land, and by the grace of God, sufficient water. I know there are certain desert areas in the country where water is not available. But it cannot be said that water is not available anywhere in India. When we have so much water, land and a population of millions why should we be afraid. All I want to say is that people should realize that they have got to produce food grain by their own labour to satisfy their hunger. That would electrify the atmosphere and that zeal alone would solve half the problem. It is said, and rightly, that people die more through fear of death than by real death. There was a man who started thinking that he was going to die very soon. Why talk of some other man—take my own example. If I started thinking that I was going to die because I had a cough, what would happen? I shall die only when my time is up. That is in the hands of God. But if I start worrying about it right from now imagining myself on the point of death, it is dying without actual death. And being in such panic about death daily I would be creating trouble for people around me as well as for myself, and would be squeezing myself out day after day. I would be always lamenting about the approaching death. The better thing would be to take it easy till the moment of death and convince ourselves that there is no one who can kill us except God. He will take us away whenever it pleases Him. If we give up the fear of death our problems will also leave us, and we will be free of our troubles. I tell you, when we do this we shall not be troubled. Nobody should think of getting food through anybody’s favour. Instead we should produce our food by our own labour. That is why I say that we should not die except by natural death. Let us give up this business of issuing permits and rationing which is the method of killing unnaturally. This much with regard to the food problem. On February 16, 1946 he told to convenors of Nayee Talim must react to the present situation by converting itself into an instrument for increasing our food supply and teaching people how to meet the danger of food shortage. If the students under Nayee Talim can produce even a part of their food requirement, they will to that extent release food for others, besides teaching them self-help by their personal example. On February 18, 1946 he told in a prayer meeting in Bombay that lofty Himalayas with its everlasting snows where, they say, dwells the Lord of the Universe. It has mighty rivers like the Ganges. But owing to our neglect and folly, the year’s rains are allowed to run down into the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. If all this water was trapped and harnessed to irrigational purposes by the construction of dams and tanks, there should be no famine or food shortage in India. In regard to the food shortage, I admit that Government alone has adequate resources to cope with it. But even so we need not apathetically resign ourselves to fate, fixing our gaze at the skies for the rains to come. There is an inexhaustible reservoir of water in the bowels of the earth. It should be tapped, even though we may have to dig two thousand feet deep for it, and used for growing food. We may not blame fate before we have exhausted all available means for combating a threatening calamity. Today there is a lot of wastage in food going on in big cities like Bombay in the form of feasts and ceremonies. It is the sacred duty of every man, woman and child to conserve every grain of food and every drop of oil and ghee in this crisis. One should eat no more than necessary to keep the body in health and fitness when millions are faced with the prospect of death through starvation. The foodstuffs thus saved can be distributed among the needy poor—not as alms but as remuneration for honest labour.