A hundred years ago | October 5, 1917 Archives

Mrs. Sarojini Naidu’s speech at Delhi.

Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, who has been paying a visit to Delhi yesterday [October 3] evening addressed an open air meeting held under the auspices of the Home Rule League in Queen’s Garden. There was a large attendance. Amongst others there were a few ladies present. Speaking about Home Rule Mrs. Naidu said that it was a term that caused much misunderstanding; yet in whatever sense it was taken it was a very simple creed. People said that educated Indians were agitating for something they did not understand. They were creating new phrases. The speaker said it was not a thing altogether foreign to their civilisation. It was as old as itself, the whole basis of their national history had been this, that they had always kept in their hands the secret of Home Rule. In agitating for Home Rule they were only asking for what was their hereditary right. In the days of the Mogul Kings the conquered Hindus were given power. Those who were to be chained became advisers and councillors. In the reign of Akbar, the Hindus were in all departments of administration. The result was not anarchy or misrule. There was not one instance of mistrust of power. Continuing, Mrs. Naidu said that politicians told them of certain details of reform. Certain things ought to be in their own hands. The Speaker said that they wanted progress for their men and women, franchise for educated and uneducated. They wanted moral and material progress for their people. They did not want to be judged by any generous concession. Speaking about education Mrs. Naidu said that the bane of the modern system of education was that it failed to make men and women of them. They lost what was best in them and could not acquire what was best in foreigners. The educational policy should be revised not to create only a system but to give people real culture which made character. Education must be given primarily in vernacular. Mrs. Naidu then came to the more important question of female education. Home was the unit of Home Rule and it was primarily necessary that women who ruled there should be educated. Mrs. Naidu then spoke about the necessity of Hindu-Muslim unity in all spheres of life. She concluded by saying that before they asked for franchise or power let them be united. Unity alone was the fundamental necessity for Swaraj.

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