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Co-operation

I am still thinking about a fragment of research I did and have decided to share it as is.

C. F. Andrews was a missionary whose friendship with Gandhi was such that he was among the few important personages to address him by his given name, Mohan. Andrews also attained the distinction of being dedicated several of Tagore’s books. These include Nationalism and Personality.

Andrews authored a number of books himself, among which is one entitled Non-cooperation (1920), which begins with a short missive defending the concept. It ends with a problem of receptivity towards words:

For if England insists on giving India what English politicians today are pleased to call ‘freedom’—in English politicians’ own way, at the English politicians’ own time, and at the English politicians’ own discretion,— then, all I can say is, that it is no freedom at all.

(Gandhi would call Andrews an Indian at heart, which Ashis Nandy would go on to interpret: “When Gandhi described him as an Indian at heart and a true Englishman, it remained unstated that it was by being a true Englishman that Andrews became an Indian.”)

Tagore had an answer of his own to Andrews’ question in works predating Andrews’ book. The first is a 1908 essay: “East and West in Greater India”. He suggests meeting the outsider on equal terms:

No cleverness or violence can deliver [India] from the sufferings or insults of which the Englishman is but the instrument. Only when she can meet him as his equal, will all reason for antagonism, with it all conflict, disappear. Then will East and West unite in India, country with country, race with race, knowledge with knowledge, endeavour with endeavour. Then will the History of India come to an end, merged in the History of the World which will begin.’

Similarly, Tagore’s book Nationalism, dedicated to Andrews and predating his book by three years, essentially views the category of nation as a mistake insofar as it is divisive. If this becomes the case, he puts emphasis on individuals and on the peaceful, creative, collaborative potential in human nature.

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