London, South Kensington
9 July 2002
GANDHI, Mohandas K. (1869-1948). Autograph manuscript signed ('MK Gandhi'), n.p., 11 January 1948, a draft of an article, 'Urdu Harijan', with a number of emendations and cancellations, 7 pages, 8vo (numbered in autograph), on versos of paper bearing a typed memorandum addressed to Gandhi on the subject of food distrubition (staple tears to upper left corners).
19 DAYS BEFORE HIS ASSASSINATION, GANDHI DISCUSSES THE URDU SCRIPT, AND HINDU TREATMENT OF MUSLIMS IN NEWLY-INDEPENDENT INDIA. Gandhi announces his regret at having to discontinue the publication of his mouthpiece, Harijan, in the Urdu script, though he sees it as inevitable because of the dwindling demand: 'The dwindle was to me a sign of resentment against its publication ... My view remains unalterable especially at this critical juncture in our history. It is wrong to ruffle Muslim or any other person's feeling when there is no question of ethics'; Gandhi urges the advantages of learning Urdu script: 'The limitations of this script in terms of perfection are many. But for elegance and grace it will equal any script in the world'; he considers the potential of Urdu for shorthand, and for the transcription of Sanskrit verses; any suggestion of a boycott on Urdu script is a 'wanton affront upon the Muslims of the Union who in the eyes of many Hindus have become aliens in their own land. This is copying the bad manners of Pakistan with a vengeance'. The address ends with a ringing call to 'Muslim friends' not only to support the Urdu edition but to learn the Nagari script and thus 'enrich their intellectual capital'.
Gandhi founded his mouthpiece publication, Harijan, in 1933, originally in order to deal with the Untouchable question. The present article was written for the journal during the period of intercommunal tension which followed immediately upon the independence and partition of India: the following day Gandhi announced his last fast, in protest against communal violence. On 30 January he was assassinated by a Hindu extremist whilst on his way to evening prayers.
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