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Mahatma Gandhi on Gambling

A friend has been persistently asking me to draw public attention to the species of gambling prevalent in Bombay among the so-called high class people. Whilst I have been heart and soul with the friend in deploring the evil, I have not had the courage to write about it, I felt that whatever I said would be a waste, as I had no hope of following up my writing by some organized constructive effort to combat the evil. Whilst I was thus debating as to writing on the evil, I had to go to Borsad in answer to the Sardar’s summons. There in Borsad the Sardar and his volunteers poured into my ears harrowing tales of the havoc that gambling was working in the villages of Gujarat. It is spreading like grass fire of a windy night. Everyone is in a hurry to be rich without working. ‘Somebody will have made the correct guess as to the ruling prize for the day of some commodity. Why not I?’ argues the gambler and  rushes his ruin. Peace is being destroyed in the once happy homes of Gujarat. There is no doubt that whatever one calls it, this gambling is as old as Adam, and that though the form and the name many have changed, the substance has not changed at all. The law must be against this gambling. But it is of no avail if public opinion is not behind it. It is therefore necessary for workers to bestir themselves as they for during the plague or as they have done for the earthquake relief. They must not be satisfied till the evil is rooted out. In a way, it is worse than the plague or the quake. For it destroys the soul within. A person without the soul is a burden upon the earth. No doubt war against gambling is not so simple as war against plague or earthquake relief. They must not be satisfied till the evil is rooted out. In a way, it is worse than the plague or earth quake distress. In the latter there is more or less cooperation from the sufferers. In the former the suffers invite and hug their sufferings. To wean the gambler from his vice is like weaning the drunkard from the drink habit. This war against ‘gambling is therefore an uphill task. But it must be tackled, if the evil is not dealt with in time. It is bad enough in Bombay. Its inroad upon the villages is a danger signal which no lover of the country can dare ignore. (Harijan. 15/6/1935)

….The Congress programme being one of self-purification, as is stated in so many words in the resolution of 1920, the Congress can have nothing to do with income derived from any vice. The Ministers, will, therefore, use the authority that they have obtained for educating public opinion in the right direction and for stopping gambling in high quarters. It is useless to hope that the unwary public will not copy the bad manners of the so called high-placed people.….(Harijan. 4/9/1937)