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Chapter 1: The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here

Now a man like Sri Aurobindo could have given insight, but that insight was not accepted - and it shows. In those forty years that have passed since freedom, India has become worse every day. It has no program; its population has doubled, more than doubled. Its poverty has doubled - the poverty grows according to the population. By the end of this century, India will be for the first time in the whole history of mankind, of millions of years, the most densely populated country. Up to now, China has been the first. So only one achievement seems to have come out of forty years of freedom: people have produced more and more children.

By the end of this century, just thirteen years away, India will have one billion people in the country. When it became free it had only four hundred million people. It seems that each year there is an increase of one million people - but no technology is growing, no science is growing, no new methods are being used. And this population growth goes on making the country poorer and poorer. India is living on loans from the rich countries like America, and that is a new kind of slavery, economic slavery.

The days of political slavery are past, because it was unnecessary.. It is a similar case: the days of slaves are past, and the days of servants have come in because the slave was a great responsibility to the slave owner. He had to take care of the slave’s health, he had to take care of his body, food, clothes, his medicine, because he was an investment. He has purchased the man, and if he dies his whole investment is gone.

Slavery disappeared not because slaves revolted against it; there is no instance of slaves revolting. Slavery died because the people who were enslaving other people found better ways - servants. You are not purchased; hence it is not an investment. If you die, you die; it is not a loss to the owner. He pays you, but he has no concern for your body, for your health, for your family. This was far better.

The same has happened in the world of freedom. The British Empire disappeared, all other empires have disappeared, because political slavery became costly, very costly. It was the responsibility of the rulers to feed people, at least.

The moment Britain saw that India is growing so fast in population that it will be impossible to feed the people, and the whole responsibility will be on the head of Britain, Atlee sent to Mountbatten an urgent message: “You finish the whole thing before 1948, and if you can do it earlier I will praise you. Whatever way has to be found, be quick, and let them be free. Because then the whole responsibility will be on their own heads. They cannot complain, ‘Britain is exploiting us; that’s why we are poor.’”

Now nobody is exploiting you, and your poverty has grown much greater than it has ever been under slavery.

Politicians can pretend to be religious if religion is attractive. Because they need attention their whole personality is false. It depends on how many people are following them; it depends on the number of people who are attentive to them. It is a politics of numbers.

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