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CWMG Controversy

CWMG Controversy

On this page as well as in issue no. 7 of our newsletter we encouraged you to raise your voice against the further distribution of the revised edition of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi as this edition carries a number of errors and omissions. Protest letters sent by you and several other students and scholars of Gandhian thoughts, activists and institutions, lead to an immediate stop of the sale of the current version. We're extremely glad that - thanks to the protest of many concerned people and organisations from allover - the Indian Government set up a committee of experts, and follows its advice to reprint the original version. The GandhiServe Foundation says THANK YOU for your contributions!

>>> Read the   Report of the Advisory Committee of CWMG (doc)

This email we received on June 21, 2005 from the Friends of CWMG:

Dear Friends,

The Government Of India has taken a decision to withdraw the revised edition and the CD-Rom of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. This was announced by the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shri Jaipal Reddy. We do not have yet have the precise nature of the order issued by the Government.

This is a culmination of a long campaign, coordinated by the Friends of The CWMG, in which all of you participated.

The Government of India, after a series of representations to the President of India, The Prime Minister, The Minister of Information and Broadcasting and the Chairperson of the UPA formed a committee to examine the issue and advice it about the possible course of action. This committee was chaired by Shri Narayan Desai, with Shri B.R. Nanda, Shri E.S. Reddy, Shri Anupam Mishra, Shri J.P. Unial as members and Shri P.K. Tripathi as the Member-Secretary.

Some of us met the Committee and made depositions before it during its first meeting at the Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, in May 2005 and subsequently at New Delhi in June 2005. The Government's decision to withdraw the revised edition of the CWMG is based on the recommendation of the Committee.

We are extremely glad that we have succeeded in our mission. This would not have been possible without the support, the suggestions and efforts of many individuals and organisations that came forward to preserve and protect the sanctity of the CWMG. We, on behalf of the CWMG, express our heartfelt gratitude.

We thank you all once again.

Chunibhai Vaidya, Amrit Modi, Jayant Pandya and Tridip Suhrud on behalf of the Friends of CWMG

Read more about the decision:     Article by E.S. Reddy (doc)     Sify News, May 4, 2005


The History of the Controversy:

We received the following email on October 26, 2004:

Original Message -----
From: Tridip Suhrud []
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2004 11:48 AM
Subject: Deletions and Revisions in the Revised Edition of the CWMG

Dear Friend,

We seek your time and patience for this rather long e mail. Kindly bear with us.

I on behalf of a group of independent scholars would like to bring to your notice the Deletions and Omissions in the Revised Edition (2001) of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (CWMG).

The CWMG was commissioned in February 1956. The control and direction of the series was vested in the Advisory Board, the original members of which were Shri Morarji Desai (Chairman), Kakasaheb Kalelkar, Devdas Gandhi, Pyarelal Nayar, Maganbhai P Desai, G Ramachandran, Shriman Narain, Jivanji P Desai and Shri P M Lad.

Following were the members of the Advisory Board as reconstituted in 1967. Shri Morarji Desai (Chairman), Kakasaheb Kalelkar, R R Diwakar, Pyarelal Nayar, Maganbhai P Desai, Ramdhari Sinha "Dinkar", Shri Shantilal H Shah, the Director, Publications Division, and the Chief Editor.

Shri Bhartan Kumarappa was appointed the first Chief Editor, after his death till October 1959 Shri Jairamdas Doulatram worked as the Chief Editor after which Prof. K Swaminathan assumed the Chief Editorship from February 1960 till the completion of the project.He was assisted first by U R Rao and later by Prof. C N Patel who worked as the Deputy Editor (English).

After an extremely careful process of selection, verification and translation Vol. 1-90 were published. Vols. 91-97 were published as Supplementary Volumes while Volumes 98-100 were indices. The CWMG is recognised the world over as the standard reference work, largely due to the intellectual quality of the editorial precision that is evident.

The Last Volumes was published in 1994.

Subsequently, in 1998 decision was taken by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to not issue reprints of the CWMG as was the practice hitherto but to prepare a Revised Edition, perhaps with a view to RECAST and RESTRUCTURE the material and to bring Chronological sequence to the Supplementary Volumes.

It has not been possible for us to ascertain what the nature of the Consultative Process was or who were the members of the New Advisory Board. The Publisher's note to the revised edition does not mention who was the Chief Editor or who were the members of the Reconstituted Advisory Board were.

The outcome of this Revised Edition was a CD-ROM Version (the so called e book) and a new print edition.

The Following is the evidence of incompetent and insensitive Editorial work that has resulted in Omissions and Deletions.

The Original Edition (OE) carried a preface for each volume and also list of Acknowledgements and Sources for each volume.

The Revised Edition (RE) in the process of inserting material for sake of chronology lost sight of the Sources and Acknowledgements specific to each volume, hence a decision was taken to have a combined list of Acknowledgements and Sources common for all Volumes. These appear in each volume and occupy 42 pages. That is in 100 volumes 4200 pages are printed which have no segregation or intellectual merit.

The Original had worked out a system of indices of persons and subjects. There were 4000 major entries with 9000 subentries under the various major entries. The Revised edition has done away with the entire classificatory system and subentries and classifications have been dropped, making the entire index meaningless.

For example The entry on Action(s): has 16 subclasification, which bring out the philosophical aspects of Action, such as ; ahimsa in thought, and faith, and freedom from ego, and knowledge, and non-action, and predestination, and rebirth...selfless, and without attachment. The Revised entry had no classification whatsoever, rendering it useless. Same has happened to large numbers of entries like Transvaal, Rajkot, The Gita.

There have also been deletions from the indices itself. The Original had 324 entries under Bhave,Vinoba. The revised edition has only 175 entries which is spread over two widely separated sections in the index of names. The first entry is on p. 43 of vol 100 while the next set of entries are on p. 349 of the same volumes. Why? Because for the editors Bhave, (Acharya) Vinoba and Vinoba Bhave are two separate individuals!

Let's take the example of Khan Abdul Gafar Khan. The original had 382 entries under that name. The new has lost distinction between Khan Abdul Gafar Khan and his elder brother Dr. Khan Sahib. The Combined entries under these two names in the Revised Edition are 115.

Similar is the case of Adajania, Sorabji, Shahpurji, a close associate of Gandhiji in South Africa. The Original has 173 entries while the revised has 26 entries, again the entries are dispersed.

While recasting and rearranging matter in the Revised edition some very thoughtless errors have been introduced. For example Vol. 74 of the Revised edition (ADDENDA). See page 462, 463. The letter to Herman Kallenbach is printed under the title Letter to Prabhudayal Vidyarthi. Letter to Prabhudayal Vidyarthi is printed under Letter to Mathurdas Trikamji, while letter to him is under Letter to Pyarelal and Letter to Pyarelal under Letter to Herman Kallenbach.

We have been able to identify so far over 500 instances of deletion or misinformation in the CD-Rom version and over 300 cases of deletion from the print version. For example 26 letters and documents of Gandhiji from the South African years are missing from the First Revised Edition. This also includes Gandhiji's DRAFT WILL AND TESTAMENT (dated June 19, 1909). There are many such instances.

This clearly is unacceptable to any serious student of Life and Thought of Mahatma Gandhi. This is also indicative of the callous and insensitive approach of the then I & B ministry and the Publications Division.
Our Plea is simple: There is no need whatsoever to issue a Revised Edition of the CWMG. The Government must ensure that the Revised Edition and the CD-Rom Version are withdrawn and the original CWMG is Re-printed. The GOI must also institute processes whereby no revisions are introduced in the CWMG in the future. If new material comes to light, the editors of the CWMG had introduced the practice of issuing Supplementary Volumes. The same practice should be followed.

We hope that you will study this issue and voice your concerns and join us in appealing to the authorities to re-instate the intellectual integrity of the CWMG.

Many Thanks

Tridip Suhrud on behalf of Friends of CWMG.

We can be contacted at the following numbers:

Tridip Suhrud: +91 98240 06160, email:
Dina Patel: +91 (0)79 26447812
Prof. Jayant Pandya: +91 (0)79 2791157

List of Missing Items (doc)       Comment by Tridip Suhrud, November 30, 2004


We strongly encourage everyone concerned about profound research and authentic material and information on Mahatma Gandhi to join the Friends of CWMG in their appeal!

GandhiServe Foundation

Media Coverage:

The Times of India Online, October 26, 2004      The Hindu, October 28, 2004      India Today, November 29, 2004 (pdf)

Economical and Political Weekly, November 20, 2004 (pdf)      


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