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I Meet Margaret Sanger
7th January 1947
Katherine Mayo’s book was, I am ashamed to confess, was my first introduction to India. I was so shocked on reading it that I wanted to visit India as well as startled about visiting India. That book later I found to be full of half truths and all the statistics she gave was so bad that I wonder where she got them from. Perhaps the British gave them to her.
In fact her book kept me away from India for a long time though from the point of view of my work I wanted to visit India very badly.
Nehru is like Hu Shih. Nehru is perhaps the greatest leader Asia has today.
To me India and her people are the kindest and gentlest people I have ever seen.
I visited India in 1936 and 1939.
I attended the All-India Women's Conference and realized that Indian women were brilliant. There are some women whom no women in any part of the world who can excel. The Indian Women Conference is better than the American league of Women Voters or the American Association of University Women or for that any other womens organization in any part of the world. Unlike women in some parts of the world I found the Indian women most honest and sincere. They had no preconceived notions or any inhibitions. They had courage and forthright honesty.
At the Conference three Catholic European women missionaries in India wanted to walk out of the conference. Her Highness the Maharani of Travancore was upset but the Birth Control Resolution was passed and the Catholic women who never married and never understood walked out.
Muriel Lester close to Gandhi was opposed to Birth Control just because Gandhi was opposed to it.
Met Gandhi at Wardha. Went for walks with him early morning at punctually 6 a.m. We did not discuss Birth Control at these walks because we did not have a secretary and Gandhi wanted every word to be taken down when they discussed Birth Control so that there may not be understanding and misquotation.
When I first met him I was surprised how homely he was but after an hour when we began to talk about various things I realized what an illuminated soul he was-- something you might call spiritualism he has.
Sir Vepa Ramesam’s meeting in Madras and how he conducted the meeting. India’s population problem and the way out. No one knows the Indian people like the Indian leaders and advice and introduction on this question has to come from accredited and popular Indian leaders.
I wish Indian leaders would stimulate Indian scientists in the labs to work out and perfect a simple contraceptive device that the Indian women can use easily. Indian women’s economic standards cannot let them go to clinics or doctors and use expensive imported contraceptives. If India can do this for her women she will be not only helping herself but the whole world. There are no new methods apart from what we had in 1916--the pessary. There is nothing dramatically new that we can use even for our own American women beyond the and below the medical fee line.
Wanted biomedical research.
I do know that some Indian women can stand on a par with some of the ablest statesmen of the world.
I send my regards to Gandhi. I cannot forget my memorable visit at Wardha, I am just hoping that he has changed his mind. India like all other countries to advance the finest in her cannot be bogged down by poverty and to be anchored by the masses who can contribute to the general advancement but use up the resources of their generation. Every nation has the same anchorages and the way out is to stop perpetually their own misery and the ignorance of the numbers.
I also think that India is one of the great nations of the future. Even when she becomes industrialized and powerful I hope she can hold to those ancient qualities of gentleness and kindness that I saw all over India during my travels.
I met Nehru in London in 1936. He was very friendly and cooperative. he is one of the great minds of the modern world. He and Hu Shih will leave their mark over and beyond the war generals who are so much in the news these days. What Nehru says and does will I think live in the minds of men for a long time. I think he represents the total negation of what Kipling sang about. he is perhaps one of the few great minds who understands both the East and the West.
Russia devised the method of injecting the woman once every six months and rendering them temporarily sterile. Didn’t really work out though. I was told in Russia it was working with Russian women at that time. I brought the formula but it failed.
Shall be glad to donate some money if some Indian biochemist would like to pursue research in evolving a simple foolproof and indigenous contraceptive for Indian women.
Birth Control Federation 17 West 16th Street, New York City
Mrs. Margaret Sanger Slee
2318 East Elm Street
Tucson, Arizona, USA