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Gandhi’s Response to Direct Violence

  • Categories
    Yojana/Kurukshetra
  • Published
    28th Dec, 2019
  • The underlying principal of Gandhi's non-violence is advaita. Thus, Gandhi does not see any separation between the self and other. 
  • He noted in Hind swaraj that 'sacrifice of self is infinitely superior to sacrifice of others'.
  • In Gandhi's paradigm, both self and the others are tied to a relationship of responsibility. Gandhi also argues why violence as a contemporary means to settle issues should be avoided.
  • First, he observes that violence does not accept the 'essential dignity' and worth of the individual. Second, violence recognizes no boundaries and finally become self-justificatory in itself.
  • The reason is that violence claims to possess the truth about right and wrong and on this basis, it also decides who should be punished and who spared.
  • Third, when violence becomes habitual and institutionalized, it becomes a general means/method to settle the issue of any kind of conflicts in society. It must be recalled, for Gandhi, non-violence is not confined only to a personal virtue or individual behaviour.
  • He considered non- violence as 'law of our being' that must be applied in all social relation: familial, political, economic, and educational. To contemporary violence inflicted society, his message is very clear - apply nonviolence in all possible fields of human relation.

Gandhi's Response to structural Violence

  • The problem of violence may be viewed in term of concentration of power, large scale industrialization, and exploitation of one group by another. These have been termed as structural violence.
  • Here, Gandhi's idea of aparigraha (non-possession) and its institutionalized form 'trusteeship', as well as the need for self-control, are useful today.
  • Gandhi held the view that the modern crisis can be overcome only by making our institution more in the line of law of non –violence.
  • He advocated the decentralized mode of polity (Panchayati Raj) and economy (Gram swaraj) to minimize the structural violence in the society .
  • For such social and political task, Gandhi invites people to take up moral leadership at different levels. In response to the contemporary problem of social –political injustice or the economic inequality, Gandhi proposes a nonviolent mode of protest what he termed as Satyagraha.  
  • To modern society where ethnic or political conflict has become common, his satyagrah offers a method of nonviolent, creative conflict transformation that results in reconciliation and removal of bitterness between or among the conflicting parties.
  • On the issue of state and individual, which is a central challenge to modern polity, Gandhi regarded individual as the centre of authority and value.
  • According to him, the State and Government derive their existence and power from the individuals.
  • Thus, when the state begins to exploit the people and impede their progress, it is the holy duty of the people to withdraw their cooperation from the state and reform the state by moral force.

Gandhi's Response to Cultural Violence

  • Multi-dimensionality of violence signifies psychological, linguistic and socio- political and economic violence indirectly inflicted on a particular community in the society which is not overt but hidden in the very structure and mechanism of the society.
  • Such violence often gets vent when cultural, political or religious war (as in the case of terrorism) takes places.
  • Our normal worldview is violent in nature and we are socialized and educated in such a way that we never grasp how violently we relate to ourselves, to others, and to nature.
  • Gandhi challenges such violent normal view and its normative design and emphasises on nonviolent world view. He argues that we need to analyze our existing worldview portrayed as normal which is in fact, violent from within.
  • To develop a nonviolent worldview, he emphasizes on a new kind of socialization through Swadeshi and a new type of education through Nai Talim in the society.
  • The violence against nature, known as the environmental crisis, is serious contemporary challenges before us. Rather than looking the nature separate from the human being, Gandhi submitted that we should feel a more living bond between ourselves and the rest of the animate world.
  • Gandhi's idea of non –violence attempts to eradicate the root cause of the present ecological crisis by proposing the idea similar to a notion recently termed as 'human ecology’ which is concerned with the ecological implications of all what human beings do.
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