Gandhi - did he really promote non-violence?

By Nalinaksha 

Gandhi's Ahimsa was meant to defuse struggles by masses against the imperialists. Never once did Gandhi ask the state to be non-violent. All his sermons of non-violence were reserved for the exploited masses when their anger tended to coalescese into movements.

Once in the 1930s two platoons of Garhwal regiment were stationed in Peshawar. They were asked to fire upon unarmed demonstrators. They refused. They were court martialled. Gandhi SUPPORTED THE ACTION OF THE BRITISH GOVT. Let us also not forget that Gandhi actively recruited for British war effort during the First World War.

Gandhi was also the first one to introduce religion in India's body politic through a retrograde Khilafat movement. It is not taught in our history books that Jinnah was one of the persons who advised Gandhi against this. This is not to be taken as a defence for Jinnah who had his own agenda and who later used the same tool that the "Mahatma" had introduced-religion. Gandhi had a stranglehold on Congress and had the least amount of regards for following democratic conventions. Netaji Subhas Bose's departure from Congress was due to this stranglehold. Fifty years later we stiil see that the oldest political party in India, Congress, lacks inner party democracy and this was also a creation of Gandhi.

People who want more details on the aspects I have mentioned are requested to read:

1. India and the Raj - Suniti Kumar Ghosh
2. The sole spokesman - Ayesha Jalal
3. Partition of India-Legend and Reality - H.N.Seervai.

In particular, I would recommend  "India and the Raj" by Suniti Kumar Ghosh.

The thesis of the book is that Gandhi and other higher echelons of the Congress leadership (Nehru, Patel et al) were interested in getting a share of power for the comprador capitalists preferrably under the tutelage of the British Raj. Ghosh makes a distinction between Nationalist Capitalist and Comprador Capitalist. Nationalist capitalist were those fledgling industrialists who were trying to build up an industrial base through indigeneous R&D, while comprador capitalists were the rest of the big shots of Indian industry (the list includes Tata, Birla and so on), who were interested in collaborating with international and British capital and derive monopoly rent as gatekeepers. Ghosh analyses all of Gandhi's political movements and shows how Gandhi essentially spiked all the popular resistances and how all his movements were merely aimed at letting off steam and avoid dangerous revolts from building up. Ghosh also shows that Gandhi's talk of ahimsa was always made when people took up arms and never against the use of arbitrary force by the state. 

The book is incredibly detailed and very tightly argued. Suniti Kumar Ghosh was a Naxal and was the editor of Liberation-the Naxalite mouthpiece. Everytime I have talked about this book-the visceral reaction from the audience has been to dismiss the book merely because Suniti Ghosh was a Naxal. The visceral reaction can be understood as denial of having to confront unpalatable statements that shakes the conditioning we have been subjected to since childhood. My reaction to that is that a book should stand on its own merit and not on the political beliefs of its authors. I found the book to be detailed and very tightly argued. It has also helped me in understanding why India is the way it is.

Before reading "India and the Raj", I havenot come across any history book that told me about the refusal to fire by Garhwali soldiers and Gandhi's strange support for the British punitive action. Nor have I seen any other book, which systematically examined Gandhi's life from South Africa onwards and showd the common pattern of collaboration that occurred throughout. Neither have I come across any book which pointed out the hypocricy of an "Apostle of non-violence" recruiting people for "His Majesty's Army". 

Here's a short quote from the book

"It is quite illuminating that on the same day - 30 May, 1919 - Gandhi was writing to the Private Secretary to the Viceroy:"It is within His Excellency's knowledge that I have made no public declaration regarding the events in the Punjab.....I was not prepared to condemn martial law as such; I was unwilling to do anything calculated needlessly to irritate local authority." [India and the Raj- Suniti Kr.Ghosh  Vol I, page 197-198]. 30th May, 1919 was the date on which Rabindranath wrote his famous letter returning his knighthood in protest against the Jalianwala Bagh killings. 

The second volume of the book is available on the net.

The only thing that was great about Gandhi was that he was a great politician who succeeded in promoting the interest of his real constituents-the comprador capitalists.

Published at:

  Replies Author Date
4920 Re: Gandhi - did he really promote non-violence?/Yes he did! Golam F. Akhter Thu 3/14/2002
4982 Re: Gandhi - did he really promote non-violence? N.Bhattacharyya Wed  3/20/2002
4945 Re: Gandhi - did he really promote non-violence?/ Eshon Waheed Sun  3/17/2002
4946 Re: Gandhi - did he really promote non-violence?/ Sohail Ahmad Sun  3/17/2002
4947 Re: Gandhi - did he really promote non-violence?/ Manjur Alam Sun  3/17/2002



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