How Relevant Are Gandhi’s Principles In Today’s Age?

Gandhian principles involve at its core non-violent methods of making the opponent submit. However, these noble principles would not work in many circumstances. Nelson Mandela was an advent follower of Gandhi and his principles, however, he believed that Gandhian principles could not be applied to many situations. If you fight against an exploiter by fasting unto death and inflicting self pain in order to embarrass the opponent into submission, it might work if your opponent is noble enough. However, an opponent with no moral conscious as such or one who simply does not care about your cause even a bit, will leave no means to suppress your cause if found in conflict of his own.

Gandhiji will always remain one of the eminent icons of anti colonialism in history, from whom we have a lot to learn today. Image via Wikimedia Commons

What Gandhiji preached was possible to work in case of British rule, because at that time, Britain was a democracy with a free press, which means it could be embarrassed through moral means and was susceptible to international and domestic opinions. The British were still, to a large extent, capable of being shamed and still conscious of their international image. In most circumstances of conflicts, the enemy wouldn’t care for ones peace loving measures, taking the examples of the Jews chamber gassed in WWII where non-violent methods were certain to get them death – as they were kept far away from the reach of any press.

Indian independence is worldly remarked as an achievement due to its non-violent means as campaigned by Gandhiji, who was considered the greatest freedom fighter of our Nation. He had a huge role to play in our struggle for independence. However, one should not forget the mutiny of Royal Indian Navy sailors in Mumbai who fired upon British ports by turning the British ship cannons, the rebellion of Indian soldiers sworn to the British crown during WWII. The British knew that they could easily jail an old man or allow him to fast, but they could definitely not suppress an armed rebellion which could enjoy a large support base of the people they ruled. Non-violence has often offered no solutions to many colonial ruled nations who could achieve freedom only after a bloody and violent struggle.

Similarly, the principles of self-reliance have become outdated in the current setting, as it is mostly seen as a form of protectionist barrier, lacking the will to take up the advantages and benefits that an increasing interdependent world has to offer. Today’s urbanizing set up requires the country to embrace the technological innovations taking place around the world too.

In no way, am I disapproving of the role Gandhian principles played in the fight for Indian Independence. I can only have high respect for Gandhiji in such terms. As the world was falling into the chaos of fascist regimes, violent and brutal methods of conquest and resistance, India was a proud nation where we were fighting through the means of truth, peace, non-violence and moral values. Today’s scenario stands in contrast to such principles as we see governments spending many a times more for military purposes than on health and education, the stockpile of weapons that countries have to themselves today can destroy the planet, million times more than what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Universal peace is still a distant dream. Gandhiji will always remain one of the eminent icons of anti colonialism in history, from whom we have a lot to learn today.

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