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The Failure of Gandhigiri

Posted by RB Kollannur on April 11, 2011

“Sometimes, a vaccination is just what the good doctor ordered”.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Non Violence / Non Cooperation Movements have received laurels from around the world. But what is left unsaid is that they were also complete failures. That most people have chosen to ignore it may be an indication of the need for humanity to believe such a movement could actually be successful.

Gandhi started his “Gandhigiri” with the Champaran Satyagraha in 1918. He would continue with similar movements for the best part of the next three decades. While Gandhi was laying seeds for his epic struggle for independence, in the farthest corner of Europe another independence movement was underway. Ireland, another British colony, was setting themselves up to throw away their British masters. But unlike Gandhi they chose a more violent method. Though it started disastrously in 1916, by 1919 Michael Collins was organising a successful guerrilla war.

While India, with its massive resources and populace, chose to have a passive three decade long struggle, Ireland chose the aggressive way and became independent in 1921.

The duration of the Gandhi’s movement is an indication of its failure. Still, there would be some relief had it actually managed to gain India its independence. In that also, it failed. Fortunately for Gandhi, events in Europe came to his rescue.

Germany had seen a major fall from power in the nineteenth century. Their desire for former glory led to two world wars and a new world order. Hitler’s forces had so devastated Britain and France that both had to let go off their imperial ambitions for a secure future despite winning the war. Britain no longer had the ability to maintain their vast colonial empire given the economic devastation of its home country. The dissolution gradually began with the people of UK kicking their war leader Winston Churchill out of the Parliament and replacing him with a more progressive minded Attlee. Over the next four decades, the many colonies of Britain around the world gradually received their freedom. The French would follow suit, albeit reluctantly, after their African colonies took to war. The French turned to their WWII leader, Charles de Gaulle, who promptly settled with the colonies.

India, the largest of the British colonies in population, was the first colony to be let go. Though Gandhi struggled for three decades for independence, it was purely fortuitous that India actually became independent. The best legacy of the failure of Gandhi’s movement is the Partition of India. Seeing what they perceived to be differences between the Hindu majority and Muslim minority of India, they decided to divide India into two. Gandhi was, of course, of the counter opinion. But since he had very little role in India receiving independence, he had very little say in what transpired. In Britain’s defence, they did leave India in a far more united and stable state than when they arrived. Their insistence on the princely states to join either of the countries also went a long way in ensuring that unity. States like Kashmir, Hyderabad and Travancore who nursed independent ambitions would not have been able to remain so without British or international support.

In short, Gandhi’s Non Violence / Non Cooperation Movement reaped little dividend to its followers. It remains to be seen whether its emulators will be similarly unsuccessful.

Non violence may seem to be a noble goal to chase, but violence is not without its place in life. The bacteria, which have evolved beyond the antibiotics that have been protecting humanity over the past century, will certainly tell you, that it is the genocide of their kin that made them better living beings. Sometimes, a vaccination is just what the good doctor ordered.


6 Responses to “The Failure of Gandhigiri”

  1. Rickson Kuriakose said

    Wow Ranjith, simply AWESOME !!

  2. Arby K said

    Thanks, mate 🙂

  3. вяισи said

    Nice one mate! Cheers!

  4. Sarath said

    Dude, you made a point here and I could not resist commenting 🙂

    Although nonviolence is not something which can get instant results from and that violence has its place in society and that we evolved from “survival of the fittest” doctrine, it is certainly a futuristic and advanced theory which encourages reason and logic to mere brawn.

    One of the main reasons it even worked partially in the past was its backing from millions of people and had it been one of the African colonies, I guess all of them would have been killed and none of us would have known. I think one thing is certain, if it does not have the following of the masses, it will be muted without evidence but if it had substancial backup, I guess there is a possibility of success.

    I have to agree with you on its partial failure in the past but I really hope it works in the Future 🙂

  5. Arby K said

    Personally, I look for equilibrium in a society. If a system steeps towards either side, it will flip over and collapse. I wouldn’t say we’ve evolved beyond “survival of the fittest”. Check your workplace, if you think not. We always look to do better than our reference groups because otherwise you are just a drain on the society and can be easily replaced.

  6. TheAnand said

    The reason for the success of Gandhi as I see it from the light of Anna Hazare recent fasting . . .its mostly like a blackmail of the system. Forcing the people in power to take up notice through media and mass gatherings. It is obvious that when someone like Anna/Gandhi is fighting for something of larger national interest like corruption/independence . .normal people will take notice. . .and if somehow Gandhi/Anna had died from fasting, it would spark violent revolution from masses who would feel so let down by the system . .the British or current govt. cannot afford something like this . .so they throw a bone or bits of freedom or agreement to some trivial stuff which does not hurt the bottom line of the govt. .

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