: Ghandi and the myth of non-violent action,

  • :
  • :



Th ids f Mhtm Gndhi hv njyd rsurgnc. Th nn-vilnt nn-cprtin tctics usd in th struggls ginst th Frnklin Dm in Tsmni nd th Grnhm Cmmn missil bs in nglnd wd thir inspirtin dirctly t him. Richrd ttnbrughs cdmy wrd winning film Gndhi furthr rvivd th myth tht his pcifist tctics wn Indi its indpndnc.

Yt scilists hv lwys bn quit scthing but Gndhi. Rd fr xmpl, wht Grg rwll hd t sy but him:

Gndhi hs bn rgrdd fr twnty yrs by th Gvrnmnt f Indi s n f its right hnd mn. I knw wht Im tlking butI usd t b n fficr in th Indin plic. It ws lwys dmittd in th mst cynicl wy tht Gndhi md it sir fr th British t rul Indi, bcus his influnc ws lwys ginst tking ny ctin tht wuld mk ny diffrnc.

Th rsn why Gndhi whn in prisn is lwys trtd with such lninc nd smll cncssins smtims md whn h hs prlngd n f his fsts t dngrus xtnt, is tht th British fficils r in trrr tht h my di nd b rplcd by smn wh blivs lss in sul frc nd mr in bmbs.[1]

In this pmphlt, w will utlin Gndhis Indin cmpigns t shw just wht rwll mnt. W will rgu tht Gndhi fild t lunch ny nn-vilnt cmpigns tht rmind nn-vilnt, t lst n his trms. W will rgu tht whn ths cmpigns strtd t thrtn th intrsts f th Indin cpitlist clss, Gndhi lwys clld thm ff. nd w will rgu tht th British lft Indi fr rsns f thir wn, nt nything tht Gndhi cn tk crdit fr.

rly dys

Gndhis scil viws wr lwys rctinry, in th mst litrl sns f th wrd. In 1909 h xprssd thm s fllws:

It is nt th British ppl wh r ruling Indi, but it is mdrn civilistin, thrugh its rilwys, tlgrphs, tlphn, nd lmst vry thr invntin hs bn climd t b triumph f civilistin Mdicl scinc is th cncntrtd ssnc f blck mgic Hspitls r th instrumnts tht th Dvil hs bn using fr his wn purps, in rdr t kp his hld n his kingdm If thr wr n hspitls fr vnrl disss r vn fr cnsumptivs, w wuld hv lss cnsumptin, nd lss sxul vic mngst us. Indis slvtin cnsists in unlrning wht sh hs lrnt during th pst fifty yrs r s. Th rilwys, tlgrphs, hspitls, lwyrs, dctrs nd such lik ll hv t g.[2]

But it is Gndhis pliticl strtgy tht w r minly cncrnd with hr. Gndhi dvlpd his mthds f nn-vilnt nn-cprtin, r stygrh (litrlly wy f th rightus hrt) t fight fr civil rights fr Indins in Suth fric. In this first cmpign, h mt with sm succss lrgly fr tw rsns. H md cnsidrbl us f strik ctin by Indin wrkrs, nd th Indins, bing smwht priphrl minrity in Suth fric, culd b ffrdd cncssins by th whit ruling clss tht culd nvr b grntd t th blcks. vn during this cmpign Gndhis mst crditbl ffrt th limittins f his pcifism bcm bvius. In n pisd pssd vr by ttnbrughs film, Gndhi rcunts hw h clld ff th struggl t n stg, rthr thn jin cus with vilnt gnrl strik by urpn wrkrs, nd this wn th grtitud f th Suth fricn ruling clss:

In th curs f th stygrh struggl in Suth fric, svrl thusnds f indnturd Indins hd struck wrk. This ws stygrh strik, nd thrfr ntirly pcful nd vluntry. Whilst th strik ws ging n th strik f th urpn minrs, rilwy mplys, tc. ws dclrd. vrturs wr md t m t mk cmmn cus with th urpn strikrs. s stygrh, I did nt rquir mmnts cnsidrtin t dclin t d s. I wnt furthr, nd fr fr f ur strik bing clssd with th strik f th urpns in which mthds f vilnc nd us f rms fund prminnt plc, urs ws suspndd, nd stygrh frm tht mmnt cm t b rcgnisd by th urpns f Suth fric s n hnurbl nd hnst mvmnt, in th wrds f Gnrl Smuts, cnstitutinl mvmnt.[3]

Rcruiting fr th British

Whn Gndhi rturnd t Indi in 1915, his qulms but vilnc suddnly dispprd. H wnt ut rcruiting vluntrs fr th British rmy frm th Indin ppultin, undr th slgn 20 rcruits fr vry villg. Gndhi pprntly blivd tht by rcruiting cnnn fddr t dfnd th mpir, h culd imprss th British with Indins lylty nd thus rn indpndnc. H smd t hv rgrdd it s victry tht h md rcruiting spchs in Hindustni!

Gndhi xplind his ctins, which wnt ginst much f th rst f th indpndnc mvmnts thinking, by sying. I discvrd th British mpir hd crtin idls with which I hv flln in lv. Ltr, dfndrs f Gndhi wr t justify his rcruiting driv by sying tht h nly risd trps fr th mdicl crps. But f curs, mdicl crps r vitl prt f ny militry mchin, nd Gndhis ctins frd thr rcruits fr th frnt lin fighting. H crtinly md n ttmpt t ris mdicl crps fr th Grmns r Turks, s vn if thr wr lmnts f misguidd humnitrinism in Gndhis thinking, it ws vry cnvnintly n-yd.

During th yrs 1917 t 1920, Gndhi md sm vry imprtnt frinds mngst th wlthy businss fmilis f Wst Indi. Ths includd th Srbhis, txtil mgnts in his hm stt f Gujrt, nd th Birls, th scnd lrgst industril grup in Indi. Fr th rst f his crr, Gndhi rgulrly cnsultd with thm, nd thy md sur tht h nvr lckd mny.

This is nt t sy tht Indin cpitlists crtd Gndhi. But his cmmitmnt t th pcifist ctin suitd thir intrsts prfctly. Thy wntd limitd mbilistin f th msss t driv ut th British s tht thy culd run Indi instd. Thy hd sn th Russin rvlutin just t th nrth, nd thy rlisd hw imprtnt it ws t stp th wrkrs nd psnts gtting rms, r mbilising ginst thir lcl xplitrs s wll s th British.

Gndhi ws ls cmmittd t cpitlist Indi. H rgrdd Indins s n big fmily, xplitrs nd xplitd lik. I d nt rgrd cpitl t b th nmy f lbur, h sid. I hld thir c-rdintin t b prfctly pssibl. Gndhi cm up with justifictin f th cpitlists rl tht mny cpitlists thmslvs wuld smil n s ingnius. H clld thm trusts fr th ppl, nd urgd th wrkrs nd psnts t pcfully prsud th lnd-wnrs nd mplyrs t bhv thiclly s trusts f th prprty thy hld fr th cmmn gd.

Why did Gndhi s quickly gin mss fllwing in Indi? Th ppulr imprssin, rinfrcd by ttnbrughs film, is tht it ws du t his simpl, humbl lif-styl, cmbind with th wrk h did with th psnts nd millhnds grivncs. Ths my hv hlpd, but thr wr fr dpr rsns s wll.

Bfr Gndhi, th Indin indpndnc mvmnt hd suffrd frm tw mjr wknsss. Its ldrs tndd t b strngly idntifid with prticulr rgins, nd its ctivity ws hplssly litist. n wing busid itslf with trrrism, th thr with stril mtin-pssing, Gndhi hd stblishd ntinl rputtin fr himslf thrugh his Suth fricn cmpign, nd thus ws bl t giv th mvmnt ntinl figurhd tht trnscndd ptty rginl divisins. nd t his crdit, h ls gv th mvmnt mss rinttin t tim whn, inspird by th Russin Rvlutin t th nrth nd th Turkish ntinlist mvmnt t th wst, th msss wr rdy t g int ctin.

But why shuld Gndhis nn-vilnc hv hd such prticulr mss ppl? Ln Trtsky prvids shrwd insight. Trtsky bsrvd xctly th sm phnmnn in th rly stgs f th Russin Rvlutin. Nn-vilnc, Trtsky rgud, rflctd th lw dvlpmnt f clss struggl in th cuntrysid nd th psnts rsulting lck f cnfidnc:

If th psnts during th first prid hrdly vr rsrt t pn vilnc, nd r still trying t giv thir ctivitis th frm f lgl prssur, this is xplind by thir insufficint trust in thir wn pwrs

Th ttmpt t disguis its first rbl stps with lglity, bth scrd nd sculr, hs frm tim t tim immmril chrctrisd th struggl f vry rvlutinry clss, bfr it gthrd sufficint strngth nd cnfidnc t brk th umbilicl crd which bund it t th ld scity. This is mr cmpltly tru f th psntry thn ny thr clss

Frm th miliu f th nbility itslf thr ris prchrs f cncilitin. L Tlsty (th nvlist) lkd dpr int th sul f th muzhik [psnt] thn nybdy ls. His philsphy f nn-vilnt rsistnc ws gnrlistin f th first stgs f th psnt rvlutin.

Mhtm Gndhi is nw fulfilling th sm missin in Indi

Th 1919 hrtl

In 1919 th British pssd th Rwltt cts, which xtndd wrtim pwrs f rbitrry rrst, t kp th indpndnc mvmnt in chck. Thr ws mssiv rsntmnt thrughut Indi, nd in Fbrury Gndhi frmd Stygrh Lgu nd nnuncd hrtl (dy f gnrl suspnsin f businss) fr pril 6. Th rspns mzd vryn. Thrugh Mrch nd pril, thr ws wv f mss mrchs, striks, sm riting nd vilnt rprssin by th British.

Th pril 6 hrtl ws hug succss. It ws ccmpnid by sprdic rits in Clcutt, Bmby, hmdbd nd lswhr. In mritsr, th British msscrd 379 ppl t rlly with mchin-gun fir nd wundd nthr 1200.

Th British wr clrly lrmd by th upsurg. Th mvmnt ssumd th undnibl chrctr f n rgnisd rvlt ginst th British Rj, in th viw f British fficil pinin.[4]

Just s lrmd ws Gndhi. Cndmning th vilnc, nt f th British but f ritrs n his wn sid wh hd gn bynd pcifist ctin, h dclrd tht h hd cmmittd blundr f Himlyn dimnsins which hd nbld ill-dispsd prsns, nt tru pssiv rsistrs t ll, t prptrt disrdr.[5]

Within wk, Gndhi suspndd pssiv rsistnc just s th mvmnt ws rching its hight. H subsquntly xplind in lttr t th Prss n July 21 tht Civil rsistr nvr sks t mbrrss th gvrnmnt.[6]

T dfus th mvmnt, Gndhi turnd his ttntin t th Mntgu-Chlmsfrd Rfrms pssd by th British Prlimnt, which st up puppt lgislturs in Indi prting n limitd frnchis. Gndhi wn th Cngrss Prty rund t supprting th Rfrms ginst shrp ppsitin. H urgd th ntinl mvmnt t sttl dwn quitly t wrk s s t mk thm succss.[7]

Th 1920-22 cmpign

Th mvmnt did nt sttl dwn quitly. Th first hlf f 1920 sw hug strik wv. S Gndhi switchd vr t rjctin f th Mntgu-Chlmsfrd Rfrms, nd vlvd th pln f nn-vilnt nn-cprtin t nc gin tk th hd f th mvmnt. Th Cngrss Prty ws t giv ldrship but th pric f tht ldrship ws nc gin t b nn-vilnc.

Gndhi hd lrnd frm 1919 tht mbilising th wrkrs nd psnts thrugh hrtl ws n xplsiv businss. S this tim, dspit th mr mbitius dmnd f swrj (slf-rul), Gndhi fcussd th ctin ntirly n th middl clss. Vtrs bycttd lctins t th nw ssmblis nly n third f ths ligibl undr th incm ruls t vt did s. Studnts bycttd cllgs n mss. n ttmpt t gt lwyrs t byctt th curts nd st up lcl rbitrtin sittings mt with much lss succss.

Th nly rl fr th msss f wrkrs nd psnts in ll this ws t b th cnstructiv tsk f hnd-spinning nd hnd-wving prpsl f tx byctt ws hld in rsrv until tim t b dtrmind.

Gndhi ws xtrmly vgu n hw ths tctics wr t gin victry, r vn n wht sn f gins h ws ftr. Subhs Bs. futur ldr f th Cngrss Prty Lft, trid t gt clr pictur frm Gndhi f th strtgy.

Wht his rl xpcttin ws, I ws unbl t undrstnd. ithr h did nt wnt t giv ut ll his scrts prmturly r h did nt hv clr cncptin f th tctics whrby th hnds f th gvrnmnt culd b frcd[8].

Nhru ls hd his dubts but Gndhis gls.

It ws bvius tht t mst f ur ldrs Swrj mnt smthing much lss thn indpndnc. Gndhi ws dlightfully vgu n th subjct, nd h did nt ncurg clr thinking but it ithr.[9]

Dspit Gndhis ttmpts t limit th cmpign t th middl clss, mss struggls ruptd thrughut 1921 t ccmpny it th ssm-Bngl rilwy strik th Midnpr N-Tx Cmpign, th Mplh rbllin in th Suth, nd th militnt kli mvmnt in th Punjb. By th nd f 1921, ll Cngrss ldrs xcpt Gndhi wr bhind brs.

midst ll this struggl nd nthusism. Gndhi gt cld ft. Sm ctivists, spcilly mngst th Muslims, wr dmnding th bndnmnt f nn-vilnc. Gndhi dclrd tht swrj stnk in his nstrils.

In rly 1922, vrius districts bgn dmnding N Tx cmpign. Du t misundrstnding, Guntur District bgn n withut prmissin. S grt ws th nthusism f th psnts tht lss thn 5 prcnt f txs wr cllctd. Thn Gndhi hrd f it nd rdrd tht tx-pying rsum immditly. Finlly, Gndhi dcidd t mbrk n mss civil disbdinc in n tiny district. Brdli whr h hd tkn spcil cr t nsur nn-vilnt cnditins. His mss civil disbdinc t win rls f th 30,000 pliticl prisnrs ws t invlv th 87,000 ppl f th district just n fur-thusndth f th Indin ppultin!


Th Churi Chur bckdwn


Bfr th tkn Brdli cmpign culd tk ff, ngry psnts t th villg f Churi Chur in th Unitd Prvincs burnd plic sttin, killing 22 plicmn. Gndhi, wh fiv yrs rlir hd hppily rcruitd cnnn fddr fr Britin t try nd win indpndnc, dplrd th vilnc nd cnclld, nt just th Brdli cmpign, but th ntir cmpign f civil disbdinc crss th cuntry.

Gndhis dcisin crtd fury nd dismy in th Cngrss Prty. Subhs Bs rclls:

T sund th rdr t rtrt, just whn public nthusism ws rching th biling pint ws nthing shrt f ntinl clmity. Th principl liutnnts f th Mhtm, Dshbndhu ds, Pndit Mrill Nhru nd Ll Ljpt Pl, wh wr ll in prisn, shrd th ppulr rsntmnt. I ws with th Dshbndhu t th tim, nd I culd s tht h ws bsid himslf with ngr nd srrw.[10]

Mtill Nhru nd Ljpt Ri snt Gndhi lng lttrs f prtst. Gndhi cldly rplid tht mn in prisn wr civilly dd nd hd n sy vr plicy.

plgists fr Gndhi ltr climd tht th dcisin ws ncssry bcus th mvmnt ws ging t pics.[11] In th sns tht Gndhi ws lsing cntrl, this ws tru. But th British did nt think it ws dissipting. Th Vicry cbld Lndn just thr dys bfr Gndhis dcisin dscribing th numrus rs f unrst, nd cncluding:

Th Gvrnmnt f Indi r prprd fr disrdr f mr frmidbl ntur thn hs in th pst ccurrd, nd d nt sk t minimis in ny wy th fct tht grt) nxity is cusd by th situtin.[12]

Lrd Llyd, thn Gvrnr f Bmby, ltr rcuntd hw Gndhi hd sntchd dft frm th jws f victry:

H gv us scr! His prgrm filld ur jils. Yu cnt g n rrsting ppl frvr, yu knw nt whn thr r 319 millin f thm. nd if thy hd tkn his nxt stp nd rfusd t py txs! Gd knws whr w shuld hv bn!

Gndhis ws th mst clssl xprimnt in wrld histry, nd it cm within n inch f succding. But h culdnt cntrl mns pssins. Yu knw th rst. W jild him.[13]

Th mtin tht Gndhi gt thrugh th Wrking Cmmitt t Brdli clling ff th cmpign suggsts th rl rsn Gndhi bckd dwn. N lss thn thr f its svn pints rdrd psnts t py txs t th gvrnmnt, nd rspct lndlrds rnts nd rights. Gndhi ws clrly wrrid tht th N-Tx cmpign wuld tk ff nd sprd int N-Rnt cmpign s wll. Nithr f ths cn b clssd s vilnc in ny wy. but thy culd hv turnd th mvmnt int whlsl struggl ginst th Indin lndlrds s wll s th British. Churi Chur nly cnfirmd th incrsing rstivnss f th psnts. S lthugh nt th first utbrk f vilnc during th cmpign, it prvidd cnvnint prtxt fr Gndhi t cll hstilitis ff bfr full-scl clss wr brk ut.

Th mvmnt dmrlisd

Gndhis bck dwn flttnd th ntinl mvmnt fr svrl yrs. Th Cngrss Prty, dmnding n ltrntiv curs, mvd t th right nd stppd byctting th puppt ssmblis. Cmmunl divisins grw. Th ctiv nn-c-prtrs f 1921 nw mrgd s spksprsns fr this nd tht cmmunity. Muslim r Hindu. Vilnt clshs brk ut s th mvmnt turnd in n itslf nd, dspit th tmprrily sthing ffct f prtst fst by Gndhi, cntinud vr tim. Sinc Gndhi hd rfusd t plris th mvmnt n clss lins, in th dmrlisd tmsphr ftr 1922 it plrisd n rligius lins instd.

But sctin f th mvmnt tk mr rdicl dirctin. During th 1920s th wrking clss mrgd s n imprtnt frc. Unins grw, nd th ll-Indi Trd Unin Cngrss frmd. Mny f its ldrs turnd t rdicl nti-imprilism. Th Wrkrs nd Psnts Prty frmd, nd lng with thr rdicl ntinlists bgn t dmnd cmplt indpndnc rthr thn mr slf-rul.

ginst Gndhis ppsitin, th Cngrss Prty ls tk up th dmnd f cmplt indpndnc, r Pum Swrj, in th lt 1920s. Gndhi ws frcd t chng his stnc, t lst n ppr. But, s tim wuld shw, h ws t sign th dmnd wy gin t th first pprtunity.

Slt Stygrh

t th nd f 1929, th Cngrss Prty dcidd t tk ctin fr Purn Swrj. Pssiv dmnstrtins n Jnury 26. 1930 tk pldg t struggl fr cmplt indpndnc. But Gndhi lrdy hd thr ids. n Jnury 9. h tld th Nw Yrk Wrld tht th indpndnc rslutin nd frightn nbdy, clim h rptd t th Vicry in lttr in Mrch.[14] nd n Jnury 30. h ffrd lvn Pints t th British fr which th Cngrss Prtys civil disbdinc cmpign wuld b clld ff.

Ths lvn Pints fll wy shrt f indpndnc, r vn hm rul. Th mst rdicl dmnds wr fr th rls f pliticl prisnrs, hlving f militry xpnditur. triff n frign clth, nd licncs fr firrms fr slf-dfnc. Thr wr n dmnds fr wrkrs r psnts, xcpt cll fr th hlving f lnd tx. Clrly. Gndhi sw th dmnd fr indpndnc s just n pning gmbit in hggl fr rfrms.

Whn it cm t strtgy. Gndhi dftd mv by th lft wing f Cngrss t st up prlll gvrnmnt in th cuntry nd mbilis wrkrs nd psnts bhind it. Instd h lunchd th Slt Mrch, thr-wk mrch by Gndhi nd 78 f his discipls t th s, whr thy dfid th British mnply n slt by biling swtr. Gndhi thn clld n ch villg t d th sm.

ll this ws vry spctculr fr th prss. But it ws vn mr crfully limitd thn his prvius tw cmpigns. Th initil ctin ws cnfind t 78 hndpickd discipls. Th nsuing tctic f prducing slt prvidd n rl whtsvr fr th industril wrking clss. Th psnts ttntin ws turnd wy frm cnflicts with thir lndlrds t prducing illgl slt in thir villgs, nd burning nd byctting frign clth mv tht minly bnfitd Indin txtil mgnts, numbr f whm hppnd t b n cls trms with Gndhi.

Nvrthlss, th Slt Mrch sprkd nthr uphvl, wy bynd Gndhis xpcttins. Striks nd mss dmnstrtins ruptd. Dmnstrtrs ridd plic rmury t Chittgng. Psnts lunchd N-Rnt mvmnts, spcilly in th Unitd Prvincs, whr, tru t frm, th Cngrss Prty trid t mdit fr 50 prcnt pymnt f rnts.

Th Ghrwli mutiny

Th mst snstinl incidnt tk plc in Pshwr. ftr th rrst f lcl ldrs, crwd burnd n rmurd cr. its ccupnts scping unhurt. Trps pnd fir n th crwds, killing nd wunding hundrds. Tw pltns f Ghrwli Hindu trps rfusd t fir n Muslim crwd. Thy brk rnks nd frtrnisd with thm, svrl hnding vr thir guns. Th plic nd militry immditly withdrw frm Pshwr, nd th city ws in th hnds f th ppl fr tn dys until pwrful British frc with ir supprt rtk it withut rsistnc.

n might think tht Gndhi wuld hv hild th vnts in Pshwr s triumph fr nn-vilnc. But n th cntrry, h ltr cndmnd th trps/r rfusing t fir n th crwds! In n intrviw with Frnch jurnlist in 1932, Gndhi sid in rply t qustin but th Ghrwli mn wh hd bn svgly sntncd ftr curt-mrtil:

sldir wh disbys n rdr t fir brks tht th which h hs tkn nd rndrs him slf guilty f criminl disbdinc. I cnnt sk fficils nd sldirs t disby; fr whn I m in pwr I shll in ll liklihd mk us f th sm fficils nd ths sm sldirs. If I tught thm t disby I shuld b frid tht thy might d th sm whn I m in pwr.[15]

This mzing sttmnt ws n mmntry brrtin. In th Irwin-Gndhi grmnt f 1931, th clus n rls f prisnrs spcificlly xcludd th Ghrwli sldirs.

Hping t rstr Gndhis fst-fding cntrl vr th mvmnt, th British rrstd him t r-fcus ttntin n him. Instd, th cuntry xpldd. mssiv dmnstrtin by txtil nd rilwy wrkrs in Bmby frcd th plic t quit th strts. In Shlpur th wrkrs sizd th twn nd rplcd th plic with thir wn dministrtin fr wk, until mrtil lw ws dclrd. Hrtls nd striks tk plc ll vr Indi. Th British drppd 500 tns f bmbs n rbllius Pthns in Nrth-Wst Frntir Prvinc, t littl vil. Th nwly frmd Rd Shins, militnt Nrth-Wst Frntir rgnistin, srd in mmbrship frm cupl f hundrd t 80,000. militnt Muslim prty sprung up in th Punjb.

Dspit 60.000 pliticl rrsts, innumrbl btn chrgs nd cntinul firing, upn unrmd crwds, th mvmnt rgd thrugh 1930. t dmnstrtins in Bmby, th cntr f th industril wrking clss, rd flgs bgn t prlifrt nd vn utnumbr Cngrss flgs t mss dmnstrtins. lrmd. British businssmn bgn t dmnd slf-gvrnmnt fr Indi n Dminin bsis.

But nc gin, Gndhi ws just s lrmd s th British t th dirctin th mvmnt ws tking. Prfssr H.G. lxndr. Prfssr f Intrntinl Rltins t Slly k Cllg in Birminghm, visitd him in jil in Sptmbr 1930 nd rprtd:

vn in th sclusin f his prisn h is cutly cnscius tht such mbittrmnt is dvlping, nd fr tht rsn h wuld wlcm rturn t pc nd c-prtin s sn s it culd b hnstly btind his influnc is still grt, but mr dngrus nd uncntrllbl frcs r gthring strngth dily.[16]

Slf-rul frm within

In Jnury 26, 1931, th British rlsd Gndhi s gdwill gstur. ftr mnth f ngtitins, Gndhi thn signd n grmnt with Vicry Irwin. Th Irwin-Gndhi grmnt did nt cncd n f Gndhis lvn Pints. It did nt vn brk th British mnply n slt. But Gndhi grd t nd civil disbdinc nd tk prt in th Rund Tbl Cnfrnc f British clnis in Lndn, which Cngrss hd swrn t byctt.

ngry rslutins frm yuth cnfrncs nd rgnistins cndmnd th dl. utrgd Bmby wrkrs vn stgd dmnstrtin ginst Gndhi n his dprtur fr th Rund Tbl Cnfrnc. Jwhrll Nhru, whs jb it ws t mv th grmnt t th Cngrss Prty, dmittd tht h culd nt d s withut grt mntl cnflict nd physicl distrss. Ws it fr this, Nhru skd ltr, tht ur ppl hd bhvd s gllntly fr yr? H flt, hwvr, tht it wuld nly b prsnl vnity t xprss his dissnt.[17]

Gndhi ltr dmittd th mvmnt hd shwn n signs f brking up. Th suggstin f th impnding cllps f ur mvmnt is ntirly fls: th mvmnt ws shwing n signs f slckning, h sid.[18] Instd, h justifid his dl with Irwin with th mzing sttmnt t th prss n Mrch 5, 1931, tht Th Cngrss hs nvr md bid fr victry.[19] Gltd Th Tims th nxt dy: Such victry hs sldm bn vuchsfd t ny Vicry. Th nxt dy, Gndhi rgud t th prss tht Pum Swrj rlly mnt disciplind slf-rul frm within![20]

Whn Gndhi rturnd mpty-hndd nin mnths ltr frm th RundTbl Cnfrnc, th British immditly rrrstd him, bnnd Cngrss nd its prss, nd sizd its funds nd prprty.

Gndhis rspns ws t issu rdrs ginst scrt rgnistin f Cngrss (th nly pssibl wy f prcding undr illgl cnditins) nd t ssur th lndlrds tht n cmpign wuld b pprvd ginst thir intrsts, Gndhi thn tk up th untuchbls cus, which in th circumstncs culd nly b divrsin. Dlightd, th British rlsd him.

Gndhi finlly clsd dwn th struggl in rly 1934, by nnuncing tht frm thn n, sinc th msss hv nt yt rcivd th mssg f stygrh, , [it] nds t b cnfind t n qulifid prsn t rim. In th prsnt circumstncs nly n, nd tht myslf, shuld fr th tim bing br th rspnsibility f civil disbdinc.[21]

In thr wrds, n-mn cmpign fr ntinl indpndnc! s n lft-wing critic put it, such ws th finl rducti d bsurdum f th Gndhist thry f nn-vilnt nn-cprtin s th pth f librtin fr th Indin ppl.[22]

Gndhi ws t lunch tw mr cmpigns, in 1940-41 nd gin in 1942. In th mntim, with th cllps f th struggl, Hindu-Muslim riting gin intnsifid.

Individul Stygrh

Undr wrtim cnditins in 1940. Gndhi lunchd cmpign f individul stygrh. This ws in rspns t th lft in Cngrss, which wntd th prty t lunch nthr mss mvmnt fr indpndnc whil Britin ws tid up by th wr. rguing ginst cusing ny discmfrt t Britin, Gndhi rplid:

Thr is nithr th wrrnt nr tmsphr fr mss ctin. Tht wuld b nkd mbrrssmnt nd btryl f nn-vilnc. Wht is mr, it cn nvr ld t indpndnc.[23]

Gndhis cmpign cnsistd f individuls, whr pssibl slctd by himslf, gtting up in public plcs, mking tkn sttmnts ginst th wr nd fr indpndnc, nd bing rrstd. t th sm tim, Gndhi discurgd mss mtings.

Whn th cmpign finlly fizzld ut in 1941, 25,069 f Gndhis fllwrs hd bn cnvictd withut mking ny impct, ithr n th British r th gnrl ppultin.

Quit Indi

Dspit his nxity nt t cus th British nkd mbrrssmnt, prssur frm th lft frcd Gndhi t lunch his Quit Indi cmpign in 1942.

Subhs Bs. militnt ntinlist frm Bngl nd lng-tim critic f Gndhi insid th Cngrss Prty, hd split frm Cngrss nd lunchd th Indin Ntinl rmy. Gndhi frd tht if th Jpns, wh wr using th slgn si fr th sins, invdd, Subhs Bs might lign with thm ginst th British nd win mss supprt. S Gndhi lunchd his Quit Indi cmpign n ugust 8, 1942.

This tim, th British mvd immditly. In th rly hurs f ugust 9, thy rrstd Gndhi nd th ntir Cngrss ldrship. Whn pcful prtst dmnstrtins gthrd, th British fird n thm r brk thm up with btn chrgs. Whlsl riting brk ut within 12 hurs.

Dspit Gndhis pls fr clm frm his prisn cll, 70 plic sttins wr burnt dwn, 550 pst ffics ttckd, nd 85 curthuss nd symbls f stt uthrity bsigd crss th cuntry. Th British rmy hld firm, firing n crwds nd vn mchin-gunning thm frm th ir. Public hngings wr intrducd fr th first tim in gnrtins. With Cngrss rfusing t ld r rgnis rmd rsistnc, nd th Cmmunist Prty tking psitin t Gndhis right by supprting th British/Russin wr ffrt, th British wr bl t crush th uprising.

Th Bmby nvl mutiny

ftr th wr in 1946, th silrs f Bmby, ld by th yung nvl cmmunictins rtings, mutinid nd sizd thir ships. Thir min im ws t hnd th ships vr t th Cngrss ldrs until th British quit. ldr f th mutiny. B.C. Dutt. rcuntd:

Th strts f Bmby rsundd t ur slgns clling fr ntinl unity. It ws strng sight fr th ppl f Bmby. Th rtings mrching thrugh th strts with prty flgs f th Cngrss nd th Muslim Lgu tid tgthr t symblis ntinl unity.

But Gndhi ws hrrifid by th mutiny. H sid h ws fllwing it with pinful intrst nd dnuncd th silrs s stting bd nd unbcming xmpl fr Indi.[24] H rdrd Ptl, th mst right-wing ldr f Cngrss, t dl with th rtings.

Gndhis rjctin f th mutiny ws th signl th British ndd. Thy brdcst th mssg t th mutinrs n Fbrury 22 tht. nly uncnditinl surrndr will b ccptd.

Th wrking clss f Bmby xpldd in sympthy with th mutinrs. Irrspctiv f cst r rligin, thy fught th plic nd rmy with rcks nd knivs. Lik th rtings, thy crrid th tw flgs tid tgthr. Tw hundrd f thm did in th fighting. Gndhis rspns ws t dnunc this disply f militnt unity.

This mutiny in th nvy nd wht is fllwing is nt, in ny sns f th trm, nn-vilnt ctin cmbintin btwn th Hindus nd th Muslims nd thrs fr th purps f vilnt ctin is unhly nd it will ld t nd prbbly is prprtin fr mutul vilnc bd fr Indi nd th wrld.[25]

In th nd, th rtings wr frcd t surrndr. But th mutiny signlld t th British tht n lngr culd thy vn rly n thir wn spys t kp rdr fr thm.

Why did th British lv?

Gndhis lst significnt cmpign hd pkd in 1931. It crtinly wsnt his nn-vilnt nn-cprtin tht drv th British ut sixtn yrs ltr. S why did th British lv in 1947. if thy hd th msur f Gndhi nd th ntinlist mvmnt?

Brry Pivr, writing in th British Scilist Rviw, prvids th mst plusibl xplntin:

Firstly, th psitiv rsns fr British rul vnishd. Th cnmic bsis f th Indin mpir ws th hrd currncy surpluss rnd by th xprt f cmmrcil crps t thr industril cuntris. Ths surpluss wr thn trnsfrrd t Lndn t supprt th pund. Th Dprssin cut th prics f ths crps in hlf nd th surpluss vnishd, nvr t rturn. Fr th British stt (s ppsd t individul cmpnis) this turnd Indi int n cnmic libility.

Indis thr impril rl ws th militry fundtin f th mpir st f Suz. In bth wrld wrs th Indin rmy fught fr th British in th Middl st. But in 1942 th Jpns smshd British pwr in th st. Th British wr nly svd by mricn victris in th Pcific. Indi s militry rl vnishd.[26]

Pivr rgus tht thr wr svrl prssing rsns fr th British t ctully lv. prt frm th Bmby Nvl Mutiny, th nd f th wr hd sn gnrl rsurgnc f nti-British fling. Th tril f fficrs f th Indin Ntinl rmy wh hd fught lngsid th Jpns tk plc in 1945. Thy gt s much supprt tht Cngrss ldrs wr frcd t ssist in thir dfnc. Nhru vn dnning lwyrs rbs fr th first tim in thirty yrs.

Th myth f nn-vilnt ctin

Militnt psnt struggls ld by th Cmmunist Prty hd ls bn giving th British trubl sinc th rly 1940s. But th dminnt issu ftr 1945 ws rligius cmmunlism, which hd fstrd ch tim Gndhi brtd th mss struggl f rlir dys.

ftr 1945, th Muslim Lgu gind vrwhlming supprt in Muslim rs fr its dmnd fr prtitin nd Muslim stt. This nbld thm t disrupt th trditinl gvrnmnt t gin thir wy, which in turn sprkd sris f hrrndus cmmunl rits.

Givn th dispprnc f ny psitiv rsn fr stying, nd th thr prssurs n thm t lv, th British hd n dsir t try nd kp th pc in such circumstncs. In th nd, thy prcticlly rn wy.


Mhtm Gndhi md mjr cntributin t th Indin indpndnc mvmnt in 1919 by turning it t mss rinttin. But his strtgy f nn-vilnc sn bcm mjr bstcl t th mvmnts furthr dvlpmnt nd rmind s fr th rst f his crr.

Gndhis philsphy f stygrh nd his drm f big hppy fmily f Indin cpitlists, lnd wnrs nd xplitd my hv ppld t his prdminntly middl-clss nd rich psnt dvts. Thy crtinly suitd his uppr-clss bckrs wh wntd limitd mss mbilistin t win cncssins nd ultimtly indpndnc frm th British. But Gndhis nn-vilnt cmpigns rrly rn lng th curs h hd mppd ut fr thm. Th pprssd th wrkrs nd prr psnts invribly tk th cmpigns much furthr thn Gndhi intndd. Thy mvd twrds cnfrnting thir wn Indin xplitrs s wll s th British.

Whn th British usd frc t rprss thm, thy ftn rspndd in kind.

Gndhis pcifism ld him t rct in n litist fshin. H wuld cll ff th struggl, cnsuring th msss fr filing t cm up t his wn pius stndrds. H wuld thn rstrict th ctiv rl in th nxt phs f th cmpign t n vr-diminishing circl whm h flt h culd trust

Gndhis nn-vilnt strtgy did nt driv th British ut f Indi. His lst imprtnt cmpign pkd in 193116 yrs bfr th British lft. Th British clrly hd Gndhis msur, nd lft fr rsns f thir wn.

Gndhi cnnt tk crdit fr th dprtur f th British, but h prbbly cn tk sm crdit fr th wrtchdly unqul scity tht thy lft bhind. Fr by ruining th ppulr wrkr/psnt upsurgs f th 1919-1934 prid, h gurntd tht th Indin cpitlist clss wuld rmin intct t rciv th rins f pwr frm th British. Thy cntinu t wild ths rins ruthlssly t this dy, invking Gndhis nm s thy g.


[1] Th Cllctd ssys, Jurnlism nd Lttrs f Grg rwll, Vl 2, p. 136

[2] M.K. Gndhi, Hind Swrj (1909)

[3] .M.S. Nmbdiripd, Th Mhtm nd th Ism, (Ppls Publishing Hus, Nw Dlhi 1959), p. 26-7

[4] Sir Vlntin Chirl, Indi (1926). p.207, qutd in R.P. Dun, Indi Tdy (1940), p. 304

[5] R.P. Dull, Indi Tdy (1940), p. 304

[6] Dull, p. 305

[7] M.K. Gndhi in Yung Indi 31.12.1919, qutd in Dull, p.302

[8] Subhs Chndr Bs, Th Indin Struggl 1920-1934, p. 68

[9] Jwhrll Nhru, utbigrphy, p. 76

[10] Bs, p. 90

[11] Nhru, p. 85

[12] Dutt, p. 315

[13] Qutd by C.F. ndrws in th Nw Rpublic. 3.4.1939

[14] Dutt, p. 327

[15] Rply t Frnch jurnlist Chrls Ptrsch n th qustin f th Ghrwli Sldirs, Mnd, 20.2.1932

[16] Spcttr, 3.1.1931, qutd in Dun, p. 338

[17] Dutt, p. 339

[18] Dutt, p. 338

[19] Dutt, p. 338

[20] Dutt, p. 338

[21] Dutt, p. 343

[22] Dutt, p. 343

[23] R.C. Mjumdr. Histry f th Frdm Mvmnt in Indi (1963), Vl 3

[24] Nmbdiripd. p. 101

[25] Nmbdiripd. p. 109

[26] B. Pivr, Scilist Rviw (Britin) ugust 1982, p.22


? .
bigmir)net TOP 100