How Satyagraha still drives change globally

• As a global thinker with a transhistorical influence, Gandhi applied his experiments with truth and practice of non-violence, not only at an individual level but also in the process of the global affairs.

• In Gandhi’s model of national and international politics, truth (satya) and non-violence (ahimsa) were brought into a mutually interacting and reinforcing relation.

• Therefore, as in the case of means and ends, truth and non-violence were, for Gandhi, interchangeable entities beyond cultural borders and mental ghettos.

• Moreover, according to Gandhi, non-violence in international politics was a matter of non-violent organization of the world bringing peace and interconnectedness among cultures and civilizations.

• As such, Gandhi was always concerned with cooperation among nations in terms of mutual understanding, empathetic friendship and non-violent partnership.

How would world cultures and diverse religious traditions engage in a dialogue with each other?

• The heart of Gandhi’s ethics of interconnectedness and mutuality was to look within oneself, change oneself and then change the world.

• At a more fundamental level, for Gandhi, cultures and nations were not isolated entities, because they all played a special role in the making of human history. Therefore, Gandhi rarely spoke in terms of a linear world history.

• His goal for every culture (including his own) was the same as his goal for every individual, to find the truth and establish peace.

• This was a way for him to open up the world to a harmonic exchange and a transformative dialogue among nations. Therefore, at a more philosophical level,
Gandhi believed that every culture should learn from others.

• Gandhi himself tried to do, either through his ashramic and communitarian experiences in South Africa and India or directly in his political experiences with the British colonizers.

• Such a dialogical attitude conducted by Gandhi at the deepest level and in a spirit of genuine reciprocity and solidarity was not only a moral requirement, but also a geopolitical necessity.

• Gandhi’s conception of “enlarged pluralism” took on the task of fostering togetherness and solidarity among cultures and traditions in the interest of democratizing modernity and bringing about a more just global order.

• One reason why Gandhi was able to do this was that he had political and cultural pluralism in his bones and he never made the mistake of rejecting or underestimating other traditions of thought in his approach to truth and in his stress on non-violence.

Global satyagraha

• Under the leadership of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Satyagraha turned into a global instrument of non-violent dissent against authoritarianism and a pragmatic tool of the powerless against the powerful.

• Gandhi had an ability to invoke Satyagraha globally as a transformative and emancipative methodology.

• There have been several successful experiences of Satyagraha in the past 50 years.

• Among the followers of Gandhi in the 20th century who successfully launched their own Satyagraha against racial, religious and economic injustice and struggled for human rights, one could mention names like Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Benigno Aquino, Jr. and many others.

• In more than half a century, many around the globe drew inspiration from Gandhi’s method of Satyagraha.

• Gandhian non-violence in its global sense remains exemplary as a political action and is transferable as a human experience from one tradition of thought to another.

Conclusion

• Gandhian non-violence has been instrumental in political transitions from authoritarian or oppressive rule for many decades.

• The non-violent revolutions, characterized by civil society organization, mass mobilization, and negotiation, have revolutionized the very concept of revolution.

• Long gone are the days when the very concept of revolution was synonymous with violent struggle from below and armed efforts at state capture or overthrow.

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Mains Paper 1: World History | Political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.

Prelims level: Global non-violence movements

Mains level: Success of non-violent struggle across the globe

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