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Non Violence

Introduction
Nonviolence is the personal practice of being harmless to self & others under every
condition. It comes from the belief that hurting people, animals or the environment is
unnecessary to achieve an outcome & refers to a general philosophy of abstention from violence.
Nonviolence also has “active” or “activist” elements, in that believers generally accept the need
for nonviolence as a means to achieve political &social change. Thus, Gandhian nonviolence is a
philosophy & strategy for social change that rejects the use of violence , but at the same time
sees nonviolent action as an alternative to passive acceptance of oppression or armed struggle
against it .
It uses diverse methods in their campaigns for social change, including critical forms of
education & persuasion, mass non-cooperation, civil disobedience, nonviolent direct action &
social, political, cultural& economic forms of interventions.
Relevance Of Nonviolence In Past:
Non-violence had always been the founding principle of Gandhian spirituality, and his
bedrock of his political philosophy.
It is impossible to look at Gandhi's political activism in isolation. Non-violence preaches
world peace and brotherhood, whereas political movements naturally revel in polemics of
difference and antagonism. Gandhi's greatness lies in bringing together these two apparently
combative and incongruous ideas and putting them on a common platform, where they do not
subtract, but support each other. Gandhi's significance in the world political scenario is two-fold.
First, he retrieved non-violence as a powerful political tool, and secondly, he was the one of the
chief promulgators of the theory that political goal is ultimately a manifestation of a higher
spiritual and humanitarian goal, culminating in world peace. For Gandhi, the means were as
important as the end, and there could be only one means - that of non-violence.
Gandhi's championing of the cause of non-violence as the tool of India's freedom struggle
was not without its share of criticism. That was, however, expected considering the fact that
Gandhi entered the political scenario soon after the ascendancy of the extremists in the history of
India's freedom struggle. Armed revolution was believed to be the only legitimate way to snatch
political power from an oppressive regime. Gandhi's system of Satyagraha on the basis of non-
violence and non-cooperation was largely unheard of, and generally distrusted. However,
Gandhi's faith was strong. It was a faith based not on arms and antagonism, but on
extreme moral courage that drew its strength from innate human truth and honesty. He applied
his systems with success in South Africa and was convinced of its power. However, it was an
uphill task for him to convince his countrymen. Gandhi slowly started to popularize the ideas in
the ranks of the Indian National Congress, under proper guidance from his political mentor
Gopal Krishna Gokhale. The Congress was suffering from a lack of national leadership
following the arrest and execution of the extremist leaders like Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai, and the
protest to the insulting Rowlatt Act was an immediate necessity. Gandhi soon held the mantle
and introduced his non-violence modes with great success in the non-cooperation movement. It
was a new era in the history of Indian Freedom struggle. Though the movement ended on an
abrupt note, yet its significance was immense.
Non-violence played a very important role in defining the course of Indian national
movement, from the 1920s to the final achievement of the freedom. It formed the basis of the
methods of Satyagraha that became closely associated with the Gandhian whirlwind in Indian
politics. Gandhi understood economic profit to be the guiding force of the imperialist project and
attacked the British government at where it hurt most, which was financial gain. Picketing, non-
cooperation and organized resistance to British modes of oppression were the main modes of the
non-violent political movements in India. It shaped the course of the Civil Disobedience
Movement as well. Even at a later time, during the Quit India Movement, Gandhi's theory of
non-violence held strong in the face of the new and radical waves in the world of Indian politics
like communism and armed revolution. Even at the dawn of independence, as Nehru was getting
ready to eloquently unleash his 'tryst with destiny', Gandhi was busy on the troubled roads of
Bengal, preaching non-violence to mad rioters. It was probably pre-ordained that he had to lay
down his life for holding on to his ideals. But on the other hand there are also some criticism on
the Gandhi’s ideology of nonviolence is that India got independence not only due to nonviolence
but the contribution of extremist was also non neglect able & independence of India is success of
all movements including moderates, extremist & revolutionary activist because the main motto
of all these groups is ‘independent nation’ but the only difference was their ideologies & success
based on their ideologies.
Views of extremists on non violence movement
Extremists believe resorting to violence as a means of achieving independence. They
were not the preachers of Ahmisa or non violence. Some people are
Of the opinion that extremists were the revolutionaries as they wished to awaken the
People of India so that they could rise in revolt against the British. Some foreign critics of
Extremist’s philosophy also regarded them as a revolutionary. Extremists had been inspired by
the careers and exploits of Shivaji and the other Maratha heroes who represented struggle and
fight and successful victories. Extremists believed in legal method of agitation. Many people
joined the extremists while many were totally against their philosophy.
Non violence in present world
Everyone knows the central ontological question: “Why there is being, being rather than
nothing? But there is another central philosophical question which the human race has been
unable to answer: “Why is there violence, violence rather than non-violence?"
When once asked if non-violent resistance was a form of “direct action", Gandhi replied: “...It is
the only form." He said it was the “greatest force...more positive than electricity, and more
powerful than even ether." Gandhi believed non-violence could be put into practice at every level
of human experience. Nonviolence for him was not just a political tactic but spirituality and a
way of life.
We are living today in an era where social, cultural and political spheres are void of
spirituality. But Gandhi’s non-violence still offers us an ideal that may uphold. Gandhi remains
the prophetic voice of the 21st century and his non-violence urges us to continue struggling on
behalf of what we view as right and just. At a time when mankind is confronted with clashes of
national interest, religious fundamentalisms and ethnic and racial prejudices, non-violence can be
a well-trusted means of laying the groundwork of a new cosmopolitics. Though many continue
to believe that non-violence is an ineffective instrument against dictatorships and genocide, in
the last several decades many democratic initiatives, which were premised on non-violent
militancy and an affirmation of human rights and helped build global civil society on solid
ethical foundations, could be associated with a kind of neo-Gandhian quest for peace and justice.
It is revealing that in a world where there are calamities such as terrorism, poverty, illiteracy and
fanaticism, history can still be made out of choices.
Take the case of terrorism. Terrorism is everywhere. Many countries including India are
fighting to stop terrorism. But bombs and drones are just making terrorists faster than we can kill
them isn’t there a better way to deal with this? There is the way of non violence. Remember as
Gandhi said “we are dealing with human beings and on one throws their life away without a
motive behind it take away the motive and you take away the violence. The choice of non-
violence is ours. We live in a world of “overlapping destinies" where the fates of cultures are
heavily intertwined. It is no longer a world of closed communities where tyrannical orders or
religious traditions represented the sole layers of historical legitimacy. Never in the history of the
human race has non-violence been so crucial. Only the most barbaric and despotic regimes,
however, have attempted to prevent their subjects to think and to practice non-violence.
Non-violence has recently evolved from a simple tactic of resistance to a cosmopolitical
aim based on international application of the principles of democracy. Over the past three
decades, global terrorism, violation of human rights and environmental degradation has caused
repercussions highlighting the concern for global politics of non-violence. These can best be
dealt with at the global level. Global politics of non-violence, thus, is the task not only of
governments but also of civil society, and inter-governmental, non-governmental and
transnational organizations. Most importantly, the international community has the moral
obligation and duty to intervene in countries if they slide into lawlessness and can’t protect
citizens from violations of human rights. Only a non-violent society can work its way up to
creating the institutions ripe for development and lead to inter-cultural and inter-religious
harmony. In a century where terror conditions the life and mentality of at least two-thirds of
humanity and violence influences our everyday culture, we can’t continue with the policy of the
ostrich—having given up inquiring “whose responsibility it is?"
It would be a folly to expect non-violence to become effective and durable, while the
majority still thinks politics in terms of the use of violence. When we examine where we are
today, given the politics and technology of violence, we can only conclude that we live in a
world with no wisdom. The time has come for humanity to renew its commitment, politically,
economically, and culturally, to the wisdom of non-violence.
Gandhi said, “There is no hope for the aching world except through the narrow and
straight path of non-violence." If we want to reap the harvest of dialogical coexistence in the
future, we will have to sow seeds of non-violence. Sixty years after Gandhi’s death, we face a
choice.