There’s a saying that goes, “you fight a sword with a sword”, but Gandhiji turned the whole proverb around. He chose non co-operation over the the British to achieve success. Why did Gandhi choose this method? Why didn’t he just order the people to attack the British? An attempt is made to answer all those questions in this article.
What the non-violence movement meant?
Greatest Field Marshall and ablest General of the century Mahatma Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi chose non violent approach to drive British away from India. Many in India now and in past and probably in the future too will ask the question “Why The father of our Nation chose non violence as the basis of the movement?” Many say it is this non violence that is the cause of all problems we are facing today. Also many say it is this non violence that is the cause for the division of India. Many others may even say it is this non violence that made the Indian image tarnished among world nations as weak and meek.
This is the precise anarchy when first Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi entered India after violently expelled from South Africa. In South Africa he witnessed the extreme brutality of the British forces against innocent Africans. In fact it was the same British for previous two centuries who were founders of mass slave trade in modern times who exported millions of Africans to continental America as slaves. In Africa despite having secure land routes, the African National Congress, at its beginning, could not mount any credible armed challenge to the British.
With this back ground when Gandhi approached the Indian problem, he was awe struck. Almost all land routes to any European power which can supply weapons, were almost nil as all of these routes were under British occupation.
Armed Struggle means uninterrupted supply of weapons, unending supply of fighters. This supply should be either domestically made or obtained from foreign sources. With the education system under British being disarray, the students were not able to produce any guns needed on the scale for an independence struggle, nor could factories be set up to produce them. To depend on foreign suppliers for a struggle against British is suicidal. Without weapon supply, creating brigades to fight, is like sending cattle to British slaughter houses. Also Gandhi realized that the then congress is filled with British agents and spies. He also realized that the Indian kings have agreements that prevented them going against British. By this, they were at least able to save 49% of the Indian land and its resources being plundered by British. Gandhi correctly assessed that once the freedom struggle starts he can bank on Kings for moral support and logistical help. With this as back ground, he set the wheel of independence struggle in to motion on a unique notion which he coined himself as the Non Co-operation in non violent way.
What Gandhi did?
Keeping the above pathetic scenario of the country, as an ablest Field Marshal, Gandhi, theorized that the only way to minimize tragic human loss which British will not hesitate to hoist on his fellow countrymen, was to start the battle of the mind rather than weapons!
He said do not pay taxes, produce your own goods, start with salt; Do not resist arrests, go to jail! As an ablest General, Gandhi was was able to correctly calculate the possibilities to win the war of independence against British. Minimize the resource flow in to British coffers and drain the resources in to spending on unwanted issues without firing a single bullet, was the excellent plan behind!
By self help in creating cotton, salt etc, he cut the revenue streams that support British operational machinery. And with endless non-resisting self courting arrests and subsequent maintenance of the arrests, drained the resources of enemy in to unwanted events.
South Africans took the violent route at the same time. Their independence was granted only in 1980. Thousands were killed, many more maimed! Whole country side lay desolate. For the population, the death toll ratio to gain independence was staggering.
In India from the day Gandhi entered congress in 1920 it took 27 years for achieving the victory. With no communication systems, transport infrastructure with dozen linguistic groups Gandhi achieved the success in the battle with the victors of World War 2. He was the best strategist and an ablest General. The only weapon he took was -a walking stick! His battle technique was Non Co-operation in Non Violent Way. His army was the Citizen Soldiers. His concept is total war but he was careful in choosing the terminology. He called his struggle as Satyagraha – Pursuit of Truth – even it warrants angry pursuit.
If at all partition was done and millions of lives were lost, it was not because of Mahatma Gandhi, but because of the treachery of Mountbatten and the British and the greed and power mongering of the associates of the then political parties of all shades and colors. That is why after partition and on the night of celebrations it is only Gandhi who boycotted the celebrations spending his time in prayer. That is why he decided to dissolve the then congress party which was part of the partition. But 16 hours before such dissolution to happen, Mahatma himself was allegedly shot dead by a ‘Fundamentalist’ who was thrice arrested by the British police on the charges of attempt for murder of Gandhi as latest as 10 days before the fatal killing of Gandhi. When the ‘Fundamentalist’ was caught with bombs and guns near Gandhi’s compound, the British/Indian police arrested him but released him later. The reason was the police could not tie up ownership of weapons to ‘Fundamentalist’.
Can they do the same now for any citizen in India? Also, after RTI was instituted after 3 years of request under RTI for the post mortem report of Gandhi, after Prime Minister was threatened in 2004 that he will be fined the maximum of Rs 25 000 for the photocopy of the Post Mortem report of Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi, it was mailed to the person who requested the report. Why so much secrecy in making public the post mortem report? Why any government has to withhold 60 years the post mortem report of our nations Father? Surprisingly, why FIR on the death of Gandhi was written in Persian Script and Urdu language which after independence were not official languages of India? Why again one of the best DGPs retired Smt. Kiran Bedi, has to learn Persian and Urdu and translate FIR in to be understandable in English or Hindi only in 1990 or so after 50 years of Gandhi’s death?
If we do not seek answers to these questions at least now, then we have done greatest injustice for the father of our nation and should be ashamed to allow the blaming of him by vested interested groups.
Whoever blames him for all evils now should at least look in to these issues and investigate.
To understand Gandhi one has to understand war and peace and the strategies to win. He is the best general who uses minimum human loss and resource loss to win a battle. On that account only a lay man can say Gandhi never fought a battle.