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Indian democracy should revisit Gandhian thought



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"Indian democracy should revisit Gandhian thought", International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Innovative Research (, ISSN:2349-5162, Vol.7, Issue 10, page no.152-162, October-2020, Available :



Mahatma Gandhi represents a figure of unique integrity, consistency and humanity. The point of departure of his life philosophy and the basis of his theory and activity in practice are freedom and welfare of any human being and prosperity of peoples and nations of the whole mankind. Non-violence is the elementary and indispensable condition for the materialization of these noble goals. These principles and values represented a permanent source of inspiration in Gandhi’s guidance in his imaginative undertakings both in the struggle for freedom and independent development of India and the promotion of her role in the international community. As a matter of fact, Gandhi’s firm belief in the creativeness and openness of the people of India and his own active engagement for a peaceful and friendly cooperation among nations on equal footing, without any interference or imposition were inexhaustible sources of his personal wisdom and high credibility both as the father of modern India, as well as one of the major moral, spiritual and political international authorities of our times. Today, largely due to the work of Mahatma Gandhi, India has its political independence and the work of building that greater freedom which he set in train in continuing by non-violent workers all around India. But Gandhiji himself had altered his successors that they would face a more daunting journey on the road to the betterment of the people of India, than he himself had done. His 50 years struggle for national independence reached a culmination in August 1947, but he could see that national independence of India was really only the first step towards ultimate goal-equality of opportunity for all through non-violent action. That is the reason why Gandhi represents today not only the collective conscience of India, but also the collective conscience of all humanity. My claim is that Mahatma Gandhi remains a relevant thinker today because of his theory and practice of non-violence, but also because of the way he defended all his life political tolerance and religious pluralism. Nothing about his defence is doctrinaire or a prior. Everything he claims about the importance of individual autonomy and political freedom, for human life, for modern living, is tested by experience. Everybody knows that Gandhi’s ideas evolved through experience from a highly simplistic view to more mature, sophisticated and relevant propositions. Gandhi agrees with Kant that “maturity” consists in man’s taking over responsibility for using his critical rationality and that critical rationality consists in the unflinching examination of our most cherished and confronting assumptions. Therefore, Gandhi was able to articulate a fundamental change-taking place in Indian but also modern understanding which still gives his philosophy contemporary relevance. One thing is certain about Gandhi’s thought: it is not only modern, but also mature. Gandhi’s heroic break with religious fanaticism, far from opening up the possibility for a critical structure, which would provide universal norms for human action. Nevertheless, Gandhi was not a system builder. He was essentially a pathfinder towards social and individual goals. Therefore, Gandhi’s philosophy is neither utopian, nor eschatological. It is simply a critical view, which tells us what we need to do in order to go forward in the path of metaphysical humanism. Gandhi tells us to proceed with clear conceptual thinking and skepticism of the facts. Therefore, according to him, we must never fail to seek knowledge and enlightenment, never give up the virtues of common sense, civility, justice and non-violence. Therefore, a sense of balance and proportion of what fits when and where is crucial to the theory he enjoins us to practice. Nevertheless, for Gandhi pure rationalism was neither scientific, nor human. More importantly, Gandhi’s attachment to religion is limited. Religion for Gandhi is identified with ethics rather than theology. Therefore, most of Gandhi’s major concepts and methods of struggle are not absolutist concepts. It would be totally unfair to judge and analyze Gandhi through some absolutist concepts and ideas. In this connection the most significant concept that is relevant to revalidating Gandhi is that which went by the name of “Swaraj”. Today “autonomy” is not merely an economic concept, but it is also a political concept. The new spirit of “autonomy” not only in form, but also in essence, is very much discussed in the west as a pattern to enforce the civil society vis-à-vis the state. Gandhi was in fact a stern defender of the role of law, and advocate of fundamental human rights, a critic of all forms of political action based on violence and intolerance and a fervent of limited government. Gandhi’s political thought cannot, in this sense, be identified either with the liberal tradition, or with the anarchist tradition or with the claims advanced by a number of communitarian philosophers today. Gandhi belongs to none of the three ideological options which are available for us today. One option is the return to a “religious dogmatism”. The second option is “relativism” which is exemplified by the postmodernist movement that believes that the objective truth should be replaced by hermeneutic truth. The third option is the “rationalist fundamentalism” which believes in the total power of reason and disenchants everything substantive. Gandhi belongs to neither of these three main visions influential at present. He is not a religious fundamentalist. He is not a cultural revivalist, and he is not committed to the idea of absolute reason. What strikes me as interesting in Gandhi is how he kept a space in his mind open for doubt and for skeptical irony In this sense the moral and political principles of Mahatma Gandhi do not constitute a sort of real gearbox that drives our thought and action in one direction, and is powered by a spiritual engine with only a monolithic ideology as the fuel

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Indian democracy should revisit Gandhian thought

Cite This Article

"Indian democracy should revisit Gandhian thought", International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Innovative Research ( | UGC and issn Approved), ISSN:2349-5162, Vol.7, Issue 10, page no. pp152-162, October-2020, Available at :

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Published Paper ID: JETIR2010017
Registration ID: 301651
Published In: Volume 7 | Issue 10 | Year October-2020
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Page No: 152-162
ISSN Number: 2349-5162

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"Indian democracy should revisit Gandhian thought", International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Innovative Research ( | UGC and issn Approved), ISSN:2349-5162, Vol.7, Issue 10, page no. pp152-162, October-2020, Available at :

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