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Satyagraha: Essay on Gandhis

Concept of Satyagraha
by R.K Misra Essay

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Satyagraha: Essay on Gandhis Concept of Satyagraha!
Gandhis Concept of Satyagraha is an exceptional and novel way to resist
evil. This is the heart and soul of the entire Gandhian theory and
philosophy, and his exclusive contribution to the modern Indian political
thought. Through this mechanism, Gandhi aimed at resisting any kind of
unjust, impure or untruthful acts.
This concept also aims at furtherance of love and self-purification.
Satyagraha can be regarded as a vindication of truth by taking selfsuffering in the form of love. It is the weapon of the bravest and the
strongest. It is an antidote for coercion. It was believed that Satyagraha
enables elevation of spiritual and moral qualities of an individual.
The main function of a Satyagraha is not to injure the enemy by any
means. It is an appeal to the enemy either through reason or by a gentle
rational argument. It is something like a sacrifice of the self. Satyagraha
has two positive features, viz., it showers blessings on those who practice it
and secondly, it blesses those individuals against whom Satyagraha is
practiced.
The concept of Satyagraha advocates that it is through suffering that there
are achievements. For instance, just like a mother who takes all the
suffering for the sake of a child, Satyagraha also takes all the pain for the
cause of the fellow citizens.
This ideal also expounded that there is a direct relationship between the
purity of the suffering and the extent of progress. It believes that the purer
the suffering, the greater the material and spiritual progress. The theory of
Satyagraha has three main purposes firstly, it purifies the sufferer;
secondly, it intensifies favorable public opinion; and thirdly, makes a direct
appeal to the soul of the oppressor.
Gandhi differentiated between the terms Satyagraha and Passive
resistance. The former, according to him, is a moral weapon and the latter
is a political weapon. The victory of the soul power over the physical force
is reflected in the idea of Satyagraha. The former is dynamic, while the
latter is static.
The ultimate aim of Satyagraha is to achieve success, despite his extreme
sufferings, with cheerfulness and love unlike passive resistance that is

undertaken in a situation of weakness and despair. Ultimately, Satyagraha


offers a substantial and effective opposition to injustice and tyranny in
comparison to passive resistance.

Techniques of Satyagraha:
Some of the major techniques of Satyagraha are non-cooperation, civil
disobedience, Hijrat, fasting and strike.
The following is a brief explanation of each of the techniques:

Non-cooperation:
Gandhi was of the opinion that injustice prevails in the society only when
both, the government perpetuates and the people extend their cooperation.
Once this cooperation is withdrawn, then the entire system paralyses. It is
widely accepted that even the most despotic leader cannot continue for
long if he lacks the consent of his subjects.
However, a despot seeks the consent through force. But if the people are
firm in revolting against the despot, he remains nowhere. Non-cooperation
is, therefore, one of the weapons of Satyagraha to force the unjust and
immoral power to rectify his mistakes. The main goal of non-cooperation is
to strike the imagination of people as well as the social ostracism or
picketing.
Hartal should be occasionally used based on the non-violent and voluntary
measures. The social ostracism is a kind of social boycott against those
who defy public opinion. Gandhi suggested in a limited sense, picketing as
another weapon that relies on the force of public opinion. Non-cooperation
cannot be regarded as a negative creed, but it is very much a positive
philosophy of constructive and social development.

Civil Disobedience:
According to Gandhi, civil disobedience is an effective and bloodless
substitute for the armed revolt. This is another method of violating the
established order of the state in a non-violent and peaceful fashion.
However, necessary care has to be taken to make the entire act more
sincere, respectful and principled.
It should never be carried out with ill-will and hatred. It needs careful
planning and practice and without this the entire act might lose its vitality
and significance. Those who practice civil disobedience, according to
Gandhi, must ensure that the violence and general lawlessness would not
break out as it could disturb the peaceful environment in society.

Hijrat:
Etymologically, the term implies voluntary exile from ones permanent place
of habitation. One of the main reasons for the people to resort to Hijrat is
when they feel oppressed either due to loss of self-respect or honourable
living; they attempt to migrate permanently to other places. In simple terms,
it is a protest against the oppressor. Gandhi suggested this measure to the
Harijans mainly due to their oppression, especially by the dominant classes
in some places.

The Chaura Chauri incident prior to independence was a valid example of


the Harijans and the Dalits who have taken the route of permanent exile as
a form of their protest. Hijrat is, therefore, another non-violent method of
protest that attempts to make the oppressor realize his inhuman and unjust
acts of behaviour against the poor, the weak, just and innocent people.

Fasting:
This was another strong weapon suggested by Gandhi in his non-violent
struggle for freedom. However, he was clear that this act of fasting must not
be used as and when, and at every occasion. He stated that unwarranted
use of the device would lose its importance, and for this reason he
suggested that it must be sparingly used.
Gandhi was of the opinion that those who are spiritually fit and have purity
of mind and thought, humility, discipline and faith should alone undertake
fasting. It should not be viewed as the physical stamina, but the spiritual
content of fasting that gives it greater significance and credibility.
Gandhi also expressed the opinion that if those who have no moral
character undertake fast for either legitimate or illegitimate purpose, they
would only devalue the act. He, therefore, suggested that the technique
must be used with great caution and restraint.

Strike:
The last device a Satyagraha uses is the strike demanding justice for
legitimate cause as well as the redressal of grievances. Strike is
considered a voluntary suffering undertaken for the transformation of the
erring opponent. Gandhi was not in favor of Marxist principle of class war
and forceful takeover of the means of production from the bourgeoisie.
He was of the opinion that a firm or an industry is like a trust either under
the capitalists and the labour. A strike is meant to end injustice, inefficiency,
corruption and short-sightedness of the capitalists. However, in strikes
adequate care has to be taken to ensure that it remains non-violent as well
as peaceful and makes their demands meaningful, just and feasible.
Therefore, it can be stated that Satyagraha is a weapon for justifying
individual rights as against the oppressive, coercive attitude of the
Britishers. Gandhi initially used this weapon in South Africa and owing to its
success there, he applied the same in India during the freedom struggle.
His firm belief in two mighty weapons, namely, Satya and Ahimsa, made it
clear to the entire world that the path of righteousness and justice would
one day make anybody or any nation powerful on the earth.

Gandhian Perspective On "Convergence Of Values: Spiritual, Political


And Economic"
By M. P. Lele
Mahatma Gandhi has been described as a very unique personality who combined
saintliness with politics. His advocacy of spiritualization of politics was not intended
to mix politics with religion. It was rather, a passionate appeal for moralizing the
culture and practice of politics. Although Gandhis popular image was that of a
statesman, who successfully used nonviolence as a tool in the struggle for his
political objective i.e., independence for India, elementally Gandhi was a humanist,
who ventured through out his life to seek Truth as God.
Philosophically speaking, Gandhi believed in affirmation of the essential unity of all
existence, the indivisibility of truth and interrelation of truth and nonviolence. While
the former was the end, the latter was the means to achieve that, in whatever field
i.e., social, economic or political, he worked in the course of his lifes mission.
Gandhis concept of religion transcends the rigid framework of a sectarian approach.
About religion he said that it binds one indissolutely to the truth within and purifies
actions. It is the personal element in human nature, which leaves the soul restless
until it has found itself.
Gandhi was a revolutionary in every field that he treaded. To the protagonists of
pure religion, he advised, Carry God to the poor in a bowl of rice rather than a
bundle of high dogmas and logic.
Religion provides the ethical framework for all social and political actions of Gandhi.
Wither it was satyagraha (use of moral force) for pressing political demands or his
multi-faceted constructive programmes like Hindu-Muslim unity, upliftment of the
oppressed classes or his emphasis on Swadeshi and Khadis, there was an underlying
spiritual urge. Many of his critics and even some of his closest colleagues felt that
Gandhis views were utopian and antithetical to modernity. But as the dust settles
down on his historical agenda of political work, it is evident that as a practical person
he always tried to strike a balance between the political realities on the ground and
his moral ideological pursuits.
About his vision of India as an independent nation, Gandhi said: My notion of
Poorna Swaraj is not isolated independence but a healthy and disciplined interdependence between nations. My nationalism is not exclusive, nor designed to harm
any other nation. It is rather to promote international cooperation. About party
politics as a social instrument, Gandhi was very skeptical. He wrote, Today politics

pushes the individual into immoral and anti-social conduct. Mutual distrust and
enmity result into conflicts and wars, which unleash the bases of human passions
even under the moral guise such aspatriotism, bravery, self-sacrifice and altruism.
For satyagraha, Gandhi put four essential requirements:
1.Faith and regard for Truth
2.Strict adherence to nonviolence
3.Purity of means, as the ends and means are inter-convertible terms
4.Fearlessness (Abhaya) where pain is voluntarily borne by a satyagrahi.
Although Gandhis basic ideas on economics were rooted in the oriental spiritual
traditions of Aparigraha (spirit of non-possession) and Sanyama (restraint in
consumption), his ideas on economics got crystallized as he went on analyzing the
cause of the plight and poverty of poor nations like India, who had suffered due to
the exploitative policies of capitalist and colonial powers. Gandhis views on
economics reflect the common mans perception about his well-being.
Modern Economics has taken its shape after the industrial revolution in the later part
of the 18th century. The resultant craze for material progress put forth the Growth
Oriented development model. Today, economic growth has become the standard
measure of power, strength and virtue at all levels i.e., individual, national and
international. The IMF and World Bank and their multi-faceted arms working in
forums like WTO etc. are trying to impress upon nations that they should accelerate
their growth rate in order to integrate themselves into the process of globalization,
despite the fact that it has brought about ecological imbalances, environmental
problems and increasing disparity of economic well-being among nations.
Today in retrospect, Gandhi appears to be prophetic in outrightly rejecting the
growth model of economic development. In Hind Swaraj, his first exposition on the
contemporary issues in the early 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi severely criticized
the western model of development and its resultant civilization. He labeled it as
Satanic, calling it a product of dark age, Kaliyuga of Indian mythology. Gandhi
said that this civilization is enslaving men by offering temptation of money and the
luxuries as its fruit. Alternatively, Gandhi propounded the model of Sarvodaya
the good for all. He said that economics has to be infused with spiritual values. It
should create social prosperity in terms of cordial relationship, among different
layers of society rather than accumulation of sheer material wealth in certain pockets
only.
Today, it is a growing realization that even the so-called affluent societies created by
the growth based economic model are experiencing isolation, emptiness and are
loosing their own perspectives. At the personal level, it is causing acute stress,

depression and insecurity. Gandhi said that an economy based purely on material
considerations and totally devoid of any value base would not bring happiness to
mankind. Only that economic system which is regulated by ideals rooted in
permanent order of things would achieve the vision of a sustainable world.

Crucial features of Gandhis economic model could be summarized as


follows:
All wealth is produced jointly and should therefore bye equally divided among those
who have produced it.
Everyone should get enough to satisfy his needs as also reasonable comforts of life.
There should be limitation on human wants within certain reasonable limits. Gandhi
said, Nature produces enough for our day-to-day needs, and if everybody took just
enough for himself and nothing more, there would be no pauperism in this world.
For the use of accumulated wealth, Gandhi came up with the doctrine of
trusteeship. Similarly, his Swadeshi movement was aimed at the rejuvenation of
Indian Industry and Village Crafts which gave employment to rural folk in times
when they had no farm work in hand.
Gandhi said that Science and Technology should be so regulated that they work for
public good and not as tools to exploit hapless masses.
In Gandhis words, True economics never militates against the highest ethical
standards, just as all true ethics to be worth its name, must also be good
economics.
Mahatma Gandhi thus offers us an integrated approach and solution to the calls and
cries of the present times. He believed that human life follows an integral unity in all
its aspects and hence it could not be addressed in parts or dealt with in
compartments like social, religious, political, economic and so on. In the Gandhian
perspective of things, all life sustaining values converge into an integrated pattern.
Gandhi firmly believed that for a sustainable world, the development model must
have its roots in spiritual values. However, they must express themselves through
the normal activities of life in all fields i.e., economic, social and political.

Means And Ends In Politics


By Raghawan N. Iyer
Most political and social thinkers have been concerned with the desirable (and even
necessary) goals of a political system or with the common and competing ends that
men actually desire, and then pragmatically considered the means that are available
to rulers and citizens. Even those who have sought a single, general, and decisive
criterion of decision-making have stated the ends and then been more concerned
with the consequences of social and political acts than with consistently applying
standards of intrinsic value. It has become almost a sacred dogma in our age of
apathy that politics, centered on power and conflict and the quest for legitimacy and
consensus, is essentially a study in expediency, a tortuous discovery of practical
expedients that could reconcile contrary claims and secure a common if minimal goal
or, at least, create the conditions in which different ends could be freely or
collectively pursued. Liberal thinkers have sought to show that it is possible for each
individual to be used as a means for another to achieve his ends without undue
coercion and to his own distinct advantage. This occurs not by conscious cooperation
or deliberately pursuing a common end but by each man pursuing diverse ends in
accordance with the law of the natural identity of interests, a law that is justified
if not guaranteed in terms of metaphysical or economic or biological truths.
Authoritarian thinkers, on the other hand, justified coercion in the name of a predetermined common end, the attainment of which cannot be left to the chaotic
interplay of innumerable wills. The end may simply be the preservation of a
traditional order, or the recovery of a bygone age of glory, or the ruthless
reconstruction of society from the top to secure some spectacular consummation in
the

future.

It appears to be common to most schools of thought to accept a sharp dichotomy


between ends and means, a distinction that is deeply embedded in our ethical and
political and psychological vocabulary, rooted in rigid European pre-suppositions

regarding the very nature of human action. Distinctions have been repeatedly made
between immediate and ultimate, short-term and long-term, diverse and common,
individual and social, essential and desirable ends, as also between attainable and
utopian goals. Discussion about means has not ignored questions about their moral
implications and propriety or about the extent of their theoretical and contingent
compatibility with desired ends or widely shared values. But despite all these
reservations, the dangerous dogma that the end entirely justifies the means is
merely an extreme version of the commonly uncriticised belief that moral
considerations cannot apply to the means except in relation to ends, or that the
latter

have

moral

priority.

Gandhi seems to stand almost alone among social and political thinkers in his firm
rejection of the rigid dichotomy between ends and means and in his extreme moral
preoccupation with the means to the extent that they rather than the ends provide
the standard of reference. He was led to this position by his early acceptance of
satya and ahimsa, truth and nonviolence, as twin moral absolutes and his consistent
view of their relationship. In Hind Swaraj he wrote that even great men who have
been considered religious have committed grievous crimes through the mistaken
belief that there is no moral connection or interdependence between the means and
the end. We cannot get a rose through planting a noxious weed. The means may be
likened to a seed, the end to a tree; and there is just the same inviolable connection
between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree.1 It is not
as though violence and nonviolence are merely different means to secure the same
end. As they are morally different in quality and essence, they must necessarily
achieve different results. The customary dichotomy between means and ends
originates in, and reinforces, the view that they are two entirely different categories
of action and that their relationship is mainly a technical matter to be settled by
considering what will be effective and what is possible in a given situation, that the
ethical problem of choice requires an initial decision regarding the desired end and

the obligatory acceptance of whatever steps seem necessary to secure it or are most
likely to do so. Gandhi, however, was led by his metaphysical belief in the law of
karma - the law of ethical causation or moral retribution that links all the acts of
interdependent individuals - to the view that the relationship between means and
ends is organic, the moral quality of the latter being causally dependent upon that of
the former. The psychology of human action in a morally indivisible community of
apparently isolated units demands that the means-end relationship must be seen in
terms of the consistent growth in moral awareness of individuals and communities
and not in relation to the mechanical division of time into arbitrary and discrete
intervals. If for Gandhi there was no wall of separation between means and end,
this was because of his basic belief that in politics as in all spheres of human action
we

reap

exactly

what

we

sow.

Gandhis view of the means-end relationship may be put in the form of the following
statements, which overlap and yet express several distinct ideas: For me it is
enough to know the means. Means and end are convertible terms in my philosophy
of life.2 We have always control over the means but not over the end. 3 I feel that
our progress towards the goal will be in exact proportion to the purity of our
means.4 They say means are after all means. I would say means are after all
everything. As the means so the end.5 The first statement rejects the notion that in
our actual conduct we can make a firm and decisive distinction between means and
ends. Gandhi's conception of the psychology of human action requires this rejection
of a conventional conceptual habit which makes us ascribe to ourselves greater
knowledge, and greater assurance, than we actually possess. he second statement
asserts a contingent truth about the extent and the limit of our free will, that the
individuals capacity to determine what he can do in any specific situation at any
given time is much greater than his power of anticipation, prediction and control over
the consequences of his actions. The third statement expresses the metaphysical
belief in the moral law of karma, under which there is an exact causal connection

between the extent of the moral purity (detachment and disinterestedness or the
degree of moral awareness) of an act and the measure of individual effectiveness in
promoting or pursuing and securing a morally worthy end, over a period of time.
Clearly, this metaphysical belief cannot be conclusively verified or falsified by
evidence. The fourth statement is a practical recommendation that we must be
primarily or even wholly concerned with the immediate adoption of what we regard
as a morally worthy (i.e. intrinsically justifiable) means. This recommendation may
be accepted by those who subscribe to the second statement and it is mandatory for
those

who

share

the

metaphysical

belief

implicit

in

the

third

statement.

The closest approximation to Gandhi's view of the means-end relationship is that of


Jacques Maritain, who regards the problem of End and Means as the basic problem in
political

philosophy.

There

are

two

opposite

ways

of

understanding

the

rationalization of political life. There is the easier way of technical rationalization


through means external to man, versus the more exacting way of moral
rationalization through means which are man himself, his freedom and virtue. It is a
universal and inviolable axiom for Maritain, an obvious primary principle, that
means must be proportioned and appropriate to the end, since they are ways to the
end and, so to speak, the end itself in its very process of coming into existence. So
that applying intrinsically evil means to attain an intrinsically good end is simply
nonsense and a blunder.6 If Maritain and Gandhi have no use for the easier way of
technical rationalization or for piecemeal social engineering, this is not merely
because of their rejection of an utilitarian in favour of an absolutist (or nonnaturalistic) ethic, but also because of their daringly unorthodox repudiation of the
so-called pragmatist view of politics and the dominant doctrine of double standards
which requires a sharp separation between the moral consideration applicable to
individual conduct and those (if any) regarded as relevant to political action.
Gandhis view of the morally legitimate means to be exclusively employed in
furthering political ends was deeply affected by the doctrine of dispassionate action

in

the

Gita.7 He was convinced that an intense concentration upon the task at hand can and
must be combined with a degree of detachment, a freedom from anxiety about the
future consequences. If we are sure of the purity of the means we employ, we shall
be led on by faith, before which all fear and trembling melt away.8 Unconcern with
results does not mean that we need not have a clear conception of the end in view.
But while the cause has to be just and clear as well as the means, 9 it is even more
important to recognise that impure means must result in an impure end, 10 that
we cannot attain to any truth through untruthful means, that we cannot secure
justice through unjust means, or freedom through tyrannical acts, or socialism
through enmity and coercion, or enduring peace through war. The man who wields
force does not scruple about the means and yet foolishly imagines that this will make
no difference to the end he seeks. Gandhi explicitly rejected the doctrine that the
end justifies the means,11 and went so far as to assert that a moral means is almost
an end in itself because virtue is its own reward. 12 The doctrine that the end justifies
the means goes back to Kautilya in India and to Machiavelli in the West, and is
connected with the notions of self-preservation at all costs and of raison detre and in
more recent times with the attainment of a secular millennium through revolutionary
action. The doctrine was implicit in Killing No Murder, Colonel Sexbys incitement to
political assassination published in 1657. This once famous pamphlet argued that
tyrants accomplish their end much more by fraud than by force and that if they are
not eliminated by force the citizens would be degraded into deceitful, perfidious
flatterers. It is not only lawful and even glorious to kill a tyrant, but indeed
everything is lawful against him that is lawful against an open enemy, whom every
private man hath a right to kill. It is no doubt possible to justify tyrannicide without
going so far as to say that a worthy end legitimizes any and every means. The
difficulty, however, is that few practitioners would admit to holding to this maxim in
an unqualified and unconditional form. It has been argued repeatedly that any

means is legitimate that is indispensable at least for internal security or to defend


society against its external enemies. The sole reason for restricting the choice of
means is expediency rather than principle, prudence rather than (non-utilitarian)
morality. It is taken for granted that cunning and force must unite in the exercise of
power. Power may he justified as a means to a higher end but in the attempt to
employ any and every means to secure and maintain power it becomes an end itself.
The idea that one is serving some higher entity which rises far above individual life
and that one is no longer serving oneself makes one no less indifferent to the
morality of the means employed than the open pursuit of naked self-interest.
Alternatively, we have the straightforward Machiavellian notion that the individual
agent cannot escape the nature he is born with, that as fortuna is malicious so virtu
must also be malicious when there is no other way open. If virtu is the vital power in
men which creates and maintains States, necessita is the causal pressure required to
bring the sluggish masses into line with virtu. If there is a moral law, it must be
flouted in the practice of politics and this infringement can be justified by the plea of
unavoidable necessity. This line of reasoning is commoner than we like to think and
is sometimes couched in such specious or emotive language that in moments of crisis
many people are hardly aware of the wider implications of a doctrine that they
invoke for their special pleading in what seem to be exceptional situations. Hume
thought that this doctrine was so widely practised that it is safer in politics to assume
that men are scoundrels even if we do not believe that all men are knaves.
It is true that thinkers like Machiavelli and Bentham have been rather unfairly
accused of actually holding that there is an end justifying all means to it. Bentham
said only that happiness is the end justifying all means, which is more an empty than
a pernicious doctrine. Again, Machiavelli never said that power justifies all means to
it, but merely that the gaining of power often involves committing some very nasty
crimes. A similar defence could also be made on behalf of Kautilya. The important
point, however, is not the precise standpoints of Bentham, Machiavelli or Kautilya,

but the dangerous uses to which their doctrines could be put. Just as Benthamites,
Machiavellians and followers of Kautilya could be charged with ruthlessness (even
more than their teachers), so too Gandhians also could be accused of coercive tactics
(nonviolent only in a very restricted sense) in the pursuit of worthy ends. But it
would be much easier to challenge such Gandhians in terms of Gandhis fundamental
tenets than to appeal to the writings of Machiavelli or Bentham against diehard
Machiavellians

or

Benthamite

planners.

The doctrine that the end justifies the means does not even require any special
justification for the Marxist who accepted no supra-historic morality, no categorical
imperative, religious or secular. Engels declared in his letter to Herson Trier in 1889
that any means that leads to the aim suits me as a revolutionary, whether it is the
most violent or that which appears to be most peaceable. In his pamphlet on
Socialism and War Lenin said that Marxists differed both from pacifists and anarchists
in their belief that the justification of each war must be seen individually in relation
to its historical role and its consequences. There have been many wars in history
which, notwithstanding all the horrors, cruelties, miseries and tortures inevitably
connected with every war, have a progressive character, i.e. they served in the
development of mankind, aiding in the destruction of extremely pernicious and
reactionary institutions....or helping to remove the most barbarous despotism in
Europe. Whether an action is justifiable or not simply depends on what historical end
it
Unlike

serves.
Engels

and

Lenin,

Trotsky

stressed

what

he

called

the

dialectical

interdependence of means and ends. He argued that the means chosen must be
shown to be really likely to lead to the liberation of mankind. Precisely from this it
follows that not all means are permissible. When we say that the end justifies the
means then for us the conclusion follows that the great revolutionary end spurns
those base means and ways which set one part of the working class against other
parts, or attempt to make the masses happy without their participation; or lower the

faith of the masses in themselves and their organisation, replacing it by worship of


the leaders (Their Morals and Ours). This is clearly an improvement on Lenin, for it
at least provides a criterion by which a collectivist regime or revolutionary leaders
could be criticised for pushing an exclusively utilitarian creed to extremes of practical
ruthlessness in perpetuating a monopoly of power and privilege. Although Trotsky
denied that the end justifies any and every means, he still insisted that a means can
be justified only by its end, which for him is the increase of the power of man over
nature and the abolition of the power of man over man. For Gandhi, on the other
hand, the end is satya or truth, which requires no justification, and the means
(ahimsa or non-coercion) must be justified not merely with reference to the end but
also in itself; every act must be independently justified in terms of the twin
absolutes, satya and ahimsa. It is, therefore, not permissible or possible to justify a
single act of untruth or violence by appealing to the past or future possession of
satya and ahimsa, though no man can wholly avoid a measure of himsa or asatya or
claim to possess in their fullness absolute truth and absolute, universal love.
Weakness and error are ubiquitous and inescapable, but their justification and
rationalization make all the difference to our personal and political integrity. We
cannot condone our untruthfulness in the present on the ground that we shall be
truthful tomorrow when we are stronger or conditions are more favourable. A violent
revolution cannot lead (and, in any case, cannot be justified on the ground that it is
expected to lead) to a nonviolent society in the fullness of time. Further, in Gandhis
view it is not sometimes, as Trotsky suggested, but always (under the moral law of
karma) that the end changes in character as a result of the means adopted in its
attainment. If the doctrine that the end justifies the means is invoked in the
attainment of the good society through a single, violent revolution, it could also be
made

to

justify

repression

in

the

aftermath

of

revolution.

In Abram Tertzs The Trial Begins we have the following dialogue between Rabinovich
and Globov. Rabinovich holds that every decent End consumes itself. You kill

yourself trying to reach it and by the time you get there, it's been turned inside out.
These Jesuits of yours made a miscalculation, they slipped up. Globov answers:
They were right. Every educated person knows that the end justifies the means. You
can either believe it openly or secretly but you cant get anywhere without it. If the
enemy does not surrender, he must be destroyed. Isnt that so? And since all means
are good, you must choose the most effective. Dont spare God himself in the name
of God.....And as soon as one End is done with, another bobs up on the stage of
history.
Similarly, when Rubashov in Darkness at Noon points out that violence starts a chain
of cumulative consequences, Ivanov replies that no battalion commander can stick to
the principle that the individual is sacrosanct, that the world has permanently been in
an abnormal state since the invention of the steam engine and that the principle that
the end justifies the means remains the only rule of practical ethics. It is ironical that
while this doctrine is increasingly taken for granted by some Benthamite planners
and Kautilyan diplomats in Gandhis India, it has been openly questioned even in the
most powerful society that has adopted Marxism as a State religion. Tile Russian
poet, Yevgenv Yevtushenko, has stated, in a remarkable article, that Stalin was
forgiven much in his lifetime because Soviet citizens were led to think that his acts
were necessary for some higher purpose. They steadily impressed upon us that the
end justified the means. A great pain gives birth to a great flow of energy, as Stalin
once declared. But even as we lamented him, many of us recalled our kin and our
friends who had perished in the prisons. Naturally, to lock up such an enormous
number of people required a truly prodigious amount of energy. But people did not
ponder on the fact that the aim itself may cease to be great, if one strives after it
only with great energy and without paying much attention to the means. We realised
that the means must be worthy of the end. This is an axiom, but an axiom that has
been proved through much suffering. Gandhis way of combating the doctrine that
the end justifies the means was by asserting not merely that unworthy means could

belittle a great end but also that evil means can never, as a matter of fact, lead to
good ends. Like the majority of Russian Populists, Gandhi was horrified by the
advocacy of Machiavellian tactics and he thought that no end, however good, could
fail to be destroyed by the adoption of monstrous means. His reason for believing
this to be wholly and always true was his metaphysical conviction that the whole
world is governed by the law of karma, that there is a moral order (rita) at the heart
of the cosmos. Those who do not share this conviction, which is common to all the
great religions and is especially prevalent in peasant societies, may well think that a
lesser evil could lead to a greater good. This latter belief, which is no less nonempirical than the former, is taken for granted by many contemporary intellectuals,
power holders, leaders of organizations and evangelists (whether theological
teleologists or secular historicists). It is hardly surprising that Gandhi who even
earlier than Benda recognised the betrayal of and alienation from the masses of
narrowly based classes of intellectuals and power-seekers, appealed over their heads
to the toiling masses to find recruits willing to dedicate themselves to the
Constructive Programme and the development of a new social and political ethic.
Gandhi did more than base his view of ends and means on a metaphysical faith in
the moral law or his account of the necessary as well as contingent connection
between satya and ahimsa, truth and nonviolence, tolerance and civility. He also
rejected the moral model underlying the sharp dichotomy between ends and means.
Moral life was not for Gandhi mainly a matter of achieving specific objectives, nor
was politics like a field game in which a concrete objective is given in advance and
known to all. No doubt, he regarded satya as the supreme common end for all men
but its content cannot be known in advance. For Gandhi, as for the ancient Greeks,
satya refers to the highest human activity rather than an imposed and predetermined target. He evolved his political and social ethic in terms of a theory of
action under which all our thinking and activity can be corrected and justified only by
reference to satya and ahimsa, which are good in themselves and not merely the

means to a higher good. It is only for the sake of these goods - in order that as
much of them as possible may at some time exist - that anyone can be justified in
undertaking any social or political activity. They are the raison d'etre of virtue and
excellence, the ultimate test of human endeavour, the sole criterion of social
progress.
In stating that Gandhi rejected the sharp dichotomy between ends and means, it is
obviously not suggested that the distinction is entirely false and useless. Surely,
everyone (including Gandhi) would agree that it is often possible to distinguish
between ends and means, and also useful to do so. The distinction is most easily
made when we are considering some particular purpose that a man might have in
mind before embarking on a specific action. But if, like Bentham, we say that what a
man wants is to get or to maximise happiness then it becomes much more difficult
to make a clear distinction between the end (the greatest happiness) and all the
various things said to be means to it. For a mans conception of happiness depends
largely upon his desiring the things said to be means to it. It happens to be true that
the things usually held up as supreme ends of human endeavour (happiness,
freedom, welfare, etc.) are empty notions, apart from the things said to be means to
them. We must distinguish between mens goals and their principles, the rules they
accept. Sometimes, of course, their goal is to inculcate a principle or to observe it
themselves or get others to do so, but they have many other goals. But it seems to
be more realistic to think of men as having a variety of goals, some of which matter
more than others, than to think of them as having a supreme goal to which all others
are subordinate, either as means to it or being willingly sacrificed whenever they
conflict with it. The distinction between ends and means becomes misleading and
dangerous when we dogmatize that there is a single supreme good or even a fixed
hierarchy

of

goodness.

Gandhi did not lay down the law for all men or impose on nature a rigid, teleological
pattern of his own. He merely argued from the proposition that all men have some

idea of truth (satya) but no adequate conception of Absolute Truth (sat) to the
prescription that society should regard the pursuit of satya as a common end. He
further pointed out that in seeking the truth, we cannot help being true to our real
natures (identical with that of all others) and this means exemplifying a measure of
nonviolence in our attitudes and relations towards others. It is possible (though
questionable) for people to argue that the unhappiness of some is required to
maximize collective happiness, that individual citizens have to be coerced for the
sake of general freedom, that the maintenance of public virtue sometimes requires
subjects to choose (or support) privately corrupt but efficient and outwardly
respectable rulers. It would, however, be difficult to contend that the collective
pursuit of truth is compatible with the adoption of dishonest devices or the condoning
of untruth. This could be advanced if a pre-ordained, collectivist conception of truth
is imposed on the members of a society. A dogmatic ideology may be propagated by
dishonest

and

ruthless

methods.

Gandhi explicitly believed that no person or group could speak in the name of sat or
Absolute Truth for the very reason that all are entitled to their relative truths, to
satya as it appears to different people. As truth in this conception is identical with
integrity (fidelity to one's own conscience), Gandhi could claim that no man can
pursue greater integrity as an end by adopting means involving a sacrifice of the
integrity he already has. The test of one's immediate moral integrity is nonviolence,
it is a test of one's genuineness in the pursuit of truth (i.e. of intellectual integrity)
through one's actions in the midst of society. If we understand the concept of satya
and accept its pursuit as a common end, we cannot make a hard-and-fast distinction
between this end and the means towards it that we employ. On the other hand, it is
particularly if we regard the promotion of happiness as the whole duty of man that
one become careless about the means and violate the laws of morality. The
consequences of this line of thinking are writ large on the history of Europe, said
Gandhi in his introduction to his paraphrase of Ruskins Unto This Last. For Gandhi

the polis is nothing more or less than the domain in which all men are free to gain
skill in the art of action and learn how to exemplify satya and ahimsa; the arena in
which both the individual quest could be furthered and the social virtues displayed
among the masses of citizens in a climate of tolerance and civility; a morally
progressive society in which neither the State nor any social organization is allowed
to flout with impunity the sacred principle that every man is entitled to his relative
truth and no one can claim the right to coerce another, to treat him as a means to
his own end.

Trusteeship (Gandhism)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Trusteeship is a socio-economic philosophy that was propounded by Mahatma Gandhi . It


provides a means by which the wealthy people would be the trustees of trusts that looked after
the welfare of the people in general. This concept was condemned by socialists as being in favor
of the landlords, feudal princes and the capitalists, opposed to socialist theories.
[1]

Gandhi believed that the rich people could be persuaded to part with their wealth to help the
poor. Putting it in Gandhiji's words "Supposing I have come by a fair amount of wealth either by
way of legacy, or by means of trade and industry I must know that all that wealth does not
belong to me; what belongs to me is the right to an honourable livelihood, no better than that
enjoyed by millions of others. The rest of my wealth belongs to the community and must be used
for the welfare of the community." Gandhiji along with his followers, after their release from the
prison formulated a "simple" and a "practical" formula where Trusteeship was explained.
[1]

Nehru and Socialism


Saturday 22 November 2014
by Mohd. Yousuf Dar
Jawaharlal Nehru was born on November 14, 1889 at Allahabad. He was an
upholder of some of the concrete political values. He believed in socialism,
secularism, democracy and the modern values of positivism. The contribution of
Jawaharlal Nehru is rightly acclaimed as the maker of modern India. Having faith
in the Indian people, he sought to build a democratic polity and an economically
modernised nation.
He was both a thinker as well as a political practitioner. He was influenced by the
develop-ments of the 19th and 20th centuries. Though his was a life of comfort
and luxury, his politics connected him to the masses. Nehru was one of the
indomitable fighters of the freedom movement and headed the Congress under
Gandhijis leadership along with a host of others. During the period of the
national movement, Nehru suffered imprisonment many a time. He was the
Congress President in 1929 when it adopted the historic resolution of Purna
Swaraj and during the crucial years of 1946-47 he also headed the interim
government. In 1947 he became the first Prime Minister of the independent
country and occupied this position till his death in 1964.
Nehrus interest in socialism can be traced to his Cambridge days when the
Fabianism of George Bernard Shaw and Sidney Web attracted him. He was,
during those days, attending the lectures of John Maynard Keynes and Bertrand
Russell, which influenced his ideas. The fast-changing political, social and
economic ideas taking place throughout the world sharpened his socialistic
ideals. In 1926-27 Nehru visited Europe and was influenced by the teachings of
Karl Marx and V.I. Lenin. In November 1927 he paid a visit to the USSR (Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics) and was greatly impressed by the efforts of the
Communists to eliminate poverty, disease, illiteracy etc. and evolve a just socioeconomic order. He was convinced that without social freedom and socialistic
structure of society and the state, neither the country nor the individual could
develop much.
The deep impact of socialism on Nehrus thinking was reflected in his Presidential
address at the Lahore Congress session in 1929 when he said: The philosophy
of socialism has greatly permeated the entire structure of society the world over
and almost the only point in dispute is the pace and methods of advance to its
full realisation. India will have to go that way to end her poverty and inequality
though she may evolve her own methods and may adopt the ideal to suit the
genius of her race. He reiterated similar ideas at the Lucknow session of the
Congress in 1936 and said: I am convinced that the only key to the solution of
the worlds problems and of Indias problems lies in socialism and when I use this
word I do so not in a vague humanitarian way but in the scientific, economic
sense. Socialism is, however, sometimes even more than an economic doctrine;
it is a philosophy of life and as such also it appeals to me. I see no way of ending
the poverty, the vast unemployment, the degra-dation and the subjection of the
Indian people except through socialism. That involves vast and revolutionary
changes in land and industry, as well as the feudal and autocratic Indian states

system. That means the ending of private property except in a higher ideal of
cooperative service. It means ultimately a change in our instincts and habits and
desires. In short, it means a new civilisation radically different from the present
capitalist order. His socialism was not of Marxist or revolutionary type, rather he
was in favour of democratic socialism. Nehru stood for attainment of social goals
without ignoring the Indian traditions. He said that if socialism has to come to
India, it will have to grow out of Indian conditions. Nehrus concept of socialism
was not the abolition of private property, but the replacement of the present
profit system by the higher ideal of cooperative service. His socialism was not
the state ownership of the means of production, but was their societal and
cooperative ownership. The essence of socialism, Nehru used to say, lies in the
control by the state of the means of production, and the idea inspiring socialism
was the prevention of the exploitation of the poor by the rich.
Nehru was of the opinion that no ideology other than socialism could fit in the
democratic pattern as that of India. He was convinced that no democracy could
succeed without imbibing the socialist pattern. He once said: If an integrated
plan for the economic growth of the country, for the growth of the individual, for
greater opportunities for every individual and for the greater freedom of the
country has to be drawn up, it has to be drawn up within the framework of
political democracy. Political democracy must rapidly lead to economic
democracy. If there is economic inequality in the country, all the political
democracy and all the adult suffrage cannot bring about real democracy. We
have to think in terms of ultimately developing into a classless society. That may
still be a far-off ideal; I do not know. But we must, nevertheless, keep it in view.
Nehru brought socialism close to democracy.
Nehrus socialism has the distinctive characteristic of progressive
industrialisation through which alone the Indian economic problems (poverty,
backwardness, low rate of production) could be solved and through which alone
modern India could be built. He strongly believed in industrialisation. The only
solution for this lay in utilising modern science and technology for accelerating
the process of industrialisation on which depended also the prospects of
agricultural development.
For industrialisation, Nehru ruled out the capitalistic model and pleaded for the
socialist model by limiting the same to nationalisation of certain key industries
and the cooperative approach in agriculture while allowing the private sector to
participate in industry and agriculture. That was, what one may say, the essence
of the socialistic pattern of society, the model which was made to work through
(i) economic planning, (ii) mixed economy, (iii) Five Year Plans. Nehru was keenly
conscious of Indias grave economic patternsunemployment, underemployment, rampant poverty, food shortage, high prices, etc. For ending these
maladies he accepted and tried to implement the concept of a planned economy.
Under his leadership, the Indian National Congress accepted the ideal of a
socialistic pattern of society at the Congress Avadi session in January 1955. The
socialistic pattern connoted social ownership or control of the principal means of
production, acceleration of national production and the equitable distribution of
the wealth of the nation. There can be no doubt, however, that Nehru took the
lead in putting socialism as a concrete social and economic objective before the
Congress and the country. Nehru knew that the socialistic pattern of society was

not socialism in its pure form but this form would, he was convinced, lead the
country in the direction of socialism. By reason of his conviction and sacrifice he
occupied the foremost place among the socialists of India.

Nehru and his Views on Secularism


Sunday 16 November 2014
by Vivek Kumar Srivastava
When the country celebrates the 125th birth anniversary of Pandit Nehru, an
occasion arrives to explore his most important contribution to all of us. That is to
be found in his unflinching efforts to establish and practice secularism within the
countrys democratic framework in the best possible manner. The credit goes to
him that he succeeded in defeating the communal forces in an effective way
though his successors many a time failed on this count. In South Asia, where the
cultural landscape is uniform, no other country in the region has practised
secularism in its finest form as India. This fact owes much to him.
His ideas about secularism were born in his childhood when he experienced
being nurtured in a secular ambience. His resident teacher was Ferdinand T.
Brooks, a theosophist; interactions with Annie Besant and Munshi Mubarak Ali, a
Munshi of his father, and living with Jews in Harrow left a deep impact on him and
at the initial level removed many religious dogmas from his mind. The exposure
to rich English philosophical thoughts played an important role in his life but
greater was the influence of Buddhism which dissolved the feeling of
discrimination. The birth of Buddhism is traced to a reaction against the
restricted nature of Hinduism. Nehru learnt a lot from it.
Nehru was aware about the historical past of India. He was basically a historian
and convinced that India was a plural society, not a country with only one
religious affiliation. Hinduism was responded to by Buddhism and Jainism in
ancient times when new social forces had emerged. For him, the advent of
Christianity and Islam was as significant as the arrival of Zoroastrianism in the
country. He discovered that people from different religions had shared memories
which were not at odds with each other. The war of independence in 1857 was its
reflection when Hindus and Muslims had fought together. Nehru had discerned
this main element of the shared memory of Indian culture, and he attempted to
build an edifice of secularism on it.
When he entered political life, he applied his knowledge of history to infer that
the communal forces received wide support from the political authorities. He
opposed British rule on this ground deducing that the birth of communalism was
due to multiple factors but British rule was a major contributor. In later years this
thought matured substantially. He concluded that a functional government
structure must encourage and sustain religious diversity. India is a country with
multiple religions; hence the government can never be biased towards any
specific religion. Therefore, religion had no place in politics. On this point he
comes close to Machiavelli who advocated separation of politics from religion.
Here Nehru differed from Gandhi for whom spiritualisation of politics was a major
objective of political life. Though both had respect for all the religions, Nehru and
Gandhi were true secularists but differed on the application of religion in political
life.

Communalism and majoritarianism had no place in his thought process which


had identified secularism as the truth of the ages with empirical teleology. He
was aware about the dangers posed by majoritarianism during the national
movement. The Hindu reactionary organisations and movements, which had
emerged particu-larly during the 1910s and 1920s, were a threat to national
unity. He decided to serve the cause of nationalism by recognising the
fundamental unity prevalent in all religions. He upheld the cause of nationalism
by bringing together people from all major religions on the issue of national unity.
Gandhi had taken a step in that direction during the Khilafat movement; Nehru
reinforced that process in the next decade by associating himself with the
nationalist Muslim leaders.
His anti-communal approach was thus governed by the larger cause of
strengthening the national movement. This approach in the pre-independence
era culminated in the post-independence phase when Nehru nourished
secularism with the clear objective of ensuring respect for religious diversity and
focus on national development by associating all sections.
Nehru was a rationalist knowing well that human values were superior to
religious orthodoxies. His conflict with several people on religious show-offs
suggested that he was absolutely against any form of ritualism, religious
superstitions and unscientific metaphysical approach to life. His secular
credentials were based upon his rational humanistic attitude towards life, and
this life was more important than the one after death. His attention was riveted
to betterment of life in this age, not the age about which we are in the dark. This
idea was probably shaped by his inclination towards Buddhism in which the
concept of God is not recognised. Humanism is real religion and serving the
downtrodden the greatest worship, Nehru embodied and practised this in full
measure.
His emphasis on the development of scientific temperament is a great
contribution to India because it initiated the fight against religious obscurantism
and superstition which the whole country was steeped in. For this reason Nehru
can be characterised as a person carrying forward the tradition of the great
social reformer, Raja Rammohan Roy; both played a crucial role in the
elimination of social orthodoxies.
His belief in secularism was enriched by the emphasis on scientific analysis of
the mundane order. This order cannot sustain for a long period of time unless it is
based upon certain pillars. From his dissection of communalism Nehru discovered
that secularism was the sole response to the communal forces. Scientific lifestyle was its pragmatic base. When secularism was to be practised, no other
political system could be established except one which was a functional
democracy. Democracy and secularism are therefore twin siblings. Yet another
outstan-ding contribution of Nehru is the gift of the twin siblings to the nation.
This is what makes him an exceptional figure in human history.
Secularism is also related to the other philoso-phical pillars of the human
civilisation. These are the universal values of equality and liberty. He knew that
no secular order can be sustained unless people from all streams of religious life
enjoy equality and liberty of the highest form. This thought was manifest in his
Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly.

Nehru applied secularism in the development of the human spirit and nation. He
never used religion for votes. He articulated the humanistic values inherent in
religious equality. His secular ideas flow from the great Indian tradition; hence
those are not anti-religion but receive sustenance from humanism and universal
ethics.
In contemporary India his ideas on secularism are of utmost relevance when new
clouds of fears, apprehensions and uncertainties are gathering over the nations
social horizon.