Home Essay/Articles ESSAY : IS GANDHIAN MODE OF PROTEST (SATYAGRAHA) STILL RELEVANT?
ESSAY : IS GANDHIAN MODE OF PROTEST (SATYAGRAHA) STILL RELEVANT?
Friday, 04 July 2014 03:06

 



IS GANDHIAN MODE OF PROTEST (SATYAGRAHA) STILL RELEVANT?

Satyagraha is the method of resistance and mass movement developed by Gandhi during his days in South Africa and later epitomised in India during its freedom struggle against British Empire. Satyagraha was developed as a broad term for techniques of civil disobedience, non cooperation, hunger strike and protest. Satyagraha is a portmanteau of the Sanskrit words Satya (meaning "truth") and Agraha ("insistence", or "holding firmly to"). For Gandhi, Satyagraha went far beyond mere "passive resistance" and became strength in practising non-violent methods. Later on Satyagraha went to become the most successful resistance technique and inspired many other great leaders like Martin Luther King Junior, Nelson Mandela and others. Not only it led to freedom of our country but also created a cadre of thousands of activists for whom it became a mode of life and they were there to shape India's future in right form to ensure not just independence but also to the face challenges that a newly developed nation face.

However it was felt that today's youth is detached from those Gandhian methods and satyagraha is losing its appeal as the last successful mass movement after Gandhi is itself more than 30 years old when JP movement gave tremors to the government during 70's which later on resulted in internal emergency and since then we haven't experienced any mass movement on satyagraha lines, which probably led people and political scientists to believe that satyagraha and Gandhian methods are obsolete.

A century is enough time to deface and corrupt any concept. And this is what happened with 'satyagraha', conceptualised and experimented by Mahatma Gandhi in Johannesberg, Champaran, Dandi and other places as in a survey on Gandhi done by BBC in 2007 on Indian youth shockingly revealed that -

Quite a number of students shockingly pointed out that Mahatma Gandhi would have been entirely forgotten today but for the holiday given on his birthday on 2nd October.

It's cool And they have seen it in lago rahe munnabhai.

They also said that Mahatma Gandhi is being humiliated year after year, by several corrupt and dishonest people holding positions of power and authority, who preside over meetings to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi on Gandhi Jayanthi day.

The students of present generation who have only heard about Mahatma Gandhi find it extremely difficult to relate Mahatma Gandhi's teachings to the present day happenings. The consensus opinion amongst the students appear to be that the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi has been lost in India, though it should not be lost.

The survey reveals that although children don't know about Gandhi, yet they have positive attitude about him which is because of his non violent protests about which students know from their history text books, and they seems to know very less about the civil disobedience due to lack of mass movements in present generation and admission of Gandhian values only in letter but not in spirit by present leadership of country. They know about it, yet they don't know it as they have not experienced it and they need a mass movement to be educated about it and be made aware of it. At the end the report points out that in fact in today's world of violent conflicts and vengeance mindsets Gandhi is even more relevant as it was also reflected by the grand success and support for Lage Raho Munnabhai which was based on application of gandhian ideas to present generation.

"I cannot imagine the World or Society or Family without existence of truth, nonviolence, love, simplicity, freedom, service and equality". If these values are out dated or not relevant today in this world, then Gandhi philosophy is also the same.

If this is not relevant, then what is relevant today?

Gandhi always said, "do what I do" and "my life my message". Gandhi also said I have implement these values and whenever any person implement these values, he will get the same result, anytime and anywhere.

Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and so many others were inspired by Gandhi and implemented Gandhian values and achieved the same result. Vinoba Bhave carried out Bhoodan movement after Gandhi to solve land problems when naxalism was rising in Andhra Pradesh and he was successful during that time. I think, we have failed to implement above values and philosophy in our life. Therefore, we are the ones who failed to live up to Gandhian morals and ethics and not Gandhi.

We must always remember that it was satyagraha which made Gandhi what he was and not the other way around, had it been a personal philosophy than Gandhi's death could certainly have led to its eclipse, but since it was the ideology which was supreme it did lasted even after Gandhi's death and is still equally relevant today as it was during the time of Gandhi himself. The way it is being successfully used by the social activist Anna Hazare to raise the youth of country against corruption to sought Jan Lokpal Bill, which is aimed at elimination of corruption by punishing the guilty clearly shows its relevance and strength and the way masses and particularly the youth have turned in favour of him just shows the relevance of satyagraha and non violence in modern time.

The gandhian constructive programme was illustrative and with the changing times and situations, new programmes, new ideas and innovative approaches will have to be incorporated to fulfil the aims and aspirations and needs of the present generation. Gandhi has shown us the method and path to follow. The details have to be worked out by each generation, keeping in view the vicissitudes of time and circumstances. Gandhi was never dogmatic and he was ever changing in his experiments with truth. Following operations of methods, fearlessness and commitment to the basic ideals of Gandhi, we have to plan our programmes and chalk out strategies which are relevant to our times. It is the people's initiative and people's power and social action that would strengthen democracy and Gandhism.