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Critically examine how Mahatma Gandhi used the concept of non-violence as a practical tool of resistance to the colonial rule

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Introduction

Critically examine how Mahatma Gandhi used the concept of non-violence as a practical tool of resistance to the colonial rule. Throughout the ages mankind often instinctively turns to the use of violence to defeat an enemy. Violence is part and parcel of the culture of human beings. And yet one of the greatest freedom struggles in modern history was apparently won through the specific rejection of violence, and the active use of a policy of non-violence. That struggle was between the Indian independence movement and the British colonial administration. At the head of that independence movement was Mahatma Gandhi, a simple Indian who held no office or great wealth, and yet was able to unite a whole subcontinent against the British Empire. Not only that, but he did it in such a peaceful, virtuous way that he made the British question their own moral's and eventually forced them out of India. This is the general version that is recorded in history. However, this version of events generally ignores the other forces that influenced the British to withdraw from Empire in India. Here we will critically examine the view that the use of non-violence was the main reason for the ending of British rule in India, by examining the true organisational nature of non-violent civil disobedience, and other events, British and global. ...read more.

Middle

So in reality protesters may have been protesting over differing things depending upon which part of India they were in. An article in Young India warned, "Each town, each village may have to become it's own battlefield. The strategy of the battle must then come to be determined by local circumstances and change them from day to day. . . . . They should need little guidance from the outside (Young India: 17th July 1930: Brown). For various reasons tight central control of civil disobedience was impossible. As the global economic crisis deepened through 1930 affecting different regions in varying ways and degrees, so local strategies became more sharply differentiated. This increased local congress leaders' need for freedom from central control if they were to exploit local discontents. Provincial politicians wanted access to the prestige and resources of the all-India body but they did not hesitate to modify or ignore central advice if this clashed with provincial interests. The Raj realised that the Working Committee had limited control over civil disobedience, and the experienced Governor Sir Malcolm Hailey, told Lord Irwin, " I know of course the military argument . . . . . . that the most effective way to cripple the enemy is to strike a crushing blow at his most vital point. ...read more.

Conclusion

Ironically though, it was the British who gave India the instruments with which to resist colonial rule and establish a nation. The railways united a whole continent in a way that had never been done before. Great distances could be travelled relatively quickly by even the most lowly peasant and political campaigners could move quickly. For the first time, ordinary Indian's looked upon India as one country. The establishment of universities and provincial governments educated enough Indian's in the art governance that they felt confident enough to ask for the power to govern without foreign help. Indeed, Gandhi himself had been educated in law in England. The hegemony of the English language was a great communication device, as it gradually became the only language that people from all over India could unite around. These factors were instrumental in ensuring the widespread appeal of the Indian National Congress. The British finally left for several reasons, most of them international. But the non-violence struggle was of course an important factor in the ending of British rule. Any use of violence would allow the British to be seen as 'the law' protecting India from 'vandals', and so justify the continuance of the Raj for a little longer. Without the non-violence movement the British would probably have moved at a much slower pace than they did, but even Britain could not fight against the economic and international climate that made British withdrawal from India inevitable. ...read more.

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