Contribution of Gandhi's
Non-violence to World Civilization
All over the world, in different ways and in different
fields, several developments are taking place that indicate a growing interest
in a non-materialistic, nonviolent alternative to present modes of thinking.
Whether or not those involved in these developments use or are even aware of Mahatma Gandhi's name and message, they are nevertheless promoting the values and
principles he stood for.
I will discuss this with reference to different types of movements some small, some big, but each of them sharing the new directions to peace and freedom for one's country and the world. The only way if we are to even survive another 100 years. I shall dwell in detail on events in South Africa, prior to the Sharpeville incident.
Terrorism and political violence, which stalks us in Kashmir
today, made their first newspaper headlines as a result of Palestinian activities. It was the Palestinian guerrillas who master- minded the world's first plane hijack outside of the Cuban area. It is since then that hijacking and other forms of terrorism have spread to various comers of the world, including our own country and Sri Lanka.
Each Palestinian liberation group had attempted to outdo the other in rhetoric and
violence, so much so, that the Israel-Arab feud was seen as an inherently bloody stand-off. Therefore, it came as a very pleasant surprise to note among all those fighting for Palestinian liberation there was one courageous individual who swore by non-violence and treated Mahatma Gandhi as his ideal. Today we see a great change in the 'official' Palestinian movement of Yasser Arafat, which is negotiating a settlement with the Israeli government.
This is, in a way, the result of Awad and his group of non- violent followers. Awad was born in 1943, but soon after lost his father in the terrible battles that preceded the creation of the state of Israel. He was therefore raised in an orphanage, and must have experienced the same loneliness and bewilderment that the other young Palestinians did. But unlike his friends, who became active in the various terrorist groups, Awad
felt love and compassion, rather than resentment and bitterness. Not that he
felt injustice had not been done to Palestine, but he was convinced that the route to redressal did not lie through hatred and vengeance. He became deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and decided to follow the same tactic of civil disobedience against the Israelies as Gandhi had done against the British. His civil disobedience campaign picked up considerable steam during his tenure as a teacher in a Mennonite school in Beit Jallah, near Bethlehem. Finally, the Israeli authorities would stand it no more, and in 1969 expelled him to the United States.
He returned to Jerusalem, his birth place, in 1983 in order to found the Palestine Centre for Non-violence. In a short span of
five years, his activities had become so very embarrassing to the Israeli authorities that they decided to expel him once again. But the very order of expulsion turned him into a hero, getting him
support from many unexpected quarters. Even the Reagan administration, no
great champion of non-violence, protested, insisting that "you need more Awads
in Jerusalem" to promote non-violence.
Mubarak Awad was proud to be a trouble maker. Strite returning to his native East Jerusalem in 1983, the 44-year old
naturalized American citizen agitated for non-violent resistance to
the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A self- proclaimed disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, Awad
urged a program of disruption and civil disobedience, including tax resistance,
boycott and "the deliberate commission of ( other) illegal acts".
But the other implication of the accusation that A wad was a "troublemaker" was not quite fair. While it was true that the Israeli authorities look upon him that way, especially because they were at a loss to know how to deal with him, the fact of the matter was that A wad wanted to end and not make trouble. Gandhi too was called a 'troublemaker' by the British authorities, but they were able to come to terms at the end of the colonial era with much less trouble, and much more dignity, than any of the other Imperial powers, because of Gandhi. The fact that British nationals like Attenborough and Marjorie Sykes were among Gandhi's greatest admirers was no coincidence. Similar to Gandhi is the impact that A wad created among the Israelies. To the authorities, he was a 'troublemaker', but among the citizens, many looked upon him as the hope of the future. The reason is simple. A wad was planting the seeds of non-violence among the Palestinians.
The work of Mubarak A wad was proof that the Gandhian ideal was being kept alive even in the unlikeliest of places by a new generation of dedicated, idealistic workers.
On 14 May 1987, the Fiji government was ousted by a military coup led by lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka. The response to Rabuka's regime both within Fiji and overseas provided a useful test of the theory and the practice of non-violent action.
Fiji was taken over by the British as a colony in the 1870s.3 The native peoples are ethnically Malanesian. The British brought
indentured workers from India to work on the sugar plantations. Today, the Indo-Fijians-born and bred in Fiji with ancestors from India make up half the population of 7,00,000. Malanesians
make up 45% and Europeans, part-Europeans and others the remainder.
From independence until 1987, the Alliance Party held power under Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisease Nara. The Alliance was built and supported by Malenesians, Fijians. The opposition National Federation Party (NPP), which was built around and supported by Indo-Fijians, was riven by splits. The 'general electors', associated with the small European population, supported the Alliance. In effect, ethnic divisions were exploited by the chiefs, using the vehicle of the Alliance Party, to
mobilize support for a feudal-style hierarchy which put them in a privileged position.
In 1985 the multi-racial Fiji Labour Party was formed. It was an attempt to promote class-based, rather than race-based, politics. The Labour Party criticized both other parties for serving the rich, and promoted the claims of workers, the unemployed and the poor.
The Labour Party rapidly gained strength and several NPP politicians defected to its ranks. In the 1987 election, the Labour Party joined with the NPP as a coalition and together they won control of parliament. It was this government that only six weeks later was toppled by a military coup.
The Fiji coup is being discussed from the point of view of opposing coups with non-violent action within and without the country concerned. I would like to discuss possible actions that could have been taken against the coups, especially by people of other countries, the pressure of international public opinion and governments. The Australian Government, which had cut off aid to Fiji, decided to resume part of the aid, keeping in suspense a major part of it, till a democratic political system was restored in Fiji. This showed both the weakness and strength of outside forces. Australia, should have continued a total ban to
pressurize Rabuka fully-nevertheless it was still a potentially strong method, one which needed to be boosted and strengthened.
Non-violent action is a form of political action which encompasses methods such as demonstrations, boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, parallel governments and a host of other techniques. Social defence can be defined as the use of non-violent action to serve as an alternative to military defence. As a proposed alternative to military force, social defence can be used in two basic ways. First as a defence
against a foreign invasion. Here the best example is the spontaneous
Czechoslovak resistance to the Soviet invasion in 1968. Another example is the
German resistance in 1923 to the French occupation of the Ruhr. Non-violent resistance within Fiji had taken a variety of forms.
At the most
basic level, numerous people had spoken out against Rabuka's regime, criticizing its illegality and violations of human rights. Members of the Labour Party tried to build grassroots support, traveling to villages and explaining how the 1970 constitution guaranteed the right of Malenesian
Fijians. There were demonstrations and strikes in cities, and many shopkeepers closed their shops in protest. Even more powerfully, workers in the cane fields stopped work; the threat of failure of the sugar crop, Fiji's major export earner, was a serious one. Of long-term significance, many Fijians emigrated to escape the repressive political system and those who left were mostly the educated and highly skilled.
The resistance to the Fiji military regime had been explicitly and consistently nonviolent.
The coup in Fiji, on the other hand, also succeeded with a minimum of force. There were relatively few soldiers involved. If there had been a concerted non-resistance from the outset, possibly the initial coup could have been thwarted. But the reality was quite different from this hypothetical resistance. A large number of Malenesian
Fijians supported the first coup, while the Indo-Fijians failed to put up a show
of support for the government. The mass rallies during the election campaign in support of the Labour Party failed to materialize in opposition to the coup.
The initial coup succeeded because it drew upon the ethnic divisions in Fiji, mobilizing Malenesian Fijians and demoralizing Indo-Fijians. The use of ethnic divisions for political purpose has
a long history in Fiji. The Labour Party itself represented a challenge to this political use of ethnicity, and the coup represented a reversion to the status quo.
Also involved in the early support for and acquiescence to the coup was the lack of vehement opposition by figures of powerful symbolic importance.
The dilemma was not the implementation of nonviolent action, but rather the difficulty of
people to take action. Without strong support from key symbolic figures, in the
face of long- standing ethnic and other divisions, and lacking leadership, preparation and training in non-violent action and strategy, a unified response was not made. This negative assessment should not obscure the considerable and powerful resistance that did occur and had forced Rabuka
to form some sort of 'popular' Government. The point here is that nonviolent action theory devotes much more attention to the consequences of actions that are actually taken, than to the structural and ideological obstacles to taking action in the first place.
Another neglected area in the theory of nonviolent action is the role of groups outside what seems to be the immediate area of struggle. In the case of Fiji, a large number of people in other countries were startled and disturbed by the coup. Outside Fiji, the stated reasons for the coup sounded hollow, and the ethnic divisions which helped sustain the new regime had little salience. However, outside pressure was not enough to restore democracy in Fiji. There are various methods whereby people and countries from outside could have used nonviolent methods to help overthrow oppressive regimes. The following methods can be used vigorously for effective results: (1) attacks from various types of media; (2) The stoppage of all economic and military aid; (3) The holding of public meetings to support peoples resistance
within the affected country; (4) Action by foreign Governments against the illegal regimes by not
recognizing such regimes; (5) The public lobbying their own Government for this; (6) Action through international trade union movements to stop the flow of goods and services to and from the illegal regime; (7) In places
like Fiji instant stoppage of tourist traffic to Fiji would have greatly affected the Fiji Government. If all these actions had been strongly and continuously carried out it is quite possible that Fiji would have been able to overthrow the dictator Rabuka. However the response was not strong enough in these areas and Rabuka continued for long. Non violent action needs to be strengthened and developed internationally so that it can be successfully implemented.
To counteract military attacks and large scale destructions in the world, Gandhi had started a movement to use non-violence to oppose wars. His teachings on this have led to developments in the world of the concepts of a "Living Wall" and "Peace Army". When the Mahatma was in London in 1932, he met with activists such as Dr. Maude Royden to
organize such activities and this started the idea of a Peace Army to counteract the Sino/Japanese War. As a result the Peace Army group issued a letter which became very famous all over the world.
The letter urged that' 'men and women who believed it to be
their duty should volunteer to place themselves between the combatants... We
have written to the League of Nations offering ourselves for service in such a Peace Army". The Army, wider Sheppard's leadership, was to act as a human barrier between the combatant parties and thus end the fighting. Royden
explained that what they wanted was" an army of pacifists who would offer
themselves to the League of Nations as the 'shock troops' of peace."
The operation of such an army could only come into being when 'the circumstances were correct, and in this case the proposers believed that they were.
The idea was to put the peace army between the Chinese and Japanese armies along the sea coast of Shanghai to stop the Japanese Navy
from unloading its army. Unfortunately, the Peace Army could gather only about 1000 people and therefore could not get the necessary League of Nations or British Government help. Nevertheless it was decided that "a permanent Peace Army should be built up for future emergencies, and for
Constructive peace work", The country was divided into districts and subdivided into groups where there were to be active units. The "Anny" was organized into two sections: one composed of
the interposing "shock troops" and the other of war resisters who would be
willing' 'to render constructive peace service wherever it may be required, or
if not able to go themselves, to help in sending others". Contact was attempted with people in a number of different countries, and it was hoped that Peace Annies would eventually be established all over the world.
The tasks of interposition had been too great for the Peace Anny
and so emphasis shifted to its second aim of peace making (working to bring
about negotiations and mediating) and peace building. Members journeyed to
Palestine to undertake reconciliation work. However, the 1938 effort ended in tragedy when one of the two team members, Hugh Bingham, was shot and fatally wounded.
From preventing or stopping wars by the interposition of a
peaceful buffer force, the focus of pacifist activities in Britain became the Peace Pledge Union organised in 1934 by Canon Sheppard. The Union was sponsored by the likes of Royden
and Bertrand Russell and its first secretary was the Christian mystic Max
Plowman. At its height in 1937, close to 150,000 Union members had signed the
pledge that stated: "We renounce war and never again will we support or sanction
The idea was rekindled when British MP Henry Osborne wrote to the Manchester Guardian, in 1956, urging that the United Nations should recruit a volunteer corps of 10,000 unarmed people to patrol and hold a two kilometer-wide demilitarized zone close to the Egyptian! Israeli border and when former British MP, Sir Richard Acland proposed a similar scheme two years later.18 While Maude Royden's Peace Anny may not have seen action, the attempt continued to provide inspiration to those who sought peaceful ways of solving international conflict. Following in her footsteps and reiterating Gandhi's call for a "living wall", another impetus for unarmed peace keeping, found embodiment in a more limited way in the 'World Peace Brigade' and later the "Peace Brigades International" which was re-established in 1960. In that year Spanish writer, pacifist, former League of Nations champion, and political critic, Salvador de Madariaga, and Jayaprakash Narayan, wrote to UN Secretary General Dag
Hammarskj old proposing the setting up of a "World Guard".
Hopefully the tradition will continue until the world has finally
solved the problem of major bloody international conflicts and the only armies
will be the unarmed forces of a world government engaged in peace making and
peace building projects, and on the rare occasions where it may become
necessary, in peace keeping. Today in face of the Bosnian and Chechniyan conflicts, these moves are all the more needed. Another part of the World in which Gandhi's philosophy of Non-violence has been accepted as a method to combat injustice and oppression is in Africa, where Gandhi first experimented with peaceful civil disobedience.
Gandhiji had not a shadow of doubt that only through non- violent organisation could the emancipation of the coloured races come and the tragedy of a global clash of colour averted. And so, when Jomo Kenyatta saw him in London during the Second Round Table Conference and asked for a message. Gandhiji scribbled on a leaf of his table diary, "Truth and Non-violence can deliver any nation from bondage." By then, as he had
anticipated, the impact of the Indian struggle had begun to be felt' in South Africa and a number of Africans had begun to apply the moral of the Indian struggle to their own case. They were
particularly concerned about three questions:
To what quarter should they look for deliverance?
Now could they apply the lesson of the Indian struggle to their own case?
What help could India render them in their struggle?
In the last years of his life, from the signs of the times and the shape of things to come, Gandhiji had begun to have a very
lively apprehension that the clash of colour that was developing in South Africa might one day imperil world peace and even white civilization itself. A wave of awakening had come over the African population and coloured people in other parts of the world also had developed a consciousness of their rights and the injustice they were suffering. Many African
freedom movements have been successfully based on the Gandhian methods of non-violence.
Of the African leaders, Dr. K warne Nkrumah, it is pointed out, had learned about Gandhiji's use of non-violence when he studied at Lincoln University in the United States. He used it in his country's struggle against British political control. As is well known, that struggle was successful. He was eager to have the idea used by many other African people to help them to win their freedom. In his autobiography, Ghana, Dr. Nkrumah wrote "I began to see that, when backed by strong political organization, it (the Gandhian philosophy of non-violence) could be the solution of the Colonial problem. Again, many years later, : "We
repudiate war and violence". "Our battles shall be against the old ideas that men keep trammeled in their own greed; against the crass stupidities that breed hatred, fear and inhumanity".
Jayaprakash Narayan, in June 1962 had meetings with Mr. Kenneth Kaunda and Mr. Julius Nyerere. According to an interview he gave on his return home, "his discussions with the two leaders had convinced him that the freedom struggle was based on the Gandhian principle of non-violence. Mr. Kaunda bad told him that he had been deeply impressed by some booklets on the works of Gandhi published in his mother tongue by an Indian many years ago. Mr. Kaunda
also told the Indian leader that his people in their tribal life were
essentially non-violent and non-criminal. According to him the crime and
violence in their social life was implanted by the Europeans and the Arab slave
In an interview to M. V. Karnath of The Times of India, Mr. Patrice Lumumba
had observed, "We have wrought our freedom by applying the principle of
non-violent action in our fight against Colonialism. This we owe to Mahatma
Even in South Africa, the political leaders, particularly those of the A N C (African National Congress) used non-violent peaceful means against the Apartheid Regime, till they were forced to resort to violent protests, at times, after 1961. Their motto was 'by' non-violence if we can, by violence only if we must". One of the best examples of a non-violent struggle was that conducted by black women in South Africa against 'passes' in 1956.
The extension of the hated pass system to African women was the subject of more impassioned and widespread protests during 1956 than any other source of grievance. African women in the Orange Free State had resisted the issuance of "passes" to them as early as 1913, and soon afterwards the provincial requirements ceased to be enforced. In 1952, the Natives (Abolition of Passes and Coordination of Documents) Act nominally abolished passes but provided for "reference books" that were to be carried by African youths over sixteen and African women.
The Act applied also to Africans who had formerly been exempt because of their profession, e.g. teachers or clerics, they were to carry reference books of a different colour.
Government spokesmen argued that the books were protective in nature and
essentially the same as the identity-cards required under the Population
Registration Act. The Reference book, however, contained work contracts, tax receipts, and other documents essential to the enforcement of' 'influx controls", curfews, and other restrictions. Africans
who had formerly been exempt continued to be exempt from curfew regulations, but
became subject to influx control. If an African failed to produce the reference
book on demand, he or she was subject to criminal penalties. He was liable to a
fine of £ 10 or one month's imprisonment, which meant serving under harsh and
degrading conditions as a farm laborer. By 1956, when the government began
systematically issuing reference books to all African women, opposition leaders had no difficulty in convincing them that 'passes' were badges of subordinate status, symbols of humiliation and harassment, and instruments for the control and supply of cheap labour. Much of the initiative in organizing demonstrations by women was taken by the Federation of South African Women, a nonracial organization which became an adjunct of the Congress alliance.
The ANC's Women's League worked closely with it but was not formally affiliated with it. Lilian Nagoyi, one of the first Vice-Presidents of the Federation, was elected national president at its conference of August 11-12, 1956, when she was also national President of the ANC Women's League.
Late in 1955 and during 1956, the ANC Women's League and the Federation stimulated a remarkable series of spirited demonstrations by African women, usually outside the offices of
Native Commissioners throughout the country. Luthuli, paying tribute to the strength of women in the anti-apartheid movement said in August 1956, "when the women begin to take an active part in the struggle as they are doing now, no power on earth can stop us from achieving Freedom in our Lifetime". An early instance of illegal protest by women occurred on April 9, 1956, in the small town of Win burg in the Orange Free State, where the
government had chosen to begin issuing reference books. Several hundred women who had accepted books claimed that they had been "tricked", returned to the site of the magistrate's court, and burned their books. A series of arrests and prosecutions followed.
The most widely publicized demonstrations were multiracial processions through
the streets of Pretoria and the gardens of the Union Buildings. The first took
place on October 27, 1955, when petitions were left at the door of the minister
of native affairs, and the second on August 9, 1956, when petitions were left
for the prime minister. The women's leaders also left a statement (Document 15)
describing passes for African women as an "insult to all women.' The first demonstration attracted an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 women from the Transvaal. The second attracted a vast and colorful crowd of up to
20,000 women, including about 200 from other provinces, notably Mrs. Luthuli and a group from Stanger, Natal.
Some women members of the Liberal Party joined the demonstration;
the women of the Black Sash, originally organized to protest the packing of the
Senate, expressed sympathy, but explained that their constitution forbade joining with other bodies. On both occasions, authorities sought to impede the mobilization with tactics similar to those that preceded the Congress of the People. The women also found it necessary to circumvent bans on walking in procession and holding meetings. As 1956 was coming to a close, the government was still moving slowly, issuing reference books only in small, out-of-the-way centers. "The present struggle against the passes for women", said a report of
the national consultative committee late in the year, "can well prove to be the decisive turning point of the whole long drawn out war". On December 2, 1956, a regional conference of the Federation in the Transvaal resolved "to organize a final mass protest at the Union Buildings in the event of legislation being introduced to prohibit such demonstrations". Three days later,
leading members of the ANC's Women's League and the Federation were among the nineteen women arrested in the treason raids, Because reference books were issued slowly, it was not until December 1960 that all African women expected to possess a reference book and were liable to arrest if they did not.
A series of events early in 1960 appeared to shake the government in some respects, and put it on the defensive. Momentum had begun to gather internationally for a boycott of South African goods. The British prime minister, Harold Macmillan, in a speech before Parliament in Cape Town on February 3, 1960, goaded the Nationalist Party by criticizing apartheid and pro- claiming that' 'winds of change" were sweeping through Africa. The Pan African Congress (PAC) now began to take the lead. The first targets in its unfolding program were abolition of
the pass laws and the achievement of a guaranteed minimum wage of £35 ($98) a month for all Africans. African men were to prepare themselves, they said, to receive the call from national headquarters. When the call came, all were to leave their passes at home and surrender for arrest at their, local police stations; no one was to resort to violence or to let himself be provoked by police or agents provocateurs.
The people were to be instructed to observe the rules of strict non-violence; no one was to resort to violence and emotionalism in the belief that the PAC was trying to engage in "revolutionary warfare". In a somewhat different vein, a party
flyer issued at about the same time declared that the pass laws had to be "blown
to oblivion this year, now and for ever."
PAC circulars announcing the launching date were already in
"I have appealed to the African people", Sobukwe
told the press, "to make sure that this campaign is conducted in a spirit of absolute non-violence, and I am quite certain they will heed my call... If the
other side so desires", he went on, sounding a prophetic note, "we will provide them with an opportunity to demonstrate to the world how brutal they can be. We are ready to die for our cause..." Thirty-five miles south of
Johannesburg however, in the industrial complex around Vereeniging, PAC
militants had organised well, with little or no competition from the ANC, which
had never been strong in that area.
Several hundred men presented themselves for arrest without passes, but the police refused to imprison them on the grounds that jail facilities were inadequate. Military aircraft were sent to swoop low over the assembled crowds in the morning; by night- fall no violent incidents had occurred. At Venderbijl park, a large industrial town about 12 miles from Evaton, several thousand protesters who were gathered at the police station refused to disperse either when the aircraft dived at them or when police threw tear gas. Police fired at protesters who were throwing stones, and
men were killed. A police baton charge eventually scattered the crowd, and by mid-day police reinforcements began shifting from Venderbijl park to Sharpeville a few miles away, where the demonstration. appeared to be getting out of control.
Witnesses sympathetic towards demonstrators testified, both at the official commission of inquiry and at the trial of the Sharpeville PAC leaders, that the crowd was
unarmed, amiable, well-mannered, and unaggressive. They estimated that at the time the shooting occurred in the early afternoon, the size of the crowd was between 3,000 and 10,000. Police witnesses testified that the
number of people was much larger (official reports placed it at 20,000), that many were armed with sticks and other weapons, and that the crowd's mood was hostile, aggressive and volatile. Tear gas had failed to stop demonstrators marching through the town earlier in the day, and some witnesses estimated that diving aircrafts had only attracted more people to the site of the demonstration.
Moreover, apparently unknown to the police, a rumor had spread in the township
that a high ranking official was coming to address the crowd at the police station.
The size of the crowd, the insults and threats (including cries of "Cato Manor") shouted by individuals in the throng, combined with the natural anxiety of white men surrounded and outnumbered by people whom they regarded as the "enemy", brought police nerves after several hours to a snapping point. No order was given to shoot, and no warning shots were fired to frighten the crowd back from the fence surrounding the station. In a moment of panic, a line of white police opened fire on the crowd and continued to fire from 10 to 30 seconds, (according to the findings of the commission of inquiry) as the demonstrators fled. Sixty-seven Africans were shot dead, the great majority hit in the back as they ran; 186 others were wounded, including 40 women and 8 children. All this is very reminiscent of the
Jallianwalah Bagh tragedy.
At a series of large meetings on Sunday, March 20, PAC speakers had exhorted Africans to avoid violence of any kind, and at two meetings, one in Langa and one in Nyanga, Philip Kgosana, the PAC regional secretary for the western Cape, had delivered a "launching address" (Document 50) quoting Sobukwe's
final instructions for the campaign.
At dawn on Monday morning, a large throng marched from Nyanga to Philippi police station, and about 1,500 men gave themselves up for arrest. After their names were taken, they were told to go home and appear in court on a later date. At Langa, large crowds which had gathered in the early morning were ordered by police to disperse. PAC organizers told people to assemble again in the late afternoon, and despite a government order banning further meetings, a crowd estimated at about 10,000 people had gathered at Langa by 5.30 P.M. As at Sharpeville, rumors had spread at Langa
that a high official would make an announcement, and the crowd became confused
and angry when police arrived in force and instead of making the anticipated
announcement, launched a baton charge. When some people resisted this attempt to
disperse the crowd, the police used fire- arms and two demonstrators were
killed. As the people scattered, full-scale rioting erupted, lasting several hours. Whites on the scene were attacked, public buildings were set afire, African policemen stoned and assaulted, and a coloured driver employed by the Cape Times was killed.36 By late evening the rioting had subsided, but for the city of Cape Town it was only the beginning of three tense weeks of violence and confrontation.
With this incident the stage of non-violence had weakened but was not totally
given up. African movements, like those allover, needed to be supported by help
and pressure on their governments from outside, a possibility which appeared to
be strengthening, with the increasing international move to boycott South Africa.
The incidents I have cited show how far, and in most unexpected places and ways, the Gandhian concept and practice of non-violence has spread in the world. That it has not succeeded fully in each case, does not invalidate the method, but only points to the need of such movements to persist in the face of violence as Gandhi did, and calls for a much more committed and lasting support for such movements from both people
Of their own and through governments. That such movements can succeed is proved by two events such as the anti-Marcos movement in the
Philippines and the S. Korean movement displacing the dictators. The strength of non-violence should not be underestimated but strengthened by all possible means, especially today when violence seems to be on an increase. A ray of light appears with Aung San Suu Kyi's release. Does it not show the power of non-violent protest exhibited by her and kept alive through her silently in the hearts of millions of Burmese people. This is a powerful pressure, which will have to be reckoned with.
[Source: Pushpanjali - Essays on
Gandhian Themes, edited by - R. Srinivasan, Usha Thakkar, Pam Rajput]