by Subhash Kak
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-5901, USA
Mahatma Gandhi was the apostle of non-violence, so what would he have done in Kashmir? His life shows that he did not walk away from violence. During the Boer War in South Africa he raised a volunteer non-combatant force of Indians to aid the British. The reason why he limited the offer to a non-combatant role was that the Indians did not have constitutional rights in South Africa indicating thereby that once this rights were granted the Indian would fight along side the English.
Elsewhere Gandhi clearly stated that he preferred violence to cowardice although he preferred non-violence to violence. He was clearly against walking away from defending one's natural rights. He said: ``There is real ahimsa in defending my wife and children even at the risk of striking down the wrongdoer.'' He repeated on countless occasion that non-violence was the way of the strong. He wished for people to become strong not only in body but also in mind so that they would renounce violence.
In 1896 the whites in South Africa wished to lynch him; he was badly beaten up and saved by the police from a certain death. Yet he refused to be cowed down and his courage earned him the respect of his opponents.
We celebrate the one twenty fifth anniversary of Gandhi's birth, but we have made him into an icon and forgotten how to think like him. He was a critic of a mindless repetition of the slogan of non-violence. Speaking of avoiding physical confrontation he said:
What we have taken as dharma is not dharma. We commit violence on a large scale in the name of non-violence. Fearing to shed blood, we torment people every day and dry up their blood. (See Complete Works, vol. 14, page 499)
We see that the manner in which the Government of India has walked away from its duty to protect the homes and hearths of the Kashmiri refugees is precisely the cowardice that Mahatma Gandhi considered worse than violence.
In his famous book, GANDHI'S TRUTH, Erik Erikson's analysis suggests that the worst response to terrorism of the kind we have seen in Kashmir is to leave the field open to them. Says Erik Erikson about the parallels that the West has seen:
We in the West have experienced an analogous problem in the dispersed descendents of the Jewish nation, who became over-specialized in mercantile and intellectual pursuits, and, for centuries, had to leave their own defense to the the warriors of the host countries, who often turned in sadistic disgust against those who could not or would not defend themselves. The mere suspicion that the Jews would not fight because they could not fight has, no doubt, been a strong factor in popular anti-semitism. (page 375)
Gandhi himself was looking for strengthening the character of the Indian who would either join in mob violence or shirk from defending his rights related to property and dignity. Said he: ``Today I find that everybody is desirous of killing but most are afraid of doing so or powerless to do so. Whatever is to be the result I feel certain that the power must be restored to India. The result may be carnage. Then India must go through it. Today's condition is intolerable.'' (See Complete Works, vol. 14, page 520)
Yes, today's condition related to the refugee camps is intolerable. Gandhi would have sent the Kashmiri refugees back to their homes, provided them security, and also provided them arms and training so that they would be able to defend themselves.
Source: Koshur Samachar
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