It is ironic that those who believe ‘power flows from the barrel of the gun’, or the edge of the scimitar should be so riled at being on the receiving end of the philosophy. The ideological animosities that have stirred up society in the present do not subscribe to Gandhian non-violence. Be it the Right or the Left, they remain in an unevolved state from this crucial point of view. The supposed inheritors of the tradition, the Congress, long ago discarded the philosophy for personal benefit – just as Communism has become a mere pretence for the ‘new billionaire princes’ of China.
So many of the ‘proponents’ of non-violence and the other much profaned principle, secularism, ignore an important truth – Gandhi drew from the essence of Indian civilisational values to develop his political philosophy. Those who derided India were far more powerful in his time than those at present, but he stubbornly stuck to his position. While the elite of that time either rejected his philosophy or cynically exploited it for self-benefit, the response he got from the common people provided the momentum the freedom movement needed. It is worth noting that the leaders within the Congress with significant grassroots support were those who followed his path.
Gandhi basically believed that non-violence was the weapon of the strong. Those who had confidence in the rightness of their cause could not be intimidated by the violence inflicted by others. From the earliest years of Independence, there have been forces that projected the Gandhian way as some form of timidity, merely a pretence of morality, while the ‘revolutionaries’ of various kind did the actual work. The Congress is most to blame for wasting no time in discarding the Gandhian way and adopting what was, by and large, a model of development no less ‘alien’ than the colonial model of the British. It is no wonder that the common people became less directly involved and the ruling elite developed an exploitative and corrupt system of governance.
All those agitated about the political violence taking place, today, cannot expect public support if it is just the violence of the adversary that they condemn. It has to be condemnation of all kinds of violence, even the manifestation of hate in words and ideology. This can only come from an understanding of the other’s position and the realisation that nobody is perfect. They need not just to recognise India’s civilisational values, but also discover them within, if they hope to act righteously. Otherwise it is all just motivated propaganda.