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Gandhi and Nonviolence: Rules of Civil Unrest

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Indian Home Rule (1938) by Mahatma Gandhi Inspires the Indian people to work free from British colonial influence during the 20th century. The book outlines Gandhi’s criticism of India’s domination by Britain; it urges the Indians to reject English traditions, laws, and the business sector in favor of traditional ways. Gandhi further urges India to oppose armed conflict and pursue a peaceful, passive resistance approach instead. 

The book begins with a few brief introductions that provide context on the tensions between Britain and her Indian subjects. Included are introductions by Gandhi, who tells readers that in 1938 his original manuscript of 1909 endured essentially unchanged, although his beliefs did not change nor intensify. Gandhi’s key chapters take the form of a question-and-answer conversation between a Reader and a Publisher. The probing and insightful questions and concerns of the Reader, which often represent standard views in India, provide the Editor with an opportunity to explain Gandhi’s principles and convictions in-depth, including his principle of peaceful nonviolence as the best way to achieve Indian independence.

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The first several chapters outline why India disenchanted with Colonial rule. Gandhi’s indictment of British society is severe; he compares his mechanized fascination with wealth and self-indulgence to India’s complex ethos of nonviolent values. Gandhi argues that Britain is obsessed with its economic success and cannot support itself in its endless quest for lucrative wealth by enslaving other nations.

Chapters 7 through 12 describe India’s shortcomings in reacting to its oppression. Gandhi argues that Indians have permitted themselves to be seduced by Europe’s modern conveniences, enabling Britain to reign over them in return for a few luxury items, along with a lot of conflict and discontent. The consequence is a weak and self-indulgent country that has set aside its conventional values for the unpredictable rewards of progress, technology, and unbridled greed.

Chapters 13 through 20 discuss Gandhi’s radical Satyagraha philosophy, or the reality-force, a method of peaceful resistance that Gandhi claims is better suited to the Indian culture of justice and modesty than aggression is. It will allow India to free itself of western influence. He believes that aggression damages the instigator as much as it hurts the adversary and that nonviolent resistance, with its challenges and hardships, ennobles both the protester and the victim, which together will be profoundly changed by the confrontation. Gandhi offered his view that sometimes ‘quacks are safer than highly qualified physicians;’ as for physicians trained in new, western medicine, Gandhi noted, ‘hundreds of animals are slaughtered every year for the sake of the mistaken treatment of the human body (Chapter 13).

Overall, Gandhi’s short book serves as an instruction manual for the movement of civil unrest that disperses across the world throughout the 20th century and transforms not only India but many states and peoples. Gandhi is a cultural icon in India or elsewhere; his actions and beliefs have changed international political institutions.

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