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Indian liberals must reconsider their rejection of Mahatma Gandhi

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Was Gandhi gay? Was he racist? Did he assault his nieces? Wasn’t his food faddism a bit too comical? Was he the enemy of Dalits? With questions like these, over the decades, Gandhi has been assailed and brought down by the holier-than-thou radicals of the world. In doing so, they have helped the world forget the central reason why Gandhi mattered: his political techniques of resistance.

You don’t have to agree with Gandhi on anything at all, and you could still be inspired by satyagraha, by non-violent resistance and civil disobedience. Some years ago, when Anna Hazare sat on a fast, there were people who were irritated by his use of Gandhian means of politics. What a fraud, they said, he is not Gandhian, he’s an RSS agent. Yet, even Narendra Modi once sat on a Gandhi-style ‘Sadbhavna’ fast.

In fact, all that Ambedkar had to do to counter Gandhi during the Poona Pact, Osho wrote, was to sit on an indefinite fast himself.

The point is that Gandhian means don’t have to match Gandhian ends.

Research by Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University, has shown that the most successful rebellions are the ones that use non-violent civil disobedience. The only condition is that a large number of people – 3.5 per cent of the........

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