Gandhi’s Dilemma in War and Independence



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In the socio-political milieu of the forties in India, the most contentious decade of the last century, ravaged with war, the Quit India movement, famine, partition and the civil war, the author draws our attention to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the father of the Indian Independence Movement, who, as he puts it, “symbolised the conflicts and paradoxes of that time of transition”.

As one critically examines Gandhi’s views during the period of India’s passage to political independence on issues such as war, decolonisation, nationalist challenge, state sovereignty, problems of governance and so on, a pertinent question surfaces: was Gandhi as confident in his political agenda and methods as history has asserted to the present day?

Gandhi, again a satyagrahi, an ardent propagator of nonviolent resistance to injustice throughout his life, appears in the eyes of the Englishmen, as an extremist and saboteur of the Allied democratic cause in the World War II.

Using his scholarly acumen, the author unveils a new dimension to Gandhi’s towering personality with the suggestion that time was closing down on him. It was a situation of classic aporia, when exit from the problem that Gandhi struggled to escape from became impossible in its own terms.

Ranabir Samaddar is the Director of the Calcutta Research Group. He has worked extensively on the contemporary issues of justice, human rights, forms of autonomy, forced displacement, partitions, trans-border migration, refugee care and protection, and minority rights and popular democracy in the context of post-colonial nationalism with special reference to South Asia. He is also the editor-in-chief of the South Asia Peace Studies Series. His current work is on theories and practices of dialogue, a question crucial to the politics of justice and reconciliation.

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