29 July, 2021

Gandhi@150: A Great Dissenter Throws Light

Solutions to contemporary crises need an interaction of Gandhi-informed dissent with non-Gandhi-informed views, writes well-known author Douglas Allen

An exhibition in the 9/11 ground zero in New York
Photograph by Getty Images
Gandhi@150: A Great Dissenter Throws Light

Although Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) was the most adm­ired human being in India and arguably in the entire world during his lifetime, he was also among the most controversial. This continues to Gandhi 150 in 2019, as he remains among the most admired and at the same time the most controversial figures in the contemporary world.

Today, there remain influential Gandhi dissenters, many of whom are descendants of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Subhas Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and other dissenters and non-Gandhian and anti-­Gandhian developments during Gandhi’s lifetime. The relations between these dissenters and Gandhi and their contemporary descendants remain sources of controversy today. For example, while Ambedkarites and Gandhians usually focus on their significant differences, it is often overlooked how in their fundamental concerns, values and commitments, what Ambedkar and Gandhi shared was often more unifying than what divided them. In addition, while selectively rejecting some of Gandhi’s idealised caste...

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