Gandhi: the man behind the myths

Issue: 123

Talat Ahmed

“The saint has left our shores, I sincerely hope forever”.1 Jan Christiaan Smuts, a future South African prime minister, uttered these words in 1914. The saint was none other than Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on his way home to India after 21 years in South Africa. Gandhi certainly came to personify saintliness. In 1944 the scientist Albert Einstein stated, “Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” And, of course, death sealed his iconic status. His demise at the hands of an assassin’s bullet on 30 January 1948 sanctified Gandhi as the Mahatma, India’s “Great Soul”. King George VI described his death as “an irreparable loss for mankind”. Labour prime minister Clement Atlee expressed “profound distress” and Nehru immortalised him further with the memorable words, “The light that shone in this country was no ordinary light”; it was “something more than the immediate present” and would continue to “illuminate this country for many years”, giving “solace to innumerable hearts”.2

As the “father” of non-violent direct action Gandhi is credited with providing the inspiration behind Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, the peace campaigns of the Greenham Common women and today with protests over climate change and war. This veneration is matched only by the venom that he inspired in others. Winston Churchill scorned him as a “half-naked fakir”, complaining bitterly in 1931 that:

It is alarming and nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the east, striding half naked up the steps of the viceregal palace, while he is still organising and conducting a campaign of civil disobedience, to parlay on equal terms with the representative of the Emperor-King.3

In India and elsewhere Gandhi has been criticised for being “anti_modern”, a hardline traditionalist, a blackmailer who used fasting as a means of getting his way; on the left he is seen as the “mascot of the bourgeoisie” and anti working class. There are elements of truth to all these accusations but it is important to bear in mind that bourgeois nationalism is far from straightforward, much less pure, and fundamentally flawed. Indian nationalism was no exception.

Gandhi’s life was one of complexities, contradictions and ironies: he was the apostle of non-violence mowed down by an assassin’s bullet; a deeply religious individual who fought passionately for Hindu-Muslim unity, only to see India free but partitioned; a man who devoted much of his life to the removal of untouchability, the social uplift of women and the rights of the peasantry, who helped create an India today marked by increasing social inequality that continues to blight the lives of the poor. He was imprisoned nine times by colonial governments who saw him as a mad anarchist and yet every British viceroy from 1916 onwards had to deal with him. He never held political office and is viewed as above the grubby business of political horse-trading and yet he was a shrewd political operator who weighed every action and word in a calculated manner. This is the enigma of Gandhi: how could a London trained barrister come to dominate Indian politics in the first half of the 20th century and for much of the rest?


Gandhi could not have been a more unlikely figure to become an icon of the Indian freedom movement. He was not from a staunch nationalist family, like that of Jawaharlal Nehru, nor was he from the professional urban elite like Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Gandhi was born in 1869 into a family of Modh Banias, a middle caste trading and moneylending community who had a reputation for being shrewd, wily, thrifty and good businessmen. His birthplace was the small town of Porbandar, in a semi-independent princely state on the south west coast of Gujarat, where his father’s family had for two generations been diwans (advisers) to the princes and kings. After primary school Gandhi was sent to be educated at the only English college in Rajkot, but growing up in a princely state resulted in him having very little contact with or experience of direct British imperial rule. This had the advantage that it instilled in him a deep conviction that Indians could and should rule themselves. But it also shielded him from the full might of the empire and its oppressive state apparatus.


“The home of philosophers and poets, the very centre of civilisation” is how Gandhi saw London. Coming from a conservative, small-town family, it is easy to imagine his excitement when he was sent there in 1888 to train as a barrister. In 1890 there were only 207 Indians in London and Gandhi initially found life quite solitary and perplexing. He was living alone, having to manage his own expenses, pay for lodgings, wear a new set of clothes, familiarise himself with new and strange food, and mingle with people whose mores were quite alien to him. He was not from a patrician urban background, had not been raised in a Western liberal environment, did not have the benefit of an English public schooling or Oxbridge and so did not possess the self-confidence of an upper class Nehru or Jinnah. Wearing Western suits, closed shoes and eating with cutlery were all a challenge to him, and he faced constant embarrassment over his vegetarianism and poor command of English. In order to overcome these handicaps Gandhi decided to turn himself into a typical English gentleman. He bought his clothes at the Army and Navy Store, evening suits from Bond Street, learnt to tie his ties and sported a double watch chain of gold. Not content with this he began to take lessons in dancing, French and elocution.

Acculturation aside, Gandhi was exposed to two main influences in London that would begin to shape his philosophical outlook. He eventually found a vegetarian restaurant on Farringdon Street. It was here that he came across Henry Salt’s book A Plea for Vegetarianism. This transformed his views on diet and food. His vow of abjuring meat was no longer a vow before an illiterate mother but had become a philosophic moral principle that he had chosen. He became a member of the Vegetarian Society, the goals of which were not mere dietary concerns but to “seek the conditions necessary to reach a human ideal that valued the spiritual, physical, mental and moral aspects of human life”.4 Gandhi’s membership of this society provided him entry into the middle class non-conformists and dissenters of late 19th century England. He became friends with Henry Salt who introduced him to the writings of Henry David Thoreau, author of the 1849 essay “Civil Disobedience”. Thoreau was renowned for his espousal of simple living, and his opposition to the Mexican-American war and slavery led to his imprisonment for refusing to pay taxes to an unjust government. His essay would have a transformative impact on Gandhi as he became a member of the executive committee of the Vegetarian Society and made his tentative debut at public speaking, where he proved to be terribly awkward and diffident. He was more successful at writing articles on Indian vegetarians for the newspaper.5 In these he argued that it was the “wretched custom of infant marriages and its attendant evils” that was responsible for Indian weakness.6 He also believed that Indian weakness was the result of moral slackness that required inner regeneration. This would be a theme he would return to again and again.

The vegetarian movement was part of a larger movement of radical reformers who were anti-urban and anti-industrial in their views and critical of the commercialisation of Victorian Britain. They were bourgeois and interested in change through individual effort and moral fibre. It was this individualism and the simplicity of their message that appealed to Gandhi.

The other group important to Gandhi’s evolution was the Theosophy Society. Founded in New York in 1875 by Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, this group drew heavily on Hinduism and Buddhism, encouraging the reading of Sanskrit texts and seeking to reconcile new developments in Western science with organised religions. In this sense Theosophists offered a modernised reformed form of Hinduism fused with elements of Christianity and other belief systems—a sort of scientific spirituality. Thus far Gandhi had viewed religion as a series of superstitions and meaningless rituals. Reading Blavatsky’s The Key to Theosophy disabused him “of the notion fostered by missionaries that Hinduism was rife with superstition”7 and he was introduced to the Bhagavad Gita and other religious texts that he had never read before. He also came to read the Old Testament which he found nauseating but the New Testament enthralled him, especially the Sermon on the Mount. The combination of these texts pointed to an alternative way of being religious, one that synthesised a variety of texts and influences but simultaneously emphasised a similar message: that renunciation was the highest form of religion, the imperative of offering the other cheek and love to an opponent. This curious mixture of Christian suffering, Hindu mythology and denial would come to epitomise the adult Gandhi. The London experience demonstrates that Gandhi was not fearful of borrowing “Western” ideas and that “Gandhism”, far from being a uniquely Indian creed, is a global cocktail of mysticism, non-conformism and moral indignation wrapped up in a philosophy of personal salvation—in short a variant of reformism.

On completing his law studies Gandhi was called to the bar in 1891 and set sail for home, armed with his professional qualification and Bond Street suits but also with his new found zeal. Porbandar, however, proved to be a dead end for the young barrister as he failed to secure employment to support his family. He moved to Bombay to practise Indian law but again with little success. On one occasion he called on a British agent in order to intercede in a case involving one of his brothers. In London Gandhi had enjoyed friendships and acquaintances with Europeans, including with this officer. However, now Gandhi was dismissed with the abruptness that British officials excelled in and found that “an officer on leave was not the same as an officer on duty”.8 Mortified, Gandhi was advised by his fellow barristers to “pocket the insult”. There would be many more insults to pocket. Gandhi accepted an offer to act as a legal adviser to an Indian firm in South Africa and went away for what he assumed would be no more than a year.

South Africa

The scene from Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film will have etched into people’s minds the deep humiliation that Gandhi suffered at the hands of a ticket inspector on his way from Durban to Pretoria. This was one of numerous racist insults that Gandhi encountered. Racial segregation, discrimination and violence characterised the lives of all non-whites. Gandhi had not experienced direct racism before and it is conspicuous by its absence in his autobiography. This is not because it did not exist but because Gandhi had been accepted without prejudice in the circles in which he moved. To be treated as a “coolie” barrister disturbed Gandhi because he believed that as subjects of the empire Indians had a right to equal treatment before the law. He had developed an immense sense of pride in being Indian, believing that as a person from an ancient and proud tradition, he was the equal of whites. But he did not extend this sympathy to the majority African population of South Africa and was initially horrified that Indians were placed on the same level as Africans. He complained that Europeans wanted to “degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness”.9

At this stage Gandhi was very much in the mould of a “Victorian” Indian who sought accommodation and acceptance into the empire. His caste background and education meant that he shared the upper class prejudices of Europeans on many issues. He had come to South Africa to provide legal advice to Indian businessmen and it was their interests that he identified with. Indians in South Africa were a heterogeneous, fragmented community with different interests. The majority of Indians had come as indentured labourers from Tamil Nadu and Bengal, working on the sugar plantations and in the mines as well as performing unskilled work in the towns. But there was a class of petty traders and merchants, professionals and white collar Indians made up of Muslims and Hindus from Gujarat and Parsis, and Christians from Bombay. The diversity of religious interests among the middle classes was something Gandhi had no difficulty in associating with. But at first he had little contact with Indian labourers, and the class and caste distinctions were new to him.

His initial campaigns were against measures in 1894 that only hit the Indian middle class—a bill to prevent extension of parliamentary franchise beyond the mere 300 Indians already enjoying it and another stipulating that “no person of Asiatic race, birth or descent” could take out a licence to trade. But an amendment to immigration laws in 1895 signalled an assault on all Indians in Natal, the Orange Free State and Transvaal. It stipulated that every free Indian had to be re-indentured for a further two years or pay an extra annual tax if they were not being returned to India.

Gandhi helped to form the Natal Indian National Congress and wrote letters to parliamentarians in London. He returned to India twice, in 1896 and 1899, to meet with nationalist leaders and publicise the plight of Indians. He travelled to London in 1906 and 1909, again to petition on behalf of “his Majesty’s subjects”. His initial campaigns used methods that suited middle class politics such as letter writing, emphasising that their campaign was not for equality of all Indians but for equality of the “respectable” classes. Gandhi even accepted that the “coolies” had unsanitary habits that needed reform! His feeling that the policies of discrimination were alien to “the values of the empire” led him to mobilise over 1,000 people for the ambulance corps on the side of the British in the 1899 Boer War.

His attitudes began to change when he read Leo Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You in 1894 at the age of 25, which turned his attention to the concept of non-violence. “Before the…profound morality and the truthfulness of this book”, he later wrote, “all the books…seemed to pale into insignificance’’. His reading of John Ruskin’s Unto this Last made him “determined to change my life”,10 influencing his concept of “soul-force” as a substitute for physical force. He learnt from it that “the good of the individual is contained in the good of all…the lawyer’s work has the same value as the barber’s…a life of labour, ie, the life of a tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman, is the life worth living.”

He writes that he “arose with the dawn, ready to reduce these principles to practice”.11 His literary readings about the worth of manual labour led him to think about the way the Indian middle classes treated their fellow indentured countrymen. He found their condescension and loathing of this community to be contemptible. Equally important in influencing his thinking was the paltry state of Indian political organisation. Gandhi was the chief organiser and tactician of the merchant and professional Indian community from 1894 to 1906. However, merchant politics was conservative and this prevented issues being raised that could build and retain a broad base of support. Gandhi saw that businessmen were incapable of seeing beyond their narrow, selfish interests and this was the result of a kind of “moral degradation”. He began to rethink his views, not only on caste, class and race, but also on tactics.

In 1906 the Transvaal government passed a law making it compulsory for Indians over eight years of age to carry a pass bearing their thumbprint. This caused outrage among the Indian population and a 3,000_strong mass gathering decided that no Indian would apply for registration, meeting attempts to enforce the law with passive resistance. This represented a major shift from protest centred on lobbying to that based on mass action. By the end of January 1908, 2,000 Indians had been jailed. But many key figures in the movement fled the colony rather than be arrested and eventually Gandhi reached agreement with Jan Smuts, the Afrikaner politician who was then colonial secretary, whereby the act would be repealed if everyone registered voluntarily. He faced severe criticism for the compromise and offered to be the first to register, but Smuts denied he had made any promises and Gandhi was arrested and assaulted on his way to the registration office. It was from this point onwards that he began to break with the elitist and narrow interests of the business community.

A new £3 tax imposed on ex-indentured Indians led to a new campaign in 1913, beginning in Newcastle, Natal. Gandhi worked with Thambi Naidoo, leader of the Johannesburg based Tamil Benefit Society, to gain the support of both the working classes and the Newcastle merchants. A strike supported by railway workers and miners began in mid-October, and by the end of the month between 4,000 and 5,000 miners had downed their tools. Gandhi began leading strikers over the provincial border into Transvaal on 29 October 1913, but his attempt at courting mass arrests failed as Smuts, now the key man in the South African government, opted instead to wait. Most strikers were ready to return to work when a spontaneous strike in Natal altered the situation radically. Violent confrontation with the police resulted in several strikers being killed and injured but more protesters joined. By the end of November the produce markets of Durban and Pietermaritzburg were paralysed, sugar mills were closed and hotels, restaurants and homes were left without domestic workers. The coalfields were also affected and whole fields of sugar cane were burned. Reports of the arrest of Gandhi and police brutality caused uproar in India and the British government intervened to bring about an agreement with the strikers. Gandhi was released in order to negotiate with Smuts, resulting in the 1914 Indian Relief Bill. This scrapped the hated £3 tax and relaxed provisions preventing wives joining their husbands in South Africa. Restrictions on trade and movement from province to province for Indians remained but Gandhi was welcomed as a hero, the Mahatma, when he returned to India in 1915.

Back in India

The leaders of the major national political force, the Indian National Congress, were desperate for mass influence and even more for the colonial state to take them seriously. They hoped that some of Gandhi’s magic would rub off on them. Gandhi was uncomfortable with this hero status, finding Indian nationalist politics to be extremely patrician, elitist and wedded to a constitutional approach. So he decided to tour the length and breadth of the country. Travelling third class on trains, stubborn in his refusal to take cars or tongas (light horse-drawn carriages), he walked everywhere, spoke Hindustani, though his native tongue was Gujarati, and even more importantly, discarded his Western suits for the simple dhoti. This paraphernalia came to symbolise the tiny figure as he toured India meeting peasants, and low caste and tribal communities in the scores of villages and hamlets that were home to India’s masses. Gandhi, already 45 years old, had never before “seen” India and this experience was to have a deep and lasting impact on him

Indian Nationalism

The Indian National Congress that dominated the political scene had been established in 1885 as an association representing the interests of upper class Indian men to the state. It was the brainchild of two British civil servants in the Raj who felt that Indians had a right to expect some representation. It was a highly select, exclusive club, drawing in such notables as Gopal Krishna Gokhale, a Bombay leader and close associate of Gandhi, Dadabhai Naoroji, a Parsi intellectual and cotton trader who became a Liberal MP for Finsbury Central in 1892, and Romesh Chandra Dutt, an economic historian and writer from Calcutta. It also included Motilal Nehru, the father of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and, initially, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who was to become the first leader of Pakistan. Congress’s goals and strategy were defined by the social milieu of the upper class, liberal minded would-be parliamentarians at its core. Initially the organisation did not demand independence, instead lobbying for consultation and representation.

The “moderate” wing of Congress was challenged by the “extremists” centred on the fiery nationalism of the Maharashtra based Brahmin Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the Bengali nationalist leader Aurobindo Ghose. They demanded outright independence and were prepared to use violence to achieve this. In spite of obvious differences in goals and tactics the common element in both wings of nationalism was their elitism and substitutionism. Congress leaders believed that the enlightened and educated, ie themselves, should speak for the masses; the colonial regime could placate them with vague talk of reform and future consultation. Those espousing an armed revolutionary assault saw change as coming from a dedicated minority brave enough to carry out a revolution on behalf of the majority. The might of the colonial state was able to marginalise and outmanoeuvre them through arrest, assassination and deportation. In both instances the absence of a mass movement was the fundamental weakness. It was Gandhi’s intervention at this juncture that was decisive in shifting the goals and parameters of the freedom movement.

Gandhi and mass action

Gandhi’s travels through India had made him acutely aware of the poverty and humiliations that afflicted the vast majority of Indians—the peasants. On 6 February 1916 he made a speech at the opening of the Benares Hindu University lambasting the use of English at public meetings, deriding the Indian rich and princes for their lack of concern for the poor, and even seeming to condone the use of violence.12 The next year he initiated campaigns based on mass action that would fundamentally change the character of the nationalist movement.

Gandhi visited the village of Champaran in the north eastern province of Bihar in April 1917. Here, as in many villages, peasants were at the mercy of ruthless, greedy plantation owners (mostly European) who forced cultivators to grow indigo on a portion of their land—a practice known as the tinkathia system. This insistence on cash crops as opposed to food crops resulted in poor diets and was compounded further by punitive taxes. The daily routine of peasant life was further blighted by poor sanitation, ignorance, stifling caste oppression and imposed purdah for women. Sporadic rebellions in 1914 were effectively crushed by militias working for landlords. Gandhi instituted a campaign of recording peasant grievances and drawing up a charge sheet against the plantation owners, effectively establishing his own court to plead on behalf of cultivators. He eventually got a commission of inquiry, on which he sat, which negotiated a settlement that abolished the century old tinkathia system and reduced the revenue paid to the planters by 20 to 25 percent. This seemed like a spectacular victory in the face of intransigent planters and the provincial government.

Word of this victory quickly spread as Gandhi’s magic seemed vindicated on Indian soil. He led a satyagraha (non-violent protest) a year later in the Kheda district outside Ahmedabad for peasants who, in the grips of a desperate famine arising from crop failure, faced a demand from colonial officials that they pay not only full taxes but also a 23 percent increase. Peasants started a payment boycott under Gandhi’s leadership. Some 3,000 signed a pledge not to pay the taxes and to conduct themselves as satyagrahis (non-violent protesters). The revolt was astounding in terms of discipline and unity. In spite of government provocation, and the seizure of property and cattle by hired thugs, the majority of peasants did not resist arrest or retaliate violently. After five months the provincial commissioner ordered a settlement forfeiting the government’s right to collect taxes for one year. Again Gandhi appeared to be a “just” and effective tacitician, and a champion whose non-violent creed could be used effectively in an Indian setting.

As if to prove that satyagraha was not confined to rural cases, Gandhi had been asked to intervene in an industrial dispute on behalf of mill workers at a textile factory in Ahmedabad in March 1918 before going to Kheda. Here workers demanded a 35 percent wage increase but the mill owner would only countenance 20 percent. Gandhi sanctioned a strike after the owners refused to go to arbitration but only on certain conditions: no violence, no intimidation of scabs, no begging and no yielding. At a mass meeting workers voted overwhelmingly to pledge themselves to these conditions. The employers imposed a lockout for two weeks and then said they would allow back to work those who accepted the initial 20 percent wage rise. A fortnight with no income and no prospect of one caused some workers to relent. Frustration blew up against strikebreakers but also against Gandhi: a striker commented bitterly that Gandhi and his associate Anasuyaben Sarabhai13 “come and go in their car”, “eat elegant food” and could not understand the agonies of the starving.14 As violence threatened, Gandhi began his first political fast, stating, “I cannot tolerate for a minute that you break your pledge. I shall not take any food nor use a car till you get a 35 percent increase”.15 He broke his fast after three days when the strikers voted to continue their pledge and the mill owners agreed to go to arbitration, which led to the workers finally being awarded 35 percent. These three experiences came to epitomise Gandhi’s tactics and propel him to national leadership. In each instance his version of peaceful “mass action” by ordinary people appeared to win the day.

Gandhi’s first national test

In addition to Gandhi’s tactics, objective circumstances played a significant role. The 1919 Government of India Act had introduced a limited system of Indian representation at provincial council level for agriculture, health and education. However, state governance was still dominated by British officials and there was no provision for home rule, let alone complete independence. Disappointment with government reforms was compounded by the introduction of the Rowlatt Act, which maintained wartime emergency powers to arrest and imprison people without trial for conspiracy, sedition and terrorism. It was used to suppress radical literature, and prevent newspapers from reporting items seen as incompatible with public order as well as prohibiting public assembly.

One of the most serious challenges took place in Amritsar. A protest outside the residence of the deputy commissioner demanded the release of two popular nationalist leaders, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew. Military police opened fire, killing several protesters. In response banks, the town hall and the railway station were attacked and set on fire, culminating in the deaths of at least five Europeans with repeated retaliatory firing on the crowd from the military killing a further eight people. The British government placed most of Punjab under martial law. On 13 April thousands of people gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh park. Brigadier Reginald Dyer marched a group of 90 British Indian Army soldiers into the park accompanied by two armoured cars carrying machine guns. He ordered the troops to open fire without warning and to direct fire towards the densest sections of the crowd. The firing continued until all the ammunition—approximately 1,400 rounds—was exhausted. Official records put the figures for those killed at 379 (337 men, 41 boys and a six week old baby) and those injured at 200, though the actual figure, likely much higher, is unknown to this day.

Popular outrage led Gandhi to launch his first national satyagraha on 1 August 1920, after the expiry notice that he had given the viceroy, asserting the right recognised “from time immemorial of the subject to refuse to assist a ruler who misrules”. Gandhi’s programme involved the surrender of titles and offices, resignation from posts on local bodies, a boycott of British courts, refusal to attend government functions, the use of swadeshi (Indian-made) cloth only, withdrawal of children from schools and colleges, and the establishment of national schools and colleges. Truth and non-violence were to be strictly observed by non-cooperators. The most successful item of the programme was the boycott of foreign cloth. The value of cloth imports fell from Rs 102 crore (1,020 million rupees) in 1920-1 to Rs 57 crore in 1921-2.

In July 1921 a new challenge was thrown to the government. The journalist and Muslim League activist Mohammad Ali was arrested along with other leaders for holding the view that it was “religiously unlawful for the Muslims to continue in the British army”. Ali’s campaign was part of the Khilafat movement, a protest at the British and French recognition of Kemal Attaturk’s abolition of the caliphate based in Istanbul. Gandhi and Congress supported Mohammad Ali, so the non-cooperation movement brought together the “Sikh” wrong of Amritsar and the “Muslim” wrong of Khilafat with the three elements of swaraj, ahimsa and swadeshi (independence, non-violence and home-grown).

Gandhi’s stature was so great that he had assumed the effective leadership of Congress, serving as its president from 1924 to 1929. The freedom struggle assumed an all-India character under his leadership and on 26 January 1930 Congress, led by Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, publicly issued the Declaration of Independence which boldly declared, “India must sever the British connection and attain Purna Swaraj or complete independence”.16

Gandhi used his mixture of nationalism and mass action in the civil disobedience movement from 1930 to 1934. This included the famous 1930 salt march when he walked 240 miles from Ahmedabad to the coastal town of Dandi with 78 male volunteers. The British had a monopoly on the collection and manufacture of salt, levying a tax that all had to pay. Upon arrival at Dandi, Gandhi issued a statement to the world’s press saying that, although the government had not interfered with the march, “the wanton disregard shown by them to popular feeling and their high-handed action leave no room for doubt that the policy of heartless exploitation of India is to be persisted in at any cost”. The only interpretation he could put on the non-interference in the march was that “the British Government, powerful though it is, is sensitive to world opinion” which would “not tolerate repression” of civil disobedience “so long as disobedience remains civil and therefore necessarily non-violent”. He would now test whether the government would “tolerate the actual breach of the salt laws by countless people”.17

The following day Gandhi picked up a lump of muddy salt and declared, “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire”.18 After boiling it in seawater to produce illegal salt he implored his followers to do likewise “wherever it is convenient”.19 The effect was dramatic. Mass civil disobedience spread throughout India as millions broke the salt laws by making salt or buying illegal salt. As protests spread they generalised to wider opposition to British rule. Unpopular forest laws were defied in Maharashtra, Karnataka and the Central Provinces. Gujarati peasants refused to pay tax in Midnapore and Bengal.20 In Peshawar satyagraha was led by a Muslim Pashtoo disciple of Gandhi, Ghaffar Khan (known as the Frontier Gandhi), who had trained a 50,000-member army of non-violent activists.21 On 23 April 1930 Khan was arrested. A crowd gathered in Peshawar’s Kissa Khawani (storytellers) Bazaar. The British ordered troops to open fire with machine guns on the unarmed crowd, killing an estimated 200 to 250. The Pashtun satyagrahis, in accord with their non-violent training, willingly faced bullets as troops fired on them. One British Indian Army regiment refused to fire and the entire platoon was arrested, many receiving heavy penalties, including life imprisonment.22

The British responded with more laws, including censorship of correspondence and declaring the Congress and its associate organisations illegal, and incarcerated over 60,000 people by the end of April. None of those measures slowed the movement as middle class women joined the ranks of civil disobedients manufacturing and selling salt throughout India. Usha Mehta, an early Gandhian activist, remarked, “Even our old aunts and great-aunts and grandmothers used to bring pitchers of salt water to their houses and manufacture illegal salt. And then they would shout at the top of their voices, ‘We have broken the salt law!’”.23

The symbolism of salt was not lost on Gandhi. It was a basic necessity and the idea of an alien power taxing an indigenous product was too good an issue to pass up. He included the salt issue as part of his 11-point programme for this satyagraha, which also demanded a reduction of land revenue assessments, cutting military spending, and a tariff on foreign cloth. Gandhi planned a raid on the Dharasana Salt Works in his native Gujarat but was arrested and held without trial near Pune. The raid went ahead led by a 76 year old retired judge and Gandhi’s wife, Kasturba. Both were arrested and sentenced to three months in prison. Sarojini Naidu, a woman poet and freedom fighter, took over and marched the protesters to the factory. As she insisted, “You will be beaten, but you must not resist: you must not even raise a hand to ward off blows,” soldiers began clubbing protesters with steel tipped lathis (canes). The United Press correspondent Webb Miller reported:

Not one of the marchers even raised an arm to fend off the blows. They went down like ten-pins. From where I stood I heard the sickening whacks of the clubs on unprotected skulls. The waiting crowd of watchers groaned and sucked in their breaths in sympathetic pain at every blow. Those struck down fell sprawling, unconscious or writhing in pain with fractured skulls or broken shoulders… The survivors without breaking ranks silently and doggedly marched on until struck down.24

The campaign seemed to work and civil disobedience continued until early 1931, when Gandhi was finally released from prison to hold talks with the viceroy, Lord Irwin.

In every instance Gandhi initiated mass action and in every case this propelled the freedom movement forward as it became larger, broader and deepened as activists radicalised. This is how thousands of young people were drawn to Gandhi. As CLR James noted:

That Gandhi has the rich and middle class Hindu with him is not surprising. But that the agricultural labourer in remote villages, the slum dwellers in the towns, should all be ready to face hardships, imprisonment, death; should understand and practise so successfully ideals as difficult as non-cooperation and non-violence, all this is something which to me is as miraculous as anything I have ever read.25

This is what marks his intervention as seminal in the inter-war years. But it was also the case that at each stage the momentum was ahead of Gandhi. As the movement grew more militant the weakness of his politics and limitations of his strategy became all too obvious. Just as he instigated and led from the front, he quickly backtracked and called a halt to activity when he felt it was veering off course. So he had called off non-cooperation in February 1922 after 22 policemen were burned alive when an angry crowd set fire to a police station in Chauri Chaura in the United Provinces in retaliation for the police shooting three unarmed protesters dead. Gandhi not only called an end to the movement but also fasted as a penance for the killings.

Similarly, he brought the magnificent momentum of the salt march and civil disobedience to an end in early 1931, when he was finally released from prison to hold talks with Lord Irwin. Though the British eventually agreed that individual families could procure salt for domestic purposes, the British offered no progress towards self-rule, no significant gains were made on the other points of Gandhi’s 11-point programme and even the salt law remained in place. Within Congress Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose protested over the calling off of the movement but Gandhi, who was talking to the viceroy as an equal for the first time, firmly believed in a “peace with honour”—just as when he negotiated with Smuts in South Africa. Compromise was the hallmark of Gandhi’s tactics. To make sense of this we have to examine the specifics and peculiarities of “Gandhian” philosophy.

Gandhi’s ideas

Gandhi was influenced by a range of religious and political ideas, as we have seen. In 1908 he wrote Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule. Less than 100 pages long, it is cast in the form of a dialogue between Gandhi, who is “The Editor”, and his interlocutor, “The Reader”. Though Gandhi still had another 40 years to live, this document represents the closest thing to a personal manifesto penned by him. Despite its many ambiguities and contradictions, and notwithstanding historical controversy as to its reliability, it constitutes his thinking on a range of ideas that he would return to at various stages of his life. It also allows us to understand how Gandhi could command sufficient authority and popularity to catapult him to national prominence.

The most striking aspect of Hind Swaraj is how critical Gandhi is of Western style industrial development and his scathing observations on “modern civilisation” as the only path to progress. He chastises Britain as “a civilisation in name only”. He castigates the trappings of modern capitalism with its factories and mines and believes the fate of workers “is worse than that of beasts” as they are “enslaved by temptation of the luxuries that money can buy”. A “degraded and ruined” nation like Britain could rule India not because they had conquered it by physical and mental superiority or meat eating but because “we gave it to them. They are not in India because of their strength, but because we keep them”. Again on modernisation he complained that railways, lawyers and doctors have impoverished the country, claiming “medicine to be a ‘European’ science designed to keep Indians enslaved through reliance on conventional drugs”. He firmly believed that individuals became lawyers “not in order to help others out of their miseries, but to enrich themselves…they gladden when men have disputes”. He was merciless towards those who believed that India should follow British style parliamentary representation, holding “the mother of all parliaments” to be “a sterile woman” comparing it to “a prostitute because it is under the control of ministers who change from time to time”. He warns the national movement against “English rule without Englishman…you would make India English. And when it becomes English it will be called not Hindustan but Englishtan. This is not the Swaraj that I want”.26

Swaraj should not be the mere replacement of British colonial rule for the rule of the brown sahibs. For Gandhi self-rule meant a complete mental and psychological break with existing society. This was the power of his analysis. He was labelled an “anarchist” by the British and Indians alike for his unorthodox views on modernisation and industry. But his opinions were not simple lunacy as some would have us believe. He had seen the ugly side of industrialisation, with people being harnessed to machines in London and South Africa. The squalor of Victorian cities, the slums of African townships and the poverty that blighted urban life convinced Gandhi that industrial development could not be equated with progress. Drawn towards what he perceived as the simplicity and cohesion of rural life as it had been, he believed India’s future lay in self-sufficient village communities. He preferred a society composed of rights and responsibilities, with individuals fulfilling their respective economic and social roles to the benefit of all, to avoid the social conflicts and tensions that marred advanced industrial societies. He gained a hearing precisely because of his ferocious attacks on Western society as devoid of meaning and substance, and his championing of an ancient India before the advent of Europe. This refusal to accept Europe as superior won Gandhi an audience and authority that other Congress leaders could not match.


Yet Gandhi’s philosophy was imbued with paradoxes. He may have denounced modern conveniences but he made full use of the trappings of modern civilisation—for instance, press and media outlets were a constant feature of his campaigning, whether promoting his epic salt march of 1930 or the protests in South Africa. He was against industrialisation but he made alliances with Indian capitalists. His campaigns were made possible by drawing from the vast financial resources of the industrialist GD Birla. Birla has been described as a devotee of Gandhi but he benefited from the social and religious prestige which his association with Gandhi brought him. Additionally, Gandhi gave his blessing to Birla’s abundant wealth with his teaching on trusteeship, asserting the right of the rich to accumulate and maintain wealth as long as it was used to benefit society.

His championing of an ancient Indian civilisation, though a necessary corrective to British imperial arrogance, has all the hallmarks of invention and imagining a pre-capitalist community without recognising class as a central dynamic of society. Elevating “spiritualism” over “materialism” leads to an “exaltation of purely spiritual values, etc, to passivity, to non_resistance, and to cooperation—but in reality, it is a debilitating and diluted form of resistance, the mattress against the bullet”.27

His attitude to the masses was contradictory. He would champion peasants’ demands and organise them on condition that they remained peaceful, respectful of landowners and obedient to Gandhi’s tactics. If they had the temerity to demand the confiscation of private property, they were deemed to be ungrateful, unruly and unworthy. The orientation on simple farming and an apparent “equilibrium” of peasant life underestimated the degree of social and economic exploitation inherent in rural communities.

Similarly, with workers and employers Gandhi’s tactics had all the hallmarks of compromise and conciliation. The notion of trusteeship was used to dissipate workers’ anger and prevent them from fighting as workers. The emphasis was on rights but also responsibilities. So although Gandhi could claim, “What the two hands of the labourer could achieve, the capitalist would never get with all his gold and silver”, he could also insist that “capitalists are amenable to conversion”.28 Gandhi was enormously suspicious of socialists for their atheism and but also because he held communism to be “evil” and “unnatural” because it demanded abolition of private property. He once stated, “I can no more tolerate the yoke of Bolshevism than of capitalism.”

It is for this reason that the British Indian Marxist Palme Dutt referred to Gandhi as the “mascot of the bourgeoisie” and the founder of the Communist Party of India, Manabendra Nath Roy, held Gandhism to be the most important ideology of class collaboration within the nationalist movement. In describing the movement’s contradictions Roy argued, “One need not be a sentimental humanitarian, nor a religious fanatic in order to denounce the present order of society in the countries where capitalism rules.” Roy understood that Gandhi identified the “latent discontent” of the masses but did not want it to “burst out in fatal physical revolt or revolution… This was the true inwardness of his campaign”.29

The Indian left understood that pacifism and compromise were inadequate but was unable to offer a sustained pole of attraction to rival Gandhi’s mass action. In the 1930s Communists worked with Socialists inside Congress and their activists enjoyed influence in the textile mills of Bombay and among some workers, students and intellectuals, and peasant unions across north India, Bengal and Kerala. However, they faced problems. For one thing, many leaders came from privileged urban English speaking backgrounds. This is not a problem in itself, but Gandhi had the capacity to articulate the concerns, albeit in convoluted, moral sentiments, of the ordinary Indian. To be fair to the Communists, for most of the 1920s and 1930s they were a proscribed organisation with many cadres in jail. The best opportunity for the left came in 1937 when Nehru launched a mass contact campaign to appeal to Hindus and Muslims in the United Provinces as workers and peasants. Leading Communists took the initiative in this as they organised meetings, published leaflets and distributed newspapers in Urdu and Hindi. Gandhi had withdrawn from national politics in the late 1930s, and both Congress and the Muslim League were obsessed with parliamentary elections. The embryonic movement presented a small window of opportunity to put forward an alternative type of mass activity based on a grassroots approach to mass mobilisation basing itself on workers and peasants.

Tragically, the campaign was wound up after a few months due to pressure from the right wing of Congress, reflecting the hostility of middle caste and middle class Hindu interests. This section was totally opposed to any initiative that paid special attention to Muslims. Nehru was not prepared to challenge this right wing, fearing his own lack of authority and social weight inside Congress. And the Communist Party was not prepared to break from Nehru and challenge his “top-down” style of politics. Tied to the Comintern (the Communist International that was now dominated by Stalinism), which at this point was pushing for the formation of broad “popular fronts”, the Communists were incapable of launching a viable political alternative. The same political problems applied in the Quit India movement, where the Communist Party refused to support the insurgency, and again after the war when, under Stalin’s guidance, the party supported the notion of distinct nationalities in India, providing a left gloss for Jinnah’s view of a two-nation theory with separate Hindu and Muslim states.

The paradoxes and inconsistencies are sharper when we consider Gandhi’s attitudes towards women, untouchables and Hindu-Muslim unity. Gandhi was mercilessly hostile to discrimination and oppression of any group. He castigated men for their repression of women:

Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity—to me, the female sex, not the weaker sex. It is the nobler of the two, for it is even today the embodiment of sacrifice, silent suffering, humility, faith and knowledge.30

He attacked the commodification of women and insisted that “wives should not be dolls and objects of indulgence”, and he appealed to the men in Congress to “see that women became equal partners in the fight for swaraj”.31 He opposed child marriage and championed the rights of widows to control their own fate. Compared to most of his contemporaries these statements were a positive endorsement of women’s liberation. His campaigns provided space for women to be visibly active and engaged in the fight for freedom.

However, the role that Gandhi assigned for women was as “a true helpmate of man in the mission of service”.32 Service is the operative word. For Gandhi women symbolised the “honour” and “virtue” of the nation. He believed that men and women possessed distinct qualities as a result of biology. Men were naturally aggressive and selfish, and women were passive, self-sacrificing and pure. So women were more suited to the domestic sphere, particularly family life and motherhood. His models for women lay in the Hindu goddesses Sita and Draupadi, who epitomised courage and strength but also service to the community. In the non_cooperation and civil disobedience movements women’s activity was primarily confined to picketing wine shops and boycotting foreign cloth. And at major protests women were to nurse the male stayagrahis when they were struck down by police charges. He had nothing but contempt for the tactics of suffragettes in Britian, not only for the use of violence but because their activity entailed the questioning of traditional roles and the demand for complete equality. Gandhi’s views were embedded in a deep social conservatism that was underpinned by self_righteousness. He was not so much concerned with changing the material conditions for women’s emancipation as their “moral” condition.

Hindu-Muslim unity was the crux of Gandhi’s whole national project. His own religiosity meant that he held all faiths to be equal, stating that they were different paths to the one god and salvation. But he was acutely conscious of the fact that Muslims were a minority, whose grievances and discrimination had to be addressed. His championing of the Khilafat movement was crucial to aiding Hindu-Muslim unity and forcing the nationalist movement to politically identify with a “Muslim” cause. On partition and to those who espoused the removal of Muslims from India Gandhi retorted, “Death for me would be a glorious deliverance rather than that I should be a helpless witness of the destruction of India, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Islam”.33

Every fibre of Gandhi’s body spoke Hindu-Muslim unity but some of his pronouncements and actions caused anxiety in Muslim communities. So Gandhi could hold killing cows to be “sinful”, declaring, “When I see a cow, it is not an animal to eat; it is a poem of pity for me and I worship it and I shall defend its worship against the whole world”.34 Statements such as this only provided succour to Hindu chauvinists for whom cow slaughter was (and continues to be) a stick with which to beat Muslims. In spite of Gandhi’s personal convictions he presented himself first and foremost as a “Hindu” figure. And, as if to underscore this ambiguity, he argued in relation to Muslims:

I find no parallel in history for a body of converts and their descendants claiming to be a nation apart from their parent stock. If India was one nation before the advent of Islam, it must remain one in spite of the change of faith of a very large body of her children.35

This did not enhance his claim to represent all Indians. It provided the Muslim League with further ammunition to claim to be the sole leadership of India’s Muslims and spurred on Hindu extremists in their fervour to “Hinduise” India.

As a caste Hindu, Gandhi was a defender of the caste system. But by the late 1920s he was adamantly opposed to caste discrimination and the mistreatment of untouchables at the hands of caste Hindus. He held untouchability to be a “rotten part or an excrescence”, “no integral part of Hinduism”,36 and a “blight” that had to be eradicated. Gandhi led a campaign for dalit37 rights in the 1930s, undertaking a nine-month tour of some 12,500 miles in 1933, campaigning for the opening up of wells, temples and roads to dalits. He carried a begging bowl to raise money and cleaned latrines with bhangis, the lowest untouchable category. For a short time this appeared to have a remarkable impact. In cities, small towns and rural areas Brahmin Hindus were observed embracing untouchables on street corners, allowing them access to restricted wells and talking up the Gandhi mantra that untouchables were harijans (children of god). But Gandhi also encountered much resistance from orthodox caste Hindus. They disrupted his meetings and in June 1933 a bomb was thrown at him in Pune.

However, his treatment of untouchables was not without ambiguity. The term he gave for untouchables, harijan, was patronising. His temple entry bill only called for the lifting of restrictions formalised under colonial rule, not for the enforcement of entry. His campaign called for untouchables to go around the temple and not into it, and he admonished them for their lack of hygiene, poor sanitation and the “impure” habits of meat eating and drinking alcohol. As with other issues, Gandhi’s concern was with moral indignation and limited social reform without connecting this to any systematic analysis of the structures of power and class. So opposing untouchability did not mean advocating the abolition of caste. Gandhi wanted caste Hindus to acknowledge untouchables and accept them into the wider fold of Hinduism. This is why he clashed with Ambedkar, the great dalit leader of the 1930s. Ambedkar campaigned for separate electorates for untouchables and persuaded the British to agree to this after 1931. Gandhi saw this as “the vivisection” of the Hindu community and he embarked upon a fast unto death to have it revoked, forcing Ambedkar to buckle under the weight of emotional and political blackmail after just three hours of the fast. As with many forms of social inequality Gandhi held the caste system to be a productive and harmonious means of social organisation—not because he wished to propagate inequality but because he was not a revolutionary. His Hinduism emphasised the “equality” of souls and an organic social order whereby every individual had a role to fulfil.

Gandhi’s ambiguities were at the core of his appeal, his relative successes and his limitations. His ideas had the power and capacity to lead mass action that elite groups—whether national constitutionalists or terrorists—did not. As such he was able to advance the freedom movement and bring into its orbit several constituents that established leaders were impervious to. But the movement also corresponded to the interests of the Indian bourgeoisie and middle classes, who were drawn to Gandhi’s message of opposition to colonialism, and of self-reliance, social reform and class collaboration. This ensured that political activity would be firmly within the limits of non-violence and also remain non-revolutionary.

Gandhi’s tragedy

The tragic consequences of this were shown at three decisive moments towards the end of Gandhi’s life. Firstly, there was the Quit India movement in 1942 when, in spite of himself, he called mass action that went beyond his control. Gandhi introduced the Quit India resolution at the All_India Congress Committee held in Bombay on 8 August 1942, stipulating, “Every Indian who desires freedom and strives for it must be his own guide urging him all along the hard road where there is no resting place and which leads ultimately to the independence and deliverance of India”.38

In addition he uttered the famous mantra, karenge ya marenge (Do or die). This was taken as a marked departure from his pacifist teachings. The next day the entire Congress leadership was arrested. The spirit of the Free India movement was Gandhian but its tactics went far beyond that framework. Lord Linlithgow, the viceroy, described what followed as by far the most serious rebellion since the 1857 mutiny.39

For the month of August some areas of north India were virtually under parallel governments as a younger generation of activists took the lead and unleashed protests and strikes, which cut off essential supplies, and sabotaged administration buildings. Some 208 police outposts, 332 railway stations and 945 post offices were destroyed or damaged and there were 664 bomb explosions. State repression was quick and brutal. Over 90,000 people had been arrested by the end of 1943, free use was made of public floggings and of torture such as pushing rulers up the rectums of captured protesters, with Linlithgow ordering aerial bombing of crowds disrupting communication networks in Patna Bihar. Resistance had been quelled by the middle of 1944. From the Aga Khan jail, his place of detention, Gandhi issued a call to end the disruption and asked leaders to stop the sabotage and protests. Along with arrests this further dissipated the movement. A further twist to this tragedy was that the Communist Party refused to endorse the Quit India resolution and supported the British war effort in line with Stalin’s policy of “people’s war”, leaving the largest left force completely disarmed and impotent during the protests. In fact in areas where the party had a base its members actively worked to defuse strikes, demonstrations and walkouts. This meant that the bourgeois leaderships of Congress and the Muslim League could emerge intact and strengthened after the war.

The second decisive moment came straight after the war ended. Britain emerged from the war a considerably weakened power. This, along with the successive waves of mass action that had taken place, severely diminished its resolve to hold on to its empire. The push for independence was irresistible. In November 1945 the weakened but vindictive imperial power placed three soldiers of the Indian National Army (INA) that had fought alongside Japan in Burma on trial: a Muslim, a Hindu and a Sikh. Nehru was part of their defence counsel. They were found guilty of “waging war against the emperor” and sentenced to transportation for life. Popular outcry forced the British to accede to demands for their release as national heroes. This galvanised nationalist feeling and on 18 February 1946 Indian sailors of the Royal Indian Navy on board ship and in shore establishments in Bombay struck and then mutinied. From here the mutiny spread throughout British India, from Karachi to Calcutta and Madras with the slogans “Strike for Bombay”, “Release 11,000 INA prisoners” and “Jai Hind” (Long live India). It came to involve 78 ships, 20 shore establishments and 20,000 sailors, uniting Hindus and Muslims whose grievances entailed poor food rations, lack of career advancement but also racism at the hands of navy personnel.

Such was the feeling that even the Gurkhas in Karachi refused to fire on striking sailors. The mutineers hoisted the flags of the Congress, Muslim League and Communist Party onto their ships in a symbolic display of national unity. Tragically, Gandhi condemned the mutiny, criticising the strikers for mutinying without the call of a “prepared revolutionary party” and without the “guidance and intervention” of “political leaders of their choice”.40 He further criticised a local Congress leader, one of the few prominent political leaders of the time to offer her support for the mutineers, who had stated she would rather unite Hindus and Muslims on the barricades than on the constitutional front. And in spite of his reservations about constitutional methods earlier, Gandhi betrayed his true views on the mutiny by declaring, “If the union at the barricade is honest then there must be union also at the constitutional front”.41

The leaders of Congress and the Muslim League also refused to back the mutineers and effectively sabotaged the strike by sending their representatives to broker an agreement. Not only was the mutiny called off but none of its demands were met and, to add insult to injury, none of the dismissed mutineers were ever admitted into the Indian or Pakistani navies after independence. The shortcomings of Gandhi’s mass action and his version of nationalism, based as it was on an appeal to the religiosity of individuals, were woefully inadequate when tested at a crucial juncture. The magnificent unity on display during the mutiny was not to be nurtured by national leaders vying for territory and power in the run-up to the final transfer of power as August 1947 approached.

Gandhi’s final tragedy was his complete inability to prevent the partition of India and the communal frenzy that accompanied it. He travelled to Noakali in Bengal to see the horror of hundreds and thousands of dead Muslims and Hindus following the Muslim Day of Action in August 1946. When partition was announced Gandhi stayed away from the “celebrations” of national independence, stating, “Let posterity know Gandhi was not party to the vivisection of India.” In September 1947 he went to Calcutta and stayed in the home of a Muslim, in the face of arch opposition by Hindu extremists. Here he began a fast unto death to stop the communal killing that followed the division of Bengal. After five days, with Gandhi a stone and half lighter, all violence stopped. Gandhi was able to use his stature, but also his fragility and the emotional toll of partition to bring a halt to the killing for a short while. But he had not been able to stop the tragedy of partition. To achieve that would have required the vision and strategy employed by the naval mutineers to redirect politics in a class direction. The biggest irony of Gandhi’s life was perhaps that partition and independence gave birth to a capitalist state like any other, or in fact two states, with the capitalist features he detested—immense poverty and obscene wealth, wars and nuclear weapons.


If one reads Gandhi as a waif-like figure wandering around India in a loincloth with a staff, it does seem remarkable that he could bring the might of the British Empire to its knees. If, however, we remember that Gandhi was a British trained barrister, with ample experience of political activity, accustomed to bargaining, what emerges is a figure who was shrewd, calculating and extremely clever.

This does not mean he was insincere. Far from it. Gandhi was totally committed to a united, independent India. He wanted an end to the callous treatment meted out to dalits and low caste groups. He wanted women to be treated with respect, free to marry or not and to have financial independence, and he desperately wanted Hindu-Muslim unity to be the defining feature of a composite Indian nationhood. However, he was a reformer, not a revolutionary. This was a reformism rooted in social conservatism that did not seek the overthrow of capitalism but its taming. In this sense the enigma of Gandhi is not so perplexing or extraordinary. In relation to conservative, elite social forces Gandhi did offer a programme of mass action and political activity that drew in wider layers of activists. But in relation to achieving the world of social harmony without inequality that he aspired to, his strategy proved sorely lacking in failing to understand how to direct the mass action he helped to initiate.


1: Quoted in Huttenback, 1971, p330.

2: Nehru, 1987, p35.

3: Gilbert, 1976, p390.

4: Gandhi, 2002, p52.

5: The Vegetarian, 7 February-14 March 1891.

6: Gandhi, 1958, p23.

7: Gandhi, 2002, p63.

8: Gandhi, 2002, p91.

9: Gandhi, 1958, p410.

10: Gandhi, 2002, p274.

11: Gandhi, 2002, p275.

12: Gandhi, 1965a, pp148-155.

13: She was the sister of Ambalal Sarabhai, Ahmedabad’s leading mill owner.

14: Quoted in Rajmohan Gandhi, 2007, p199.

15: Gandhi, 1965b, p364.

16: Quoted in Wolpert, 1999, p204.

17: Gandhi, 1994, pp238-239.

18: Gandhi, 1996, p72.

19: Gandhi, 1994, p240.

20: Habib, 1997, p57.

21: Habib, 1997, p55.

22: Habib, 1997, p56.

23: Quoted in Hardiman, 2003, p113.

24: Miller’s report from 21 May 1930, quoted in Martin, 2006, p38.

25: James, 1931, p19.

26: Gandhi, 1938, pp36, 38, 58-60, 55, 31, 30.

27: Gramsci, 2007, p61.

28: Tendulkar, 1960, pp33, 159.

29: Quoted in Chakrabarty, 2006, pp88-89.

30: Gandhi, 1967a, p225.

31: Gandhi, 1992, pp363-364.

32: Gandhi, 1992, pp363-364.

33: Gandhi, 1992, pp408-409.

34: Gandhi, 1967b, p459.

35: Gandhi, 1979, p101.

36: Tendulkar, 1960, p183.

37: This is the political term used by untouchables to describe themselves.

38: Quoted in Modern Review, September 1942 (Calcutta), pp197-198.

39: Quoted in Ghosh, 1995.

40: Chandra and others, 1989, p485.

41: Chandra and others, 1989, p486.


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