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Gandhi as an alternative

Gandhi as an alternative

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-4- Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.  

Gandhi as an alternative


Gandhi has changed the course of history from violence to non-violence.

  • Hitherto violence was the ultimate weapon to resolve the political conflicts but after his contribution through non-violent resistance ie Satyagraha, non-violence has occupied the centre stage of the recent political struggles all over the world.
  • Gandhi was well aware of the ill effects of the act of violence.
  • He himself associated with war during Boer War and Zulu Rebellion in South Africa and witnessed two world wars.
  • 1915 to 1945 was the crucial period in the history of the world.
  • The whole world believed the violent way was the only method to settle the disputes.
  • War was accepted as an instrument for settling the issues. 
  • The world leaders at that time engaged in the First and the Second World Wars and many others in Europe. During the Cold War too they supported violence and preparations for war.
  • But in the same period, when the whole world believed in violence, Gandhiji was alone who thought there should be more constructive alternative to war and violence.
  • Therefore Gandhi launched the Satyagraha, the non-violent direct action first in South Africa against racial discrimination. He successfully demonstrated the power of truth and non-violence to the whole world.
  • Gandhiji evolved carefully and presented to the world the new form of non-violence, the most pragmatic and potent technique of conflict resolution for a civilised society — as an alternative to war and violence. Gandhi’s nonviolence is not static, it evolves and adapts to changing situations. He used his non-violent resistance against racial discrimination in South Africa; and in India, he used non-violent methods to fight against the British Raj.

“Violence can deter or diminish an enemy, but it cannot force people to embrace its agenda. Shooting your way to power may destroy the old order, but you cannot free your people until they give you their consent.”

Gandhian thought on development:

  • Gandhi suggested the shift from the struggle for existence and survival of the fittest to mutual aid and cooperation.
  • The pragmatic thoughts of Gandhi has given a new vision to harmonise nature with the needs of people.
  • His ideas of truth and non-violence, simple living and high thinking, and holistic development reveal how sustainable development is possible without destroying nature and our fellow living beings.
  • He was clear in his ideas about man and nature and her understood the symbiotic relationship between all living and nonliving creatures.
  • His idea that “nature has enough to satisfy every one’s needs, but not to satisfy anybody’s greed” became a one-line ethic to modern environmentalism.
  • Gandhi considered the earth a living organism.
  • His thought can be characterised by two fundamental laws in nature, one is the universal law and other one is the law of species.
  • The Universal law views the entire universe as a single, interconnected, interrelated and interpenetrated system.
  • He believed that the universe was structured and informed by the cosmic spirit, that all men, all life and indeed all creation were one.
  • The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has opened up our eyes to ugly realities. Cities and urban areas are more vulnerable than the rural areas.
  • We need to revisit the ideas of development proposed by Gandhi. His economic philosophy is not static but vibrant and ever widening. 
  • It is not techno-centred, but people-centred. 
  • Development of handful of cities cannot solve our economic problems.
  • Therefore Gandhi concentrated on economic development of the villages. Instead of mass production, he suggested production by masses. Instead of centralised industries, he suggested decentralised small industries. 
  • Mass production is only concerned with the product, whereas production by the masses is concerned with the product as well as the producers, and the process involved in it. 

Today, when there has been deep erosion of moral values in our public life as well as our private life and when ethical principles have virtually disappeared from politics, Gandhian values appear to be as an effective alternative. In his time Gandhi provided not only political but also moral leadership to the country, something which is missing in today’s World.

“Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore Gandhi at our own risk.”


Today, when there has been deep erosion of moral values in our public life as well as our private life and when ethical principles have virtually disappeared from politics, Gandhian values appear to be as an effective alternative. Substantiate.