This book by a talented and venerated newspaper editor of the pre-Independence era and one who had the rare privilege to interact with the luminaries of Independence movement and get a ringside view of the political drama, is a faithful record of the history of the non-violent civil disobedience movement initiated by Mahatma Gandhi in order to achieve independence for India. It was an attempt to put before the public, particularly the non-Indian public which was not obsessed by its adherence to any particular party slogans, the case for Indian freedom.
The world has learnt that non-violent non-cooperation in the political sphere is mainly a means of bringing pressure on a ruling nation so as to attain the end of compelling it to release power into the hands of the ruled. At different times in the world’s history the device had been used by some particular sections of the people oppressed by different kinds of exploitation to secure some political, economic or other objective. So far as India is concerned, it was Mahatma Gandhi who first brought this method into popular and extensive use to induce Britain to emancipate India from her political grip by bringing moral pressure on the British Indian government for the purpose. In his hands non-cooperation as a normal method of political agitation acquired realistic significance and was at different times during the era, coupled with civil disobedience, came to be characaterised as active non-cooperation to differentiate it from mere passive resistance. At the same time from a merely individual weapon for resisting wrong and the wrong-doers, it acquired a nationwide significance also. It goes to Mahatma Gandhi’s credit that not only did it catalyse India’s political struggle for freedom but also helped to prescribe and perfect for the purpose a weapon which alone could have any chance of success in the circumstances in which India was placed and in which she had to carry on that struggle.
The author explains that only two methods are available to a subject people to secure freedom: one is armed revolution and violent overthrow of the suzerain authority and the second is non-violent non-cooperation or withdrawal of support from it.
This book should be read by the present generation with concentration and attention as it helps to clarify the reasons for Gandhi’s reasons for conducting the non-violent non-cooperation movement and how and why it proved successful.
(Frog Books, 4A, Diamond House, Linking Road, Parallel Road to National College, Bandra [West], Mumbai-400 050.)