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Swaraj and Sovereignty

Gandhi's understanding of swaraj in thought and practice is a systematic response to the definition of sovereignty in post-enlightenment political theory. The concept of swaraj does not merely address the question of self-rule versus foreign rule or state rule versus anarchy, rather it questions the very presuppositions of sovereignty as constituted in the modern nation state. In that way Gandhi not only presents a fundamentally different theory of the relation between civil society and the state but also of the two constitutive principles of modern theories of sovereignty - supreme authority and territory.


Swaraj and Sovereignty

Anuradha Veeravalli

Gandhi’s understanding of swaraj in thought and practice is a systematic response to the definition of sovereignty in post-enlightenment political theory. The concept of swaraj does not merely address the question of self-rule versus foreign rule or state rule versus anarchy, rather it questions the very presuppositions of sovereignty as constituted in the modern nation state. In that way Gandhi not only presents a fundamentally different theory of the relation between civil society and the state but also of the two constitutive principles of modern theories of sovereignty – supreme authority and territory.

The author is grateful to Ashis Nandy for commenting on an earlier version of this paper and in sharpening the focus of some of the arguments.

Anuradha Veeravalli ( teaches in the Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi.

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t has been acknowledged that few in the history of civilisations have had the moral strength to stand up against and offer resistance to a so-called, legally constituted, yet unjust regime of the state. Those like M K Gandhi and Martin Luther King are seen as unique men of great moral, even spiritual strength, and perhaps, strategy and charisma, who managed to not only offer non-violent resistance but command mass support in their fight against the hegemony and unjust laws of a state. There is interest in the story of their resistance, the particular methods of resistance, such as non-violence or satyagraha (literally “truth force” whose political form was non-violent civil disobedience). As in Gandhi’s case, the story needs telling for its sheer intrinsic value, and for the light it throws upon the human condition and its possibilities. However, there has hardly been any appraisal of these leaders’ contribution to political theory. In fact, it would not be far from the truth to say that most believe that there is no such contribution or at least, that there is no systematic contribution.

Systematic Intervention

The contribution of Gandhi’s thought to the Hindu tradition and its reform (Parekh 1999), to a critique of modernity and modern civilisation (Parel 1992), to non-violent action/resistance (Dalton 1995), to nationalist discourse (Chatterjee 1993), has been well and variously covered. However, it is an appraisal of the contribution made to the theory of a given discipline that allows one to judge the systematic nature of an intervention in the history of ideas. This essay addresses itself to this question and argues that Gandhi’s understanding of swaraj (or what he called self-rule) offers a fundamental and systematic critique of an alternative to the theory of sovereignty in modern political thought, and in the context of the modern nation state. For Gandhi, swaraj raised the question of independence from British rule to a question about the very understanding and definition of sovereignty. It was not, as is believed by many, a matter simply of spiritualising politics. He addressed not merely the question “who has the authority to rule?” but the question – “who has the supreme authority to rule?”. Therefore, the answer for him was not a simple matter of self-rule versus foreign rule, or state rule versus anarchy, nor was it a matter of renunciation of the world of politics, for the moral. He was, in his response, presenting the possibility of a different theory of sovereignty with fundamentally different presuppositions about the relation between civil society and the state.

A brief appraisal of the presuppositions and roots of sovereignty in the modern nation state will serve to show the significance of Gandhi’s intervention: how he targets crucial and constitutive presuppositions of the prevalent definition of sovereignty within the framework of the modern nation state and how his understanding


of swaraj strikes at the root of these presuppositions. Post-enlightenment theories of sovereignty are more or less agreed on its definition as that which has “supreme authority within a territory”. Thus supreme/exclusive authority and territory are the two constitutive principles of sovereignty in the modern nation state.

The Social Contract

Theories of sovereignty in the liberal tradition, having their basis in the social contract, are divided only in the emphasis they lay on civil society (in the lineage of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s generalwill theory) as a source of this authority, or on the state (in the lineage of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan) as its source. More recently, Agamben (2005) argues that states using the political and juridical impasse that allows the state to suspend the law and curtail the freedom of the individual/society in case of an emergency or security threat, are fast becoming the rule rather than the exception. Further, according to him, there is no theory of the state of exception and it is explained as founded in a state of necessity, i e, expediencies of a state of siege, or a political emergency. Agamben argues that the reason for the inability to constitute a theory that would explain the juridical status of the state of exception rests precisely in the fact that the state of necessity is itself presumed to be the origin or basis of the law. On the other hand, limits on the freedom and individual rights of persons are recognised as a n ecessity since stability is seen as a value in the liberal democratic framework. So, differences must cohere within a common system of values agreed upon by rational members entering into a social contract, or under a given constitutional framework (Rawls 2005). Nozick (1974) goes further, and argues that it would well be within reason to coerce the few who may not consent to the principles of the social contract, to follow the will of the majority.

The concern about the limit of sovereignty from the vantage point of society, or of the state, is only a matter of emphasis however, since their origin and underlying presuppositions are one and the same in modern political theory. Both ends of this spectrum presume (1) that society is an artificial construct of individuals under the social contract; (2) that existence of the state is inevitable and necessary; and finally (3) that civil society and the state come into being simultaneously and are in fact two faces of the same thing. This fact also becomes at once the rational basis for the sovereignty of the state being unquestionable, just as it becomes the basis of the need to limit the rights of individuals. In this way the very constitution of sovereignty limits the possibility of the dialectic of state and society, since they are at source one and each is constitutive of the other. This is evident from the conclusions of both Rousseau and Hobbes who, along with John Locke, can be characterised as founders of the social contract theories in modern times. Though Rousseau emphasises the importance of the general-will of the people, and therefore of civil society, he says:

Further, the Sovereign, being formed only of the individuals who compose it, neither has, nor can have, any interest contrary to theirs; consequently, the sovereign power need give no guarantee to its subjects, because it is impossible that the body should seek to injure all its members; and we shall see presently that it can do no injury to any individual in particular. The Sovereign, by its nature, is always everything it ought to be (Rousseau 1947: 17).

Similarly, though Hobbes is in favour of the Leviathan, or powerful state, he says:

But the rights, and consequences of Sovereignty, are the same in both. [Sovereignty by dominion, and by institution]. His power cannot, without his consent, be transferred to another: He cannot forfeit it: He cannot be accused by any of his subjects, of injury: He cannot be punished by them: He is judge of what is necessary for peace; and judge of doctrines: He is sole legislator; and supreme judge of controversies; and of the times, and occasions of war and peace… (Hobbes 1985: 252).

Here, Rousseau makes the point that there is no contradiction, or even possibility of contradiction, between the state and the people. The state can never injure its people. Hobbes makes the reciprocal point that the people cannot injure the state nor accuse the state of injuring them because it is supreme judge of all that is good or bad for them. It is their conscience. In collapsing the distinction between society, the citizen, and the state, only the private individual, and everything that is private to him, religion, conscience, calling, all which by definition does not belong to the state or its society, can be in conflict with it. And this individual, and all that is private to him within the framework of the modern nation state – ideology, religion and conscience, necessarily represent the dark possibilities of the state of nature unless they cohere with, and are subject to, the common set of values that are agreed upon in the social contract. He cannot be sovereign nor can he have a conscience except one that coincides with citizenship and the state. Therefore only a citizen as subject of the state can have a conscience. In this, the state’s definition of its sovereignty is the mirror image of the orthodoxy of established religion and they are in crucial instances to be seen in complete conjunction in their disapproval of the voice of conscience, civil society and custom.1

Ironically, then, the individual is either the subject of the state, as citizen, or its sovereign, as member and official of the state. Thus sovereignty, within the framework of the social contract theories, presupposes not only a state of man’s alienation from himself, his nature, but also that of the collective/civil society from its nature. Some have characterised this as a consequence of a contradiction in modern liberal states that separate the private sphere where individual freedom is guaranteed, from the public sphere, where it is curtailed.

However, the real contradiction arises from the collapse of the distinction between civil society and the state in post-enlightenment political theory, and not from the public-private dichotomy that rests on the dualism and conflict of the individual and the collective. There is room only for two players within modern political theory – the state and the individual. Proof of this lies, for instance, in statutory law which recognises only criminal and civil cases, the former, involving the state versus the individual, and the latter, cases of individual versus individual. Civil society is not in the picture either as voice of the individual or of the collective. In addition, there is a persistent effort to bring civil law under the purview of criminal law in consonance with the need to collapse the distinction between civil society and the state. Common law as a vestige of pre-enlightenment systems of justice and governance is the last bastion of a civil society that is not identified with the state. The public interest litigation (PIL) can be seen as a new avatar of common law, and modern India’s unique contribution in the attempt

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to break the overlap of state and civil society in the modern nation state. In 1980, after a period of national Emergency, the Indian judiciary put this law in place, by which the judiciary or any individual (not necessarily being an affected party) can initiate litigation against the state/government in the public interest.

Sovereignty and Territoriality

This understanding of sovereignty in conjunction with the condition of territoriality then separates one nation state from another. Each with its secure territorial boundaries is an independent sovereignty, with independent aspirations of freedom, and defence mechanisms. Thus each state takes on the nature of an individual and the conditions of individuals in the state of nature are replayed with respect to the relations between nation states until another contract comes into being in the creation of a system of sovereign states. The world wars witnessed in the past century re-enacted the possibilities of the state of nature on the inter national stage. The UN and its council would have to follow the trajectory of the limits of sovereignty between state and society that we have discussed above: the state and its methods of law and order would prevail over that of civil society.

The territoriality condition of the sovereignty theory presupposes that the jurisdiction of a state and nation overlap, just as it presupposes that the person and citizen and civil society and the state, are coextensive. That this understanding has always been contested is seen from the fact that border disputes abound in the world, where ethnic communities contest existing territorial boundaries of the state, and its sovereignty.

It is within this context of the ultimate collapse, in political theory and practice, of the distinction between state and civil s ociety, both conceptually and territorially in the post-enlightenment discourse on sovereignty, that Gandhi’s discourse on swaraj intervenes. Some have argued on the other hand, that it is indeed the dualism of individual and collective, private and public spheres,2 and the secular and the religious that Gandhi mediates (Nandy 2000). However, the dualisms that constitute the modern nation state are not the premise on which the vocabulary of Gandhi’s satyagraha and swaraj stand. He, as it were, systematically disbands the presuppositions of the modern state and its laws. First, non-violence is not a personal or private virtue but “Non-violence is the Law of our Species, as Violence is the Law of the Brute” (Gandhi 1969: 156). It is not the religion of the recluse but of the common people. Thus he sets aside the dualism of human/ individual and the collective/society in the state of nature of the social contract. It is for him a matter of common people/civil society versus the state. Second then, the satyagrahi is conceived as a foot-soldier of non-violent opposition to all aggression or use of power, whether by oneself or the opponent, in the cause of the vindication of truth or justice. The satyagrahi shall neither be subject to the law of the state, nor be party to its execution, as member of the state. On the other hand, Gandhi constitutes the personal (not “private”) and the political (not “public”) spheres as merely two types of reasons for which satyagraha may be offered:

So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth not by infliction of suffering on the opponent but on one’s self. But on the political field the struggle on behalf of the people mostly consists in opposing error in the shape of unjust laws. When you have

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failed to bring the error home to the lawgiver by way of petitions and the like, the only remedy open to you, if you do not wish to submit to error, is to compel him by physical force or by suffering in your own person by inviting the penalty for the breach of the law. Hence Satyagraha largely appears to the public as Civil Disobedience or Civil Resistance. It is civil in the sense that it is not criminal (Gandhi 1969: 179).

If one were to think that he said this only incidentally, he makes himself clear again when he says: “Civil Disobedience is civil breach of unmoral statutory enactments” (Gandhi 1969: 181).

In the first instance Gandhi rejects the dualism of the individual and the collective, since in civil society, the real issue is of the negotiation of self and other whether that other is god/truth, man, or nature. In the second instance, he implicitly rejects the dualism of the private and the public and emphasises instead the personal and the political spheres, the first involving the vindication of truth or justice between individuals, and the second between the people and the state. In the latter case, he clearly overturns the classification of law in the modern nation state: A case of individual versus the state is necessarily representative of a case of civil society against the state and is a civil, not a criminal case. By implication, a case is criminal only when there is a threat to civil society by the use of violence, or divisive forces between individuals and between groups of individuals, but this is best negotiated by civil society itself, and with least state intervention. This will become clear from the examples discussed later in the paper.

Gandhi’s Theory of Sovereignty

The theory of sovereignty proposed by Gandhi is based on the clear separation of origin, constitution, and methods of the state from that of civil society. Thus it is not surprising that Gandhi bases his understanding of swaraj or, as he translates it, self-rule, on three presuppositions fundamentally different from the accepted definitions of sovereignty in the modern nation state: (1) it presupposed the necessary differentiation and separation of civil society from the state, in their origin and constitution. (2) The possibility of selfreform, rather than control over, or freedom from the other was seen as a necessary condition of sovereignty. (3) It disposed of territory as a definitional condition of sovereignty; rather sovereignty defined the relation/frontier (not boundaries) between territories of different nations, and of self and other. Territory was neither an object of control, nor of acquisition or exploitation. The good of the self, or one’s country rested in the good of the neighbour.

This understanding of swaraj as presenting a theory of sovereignty allows us to see a unity of method and thought in Gandhi’s approach to several issues that pertain to the political, and the political economy. To begin with, one can understand why it was not imperative for Gandhi that the British leave India for the country to be free. It was only a matter of last resort, when the impossibility of any attempt at self-determination, not of the state, but of civil s ociety, vis-à-vis crucial issues concerning modernity/“civilisation”, Hindu-Muslim relations, and the problem of untouchability b ecame evident, that Gandhi called for purna swaraj (complete self-rule). It was the impediment to self-reform that the British posed, the inability to set one’s own house in order, that was crucial since without self-reform independence would just be a matter of form and not substance. Their insistence on remaining within


the framework of the modern nation state, and therefore in the role of supreme arbiter of all social issues, did not permit them to join in the effort of civil society to reform itself.

The issues he raised with respect to the political economy can be categorised as those relating to swadeshi (which one may translate as the territory of the self as well as that of one’s nation). This he understood not in terms of the private space/freedom of individuals, or private property, or national territory but as a question of the body, labour, and mode of production, i e, as that which related self and the world. Thus national sanitation, involving the maintenance of clean roads and environment was something that could not be postponed even for a day.3 Similarly, work must involve labour that sustains the relation between spirit and the body, the person and the body politic, and the body politic and the body-natural/cosmos in the act of production and reproduction; there cannot be freedom with respect to one at the expense of the other. It is only this understanding of swadeshi that allows it to be non-exclusivist. And it is this non-exclusive understanding that determines swadeshi as a sign of sovereignty.

Swaraj within this scheme is not a means of distancing self from other (body, body politic or cosmos), or of establishing jurisdiction or territory between nations.4 It signifies a frontier of m utual respect, love/non-violence and service of the neighbour/ opponent located in the material and political culture of the people rather than in a relation of power, mutual fear, and exploitation. Thus the draft resolution on foreign policy discussing the relation with territories of other nations, circulated by Gandhi to members of the working committee of the Indian National Congress prior to India’s independence, said:

Indeed whilst we are maturing our plans for establishing Swaraj, we are bound to tell the world what relations we wish to cultivate with it. If we do not fear our neighbours, or if although feeling strong we have no designs upon them, we must say so. We are equally bound to tell the world whether we want to send our sepoys [soldiers] to the battle fields of France or Europe (Gandhi 1967a: 161).

The principles of relations between nations become clear in the following passage that locates what exactly is wrong with British presence in India:

India’s greatest moment of glory will consist not in regarding Englishmen as her implacable enemies fit only to be turned out of India at the first available opportunity but in turning them into friends and partners in a new commonwealth of nations in the place of an Empire based on exploitation of the weaker or underdeveloped nations and races of the earth and therefore finally upon force (Gandhi 1967a: 162).

Language as Ontological Reality

In the case of Hindu-Muslim conflict, his choice of Hindustani as the vernacular language of India is significant. It signified the dialectic of Urdu and Sanskrit (or Urduised Hindi and Sankritised Hindi) in the simple and spontaneous currency of spoken language and thus the unity of Hindus and Muslims. This he proposed not merely for north India but as the national language across the length and breadth of the country. For those in south India who protested, he was insistent in his persuasion that Hindustani was clearly the most suitable to be the common language of India. This was one thing he was willing to institutionalise with the setting up of Hindustani Prachar Sabha (Association for the Dissemination of Hindustani).5 This involved a conscious break with Hindi Sahitya Sammelan (Hindi Literary Conference) that favoured Sanskritised Hindi, the language of brahminical Hinduism as the national language. Gandhi however did persuade Purushottam Das Tandon and other members of the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan to pass a resolution that that they held Urdu, which represented the Arabic-Persian-Islamic influence, to be a form of Hindi, and that they were not against Urdu.

However, the significant point here was that the solution did not lie in constitutional changes to be enforced by the state, of the like of a uniform civil code, or on the other hand, of legislation on religious freedom. It lay in the strengthening the sign of the actual and possible dialect of communication of the people of both communities. Besides, for those of us trained in the discipline of philosophy, the positivist tradition brings home to us the difficulties of representing the ontological reality of general or abstract terms such as “society”, and therefore of the truth of their existence. Gandhi, a natural, with fundamental puzzles such as these, with brilliant simplicity and with clarity edging on clairvoyance, proposes language as the ontological reality and truth of society, and the proof of its unity in variety, constituted by dialectics of difference, contradiction and complementarity. Hindi movies bear witness to the truth of Hindustani being this language that articulates this truth of the unity in variety of India.

Gandhi described the Partition, when first proposed by the Muslim League, as vivisection. For him therefore, Hindu and Muslim communities constituted one living body, a common civilisation, and communities who had worked for centuries to strengthen the bonds of unity between them, something that could not be defined by geographical boundaries. He made anguished and persistent pleas to the Muslim League and its leaders, as much as he pleaded the leaders of the Indian National Congress, to consider whether they actually had the support of the Muslims of India in believing that there was nothing common between the two communities, their religion, language or customs. He was clear that the demand for Partition on religious grounds was an untruth. It went against the grain of any religion:

Religion binds man to God and man to man. Does Islam bind Muslim only to a Muslim and antagonise the Hindu? Was the message of the Prophet peace only for and between Muslims and war against Hindus or non-Muslims? (Gandhi 1963: 294).

In the event that the people actually felt the truth of the separate destinies of the nations, Gandhi was willing to go along with their wishes but not with the British as arbiters. He felt that India must gain peace and freedom from British rule, as one nation, and only then must the Hindus and Muslims decide to part. However, the irony of the demand on non-religious grounds, i e, on grounds of forming a nation state on the presuppositions of postenlightenment conceptions of sovereignty, is brought home in this comment of Gandhi on Jinnah’s6 demands:

Pakistan, according to him (Jinnah) ‘in a nutshell, is a demand for carving out of India a portion to be wholly treated as an independent and sovereign State.’ This sovereign state can conceivably go to war against the one of which it was but yesterday a part. It can also equally conceivably make treaties with other States. All this can certainly be had, but surely not by the willing consent of the rest (Gandhi 1963: 305).

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Similarly, he was against a legal and constitutional enforcement other; a frontier is not a boundary between territories but a point of separate electorates and rights of the untouchables. It would of their meeting, and a condition for possible dialogue. divide Hindus into two communities; it would neither bring The Rama (from the epic Ramayana), that Gandhi so revered, home to the Hindus the great shame of the practice of untoucha-symbolised the possibility of the rule of Rama (“Ram rajya”) even bility, nor remove the perpetuation of untouchables as a separate when in exile, without territory, and out of power. It is not the apclass. This was a matter internal to Hinduism. Unless it took ac-propriation or renunciation of territory, but sustaining the sepacount of untouchability and performed penance for the ills of un-ration of, and dialectic between the state and civil society even touchability, it would have no swaraj. This was a matter for self-while remaining in exile from the seat of power that presents the reform and to be dealt with by a committee of Hindu reformers, true test of sovereignty. It becomes quite clear then why Gandhi and not a matter for the state. In fact, separate electorates would was so adamant that the Congress must be dissolved on the eve of make the label and class of untouchables a permanent fixture: Independence. The logic of his understanding of sovereignty told

him that the Congress’ rightful role would be as the opposition rather

Let this Committee and let the whole world know that today there is a

body of Hindu reformers who are pledged to remove this blot of un-than as ruling party – a party in exile from the seat of power. In

touchability. We do not want on our register and on our census un-fact, there would be no “party” in opposition, but only independ

touchables classified as a separate class. Sikhs may remain as such in

ent community workers whom the people knew from their work

perpetuity, so may Muslims, so may Europeans. Will untouchables re

in the community, and therefore truly represented them in Parlia

main untouchables in perpetuity? I would prefer rather that Hinduism died than that untouchability lived. (From Gandhi’s speech at the last ment.7 Only then would the separation between civil society and meeting of the Minorities Committee, at the Round Table Conference the state, their method and goal be clear and distinct. Only then in London, 1931 taken from Gandhi 1967b: 315.)

would there be an opportunity to govern without the power of the

The distinction between sovereignty and power, a frontier or a me-state.8 Only then would the dialectic of state and society, and self dium of communication and a territorial boundary, whether national, and other be kept alive in any real/true sense of the term. religious or linguistic, is fundamental to Gandhi. Sovereignty is not The experiment of the Tibetan people and the Dalai Lama as power over another but being witness to the dialectic of self and sovereign in exile is not in vain, after all.


1 Uberoi (1999) notes the following as one of the factors affecting the possibility of national pluralism in his preface- “The priest and the prince, whenever they rule together, either through a state-established religion or a religion-established state, are the enemies of civil society, its national autonomy, customs and morality.” This explains Ashish Nandy’s (1978: 172) insightful comment, made in a different context, on Gandhi’s method of reform and resistance: “All his life, Gandhi sought to free the British rather than the Indians from the clutches of imperialism, and the Brahmins rather than the untouchables from the caste system.” I attribute this to Gandhi’s recognition of the consonance of the presuppositions of the modern nation state and its religious orthodoxy in their definitions of sovereignty, and rejection of an independent ontological and political space for the will of civil society. Thus it was the state, in this case, represented by the British, and the religious orthodoxy represented here by the brahmins, who needed to be emancipated/rescued from their definitions of sovereignty.

2 Thomas Pantham (1983) in an illuminating essay on Gandhi’s contribution to political theory, argues that his concept of satyagraha is a response to the problematic of liberal democracy which presupposes a dualism of individual liberty and social h armony. He sees Gandhi’s swaraj therefore as an e xperiment in participatory democracy and the m ediation of the public and the private spheres.

3 “I venture to submit that conservation of national sanitation is Swaraj work and may not be postponed for a single day on any consideration whatsoever. Indeed if Swaraj is to be had by peaceful methods it will only be attained by attention to every little detail of national life.” Young India, 25 April 1929, p 33, Political and National Life and Affairs.

4 “My patriotism is not an exclusive thing. It is all embracing and I should reject that patriotism which sought to mount upon the distress or the exploitation of other nationalities. The conception of my patriotism is nothing if it is not always in every case without exception consistent with the broadest good of humanity at large. Not only that but my religion and my patriotism derived from my religion embrace all life. I want to realise brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings called human but I want to realise identity with all life, even with such beings as crawl on

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earth.” Young India, 4 April 1929, p 247, Voice of Truth. “Our nationalism can be no peril to other nations, inasmuch as we will exploit none just as we will allow none to exploit us. Through swaraj we would serve the whole world.” Young India, 6 April 1931, p 247, Voice of Truth.

5 In 1942, Gandhiji along with other members including Rajendra Prasad drew up the draft constitution of the Hindustani Prachar Sabha. Gandhi did not see it as opposed to the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan which he had been a member of since 1918, but as having a different focus and agenda- one of disseminating the national language, Hindustani “as the medium of contact and intercourse between the various provinces with different provincial languages, which may come to be used throughout India for social, political, administrative and such other purposes of the nation” It was not the Hindi vs Urdu debate that was crucial but the Hindustani vs English opposition that was crucial in deciding what the national language of India should come to be.

6 Muhammad Ali Jinnah, originally member of the Indian National Congress during the struggle for freedom from British rule, broke away from it when he saw that freedom was in sight, to put forward the demand for a new and independent state for the Muslims of India. He succeeded in persuading the British to partition India and became the founding father, and first President of Pakistan, established on the eve of India’s freedom from British rule.

7 “Power that comes from service faithfully rendered ennobles. Power that is sought in the name of service and can only be obtained by a majority of votes is a delusion and a snare to be avoided.” Young India, 1924, p 4, Political and National Life and Affairs, Vol II.

8 “Under a Free Government, the real power will be held by the people… The mightiest Government will be rendered absolutely impotent if the people realising power use it in a disciplined manner and for the common good….. It must be remembered that only an infinitesimal proportion of the people can hold positions of responsibility and power in a country’s government. Experience all the world over shows that the real power and wealth are possessed by people outside the group that holds the rein of Government.” Young India, 1930, p 457, in Voice of Truth,

“By its very nature non-violence cannot ‘seize’ power, nor can that be its goal. But non-violence can do more; it can effectively control and guide power without capturing the machinery of

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government. That is its beauty.” Towards New H orizons, 1959, p 446, Voice of Truth.


Agamben, G (2005): The State of Exception (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

Chatterjee, P (1993): Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press).

Dalton, D (1995): Mahatma Gandhi: Non-violent Power in Action (New York: Columbia University Press).

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  • (1963): The Way to Communal Harmony, compiled and ed. U R Rao (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House).
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    Parekh, Bhikhu (1999): Colonialism, Tradition and Reform: An Analysis of Gandhi’s Political Discourse (New Delhi: Sage Publications).

    Parel, Anthony (1992): “Mahatma Gandhi’s Critique of Modernity” in Anthony J Parel and Ronald C Keith (ed.), Comparative Political Philosophy; Studies under the Upas Tree (New Delhi: Sage Publications), 163-83.

    Rawls, John (2005): Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press).

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    Pp viii + 318 ISBN 978-81-250-3953-2 2010 Rs 350

    Windows of Opportunity


    A ruminative memoir by one who saw much happen, and not happen, at a time when everything seemed possible and promising in India. K S Krishnaswamy was a leading light in the Reserve Bank of India and the Planning Commission between the 1950s and 1970s. He offers a ringside view of the pulls and pressures within the administration and outside it, the hopes that sustained a majority in the bureaucracy and the lasting ties he formed with the many he came in contact with. Even more relevant is what he has to say about political agendas eroding the Reserve Bank’s autonomy and degrading the numerous democratic institutions since the late 1960s.

    Pp xii + 190 ISBN 978-81-250-3964-8 2010 Rs 440

    Global Economic & Financial Crisis

    In this volume economists and policymakers from across the world address a number of aspects of the global economic crisis. One set of articles discusses the structural causes of the financial crisis. A second focuses on banking and offers solutions for the future. A third examines the role of the US dollar in the unfolding of the crisis. A fourth area of study is the impact on global income distribution. A fifth set of essays takes a long-term view of policy choices confronting the governments of the world. A separate section assesses the downturn in India, the state of the domestic financial sector, the impact on the informal economy and the reforms necessary to prevent another crisis. This is a collection of essays on a number of aspects of the global economic and financial crisis that were first published in the Economic & Political Weekly in 2009.

    Pp viii + 368 ISBN 978-81-250-3699-9 2009 Rs 350


    A compilation of essays that were first published in the EPW in a special issue in May 2007. Held together with an introduction by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, the essays – that range in theme and subject from historiography and military engagements, to the dalit viranganas idealised in traditional songs and the “unconventional protagonists” in mutiny novels – converge on one common goal: to enrich the existing national debates on the 1857 Uprising. The volume has 18 essays by well-known historians who include Biswamoy Pati, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Peter Robb and Michael Fisher. The articles are grouped under five sections: ‘Then and Now’, ‘Sepoys and Soldiers’, ‘The Margins’, ‘Fictional Representations’ and ‘The Arts and 1857’.

    Pp viii + 364 ISBN 978-0-00106-485-0 2008 Rs 295

    Inclusive Growth

    K N Raj on Economic Development

    Edited by ASHOKA MODY

    The essays in the book reflect K N Raj’s abiding interest in economic growth as a fundamental mechanism for lifting the poor and disadvantaged out of poverty. These essays, many of them classics and all published in Economic Weekly and Economic & Political Weekly, are drawn together in this volume both for their commentary on the last half century of economic development and for their contemporary relevance for understanding the political economy of development in India and elsewhere.

    Pp viii + 338 ISBN 81-250-3045-X 2006 Rs 350

    Available from

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    january 29, 2011 vol xlvi no 5

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