Message of non-violence discussed at International Week event

Two Scholars from India on Thursday explained that the Gandhian philosophy of non-violent resistance is the most successful way to bring down regimes.

The Globalization in India Working Group hosted the event, “Non-Violent Resistance Today – Issues, Strategies and Challenges” on April 14. Many students and faculty members attended the International Week event.

D. Jeevan Kumar, professor of Gandhian studies at Bangalore University in India and Melanie P. Kumar, a freelance writer also from Bangalore, India discussed how Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violent resistance has influenced the world.

Their presentation examined how the Gandhian philosophy has affected many political and social movements today.

According to Jeevan, every movement is different but the concept and framework of the Gandhian philosophy has been the most beneficial strategy for political and social change.

“Violence is condemned because it causes unnecessary suffering, dehumanizing, and brutalizes both the victim and the perpetrator. It only brings short term solutions,” Jeevan said.

He gave statistics from Maria Stephans and the International Center for Non-Conflict study between 1900-2006 which showed over 50 percent of non-violent movements have succeeded compared to violent movements which success rate is only 25 percent.

“It may seem weak and inefficient but its been proven to be the most strategic tool in the hand of marginalized communities to redress structural imbalance, and claim rights to justice or self determination,” Jeevan said.

Practicing Gandhian’s stress, we must be resistant to violence in all of its forms, said Jeevan. According to Melanie this is best illustrated by Gandhi’s religious philosophy, Ahimsa, a credo Melanie said more people should live by.

“Non-violence means do not react, it is a passive resistance and we must find joy in not reacting. If we are not willing to let go, then we don’t have the true desire for change. We must rid ourselves of fear, especially of death, because fear is our biggest enemy. We must feel that the cause is worth dying for,” said Melanie.

Although the Gandhian philosophy has been one of the biggest exports from India, structural violence has remained a force of destruction. “Structural violence is in the –isms, especially racism and capitalism,” said Jeevan.

Globalization has allowed a destructive influx of American capitalism and we need to bring peace, said Jeevan.

“Agents have forced neo liberalism to change the entire economic structure. How long will we tolerate these divides when 75 percent of the people in my country still earn less than two dollars a day,” Jeevan said.

The Gandhian philosophy has become increasingly prevalent in the world’s political and social movements, but the lack of true non-violent resistance has minimized their success.

“When we lapse into violence the movement stops. Prospects for freedom are most successful when we do not use violence even if the regime provokes them. Gandhi said we must refuse to be provoked. We must have a common commitment to social change and increased justice to achieve peace with dialogue and mediation,” Jeevan said.

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