In this book, David Hardiman examines Gandhi as the creator of a radical style of politics which has proved effective in fighting insidious social divisions within India. Written with passion, clarity, and a deep knowledge of Gandhi’s home region of Gujarat, this book provides a wonderfully fresh understanding of Gandhi and his relevance to the contemporary world.
He argues that where as politicians usually garner support by demonizing those they oppose, Gandhi resisted such a politics with his whole being. He asserted that there are always grounds for a fruitful dialogues between opponents.
How did Gandhi create this new form of politics? Hardiman shows its basic within Gandhi’s s larger vision of an alternative society base on mutual respect, lack of exploitation, non-violence, and ecological harmony. His politics constituted one of the many directions in which he sought to activate this peculiarly personal vision. The practice of such a politics entailed personal and institutional experiments in relation to his opponents, who ranged from British colonials to Indian advocates of violent resistance, from right-wing religious leaders and upholders of caste privilege to communists, socialists, and Dalits. Gandhi’s conflicts with all these are studied, as is his manner of conducting conflict s and working towards their resolution.
Various key issues in Gandhi’s life and legacy are also examined. Gandhi’s sexuality and his programme for women are looked at in the light of Feminist critiques. Gandhi’s inconsistencies, mistakes and failures (for example as husband and father) are carefully scrutinizes. Hardiman’s effort is to show precisely how Gandhi, despite his limitations, provides a beacon for women and men because of the uncompromising honesty of his political life and moral activism.
Three chapters look at Gandhi’s legacy in this respect, both in India and on the global stage. Figures who were inspired by Gandhi-Jayaprakash Narayan, Medha Patkar, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Petra Kelly are discussed. Gandhi’s influence on a series of new social movements –by environmentalists, anti-war campaigners, feminists, human rights activists and others-are closely examined in order to assess his legacy.