Gandhi overlooked many existing complex conditions. He at times allows the use of “violence,” but does not recommend the need of its preparation and training for its proper and effective use. The Government of India in 1948 as usual, kept military Forces in alerted condition. Otherwise how Gandhi could have permitted the use of “violence” (use of armed personnel) to repel the aggression. Violence or Army also like non-violence requires discipline, preparation, and training. Few would agree that all “violence” (power) is used out of cowardice.
He always declared that non-violence always wins or never fails. But it is a widely known fact that both types of non-violence, i.e., non-violence of the brave as well as non-violence of policy or expediency failed to deliver the goods, i.e., ‘Swaraj within one year’ (1920) and ‘Complete Independence’ (1930).
Even after the use of these two types of non-violence, the society was left unprotected. Evidence is nowhere available that a few non-violent persons are ever able to turn out the aggressors after the latter forcibly entered and settled down in a country. Non-violent measures undertaken later often fail to stop their misdeeds, and, expel them from the land.
Similarly anti-social elements finding non-violence as ineffective or powerless often perpetrate much more violence to society than a limited use of force by some trained armed persons which would do some hurting and killing, but defend the larger segments of society in a disciplined and legally permissible manner. What would happen if there were no civilised or liberal government available to permit the use and spread of violence?
Would a society or community like to leave their fate in the hands of a leader for whom the realisation of independence is not an end, as was in case of Gandhi, but a means for the realisation of God? Can a leader like Gandhi be allowed to treat defence and protection of the whole nation as means to realise his own personal end: the moksha (salvation). To achieve independence of India was not the central theme and ultimate goal of his techniques.
The use of non-violence perhaps is simple when there is only one opposing party confronting a Gandhian movement as was during the days of freedom movement. That too must be alien or foreigner, a small minority, not residing in the country. Difficulties would arise in case it was to be conducted against one’s own countrymen. There can be equal number or a substantial majority of adversaries standing against the satyagrahis.
In such a situation, it is not easy to determine the ‘truthfulness’ of the issue or outcome of the conflict even if a large number of satyagrahis make sacrifice of lives on both sides. Similarly, there can be more than three or four parties to the conflict. One or two of them may not be believing in practicing non-violence. In such a situation, the fate of ‘non-violence’ would hang in balance. A country, divided badly into differing big religious, cultural or ethnic communities, when resorts to satyagraha movement may fall prey to separatism, partition or civil war.
It cannot be denied that even with his largely or partially known truth and non-violence and its practice in many areas, Gandhi could awaken and move the masses in millions. It could be possible only when repression and violence did not crush the movement. It also needed a leader having religion-oriented personality and people’s religious faith in what the leader said about the power of non-violence.
There should be some other factors contributing to the success of the movement, like the limits of a liberal government along with crises of great economic depression and the events of World War II occurring at the time of freedom movement. There may be hundreds of Gandhian diehards committed to save and enhance the status of their leader and his non-violence.
In case the religious values are not common or not very effectively ingrained in the minds of the people, non-violent movement might either not happen or cause dissension or separatism, as it did in case of other communities particularly Muslims and Sikhs.
Treating the Gandhian non-violence of creed as a total reality or the only source of power is to do immense harm to the cause of knowledge. It weakens the fabric of the state and society. It has resulted in the neglect of factors and forces making the state viable. It also demoralises the armed forces, which make up the spine of the state. Such attitude slackens the defense preparedness of governments.
The security persons, the police and the armed forces are recruited to use force and arms for the protection of society. It is almost a suicidal teaching that permits the aggressors enter the country, later to be persuaded to get out of it by use of satyagraha. There is every likelihood that once a country is at war with its enemy; the latter likes to take over and settle soon after its gives up weapons and turns non-violent.
Democracy, operating on the principles of fundamental rights of the individual, periodic free elections, free press, independent judiciary, political parties, egalitarian society, welfare state and responsible government, has hardly any place for the dictates of ‘inner voice’ and anarchic devices like fasting, non-co-operation or civil disobedience.
A person, group, community or a party, claiming to have attained any height of spirituality, cannot be permitted to be the only repository of truth. A votary of absolute non-violence, in public life, often appears to regard himself greater than God. God has not been able to operate the world on total non-violence, but can a leader dare claim to do so and create a totally non-violent society?
Promise and provision of non-violence in pure form for the society as a whole is misleading as well as suicidal. Even a great man like Gandhi could not adopt it successfully and always found himself in an ‘experimental’ stage. Neither the non-cooperation nor civil disobedience movements succeeded to the extent of his satisfaction, nor his venture of Hindu-Muslim unity could witness its complete realisation.
Ordaining non-violence to one segment of society and allowing the rest to exercise their own choice amounts to put the former at the mercy of violence-prone communities and persons. Men of non-violence like Gandhi are often devoted to self-realisation or their identity with God. For them politics is a means to achieve their religious goals. They do not care much even if others do not follow them and go on indulging in their own misdeeds.
Such godmen have little time for the reorganisation of society and state on realistic basis. By the time, a good number of people begin to develop absolute faith in them, they happen to disappear from the scene leaving the society in a vacuum, rather in worse condition. At many times, non-violence in some cases becomes a cover for their cowardice, imbecility, servility, weakness and ignorance.
Often ‘intention’ of the leader is considered to be the core element of non-violence. But a pious wish or faith in peace is not enough. Society is largely concerned not with mere intentions or motives, but also with short and long term results, outcomes and consequences of non-violence.