RE-IMAGINING GANDHI: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES OF TERRORISM
On the occasion of the
International Day of Non-Violence
October 3, 2016
Department of Political Science
Zakir Husain Delhi College
(University of Delhi)
Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti
Indialogue Foundation, New Delhi
Humanity is confronting the serious challenges of everyday violence and terrorism. Not a single day passed without the act of violence in this globalised world. While the humanity has taken a leap jump in the field of science and technology, knowledge and productivity, it has also witnessed the unprecedented level of inequality, poverty and violence that has reduced a vast majority of humanity to lead a de-humanised life. The modern model of development is inherently prone to generate destruction and violence.
A critic has rightly remarked, “Today, by the fact that everything seems possible to us, we have a feeling that the worst of all is possible; retrogression, barbarism, decadence.” In consonance with above quote, at present the humanity is confronted with a grim scenario involving clashes of national self interest, religious fundamentalisms and ethnic and racial prejudices.
The global stakeholders, policy makers, intellectuals and others are seriously engaged to overcome the challenges of violence and extremism but without much success. A part of their failure lies in their selective, narrow understanding of violence and terrorism and in their prescription of military and political responses to this menace. As the failure of modernist prescription to overcome the challenges of terrorism is becoming writ large, Gandhi or the voices of sanity, peace and non -violence is being increasingly revisited and rediscovered to address the growing menace of international terrorism.
Gandhi’s seminal contribution to our understanding of violence lies in comprehensive, systematic treatment of violence that combines both internal and external dimensions of violence. He broadens and deepens our approach to violence, and hence to terror and terrorism, in two significant ways. First, he stresses on diversity, multidimensionality, complexity, and interactional nature of overt and subtle forms of violence: social, economic, psychological, political etc. Second, he takes into consideration of everyday violence based on the structure of the status quo. Such violence of the status quo is part of our “normal” everyday life, and it is usually not even recognized as violent. The Gandhian focus on multidimensionality of violence attempts to get at the root of causes and key factors that continue to fuel religious and other forms of terrorism.
Gandhi not only diagnoses the sources of violence and terrorism but also provides practical, pragmatic, preventive measures in order to transform and remove the violent conditions and causes before they reach the point of exploding into terror and terrorism. He explores the sources of violence and terrorism within the multi layers of self and self-other relationship. He rejects materialist-rationale’s focus on the primacy of the ego, which, according to him, leads to illusion, unhappiness, selfishness and greed, violence, war, and lack of ethical and spiritual development. On the contrary he advocates a radical inversion of the self-other relation by striving self to a state of egoless consciousness and by directing self towards perpetual serving the needs of the other. In other words, for Gandhi, intellectual approaches with rational analysis often have no real transformative effect on the other; approaches of the heart involving deep personal trust, love and compassion often have profound, rational, transformative effects.
This is why Gandhi is preoccupied with expanding our psychological awareness and analysis of how we constitute and must decondition ego-driven selfishness and greed, defence mechanisms responding to fear and insecurity, hatred, aggression, and other violent intentions and inner states of consciousness. This is also why Gandhi is so attentive to political, cultural, social, economic, linguistic, religious, and other aspects of our overall socialization that contribute to, tolerate, and justify violence, terror, and terrorism.
The Seminar is aimed to deliberate upon the various concepts of Gandhism as countervailing tools and methods to the culture and discourse of terrorism and its application to various cases of violent conflicts from the globe including India.
The panel has been called to focus primarily on the theme “Relevance of Gandhi’s Teachings in Tackling Terrorism”. The key questions, therefore, are:
- Can inequalities in power, material resources, and identity be justified as the potential for direct or structural conflict?
- Is continuing material inequality inevitable in the pursuit of peace, justice, and development?
- Is there always an unresolved conflict underlying violence?
- Will frustration and polarization always lead to aggression, terrorism and violence?
- Is Gandhian ideology of non-violence relevant today?
Dr. Sanjeev Kumar
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Political Science, Zakir Husain Delhi College (University of Delhi)
Jawaharlal Nehru Marg,
3 October 2016
9:30-10:00 A.M. Registration
10:00 – 11:30 A.M. Inaugural Session
Chair: Dr. Balmiki Prasad Singh, Former Governor of Sikkim and Home Secretary
Welcome Note: Dr. R. Prabhakar Rao, Principal, Zakir Husain Delhi College
Inaugural Address: Dipankar Shri Gyan, Director, Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti
Key Note Address: Dr. N. Radhakrishnan, Gandhian Thinker, Peace -Activist and Academician
Chief Guest: Dr. Karan Singh, Author, Activist & M.P. Rajya Sabha
11:30-11:45 Tea/Coffee Break
11:45 – 01:45 P.M. Working Session I: Reflection on Violence: Gandhi’s Ethical-Political Conundrum
Chair: Prof. M.P. Singh, Former Head, Department of Political Science
- A.V. Swamy, Social Worker & M.P. Rajya Sabha
- Kumar Prashant, Gandhian Activist and Secretary, Gandhi Peace Foundation
- Laxmidas, Vice Chairman, Harijan Sevak Sangh
- M .Sajid, Professor, Department of Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia
1:45 -2:30 P.M. Lunch Break
2:30-5:00 P.M. Working Session II: State, Nation Building and Violence
Chair: Urmilesh, Writer, Journalist and Broadcaster
- Amitabh Rajan, Former Indian Administrative Service Officer&Former Additional Chief Secretary of Maharashtra
- Shakti Sinha, Former Indian Administrative Service Officer
- Dilip Simeon, Labour Historian and Public Intellectual
- Ujjwal Kumar Singh, Civil Liberty Activist & Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi
- Anwar Alam, Professor of International Relations, Zirve University, Turkey
Vote of Thanks: Sanjeev Kumar, Seminar Convener & Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Zakir Husain Delhi College.
5:00 P.M. High Tea