Reviewed by Rameez Makhdoomi
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule is a book written by Mohandas K. Gandhi in 1909. In it he expresses his views on Swaraj, modern civilization, mechanisation etc. Even after 106 years of its history as a book Hind Swaraj has lot of relevance especially at a time when violence is ripping apart many societies and negative impacts of western civilization are being discussed in many areas.
Pertinently, we need to remember while reading Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj that it takes the form of a dialogue between two characters, The Reader and The Editor. The Reader essentially serves as the typical Indian countryman whom Gandhi would have been addressing with Hind Swaraj.
The book deserves praise on several paradigms- First for recognizing the role of ancestors in any righteous movement , for every noble cause like cow protection seeking cooperation of otherside, for Hind Swaraj’s commitment not to meet brutality with brutality.
In Kashmir, as we are very well aware that for urge of Swaraj many lives have been lost and people are fed up with both state and non state violence. Hind Swaraj gives a moral and sane view what Swaraj should look like. As Gandhiji argues that ‘Home Rule is Self Rule’. He argues that it is not enough for the British to leave only for Indians to adopt a British-styled society. As he puts it, some “want English rule without the Englishman … that is to say, [they] would make India English. And when it becomes English, it will be called not Hindustan but Englishtan. This is not the Swaraj I want.”
In a world of ours were violence as an active means to seek justice or vent out anger has given rise to many brutal and inhuman outfits the idea of adopting passive resistance and self reliance by Gandhi stands tall .
As,Gandhi argues that use of violence is counter-productive; instead, he believes, “The force of love and pity is infinitely greater than the force of arms. There is harm in the exercise of brute force, never in that of pity.” This is indispensable point articulated throughout Hind Swaraj.
Mahatma Gandhi reasons that Swadeshi (self-reliance) be exercised by Indians, meaning the refusal of all trade and dealings with the British. He addresses the English when he states, “If you do not concede our demand, we shall be no longer your petitioners. You can govern us only so long as we remain the governed; we shall no longer have any dealings with you.” Gandhi makes an intriguing argument here: if the British want India for trade, remove trade from the equation.
However, according to my opinion there is also critical side to Hind Swaraj. Gandhi Ji while attacking doctors in the book seems to overhyping the realities and linking the diseases to just overeating and greed of soul and calling their intervention somewhat fatal. Gandhi seems to be unacquainted of diseases and ailments that are caused not because of overeating but by pathogens and parasites. He also deliberately doesn’t talk about two great medical interventions, vaccination and pasteurization that saved millions of lives in the times that Gandhi lived in. And lawyers too are analyzed in the book from slightly narrow vision.
On holistic paradigm, I was impressed a lot by humane and lofty ethical message of Hind Swaraj.