Hind Swaraj Review by Saimah Bashir Shah

‘Hind Swaraj’ is one of the finest works of M.K. Gandhi. The book, presented as a dialogue, is written in a very humble and lucid manner. An anthology of Gandhi’s evolved ideas, the book gives a broader perspective of his aspirations, visions, thoughts and apprehensions about various issues like colonialism, self-rule and modernity. It begins with an acknowledgement for the founding members of the congress and the native as well as foreign sympathiser’s, who supported Indian cause both in and outside India.This acknowledgment of the roots, in a way, provides the basis and grounding to Gandhi’s ideology. Taking it forward Gandhi continues by turning to a few instances in the history of Indian struggle for Independence and gives a perspective of how these instances proved better in awakening Indians against the British Raj. One of the important points that Gandhi makes here is the ‘positivity’a ‘discontent’ may lead to.
‘Hind Swaraj’has been written with a liberatory essence. Gandhi while defining ‘swaraj’ went beyond the conventional trends of that time. For him ‘swaraj’ is beyond the ‘absence of foreign rulers’, rather it means ‘learning to rule our own selves’, something that can be achieved only when we don’t let ourselves to be enslaved either by the ‘colonialism’ or by ‘modernity’. Gandhi critiqued colonialism and modernity, to liberate not just Indians but the entire mankind, as for him these are certainly contradictory to the essence of being humans.In a way, Gandhi being a visionary, could see colonialism being embedded in modernity, to maintain the control and dominations by the British, something that can be regarded as relevant in the contemporary times, particularly with reference to the growing technological influence upon the social and religious fabric of the society.
Gandhi being an ardent supporter of the philosophy of self-reliance for self-development, wrote ‘Hind Swaraj’ with the purpose to educate his countrymen, to make them feel empowered by taking pride in their civilisation, which according to him is ‘real’ as against the ‘false’ civilisation of Europe. He aimed their civilisational values to take over their ego and fight against the injustice with honour and peace. Hence, Gandhi presented ‘Hind Swaraj’, based upon the philosophy of non-violent ways of fighting against the injustice, as providing a better and more productive alternative way of achieving ‘swaraj’.
Although being a text to empower the subaltern, ‘Hind Swaraj’ falls into criticism in certain ways, like the neglect of ‘untouchables’, one of the grave concerns of subaltern in India.‘Hind Swaraj’is also critiqued for its use of some derogatory words for women, like ‘sterile’ to counter the unproductiveness of the then British parliament. With the extended critique of ‘modernity’, by particular reference to certain aspects of it, the book is sometimes categorised as a radical text. However, whatever the concerns of the author remained for critiquing modernity to this extent, ‘Hind Swaraj’ is and shall remain a credible and soul-full text upon resistance to subjugation.