ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Gandhi’s Relevance in the 21st Century

Gandhi After 9/11: Creative Nonviolence and Sustainability by Douglas Allen, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2019; pp ix + 278, ₹ 845.


What would be the response of M K Gandhi to the multiple global problems that confront humanity today? Does Gandhi offer a solution for our contemporary crisis of widespread physical, psychological, economic, political, cultural, religious, technological, and environmental violence that is becoming increasingly unsustainable. The book under review seeks to answer these questions by invoking a Gandhi-informed, selectively formulated approach outlining his contemporary temporal and historical relevance. Gandhi provides us with invaluable insights, values, priorities, and actions, but the author admits that he does not have all of the answers and some of what he proposed needs to be rejected now as ill-informed or as no longer relevant for our contemporary contexts. The author’s central claim is that “Gandhi’s writings, philosophy and practices, when selectively appropriated and creatively reformulated and applied, it can lead to solutions that are non-violent and more sustainable” (p 2).

More than 70 years after his death, Gandhi’s life and ideas continue to inspire and baffle readers. While the writings on Gandhi continue to pile up, they add little value to the existing literature drawing a new perspective in the understanding of a complex personality. At a time when most authors have bordered on hagiography, one of the world’s leading Gandhi scholar and peace activist, Douglas Allen, comes up with a brilliant exposition of a creatively reformulated proposal of Gandhi’s philosophy and practice that has value for the contemporary world. The work is a culmination of his 25 years of teaching, lecturing and writings on the subject. The lectures that Allen delivered in 2015–16 in India allowed him to revise, develop and expand his ideas to come up with a rich collection of nine essays outlining Gandhi’s contemporary relevance. The author moves succinctly through Gandhian philosophy: Gandhi and Vedanta; Gandhi in the age of technology; Gandhi after 9/11 and 26/11; Gandhi’s views on the Bhagavad Gita and Hind Swaraj, on socialism; and rewriting marginality, caste, class, race, and oppressed others.

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Updated On : 5th Oct, 2019
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