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Gandhi and Development

Why does Gandhi matter to the history of development in India?

The point of this lecture is to address the relationship between Gandhi, Gandhian nationalism and the relationship between Gandhi and development in interwar India.

Why does Gandhi matter to the history of development in India? Because he had a specific take on it; because that had significant ramifications for the subsequent path of development in post-independence India.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi: 1869-1948

Key biographical notes


In England—went to UCL in 1888 to study law, was called to the bar, then returned to India, yet was unable to establish a successful law practice in Bombay or Ahmedabad, but returns to Rajkot

In 1893 he accepted a 1-year contract from an Indian firm in Natal, South Africa

Lives there between 1893-1915

Civil rights in South Africa

Individual radicalization through instances of humiliation and brutality

1894 Natal Indian Congress—connected to fighting the attempt to deny Indians in Natal the right to vote

Hind Swaraj (1908)

Return to India: mass politics in the 1920s

1916: Home Rule League founded in Madras, Annie Besant

Main nationalist leaders: G K Gokhale

Move to mass mobilisation—in wake of the disappointments of 1919 GOI Act (Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms) and the Rowlatt Act

Frustration, too with wartime measures including the suspension of habeus corpus (with regard to “revolutionary activities”). At this point, the Indian National Congress (INC) had no political machinery for mass agitational politics.

Instead: constitutionalism, giving letters in, etc.

The 1919 agitations linked satyagraha politics (non-violent resistance) to khilafat movement and it witnessed attacks on symbols of British authority—the post offices, banks, railway stations, town halls plus assaults on British civilians. Brutally repressed by the colonial government

Gandhi assumed the leadership of INC from 1921

Gandhi instituted a new INC constitution with express goal of swaraj (self rule), non-violence (ahimsa) and swadeshi (self-sufficiency) and

Launched the Non-Cooperation Movement (1921-1922), which ended in Chauri Chaura (1922)

Gandhi jailed 1922-24 for sedition

Political movements:

Swadeshi (1920s), Dandi salt march (1930)

Political tactics: non-cooperation

Regional variations: Congress and Gandhi important, but Jinnah, Ambedkar and Periyar tell different stories—hegemony of the nation, etc.