Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 1 of 16 Gandhi and Terrorism Anurag Gangal, Professor, International Politics, Department of Political Science, and Director, Gandhian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Jammu, Jammu-180006, J&K, India. Abstract Sometimes violence has to be used under certain inevitable circumstances. Yet violenceis the way to self-destruction. Nonviolence is an ever alive process – it never ends and it istimeless. Violence kills and nonviolence never kills. That is why vast international resources arebeing spent on establishing the processes of nonviolence for resolving conflicts and tensionsthrough multi-track diplomacy and instruments of institutions like the United Nations etc. What is really required is also benevolent intent of political will, determination, patience,perseverance and a general belief in the force of nonviolence. Violence does not succeed. Despite this realisation about violence and terrorism, there is emerging a new professionfor our younger generation. This is the profession of ‘Terrorism’. This is the most dangerousportent for posterity to see in a much vaster and wider form. This must be done away with soon.Otherwise, the twenty-first century must be considered as having brought in its wake, amongothers, an absolute consolidation of the dawn of the Age of Doomsday today. Mahatma Gandhi has zero tolerance for Terrorism. No compromise with violenceespecially when it is becoming like an Age of Overkill of Max Learner. Yet Gandhi didtry his best for saving the life of so-called terrorists like Sardar Bhagat Singh and others.Why did he do so? Was Gandhi following different policy for his theory and practice?Was he a man full of contradictions? Can terrorism be conceptualised? Is there aphilosophy of terrorism? For trying to answer all above mentioned questions, author of thisresearch/seminar paper is highly grateful to Mark Juergensmeyer for his timelypublication “Gandhi vs. Terrorism” in Daedalus, Vol.136, No.1, 2007, pp. 30-41.1 Butfor the relatively negative approach of Juergensmeyer when he reasons out his preferencefor Gandhian nonviolence to deal with the menace of terrorism today, he has written abold piece in recognition of the power of nonviolence in the modern world – specially for
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 2 of 16tackling the challenge of terrorism after 9/11 attacks on New York Trade Tower and thePentagon. Introduction: Gandhi is known to have lived amidst violence and terrorism quite like the typethat we see in the world today. India has come across a lot of violence when Gandhireturned from South Africa in 1915. Before coming to India, Gandhi had suffered fromviolence in South Africa. Yet he never resorted to retort through violence. It is indeed inhistorical records that Gandhi has always succeeded while using his own precept andpractice of nonviolence against violence. Gandhi’s views on violence leads us to think that violence seldom succeeds.Gandhi, as such, has written and debated widely on the themes of violence and terrorism.It would be well to reproduce quite a few paragraphs from Juergensmeyer’s abovementioned article here: India was on the verge of a violent confrontation with Britain when, in 1915, Gandhi was brought into Indias independence movement from South Africa, where as a lawyer he had been a leader in the struggle for social equality for immigrant Indians. In India, as in South Africa, the British had overwhelming military superiority and were not afraid to use it. In 1919, in the North Indian city of Amritsar, an irate British brigadier-general slaughtered almost four hundred Indians who had come to the plaza of Jallianwala Bagh to protest peacefully. But the nationalist side was countering with violence of its own. In Bengal, Sub-has Chandra Bose organized an Indian National Army, and, in Punjab, leaders of the Ghadar movement -- supported by immigrant Punjabis in California -- plotted a violent revolution that anticipated boatloads of weapons and revolutionaries transported to India from the United States. These Indian anarchists and militant Hindi
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 3 of 16 nationalists saw violence as the only solution to break the power of the British over India.Terrorism versus Nonviolence Debate Gandhis views about violent struggle were sharpened in response to Indian activists who had defended a terrorist attack on a British official. The incident occurred in London in 1909, shortly before Gandhi arrived there to lobby the British Parliament on behalf of South African Indian immigrants. An Indian student in London, Madan Lal Dhingra, had attacked an official in Britains India office, Sir William H. Curzon-Wylie, in protest against Britains colonial control over India. At a formal function, Dhingra pulled out a gun and, at close range, fired five shots in his face. The British official died on the spot. Dhingra was immediately apprehended by the police; when people in the crowd called him a murderer, he said that he was only fighting for Indias freedom. Several weeks after Gandhi arrived in London, he was asked to debate this issue of violence with several of Londons expatriate Indian nationalists. His chief opponent was Vinayak Savarkar, a militant Hindu who would later found the political movement known as the Hindu Mahasabha, a precursor to the present-day Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party. At the time of the 1909 assassination Savarkar was reputed to have supplied the weapons and ammunition for the act, and to have instructed the ardent Hindu assassin in what to say in his final statement as he was led to the gallows. The young killer said that he was "prepared to die, glorying in martyrdom."2 Shortly before the debate, Gandhi wrote to a friend that in London he had met practically no Indian who believed "India can ever become free without resorting to violence."3
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 4 of 16 He described the position of the militant activists as one in which terrorism would precede a general revolution: Their plans were first to "assassinate a few Englishmen and strike terror," after which "a few men who will have been armed will fight openly." Then, they calculated, eventually they might have to lose "a quarter of a million men, more or less," but the militant Indian nationalists thought this effort at guerrilla warfare would "defeat the English" and "regain our land." 4 During the debate, Gandhi challenged the logic of the militants on the grounds of political realism. They could hardly expect to defeat the might of the British military through sporadic acts of terrorism and guerrilla warfare. More important, however, was the effect that violent tactics would have on the emerging Indian nationalist movement. He feared that the methods they used to combat the British would become part of Indias national character.Hind Swaraj Several weeks later Gandhi was still thinking about these things as he boarded a steamship to return to South Africa. He penned his response to the Indian activists in London in the form of a book. In a preliminary way, this essay, which Gandhi wrote hurriedly on the boat to Durban in 1909 (writing first with one hand and then the other to avoid getting cramps), set forth an approach to conflict resolution that he would pursue the rest of his life. The book, Hind Swaraj, or, Indian Home Rule, went to some lengths to describe both the goals of Indias emerging independence movement and the appropriate methods to achieve it. He agreed with the Indian radicals in London that Britain should have no place in ruling India and exploiting its economy. Moreover, he thought that India should not try to emulate the
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 5 of 16materialism of Western civilization, which he described as akind of "sickness." The thrust of the book, however, was to counterterrorism. Gandhi sketched out a nonviolent approach,beginning with an examination of the nature of conflict. Heinsisted on looking beyond a specific clash betweenindividuals to the larger issues for which they were fighting.Every conflict, Gandhi reasoned, was a contestation on twolevels--between persons and between principles. Behind everyfighter was the issue for which the fighter was fighting. Everyfight, Gandhi explained in a later essay, was on some level anencounter between differing "angles of vision" illuminatingthe same truth.5 It was this difference in positions--sometimes even inworldviews--that needed to be resolved in order for a fight tobe finished and the fighters reconciled. In that sense Gandhismethods were more than a way of confronting an enemy; theywere a way of dealing with conflict itself. For this reason hegrew unhappy with the label, passive resistance, that hadbeen attached to the methods used by his protest movement inSouth Africa. There was nothing passive about it--in fact,Gandhi had led the movement into stormy confrontations withgovernment authorities--and it was more than just resistance.It was also a way of searching for what was right and standingup for it, of speaking truth to power. In 1906 Gandhi decided to find a new term for hismethod of engaging in conflict. He invited readers of hisjournal, Indian Opinion, to offer suggestions, and he offered abook prize for the winning entry. The one that most intriguedhim came from his own cousin, Maganlal, which Gandhirefined into the term, satyagraha. The neologism is a conjunct
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 6 of 16 of two Sanskrit words, satya, truth, and agraha, to grasp firmly. Hence it could be translated as grasping onto truth, or as Gandhi liked to call it, "truth force." What Gandhi found appealing about the winning phrase was its focus on truth. Gandhi reasoned that no one possesses a complete view of it. The very existence of a conflict indicates a deep difference over what is right. The first task of a conflict, then, is to try to see the conflict from both sides of an issue. This requires an effort to understand an opponents position as well as ones own--or, as former U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara advised in the documentary film The Fog of War, "Empathize with the enemy."Gandhi’s View of Conflict The ability to cast an empathetic eye was central to Gandhis view of conflict. It made it possible to imagine a solution that both sides could accept, at least in part--though Gandhi also recognized that sometimes the other side had very little worth respecting. In his campaign for the British to quit India, for instance, he regarded the only righteous place for the British to be was Britain. Yet at the same time he openly appreciated the many positive things that British rule had brought to the Indian subcontinent, from roads to administrative offices. After a solution was imagined, the second stage of a struggle was to achieve it. This meant fighting--but in a way that was consistent with the solution itself. Gandhi adamantly rejected the notion that the goal justifies the means. Gandhi argued that the ends and the means were ultimately the same. If you fought violently you would establish a pattern of violence that would be part of any solution to the conflict, no
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 7 of 16 matter how noble it was supposed to be. Even if terrorists were successful in ousting the British from India, Gandhi asked, "Who will then rule in their place?" His answer was that it would be the ones who had killed in order to liberate India, adding, "India can gain nothing from the rule of murderers."6 A struggle could be forceful--often it would begin with a demonstration and "a refusal to cooperate with anything humiliating." But it could not be violent, Gandhi reasoned, for these destructive means would negate any positive benefits of a struggles victory. If a fight is waged in the right way it could enlarge ones vision of the truth and enhance ones character in the process. What Gandhi disdained was the notion that one had to stoop to the lowest levels of human demeanour in fighting for something worthwhile. This brings us to the way that Gandhi would respond to terrorism. To begin with, Gandhi insisted on some kind of response. He never recommended doing nothing at all. "Inaction at a time of conflagration is inexcusable," he once wrote.7Beneath Contempt He regarded cowardice as beneath contempt. Fighting- -if it is nonviolent--is "never demoralizing," Gandhi said, while "cowardice always is."8 And perhaps Gandhis most memorable statement against a tepid response: "Where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence."9 Occasionally violence does indeed seem to be the only response available. Gandhi provided some examples. One was the mad dog. On confronting a dog with rabies, one must stop it by any means possible, including maiming or killing it.10
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 8 of 16 Another case that Gandhi offered was a brutal rapist caught in the act. To do nothing in that situation, Gandhi said, makes the observer "a partner in violence." Hence violence could be used to counter it. Gandhi thus concluded, "Heroic violence is less sinful than cowardly nonviolence."11Gandhian Strategy A Gandhian strategy for confronting terrorism, therefore, would consist of the following: Stop an act of violence in its tracks. The effort to do so should be nonviolent but forceful. Gandhi made a distinction between detentive force--the use of physical control in order to halt violence in progress--and coercive force. The latter is meant to intimidate and destroy, and hinders a Gandhian fight aimed at a resolution of principles at stake. Address the issues behind the terrorism. To focus solely on acts of terrorism, Gandhi argued, would be like being concerned with weapons in an effort to stop the spread of racial hatred. Gandhi thought the sensible approach would be to confront the ideas and alleviate the conditions that motivated people to undertake such desperate operations in the first place. Maintain the moral high ground. A bellicose stance, Gandhi thought, debased those who adopted it. A violent posture adopted by public authorities could lead to a civil order based on coercion. For this reason Gandhi insisted on means consistent with the moral goals of those engaged in the conflict. These are worthy principles, but do they work? This question is often raised about nonviolent methods as a response to terrorism--as if the violent ones have been so effective. In Israel, a harsh response to Palestinian violence
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 9 of 16 has often led to a surge of support for Hamas and an increase in terrorist violence. The U.S. responses to jihadi movements after the September 11 attacks have not diminished support for the movements nor reduced the number of terrorist incidents worldwide. Militant responses to terrorism do not possess a particularly good record of success. Violence begets violence and absolute violence leads to complete extinction.Nonviolence, on the other hand, cuts at the roots of violence. Nonviolence paves thepathway to peace and ultimate victory in which even the loser is not hurt. Gandhi,therefore, even while dealing with state “terrorism” of the British, always succeeded inhis nonviolent attempts to resolve numerous conflicts.12 Sometimes violence has to be used under certain inevitable circumstances asalready shown in this chapter earlier. Yet violence is the way to self-destruction.Nonviolence is an ever alive process – it never ends and it is timeless. Violence kills andnonviolence never kills. That is why vast international resources are being spent onestablishing the processes of nonviolence for resolving conflicts and tensions throughmulti-track diplomacy and instruments of institutions like the United Nations etc. What is really required is also benevolent intent of political will, determination,patience, perseverance and a general belief in the force of nonviolence. Violence does notsucceed.13 However, State and inter-state use of force maybe necessary now in view ofthe latest establishment of the United Jihad Council (UJC) in Pakistan recently. Modern terrorism is indeed not a random response of an individual or a group ofindividuals. Terrorism has become an army of disciplined and well trained soldiersbeyond national frontiers. They have their own philosophies, morals and ethics. Inaddition to their networking and armaments, their real strength comes from theirphilosophies – ethically sound and morally soothing to them though esoterically. Hence,the terrorists will have to be dealt with nonviolently – with nonviolence providing thestrong base for confronting the terrorists ethically as well. Otherwise, terrorism willflourish ever more. Terrorists go for massive violence with ethical base beneath their act.
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 10 of 16 Terrorism Terrorises Terrorism, indeed, terrorizes. It has evolved into a profession in rich and poorcountries both. It denotes instantaneous power not only for unemployed youth but alsofor disgruntled rich and poor individuals, groups and countries alike. It immediatelyprovides liquid money, gun-power, license to kill alongwith facilities of moving about theworld freely with easily obtainable passports and visas. Definitions and Major Types: There are, among several others, three major types of terrorism such as‘insurgency’, ‘militancy’ and ‘terrorism’. "Insurgency" involves revolutionary and guerrilla activities against the militaryforce of a State. "Militancy" is the more aggressive and even violent wing of a political party.Prime target of militancy is also military, para-military, armed soldiers and police forcesof the State machinery. However, they do not hesitate to go for other destructive andabsolutely violent acts when it is required to attain their ends. "Terrorism" is the violent act involving massacre and indiscriminate killing ofinnocent people for the purpose of drawing political attention by generating mass fearpsychosis to attain certain political and motivated ends or goals. All three types of above mentioned activities involve absolute and utterlydestructive violence. These definitions have emerged after prolonged years of interviewsand discussions with senior air force, army and police officers of India and several otheracademics from various universities in India and abroad. Operations: Terrorists today operate from the comfort of five star hotels in general and not somuch from dangerous jungles and ravines. Police, Army, Air Force and intelligenceservices all appear to have failed in dealing with the ever growing menace of terrorism. Federated Network: Terrorist network appears to have become a federation on global scale with wellestablished branches and centres operating from every country. Terrorists have their owneconomy through counterfeit currency notes. They print these currencies of United Statesdollars, Indian rupees, British pounds and what not freely with the help of rouge states.
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 11 of 16 Terror Islands: Terrorists have now stopped using services of national and international bankingalso. Terrorism is emerging as a federal post-modern nation-state spread like networkedislands of power in a world full of terror from Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs).Even WMDs are also available to terrorists now! Massive Destruction: Terrorism is now evolving as a profession and institution. Joseph Conard haspointed out its professional commitment to utter destruction beyond all shades of doubt: "A bomb outrage to have any influence on public opinion now must go beyondthe intention of vengeance or terrorism. It must be purely destructive. It must be that andonly that, beyond the faintest suspicion of any other object".14 Sheer irresponsibility of the modern State vis-à-vis terrorists can be seen in thelater acquiring nuclear weapons. "The reality is that a number of terrorist groups have already employed chemical[and nuclear] weapons, e.g. Japan’s Aum Sinriklyo’s use of …in Tokyo subway systemin 1995, and …..Terrorism is widely believed to be a new kind of warfare and the alQaeda network and al Queda-inspired groups its foremost exponents".15 The terrorists are now sharing their networked information bank the world over.They have acquired a hidden international identity nearly as powerful as the institution ofthe State. It is the State and its sponsored terrorism and counterterrorism that appear tohave become direct and indirect source of the strength of terrorist groups the world over. Terrorism will not end until there develops a strong faith in the power ofnonviolence on a larger general plane at the behest of every individual and organization. Real Danger: The twenty-first century is replete with “floodgates” of globalization and surgingflames of terrorism. Events of 11 September 2001 are logical corollary of massiveviolence and weapons of mass destruction available to the institution of State. The trendis thus set and examples are then adopted and followed. The trend-setters just do notappear to be realizing this aspect. This violence is becoming not only infectious but alsoprofessional to a great extent.
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 12 of 16 Indeed, terrorism, even for Mahatma Gandhi, can be dealt with only through zerotolerance towards it. Otherwise, it will go for ever more violence upon violence andmassacres after massacres, i.e. mass killings of innocent masses in a ruthless fashion.This violence has to be taken care of through an international collaborative effort. Other Dynamics of Terrorism: This violence is becoming not only infectious but also professional to a greatextent. How this situation has emerged? Why terrorism is still a continuously growingphenomenon despite the so-called “war on terrorism” and “zero tolerance to terrorism”?What after all terrorism is? What are the different perspectives on terrorism? Are terroristhaving any special characteristics? Can terrorism be defined? What are diverse anddifferent views and analyses in this matter? Nassar presents an in depth picture on the real and historic causes behindterrorism. For him, as it were, every global citizen and leader in Parliament are, amongothers, responsible for the current and widespread menace of terrorism. That is whyNassar says: Recently, a former student of mine wrote me one of those rare but special notes that teachers occasionally receive. Lynn Weddle of the class of 1985 wrote, “I often am reminded of the many things I learned while in your class and how some of the things you mentioned became truly prophetic.” My former student went on to remind me of a statement I had made in class arguing that the Soviet Union was not the enemy we needed to fear but rather “a Third World country that we would never expect to wreak havoc on the US.” The events of September 11, 2001, reminded her of that statement. While the events of that dreadful day were a wake-up call to most Americans, terror has been a normal way of life for a long time to many people around the world. It certainly has been a part of my life since birth (Nassar i- iv).16 Terrorism is and terrorist incidents are on the increase in Asia and Middle-Eastand West Asia while they are on a decreasing trend in Europe and America. Terrorist
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 13 of 16violence and incidents have led to thousands of death every year from 700 to about 6000in the world (Sengupta and Cockburn 27 March 2007).17 International Terrorist Incidences 1968 to 2004 Source: Graph from MIPT database, http://www.tkb.org/Home.jsp Terrorism on the Rise: This menace of terrorists’ violent and fatal incidents is beyond human descriptionand definition. Various dictionaries and encyclopaedias define terrorism mainly in termsof acts of fatal violence and attacks against established and recognized institutions ofState and its citizens and forces. Academics and experts do not fully agree with suchsimplistic meanings and definitions. For Jimmy Carter, Palestinian people have alwayssuffered at the hands of the Israel’s policy of “Apartheid” against them.18 If this so then
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 14 of 16what about Palestine’s’ sustained terrorists attacks not only aimed at Israel but also thedifferent countries of the entire world. For Nassar Jamal, terrorism is use of excessiveforce, fatal attacks with the intention to create terror and panic in order to securecalculated political demands. He, however, finds – quite like Bjorgo – institution of Statemore responsible for present-day terrorism.19 Gurr and Cole believe that there are different levels of terrorist attacks andviolence – the conventional and non-conventional. Terrorist groups are not gun-trottingarmatures. They have there aims and purposes. As such there main objective is toaccomplish their political aims through effective means of massive violence. They evenuse weapons of mass destruction especially nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.20 Defining terrorism leads also to a major question. Are terrorists normal humanbeings? Are they primarily pathological cases? Yes, even terrorists of today are normalbeings and their global system and networking is running parallel to governments allaround the world. They are certainly not pathological at all. They are die hard andenergetic persons living a normal life in this age of information technology. Terrorism is now evolving as a profession and institution. Joseph Conard haspointed out its professional commitment to utter destruction beyond all shades of doubt: A bomb outrage to have any influence on public opinion now must go beyond the intention of vengeance or terrorism. It must be purely destructive. It must be that and only that, beyond the faintest suspicion of any other object.21 Sheer irresponsibility of the modern State vis-à-vis terrorists can be seen in thelater acquiring nuclear weapons. The reality is that a number of terrorist groups have already employed chemical [and nuclear] weapons, e.g. Japan’s Aum Sinriklyo’s use of …in Tokyo subway system in 1995, and …..Terrorism is widely believed to be a new kind of warfare and the al Qaeda network and al Queda-inspired groups its foremost exponents.22
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 15 of 16 Conclusion: The terrorists are now sharing their networked information bank the world over.They have acquired a hidden international identity nearly as powerful as the institution ofthe State. It is the State and its sponsored terrorism and counterterrorism that appear tohave become direct and indirect source of the strength of terrorist groups the world over. Terrorism will not end until there develops a strong faith in the power ofnonviolence on a larger general plane at the behest of every individual and organization.At times, legal violence, against the perpetrators of widespread massive satanic violence,is also to be regarded as nonviolence only.
Anurag Gangal, “Gandhi and Terrorism” 16 of 16References and Notes:1 Mark Juergensmeyer, “Gandhi vs. Terrorism”, Daedalus, Vol. 136, No. 1, 2007, pp. 30-41.2 James D. Hunt, Gandhi in London, (Promilla and Co. Publishers, New Delhi: 1973), p. 134.3 Government of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi,Vol. 9, (Publications Division, Delhi: 1958), p. 509.4 M. K. Gandhi, Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule, 2nd ed., (Navajivan, Ahmedabad: 1938), p. 69.5 Young India, 23 September 1926. See specially Mark Juergensmeyer, Gandhis Way: A Handbook ofConflict Resolution, rev. ed., (University of California Press, Berkeley: 2005).6 Op cit. n. 1.7 Harijan, April 7, 1946.8 Young India, October 31, 1929.9 Young India, August 11, 1920.10 Gandhi, Collected Works, Vol. 14, 505.11 Gandhi, Collected Works, Vol. 51, 17. References 1-10 in this chapter are almost wholly reproducedfrom Mark Juergensmeyer, “Gandhi vs. Terrorism” in Daedalus, Vol.136, No.1, 2007, pp. 30-41 withemphasis added in different ways. I express deep sense of gratitude to Mark for writing such acommendable piece on “Gandhi and Terrorism”.12 Erik H. Erikson, Gandhis Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence, (W. W. Norton, New York:1993), pp. 413-416.13 Michael J. Nojeim, Gandhi and King: The Power of Nonviolent Resistance, (Praeger, Westport, CT :2004) pp. 91, 288.14 Meghnad Desai, Rethinking Islamism: The Ideology of the New Terror, (I.B. Tauris, London: 2007), p.1.15 L. Weinberg, Global Terrorism, (Oneworld, Oxford: 2006), pp.131-132.16 Nassar, Jamal, R. Globalization and Terrorism: The Migration of Dreams and Nightmares, , Oxford,Rowman and Littlefield: 2005), pp. i-iv, 103.17 Kim Sengupta, and Patrick, Cockburn, “How the War on Terror Made the World a More TerrifyingPlace”, The Independent, (London: 2007). See also http://www.tkb.org/Home.jsp18 Jimmy, Carter, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, (Simon & Schuster, New York: 2006), p. 176.19 Bjorgo Tore, Root causes of Terrorism: Myths, Reality, and Ways Forward, Routledge: 2005), seeespecially the entire first Chapter.20 N. Gurr, and B. Cole, The New Face of Terrorism: Threats form Weapons of Mass Destruction, (I.B.Tauris, London: 2002), pp. 1-22.21 M.Desai, Rethinking Islamism: The Ideology of the New Terror, (I.B. Tauris, London: 2007), p.1.22 L. Weinberg, Global Terrorism, (Oneworld, Oxford: 2006), pp. 131-132.