Gandhian Human Security 1of 22
THE GANDHIAN CONCEPT OF HUMAN SECURITY AND PEACE
QUEST FOR AMITY AMIDST GLOBALISATION AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
Professor and Head, Department of Political Science, and
Director, Gandhian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies,
University of Jammu, Jammu – 180006,
Jammu and Kashmir, INDIA.
Introduction: Holistic Security
Security for Gandhi is a holistic phenomenon. In his Ideal society, there is no
room for weapons other than nails of a woman. Security has nothing to do with weapons
of any sort in the Gandhian arrangement of things. As regards atom bomb – of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki type – Gandhi says, “I regard the employment of the atom bomb for the
wholesale destruction of men, women and children as the most diabolical use of
science….. Unless now the world adopts nonviolence, it will spell certain suicide for
For him, it is more a matter of opting for a way of life. Gandhi is in favour of
a nonviolent and more civilised life style. In today’s world, human security is possible
only when the basic requirements of freedom and development are fulfilled. Gandhi adds
yet another aspect to the concept of human security. Wielding weapons for any purpose
shows a great sense of insecurity and fear among those who possess them. Otherwise,
weapons may not be needed for “security”. German Action Committee is also demanding
similar type of security by saying that “Security is not war, torture and terror”.2
That’s what even Amartya Sen also says in a different way. For Amartya Sen,
considering and measuring development on the basis of GDP, national per capita income
and other such widely accepted economic yardsticks is misleading and improper. For
him, a nation with people having widespread education, necessary leisure time, proper
and fulsome food, electricity for everyone, shelter for all and clothing for everyone along
with near complete human security and a great inner sense of security can be regarded as
developed instead of a country having high GDP etc without the fulfilment of basic
needs. Among poor and rich nations alike, basic needs can be fulfilled only when there is
a great sense of self-respect and high regard for moral values among leaders and
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administrators in the government. That is why Nobel laureates like Amartya Sen regards
Development as Freedom (Oxford, 1999).
Highest form of security is possible in a civilised and gentle world where even
armed battalions do not coerce. Until there is widespread voluntary effort towards
conflict-transformation by individuals and states alike, the cities of the world will not
have rest from armed conflicts, wars and mass murders. Weapons cannot provide
security. It is the morale and faith in God and truth that leads to real sense of security.
Modern weapons and technology is leading to widening net of insecurity among peoples
and modern armies. The Gandhian conception of security can provide a great sense of
strength and conviction to modern global citizen. However, for this, a process of
transformation has to begin for helping evolve a general confidence in the ways of
“Change is the law of nature.” It is a widely and universally accepted fact of
human life over the ages. This law, however, does not change. Change involves
innovation and zest for life. Modern technology is indeed its most glaring example. The
ultimate end of this surging ahead of modern technology is in the “changelessness and
timelessness” of the need for security, prosperity, development and peace. Ephemeral
nature of change moves forth towards fulfilling the perennial needs of this spaceship
Earth. ‘What changes’ is subject to a cycle of moving forward to attain the utmost need
and truth. ‘What does not change’ attracts endless exploration for ageless human need of
a permanent security.
Can there ever be an enduring sense of security “as a living fact” for all
individuals in this world replete with recurring experiences leading to innovations and
acts of mass destruction through terror, mishaps and cold blooded, planned or schematic
onslaughts against humanity at large?
Quest for an answer to this query cannot but lead us to largely an unexplored
perspective of nonviolence in the Gandhian conception of realities of human life. Present-
day global needs and diverse scenarios of WMDs, depletion of resources, pollution,
terrorism, increasing promiscuity in modern “civil society”, balance of terror and mutual
suspicions among peoples and nations alike appear to be self-defeating.
Gandhian Human Security 3of 22
Mahatma Gandhi is a known proponent of nonviolence and peace in the world.
He has widely written on war, peace and security vis-à-vis individuals, states and vaster
global perspectives. Gandhi, however, is not a system builder in thought and action. He is
a perceiver of reality as a “practical idealist” interweaving the two cords of human
knowledge and dynamics in life. Gandhian vision is alive with holistic perception of truth,
foresightedness and scientific analysis.
Gandhi sees an inherent linkage between knowledge, virtue or wisdom on the one
hand, and security of a civil society comprising understandably connected individual(s),
groups, administrative units, polis of different magnitudes, provinces, sovereign states,
international and global organisations, on the other hand. There is very clear line of
thinking and continued relationship amongst these aspects of security from the level of an
individual to an international establishment and global order. Security, defence, apt
strategic environs and peace have to begin with the individual first. Other levels of
security will have to follow suit. That is why Gandhi says, “There cannot be
internationalism without nationalism.” This is the Gandhian order of holistic logic that
must be adopted for a securer and more peaceful world.
As such, Gandhi’s view of security for both an individual and a state can be have
meaningful only through certain inter-related measures taken by the world community of
nations over a period of time. These measures are:
Global conventional and nuclear disarmament.
Preservation of environment and ecology.
Resolving the population, poverty and unemployment menace.
Thinking more of peace than about war and weapons.
Globalisation with a human face.
Evolving a world culture where smallest should feel the tallest.
Security without Weapons
Security for Gandhi is not merely strategy and technique of defeating an invading
army. It is not an international, as it were, wrestling among nations with weapons of mass
destruction. Security, for him, does not mean disbandment of modern armies and other
disciplined forces. It is also not merely self-defence. Security, for him, initially is a notion
based on logic of why should there be a threat in the absence of some solid political and
Gandhian Human Security 4of 22
economic gain. In other words, gainful motive has to be there. The nature and perception
of such a motive emerges here as more important.
Peace and development through security are the essence of modern conception of
security. Instead, for Gandhi, security is possible through peace and development only.
The major difference in these two views is primarily that of emphasis. The Gandhian
perspective considers security as a natural corollary of development and peace. It is not
weapons and machines but pulsating human beings who are of real significance.
Everything else is secondary. An inherently ever widening twenty-first century
contradiction and security predicament is there in available stockpiles of weapons
providing a peculiar sense of security replete with threats of complete human extinction.
Modern security is possible through mutual assured destruction (MAD). What a dilemma
it is! This trend shows a specific direction of thinking. This needs transformation. That is
why Barash and Webel say:
However one judges the desirability of peace or
legitimacy of (at least some) wars, it should be clear that
peace and war exist on a continuum of violent / nonviolent
national behaviours and that they constantly fluctuate.
Neither should be taken for granted, and neither is
humanity’s “natural state.” The human condition – whether
to wage war or to strive to build an enduring peace – is for
us to decide.3
Similarly, nonviolence is the Gandhian way of life. Nonviolence comes naturally
to human beings. This is part and parcel of their existence, survival and evolution.
Violent behaviour is always an exception. Albert Einstein is also one with Gandhi when
We need an essentially new way of thinking if
mankind is to survive. Men must radically change their
attitudes toward each other and their views of the future.
Force must no longer be an instrument of politics….
Today, we do not have much time left; it is up to our
generation to succeed in thinking differently. If we fail, the
days of civilised humanity are numbered.4
A noted botanist in the mid twentieth century, Luther Burbank, explains a very
sensitive aspect of security and peace through an experiment for developing a spineless
and thornless variety of cactus. He says:
Gandhian Human Security 5of 22
While I was conducting experiments to make
‘spineless’ cactus, I often talked to the plants to create a
vibration of love. ‘You have nothing to fear.’ I would tell
them. ‘You don’t need your defensive thorns. I will protect
you.’ Gradually the useful plant of the desert emerged in a
The need is to make experiments with an open mind and objective scientific
outlook. Gandhi had this faith in social and political experimentation. A positively
practical attitude to evolution of ever new avenues and vistas of knowledge must never be
There are quite a few masterly works by Gandhi and his commentators anent his
views on discipline, life style, political, military and economic decentralisation, stateless
society, development, peace and a federation of nations leading to security, i.e., social,
military, political, legal, economic and ecological etcetera. A two volumes study by M.
K. Gandhi, Nonviolence in Peace and War; Gopinath Dhawan’s The Political Philosophy
of Mahatma Gandhi; H. J. N. Horsburg’s Nonviolence and Aggression: A Study of
Gandhi’s Moral Equivalent of War; S. C. Gangal’s Gandhian Thought and Techniques in
the Modern World; Joan Bondurant’s Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of
Conflict; Johan Galtung’s “A Gandhian Theory of Conflict”, in David Selbourne (Ed.), In
Theory and Practice: Essays on the Politics of Jayaprakash Narayan and Gene Sharp’s
Gandhi as Political Strategist: With Essays on Ethics and Politics are a few noted and
well known works throwing ample light on Gandhi’s concept of conflict, security and
peace. It is primarily on the basis of these studies that an attempt is being made here to
recapitulate major pointers in the area of Gandhi’s nonviolent conception of security,
conflict, peace and development.6
These studies, among others, point understandably to a Gandhian security strategy
comprising three concentric and systemic spheres or circles leading to a securer world.
Human relations are not hierarchical, horizontal, vertical and pyramidal. They are
spherical and ocean like. It is perennial process. Each thought and act interacts from
within and without. This is an endless mutually interwoven melting of one into another.
Moving to and from one to another. Inner energies must be provided creative outlet not
only for all purposes but also for defence policy, security network and foreign policy etc.
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Questions of racism, sex, gender exploitation and colour etc must be done away with a
global education and foreign policy networking. Gandhian viewpoint in international
affairs may be put in the form of the following diagram:
Gandhian Security Paradigm7
These spheres, as in above mentioned diagram, in an international perspective,
Immediate neighbours as immediate sphere.
Other poor less developed, underdeveloped, developing and countries of
Asia, Africa and Latin America (AALA) are in the mid sphere.
Developed -- economically militarily and otherwise very powerful great
powers or superpower -- countries constituting the outer sphere.
As Gandhi says, in this global security buffer design, there will be:
…ever widening, never ascending circles. Life will
not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom.
But it will be an oceanic circle whose centre will be the
individual always ready to perish for the village, the later
for the circle of villages, till the last … becomes one life
composed of individuals, never aggressive in their
arrogance but ever humble, sharing the majesty of the
oceanic circle of which they are integral parts. Therefore,
the outermost circumference will not wield the power to
crush the inner circle but will give strength to all within and
derive its own strength from it… No one… [will] be the
first and none the last.8
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Utmost priority, apparently, is to be given to good understanding and relations
with immediate neighbours like Pakistan and others. A holistic security climate has to be
expanded from the inner most circle of neighbours and beyond. That is how three broad
security buffer spheres must be created through very friendly relations based on utter
mutual faith and nonviolence.
In the absence of a general belief in the power of nonviolence and love, i.e., truth,
this pattern must still be strengthened despite continuing armaments race and “overkill”
capacities of WMDs or nuclear, biological and chemical (NBCs) weapons. These
weapons cannot provide us security inasmuch as they are there for mutual massive
destruction and spreading terror. These weapons do not defend us. They are meant to kill
during wars and terrorise during peacetime. About thirty countries already possess these
WMDs. Anti-tank nuclear bullets are also in use. Nearly 100, 000 nuclear bombs are also
there among these states. United States and Russia alone share more than half of this
Only less than an iota of present-day stockpiles of armaments was there in
Gandhi’s time. Practical-idealism of Gandhi emerges even more clearly when he says in
It [nonviolence] is of universal applicability.
Nevertheless, perfect nonviolence, like Absolute Truth,
must forever remain beyond our reach.10
Perfect nonviolence is impossible so long as we
exist physically, for we would want some space at least to
occupy. Perfect nonviolence whilst you are inhabiting the
body is only a theory like Euclid’s point or straight line, but
we have to endeavour every moment of our lives.11
This impossibility of “perfect nonviolence” does not prevent an initiative in this
direction. As long as there is absence of general, fundamental, practical and political
belief in the efficacy of nonviolence as a way of life, till then at least a Nonviolent
National Defence Army, Navy and Air Force can be evolved on Gandhian lines of
nonviolent spirit and nonviolence of the brave. This nonviolent national defence system
can work alongside existing defence forces.
Such simple but effective steps can be taken up at the level of Central and State
Governments only when India has evolved a defence policy. These simple Gandhian
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solutions to complex current tangles certainly need spirited and sincere long-term
initiatives for transforming prevalent meta-conflict orientation towards a belief that
despite continued struggles, conflicts, war and weapons of mass destruction-peace and
nonviolence as a way of life are practical options. Despite mass violence and increasing
crime graph, we are all living a nonviolent life in our routine affairs.
(i) What we need is merely to think and act in the most common and
obvious terms. We are not doing it anent resolving our more serious and
potentially volatile conflicts.
(ii) This is possible even in this age of globalisation. We are also not
opting for nonviolent ways when most of the nations and majority of population
in the world are reeling under one or the other type of overt, covert and subtler
exploitation in politics, trade and mass media.
(iii) We must learn to sit together like common human beings without
attaching unnecessary airs to our own persons.
That is why Albert Einstein has said, ‘Generations
to come will scarce believe that such a man as this, in flesh
and blood, ever walked upon this earth.’ One of the greatest
admirers of Gandhi is Albert Einstein, who sees in
‘Gandhi's nonviolence a possible antidote to the massive
violence unleashed by the fission of the atom’.
B R Nanda writes in the 2001 edition of Britannica
Encyclopaedia, ‘In a time of deepening crisis in the
underdeveloped world, of social malaise in the affluent
societies, of the shadow of unbridled technology and the
precarious peace of nuclear terror, it seems likely that
Gandhi's ideas and techniques will become increasingly
This relevance has to be put in action as Gandhi
always said, ‘My life is my message.’ This action is
possible at least at three levels without affecting adversely
the current surging ahead of modernisation and
globalisation. First, at individuals’ unilateral and voluntary
level. Secondly, at the level of voluntary organisations.
Last but not least, at the level of a national government
voluntary mobilisation and necessary socialisation on a
vaster plane. The international perspective will follow suit
on its own as a logical outcome or natural corollary of other
Gandhian Human Security 9of 22
There is also a related aspect of a ‘security dilemma’ or striker’s falling into the
pit instead of scoring a few points through excessive rebound play in the carom board
game among inter-state “patrons” of civil society today. One’s security becomes a threat
to another player in the globalising twenty-first century’s global civil culture (?). Politics
by all means is an integral part of such activities. Security then becomes a menace to its
When ‘security’ is leading to ‘insecurity’ then why this hullabaloo and concern
for security of individuals and nations alike? Whom who is benefiting? Why this is
happening? No doubt, security is a must for all as a fundamental need and human right to
life. This need has to be fulfilled. Security beyond this need emerges into an utterly self-
aggrandising global nexus and Mafia causing loss of precious human lives of brave
soldiers and common citizens alike. Indeed, “How much land does a man require ?”
Individuals among peoples of the world understand this predicament. Nations and
statesmen and nations are bound to ignore it for they have to act otherwise. Security for
peace is relentlessly negating its purpose. Amassing of WMDs, terrorism of different
types including nuclear terrorism further proves this glaring logic and reality. No state
has ever achieved the security it desires without becoming a menace to its neighbours.
Apart from ‘genuine’ concerns about security needs of a state, there are other
reasons also leading to ever widening arms race. They are all practical pointers to
national leaders’ strong belief in military might as their only real protection when they are
facing an irritating and hostile opponent:
…the financial profits to be made, desire for
advancement on the part of individuals whose careers
depend on success in administering or commanding major
new weapons programmes, political leaders pandering to
bellicose domestic sentiment, and inter-service rivalry
within a state.13
All these are realities of modern deep-rooted political perversion. Politics -- as
political thinkers, actors and Gandhi in particular say – is concerned primarily with
establishing truth and order in society. Ongoing diverse manipulations in politics
Gandhian Human Security 10of 22
represent something different than what is political. Manipulations and perversions of
civil society in this age of globalisation are presenting intriguing trends:
Bringing together of global trade and economy to a notable extent.
Smaller traders, investors, entrepreneurs, and industrial units
facing far greater challenges.
Increasing burden of poverty, population, pollution, proliferation
of armaments and (precarious) peace, i.e., ‘five Ps’ on Afro-Asian and Latin
American (AALA) countries.
Emergence of United States and Europe as relatively more stable
global economic and political peace zones of the world.
Widening framework of work and space for international actors,
organisations and operators.
World peace through WMDs deterrence based on dwindling
foundations of mutual terror.
Terrorist groups having their own share from state-of-the-art
Preventing a situation of a third world war through institutionalised
Security threat from terrorism and ‘War on Terrorism’.
These trends further complicate quest for a comprehensive security perspective
when most of the states in the world are able to ensure at best ‘a pretence of security’
despite their constantly burgeoning military budgets. Even for their limited military
security needs, these countries depend, expressly or implicitly, either on other great
powers or on so-called ‘collective defence / security’.
Such wasteful security scenario point to a need for a more comprehensive policy
of defence and security especially for poorer AALA countries in general and South Asia
Nonviolent Security Pointers
Gandhi has spoken and written profusely on nonviolence, security, peace, war,
conflict, world order and world federation of nations etcetera. He, however, has never
explained any aspect singularly or in piecemeal fashion. He has never written exclusively
on security issues alone or separately. May be, it is for this reason, Gandhi has evolved a
holistic and a very comprehensive vision of security and world peace.
Accordingly, political, economic and military decentralisation of resources and
power is necessary for his concept of Swaraj based on self-reliance, self-sufficiency and
Gandhian Human Security 11of 22
really effective independence and freedom. Only such independence can assure security.
Gandhi’s second best ideal is for a democratic system driving its strength directly from
villages especially in the Indian context.
It is not possible for a modern State based on force,
nonviolently to resist forces of disorder, whether external
or internal…. (However,) it is possible for a State to be
predominantly based on nonviolence.14
Gandhi, in reply to a question – “Is not nonviolent resistance by the militarily
strong more effective than that by the militarily weak?” – says:
This is a contradiction in terms. There can be no
non-violence offered by the militarily strong…. What is
true is that if those, who are at one time strong in armed
might, change their mind, they will be better able to
demonstrate their nonviolence to the world and, therefore,
to their to their opponents. Those who are strong in
nonviolence will not mind whether they are opposed by the
militarily weak or the strongest.15
As regards training of the nonviolent army, Gandhi
says: A very small part of the preliminary training received
by the military is common to the nonviolent army. These
are discipline, drill, singing in chorus, flag hoisting,
signalling and the like. Even this is not absolutely
necessary and the basis is different. The positively
necessary training for a violent army is an immovable faith
in God, willing and perfect obedience to the chief of the
nonviolent army and perfect inward cooperation between
units of the army.16
A nonviolent State must be broad based on the will
of an intelligent people, well able to know its mind and act
up to it. In such a State the assumed section can only be
negligible. It can never stand against deliberate will of the
overwhelming majority represented by the State. … If it is
expressed nonviolently, it cannot be a majority of one but
nearer 99 against one in a hundred.17
In such a state, armaments race is not required. As
V. K. R. V. Rao puts it: unless the armaments race is
brought to an end and effective steps are taken towards
disarmament… there is no use talking of a new
international order (or security)…. This was Gandhi’s view
and it becomes truer and more urgent in its need for
Under Swaraj (self-rule) of my dream, there is no
necessity of arms at all.19
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Alas, in my swaraj of today there is room for
soldiers…. I have not the capacity for preaching universal
nonviolence to the country.20
Gandhi has seldom given a piecemeal treatment to challenges he faced in his life.
He has said and written anent varied aspects of life and human concerns. In this context,
he has made a very bold exposition in his Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule. On 24 April
1933, he says – on page 04 in the beginning of this booklet:
I would like to say the diligent reader of my
writings and to others who are interested in them that I am
not at all concerned with appearing to be consistent. In my
search after Truth I have discarded many ideas and learnt
many new things. Old as I am in age, I have no feeling that
I have ceased to grow inwardly or that my growth will stop
at the dissolution of the flesh. What I am concerned with is
my readiness to obey the call of truth, my God, from
moment to moment, and, therefore, when anybody finds
any inconsistency between any two writings of mine, if he
still has faith in my sanity, he would do well to choose the
later of the two on the same subject.21
[In 1942, Gandhi said that if he survived the
attainment of freedom by India, he would] … advise the
adoption of nonviolence to the utmost extent possible and
that would be India’s greatest contribution to the peace of
the world and the establishment of a new world order.22
Writings and sayings of Mahatma Gandhi and majority of commentators and
critics of Gandhian philosophy have shown not only inherent but also explicit
significance of the idea of essential harmony and oneness of humanity. Gandhi has never
regarded himself as a system builder. His experiments, however, have led him to evolve –
for several commentators and analysts like S. C. Gangal, Mahendra Kumar, Raghavan
Iyer, Savita Singh, Ramjee Singh, Johan Galtung and others – a Predominantly
Nonviolent State as his second best Ideal and a Nonviolent Society as his ultimate Ideal
for establishing a vibrantly creative global and just political ethos where cooperation,
equality and nonviolence have replaced exploitation, inequality and bloody warfare and
mutual hatred. Similar ideas are currently being propagated and discussed by
internationally acclaimed authors and statesmen alike even if they are apparently not so
much directly influenced by Gandhi.
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Indeed, Gandhi’s holistic notion of security is a practical-idealist concept. Gandhi
has never written or said much about security in particular as a term with specific
meaning that is being attached to it in the strictly military sense. Yet he had foreseen
almost all major trends and strands.
Gandhi is one with former United States (US) President Bill Clinton’s statement:
“ the central reality of our time is that the advent of globalisation and the revolution in
information technology have magnified both the creative and destructive potential of
every individual, tribe and nation on our planet.” 27
Gandhi has a holistic approach to human problems, in which reform or
reconstruction should concentrate, more or less at the same time, at all levels of human
existence and activity, i. e, individual, local, national and international levels.
Security of every individual citizen of the world today has its globalised
dimensions too. Ever new weapons, trading and economic network unfolding newer and
subtler exploitative ways of human comforts, mutual destruction and domination. This is
an ever-accelerating trend of modern “civilisation”. Gandhi, going much beyond Bill
Clinton, finds in this civilisation:
…. people living in it make bodily welfare
the object of life.
…. If people of a certain country, who have
hitherto not been in the habit of wearing much clothing,
boots etc., adopt European clothing, they are supposed to
have become civilised out of savagery.
…. [Ever increasing blindfolded
mechanisation] is called a sign of civilisation.
….Formerly, only a few men wrote valuable
books. Now, anybody writes and prints anything he likes
and poisons people’s minds.
…. As men progress,… [they] will not need
the use of their hands and feet…. Everything will be done
…. Formerly, when people wanted to
fight…they measured between them their bodily strength;
now it is possible to take away thousands of lives by one
man…. This is civilisation.
….. [Earlier] men were made slaves under
physical compulsion. Now they are enslaved by the
temptation of money and of the luxuries that money can
Gandhian Human Security 14of 22
….There are now diseases of which people
never dreamt before, and an army of doctors is engaged in
finding out theirs, and so hospitals have increased. This is a
test of civilisation.
…. Today [not earlier when special
messengers were needed to send a letter], anyone can abuse
his fellow by means of a letter [of email] for one penny.
True, at the same cost, one can send one’s thanks also.
…now, [people] require something to eat
every two hours so that they have hardly leisure for
anything else [more meaningful].
….. This civilisation is such that one has
only to be patient and it will be self-destroyed.”23
Real holistic security for Gandhi is possible only through Panch yama of
Patanjali, i.e., nonviolence (ahimsa), non-stealing (astaeya), Truth (Satya), non-
possession (aparigraha) and chastity (brahamcharya). Global though sectoral
reformation programme for regeneration of every individual is needed for balancing the
negative effects of the process of globalisation.
It was Gandhi’s conviction that individuals – of whom the nations and
global communities are constituted – must have priority in any scheme of reform or
Yet another idea in Gandhi’s scheme is that any durable programme of
reconstruction must be marked by a measure of coordination and integration at various
levels of social action through voluntary effort. Press and media have a very significant
role in this sphere. Media, for Gandhi, must be having unmistakable autonomy and self-
reliance with little dependence on advertisement revenue.
The cultivation of nonviolence by the individual and the establishment of
non-exploitative economy at different levels will lead eventually to the emergence of
what he calls nonviolent nationalism. Ultimately, these nonviolent nations will function
under a world federation or international organisation on the basis of:
1. Political and economic independence without any type of
colonialism or imperialism and exploitation.
2. Voluntary effort with dedication and commitment.
3. Goals and means not imposed from above but developed from
4. Equality for all. As such every nation must feel as tall as the tallest.
5. Decentralisation at political and economic spheres.
Gandhian Human Security 15of 22
6. General disarmament.
7. Unilateral disarmament.
8. International society as a voluntary organisation.
9. Common good of all.
10. Bigger nations ready to “give” to the smaller nations.
11. Amicable and peaceful settlement of all disputes.
12. Small international police as long as the world is able to develop a
general belief in nonviolence.
13. Free, open, alert and impartial Media.
14. Full employment.
15. Preponderance to mutual sense of service.24
Such a blue print may as well be the guiding spirit of present-day quest for
security and globalisation. In this security perspective, the individual has specially a two-
fold significance for Gandhi.
First, proper education and training to the individual for understanding
and imbibing the values of a normal society. A normal fraternity, for Gandhi, is one
where development does not pose diverse types of threats to the individual and humanity.
For evolving such a normal course of life, a Global Education Order must
be established through value-related and need based education. Nearly all aspects of
human life are to be covered in this programme ranging from material, moral, emotional
and cultural to spiritual needs of the individual. The individuality, creativity, identity and
voluntary efforts have to be the fundamental terms of reference in the launching of such a
global education order.
Secondly, Gandhi emphasises the role of the individual in decision-
making and in sharing the national and international responsibilities. There is no place for
undemocratic or authoritarian regimes in Gandhi’s agenda of security and peace. To steer
clear of undemocratic or authoritarian tendencies, Gandhi suggests two more correctives
of (i) limited State power and (ii) socio-economic decentralisation. As regards the former,
Gandhi is one with Thoureau’s principle that “that government is best which governs the
To quote Gandhi:
I look upon an increase in the power of the state
with the greatest fear because…it does the greatest harm to
mankind by destroying individuality which lies at the root
of all progress.26
Gandhian Human Security 16of 22
In order to curb emergence of authoritarianism, the size and role of police and
military, for Gandhi, has to be limited to dealing with thieves, robbers, raiders from
without and a few emergencies only. It would be better if police and military perform
largely the role of a body of reformers.27
Gandhi looks forward to the emergence of a
world where “no state has its military.”28
Socio-economic decentralisation is yet another corrective measure to curb
undemocratic tendencies. Gandhi’s global vision moves upward from the individual and a
federation of village republics to an international federation of nations in a society
marked by voluntary cooperation and decentralisation. Aldous Huxley, while supporting
Gandhi, says, “…democratic principles cannot be effectively put into practice unless
authority in a community has been decentralised to the utmost extent possible.”29
The modern inter-linking of people and economies under contemporary security
debate must give careful attention to the Gandhian pointers in this age of technology for
keeping away from the pejorative aspects of concurrent science and development
patterns. Otherwise, it will prove to be a “nine days wonder” only. For Gandhi, in the
larger context of security, peace, freedom, equality and non-exploitative society, there are
several other important realities. Such as:
…Our nationalism can be no peril to other nations
inasmuch as we will exploit none just as we will allow
none to exploit us.30
The satyagrahi must maintain personal contact
with people of his locality. This living association of human
beings is essential to a genuine democracy.31
I have no doubt that unless big nations shed their
desire for exploitation and the spirit of violence of which
war is the natural expression and the atom bomb the
inevitable consequence, there is no hope for peace in the
Mechanisation is good when hands are too few for
the work intended to be accomplished. It is evil where there
are more hands than acquired…33
I entertain no fads in this regard [i.e., his avowed
opposition to mechanisation and capital-intensive
technology]. All that I desire is that every able-bodied
citizen should be provided with gainful employment. If
electricity and even automatic energy could be used
without…creating unemployment, I will not raise my little
finger against it…. If the Government could provide full
Gandhian Human Security 17of 22
employment to our people without the help of Khadi hand-
spinning and hand-weaving industries, I shall be prepared
to wind up my constructive programme in this regard.34
To reject foreign manufactures merely because they
are foreign, and to go on wasting national time and money
on the promotion in one’s own country of manufactures for
which it is not suited would be criminal folly, and a
negation of the Swadeshi spirit.35
Decentralisation of political and economic power,
reduction in the functions and importance of State, growth
of voluntary associations, removal of dehumanising
poverty and resistance to injustice … will bring life within
the understanding of man and make society and the State
democratic….. The nonviolent State will cooperate with an
international organisation based on nonviolence. Peace will
come not merely by changing the institutional forms but by
regenerating those attitudes and ideals of which war,
imperialism, capitalism and other forms of exploitation are
the inevitable expressions.36
[I am not against all international trade, though
imports should be limited to things that are necessary for
our growth but which India -- and for that matter any
poorer country -- cannot herself produce and export of
things of real benefit to foreigners.]37
Gandhi is clearly having a very comprehensive view and understanding of
security based on a nonviolent way of really civilised life. He is presenting an out line of
normal human behaviour away from cut-throat conflicts and massive wars of mutual
hatred. In this attempt, he is visualising security as a manifold concept running into every
aspect of life. An action plan may well be in line with the larger tenor of this research
Gandhian Comprehensive Security Action Plan
1. Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and other related forces may be there in the
absence of a general belief in the power of nonviolence.
2. Comprehensive Security will be the most fruitful phenomenon when
citizens and nations of the world do not have to bother about it as their top most priority.
3. Security without weapons is necessary as an ultimate aim. It is inherent
and increasing sense of insecurity that goes for weapons. Real security is when one does
Gandhian Human Security 18of 22
not even have to think of armaments. That means a very positive and healthy security
4. Concentric spheres of security must be grasped properly for creating
comprehensive security environs globally step by step.
5. Development, Environment protection, Employment for all, Balanced
population, Eat thy bread by the sweat of thy brow, Universal disarmament, Unilateral
disarmament, doing away with nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
6. Security must not become a fetish of an age or era.
7. Nonviolence is possible only in a gallant and brave world of citizens.
8. Cowards cannot be nonviolent.
9. Violence is preferred vis-à-vis nonviolence of a coward.
10. Highly decentralised pattern of economy will be less prone to
instantaneous devastation at one go in the event of bombardment by the enemy forces.
11. Highly decentralised political setup helps wider participation alongwith
lesser abuse of political power.
12. Nonviolent Brigades must also be developed and trained in panch yama.
13. All armed forces and Nonviolent Brigades must be given training in panch
14. Comprehensive Security policy must be visionary based on experiences of
history, present-day situation and prospective possibilities and every potential
15. The most powerful country in the world must be an important aspect of a
defence policy formulation.
16. Collaborations with foreign mercenaries must be avoided to the greatest
17. Exports from foreign countries must be made only in such areas where
there is no other alternative in the interest of citizens of a country.
18. Mechanisation and modern technology is to be adopted in areas where it is
necessary for national self-reliance and not otherwise.
19. Open borders with immediate neighbours are preferred.
20. Free people to people contact must be given priority.
Gandhian Human Security 19of 22
Conclusion: Whither Security
Several thousand people are being massacred daily in the world today.
This is quite a war like situation on a larger plane. This is no small matter when it relates
to precious human life of so many global citizens. Every human life is as precious as the
life of all other individuals. It is not only weapons, wars and terrorists but also diplomatic
instruments of peace are also singing the ‘cacophony’ of violence. That is why T.
The power to hurt is nothing new in warfare,
but… modern technology… enhances the importance of
war and threats of war as techniques of influence, not of
destruction; of coercion and deterrence, not of conquest and
defence; of bargaining and intimation… War no longer
looks like just a contest of strength. War and the brink of
war are more a contest of nerve and risk taking, of pain and
endurance… The threat of war has always been somewhat
underneath international diplomacy... Military strategy can
no longer be thought of ... as the science of military victory.
It is now equally, if not more, the art of coercion, of
intimidation and deterrence... Military strategy ... has
become the diplomacy of violence.38
This “diplomacy of violence” is not the only concern of security in this
age of globalisation and emerging “global village”. Major security dimensions are there
in varied areas of rising human needs and expectations such as
(i) threats to political stability of different regimes, (ii) operational aspects
of democracy, (iii) widespread terrorism for avowed self-determination, (iv) ethnic crises,
(v) economic exploitation and determinism, (vi) political and economic violence, (vii)
expanding frontiers of security and threat perception of modern states, (viii) widespread
economic deprivations, (ix) dangerous fallout of modern technology, (x) population
imbalances, (xi) widening gamut of corruption in higher echelons of economic and
political power, and (xii) poverty, (xiii) unemployment and (xvi) proliferation of
In the light of these major security threats, Gandhi suggests that there are
four pillars of a peaceful Gandhian world order:
Gandhian Human Security 20of 22
It should be nonviolent.
It must be non-exploitative and cooperative.
It has to be based on the reform, regeneration and education of the individual.
It must work its way up to the global or international level through reform or
nonviolent reorganisation (including democratisation) at other (or preceding)
levels of society, such as local or national.
What Gandhi is emphasising here relates very closely to the well known
UNESCO aphorism that says:
Since war begins in the minds of men, it is
in the minds of men that the defence of peace must be
Gandhian Human Security 21of 22
References and Notes
1 Harijan, 29 September 1946.
3 David P. Barash and Charles P. Webel, Peace and Conflict Studies, Sage Publications,
Thousand Oaks, 2002, p. 25.
4 Ibid. p. 3.
5 Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, Jaico Publishing House, Bombay,
Second Indian Edition, 1975, Twelfth Impression, p. 353.
6 M. K. Gandhi, Nonviolence in Peace and War, Volume – I, Navajivan Publishing House,
Ahmedabad, Third Edition, 1948; M. K. Gandhi, Nonviolence in Peace and War, Volume
– II, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, First Edition, 1949; Gopinath Dhawan’s
The Political Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad,
1957; H. J. N. Horsburg’s Nonviolence and Aggression: A Study of Gandhi’s Moral
Equivalent of War, OUP, London, 1968; S. C. Gangal’s Gandhian Thought and
Techniques in the Modern World, Criterion Publications, 1988; Joan Bondurant’s
Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict, Princeton, 1958; Johan
Galtung’s “A Gandhian Theory of Conflict”, in David Selbourne (Ed.), In Theory and
Practice: Essays on the Politics of Jayaprakash Narayan, OUP, New Delhi, 1985 and
Gene Sharp’s Gandhi as Political Strategist: With Essays on Ethics and Politics, Boston,
Adapted from Baljit Singh, Indian Foreign Policy: An Analysis, Asia Publishing House, 1976. He has
explained the three concentric circles of foreign policy of a nation like India.
8 Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase, Ahmedabad, Navajivan Publishing House,
1958, Volume – II, pp. 580 – 581.
9 E.J. Hogendoorn, A Chemical Weapons Atlas, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,
September/October 1997 Vol. 53, No. 5.
10 Harijan, 05 September 1936, p. 236.
11 Harijan, 21 July 1940, p. 211.
12 Daily Excelsior, Jammu, 08 April 2004 (Edit page).
13 Barash and Webel, Op. Cit., n. 1, p.203.
14 Harijan, 12 May 1946. Raghavan Iyer (Ed.), The Moral and Political Writings of
Mahatma Gandhi, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1986, pp. 448 – 450.
18 “Disarmament and Development”, Gandhi Marg, New Delhi, May – June 1982.
19 M. K. Gandhi, For Pacifists, Ahmedabad,1949, p. 43.
20 M. K. Gandhi, Nonviolence in Peace and War, Op. Cit., n. 5., Volume – I, p. 28.
21 Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule, Navajivan, Ahmedabad: 1938, p. 04.
22 Harijan, 21 June 1942.
23 Harijan, 22 June 1935 and 15 September 1946; M. K. Gandhi, Hind Swaraj or Indian
Home Rule, Navajivan, Ahmedabad: 1938), p. 08, Preface by Mahadev Desai. See also
Raghavan Iyer (ed.), The Moral and Political writings of Mahatma Gandhi: Truth and Non-
violence, Volume – II, (Oxford, London: 1986), pp. 212 – 214., Parentheses and
24 Anurag Gangal, New International Economic Order: A Gandhian Perspective
(Chanakya, Delhi: 1985), Chapter – II, pp. 29 - 30.
25 Young India, 02 July 1931.
26 N. K. Bose, Selections from Gandhi (Ahmedabad: 1948), p. 42.
27 M. K. Gandhi, Nonviolence in Peace and War , Op. Cit., n. 5., Volume – I, Chapter – II
and pp. 145, 324. See also S. C. Gangal, The Gandhian Way to World Peace (Vora,
Bombay: 1960), pp. 100 – 101.
28 S. C. Gangal, Ibid. , p. 100.
Gandhian Human Security 22of 22
29 Encyclopaedia of Pacifism, (London: 1937), p. 100.
30 S. C. Gangal, Op. Cit., n. 24, p. 90.
31 G. N. Dhawan, op. cit., n. 5., p. 284. Emphasis added.
32 M. K. Gandhi, op. cit. , n. 5., Volume – II, pp. 163 – 164. Emphasis added.
33 Harijan, 16 November 1939.
34 Quoted in Ram K. Vepa, New Technology: A Gandhian Concept (New Delhi: 1975), p.
35 From Yervada Mandir (Navajivan, Ahmedabad: 1933), p. 96 – 97.
36 G. N. Dhawan, op. cit., n. 5., p. 341.
37 Ibid., p. 96.
38 T. Schelling, “The Diplomacy of Violence”, in R. Art and R. Jervis (Eds), International
Politics, fourth edition, Harper Collins, New York, 1996, pp. 168 – 182.