Gandhi’s ideas more effective outside India than in it: Rushdie

October 1st, 2008 - 7:12 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 1 (IANS) Author Sir Salman Rushdie says people outside India have made greater use of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s ideas of non-violence than those within his native country. Speaking to the writer Clive James for the Times newspaper, the Indian-born Rushdie said Gandhi transformed India’s independence movement by galvanizing common people.

“What’s remarkable is how much use has been made of this technique [of nonviolence] around the world - America, South Africa, all kinds of places.

“The Gandhian idea, in many ways, seems to have been more effective outside of India that inside it,” Rushdie said.

The author of Midnight’s Children, a seminal novel centred around India’s partition, said the Congress party had started out as “an elite intellectual debating club that the British were really not afraid of at all - in fact encouraged it as a way of teaching the ‘innocent Indians’ to argue.”

“Gandhi turned the independence movement into a mass movement. All the other leaders, including Nehru, really lacked that common touch. Gandhi went out into the countryside, spent years among the really poor and common people and galvanised them.

“Had it not been for that there would not have been an independence movement.”

But Rushdie said Gandhi made some mistakes.

“There’s a notorious mistake where he recommended pacifism to the Jews against Nazism. And then he actually understood that that’s a mistake and he de-recommended it.

“So I think he did understand that the techniques he was suggesting would work against certain kinds of opposition and not against others.”

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