Gandhi, Nonviolence and Peace


Surya Nath Prasad, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

On the Eve of International Day of Nonviolence

Mahatma Gandhi, whose name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was born on October 2nd 1869 at Porbandar in Gujarat State of India. He is recognized as the ‘Father of the Nation’ of India. His birth day is celebrated yearly on 2 October in India. Now since 2007 Mahatma Gandhi Birth Day is celebrated as Nonviolence Day in the whole world when the United Nations General Assembly on 15 June, 2007 voted to establish 2 October as the International Day of Nonviolence. The resolution A/RES/61/271 by the General Assembly asks all members of the UN system to commemorate 2 October in “an appropriate manner and disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness.” The resolution reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence

In 1988, the author these lines, who is Founder & Editor-in-Chief of the Journal Peace Education (the Journal for free distribution) published a Special Issue of his Journal on the theme: Gandhi, Nonviolence and Peace including the article of Mahatma Gandhi on ‘Nonviolence in Peace and War’, Rajendra Prasad on ‘Mahatma’s Teachings and World Problems’, S. Radhakrishnan on ‘Mahatma Gandhi’, Jawaharlal Nehru on ‘Gandhi: A Man of Peace and Humility’, Indira Gandhi on ‘The Message of Mahatma’, Govind Ballabh Pant on ‘Gandhi’s Message and Our Duty’, Jayaprakash Narayan on ‘The Problem of Peace’, Gunvant B. Shah on ‘Gandhi and Global Peace’, S. K. Jha on ‘Gandhian Personality: A Psychological Interpretation’, John Paul Eddy on ‘Gandhian Model for Conflict Resolution’, Suman Shukla on ‘Gandhi’s New Education As Peace Education’, Ann Hardt on ‘Nonviolence and Education’, Umrao Singh Chaudhari on ‘Creativity and Nonviolence’, Ramlal Parikh on ‘Nonviolent World Community’, with the Special Guest Editorial by R. R. Diwakar, a renowned Gandhian thinker Ex-Central Minister of India, Former Governor of a State in India and Chairman of Gandhi Peace Foundation, and prologue by the author of this article Surya Nath Prasad. That issue of Peace Education Journal was mainly devoted to analyze the significance of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolence for liberation and peace. The author of these lines tried to put in that one volume the Gandhian views of some of great national and international personalities and Gandhian thinkers of the past and present including Mahatma Gandh and an annotated bibliography on Gandhi and Peace by Surya Nath Prasad in his honor.

Gandhian technique of nonviolence alone can save the nation and the present world threatened by communal and racial disharmony, nuclear warfare, corruption, inequality, exploitation and poverty. Gandhi’s thoughts will always be remembered in the history of peace movement. His ideas and practice of nonviolence can be the best contents for the discipline of peace education. Mahama Gandhi is an idea of non-violence. He is a concept of peace. He denotes the term non-exploitation. He symbolizes the word non-oppression. Gandhi is the name of liberation.

But Gandhi is murdered every day, every moment he is assassinated. Even after 67 years of independence, masses of India are still exploited, oppressed, poor and slaves. Even intellectuals are not free (excluding a few exceptional) from the organized authority of concerned institutions of the society. Their status is no better than illiterate people of the country. And this situation prevails at all places. Everywhere there are wars, and threat of wars, oppression, exploitation, poverty and mindless terrorism throughout the world and in our own nation. There are all due to corruption.

Apart from its commonly-held financial connotation, corruption also takes facets of life like maintenance of secrecy, immoral social conduct, enactment and waging of wars, divisions on many counts and flimsy grounds in social life, arrogance, biases and prejudices, separatism, undue pride, suspicion, untruth adulteration, hypocrisy, sycophancy, killings, assassinations, genocide of human beings, betrayal, of credibility, unreliability etc. The whole world is in the grip of corruption. The existence of corruption denotes the crisis of individual character of the human beings who may be in every part of the world. It is in existence in under-developed countries as well as advanced countries and also in less-developed countries particularly at the higher levels of society comprising judges, bureaucrats, politicians and industrialists, who all have sort of joint understanding and responsibility in order to make their permanent say in national and international affairs. The common people become victim of corruption of the persons who are highly placed in the society. They are forced to be corrupted. The inordinately rich people corrupt themselves by practicing greed and they corrupt the rest of the society by provoking envy. India is also not free from the evil practice of corruption. Then former Indian Minister of Law and Program Implementation P. Shiv Shanker remarked that the Supreme Court had turned into a “haven of anti-socials and smugglers”. Justice Chinnappa Reddy, former Judge of Supreme Court reacting on the Minister’s remark asked, “If one of the judges says that the Government is a den of corruption, what would be the situation.” Number of corrupt and criminal persons is more in the governance of people in different parts of the world. One may refer to the book entitled: World Famous Corrupt Politicians authored by Nemisharan Mital and published by Pustak Mahal, New Delhi in1992. The publisher of the book writes in the Preface, inter alia, “The book throws corrupt activities of the statesmen… Almost all the corrupt statesmen of the world have been thoroughly exposed with proven documentary evidences. N. Vittal, Former Central Vigilance Commissioner, Government of India has cited in his book: Corruption in India that the UNDP Human Development Report for South Asia 1999 highlighted the special nature of corruption in South Asia as: “Corruption happens everywhere. It has been at the centre of election campaigns in Italy and the United Kingdom, ed to the fall of governments in Indonesia, and resulted in legislative action in Russia and United States… South Asian corruption has four key characteristics that make it far more damaging than corruption in other parts of the world. First, corruption in South Asia occurs up-stream, not down-stream. … Second, corruption money in South Asia has wings, not wheels. Most of the corrupt gains made in the region are immediately smuggled out to safe havens abroad. … Corruption money in North America is used to finance business, than fill foreign accounts. Third, corruption in South Asia often leads to promotion, not prison. … Fourth, corruption in South Asia occurs with 515 million people in poverty. … Combating corruption in the region is not just about punishing corrupt politicians and bureaucrats but about saving human lives.” Vittal (2003) observes the present state of India as a corrupt country as pathetic because India ranks 73 out of 102 ranking countries from the “least corrupt” to the “most corrupt” listed for 2002 by Transparency International, a Berlin based NGO, released on 28 August, 2002.

According to Peter Eigen, Chairman of the Transparency International, “Political elites and their cronies continue to take kickbacks at every opportunity. Hand in glove with corrupt business people they are trapping whole nations in poverty and are hampering sustainable development. … The index clearly shows very high level of bribery in developing countries by corporations from Russia, China, Taiwan, and South Korea As well as numerous industrial nations, all of which now have law making corrupt payments to foreign officials a crime. Construction and arms industries top sectors of heaviest bribery. … Corrupt political elites in the developing world work hand- in-hand with greedy business people and unscrupulous investors, are putting private gain before the welfare of citizens and the economic development of their countries. We are seeing the plundering of the earth and its people in an unsustainable way.

“Corruption impedes sustainable development and robs the children of today of the resources they will need to survive tomorrow. Good governance and transparency are essential to sustainable development.”

Tunku Abdul Aziz, Vice Chairman of the Transparency International said, “The corruption perception index has once again confirmed that corruption is a malady affecting not only the developing countries, but also the developed world. Developed countries have a special humanitarian responsibility, given the resources at their disposal, to investigate and prosecute the companies (within their jurisdictions) that are bribing. Their bribes and incentives to corrupt public officials and politicians are subverting the orderly development of poor nations, already trapped as they are, in a vicious circle of crippling poverty, hunger and disease.

“Corruption continues to deny the poor, the marginalized, and the least educated members of every society, the social, economic and political benefits that should properly accrue to them, benefits that are taken for granted in societies that have managed to shake off the yoke of corruption.”

If corruption is in higher-ups, what would be the position of corruption in lower sections and other institutions of the society, they can be forced to be corrupted, one may easily imagine. However, corruption is a crime. It is crime against the people, the nation and the world. Hence ‘Eradication of Corruption’ should be One-Point Program before every government of the world. The modern world society today is ruled by greed and envy. But ‘Grab and greed’ mentality leads to corruption. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy ever man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” Thus corruption is violence.

Certainly all are not corrupts, and those who are non-corrupts are living examples for other persons and institutions and they are the backbone of just and nonviolent society. Mahatma Gandhi once advised, “You must not lose faith in humanity, humanity is an ocean. If a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

Though, Mahatma Gandhi felt deeply the anguish and suffering of our hungry poor down-trodden million masses. He says that an exploiter commits violence by his carelessness in fulfilling unjustified desires. According to an advocate of masses of the world and the author of the famous book: Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970) , Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educator and philosopher, “Violence is initiated by those who oppress, who fail to recognize others as peoples, not by those who are oppressed, exploited and unrecognized.” Ivan Illich, an Austrian philosopher and educationist, and the author of the popular book: Deschooling Society (1971) blames for this New Pax Economica which does not just permit, but encourages the destruction of commons. It empowers new elites to make all people’s survival dependent on their access to education, police protection, apartments and super-markets. It exalts the producer and degrades the consumer. Johan Galtung, a Norwegian great living world thinker of peace studies (the pioneer of the discipline of Peace and Conflict Studies, the founder of Peace Research Institute Oslo in 1959, Journal of Peace Research in 1964, Transcend Peace University and Transcend Media Service), says that underdevelopment is itself violence-frozen, structural violence.

Nevertheless, elements of corruption can be made more affective in case receiving-party does not accept it. The receiving ends have got a greater responsibility and role to eliminate the corruption process, than that of the giving-ends. Thus violence of corruption can be checked by the receiving-party.

The concept of ideal society of Gandhi is based on the power of nonviolence. Nonviolence is the negation of oppression, exploitation and corruption. It promises freedom of the workers from exploitation, of women from the dominance of the male and of untouchables from caste-tyranny and of the common masses from ill-organized institutional authority. Nonviolence signifies social, economic and political non-exploitation of sentient creatures, especially human beings, for the benefit of others. Mahatma Gandhi says that nonviolent activity involves no exploitation. Justice is the mother of peace. Nonviolence leads to peace. The way of nonviolence is the way of liberation. Albert Einstein described Gandhi’s nonviolence as “an entirely new technique for the liberation of an oppressed people”. Paulo Freire says that the conviction of the oppressed that they must fight for their liberation is the result of their own conscientization. Conscientization enrolls men in search for self –affirmation. Conscientization, according to Mathew Zachariah, is more oriented towards change in material world to be brought about by militant group mobilization whereas Sarvodaya (Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent movement) emphasizes social change by teaching individuals to change themselves.

Mahatma Gandhi can be the most influential force in the moral guidance of all the governments of the world and ennoblement of humanity. Gandhi’s life is an idea in the mind of men. It is the hope for humanity, an inspiration for its future. The memory of his life and work is precious to all mankind. Mahatma Gandhi belongs to the whole human race. He said, “I will not hurt Germany or England for the sake of serving my country, that kind of narrowness, that kind of selfish patriotism would be unworthy of a truly civilized human being.” His whole life was dedicated to the cause of eradicating social discrimination, economic disparity and political domination, and for awakening of all for their welfare. Jawaharlal Nehru in his illustrious book: The Discovery of India has written, “His (Gandhiji’s) love of freedom for India and all over exploited nations and peoples overcame even his strong adherence to nonviolence.”

It is said that the peace movement of the West is mainly concerned with conflicts arising out of aggression or war, whereas Indian peace movement deals with the conflicts arising out of injustice or exploitation. But both the problems – aggression or war and injustice or exploitation of the West and Indian can be resolved by the application of Gandhian technique. There will be no aggression or war, and oppression or exploitation hence there will be no conflicts; if the governments of different nations follow the principles of Satyagraha (Truth) and Ahimsa (Nonviolence) of Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi’s philosophy has much relevance to the world as a whole today. In his paper: ‘Gandhi’s Political Significance Today’, Gene Sharp believes that Gandhi’s philosophy and technique are important for the world as a whole and not for India alone. The most significant contribution of Gandhi was creating awareness in people that war could be avoided as means to the resolution of conflicts. Gandhi himself felt that Ahimsa (nonviolence) meant Sarvodaya – awakening of all, welfare of all. Paul Power in his book: Gandhi on World Affairs has attempted to discern the principles of nonviolence applicable to international affairs. His main purpose is to bring together Gandhi’s main ideas on world affairs and to evaluate their present relevance. The book entitled – Gandhi: His Relevance of Our Times edited by G. Ramchandran and T. K. Mahadevan presented to R. R. Diwakar on his 70th birthday, is more appropriate to the relevance of Gandhian technique today. The essays contained in the book deals with the Gandhian technique in resolving conflicts and ensuring peace. Ashakant Nimbark in his paper: ‘Gandhi Re-Examined’ describes Gandhi as a charismatic leader. He believes that Gandhi’s methods can be successful in the resolution of human conflicts in any society. He cites many cases in which Gandhian methods have been used outside India. He says that the importance of Gandhi’s ideas cannot be allowed to remain confined to India as the importance of J. S. Mill’s ideas as not confined to Britain. Indira Gadhi in her broadcast over All India Radio on October 1, 1968 confirmed, “The weapon of nonviolent resistance which he (Gandhi) has given mankind, is today used in other lands and climes. Rajiv Gandhi has also said that Mahatma Gadhi’s message of nonviolence has increasing relevance in world held in thrall by nuclear terror. Narendra Modi on the site of Twitter said: “The past and the present proves the fact that Non-Violence is in the DNA of Indians. For many of us who didn’t witness the Independence struggle, anti-corruption movement reinforces confidence in the strength of Non-Violence. Those who’ve taken the path of Naxalism and Terrorism must recognize the power of non-violence. It (Non-Violence) will make India stronger and serve humanity.”

Andrei Zolotov says in a two page article in Soviet news weekly – NOVOYE VREMYA – “Mahatma Gandhi was not born here (in Moscow). He comes from afar. He comes to join those who have long heeded his distant voice. His ideas and deeds echoed in their souls and his cherished wishes and love of the human race were shared by them. Referring to the monument honoring Mahatma Gandhi at Moscow, Zolotov says that Moscow has acquired ‘another resdenta’ to whom Soviet citizens can go to in times of need.

Declaration for celebration of International Day of Nonviolence on October 2-the birthday of Mahatma Gadhi by the United Nations, establishment of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial and celebration of 2nd October as National Day of recognition for Mahatma Gandhi in United States of America, celebration of Gandhi’s birthday in Canada and in other countries, and praise of his teachings by the Soviet author, Gandhian and other thinkers of the world including by our own national leaders of the past and present show the significance of Gandhi’s nonviolence in our own country and other nations of the world.

Therefore we should never forget Mahatma Gandhi, and his teaching and practice of truth and nonviolence for individual, national and world peace. I would like to end my article with the advice my Mahatma Gandhi who himself said, “I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before any one even at the cost of your life.”


 Dr. Surya Nath Prasad is M. A. (Sociology), M. Ed. (Experimental Education), M. Phil. (Nonviolence and Peace Studies), and   Ph. D .( Education). Dr. Prasad is a recipient of Honorary D. Lit. (Peace Education) at the hands of Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma then Former President, Government of India. Dr. Prasad has taught for three decades as Assistant and Associate Professor of Education in India.  He is Former Visiting Professor of Peace Studies at the Graduate Institute of Peace Studies in Kyung Hee University, Republic of Korea. He is Former President and Currently Executive Vice President of International Association of Educators for World Peace. Dr. Prasad is Hon. Associate Editor of Diplomacy Journal (Republic of Korea). He is a Member of Editorial Board of Peace and Conflict Review – A Journal of UN mandated University for Peace (Costa Rica). Dr. Prasad is Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Peace Education: An International Journal. The Journal has ISSN number.   Dr. Prasad distributes the Journal free of cost throughout the world. Website of his Journal is: One may reach him at

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 6 Oct 2014.

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