Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
07 Jan 2010
Quantum of solace
Hind Swaraj, Gandhi's seminal work, was written in nine days between 13 and 22 November 1909 on broad the Kildonan Castle during his return trip from England to South Africa. The century-old easy-to-read conversation between a reader and an editor is more relevant now than ever before, providing a degree of solace to the world that has increasingly been torn apart by moral decline, social strife and climate change. Interestingly, the book was banned by then government in March 1910 for fear of sedition.
Gandhi was clear in his perception about 'swaraj', and made a distinction between swaraj as self-government and swaraj for self-improvement. He was anxious to teach Indians that 'modern civilisation' posed a greater threat to them than colonialism, because colonialism itself was a product of modern civilization. Ironically, the country has learnt little from the prophetic words of the Mahatma. Treading on the path of modernity, colonialism has been perpetuated within the country that has led to alienation of the poor and the vulnerable.
Published by the Cambridge University, Prof Anthony Parel's analysis on Hind Swaraj is a work of scholarship that not only locates Gandhi's vision in the historical context of the early 20th century but seeks its relevance in the 21st century too. Amongst the available interpretations on Hind Swaraj, this book stands out as it presents the original text and examines the intellectual cross-currents from East and West that affected the mind of one of 20th century's greatest figures. Hind Swaraj remains a universal manifesto for human deliverance from violence, injustice and domination.
Hind Swaraj and other writings by Anthony J. Parel, Cambridge University Press, UK, 208 pages, Rs. 125; (South Asian Edition, Foundation Books, New Delhi)