Gandhi’s Legacy – The Hay Festival


SEGOVIA – The Stork attended an event led by Mukul Kesavan, Llàtzer Moix, Laura Ventura and Sanjay Verma entitled El legado de Gandhi y el nacionalismo actual.

The main discussion surrounded Gandhi’s philosophy in contemporary times. It was noted that in October 2nd, 150 years of Gandhi will be celebrated. Gandhi, considered as a prophet of long-life peace changed the idea and context of India. Gandhi challenged the gender and class issues.

Delving into nationalism, Mukul Kesavan defines it as a normally bad thing; indeed, nationalism is associated with Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Brexit’s England, and generally unmindful of nuance and diversity. In India, nationalism is not a majority in the government. The simple reason being that it is associated by anti-colonial movement, the patriotism of Congress.

Gandhi was not just considered a political figure; he offered a tradition of alternative thinking. Gandhi was influenced by western modernity, often at odds with industrialization. A critic made by Mukul Kesavan is that Gandhi named the problems in India, but not the solution. He had a romantic notion of simple living but left no legacy in economic thinking. He did have an influence on ecological thinkers, but not really in the political government. Gandhi nevertheless, is still very much alive in the cultural environment.

One of the first issues raised was in terms of non-violence – the question asked was whether Gandhi’s legacy could be applied to today’s world. Using the words of Gandhi himself, Mukul Kesavan repeated “if you aren’t brave enough to be non-violent, then fight the way you want”. Kesavan did not answer the question directly, instead left us with a quote that leaves it up to each of us to interpret.

A further question regarding was what can non-violence do about the five Big Tech Companies (Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook) taking over our daily lives and breaching countless times privacy of data. Using the perspective of Gandhi, Kesavan argues that these relentlessly hostile companies and industrial capitalism being converted into big data would’ve revolted Gandhi. On a more positive note, Gandhi would’ve been pleased by the climate change protests that are happening all over the world.

What about non-violence’s power over inequality? In India, the fundamental problem was inequality between upper class and lower class – and not colonial rule, notes Kesavan. Affirmative action in institutional structure is a form of reparation argues Kesavan. Gandhi was important because he used non-violent strategies.

The final question regarded unjust laws and whether there’s an ethical way of challenging them. Government pushes the limits of law; thus, would civil disobedience be reasonable according to Gandhi? Kesavan answers yes.

Having delved into the main questions that were raised during this talk, one could ask if there could be a Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or a Mandela of the 21st century that would propose a never-heard before solution on how to confront the issues we face today. Or how we could take the ideas of Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King as references to come up with innovative and substantial answers.

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