‘Gandhi wanted people to express dissent’

Scholar Prof G N Devy speaks at a discussion on Mahatma Gandhi at University College, Mangaluru, on Monday.

Even as the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi is being observed, it is important to give a thought to Gandhi’s idea of democracy, scholar Prof G N Devy stressed on Monday.

“Let us do what he wanted for a change in India,” he said, while delivering a talk on ‘Gandhi, Democracy and Dissent’, organised by the Nehru Study Centre of Mangalore University at the University College on Monday.

He laid emphasis on the fact that dissent is a part and parcel of a democratic setup. “Gandhiji wanted citizens who expressed dissent against tyranny and violence. His idea of democracy was a discrimination-free India, based on the philosophy of fearlessness and ‘Aparigraha’, which inspired Gandhiji to coin the term ‘Satyagraha’,” Devy added.

Speaking further, he said, “It is worth mentioning that Gandhiji’s wife Kasturba played an important role in making the Satyagraha movement successful. Gandhiji was aware that Satyagraha was a concept where men and women would come together by crossing gender barriers and fight for a single cause.”

The scholar expressed concern on the casual attitude among people in power towards heinous crime against the oppressed classes. “We have been witnessing a process of curtailing free speech,” he pointed out.

‘Serious thinker’

Prof Valerian Rodrigues said that Gandhi was a serious thinker of democracy. “The irony today is that even a dictator wants to be valued as a democrat. Democracy should be seen as an association of free and equal citizens who think about the future,” he stressed.

“Swaraj was Gandhiji’s idea of democracy and Gandhiji disagreed with the version of democracy that defined the state as a sovereign power. He believed that democracy should sustain the value of non-violence,” said the professor.

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