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   Hind Swaraj
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)


 
 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
 
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

 
Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
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By Rina Mukherji
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Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

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