The Australia India Institute’s Director, Lisa Singh in conversation with Professor Bindu Puri from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on the significance of satyagraha as a method of earning rights through self-suffering rather than inflicting suffering on others and the influence of such satyagraha on contemporary movements and as an inspiration to those who seek to fight oppression and injustice through truth and non-violence.
Satyagraha or non-violent peaceful resistance advocated by Mahatma Gandhi was instrumental in the Indian freedom struggle and has also inspired multiple non-violent social and political movements across the globe. Gandhian philosophy of truth and non-violence deeply impacted leaders like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr, who adopted satyagraha in their fight against oppressive regimes and successfully used it as a form of peaceful conflict resolution.
Gandhian’s satyagraha as a method of ‘earning’ rights without violence also inspired individuals and communities more recently to fight injustice; the Chipko movement and the anti-corruption movement in India, the Take Back the Night protests in the US, and the recent climate change protests led by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, all highlight the legacy of Gandhi’s peace movement.
Therefore, it becomes essential to the times we live that Gandhi’s relationship between truth and non-violence is unpacked for contemporary listeners. Why did Gandhi believe that non-violence was the only path to truth? What was the connection between truth and freedom? What was the relationship between rights and duties?