Why is Gandhi imperative for Global Affairs?

Why is Gandhi imperative for Global Affairs?


Gandhi has been a political philosopher who has been interpreted in various ways. He is someone who tried to learn and explore the best from East to West. What is remarkable about his ideas was that they had an answer for every problem from the local to the global. The mere reduction of his vision to parochial realms would be a gross injustice to the magnanimity of his views. His views on peace, Satyagraha, ahimsa- fall in the degree of high forces that shall enable us in the reconstruction of stable and beneficial world order for peace and well-being of all. His life was a message that how to structure peacekeeping in focus the conscience of humanity. As a global icon for tolerance, his emphasis on Truth and Universal Love also gave the goal for the ultimate end of humanity.


Though Gandhi was wary of any grand narrative in global affairs, yet deep insight into his ideas present the systematic form of thinking that makes his views stand like a classic giving solution for all times & posing as a serious contender to contemporary international and political theory.


His attempt to propagate peace and install institutions of dissent based on non-violence may have found disagreements with people of his time,  to reaffirm faith in his views only. He was one of the finest non-Western thinkers of his age to develop a philosophy grounded in experiences.


While conceptualizing the idea of non-violence Gandhi made us look at it holistic as well as the macro view. This is indeed very significant while analyzing any kind of warfare in global polity.  Today the idea of wars have also witnessed transition. From wars based on arms & ammunition, namely first and second world war, to wars based on propaganda and ideology, like the cold war, to wars based on harming each other via new weapons like tariffs & quotas, as seen in the contemporary trade war. Gandhi attempted to understand violence in a comprehensive way- looking at structural, economic, political and social parameters of it. He urged us not to lament on the outbreak of wars- but attempt to douse the fire right from start by eliminating the causes of it by peace & non-violence or later try to annihilate them by the former. Means & Ends are essential to factor in here, as only just means lead to just ends. Serious attention to these ideas would pave way for solving many of our world revolts.


Gandhi is someone who has a universal eternal appeal. Quite often it is remarked that in his colossal role in the struggle against colonialism & imperialism with peace & non-violence; that it’s worthy of Nobel Peace Prize.


At a time when the international polity is witnessing troubled times with crisis of terrorism, inequality, nuclear weapons, the gloomy prediction is that human race is headed towards self-inflicted disaster. Gandhi had followers cutting across continents from South Africa to Martin Luther. The perils that Gandhi fought – ignorance, inequality, oppression, exploitation, amongst others, are all the more prevalent today. This is why Gandhi is significant transcending space & time.


Globalization has redefined the international relations where there is space-time compression. With the rampant rise of information and technology, the rise in trade flows is accompanied by the crude fact that capital is mobile while labor is not. Gandhi and his way of life are important to juxtapose here. He was not only fighting the British. His way of life from- praying at Ashram, spinning, friendly approach to all, amongst others. What he opined in his time, our present times show the proofs to justify their significance.  Capitalism and Industrialisation become a violent system of production where workers and grassroots do not have creative human expression.


The process of integration with Globalisation has led to multiple crises. Today gains of globalization have led to rich developing at the cost of the poor with benefits being situated with a handful minority in prosperous Europe and USA. There is a severe contest for claims over resources of the earth accompanied by violence & thereby leading to ecological disasters.  Gandhi’s ideas- Swaraj, Swadeshi, Sarvodaya and Satyagraha- and his pertinent remark that the earth has enough for everyone’s needs and not for greed is all the more relevant to carve out new contours of world polity with sustainability as its hallmark. With today’s globalized world, Gandhi’s views have the tenacity to guide international institutions and people’s movements alike for the establishment of a more humane and just society.


Foreign policy is seen as an expression of national interest by a state in international affairs. Today majority of nations of the world amidst the trade-offs of hard power to ensure survival do exhibit the curious paradox of giving primacy to peace. Amidst the fierce debates to moving through the anarchy of international domain, nations have also spoken vociferously and acted vividly for peace. When the world spoke of non-alignment or new world order- are certain areas where Gandhi’s views have guided to do away with imported paradigms ranging from realism to liberalism to Marxism. The principle of the United Nations to respect territorial integrity and sovereignty are towering visions for what Gandhi stood for to use politics in order to end violence.


He gave the novel method of opposition to authoritarian structures with Satyagraha.


People like Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel amongst others have also asserted the significance of Satyagraha drawing inspiration from Gandhi, in order to built foundations of nation-building on non-violence.  This is why it may not be a collective ritual to honor and remember  Gandhi on his birth and death. The magnanimity of his ideas is sealed in the consciousness & conscience of people cutting across borders.


Gandhi brought peace and nonviolence together in a unique way which has transhistorical relevance. His focus on mutual agreement and dialogue amongst nations of the world. For the respected diversity and cultures for him were never linear. With his vast learning of various religions and regions, he embarked upon all people to respect others way with tolerance in spirits.  International relations have been seen as a power gimmick with nations perceiving terms in a zero-sum game format. Sheer reduction of world affairs in sense of ‘eye for an eye’ shall do no good. Gandhi’s attempt to foster pluralism need to be revisited for global governance. Where Gandhi emerges significantly with an emphasis on peace, tolerance, reciprocity, and solidarity in the state to state relationships as well.
Dr Amna Mirza

Dr Amna Mirza

Assistant Professor at Delhi University

Writer of Political Affairs with Research Interests in International Political Economy, Public Policy and Globalisation