The Teachings of Non-Violence by Mahatma Gandhi
How it works
Imagine a war-torn society where “around 70,000 people have been killed since 1990; another 10,000 have gone missing after being arrested” (Peer). This is the current state of Kashmir, a small state in the North of India. The partition of India occurred in 1947, in which many people were segregated by their religious affiliations to either the Hindus or the Muslims. The Hindus were allowed to remain in India, but the Muslims were rushed to evacuate to what is now known as Pakistan today. The partition of India caused many problems because it “was the largest forced migration of people that has ever happened, which wasn’t because of war or famine” (CBBC). The partition displaced about 14 million people, and much rage and fighting ensued as a result of it. These events ultimately resulted in millions of deaths and injuries. Although the partition occurred roughly 70 years ago, it still has an immense impact today.
Kashmir is physically in the middle of international tensions as India, Pakistan, and China are all fighting for a piece, or perhaps the entirety of Kashmir. There are currently lines of control that separate each of these countries in the Kashmir state, yet millions of innocent lives are taken every day due to the constant fighting for Kashmir. Today, “more than half a million Indian troops” bombard Kashmir, making it the most militarized place in the world” (Peer). Not only are India, Pakistan, and China fighting for control of Kashmir, but militants are also fighting for the independence of Kashmir. Each of the four parties has agendas that oppose one another, so the question remains, will it be possible for the people of Kashmir to successfully voice their opinions through non-violent protests? Some people in Kashmir have tried peaceful protests, but weapons such as guns and missiles often confront them, which crush the protestors’ ability to defend themselves. Whenever the Kashmiris decide to protest in non-violent demonstrations, their peaceful efforts are typically met with tear gas or gunfire, which results in critical injury or death.
How it works
Non-violence is a concept that was introduced by Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi believed that “freedom from all forms of exploitation means non-violence. Gandhian economy based on the philosophy of nonviolence calls removal of exploitation of all forms. Gandhi wanted to establish a sarvodaya society through the application of nonviolence in all fields of life” (Dharmadhikari). Non-violence, also known as Ahimsa, has demonstrated a strong track record throughout history, as we have seen in the PowerPoints presented in class. The non-violence movement has proven successful, especially in the United States in many cases such as The Civil Rights Movement and The Montgomery Bus Boycotts. Unfortunately, implementing the concepts of non-violence is incredibly difficult for the people of Kashmir given that they face violence on a day-to-day basis, and the people of Kashmir have different opinions on which side they stand on.
There are many examples of successful non-violence campaigns that occur when one group protests against another group of people with different thoughts and opinions. Yet, this is not the case for the people of Kashmir. The issues of Kashmir are incredibly complex, and as a result, many groups have conflicting perspectives and interests. Some people in Kashmir want the total independence of Kashmir, whilst some people hope for the accession of Kashmir to Pakistan. Because there are opposing opinions of what people want to do with Kashmir, this causes even more issues which make non-violence protests even more difficult to initiate. The issues that the Kashmiris face are far different from those of the minorities in The Civil Rights Movements; this region involves three massive countries fighting for one small mountainous state. The most pressing issue that the Kashmiri non-violence protesters need to combat is the fact that they have to find a way to overcome the will of the Indian troops. According to the BBC World, “in a conflict saturated with guns and spear-headed by armed militants, not a single shot has so far been fire by protesters, despite a new upsurge of anger among young Kashmiris at their harsh treatment by Indian security forces” (BBC). Although some peace can be found in the valleys of Kashmir during important events such as weddings, and harvest seasons, Kashmiris are constantly forced to deal with death every day. The stakes for Kashmiris are much higher than that of the protestors involved in The Civil Rights Movement. People in Kashmir face death everywhere they go, without knowing what will happen to them or their families.
A non-violence movement may work for Kashmiris, only if India, Pakistan, and China are willing to withdraw their troops from Kashmir and stop the enactment of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act allows “troops stationed in Kashmir the power to shoot any person they suspect of being a threat, and guarantee impunity from prosecution” (Peer), which obviously is not conducive to any form of open protest, making it harder for the Kashmiris to conduct their non-violence protests. The enactment of AFSPA will only cause more trouble in an already troubled state because it allows troops to kill anyone who they deem as a “threat,” while allowing them to escape any punishment. The first step to a peaceful resolution should be to eradicate this oppressive law so the community can begin to save some of the innocent lives that are lost every day in the midst of this conflict. Peace negotiations or negotiations of any sort is only possible if all parties are open to nonviolence. For example, in the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. tested out the first-nonviolence movement in Birmingham, Alabama; however, the demonstration ended up with police brutality and the imprisonment of thousands of demonstrators. However, Martin Luther King Jr was not deterred by his past experience, and he led the second nonviolence demonstration in Washington, and this peaceful protest was successful because police did not intervene. This relates to the war in Kashmir because the Civil Rights Movement shows us that violence against violence will never generate a successful outcome. Troops in India, Pakistan, and China need to drop their weapons, because fighting with violence towards the Kashmiris will not work, as it will only result in more tensions between the different parties.
The Kashmiris are at a distinct disadvantage to wage the war, because they do not have comparable weapons to those of the Indian or Pakistani troops. The Kashmiris have also attempted to retaliate through stone-throwing, as Shahbaaz in Kashmir: Forever War says “It makes a difference. We show them that we are not completely helpless” (Peer), but after analyzing their circumstances, no rational person should feel optimistic about their circumstances for the foreseeable future. The only way to lead to a more peaceful Kashmir is by a unified approach to peace by Gandhi’s teaching of non-violence, and collective recognition that the horror that currently consumes Kashmir is an unacceptable state of reality.
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The Teachings of Non-Violence by Mahatma Gandhi. (2021, Jun 07). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/the-teachings-of-non-violence-by-mahatma-gandhi/