Like many other Indian leaders Gandhi had considerable difficulty in coming to terms with the modern state. At one level he understood it better than them. He was trained as a lawyer, had observed it in its developed form in Britain and distorted forms in South Africa and India, and as a leader of the independence movement he had close day-to-day contact with it. He was one of the few to notice that the modern age was unique in assigning the state a most dominant position in society. Having led several anti-racist campaigns in South Africa, he understood the nature of political power and ideology better than most of his contemporaries and well knew how the state was interlocked with dominant interests and upheld the prevailing social order. Gandhi, however, had his severe handicaps. As a votary of non-violence he was obsessed with the coercive aspect of the state and could not appreciate its moral dimension until fairly late in life. He was opposed to large-scale industrialisation and did not much understand the economic role of the state either. As a moralist he was deeply preoccupied with personal integrity and individual responsibility and had great difficulty in coming to terms with the need for collective discipline and the moral compromises required by membership of the state.
KeywordsMoral Responsibility Communal Violence Modern State Indian Civilisation Moral Authority
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- 2.See Interview with N. K. Bose in Modern Review, October 1935.Google Scholar
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- Gandhi wrote his Foreword on 30 November 1945. In H, 28 July 1946 he expressed views different from those attributed to him by Agarwal.Google Scholar
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