General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics): Non-Violence

Mahatma Gandhi

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Syllabus: General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics)


“Gandhiji’s principle of non-violence stands vindicated while addressing the internal security of the Nation”. Analyse the given statement.



The advocacy is under stress due to growing wave of muscular nationalism and sub nationalism. Principle of Non-violence is the personal practice of being harmless to self and others under every condition. It comes from the belief that hurting people, animals or the environment is unnecessary to achieve an outcome and refers to a general philosophy of abstention from violence. This may be based on moral, religious or spiritual principles, or it may be for purely strategic or pragmatic reasons.

Mahatma Gandhi and Non-Violence

Gandhiji always spoke of Satyagraha and Ahimsa i.e. insistence on truth and non-violence. Both concepts are integral to each other.

  • No non-violence is possible without truth and no truth is possible without non-violence either. Why truth and non-violence are integral to each other is because truth has to be non-coercive and based on deeper conviction.
  • An element of coercion would contaminate truth. Violence, on the other hand, is highest degree of coercion and is used to make people believe what they do not want to believe and accept what they do not want to accept.
  • Thus violence and truth are totally opposed to each other. Non-violence, on the other hand, guarantees freedom of conscience and people are free to base their behaviour on their deeper conviction.
  • Self-interests would also contaminate truth and lead to unauthentic behaviour and hence violence.
  • A non-violent behaviour should have following attributes:
    • It must be based on genuine conviction;
    • it should be truthful .
    • it should be based on freedom of conscience. Any behaviour lacking these attributes is likely to lead to violence.

Non-Violence and Internal Security

 In recent times, terroristic activities have been witnessed which has led destruction of both men and material. Groups like ISIS, Taliban, Mujahedeen Al-Qaida have come and is posing threat to the national security. Apart from those domestic groups such as Maoists, separatists groups in North East and Kashmir are vitiating the internal security environment

  • Dialogue:
    • Essence of Gandhian ideals was peaceful negotiations. History is replete with such examples when peaceful negotiations brought about the end of disputes between various session groups. Our North East was mainly stabilized due to negotiations and handing over autonomy to Natives
  • Giving expression to all voices:
    • Linking those who hold illegal beliefs directly to terror may isolate and marginalise their voices and ensure that they are unable to openly express their political beliefs. As a result these individuals are likely to operate covertly rather than in the open, making it more difficult to engage  and challenge their positions. Instead, they are reduced to simple characterisations, such as anti-nationals, closing down opportunities for dialogue rather than opening them up.
  • Means and ends:
    • According to Gandhi, means determine ends. He held that unleashing violence was like letting a genie out of a bottle; once released, it was not easy to put back. In the similar vein state sponsored violence against common citizens would not bring about peace in the long run.
  • Winning confidence:
    • This, of course, is easier said than done. As a rule, it requires long years of patient organisation in constructive work that gains mass sympathy for a cause — the protest comes only as a culmination. An example can be of central Indian Maoist insurgence, hard line approach seldom peace. However only due to combining action of winning hearts by building schools, roads etc, tribal’s were brought on to the side of the government.



In an era where social, cultural and political spheres are void of spirituality, Gandhi’s non-violence still offers us an ideal that may uphold. Gandhi remains the prophetic voice of the 21stcentury and his non-violence urges us to continue struggling on behalf of what we view as right and just. At a time when mankind is confronted with clashes  of national interest, religious fundamentalism and ethnic and racial prejudices, non-violence can be a well-trusted means of laying the groundwork of a new era.


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