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An Interview with Narendra Desai, a Gandhian Activist

Title:An Interview with Narendra Desai, a Gandhian Activist
Author:Kothari R.
Publication:Interventions: international journal of postcolonial studies / Routledge, an Imprint of Taylor and Francis Group
Enumeration:vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 439-445, Nov. 2001
Abstract:Anti-colonial struggles remain half-told stories, locked and lost in the memories of the nation-state. The unravelling of the multiple and often contradictory threads around India's struggle for freedom is an ongoing endeavour today among political and social scientists. The primary component of this area has been the making or the unmaking of Mahatma Gandhi, the architect of India's anti-colonial struggle. My concern here is with a little-known, mundane and yet significant aspect of Gandhi; that is, the organization of his campaigns. The campaigns of the Khilafat Movement, the Dandi march, or Quit India have been unifying phenomena overarching the otherwise amorphous overly populated memory of the period. While these campaigns have been studied, critiqued, reflected upon in their ideological content and their consequences upon the nation at large, little attention has been paid to the detailed level of planning and organizing at a grass-roots level that helped these campaigns become successful (for an exception, see Weber 1997). Gandhi's campaigns in Gujarat (which is what I have restricted myself to) operated on the basis of a wide network of plans and informers, of people who ran clandestine presses and carried secret messages. Subversive material which talked about the atrocities of the British, the plans for future action, the heroic tales of passive resistance, criss-crossed the various regions and districts of Gujarat. The 'subversive' material made available here also reveals acts of violence that have an apparent legitimacy within the framework of passive resistance. The problem of what constitutes violence is a tricky one and I do not wish to deal with it in any detail here. I merely want to let an interview bear out some of the possibilities still unexplored in the discourse on Gandhi. Besides throwing up questions on the interpretation of 'violence', the interview also elaborates on the 'machinery' of information that worked through an entourage of follo

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