Hind Swaraj, Gandhi’s seminal work, was written in 9 days between 13 and 22 November 1909 on broad the Kildonan Castle during Gandhi’s return trip from England to South Africa. The century old easy-to-read conversation between a reader and an editor is more relevant now than ever before, providing quantum of solace to the world that has increasingly been torn apart by moral decline, social strife and climate change. Interestingly, however, for fear of sedition the book was banned by then government in March 1910.
Gandhi was clear in his perception about `swaraj’, and made a distinction between swaraj as self-government and swaraj for self-improvement. Gandhi was anxious to teach the Indians that `modern civilisation’ posed a greater threat to them than did colonialism, because colonialism itself was a product of modern civilization. Ironically, the country has learnt little from the prophetic words of Gandhi. Treading on the path of modernity, colonialism has been perpetuated within the country that has led to alienation of the poor and the vulnerable.
Published by the Cambridge University, Prof Anthony Parel’s analysis on Hind Swaraj is a work of scholarship that not only locates Gandhi’s vision in the historical context of the early 20th century but seeks its relevance in the 21st century too. Amongst the available interpretations on Hind Swaraj, this book stands out as it presents the original text and examines the intellectual cross-currents from East and West that affected the formation of the mind and character of one of the twentieth century’s truly outstanding figures. Without doubt, Hind Swaraj remains a universal manifesto for human deliverance from violence, injustice and domination.
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