Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How Much of an Effect did Gandhi Really Have On Britain?

  1. Feb 12, 2005 #1


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    This gets brought up a lot in discussions regarding the utility and effectiveness of non-violent protest. I'm curious as to what exactly the historical record - not the sentiments of peace-eyed college students - had to say. I'll be looking into it on my own, but some the posters here are pretty knowledgable about these things and I'd appreciate any input, especially links to relevant records and statistics.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2005 #2
    I don't know too much about records and statistics, but didn't Britain pretty much give up most of it's colonies after WWII? It always seemed to me that after helping defeat Imperial Fascism, that the whole "having an empire" thing didn't sit too well with anyone. Gandhi, it seems to me, played a role in raising public sentiment against British rule and making India a problem for the British, but he was acting that way for a long while before India really got independence. He was undoubtedly a good leader (rallyed the people to a cause), it just seems that the British weren't influenced by him too much but were giving up colonial control anyway.
  4. Feb 12, 2005 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    In large part, the utility of non-violent protest was in that it connected better with the masses and strengthened the independence movement in a manner that dispersed rebellions could not have. Also, the appeal of the idea raised Gandhi to a stature (among the people) that no one else could command; to the extent that it was in the British interest to see that no harm came to him, lest the people be given a seed to unify in opposition to the Raj.

    Gandhi's efforts accelerated the eventually inevitable transfer of power. He caused the occupation of India to be "more trouble than it was worth" sooner.

    No links to suggest off the top of my head, but will see what I can find. If you can get your hands on Freedom at Midnight, by Collins and Lapierre, there are some keen discussions of Gandhi's movement in the early parts of the book, if I recall correctly.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2005
  5. Feb 13, 2005 #4
    That's one way of looking at it. The other way might be that if we had not adopted those passive methods, we would have followed Subhash Chandra Bose/INA or Bhagat Singh and actually done something practical to get our freedom. The British were exhausted militarily and economically after WWII, which is why they let go of such a small country as Greece. Think about this, if they had let go of Greece, of course they couldn't keep such a big country (population-wise) as India in power. But they could still do it, because they were not facing any violent opposition from most of the Indian people. I feel that if there were a lot more people like Singh and Ramprasad Bismil, India could have gotten its independence sooner, because again Britain just didn't have the capabilities to sustain attacks on a large scale after WWII.
  6. Sep 30, 2007 #5
    Perhaps i would like to agree with you at this point..Gandhi was rather sort of a outstanding moral and spiritual figure with more regards to universal ethics..But he was such a poweful figure at that time in sense of dominating others, in his ability to get under the people's skin and consciences so that they found themselves moved,even if they were determined not to be.Perhaps the moral pressure broken the people's hearts and made them follow him.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: How Much of an Effect did Gandhi Really Have On Britain?