Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gandhi - History 174c UCLA

In Vinay Lal's previous course, History of India, there was about half a lecture about M.K. Gandhi; in the latest course, The history of British India - UCLA (feed), that I just finished listening to, there is sufficiently more attention to India's most famous nationalist.

Already when Lal arrives in his chronological narrative at the late nineteenth century, there is a short high-light - just to let you know that Gandhi is born and goes, as so many Indian intellectuals, to England to study law. But Gandhi was to disappear from India and Indian history for a longer span of time. For about twenty years he was to spend his life in South-Africa. Only by 1915 he was to return to India. He'd return, as Lal, puts it, not as an overly famous, but certainly a known Indian. From there he made a fast career in the ranks of the Indian National Congress and he was to dominate the party even when he was no longer holding an official position.

Recently on Radio Open Source, Amartya Sen stated something also Lal emphasizes in this course and this may come as new fact about Gandhi for the average reader and listener. Gandhi's was ardently anti-modern, up to the point he was even against rail-roads - an example that is pointed out by both Sen and Lal. Within the wider framework of his philosophy, I suppose, this is a very complex element for especially westerners (see also Introduction to nonviolence), but also for Indians to deal with. Hence it is an important issue to be aware of.

More History of India:
A story of India,
History of British India,
The search goes on.