ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Gandhi as an Exemplar?

Akeel Bilgrami’s theorisation of M K Gandhi as an exemplar who, by his actions, sets “examples” for others explains the exemplar morality of Gandhi as non-violent, as no moral criticism is generated when examples are not set, and contrasts it with the morality based on universalisable principles, which causes contempt, hostility, and violence when the principles fail to universalise. This paper questions the exemplar thesis and shows that it does not explain how satyagraha as a political strategy could be both exemplary and political, that the conception of non-violence which inheres the thesis is deficient, and that the assumption that universalisable principles coerce others is not true insofar as Kant’s categorical imperative is made to represent the principle-based morality. It also argues that reading Gandhi as an exemplar is inconsistent with his view of swaraj.


Satyagraha as a Public Responsibility

Gandhi and the Champaran Satyagraha: Select Readings edited by Suranjan Das, Delhi: Primus Books, 2022, pp xx+859, `1,995.

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