Social movements play a large role in the political and social aspects of not only America, but the world. They bring many issues to light, push for political solution and portray human diversity through their view on these issues. Although this is not well known, social movements have brought about many of the laws and government reforms. Some movements may not get as much media or national attention, but they got the attention of the people who mattered: those in political power. One movement in particular that gathered a great deal of attention from around the world was the Indian Independence Movement, also known as Indian Nationalism.
The Indian Independence Movement spanned from 1857 until 1947. India was too familiar with foreign rulers, racism, religious confinement, and many other oppressive systems and decided to bring Indian culture back. They began by forming the Indian National Congress as their central network, along with other tactics, to work towards regaining their country from Britain. Leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, encouraged followers to unite and embrace their culture, which was something new for India. He utilized peaceful protest tactics, including marches and week long fasts. He is considered one of the most important factors in the triumph of India over Britain. (Singh, 1985) Although many assume that violent force and speedy action lead to changes in the world, the Indian Independence Movement displays that ideological change can be made through peaceful, nonviolent protest.
The first step towards analyses of a social movement tactic, in this case peaceful protest, would be to define it. In the article The Meanings of Non-Violence, author Gene Sharp discusses the different types of non-violence. He mentions that some people only see other non-violent protestors for what they do, not what they believe in. He quotes many individuals, which displayed the variance between the types of non-violence.
He talks a bit about Gandhi, discussing how distinguished between at least two types of non-violence. Gandhi considered his South African protest movement to be “passive resistance” but, refused to bring this title to the Indian Independence Movement. According to Sharp, passive resistance is a way of controlling conflicts by essentially harassing the opponent, until change is made (Sharp, 1959:53). Gandhi refuted the title and stated, “. . .I found that the term ‘passive resistance’ was too narrowly construed, that it was supposed to be a weapon of the weak, that it could be characterized by hatred, and that it could finally manifest itself as violence” (Sharp, 1959:43).
Gandhi’s later movement is considered to be peaceful resistance which, as Gandhi mentioned, differs from passive resistance. According to Sharp, peaceful and passive resistance are similar in the fact that they both aim to conduct conflicts in order to bring about change. The only difference is, those who participate in peaceful resistance consider it to be more moral than violence. It is more active than passive resistance, using strategy and tactics rather than simply removing themselves from situations. In an introduction to a collection of Gandhi’s writing was a note that read, “It is a far cry. . .from pacifism to Gandhiji’s idea of non-violence. While pacifism hopes to get rid of war, chiefly by refusing to fight and by carrying on propaganda against war, Gandhiji goes much deeper and sees that war cannot be avoided, so long as the seeds of it remain in man’s breast and grow and develop in his social, political and economic life. Gandhiji’s cure is, therefore, very radical and far-reaching. It demands nothing less than rooting out violence from oneself and from one’s environment” (Gene, 1959:43).
Gandhi based these differences on the conviction of the separate groups, considering the goals and affect of the Indian movement to have a much