While exploring the methods of nonviolent advocacy practiced by Gandhi and the nonviolent movement for Indian independence, I began to note the consistent occurrence of control within the strategies of Indian protestors. We can easily identify a sense of control in all of the methods adopted by the movement.
Perhaps the most prominent element of Gandhian nonviolence was the imperative refusal to fight back against violence. Gandhi and his methods of nonviolence for social and political change acquired a great deal of influence over the Indian masses to restrain them from violence.
This nonviolence required protestors to resist the natural instinct to protect one’s self or fight back in self-defense, thus demonstrating an incredible amount of self-control. Self-control is also evident in the nonviolent method of fasting. Gandhi is very well known for his various fasts throughout the movement’s duration. Fasting requires a significant amount of self-control and clearly demonstrates control over one’s own body and actions.
In addition to self-control, members of the movement also demonstrated control over others, more specifically, control over the British opposition. In order to do so, nonviolent resisters voluntarily and knowingly put themselves in situations that guaranteed physical harm or even fatal consequences. They knew that the British authorities would be angered by their disobedience, and further angered by their willingness to be brutally beaten. They also knew that in many cases, their attackers would not be able to viciously assault defenseless and innocent protestors without feeling ashamed. In this way, Gandhi and members of the movement controlled the emotions of their British opposition. A serious amount of control is identifiable in the way that nonviolent resistors could predict and inflict certain emotions and reactions.
Gandhi and the nonviolent further demonstrated a sense of control over those around them and the society around them through boycotting. By refusing to purchase British-made products such as salt and cloth, Indian protestors partially controlled the economic success of the British East India Company, limiting its profits. In some ways, the new domestic production of these products allowed members of the movement to control the dynamics of the Indian economy as well.