Public Lecture on Gandhi & Indian Nationalism by Prof. Salil MIshra

To commemorate 150 Years of Mahatma Gandhi, St Aloysius College (Autonomous), Mangaluru has organized a Public Lecture on “Gandhi & Indian Nationalism” on 16 November 2018 at Sanidhya Hall. Prof. Salil Mishra, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Ambedkar University, Delhi delivered the lecture. Prof. Valerian Rodrigues, Former Professor of Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi was the Moderator. Rev. Fr Dionysius Vaz SJ, Rector, St Aloysius Institutions, Mangaluru presided over the programme. Principal Rev. Dr Praveen Martis SJ and Registrar, Dr A.M. Narahari were present on the dais.

Prof. Salil Mishra, the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Amebedkar University Delhi delivered the public lecture on the topic ‘Gandhi and Indian Nationalism’ on 16 November 2018 at Sanidhya Hall. Prof. Mishra gave a very brief background of Mahatma Gandhi and his struggles for freedom in South Africa and later India. With this he proceeded with an analysis to establish how the Mahatma reconciled the Indian masses into making of Indian nation. Prof. Mishra said that when Gandhi emerged on the political scene of India he would have noticed three different imaginations on the making of India—British denial of nationhood, asserting the presence of an Indian nation, and modernity of Indian nation. Gandhi associated himself largely with this third imagination of being modern, processual, territorial, plural, inclusive, civil and non-coercive. Indian freedom struggle which was so far elitist was made popular by Gandhi. However he faced two problems when he took this imagination to the masses— that these progressive ideas would not be diluted by a diverse populace and second was the emergence of new popular politics based on class. Therefore Gandhi resorted to defining nationalism as practice of anti-imperialism and building of Indian unity. Prof. Mishra clarified Gandhi’s manner of defining the question of class, religion and internationalism. On the nationalist platform Gandhi was sufficiently inclusive of the class question but without diluting the nationalist focus; defined religion in such a manner that it did not become antithetical to Indian nationalism nor did it create openings for a religious nationalism, or a nationalism dominated by a single religion; and on the question of internationalism, he was able to locate Indian nationalism firmly within an international frame. His nationalism was a stepping stone, and not a stumbling block, in his pursuit for a pan-human solidarity.

Prof. Mishra concluded by saying that Gandhi was fully aware of the narrow, parochial and the negative possibilities within the nationalist politics. Therefore he constantly tried to steer Indian nationalism in a positive and pro-people direction. Prof. Mishra suggested that Gandhian ideals are relevant and Indians should reject monist imagination of nationalism and accept plural nationalism as practiced and conveyed to people by Gandhi.

Professor Valerian Rodrigues, former faculty at JNU, New Delhi moderated the session. The public lecture witnessed an enthusiastic audience whose queries were related to pan Christianity, relevance of Gandhi in modern times, false knowledge, Ambedkar, women’s entry into politics, legacy of Gandhi etc.

Fr. Dionysius Vaz S. J., the Rector of all Aloysian institutions presided over the program. Rev. Dr. Praveen Martis S.J., the Principal of St. Aloysius College (Autonomous) delivered the message. The convernor, Dr. Rose Veera D’Souza welcomed the gathering and Dr. Joyce Sabina Lobo thanked the gathering.