The beginning of the twentieth century was marked by a string of events that have changed the course of the world’s history. In this respect, the World War I can be regarded as an event of extreme historical, cultural, political, economic, and social importance. The system of causes and effects associated with the WWI can be characterized as by all means complex. India’s becoming and independent state and Mahatma Gandhi’s coming to power can be viewed as the events positively associated with the change of the world order after WWI. Mahatma Gandhi attempted to transform the Indian society and elaborate the adequate and effective strategies of political and economic advancement of the developing countries. In addition to that, Gandhi has also paid close attention to preserving the cultural identity of the developing countries. Mahatma Gandhi’s views have influenced that of the cohort of politicians who are nowadays addressed as the proponents of nonviolence. Furthermore, Gandhi’s style of administration has paved a way for India’s becoming a prosperous unitary country.
Small Acts of Amazing Courage is piece of historical fiction. The book was written by Gloria Whelan. The book was designed for children mostly. The novel tells the story of teenage girl, Rosalind Hartley. Rosalind is the novel’s protagonist. Rosalind’s father is a soldier of the British Army who reunites with the end of the WWI. The family lost another child, Rosalind’s brother, when they have sent him to study in Britain. Apparently, Rosalind’s mother is reluctant to allow her to go to Britain so that she could study in the boarding school there. Rosalind befriends the family servant’s daughter, Isha. The girls’ greatest delight is visiting Indian bazaar, which they do secretly, of course (Whelan 8). Rosalind’s parents do not approve of her visits to bazaar, as well as her choice of friend (Whelan 9, 68). One of the dialogues in the novel reads:
“What is the Rowlatt Act?”
“It is a very unfair thing done by the British, Miss Hartley. It says you can imprison
someone without a trial” (Whelan 185).
Building on that particular quote, it is possible to assume the novel itself is historically accurate and abounds with facts. On the other hand, the work is a piece of historical of fiction. This means that none of the events described and statements made in it can be taken for granted.
The quote as follows presumably illustrates the author’s attitude towards the British imperialist policies in India:
We Indians have all learned the blessings given to us by the British. In my school in India
I had to list them on my examination paper. I can still recite them: public health, law and
order, schools, roads, irrigation works, bridges, telegraphs, and railways (Whelan 185).
Assuming the fact that under British administration the people of India were introduced to law and order, modern means of communication and farming, infrastructure, and public health is scientifically accurate, one can assume the following. It cannot be denied that the British rule of India has both its positive and negative aspects. Positive consequences of British administration of India are self-evident. All the negative aspects, in their turn, are of ethical and philosophical nature.
Rosalind Hartley is interested in studying the works of Mahatma Gandhi, a leader with whom the beginning of the independence and sovereignty of India is associated in the first place. Rosalind’s parents do not approve of their daughter’s freethinking either. Circumstantially, the author of the novel as if implies that Mahatma Gandhi should not be celebrated for what he wrote, but rather for what he believed in, what he did for India to become a state compatible with his ideals of nonviolence, cooperation, compassion, and kindness.
Gandhi stressed upon the importance of “rejuvenation of decentralized rural industry of cottage industry and village arts and crafts” (Pathak 375). According to Gandhi, the latter could have become a solution to all the problems he and his contemporaries ere facing at their time, as well to those the future generation might encounter (Pathak 375). Gandhian model of conceiving life can be characterized as environmentally conscious (Pathak 375). Even though Mahatma Gandhi did not address the environmental problems and their solutions directly, he considered alienation from nature the primary cause of all challenges dealt. Mahatma stood opposed to the western model of industrialization and consumerism. Solving the economic, social, and environmental problems, in Gandhi’s view, was made possible through maintaining harmony between mankind and nature (Pathak 374). Thus, the politician and philosopher introduced the notion of ‘Swaraj’. The concept was coined to denote “…termination of … self-rule” (Pathak 374). Swaraj aims at attaining ‘Sarvodaya’ and nonviolence (Pathak 374). Sarvodaya, in its turn, determines the key principles of self-realization as a means of elaborating the solutions to the most burning problems of any kind (Pathak 374). Non-violence, according to Gandhi, implies goodwill, suppression of anger and hatred, and love of a life that exists (Pathak 374). All things considered, Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings have influenced the contemporaries’ conception of the link between them and nature.
In his lifetime and life’s work, Mahatma Gandhi mostly attempted “to be consistent with truth”, which is why the politician and philosopher managed to save his memory “an undue strain” (as cited in Morris-Jones 204). As a thinker and a political leader, Gandhi was sensitive to environment and concerned about the very essence of human systems (Morris-Jones 204). Instead, Gandhi chose to rely on experimenting and “the intuitive discretion” as one of the essentials of leadership (Morris-Jones 204). Gandhi’s leadership style combined individual approach, attempt to rationally explain the causes of the events, non-violence, and searching for the truth (Morris-Jones 204). Therefore, as the politician and philosopher, Gandhi succeeded create an effective mechanism of political change.
In addition to that, employing the notion of ‘satya’, the practical implementation of it, has become another distinctive feature of Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership style (Morris-Jones 220). Satya means the truth. Its root morpheme, ‘sat’ is used to denote the word ‘being’ (Morris-Jones 220). Thus, all that exists has its own truth, and each and every being is the truth (Morris-Jones 220). Gandhi connected truth and non-violence through the idea of God, whose essence is pure love (Morris-Jones 220). All things considered, Mahatma Gandhi made attempt to pacify peoples and religious groups, to unite their efforts in searching for the truth and by so doing, urge them to abandon violence.
The concept of satya presupposes that “the greatest truth is the unity of all life” (Dhawan 2). Building on that, it is possible to assume that Gandhi’s political and religious ideas considered non-violent service for the good of other people a duty. Satya is associated with the virtues as follows: Brah-macharya (an act of controlling senses, passions, and impulses); fearlessness; weakening the acquired impulses of proprietorship; Swadeshi (attending to immediate duties); fighting the inferiority and superiority complexes; equal treatment of different nations, ethnicities, peoples, and religions (Dhawan 3). Gandhi had faith in human nature for he believed is steady, unstoppable, and gradual development of human souls and its capacities (Dhawan 3). Building on that, the following principles may determine non-violent democracies: absence of exploitation, equality, freedom of will, and the voluntary simplicity (Dhawan 4). Man’s mission is to serve the others. Hence, all that violates that kind of order of things should be handled immediately (Dhawan 4-5). All in all, in his works Gandhi contemplated the political dimension of non-violence. The politician and thinker approved of the advancement of science and technology for the benefit of people (Dhawan 5). At the same time, Gandhi realized that there is some risk that humans may become inferior to their inventions. Mahatma Gandhi pondered his own place in society. With regard to this, he viewed the position he took as a possibility to do honorably by his people and give them a better life, peaceful and prosperous.
Mahatma Gandhi is referred to as one of the most influential and prominent political leaders of the twentieth century. His ideas are topical and relatable to modern societies. In other words, they remain relevant today and may be regarded as the possible solutions to the most topical and pressing problems. As the political figure and the philosopher, Mahatma Gandhi has managed to combine leadership, religion, and the philosophy of environmentalism. Gandhi was responsive to the problems his contemporaries and he himself were challenged by. His mode of thinking was global and still he intended to act locally for the good of his people. Gandhi’s ideas and virtuous life earned him the love of contemporaries and future generations. People continue paying homage to him to these days. Small Acts of Amazing Courage, a novel by Gloria Whelan, (even though it tells the story of the girl who obeyed her parents but was brave enough to stand up for what she felt was right) refers to Gandhi a wise person and a political leader. The novel is worth reading and it may become the beginning of an acquaintance to the ideals of peace, freedom, tolerance, and environmental consciousness, all of which were promoted by Mahatma Gandhi.