The Gandhian vision of human security

The Gandhian vision of human security Human security is related to and drawn from the practice of international human development. Traditionally, embracing liberal market economics was considered to be the universal path for economic growth, and thus seen as a measure of development for all humanity


The birth of the territorial state in Europe encouraged the growth of the doctrine of statecentred security. The Gandhian vision of human security - National security became synonymous with territorial integrity. Later, this definition was broadened to include other elements of national concern like economic growth and societal cohesion, but territorial sovereignty continued to remain the enduring premise of national security. It must, however, be admitted that the concept of security has always been a contested domain. In fact, the lack of an agreed definition and varied theoretical approaches to examining security raises the question of how one defines security. The act of providing a definition includes some aspects and excludes others. This Unit deals with what should or should not be included, and debate about security since the end of the Cold War has been about.

With the end of the Cold War, and the collapse of the bi-polar world order, the quest for a new international system has invigorated the debate on alternate approaches to security. The Gandhian vision of human security Cold War definitions of security that are based on realism have privileged territorial sovereignty. They are now challenged by new theoretical constructs arguing for more representative cognitive structures of national and international security.

State: Threat to Human Security

The creation and defence of the Westphalian state form is at the heart of regional insecurity (Swatuk and Vale, 1999). This view clearly goes too far in asking for intervention as the first choice, and is, at least, for the time being, not acceptable within the kind of paradigm that is taking shape. The Gandhian vision of human security - Further, power in international relations continues to maintain the salience it has enjoyed for centuries. The Gandhian vision of human security While outlining the human security construct in a way that brings closer an agenda for action, we cannot pretend that in the post Cold War world, the role of the state, once expressed primarily through military, political and economic power, and now increasingly expressed as a supplement, through the power of the concept of human security, is about to be abandoned; or that the importance of power has disappeared. This is precisely what Gandhi argued.

Gandhi argued that there is no element of moral spontaneity in the state. Therefore Gandhi had no love for the organised institutions of political power. He accepted, instead, the worth of the plasticity and spontaneity generated by non-violence. The compulsiveness of the commands of the state leads to the destruction of the plasticity and subtlety of personality. The Gandhian vision of human security , Hence Gandhi said : “ I look upon an increase in the power of the State with the greatest fear, because, although while apparently doing good by minimising exploitation, it does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality, which lies at the root of all progress”. This is what a large number of exponents of human security are advocating.

Security vis-à-vis other Disciplines

The second principle is that while setting the borders, there should be just a few simple rules about the way security intersects with the other disciplines involved like humanitarian law, human rights, gender studies etc,. The Gandhian vision of human security.

There needs to be some recognisable features of traditional security analysis in the effort to securitise anything. There has to be a present existential or a real future anticipated threat in the field concerned, and the threat should be sufficiently grave for emergency action of an extreme kind to be taken; normal methods should not apply.

An International Locus

The third principle is that the concept must have an international locus. The promotion of human security in a particular situation should be susceptible to agreement by the international community that has a responsibility in the matter.

There is in fact, a widening spectrum of developments which happen in one country but which concern others through a number of ways. For example a conflict or natural disaster in one country spills over to its neighbours and can have international effects. These require international relief efforts, or the work of NGOs or a donor-recipient relationship. The Gandhian vision of human security.

But the areas of disagreement are also wide, human rights, refugees, and the use of resources being examples. Hence, two things are required for this international locus. A set of universally acceptable values, and an agreed pattern of implementing international action, through firefighting or long term peace building is therefore necessary.

This leads one from nationalism to internationalism. Gandhi was intensely attached to the concept of Indian Nationalism. But he was also an internationalist and always emphasised his role as a citizen of the world. He was a great national leader but was also unsurpassed for his love of humanity. In Gandhi, despite his nationalist preoccupations the dominant concepts were truth, non-violence and purity

Gandhi’s internationalism was only a sociological and political application of the great norm of Ahimsa which means universal non-hatred and non-violence. Buddha and St. Francis showed the tender care for the meanest creatures of the world. Their love extended also to the animal kingdom. Gandhi, like them, believed in the doctrine of absolute and universal compassion for all living beings. A believer in God naturally has the feeling of identity with all creatures because all are the creations of God. Gandhi was never tired of repeating that men could receive divine grace and affection only if they loved their brethren.


The Gandhian Vision of human security can be summed up as under. The protection of individual welfare is more important than the state. If the security of individuals is threatened internally by the state or externally by other states, state authority can be overridden.

The Gandhian vision of human security - Addressing the root causes of humanitarian crises (e.g. economic, political or social instability) is a more effective way to solve problems and protect the long-term security of individuals. Prevention is the best solution.

Q1. Critically examine Gandhian Vision of Human Security.

Q2. What is the difference between Traditional and Gandhian Vision of Human Security?


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