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The shanti sena: philosophy, history and action

By: Weber, Thomas.
Publisher: Hyderabad Orient Blackswan 2009Description: 290 p.ISBN: 9788125036838.Subject(s): Peace - India - Societies | India - History - 20th century | Passive resistance - India | India - History - 1947DDC classification: 954 Summary: The recent large scale communal disturbances in India have prompted some older Gandhian's to voice the opinion that the time may have come to reactivate the Shanti Sena, Mahatma Gandhi's Peace Army, that did impressive work in promoting communal harmony between the late 1950s and the mid-1970s. Although the idea of a Shanti Sena was considered to be of fundamental importance by Gandhi, he had little success in setting it up in his lifetime. It took the foresight and efforts of Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan, and the organising ability of Narayan Desai. The history of this peace army that they brought into life and directed is not only an inspiring one, it is also important, given the rise in sectarian violence in India and the recent growth of international peace teams that looks to the Sena for motivation and guidance. Sena members worked in conflict resolution at the grassroots level and undertook peace missions during riots, convinced dacoits to turn themselves into authorities , carried out relief work following wars, experimented with nonviolent defence, conducted nonviolence training camps and even played a role in unarmed peacekeeping work in the international sphere. Relying on interviews with key participants and archival material, this thought provoking work contributes greatly to the study of a unique experiment in practical nonviolence. This is the first study of its kind that has chronicled in such detail the activities and history of the Shanti Sena during its most active years, and discussed the prospects for its reinvigoration.
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The recent large scale communal disturbances in India have prompted some older Gandhian's to voice the opinion that the time may have come to reactivate the Shanti Sena, Mahatma Gandhi's Peace Army, that did impressive work in promoting communal harmony between the late 1950s and the mid-1970s. Although the idea of a Shanti Sena was considered to be of fundamental importance by Gandhi, he had little success in setting it up in his lifetime. It took the foresight and efforts of Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan, and the organising ability of Narayan Desai. The history of this peace army that they brought into life and directed is not only an inspiring one, it is also important, given the rise in sectarian violence in India and the recent growth of international peace teams that looks to the Sena for motivation and guidance. Sena members worked in conflict resolution at the grassroots level and undertook peace missions during riots, convinced dacoits to turn themselves into authorities , carried out relief work following wars, experimented with nonviolent defence, conducted nonviolence training camps and even played a role in unarmed peacekeeping work in the international sphere. Relying on interviews with key participants and archival material, this thought provoking work contributes greatly to the study of a unique experiment in practical nonviolence. This is the first study of its kind that has chronicled in such detail the activities and history of the Shanti Sena during its most active years, and discussed the prospects for its reinvigoration.

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