Gandhi, bin Laden and the Global Chessboard

Anjum Altaf in The South Asian Idea:

ScreenHunter_01 May. 13 13.11 The thought of any connection between Osama bin Laden and Gandhi would not have occurred to me were it not for a remark in the much talked about biography of the latter by Joseph Lelyveld. At one point in the book, am I told, Lelyveld writes that “it would be simply wrong, not to say grotesque, to set up Gandhi as any kind of precursor to bin Laden.” The remark piqued my curiosity especially given the fact that it was written before the recent discovery and elimination of Osama. Clearly, Lelyveld was not cashing in on a coincidence. So what was it that provoked the comparison even if it were to be dismissed?

Let me state my conclusion at the outset: the personalities bear no comparison but the contextual similarities highlight major political issues that bear exploration and attention.

The word ‘precursor’ suggests clearly that it is the contextual similarity that prompts Lelyveld’s remark. To spell it out: the existence of a foreign oppressor; the emerging resistance to the oppression; the impotence of lawful resistance; the transition to mass agitation; its reliance on the wellsprings of religious humiliation; the ensuing conflict; and the resulting blowback.

More here.