Mahatma Gandhi used soft power to defeat much stronger adversary: Ajit Doval

NEW DELHI — Mahatma Gandhi was a great strategist who used soft power to defeat a much stronger adversary, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval said on Friday.

Speaking at the launch of veteran journalist and former Union minister M J Akbar’s book ‘Gandhi, A Life in Three Campaigns’, he said, “Power is your ability to affect the adversary in a way you want it to be affected. If I want you to do something and you do what I want you to do. That is the power that I yield over you.”

The Second World War and (subsequent) wars started proving that brute military power was the most cost-ineffective instrument of achieving political objectives, Doval said.

“Whether Americans tried it in Vietnam or the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, they were asymmetric power, but they found that lesser powers were able to vanquish them,” he said.

There have been very few examples where the soft power has been able to dominate the hard power of asymmetric warfare, Doval said, adding, “Gandhi was a very perfect practitioner of that.”

“He realised that his moral force… What we call soft power today is moral force, the force and power of your civilization, your culture, that will be able to defeat a much more powerful hard power,” the National Security Adviser said.

“Probably Gandhi was a great strategician. He could understand that in an asymmetrical war, probably his tools will have to be different,” he said and asserted that Mahatma Gandhi was one of the few who could successfully use soft power to defeat a much stronger adversary.

He said more research and work was being done now on how great powers start becoming dominant powers by exercising soft power.

“This actually started in the 90s with the Soviet Union disintegrating and the United States emerging as a single power but being dominated increasingly by the new power centres.” Doval said at that time Joseph Nye came out with the concept that the United States will continue to dominate with its soft power.

Addressing the book launch event, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan said Mahatma Gandhi was the inheritor of the spiritual legacy of India, “the interpreter of India’s ancient yet dynamic culture and the prophet of a new humanism”.

“He was the first to transform the cultural and spiritual oneness into political unity and employ this new unity to give a determined fight to the powerful British empire through nonviolent means,” Khan said.

Union Minister Hardeep Puri lauded the book, and said, “I think 11,000 books have already been written on Gandhiji… But here are still aspects to him which need to be understood.” — (PTI)