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'Putting The Record Straight In Favour Of Gandhi'

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Why this book? And why should a reader pick up this book?
In 2005, while I prepared for my doctorate in the Faculty of Communications at Salesian University, Rome, I considered analysing Gandhi’s communication ability to use cloth and clothing for India’s liberation. My aim was to use three theories of communication as a framework for the analysis. This study was published as, 'Clothing For Liberation (Sage, 2010). However, no such analysis would have been possible without first researching the history of Gandhi’s Swadeshi Movement. While doing this, I felt I needed to contrast Gandhi’s words and actions against the backdrop of what happened before and after his controversial historical interventions. And that’s why this book was necessary. Khadi: Gandhi’s Mega Symbol of Subversion is not just a historical account of the khadi movement. It is a detailed, multi-disciplinary study of the non-violent subversion of one man who conceived, designed and managed the largest sartorial communication revolution the world has ever seen.

What does the book mean to you?
The publication of this book and my previous work (Clothing For Liberation) is my way of putting the record straight in favour of Gandhi as the undisputed leader of the Indian National Movement for Independence. Others may have contributed their share to the socio-political struggle for Independence in different ways. But without Gandhi’s insistence on integrity and his constant appeal to symbolise it visually through khadi clothing in front of a watching world, India may never have been so powerfully and morally united to demand her legitimate right to be free. This book is also my way of reminding India of her noble and semiotically rich history -– an India where corruption has reached alarming proportions and where symbol-making is often used to divide and/or chase filthy lucre.

How difficult was it to put the book together?

The study and analysis of Gandhi’s use of khadi from a communication perspective was originally the topic of my doctoral thesis at the Salesian University, Rome in 2005. It was then elaborated and published as two books Clothing For Liberation in 2010 and the present work, Khadi: Gandhi’s Mega Symbol of Subversion. I worked on these publications while being fully engaged in teaching and guiding students at the University. The research in India took me to libraries across India: New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Nashik and Ahmedabad where I spent some time at Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram.

When and where do you write?

While I gather the data from significant sources located in various libraries, I put the material together at my desk in the quiet solitude of my room. The reflection on the data collected, however, takes place anywhere.

Where all did this book take you?
The research took me from libraries in Rome (my base, where I teach at the Salesian University) to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Nashik and Ahmedabad, over a period of 7 years, from 2005 to 2012.

Can you suggest another title to this book? Also give us a new blurb!
The Cloth that dethroned an Empire – Gandhi’s subversive symbolisation and its consequences.
This is a historical study of khadi -– the cloth of India’s liberation from British imperialism. It unravels the subversive nature of Gandhi’s sartorial communication from personal, eco-political, psycho-cultural, socio-religious and philosophical perspectives. This multidisciplinary viewpoint, along with the before-and-after technique to reveal the subversive impact of Gandhi’s Swadeshi Movement, powerfully demonstrates Gandhi’s unparalleled position in the history of human communication.

What’s your energy drink?

A glass of clean cool water.

What makes a book a really good read or a bestseller?

A book is a really good read when the author is able to engage the curiosity of his/her audience intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

A book is usually a best seller when the author is able to engage the emotional curiosity of his/her audience.

What are you reading now?
A doctoral dissertation on ‘peace journalism’ in Rwanda.

So, what’s next?
Probably, an article on ‘Gandhi and the Popes’?

(Compiled by Jinoy Jose P.)