Thursday, November 9, 2017

Jaffe on Gandhi, Lawyers & the Court boycott

James Jaffe, University of Wisconsin, has published "Gandhi, Lawyers, and the Courts' Boycott during the Non-Cooperation Movement" in Modern Asian Studies 51:5, 1340-68.
Here's the abstract:

This article analyses the role of the legal profession and the evolution of aspects of Indian nationalist ideology during the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1920–22. Very few legal professionals responded to Gandhi's call to boycott the British courts despite significant efforts to establish alternative institutions dedicated to resolving disputes. First identified by leading legal professionals in the movement as courts of arbitration, these alternative sites of justice quickly assumed the name ‘panchayats’. Ultimately, this panchayat experiment failed due to a combination of apathy, repression, and internal opposition. However, the introduction of the panchayat into the discourse of Indian nationalism ultimately had profound effects, including the much later adoption of constitutional panchayati raj. Yet this discourse was then and remains today a contested one. This is largely a legacy of Gandhi himself, who, during the Non-Cooperation Movement, imagined the panchayat as a judicial institution based upon arbitration and mediation. Yet, after the movement's failure, he came to believe the panchayat was best suited to functioning as a unit of village governance and administration.