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Mindful Justice: The Search for Gandhi’s Sympathetic State After Bhopal
Social Justice Research (2015)
  • Nehal A. Patel

One of the most startling examples of unmitigated disaster occurred in Bhopal, India, in 1984, when a Union Carbide pesticide plant exploded tons of methyl isocyanate into the air, killing 3800 people overnight. 30 years later, the plant site has not been remediated, and the estimated death toll from the explosion now has reached over 20,000. Disaster victims repeatedly have sought relief directly from the government. Yet, the Indian and US governments and Union Carbide have refused to provide the necessary resources for proper remediation. In this Article, I examine the state’s response to the Bhopal disaster using the thought of Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi explicitly critiqued the state-corporate violence endemic to the global political economy. Yet, Gandhi’s Theory of the State, Critique of Industrialization, and Theory of Trusteeship largely have been neglected by modern scholars of disaster studies. I propose that scholars engage more deeply with Gandhi’s focus on reforming the state’s values and goals. I conclude that Gandhi’s thought ultimately leads to the conclusion that, for the foreseeable future, modern states will have violent elements, but through the models of Tibetan and Bhutanese government and the use of meditative practices, the modern state can begin to create nonviolent agencies that respond non-coercively to disaster and temper the state’s violent elements. In addition, I illustrate how Gandhi’s Theory of Satyagraha works in conjunction with his Theory of the State to accomplish state reform.

  • Disaster,
  • Bhopal,
  • State,
  • Mindful,
  • Reform,
  • Gandhi,
  • Social change
Publication Date
September, 2015
Publisher Statement
The attached file is an accepted manuscript. The published Article is in Social Justice Research, Vol. 28 (2015), DOI 10.1007/s11211-015-0245-7, available at
Citation Information
Nehal A. Patel. "Mindful Justice: The Search for Gandhi’s Sympathetic State After Bhopal" Social Justice Research Vol. 28 (2015)
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