Gandhi’s grandson calls for end to punishment

Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson has called on the world to abandon punishment at a lecture in Edinburgh.

The non-violence activist spoke of the “passive violence” that plagues society, arguing that restorative justice rather than imprisonment was the best way to reform criminals.

The New York-based campaigner travels the world to preach his message of non-violence, with the belief that only a global effort will achieve that aim.

Speaking at the lecture, organised by Scottish community justice organisation SACRO, he said: “Justice should not mean punishment, it should mean transforming the individual.”

He went on to speak of how all actions are rooted in violence, be they “physical” or “passive”, adding, in relation to justice: “Would I be hurt by it or helped by it?”

The socio-political activist added his belief that most crime is rooted in inequality. He said: “People who are marginalised are angry.

“By calling them criminals, we de-humanise them; they are human beings.”

He added that he did not believe in the abolition of prisons, but that they should be redefined as places for rehabilitation.

Mr Gandhi cited much of his upbringing as being the root of his belief. He recounted that his parents would inflict punishment on themselves should he misbehave as a child, notably by not eating, while he would eat in front of them.

He said that a “non-punishing culture starts at home”.

Tom Halpin, Chief Executive of SACRO said: “It was a privilege to hear [Arun’s] message; the real inspiration lies in the stories.

“It allows people to become ‘peace-farmers’ and to take that message in to the future.”

He added that Mr Gandhi’s ideas were “not about being soft on crime” but “allowing people to transform and move on”.