Constructive Program

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Constructive Program (CP) is a term coined by Mahatma Gandhi to describe one of the two branches of his satyagraha, the other being some form on nonviolent resistance, e.g. civil disobedience, sometimes referred to as "obstructive program". CP is a way of carrying out a struggle through community and self-improvement by building structures, systems, processes, and resources that are alternatives to oppression and promote self-sufficiency and unity in the resisting community.

Though not as well known as his nonviolent resistance programs, Gandhi recognized the value of constructive program and used it successfully as early as the first year of his campaigns in South Africa, 1894. In fact, the value of CP in the struggle for the independence of India cannot be overemphasized, as he described civil disobedience as "an aid to constructive effort." [1] Gandhi wrote to his friend and supporter, Jamnalal Bajaj, saying, "My real politics is constructive work." [2]

Contemporary nonviolent struggles often lack constructive program, which could easily be integrated and enable them to be proactive, maintain continuity of effort when direct resistance is not possible, and convince the public and opposition that they are not simply disruptive but have the capacity to build as well. Most importantly constructive program can build alternative institutions so that a successful insurrection does not lead merely to a power vacuum that lets oppression back in, as for example in Egypt after the otherwise successful overthrow of President Mubarak in 2011.[3]


  1. ^ Gandhi, M. K. (1948). Constructive Programme: Its Meaning and Place (2nd ed.). Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, page 1. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Nayar, Pyarelal and Sushila, (1991). In Gandhi's Mirror. Dehli: Oxford University Press, page 268.
  3. ^ Nagler, Michael, (2014). The Nonviolence Handbook. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, Pages 33-38.


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