Dr. Judith M. Brown

Hartal is a word unknown to western dictionaries. It is not defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary app, for example.

Hartal, as used in English now, is a term derived from the Gujarati language. It was popularised by Mahatma Gandhi whose native language was Gujarati. This usage of the term hartal has spread to Malaysia.

Hartal is a traditional expression of mourning by stopping work. Inspiration came to Gandhi in the early hours of one morning to use it as a political tool. He called for hartal i.e., a general strike whereby all workers will down tools, all shops and businesses will close. It’s intended to achieve a political aim.

(See page 130 Gandhi Prisoner of Hope by Judith Brown 1991 paperback ed)

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