By Dr. Moushumi Datta
Nagindas Khandwala College, Mumbai.
Thoughts of Gandhi Reinforced into the Current Economic Scenario:
Gram Swaraj (Village Republic)
Gandhi laid emphasis on the fact that India lived in villages and that only through their salvation India could regain her glory and prosperity. His concept of Gram Swaraj or Gram Raj (Village Republic) can be interpreted from his idea of Soul-force. He used to say that India's soul lives in villages. To Gandhi, villages were the basic units of social organisation. The villages should therefore be self-sufficient in the matters of their vital requirements. He felt that in the villages, the means of production of elementary necessities of life must be as easily available to all as air and water and were not to be a vehicle of traffic for exploitation of others. Gandhi was against the idea of massive and indiscriminate industrialisation of the Western variety because that would be harmful to society, as all persons could not be provided with work. He favoured the idea of decentralisation of production and nationalisation of big industries and factories. He argued for the concept of State ownership of major means of production and wealth. He favoured the idea of autonomous and self-contained villages in which there would be intimate human relationships and self-rule through village Panchayats having executive, legislative and judicial powers.
Thus, we may sum up that the structure of Gandhian economy would be labour intensive and not capital intensive. There would be decentralised system of planning production and decision-making. The planning model based on Gandhian ideology would be built on the economic principles like non violent ownership, non violent production or appropriate technology, non-possession, non violent work or bread-labour, co-operation, equality, self-reliant village, economy and simplicity and limited wants. This model of Gandhian economy would be founded on a non violent, non-exploitative and egalitarian social order guided by the fundamental principle of Sarvodaya (welfare of all). It has been said that Gandhi's philosophy of Swadeshi has ultimately led to the concept of self-reliance as a major objective of Indian planning. Real planning, Gandhi wrote consist of best utilisation of the entire manpower of India. Gandhi always stressed on the human factor in economic development. According to Gandhi the supreme consideration is man. In order to provide full employment opportunities to the people, he emphasised spread and expansion of Khadi and village industries network in the country. Gandhi believed in the body-labour or bread-labour theory and emphasised that each man should do bodily or physical labour to satisfy his most essential needs. He pioneered the cause of spinning as the only ready means of driving away penury.
•Providing education to every citizen of the world
•Healthcare at local levels
•Infrastructure and communication connecting the remotest part of the world will create demand adequate to remove worldwide recession.
•Migration back from developed to developing countries and from cities to villages will reduce burden on big cities and towns.
•Jobs to be created at local levels, leading to growth in demand.
Gandhi believed that growth and self sufficiency at the grassroot level is required. The world, in the next twenty years, will slowly look the place and economics Gandhi believed in. Probably hundred years after Gandhi's death, his views on economics and the way forward will be a come reality. Mahatma Gandhi gave India its freedom - freedom from bondage, slavery, imperialism. Britain ruled India for a long time until Gandhi emerged on the scene to bring the country under its own rule. In today's world Gandhi is more relevant than ever before and his thoughts and insights will once again help in the world in getting freedom from poverty, tyranny and terrorism.
There is nothing to prevent us from profiting by the light that may come from the West. Only we must take care that we are not overpowered by the glamour of the West. We must not mistake the glamour for true light.
- Mahatma Gandhiji.