Sunday, 1 April 2012

Relevance Of Gandhian Ideas In 21st Century

 Shambhu Nath Tiwari

            Modern world is equipped with scientific and technological advancements. Gandhi's image now features in advertising campaigns for everything from Apple computers to Mont Blanc pens. When the film "Gandhi" swept the Oscars in 1983, posters for the film proclaimed that "Gandhi's triaumph changed the world forever.
            Mahatma Gandhi-led global change rests principally on the American civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, adopted Satyagraha as both precept and method. In leading the struggle. To break down segregation in the southern US, king used non-violence more effectively than anyone else outside India. "Hate begets hate. Violence begets violence" He memorably declared. "We must meet the forces of hate with soul force."
            Martin Luther King Jr. avowed that "the Gandhian method of non-violent resistance became the guiding force of our movement. Christ furnished the spirit and motivation, while Mahatma Gandhi furnished the method. During visit of India visit in Nov, 2010 Barak Obama told parliament that were it not for Gandhi, he would not be standing there as America's president. Mahatma Gandhi, as a moral being, may not be present among us, but he has been constantly guiding as an inspiration, an illuminated light on almost all the diversified issues that an individual, a society or the state may come across. Gandhi need not be seen as an individual, but as a movement, a phenomenon and a light removing darkness from each and every walk of life. Wherever there is a struggle for survival, wherever there is injustice, poverty, hunger illiteracy, inequality and darkness, Gandhiji showed a road to light The greatest heritage he left is spiritual force that triumphed over the roar of guns and the might of the aggressors. His spirituality was based upon non-violence which promotes love and fearlessness.
             Now a days the world is be set with the war on terror, ethnic conflicts and economic depression, more and more people across the world seem to be seeking solace in Gandhi's non-violence and simplicity. So it comes as no surprise that, in December 2005, a bust of Gandhi ji was installed at Belgrade in Serbia, a city that was witnessed to horrendous blood-letting till few years ago. A few months ago, a similar memorial for Gandhi ji had come up outside the Cypriot Parliament House in Nicosia for its lawmakers to draw inspiration.
            Whether it is the capital of strongman-ruled Kazakhstan or the Mexican city of Guadalajara fighting a bloody war against the drugs trade, Gandhi's life-size image is not felt to be out of place by its inhabitants.
            The installation of his statues in city council offices public parks and universities shows that Mahatma Gandhi may have been a staunch critic of the developed world and its consumerism but the weight of his moral philosophy has not been lost on the First world. Houston, New York, Sydney, Nothingham, Vancouver, Antwerp and Genoa are among cities that requested Gandhi in stone or bronze in the past few years. All requests are made through the local Indian diplomatic missions.
            The statues and busts are sent by Indian council of cultural Relations (ICCR), set up in 1950 by another Gandhian himself, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. (ICCR)  Mandate is to foster respect for Indian culture, in other countries and it's select group of sculptors have been kept busy as the world continues to rediscover Gandhi six decades after his death Slovenia was the latest entrant to the list when a life size bronze statue of the Mahatma sitting in a Meditative posture was unveiled at the Slovene Gradic Municipality earlier this year.
            Mahatma Gandhi also dreamt of a world without wars, a society without superstition, factories without forced labour, a non-violent, non-exploiting social and economic order, education as an  agent of change; As he put it: in the new millennium there shall be enough for every body's need but not for everybody's greed. Mahatma Gandhi has never been student of economics in any school, college or university, yet he was an economist of the highest order. He developed the doctrine of Trusteeship in the Tolstoy and the phoenix farm in South Africa. It was a great success. Gandhiji often said that his idea of "Trusteeship" would finish capitalism without finishing the capitalists.
            Gandhiji opposed modern industrialisation on a mass scale because it leads to many insoluble problems such as the exploitation of the villagers, urbanisation,environmental pollution etc. Gandhiji opined that manufacturing to be done in villages and by the villagers. This would keep the majority of people of India fully employed; they would be able to meet their basic needs and would remain self-reliant. Even modern machines could be used provided they did not lead to unemployment and become the means of exploitation.
            Mahatma Gandhi considered the prevailing industrialisation as a disease. 'Let us not be deceived by catchwords and phrases; he admonished. Modern machines' are in no way indispensable for the permanent welfare of human race. Gandhiji was not against machinery as such; he was against industrialism, i.e. industrial and mechanical mentality. "Industrialisation is, I am afraid, going to be curse for mankind. Exploitation of one nation by another can not go on for all time. Industrialism depends entirely on your capacity to exploit India, when it begins to exploit other nation- as it must if it becomes industrialised- will be a curse for other nations, a menace for the world".
            Education:-Gandhiji's purpose of education is to establish a non-violent, non-exploiting social order and all other purposes are sub-servient to it. Education, he said, was not mere literacy; it was an all-round development of mind, body and soul. It was craft-oriented where hand played a vital role. He called it a 'thinking hand' which has more than anything else guided the evolution of man and society and therefore, the whole education of man be imparted through the medium of basic handicraft. Only such an education can realise the goals of freedom, equality and brotherhood.
            Mahatma Gandhi viewed that the education system in India is needed to enable the learners to provide themselves system, though their own efforts, mean for a healthy, decent cultural existence and train not only their intellect but also their physical and spiritual faculties. Gandhian way of the "thinking hand" was that what men and women do with their hands in order to live, conditions their thinking and behaviour and entire outlook more than what they are tought by words of mouth.
            Adult education: Adult education under Gandhian scheme of Nai Taleem will be given orally especially in the mother tongue. The National literacy mission embibed the Gandhian concept of mobilization and voluntarism but the broader aspect of Gandhian education has yet to be implemented. Gandhian secularism was not religious illiteracy or religion against science. According to Gandhi adult education should aim at scientific temper which should remove superstition, blind acceptance of things and situations.
            Ideas on the Economy:- Mahatma Gandhi's economic thought revolves around the following normative ideas:-
(i) Economic process must work towards equality and non-exploitation,
(ii) It must be consistent with full employment,
(iii)It must provide low priced consumer goods which satisfy the needs of the people,
(iv) All those industries with sophisticated technology must be in the pubic sector.
(v) No mass production without equal distribution.
            Two cardinal principles in Gandhian economic philosophy are the promotion of equality together with social justice. For this purpose the three principles which he prescribed are:-
(a) Economic policies to be pursued on need base and not on the want base,
(b) Inequality arises with irrational desires to have more than what one wants,
(c) In technologically advanced countries, people do not consume goods in the same proportion they produce; labour intense technologies are to be preferred to the capital intensive ones.
            Mahatma Gandhi's "Swadeshi" (use of things produced locally) was the bed-rock of freedom. The mission of his life was to make India a self-reliant and self-sufficient. Before British rule, India used to export 30 lakh rupees worth of hand woven cloth every year. During British rule all exports came to a halt and, as in a reverse process, India spent 60 crore rupees every year to buy British export. The Indian weavers lost their occupation, become tillers of soil and were totally impoverished. A viceroy was appalled at this situation and remarked that the bones of cotton weavers are preaching the plains of India. "The misery hardly finds a parallel in the history of commerce". Gandhiji decided to stop the import of alien cloths. He decided to revive hand weaving.
            According to Mahatma Gandhi Charkha stood for dignity of labour, mutual co-operation, its music soothes the ears as against the noise of the mill. Charkha he said was like the sun around which all village handicrafts revolved. Besides it was a wheel of freedom.
            Theory of Trusteeship- The original contribution of Mahatma Gandhi in the field of economics is the concept of trusteeship. Ghandhiji often said that his idea of "Trusteeship" would finish capitalism without finishing the capitalists. Gandhiji wanted the basic needs of all including animals to be met satisfactory. But at the same time, he wanted people to have incentives to remain economically active and produce more. This naturally would lead to some people having more than what they need. They would be rich but there would be no poor because the basic needs of all would be satisfied.
            Gandhian idea of trusteeship was born during the train journey from Johannesburg to St Martizburg on the night of 7th June 1893 while reading Raskin's 'Unto this last.' The book changed the economic vision of 'Coolie Barrister' who was thrown out of the 1st class compartment along with bag and baggage. The incident changed the destinies of half of the people of the world. Gandhi said there should be minimum wage and ceiling on maximum the capitalist's property. Minimum has no meaning unless there is a ceiling on maximum. All economists today agree that trusteeship is the practical solution of the present day malpractices in property and maldistribution of wealth.             Empowerment of Women:-Mahatma Gandhi always fought for the women's rights and equality. To him, women are the incantation of Ahinsa. To call women a weaker sex is a libel, it is man's injustice to women. He said 'If I were born a women I would against man's cruelty to women. Mahatma Gandhi was the person firstly started feminist movement in India. Mahatma Gandhi believed in the equality of sex. He drew the Indian women in the freedom struggle.He gave a clarion call to all Indian women and save the national honour.
Satya, Stayagraha And Ahimsa:-
            According to Gandhiji, truth is what the inner self experiences at any point of time, it is an answer to one's conscience; it is what responds to one's moral self. He was convinced that knowledge alone leads a person to the truth while ignorance takes one away from the truth.
            Satyagraha means urge for satya or truth. Satyagraha is not merely the insistence on truth; it is in fact, holding on the truth through ways which are moral and non-violent; it is not the imposition of one's will over others but it is appealing to will over others but it is appealing to the reasoning of the opponent; it is not coercion but is persuation. For Gandhiji a satyagrahi is always truthful, morally imbued, non-violent and a person without any malice; he is one who is devoted to the service of all.
            According to Gandhiji, Ahimsa was not mere concept but it was an article of faith, a condition of existence, a cultural necessity. He has goodwill even for plants and animals and insects. He often said that non-violence meant for the bold and the brave, not for the cowards and the weak non-violence is meant for the strong of mind and the stout of heart. Non violence is neither passive nor passiveness, it is active, it is dynamic. It implies conscious suffering. Non-violence was mightier than any sword. Violence is going to be the greatest challenge of the 21st century and there in lays the relevance of Gandhi.
            Today, the violence is growing in the various parts of the world. Gandhi and Gandhian philosophy of truth and non violence is most relevant in dealing with this problem. Gandhi is relevant wherever there is struggle for freedom, wherever their is oppression. The greatest tribute to Gandhi was paid by UNESCO when it adopted in its preamble the Gandhian though that since wars begins in the minds of men. It is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. If the 19th century belonged to Carlyle and Ruskin and the twentieth to Russel and Huxley, the 21st century belongs to Gandhi alone, for he said that if there was choice between cowardice and violence he would choose the latter because non-violence is not for the cowardly or the weak. It is the weapon of strong.
            In conclusion we can say that Mahatma Gandhi is relevant where there is struggle for freedom, wherever there is injustice, poverty, hunger, inequality. His greatest legacy is that he made India fearless and brought back its vanished valour. His greatest heritage is the spiritual force, those triumphs over the roar of guns and might of the aggressors. Eye for an eye, he said would make the world blind. So lastly we can say that Gandhism is the only alternative to save the misguided man and the war-weary world.
1. M.K. Gandhi : Young India, 11 September, 1924.
2. Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, G.A. Natesan and Co., Madras, P. 346.
3. M.K. Gandhi. From Yeravda Mandir, Navajivan Press,  Ahmedabad, 1935, P. 43.
5. M.K. Gandhi: Harijan, 9 may, 1936.
6. M.K. Gandhi, My Experiments with Truth, Navjivan Press, Ahmedabad, 1929, vol11,P.592.
Dr. Shambhu Nath Tiwari
Associate Professor Dept. of Political Science

G.D.  Binani P.G. College, Mirzapur.