Chapter 4

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The Gandhian Way


Modern thinkers have suggested various ways in which democracy could possibly tide over the crisis. Prof. Laski expects that the ending of the paradox of poverty in the midst of potential plenty by ‘the socialisation of vested interests’ would make for sound and stable democracy. But is socialism enough? We have already seen how socialised democracy of the Soviet brand has resulted in totalitarianism and regimentation of the people.
 
Which way, then shall democracy go? My answer is: ‘It must go the Gandhian Way.’ This implies two basic principles: non-violence and decentralisation. Let me explain these principles in some details.
 
4.1 Non-Violence
According to Mahatma Gandhi, democracy can only be saved through non-violence because ‘democracy, so long as it is sustained by violence, cannot provide for or protect the weak’. "My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest. That can never happen through violence."1 "Western democracy as it functions today," continues Gandhiji, "is diluted Nazism or Fascism". "At best it is merely a cloak to hide the Nazi or fascist tendencies of imperialism". Again: "democracy and violence can ill go together. The states that are today nominally democratic have either to become frankly totalitarian, or, if they are to become democratic, they must become courageously non-violent2". Otherwise, constitutional democracy would remain a distant dream. The capitalist society is exploitation personified, and the essence of all kinds of exploitation is violence. In order to root out exploitation, therefore, a non-violent society or state has to be established. Such a society, of necessity, must be based on economic freedom and equality, because without economic equity there can exist no real political democracy.
 
How is this economic equality and freedom to be brought about? One way is Soviet communism which, in practice, means ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat’ or the violent and ruthless suppression of the ‘rentier’ class. Even the life of the proletariat is regulated rigidly to such an extent that freedom and democracy are, more or less, nullified. The remedy, in other words, becomes worse than the disease itself. And totalitarian state is merely the modern name for tyranny with up-to-date techniques. Such tyranny, even in the name of the efficiency of the war-machine, inevitably throttles the free and natural development of human personality. As John Stuart Mill observes, we should not forget that in the long run ‘the worth of a state is the worth of the individuals composing it’. "A state which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be mere docile instruments in its hand even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished
1". "Hence the supreme need for evolving democracy on non-violent lines.

4.2 Decentralisation
(In a democracy, power flows upward from the people. The correct expression would therefore be inversion, instead of decentralisation of power —- People First)
 
What, then, is the technique of non-violent democracy? It is decentralisation. Violence logically leads to centralisation; the essence of non-violence is decentralisation. Gandhiji has always been advocating such decentralisation of economic and political power in the form of, more or less, self-sufficient and self-governing village communities. He regards such communities as the models of non-violent organisation. Gandhiji, of course, does not mean that the ancient Indian village republics should be revived exactly in the old form; that is neither possible nor desirable. Necessary changes will have to be introduced in view of modern changed circumstances and needs. Moreover, the old rural communities were not free from all shortcomings. It, must however, be conceded that these village communes contained within them the germs of an ideal economic and political organisation maximum in the form of decentralisation of well-knit and coordinated village communities with their positive and direct democracy, non-violent cottage economy and human contacts. "That state will be the best," declares Gandhiji, "which is governed the least."*
 
It must be made possible for the individual to belong to a variety of small bodies possessing executive powers, dealing both with production and with local administration. As a member of these, he can once again feel that he counts politically, that his will matters, and that his work is really done for society… It would seem, then, that the machinery of Government must be reduced in scale. It must be made manageable by being made local, so that, in seeing the concrete results of their political labours before them, people can be brought to realise that where self-government is a fact, society is malleable to their wills because society is themselves.2
 
According to Prof. Aldous Huxley, ‘the political road to a better society is the road of decentralisation and responsible self-government3" Centralisation of power results in curtailment of individual liberties and a progressive regimentation of the people even in countries hitherto enjoying a democratic form of government. "Centralisation makes for uniformity; it lacks the genius of time and place3." Lewis Mumford, the well-known sociologist, recommends Elucidating the advantages of local self-government in villages and communes, Dr Beni Prasad states:
 
"The perfect unit of self-government is a familiar environment in which, as Aristotle would say, people can know one another’s character. In villages, townships or communes, autonomy reproduces the advantages of direct democracy, rousing civic patriotism, lifting the individual beyond himself, encouraging habits of cooperation, training the judgement and imparting administrative experience to millions who cannot hope to enter representative assemblies or services at a distance. Local self-government in towns or districts lightens the burden of central legislatures and administrations. In the big states of the modern world, it has the sovereign merit of preventing the individual from being submerged in huge electorates. These tend to inspire a sort of awe, a sense of individual impotence like that which people feel when they contemplate the majestic and eternal forces of the inanimate world. The resulting fatalism of the multitude is best corrected by local self-government."1
 
the building up of ‘small balanced communities in the open country.’ Such small communities enjoying a very large measure of local self-government become the proper training grounds of true and vital democracy. They are an invaluable antidote against the bureaucratic spirit and facilitate an informed discussion and appropriate solution of local problems. "It was in small communities," declared Lord Bryce, "that democracy first arose. It was from them that the theories of its first literary prophets and apostles were derived. It is in them that the way in which the real will of the people tells upon the working of government can best be studied, because most of the questions that come before the people are within their own knowledge
2".
 
4.3 Indian Rural Republics
We can be legitimately proud of the fact that this institution of local self-government was ‘developed earliest and preserved longest in India among all the countries of the earth3.’ The village communes existed in our country from times immemorial. King Prithu, it is believed, first introduced the system while colonising the Daub between the Ganges and the Jamuna. In the Manu Smriti and the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharat, there are many references to the existence of ‘gram-sanghas’. A description of these rural communities is also found in the Artha-shastra of Kautilya, who lived in 400 BC. In the Valmiki Ramayana we read about the Janapada, which was, perhaps, a kind of federation of numerous village republics. It is certain that the system was widely in existence in this country at the time of Greek inv
asion. Megasthenes has left vivid impressions of the ‘Pentads’, as he called these Panchayats. Chinese travellers, Hieun Tsang and Fa Hien, tell us how India at the time of their visits was very prosperous and the people were ‘flourishing and happy beyond compare.’ An account of the village commonwealths during the seventh century is found in Shukracharya’s Niti-Sara.
 
In fact, the village in India has been looked upon as the basic unit of administration as early as the earliest Vedic age. Gramini or the leader of the village is mentioned in the Rigveda (X. 62.II; 107.5). Reference to the gram sabhas or the local village assemblies are found in the Jatakas as well. Shreni was the well-known term for merchant guilds. "The village continued to be regarded as a corporate political unit throughout the post Vedic period. Thus in the Vishnu and Manu Smritis, the village is reckoned as the smallest political unit in the state fabric."
1
 
The tiny Indian village republics continued to flourish during the Hindu, Muslim and Peshwa governments till the advent of the East India Company. They survived the wreck of dynasties and downfall of empires. ‘The independent development of local government provided like the shell of the tortoise, a haven of peace where the national culture could draw in for its own safety when political storms burst over the land2.’ The Kings received only state revenues from the village commonwealths and generally did not interfere with their local government. As Sir Charles Trevellyn remarks, ‘one foreign conqueror after another has swept over India, but the village municipalities have stuck to the soil like their own kusha grass.’ In his famous minute of 1830, Sir Charles Metcalfe, the then acting governor-general of India wrote:

"The village communities are little republics, having nearly everything they can want within themselves, and almost independent of any foreign relations. They seem to last where nothing else lasts. Dynasty after dynasty tumbles down; revolution succeeds revolution….but the village community remains the same. . . This union of the village communities, each one forming a separate little state in itself, has, I conceive, contributed more than any other cause to the preservation of the peoples of India, through all the revolutions and changes which they have suffered. It is in a high degree conducive to their happiness, and to the enjoyment of a great portion of freedom and independence. I wish, therefore, that the village constitutions may never be disturbed and I dread everything that has a tendency to break them up."3

But Fate willed it otherwise. The inordinate and unscrupulous greed of the East India Company caused gradual disintegration of these gram panchayats. The deliberate introduction of ryotwari system as against the village tenure system dealt a deathblow to the corporate life of the village republics. The centralisation of all executive and judicial powers in the hands of the British bureaucrats also deprived the village functionaries of their age-long powers and influence.
 
It would, however, be foreign to the purpose of this book to go into the details of the organisation of the Indian village republics. As Dr Annie Besant observed, "The officials keep the old names, but the old panchayat2 was elected by the householders of the village and was responsible to them. Now the officers are responsible to government officials and their interest lies in pleasing them, not in satisfying the electors, as of old."1
 
Though the Indian village republics were not without drawbacks, they were remarkable experiments in genuine democracy and local self-government. The modern development of centralised control without sufficient local and corporate life has everywhere made politics barren and mechanical. There is also an endless conflict between the interest of the individual and the group or the state. But the Indian rural panchayats very successfully integrated these conflicting interests and made socio-political life human and productive. As Acharya Vinoba Bhave puts it, each individual in these gram sabhas was his own king; yet he was bound in indissoluble ties to his fellow-citizens2. While there was full scope for the development of his personality, every citizen was a responsible and useful member of the small state.
 
The decentralisation of political power as manifested in the village communities was, of course, very much different from the western type of devolution or decentralisation. Indian decentralisation was both functional as well as territorial, with the result that there was harmony of social interests and spontaneity of political life.
 
The Indian rural communes were free from most of the evils that infect modern democratic governments. Since ‘money economy’ was hardly existent, the scope for bribery and corruption was next to nothing. Absence of organised and aggressive capitalism saved democracy from being ‘pocketed’. In the small constituencies, elections were mostly unanimous and instinctive; those village elders who commanded universal respect were chosen by the village as a matter of course without wasting a single pie on ‘electioneering’. Due to widest decentralisation and local government there was scarcely any chance of congestion of work in the rural assemblies. Indian democracy, thus, was direct, virile, positive, productive and non-violent, as against modern democracy which is mostly indirect, dull, negative, unproductive and violent. It is desirable, therefore, to resuscitate indigenous institutions and make them the basis of the future constitution for swaraj.
 
As Dr Radhakamal Mukerjee aptly comments, "Indian type of decentralised democracy will be more adaptive and life-giving than the imitation of Western political methods. It will also be a distinctively eastern contribution to the political history of man, infatuated as it is with the strange and tangled game of aggressive powers and colossal empires of the West". Continues Dr. Mukerjee:

"It will furnish the basis of a new type of polity which in its coordination of diverse local and functional groups will be more satisfying in the State constructions of the future than the centralised structures of the Roman-Teutonic mould or the later parliamentary pattern. Humanity all over the world is imprisoned in the bleak institutional orderliness of a mechanical and exploitative type of State. And nothing is more needed today than a new principle of social constitution which will once again orient man and his allegiances in natural and elastic groups for a freer expression of his gifts and instincts."1

4.4 Economics of Decentralisation
The organisation of decentralised rural commonwealths is highly conductive to equitable economic distribution. The present capitalist society, in which the means of production are controlled mainly by the bourgeois class, has failed to establish enduring peace and real prosperity in the world. Socialism, on the other hand, has mercilessly rooted out the rentier class altogether. While it has raised the standard of living of the masses by capturing the instruments of production, Soviet communism is, by no means, an unmixed blessing. Its huge and powerful machinery of planning has reduced individuals to, more, or less, non-entities and automatons. Moreover, Russia has also begun to spread its ‘wings’ over the neighbouring countries. However high her intentions may be, we cannot afford to view USSR’s role in international politics with equanimity. We cannot favour any type of imperialism, whether capitalist or socialist. Large scale and centralised socialism tends to grow aggressive and ‘imperialist’; it cannot, therefore, herald a new world order in which peace, welfare and freedom are guaranteed to all countries, big or small.
 
What, then, is the solution? Decentralised cottage industrialism shows the way. The Indian village communes had evolved a well-balanced economic system by eschewing the two extremes of laissez faire and totalitarian control. After serious experimentation they had discovered a golden and happy mean between capitalism and socialism. They had developed an ideal form of cooperative agriculture and industry, in which there was scarcely any scope for exploitation of the poor by the rich. As Gandhiji puts it, production was
almost simultaneous with consumption and distribution. Commodities manufactured in cottages and domestic factories were for immediate use and not for distant markets. Such small scale and localised production on a self-sufficiency basis automatically eliminated capitalist exploitation. It virtually established economic equality without either ruthlessly curtailing individual liberty or allowing a few individuals to boss over others. Needless to mention that, according to Gandhian ideals, the decentralised cottage industries should be organised on a cooperative and not capitalistic basis. If a few capitalists are allowed to control the domestic factories as in Japan, the cottage workers will continue to be exploited as mere labourers.
 
Economics of decentralisation would also spare us from the evils of excessive mechanisation. "Owing to the extensive use of machinery and division of labour," declares Karl Marx, "the work of the proletariats has lost all individual character, and consequently all charm for the work-man." "He becomes an appendage of the machine. . . ."
1. In the modern manufacturing process the workers is transformed into "a cripple and a monster." On the other hand, "the independent peasant or handicraftsman develops knowledge, insight and will"2. Although Karl Marx recognised the disadvantages of mechanised large-scale production, he hoped that they would be eliminated in a socialist state. But ‘rationalised’ mechanisation, whether in a capitalist or socialist society, is sure to exercise its unhealthy influence on the physical, intellectual and moral wellbeing of the workers. "The elimination of exploitation by the abolition of private ownership of production and distribution," writes Prof. Borsodi, "does not reach the root of the trouble." "The factories’ undesirable attributes will still remain to plague mankind"3. Gandhiji, therefore, is against modern industrialisation.
 
It is very wrong to think, however
, that he is hostile to all types of machinery. What he objects to is the "indiscriminate multiplication of machinery." Observes Gandhiji:

"Mechanisation is good when the hands are too few for the work intended to be accomplished. It is an evil when there are more hands than required for the work, as is the case in India."4

Today, machinery has reduced workers to ciphers; they have lost their individuality in huge factories with giant machines working noisily day and night. Gandhiji would however certainly welcome small and efficient machines that could be beneficial to the millions of peasants and artisans by lightening their labour.
 
Even from the standpoint of employment, cottage industrialisation is of prime importance. "Full employment" is the latest slogan of economic planning in the West. But can employment be assured to all the citizens under mechanised large-scale production? When highly industrialised countries like the United Kingdom and the USA have not yet been able to provide employment to millions of their people, can we in India with a population of 400 millions legitimately expect to meet the problem of unemployment by multiplying mills and factories? At present all the heavy and large-scale industries in our country absorb only about two million workers. If, according to the Bombay planners, the heavy industries are encouraged and expanded, say, five times, they shall be able to employ about 10 million people. But what about the rest? The Indian farmer himself is only partially employed; he is badly in need of supplementary industries to add to his meagre income. Cottage industrialisation on a mass scale is, therefore, the right solution. Instead of "mass production," there should be organised production by the masses in the numberless village communities. A few heavy or ‘key’ industries will, of course, be necessary for modern economic planning.
 
Let us not fear that the cottage industries in our rural republics will be ‘uneconomical’. Henry Ford, who is one of the most eminent industrialist that the modern world has produced, declares that ‘as a general rule, a large plants is not economical’
1. There is therefore, no point in centralising manufacturing process. "A product," states Henry Ford, "that is used all over the country ought to be made all over the country in order both to save transportation and to distribute buying power more evenly." Ford’s eventual ideal is "complete decentralisation in which plants will be small and so situated that the workers will be both farmers and industrialists". "That would make not only for a more general independence on the part of the individual but also would make for cheaper goods and cheaper food"2.
 
The capitalistic society, with its large-scale and centralised production has so often hurled the world into bloody and devastating wars. Should all this tragic loss of life and money not be included in the costs of large-scale production? This practical consideration renders mechanised production very costly and uneconomical, indeed.
 
4.5 Philosophy of Decentralisation
It must be clearly understood that Gandhiji does not advocate decentralisation only because of its economic and political advantages. To Gandhiji decentralisation envisions and upholds the cultural or spiritual ideal of "simple living and high thinking". "The mind is a restless bird," says Gandhiji, "The more it gets, the more it wants, and still remains unsatisfied . . . The more we indulge our passions, the more unbridled they become. Our ancestors, therefore, set a limit to our indulgences. They saw that happiness was largely a mental condition. They saw that our real happiness and health consisted in a proper use of our hands and feet1". Gandhiji, thus, regards simplicity as a cultural and moral necessity. The celebrated scientist Prof. Einstein holds the same view:

"Possession, outward success, publicity, luxury —- to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind"2.

But simplicity does not mean voluntary poverty and ‘loin-cloth’ existence for all time. Gandhiji’s standard of necessities and minimum comforts is quite high. But luxuries have no place in his "good life." He does not hanker after raising merely the ‘standard of living’; he wants to raise the ‘standard of life’.

Allied to the ideal of simplicity is the consideration of ‘human values’ as against the ‘metallic values’ of life. To Gandhiji, ‘man is the supreme consideration,’ or as Protogoras puts it, ‘the measure of all things’. In place of ‘money economy’ he advocates ‘life economy’. It is this emphasis on the human side of social and economic reconstruction that forms the ideological background of the khadi and village industries movement. "Khadi spirit means fellow feeling with every human being on earth"3. The ancient Indian village communes, with their cooperative spirit, embodied the same morality. To the modern ‘economic man’ there is no god other than gold. But Gandhiji would not like us to gain the whole world at the cost of our souls. Sanctity of physical labour is another fundamental conception in the Gandhian philosophy of decentralisation. "It is a tragedy of the first magnitude that millions have ceased to use their hands as hands"4. "We are destroying the matchless living machines, that is, our own bodies, by leaving them to rust and trying to substitute lifeless machinery for them"5. From Gandhiji’s viewpoint, labour is life; it is a blessing and not a curse.
 
A little reflection would indicate that these ideals of simplicity, human values and sanctity of labour are in the last analysis, founded on non-violence that is the bedrock of Gandhian thought. "As I was picturing life based on non-violence," observes Gandhiji, "I saw that it must be reduced to the simplest terms consistent with high thinking". "Society based on non-violence can only consist of groups settled in villages in which voluntary cooperation is the condition of dignified and peaceful existence... The nearest approach to civilisation based upon non-violence is the erstwhile village republic of India. I admit that it was crude. I know that there was in it no non-violence of my definition and conception. But the germ was there"
1. Gandhiji, consequently, passionately pleads for a civilisation founded on ‘villagism.’ "Rural economy as I have conceived it eschews exploitation altogether, and exploitation is the essence of violence"2.
 
According to Mahatma Gandhi, non-violence is ‘the greatest force in the world.’ It is the supreme law of life. "All society is held together by non-violence even as the earth is held in her position by gravitation3". Or, as TH Green would put it, ‘Will, not force, is the basis of the State4’. The utter futility of violence has been conclusively demonstrated by the two World Wars. Civilisation cannot survive another war. In the name of civilisation and humanity, therefore, there is no other choice before us but the complete renunciation of the creed of violence. Instead of attempting to annihilate the world with an atom bomb we have to learn to perceive the whole universe in the tiniest atom. Without such a vision, the world is sure to perish.

4.6 The Sociological Aspect
Decentralised village communism should be promoted from the sociological standpoint as well. ‘Open-air rural life’ in place of modern congested cities will improve national health and hygiene. The hectic and noisy urban life slowly though surely tells upon our nerves and causes very great strain both to the body and the mind. Rural communes with their peaceful life of health-giving labour in the fields, cottage factories and workshops, would impart joy and vigour to society fast growing dull and mechanical.
 
Village communism would also make for social harmony and social security. The village communities in the past regarded themselves as big joint families; the misfortunes of an individual were the misfortunes of the whole village. If a person suffered from theft the rest of the community ultimately made up the loss. If a villager’s cottage got accidentally burned down, members of the village would contribute for rebuilding the cottage once again. If the head of a family suddenly died, the orphans were looked after and supported by the whole community. Marriages or deaths in one family were deemed to be the common concerns of the village. Division of labour and professions in the community provided automatic insurance against unemployment. It is true that petty jealousies, rivalries, and feuds were not altogether absent. But that only indicates that the harmony of the village communities was not the peace of the graveyard.
 
4.7 Joy in Life
Restoration of village life would mean renewed gaiety, enjoyment and recreation to the people. In his "Corporate Life in Ancient India," Dr Majumdar describes the amusements in Indian villages from the remotest antiquity. In the Vedic period there were clubhouses which were later known as ‘gosbtbis’. After day’s hard work, people used to meet in the evening and amuse themselves with music, dancing, story telling and discussion of local news. As early as the Maurya period, village concerts used to be arranged on occasions of holidays and festivals. Here too, as in other aspects of village life, spirit of brotherhood and cooperation actuated the villagers. Not to cooperate in such public festivities was regarded as a sin against the community. These ancient traditions continue to this day in our villages.
 
4.8 National Defence
Decentralisation and ruralisation are imperative for successful defence against foreign aggression; they alone can defy modern warfare. The centralised industries provide an easy target for air bombing so that a few bombs can successfully dislocate the whole national economy. Thus, from the strategic point of view a country with its large-scale industries concentrated in a few big towns becomes highly vulnerable. The remarkable organisation of the industrial cooperatives in China is, perhaps, the chief factor that enabled the Chinese to withstand Japanese aggression for so many years. The Indusco movement made almost all the Chinese villages self-sufficient in regard to the necessities of life by spreading a network of cottage industries in the remotest corners. "In a world subject to periodical outbreaks of intense and prolonged war, so far as possible the production of essential requirements like food stuffs and clothing must be available locally; dependence on distant markets might be fatal in times of serious stress. When decentralisation of production is becoming a dire military necessity it would be sheer madness to neglect the admirable system of decentralised production already existing in this country."1
 
It needs hardly any argument to state that the basic cause of all wars is economic exploitation and inordinate greed for capturing world markets. After the recent War, the Allies are now hastily planning to increase their exports in order to maintain a high standard of living at home. This imperialist race for markets is sure to engender mutual jealousies and conflict, ultimately leading to another World War, the calamitous consequences of which we shudder even to visualise. To banish war, capitalism and its corollary imperialism have to be abolished. "Peace between states," writes Prof. Laski, "depends upon peace within states"2. And peace within states is impossible without an equitable system of distribution. Such system can flourish only under decentralised industrialism on cooperative foundations. Cottage economy would deal a decisive blow to greedy imperialism and, thus, spell international harmony. What we need is, therefore, economic disarmament and not mere military disarmament. "The more local and regional loyalties flourish within the great states, the less danger is there that aggressive nationalism will be able to tear the world to pieces"1.
 
4.9 Is It Medievalism
The most hackneyed criticism levelled against Gandhism is that it puts the hands of the clock back and takes us to the medieval times. But such attacks on Gandhiji’s ideas are founded on gross misapprehensions. Gandhiji does not wish that village communities should be isolated units entirely cut off from the rest of the country and the world. This is neither possible nor desirable. Gandhiji wants that the village republics should be basic units of swaraj governance, enjoying maximum autonomy in social, economic and political affairs. The villages should be properly coordinated to the taluka, the district, the province and union through the taluka, district, provincial assemblies and federal parliament.
 
It is wrong to suppose that the village communities were isolated entities even in ancient and medieval India. We learn from the Manusmriti, the Mahabharata, Kautilya’s Arthashastra and other Sanskrit books that there were officers at the head of one village, ten villages, twenty villages, one hundred villages, one thousand villages, each officer supervising those below him. It is true that each village enjoyed a very large measure of local self-government consistent with national safety and efficiency. But the rural republics gradually passed into larger political organisations on a federal basis rising layer upon layer from the lower rural stratification on the broad basis of popular self-government. Dr. Radhakumud Mookerji mentions how these different administrative units, one above the other, were known as Sabha, Mabasahba, and Nattar. The best account of this type of hierarchy is obtained from the administrative organisation of the great Chola Empire under Rajaraja, as reflected in the numerous inscriptions associated with that King. The smallest unit, the base of the administrative system, was the village (uru) or town (nagara). The next higher unit was called nadu or kurram. The next position in hierarchy belonged to kottam, or visaya. Above this came the mandala or rashtra, the province of the empire. KP Jayaswal in "Hindu Polity" also tells us about the constitution of the janapada or the realm assembly, representing numerous regional councils of the country. All these facts clearly indicate that the Indian village system was not a relic of tribalism but a coordinated administrative organisation on federal principles. In modern times, this coordination will naturally have to be much more systematic and organised. But the fundamental idea of decentralisation and devolution of power that has stood the test of centuries ought to be the cornerstone of out future constitution. Such an organisation instead of being medieval, would be the model for an ideal state. "Going back to villages," observes Dr Radhiakrishnan "is not to become primitive". "It is the only way to keep up a mode of existence that is instinctive to India, that supplied her once with a purpose, a faith and meaning. It is the only way to keep our species civilised. India of the peasant and rustic life, of village communities, of forest hermitage and spiritual retreats has taught the world has injured no land and sought no domination over others."1
 
4.10 Internationalism v/s Universalism
We glibly talk of internationalism and scoff at Gandhiji’s ‘villagism’. But have we ever cared to understand that Gandhiji goes much farther than internationalism? He wants not only internationalism but also universalism. He appeals to us to feel one not only with our fellow human beings in the village, province, country and the world, but also to tune ourselves with the infinite universe. But for practising and realising this ideal of universalism it is not at all necessary for us to fly ceaselessly to the ends of heaven and earth; we can feel one with the universe while living quietly in our small cottage. Internationalism and universalism are states of mind and not creations of times and distance. One can follow villagism and universalism simultaneously. According to Gandhiji the basis of our material existence should be the village, while the universe ought to be our cultural or spiritual abode. This is the essence of his doctrine of swadeshi. Gandhiji wants to serve humanity and the universe, but through his immediate neighbours and the country. "My patriotism," says Gandhiji, "is both exclusive and inclusive." "It is exclusive in the sense that in all humility I confine my attention to the land of my birth. But it is inclusive in the sense that my service is not of a competitive or antagonistic nature. I want to identify myself with everything that lives."2
 
4.11 A New Civilisation
The Gandhian way is not a medieval mode of life but a new civilisation. Various panaceas have been advanced for curing the ills of modern civilisation. But all of them are fundamentally similar in their emphasis on coercion and violence.

Gandhiji himself explained his conception of the new civilisation, or as he calls it, the Ram Rajya:

"It can be religiously translated as the Kingdom of God on earth. Politically translated, it is perfect democracy in which, inequalities, based on possession, non-possession, colour, race, creed or sex, vanish. In it, land and state belong to the people; justice is prompt, perfect and cheap. There is freedom of worship, speech and the press all this because of the reign of the self-imposed law of moral restraint. Such a state must be based on truth and non-violence, and consist of prosperous, happy and self-contained villages and village communities."1

 

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