Make your own free website on Tripod.com

ASHIM

Gandhi-Swaraj
Home
Gandhi-Swaraj
Globalisation of capital, crisis and class struggle
Workshop paper on Land rights
Indian agrarian Movement
Right to Information
Globalisation
About Me
Favorite Links
Case Study
Study Jharkhand Drought 2005
Displacement
Study NFFW Jharkhand
Article on MDM Jharkhand
story

Gandhi- Swaraj

      In place of mass production by big factories he advocated production by the masses in their homes and cottages.

      Mahatma Gandhi strongly pleaded for decentralization of economic and political power through the organization of village panchayats.

      We must set out to build our society upon little democracies.

 

         According to Gandhijee, ideal society is  a stateless democracy, the state of enlightened anarchy where social life has become so perfect that it is self regulated.

         Modern democracies are election-centered, party-dominated, power aimed, centralized complicated mechanism.

         Centralization of authority marks almost all present political systems which have become unwidely and top-heavy, be they capitalist, socialist or communist systems.

         The individuals count no more though as voters they styled as masters.

         They present themselves at periodical election for casting votes and then sleep away until the next one. This is the only political action the individual perform once in a stipulated period. That he is driven to do under the directions of the centralize party system, and guidance of the newspapers which are mainly tools of the centralized economic powers. The individual has little or no voice in the shaping of the policy of the government.

         In a welfare state or totalitarian regime he is reduced to the position of a well-fed, dumb, driven animal in human form.

         True democracy cannot be worked by twenty men sitting at the centre. It has to be work from below by the people of every village.

         In Village Swaraj, the villages being decentralized small political unit endowed with fullest powers, every individuals will have a direct voice in the government. The individual is the architect of his own government. The government of the village will be conducted by a panchayat of five persons elected by adult villagers. It will have all the authority and jurisdiction. The Panchayat will be the legislature, judiciary and executive rolled into one as there will be no system of punishment in it.

         Real democracy i.e Swaraj works for the full freedom and growth of the individual who is the ultimate motive power of a real political system.

         The Village Swaraj as conceived by Gandhijee is man centered unlike the western economy which is wealth centered. The former is the life economy the latter is the death economy.

         Independence must begin at the bottom. Thus every village will be republic or Panchayat having full powers.

         It follows therefore, that every village has to be self sustained and capable of managing its affairs with even to the extent of defending itself against the whole world.

         Thus ultimately individual who is the unit.

         To Gandhijee “self government means continuous effort to be independent of government control whether it is foreign government or it is national”.

         Village worker will have to focus his attention first on the true education.

 

         Village Swaraj is man centered non-exploitation decentralized simple village economy providing for full employment to each one of its citizens on the voluntary cooperation and working for achieving self-sufficiency in its basic requirements of food, clothing and other necessities of life.

         Modern economic system rooted as they are in self-indulgence, multiplicity of wants and divorce of ethics from economics are large scale mechanized centralized, complicated organization.

 

         They are disfigured by unemployment, under-employment, pauperism, exploitation, a mad race for capturing markets and conquering lands for raw materials. Competitions, conflicts and class wars corrode the social fabric. They involve enslavement of the individual, treating man only as a hand feeding the machine reducing him to a mere adjunct of the machine.

         Society is divided into the privileged and the under privileged, the rich and the poor.

         Multimillionaire is living aimlessly in the lap of luxury and the hard-working toiler has hardly enough to keep his skin and bones together.

         “According to me the economic constitution of India and for the matter of that of the world, should be such that no one under it should suffer from want of food and clothing. In other words, everybody should be able to get sufficient work to enable him to make the two ends meet.

 

         And this ideal can be universally realized only if the means of production of the elementary necessaries of life remain in the control of the masses. Their monopolization by any country, nation or group of person would be unjust.

         To build such a non violent economy providing for full employment of all citizens he ruled out industrialism, centralized industries and unnecessary machinery. He considered cities as agencies exploiting villages. He even called them boils on the body social of the country.

 

The meaning of Swaraj

         Real Swaraj will come not by the acquisition of authority by a few but by the acquisition of the capacity by all to resist authority when it is abused. In other words, Swaraj is to be obtained by educating the masses to a sense of their capacity to regulate and control authority.

         By political independence I do not mean an imitation of the British house of Commons or the Soviet rule of Russia or the Fascist rule of Italy or the Nazi rule of Germany. They have system suited to their genius.

         But I mean Sovereignty of the people based on pure moral authority.

         Self government means, continuation effort to be independent of government control, whether it is foreign government or whether it is national.

         Let there be no mistake about my conception of Swaraj. It is complete independence of alien control and complete economic independence. So at one end you have political independence, at the other the economics.

A picture of an ideal society

         A picture of a casteless and classless society, in which there are no vertical divisions but only horizontal, no high, no low, all service has equal status and carries equal wages.

         All service here ranks the same and carries equal wages, hereditary skills are conserved and developed from generation to generation instead of being sacrificed to the lure of personal gain.

         Everybody is a toiler with ample leisure, opportunity, and facilities for education and culture.

         A world in which there is no room for communalism or caste.

         Rights and duties are regulated by the principle of interdependence, and reciprocity, there is no conflict between the part and the whole, no danger of nationalism becoming narrow, selfish or aggressive or internationalism.

         There will be neither paupers nor beggars, nor high nor low, neither millionaire employers nor half starved employee, nor intoxicating drinks or drugs.

Which way lies hope
Industrialism

         Industrialism is, I am afraid, going to be a curse for mankind. Industrialism depends entirely on your capacity to exploit, on foreign markets being open to you, and on the absence of competitors.

         The future of industrialism is dark.

         Industrialism on a mass scale will necessarily lead to passive or active exploitation of the villagers as the problems of competition and marketing come in.

         Therefore, we have to concentrate on the village being self-contained, manufacturing mainly for use.

         Provided this character of the industry is maintained, there should be no objection to villagers using even the modern machines and tools that they can make and can afford to use. Only they should not be used as a means of exploitation of others.

         Pandit Nehru wants industrialization, because he  thinks that if it is socialized, it would be free from the evils of capitalism. My own view is that the evils are inherent in industrialism, and no amount of socialization can eradicate them.

         The economic imperialism of a single tiny island kingdom (England) is today keeping the world in chains.

 

Machinery

         Machinery has its place, but it must not be allowed to displace necessary human labour. An improved plough is a good thing. But if by some chances, one man could plough up by some mechanical invention of his the whole of the land of India, and control all the agricultural produce and if the millions had no other occupation, they would starve, and being idle, they would become dunces, as many have already become.

         I would welcome every improvement in the cottage machine, but I know that it is criminal to displace hand labour by the introduction of power driven spindles unless one is at the same time ready to give millions of farmers some other occupation in their homes.

         That use of machinery is lawful which sub serve the interest of all.

         I want the concentration of wealth, not in the hands of few, but in the hands of all. Today machinery merely helps a few to ride on the back of millions.

         I am socialist enough to say that such factories should be nationalized, or state- controlled, they ought only to be working under the most attractive and ideal conditions, not for profit, but for the benefit of humanity, love taking the place of greed as the motive.

         You are against this machine age- To say that is to caricature my views. I am not against machinery as such, but I am totally opposed to it when it masters us.

         You would not industrialize India- I would indeed, in my sense of the term. The village communities should be revived. Indian villages produced and supplied to the Indian towns and cities all their wants. India became impoverished when our cities became foreign markets and began to drain the village dry by dumping cheap and shoddy goods from foreign hands.

         You would then go back to the natural economy- Yes, Mass production certainly…but mass production (on individual basis) in people’s own homes.

         If you multiply individual production millions of times, would it not give you mass production on a tremendous scale ?...your mass production is …production by the fewest possible number through the aid of highly complicated machinery… My machinery must be of the most elementary type which I can put in the homes of the millions.

 

CITIES & VILLAGES

         There are two schools of thought current in the world. One wants to divide the worlds into cities and others into villages. The village civilization and the city civilization are totally different things. One depends on machinery and industrialization and the other on handicrafts. After all, this industrialization and large- scale production are only of comparatively recent growth. We don’t know how far it has contributed to the development of our happiness.

         City people may be getting big profits and good wages, but all that has become possible by sucking the blood of the villages.

         We shall be able by decentralizing our capital of Rs.30 lakhs in villages to create national wealth amounting to Rs.300 crores. To do that main thing, what is necessary is to make the villages self sufficient and self reliant.

         We may not be deceived by the wealth to be seen in the cities of India. It does not come from England or America. It comes from the blood of the poorest. There are said to be seven lakhs Villages in India. Some of them have simply been wiped out. No one has any record of those thousands who have died of starvation and disease in Bengal, Karnatak and elsewhere. I know the village economics. I tell you that the pressure from the top crushes those at the bottom.

         The workers in the mills of Bombay have become slaves. The condition of the women working in the mills is shocking. When there were no mills, these women were not starving. If the machinery craze grows in our country, it will become an unhappy land.

         The poor villagers are exploited by the foreign government and also by their own countrymen- the city dwellers. They produce the food and go hungry. They produce milk and their children have to go without it.

         It is the city man who is responsible for war over the world, never the villagers.

         The British have exploited India through its cities.

         If the hearts of the city-dwellers remain rooted in the villages, if they become truly village-minded, all other things will automatically follow and the boil will quickly heal.

         The village communities should be revived. Indian villages produced and supplied to the Indian towns and cities all their wants. India became impoverished when our cities became foreign markets and began to drain the villagers dry by dumping cheap and shoddy goods from foreign lands.

 

The places of Villages

         We have to make a choice between India of the villagers that are as ancient as herself and India of the cities which are a creation of foreign domination.

         Exploiting of villages is itself organized Violence. If we want Swaraj to be built on non violence, we will have to give the villages their place.

 

Village Swaraj

    My idea of village Swaraj is that it is a complete republic, independent of its neighbours for its own vital wants, and yet interdependent for many others in which dependence is a necessity. Thus every village's first concern will be to grow its own food crops and cotton for its cloth. It should have a reserve for its cattle, recreation and playground for adults and children. Then if there is more land available, it will grow useful money crops, thus excluding ganja, tobacco, opium and the like.

   The village will maintain a village theatre, school and public hall. It will have its own waterworks ensuring clean water supply. This can be done through controlled wells or tanks. Education will be compulsory up to the final basic course. As far as possible every activity will be conducted on the co-operative basis. There will be no castes such as we have today with their graded untouchibility.

    Non-violence with its technique of Satyagarha and non-cooperation will be the sanction of the village community. There will be a compulsory service of village guards who will be selected by the rotation from the register maintained by the village. The government of the village will be conducted by the Panchayat of the five persons annually elected by the adult villagers, male and female, possessing minimum prescribed qualification.

 

         These will have all the authority and jurisdiction required. Since there will be no system of punishments in the accepted sense, these panchayat will be the legislature, judiciary and executive combined to operate for its year of office. Any village can become such republic today without much interference, even from the present Government whose sole effective connection with the villagers is the exaction of the village revenue.

         Here there is perfect democracy based upon the individual freedom. The individual will be the architect of the village government. The law of non-violence rules him and his government.

 

BASIC PRINCIPLES OF VILLAGE SWARAJ

         Supremacy of Man- Full employment.

         Body Labour

         Equability

         Trusteeship

         Decentralization

         Swadeshi

         Self sufficiency

         Cooperation

         Satyagarha

         Equality of Religion

         Panchayati Raj

         Nai Talim

 

Supremacy of Man- Full employment

         The supreme consideration is man.

         This end can be achieved under decentralization. Centralization as a system is inconsistent with a non- violent structure of society.

         In other words everybody should be able to get sufficient work to enable him to make the two ends meet. And this ideal can be universally realized only if the means of production of the elementary necessaries of life remain in the control of the masses.

 

         The monopolization of means of production by any country, nation or group of persons would be unjust. The neglect of this principle is the cause of the destitution that we witness today not only in this unhappy land but in other parts of the world too.

         Any plan which exploited the raw materials of a country and neglected the potentially more powerful man-power was lop-sided and could never tend to establish human equality.

         Real planning consisted in the best utilization of the man-power of India.

 

Body- Labour

         If all laboured for their bread and no more, then there would be enough food and enough leisure for all. Than there would be no cry of power- population, no disease and no such misery as we see around. Such labour  will be the highest form of sacrifice. There will then be no rich and no poor, none high and none low, no touchable and no untouchable.

 

Equality

         True economics, on the other hand, stands for social justice, it promotes the good of all equally including the weakest, and is indispensable for decent life.

         I want to bring about an equalization of status.

         Economic equality is the master key to non-violent independence. Working for economic equality means abolishing the eternal conflicts between capital and labour.

         It means the leveling down of the few rich in whose hands is concentrated the bulk of the nation’s wealth on the one hand, and a leveling up of the semi-starved naked millions on other. A non-violent system of government is clearly an impossibility so long as the wide gulf between the rich and the hungry millions persists.

         A violent and bloody revolution is a certainly one day unless there is a voluntary abdication of riches and the power that riches give and sharing them for the common good.

         The real implication of equal distribution is that each man shall have the wherewithal to supply all his natural wants and no more. For example, if one man has a weak digestion and requires only a quarter of pound, both should be in a position to satisfy their wants. To bring this ideal into being the entire social order has got to be reconstructed.

 

Trusteeship   

         Indeed at the root of this doctrine of equal distribution must lie that of the trusteeship of the wealthy for superfluous wealth possessed by them. For according to the doctrine they may not posses a rupee more than their neighbours. How is this to be brought about ? Non-violently ? Or should the wealthy be dispossessed of their possessions ? To do this we would naturally have to resort to violence. This violent action cannot benefit society. Society will be the poorer, for it will lose the gifts of a man who knows how to accumulate wealth.

         In spite of the utmost effort, the rich do not become guardians of the poor in the true sense of the term and the latter are more and more crushed and die of hunger, what is to be done ? In trying to find out the solution of this riddle. I have lighted on non-violent non cooperation and civil disobedience as the right and infallible means. The rich cannot accumulate wealth without the co-operation of the poor in society. If this knowledge were to penetrate to and spread amongst the poor, they would become strong and would learn how to free themselves by means of non-violence from the crushing inequalities which have brought them to the verge of starvation.

 

Decentralization

         I suggest that, if India is to evolve along non-violent lines, it will have to decentralize many things. Centralization cannot be sustained and defended without adequate force. Simple homes from which there of nothing to take away require no policing, the palaces of the rich must have strong guards to protect them against dacoity. So must huge factories. Rurally organized India will run less risk of foreign invasion than urbanized India, well equipped with military, naval and air forces. You cannot build non-violence on a factory civilization, but it can be built on self-contained villages. Exploitation is the essence of violence.

Swadeshi

         If we follow the Swadeshi doctrine, it would be your duty and mine to find out neighbours who can supply our wants and to teach them to supply them where they do not know how to proceed, assuming that there are neighbours who are in want of healthy occupation. Then every village of India will almost be a self-supporting and self contained unit, exchanging only such necessary commodities with other villages as not locally producible.

 

Self-sufficiency

         Every village’s first concern will be to grow its own food crops, and cotton for its cloth.

         The central fact of Khaddar is to make every village self supporting for its food and clothing.

         Self-sufficient Khadi will never succeed without cotton being grown by spinners themselves or practically in every village. It means decentralization of cotton cultivation so far at least as self-sufficient khadi is concerned.

 

Co-operation

         As far as possible every activity will be conducted on the co-operative basis.

                                                Satyagraha

         Non-violence with its technique of satyagarha and non co-operation will be the sanction of the village community.

 

Equality of Religions

         Every religion has its full and equal place.

                                                Panchayat Raj

         The government of Village will be conducted by the Panchayat of five persons, annually elected by the adult villagers, male and female, possessing minimum prescribed qualifications.

         Panchayat has an ancient flavor, it is a good word. It literally means as assembly of five elected by villagers. It represents the system, by which the innumerable village republics of India were governed. But the British Government, by its ruthlessly thorough method of revenue collection, almost destroyed these ancient republics, which could not stand the shock of this revenue collection.

 

Enter supporting content here