The 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi is like a milestone in the lives of individuals, societies and nations, providing opportunities to re-asses his messages, his contemporary relevance and to undertake the required course corrections,to re-chart his path towards a better, blissful future. Gandhi’s perspective towards life is not just political but is an all-round approach towards development. Every step taken by Gandhi has its importance and Gandhi’s life became an invaluable legacy to the present and the future generations.
Gandhi’s perspective towards development and it’s relevance today can be clearly stated under the following heads:
Communal unity – Gandhiji has always insisted on the unity among the people belonging to indifferent religions, communities etc,in all aspects which can help in developing national unity and in turn leads to development. There is a little unrest and disunity among the masses in the present society due to right wing politics and influence of some religious leaders.
Women – Gandhi in his 18 point constructive program and in many occasions gave importance to the role of women in the development process. He insisted on equal rights for women in all aspects. Though women has entered in many fields after the independence and are shining like stars, still India needs to do alot to give equal position to women in all aspects.
Removal of untouchability – In this case India has won the battle, but the war is still on. Though many laws are present to protect the rights of lower caste people, they are still class and caste exploitation. Gandhiji always propagated ‘ sarvadharma samabhava ‘,’ sharir shram ‘ and ‘ sparsh bhavana ‘.
Prohibition – Gandhiji raised his voice against consumption of alcohol and tobacco as he felt that by doing so family is suffering economically and socially. Today alcohol became a major source of revenue for many states and are not willing to prohibit them . But the governments like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh are coming up with policies like increased prices,state control over liquor sale etc,.
Ahimsa – The first thing remembered while speaking about Gandhiji is AHIMSA. He had talked about the violence being taken place in several levels – family, society, national and international. This is a contemporary issue too where nations are spending large amounts of revenue for defence.
Decentralisation – The 73rd&74th constitutional amendment acts are previously DPSPs which are based on Gandhian ideology. Gandhi emphasized greatly on the need of decentralisation(GRAM SWARAJ) for easy and smooth conduct of administrative systems. He stressed on self reliance and self sustainability of villages.
Idea of TRUSTEESHIP : Gandhiji has given prior importance to ETHICS IN BUSINESS with the idea of Trusteeship which is based on his principle of APARIGRAHA i.e non acquisition. In the independent India the movements like Bhoodan by Vinoba bhave and acts like Zamindari abolition act,The Land Tenancy and Land Ceiling Act came up based on the principal of APARIGRAHA. The present day Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is completely an idea of TRUSTEESHIP.
Village industries : The concept of SWADESHI was very much appreciated by Gandhiji. He had always wanted villages to be self sufficient and said that Charaka ,Kisan and Khadi are the tools to achieve self sufficiency and self Reliance of villages. Today with the local self governance Indian villages are moving towards their independent functioning based on the constitutional laws.
Economic Equality : The reservation system in the constitution is merely to bring economic and social progress among the weaker sections. Gandhiji wanted this to be done by providing equal opportunities to participate and acquire skills provided by the state
Gandhiji through his NAI TALIM focussed on basic and adult education. He even said that education is the backbone of our civilization and wanted the government to provide free education to the students. This aim was partially filled by making compulsory free education to the children from 6-14 years. He insisted that education of the young and right provision of skills to them is more important to move towards development. The main theme behind his philosophy is INTEGRATED EDUCATION (skill development and merit).
Health, Environment and sanitation:
The flame of Swachhagraha(health and hygiene) is burning bright these days due to adverse impacts of climate change which resulted due to environmental degradation and exploitation. Gandhiji insisted that humans and nature has to go in harmony and also advocated GREEN THOUGHT at all levels and sustainability in developmental aspects. Today though KYOTO PROTOCOL was signed there were no serious steps taken by countries to move towards sustainability.
Gandhiji was not in favour of isolated independence but focussed on voluntary interdependence. Gandhiji’s idea of total ban of nuclear weapons and unilateral disarmament is no doubt an inspiration to the Non Proliferation Treaty and India’s no first use policy towards nuclear weapons.
Today no doubt many of the Gandhi’s ideas are relevant to develop. But some of his ideas- discontent on Western countries,national language, etc are some what irrevelent to the contemporary India. The concepts like Swadeshi,khadi,local self-government,SDGs,Swachhtha,ahimsa,and many have done alot in developing individuals in all aspects. In his ideology though there is tilt towards socialist society one cannot come into a conclusion regarding this as he talked about community, capitalist etc.