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GANDHI'S CRITIQUE ON THE CONCEPT OF DEVELOPMENT AND

IT'S RELEVANCE IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD.

The question arises why was Gandhi against the modern concept of development and what was
Gandhian philosophy? Was westernisation able to sustain in India today?

Gandhi's critique of development is based on Gandhian economic philosophy from Gandhi's own
economic position. The economic structure was not according to what Gandhi want as they focuses
more on maximisation of profit rather than focus on ethical consideration. As Gandhian economic
and developmental philosophy was based on more ethical and bent towards spirituality. He wrote:
"I must confess that I do not draw a sharp or any distinction between economics and ethics.
Economics that hurts moral well-being of any individual or nation is immoral and therefore
sinful."

Gandhian economic goals are not materialistic or individualistic but ethico-spiritual and community
oriented. Gandhi called his ideal society "Sarvodya" which works for the welfare and well-being of
society. He can be seen attempting his ideas on state, society and nation in his book "Hind Swaraj".
Hind Swaraj was originally written in Gujarati published in 1909. Gandhi called " British civilisation"
only an idea betrayed by reality of imperialism because they thought that they had the divine power
to civilise the rest of world. He blames India because Britishers thumped in India not because of
their strength but because of our weaknesses. He points out the moral failure in the people of our
country. In Hind Swaraj, he addressed many of the basic problems in India of violence and terrorism
and opposed these in his book. Gandhi wanted the future of India as perfect social change. But by
the time British was firmly rooted in the soil of India and they had already spread their branches all
over India. According to Gandhi, British introduction to Railways, Industrialisation, Lawyers, Doctors,
Army had impoverished India. They had only helped British to tighten their grip over India. Gandhi
says that the strength of India lies in its ethical living. Preserving and enhancing the moral character
of the people is necessary. In Gujarati word, "sudharo" means improvement, progress and its
opposite "kudharo" means an unrighteous path. Gandhi considered Indian civilisation as "sudharo"
which takes us towards virtue while Western civilisation is "kudharo" which takes us towards
destruction. For Gandhi, Indian Civilisation of ethical living is superior to western civilisation of
material living. Gandhi felt that India would be destroying and degrade itself by adopting western
mode of civilisation. In Hind Swaraj, he did not give teachings as Guru and Shishya but it is in Reader-
Editor dialogic form which offers exchange of views and ideas that confront the problems of
contemporary society.

Hind Swaraj means “rule of dharma” in an ideal state. Gandhi believed in simplicity as without it we
cannot have ethical living. Gandhi strongly felt that western civilisation has destroyed Indian ethical
living due to increase in material wealth. Gandhi’s concept of civilization is duty based. He recalls
that, “Civilization is that mode of conduct which points out to man the path of duty.” Where there
is no poverty that is happiness; where there is no discrimination that is happiness; where people
have contentment that is happiness. In other words, Gandhi was concerned with the qualitative
development of life rather than quantitative development. Gandhi wanted that people should
rediscover their ethical and apply moral values for a quality of life. Gandhi’s life mission was to
rehumanize the dehumanized society. In one word, Gandhi wanted Indian culture, but not western
civilization as it is the root cause of all evils in the society. Every one’s basic needs must be met. No
one should go hungry, or without shelter.

Gandhi believed that factory erode nation's identity, it do not enhance the individual liberty. Gandhi
thus realised that the industrialisation would increase the gap between rich and poor as the richer
becomes more richer and the poor gets more poorer. Gandhi and Karl Marx, both were concerned of
the class struggles in society as Karl Marx believed that it would end alienation and creates harmony
in society while Gandhi knew that class struggle would create more violence in society. He also
opposed industrialisation because it would lead to growth of cities and towns and an end to rural
surroundings and this growth would increase inequality and unemployment as the work of men will
be taken by machines. Gandhi's most basic concern was of environmental degradation due to
westernisation. The over-exploitation of natural resources for the sake of Industrialization is being
felt all over the world today. The growing Industrialisation have created several environmental
problems. The coming up of large-scale factories have polluted our environment of which Gandhi
was against. Large scale industries are found to be harmful because they exhaust our natural
resources and omit toxic chemicals in to the atmosphere. Gandhi rejects the technology and mode
of its production because that will lead to conflict between people and nation. Gandhi rejected the
working of industrialization because it is based on greed and it is this greed that has lead to the
depletion of non-renewable natural resources and has created environmental pollution. He believed
in the fact that the conditions in India are different from west, what is good for west may not prove
to be good for India as well.

India confronted two different versions of reconstruction, first, the Gandhian policy of reviving
village life and second, Nehru's policy of rapid increase in Industrialisation. Nehru believed that
construction of Dams would meet India's essential development needs and later he reframed his
statement calling dams as "a disease of gigantism" which India must abandon. The Narmada Bachao
Andolan (NBA) played a significant role in describing the effect of industrialisation affecting
humanity. It was believed that any action taken by government is for the benefit of people but the
scenario was different. The Narmada River flows through the state of Maharashtra, Gujarat and
Madhya Pradesh but it touches the state of Maharashtra. The plan of dams over Narmada was called
the best technical plan of its time. The movement against the dams started in 1986 by Narmada
Dharangrastha Samiti and Narmada Ghati Navnirman Samiti together under the leadership of Medha
Patkar. The large dams over river Narmada came to symbolise the struggle for unjust and equitable
society in India. For construction of Dams, large number of poor people were displaced from their
livelihood. The construction of dams affect human as well as nature. The NBA started protesting
against building of dams following Gandhian path of non-violence, they sit on dharna. Their famous
slogans were Vikas chahiye, vinash nahi!( "We want development, not destruction") and Koi nahi
hatega, bandh nahi banega! (" No one will move, the dam will not be built").

In the movie "Lage rho MunnaBhai ", in which Gandhi as a spirit asks to take down all his photos and
statues from everywhere and if anyone want to find him, he should keep him in his heart. By this it
can be seen that in an idolatrous country like India who can iconize and idolise anyone can be easily
be a way of bracketing him off relevance and reality.
Gandhi was aware of the fact that Western civilization also gave a positive contribution such as the
rule of law and constitutionalism, civil liberty, equality, rights, and economic development were
some of its positive gains. But Gandhi realized that modern civilization is all about competition and
acquisition of wealth and concentration of power. Gandhi wanted to combine rights with duties,
empirical knowledge with moral right, economic development with spiritual progress.

The Congress did not support Gandhian model of economic development as his book Hind Swaraj
was critical of westernisation and the western concept of development. In the book, " A Bunch of
Letters", there is a debate between Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi on the development of
Post-Independence Era 1930s where Jawaharlal Nehru did not agree with Gandhi as he felt that
future development of India was intricately interconnected with the Western Industrial and political
model. When the Indian constitution was made , the constituent assembly neglected the Gandhian
concept and introduced western model. After one hundred years when we look back into the
concepts and contents of Hind Swaraj, we find its remarkable relevance.

Today the concept of industrialisation is considered necessary for development because today
everyone need luxurious style of life but in doing so it increases environmental problem which in
turn affect all the humankind. Though the economic development is necessary and unavoidable for
human progress but the kind of development that is taking place today is not certainly the ideal one.
The benefits of present day development are only enjoyed by the urban population in large scale
while they are denied to the rural poor. In order to overcome the ill-effects of modern concept of
development, Sustainable development was introduced as only remedy left for the rescue which
helps human to meet their basic need and concern with future growth in nature. The idea of
sustainable development was perceived by Gandhi and he wrote in his book "Hind Swaraj" but his
ideas were not taken literally.

Gandhi came to the conclusion that the Western Civilization was based on brute force. The goal of
Gandhi of simple living, non-possession and decentralisation can be achieved, if and only if small
scale industries were introduced. Therefore, Gandhi advocated the real alternative to
industrialization is of small scale industries. This Gandhian solution becomes all the more relevant
today because of the problem of large scale pollution and natural resource depletion which are
characteristic of large scale industries. Though Gandhi's solution sound unrealistic and utopian but
no other alternative have be formulated so far. That is why Gandhi focuses on moral values and he
related economy with morality and ethical consideration.
REFERENCES FROM:

 The Gandhian Model of development- an outline and a critique of the policy regime by
J. Mathew.
 Relevance of Gandhi's critique of Modern Civilisation and its institutions by Dr. G. Vijayam.
 Why people opposed dams: environment and culture in subsistence economy by Vinod
Raina.
 The Moment and the Manoeuvre: Gandhi and the critique of Civil society by P. Chatterjee.
POLITICAL SCIENCE

ASSIGNMENT

ALLIED COURSE

SUBMITTED BY:

PRITI SEHRAWAT

1215

ENGLISH HONS(II YEAR)