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Gandhi’s Idea Of Self Reliant Villages

Gandhi’s Idea Of Self Reliant Villages


  • Economic Development of a country depends on the proper utilization of resources (both human and non-human). India, at the time of her independence, had an economy with a low level of economic and technological development, low per capital income, slow pace of development of economic and social institutions and outdated methods of production techniques. Our objective then was to attain and accelerate the economic development of the country. At the time while India started formulating planning strategies in 1951-52 there was debate on India’s development problems. The debate centered around the Gandhian approach and the Nehruvian approach.
  • Nehru adopted modernizing approach of the planning i.e. socialist framework of economic policy. He also viewed planning as a way of avoiding the unnecessary rigorous industrial transition. He believed that this way would affect the people living in the rural areas. He also learned lesson from Gandhi and accordingly initiated policy which centered around the rural masses.
  • Gandhian approach has always said about the voluntary wants, the need for self-sufficient village communities and the issues relating to better balance between man and nature. Gandhi wanted to have an ideal society of his own imagination and his economic ideas are a part and parcel of his philosophical and sociological ideas. He was interested in the growth of human beings and more significantly the growth of the deprived and underprivileged group of people.

Basic principles of Gandhian model of rural reconstruction

  • The basic principle of village swaraj as outlined by Gandhiji are trusteeship, swadeshi, full employment, bread labour, self-sufficiency, decentralisation, equality, NaiTalim etc.
  • Thus the idea of ideal village of Gandhian dream was a comprehensive one, encompassing the economic, social, political and educational dimensions.
  • Gandhiji gave emphasis on truth and non-violence in every aspect of human life and said, “the swaraj of my opinion will come only when all us are firmly persuaded that our swaraj has got to be won, worked and maintained through truth.

Underlying values  | Gandhi’s Idea Of Self Reliant Villages

Values Underlying of this Model The Gandhian Model of rural development is based on the following values and premises :

  • Rural India is found not in its cities, but in its villages.
  • The revival of villages is possible only when the villagers are exploited no more. Exploitation of villagers by city dwellers was ‘violence’ in Gandhiji’s opinion.
  • Simple living and high thinking, implying voluntary reduction of materialistic wants, and pursuit of moral and spiritual principles of life.
  • Dignity of labour : everyone must earn his bread by physical labour , and one who labours must necessarily get his subsistence.
  • Performance to the use of indigenous (swadeshi) products, services and institutions.
  • Balance between the ends and the means : Gandhiji believed that non-violence and truth could not be sustained unless a balance between the ends and the means was maintained.

Gandhi Ji’s Idea of an Ideal Village

  • The village is the basic unit of the Gandhian ideal social order.
  • Gandhi succinctly pointed out, “If the village perishes India will perish too…. We have to make a choice between India of the villages that is as ancient as herself and India of the cities which are a creation of foreign domination”.
  • Gandhi’s ideal village belongs to the Pre-British period, when Indian villages were supposed to constitute the federation of self-governing autonomous republics.
  • According to Gandhiji, this federation will be brought about not by coercion or compulsion but by the voluntary offer of every village republic to join such a federation. The work of the central authority will only be to coordinate the work of different village republics and to supervise and manage things of common interest, as education, basic industries, health, currency, banking etc.
  • The central authority will have no power to enforce its decisions on village republics except the moral pressure or power of persuasion. The economic system and transport system introduced by the British have destroyed the “republican’ character of the villages.
  • Gandhi, however, admitted that in olden times tyranny and oppression were in fact practised by feudal chiefs. But, “odds were even”.

Major principles of Gandhian economics that can be applied in the Indian economy

  • Concept of Trusteeship: The concept of trusteeship as enunciated by Gandhi, demands non-possession. It seeks individuals to dispossess their wealth and income beyond their requirements so that the economic welfare of the less capable is realized. According to him, wealth is good, but wealthy people must be only trustees of a community’s wealth and not its owners.
  • Enabling Gram Swaraj: According to Gandhi, the progress of human beings and local communities must be the means for economic growth. Further, the governments must be strengthened at the local level, in villages and cities.
  • Focus of Sarvodaya: The government must focus on the well-being of the poorest and weakest member of society.
  • Formation of Co-operatives: The alienation of owners from workers must be reduced with the creation of new models of cooperative capitalist enterprises, where the workers, not remote capitalists, or the state, are owners of the enterprises.

Conclusion  | Gandhi’s Idea Of Self Reliant Villages

  • The Gandhian model of rural reconstruction, like any other development model, has both its proponents and opponents.
  • The proponents argue that under the prevailing sociocultural and economic conditions in India, the Gandhian model is still relevant, and is the only alternative available for bringing about equitable and sustainable rural development. They assert that panchayati raj institutions and cooperatives are still as relevant as when they were in Gandhiji’s days, and that the role of appropriate education cannot be overemphasized even in the present Indian context.
  • The critics argue that Gandhiji’s ideals of swadeshi, voluntary curtailment of one’s wants, trusteeship, self-sufficient villages, and use of manual labour in preference to machines sound obsolete these days, particularly in the weeks of India’s new economic policy characterized by privatization, liberalization, and globalization.
  • As a matter of fact, by adopting an economic growth-oriented development part and by following the Western model of industrialization, both under the influence of Jawaharlal Nehru, India had abandoned the Gandhian model long ago, they assert further.
  • To conclude it could have been said that Gandhiji wanted India to travel east, but India decided to travel west, and it is known that ‘the twain never meet’.