Gandhi Concept of Development

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GANDHI’S WAY
 
Decentralization
 
According to Gandhi, modern civilization was responsible for impoverishing the Indian villages, which occupied a pivotal position in the Indian situation. Gandhi has always been a critic of the centralization of economic and political power. Large scale production inevitably led to concentration of economic and political power. Labor and material, production and distribution became the monopoly of the few rich. Such a concentration of economic power resulted in corresponding centralization of political power. Aldous Huxley, in his Science, Liberty and Peace, drew attention to this universal tendency of modern technology: "The centralizing of industrial capacity in big, mass-producing factories has resulted in the centralization of a large part of the population in cities and the reduction of ever-increasing numbers of individuals to complete dependence upon a few private capitalists and their managers, or upon the public capitalist, the state, represented by politicians and working through civil servants. So far as liberty is concerned, there is little to choose between the two types of bosses."14  One of the recurring themes in the writings and pronouncements of Gandhi is this centralizing tendency of technology: "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 backs of millions."15 Again he said, "What is industrialism but a control of the majority by the small minority?"16  The solution to the problem of centralization consists in decentralization of political and economic power. Small-scale, manageable techniques, capable of being handled by individual producers, the co-operatives in the villages or the region should be given priority and promoted on a mass scale for the benefit of the masses. Gandhi, though judged wrongly by many, was not advocating a return to medieval techniques. He vehemently opposed the indiscriminate multiplication of large-scale industries which obstructed village development. He wanted technological research to be village-oriented, perfecting the cottage and village industries. When every village should be able to own its own technology, economic power will be diffused and the village will emerge in the Gandhian scheme as the nucleus of social life. Decentralization of economic power will result in the decentralization of political power. Modern technology will no more be in a position to exploit the village. A proper balance between agriculture and industry will be established and, in due course, the village will exert a transformative influence. Production will be regulated by the needs of the village. Pyarelal has very lucidly described this relationship:  

Agriculture in this set-up will go hand in hand with industry. Such products of the village, as they enter into the daily consumption of the villagers or as they are needed for their cottage crafts, will be processed in the village itself; the surplus alone being sent out to the cities in exchange for services and goods on a fair and equitable basis. Cities will serve as emporia for village products instead of the villages being used as a dumping ground for the manufactured goods of the cities. Machines will not be abolished. On the contrary, the people will have many more of them. But these machines will be simple machines which the people can themselves operate and own individually or collectively.17   

This relationship between agriculture and industry, village and city, will stop exploitation and bring self-sufficiency. For him it was imperative that sufficiency should start from below, i.e., from the village and then upward to the regional level. In Gandhi’s own words:  

My idea of village Swaraj is that it is a complete republic, independent of its neighbors for its own vital wants, and yet interdependent for many others which dependence is a necessity. Thus, every village’s first concern will be to grow its...
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