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Beyond the Father of our Nation

By Medha Shrivastava

Edited by Namrata Caleb, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist

To us he is Bapu- the father of the nation, however to the world Gandhi is known as a philosopher. His notions and ideas have been debated and discussions have been held so as to decide if his ideologies could be adapted in a country’s development process. Non-violence , satyagrah and swaraj are the concepts Gandhi is popular for. However he had a very different notion about quite a few things , which will be the centre of this article hereon.

Gandhi, in his book –Hind Swaraj- expresses an uncommon way of thinking. Gandhi doesn’t seem very futuristic , the reason could be that his views had developed in a colonial India, prior to the 1991 Liberalisation process. Many of the solutions he provides are pertaining to a British India and not a free nation.

For instance, in the Globalised 21st century, trade usually means gain to both parties and  we are only too happy to have multinational companies in our country. However when we come to the topic  of the East India Company , Gandhi describes the same notion of trade as- India “ was tempted at the sight of their silver.” India “bought their goods.”Trade seems like a crime to Gandhi and it is supposed to be a manifestation of greed and the reason for India becoming colonised.

Another  instance is where he denounces all the law courts-“The chief thing, however to be remembered is that without lawyers courts could not have been established or conducted and without the latter the English could not rule.” Gandhi does not see the Judiciary as a separate institution – untied to the colonial period. He is unable to recognise the fact that it would be impossible to govern without a law court, especially in a democracy.

He denounces machinery, lawyers, doctors and railways –that is he rejects choice in goods, justice , cure and transport respectively. He says that since machinery leads to reduction in manual labour and therefore unemployment, it should be abandoned. He thinks that , lawyers, due to the nature of their profession must also defend criminals. In case of doctors, he says that the doctor provides cure for an ailment that we bought upon ourselves(say due to over eating) and the cure doesn’t allow us to take the punishment(for over eating.) To reject railways he gives absurd reasons such as- “Bad men fulfil their evil designs with greater rapidity. The holy places of India have become unholy.” And  when reproached that if more corrupt men are able to travel to holy places, then more good men too  are ferried, he says-“Good travels at a snail’s pace –it can therefore have little to do with railways. But evil has wings.”Gandhi can be described as a hypocrite as he himself used railways to attend meetings and rallies.

Gandhi indeed had peculiar ideas which were driven by the thought that one should follow the voice of their conscience. Many of his sayings were based on the belief of self governance- in his opinion true swaraj is learning to rule oneself. His ideas depended on human behaviour. He believed that each must do his duty and that way we would be rid not only of the british rule but also of corruption, dishonesty and evil.

Medha Shrivastava is pursuing Economic Honors from Gargi College, Delhi University. She wants to visit the underground vaults of RBI and she aspires to become a permanent food critic at Master Chef Australia. You have to ignore people who call her weird and hyper. She is creative and her imagination is limitless. She is a futurist, bookworm and a fan of classic rock.