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When you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you,
apply the following test:--

Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man

whom you may have seen, and ask yourself,

If the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him?

Will he gain anything by it ?

Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny ?

In other words, will it lead to ‘Swaraj’ for the hungry
and spiritually starving millions ?

Then you will find your doubt and your ‘self’ melting away.

Rural Development

11 August 2009


Gandhi’s idea to develop the Indian society was based on his understanding of the society and hence based on the village system. Talking about the importance of village, he wrote in 1936, “I would say if the village perishes, India will perish too. It will be no more India. His one mission in the world will get lost.” Harijan. 29.08.36.

He was aware of the realities of the village life and knew the plight of half starved masses of India. He often acknowledged the same in his vivid descriptions of Indian villages. He wrote, “instead of having graceful hamlets dotting the lands, we have dung-heaps. The approach to many villages is not a refreshing experience. Often one would like to shut one’s eyes and stuff one’s nose, such is the surrounding dirt and offending smell”. (Gandhi: Constructive programmes – its meaning and place). His understanding of the plight of the people has been extremely well brought out in his writings, identifying his emphasis on removal of poverty over aesthetics. 
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A fair trial is one in which justice is served and all relevant credible evidence is presented, tested, and adjudicated upon, according to the law. All wrongful convictions detract from faith in the fair administration of justice.

Concept of Rural Reconstruction : 

His concept of rural reconstruction is a comprehensive one, emphasizing on the
economic, political, social, educational, ecological and spiritual dimensions. He ceaselessly insisted on a pattern of village life, which will be man-centered and non-exploiting. The decentralized village economy should provide full employment to all on the basis of voluntary cooperation and work for achieving self-sufficiency in it’s basic requirement of food, clothing and shelter. In short, it can be said that rural reconstruction, according to Gandhi should not be merely concerned with raising the standard of living of village folk, though that was important. Talking specifically about an ideal village, where in he outlined the objectives of rural reconstruction: - he said,

My idea of an ideal village is that of complete republic independence of its neighbor for its own vital wants, and yet dependent for many others in which dependence is necessity. Such village will contain intelligent people. First concern of the village should be to grow its own food. Then only all communities will live together in harmony.

The curse of untouchability, intoxicating drinks and drugs will not exist. Women will enjoy the same right as the men. People in villages will not live in dirt and darkness as animal. No one will wallow in luxury. The village community should take up the responsibility for providing work to all able bodied people and every one will have to contribute his quota of manual labour.

Non-violence with its techniques of Satyagraha and non-cooperation will have the sanction of village community. The government of the village will be conducted by the panchayat of five persons annually elected by the villagers. (Harijan 26.07.42). Such an ideal society, he stated is “necessarily highly cultured because every man and women in that society knows what he or she wants and also no one should want anything that others could not have. Such a society will be an “Oceanic Circle” where the centre will be the individual who will always be ready to perish for the village, later ready to perish for the circle of villagers, till at last the whole becomes a life comprised of individuals”.

Affluence of people was, not in Gandhi’s mind. He believed that there was sufficient to meet the needs of all people, but not their greed. He considered, that the type of
development, Europe had achieved was the result of a systematic colonization and exploitation of both people and nature. In addition, it had contributed to imbalance in the levels of development of different areas, monopolization of benefits by a few families, and increase of poverty and violence. He, therefore rejected not only supportive mechanism of development seen as bureaucracy, technology, elitist education, but also the whole idea of development as conceived by the builders of the western industrial society.

Truth, non-violence, freedom, equality, full employment, bread labour, trusteeship, decentralization, swadesh and cooperation were perceived as cardinal principles for rural reconstruction.

VALUES : The first four
principles are the universal or core values, i.e. Truth, Non-violence, Freedom, Equality; the remaining, flowing mostly from them and are linked with his economic ideas. They were formulated by Gandhi to regulate initially the conducts of inmates of Satyagraha Ashram in 1930 and latter extended to the work for rural reconstruction. These were not intended to be mechanical formulae, but as practical aids to moral and spiritual growth. A brief elaboration of some of these principles like truth, no-violence, freedom and equality will be useful to understand them and their importance in the context of initiating action for rural reconstruction.

Truth : He regarded truth as the source of Dharma. Hence there should be truth in thought, speech and action. The man who has realized truth completely has nothing else to know, because all knowledge is necessarily included in it. And that is why truth is perhaps the most important name of God. In fact it is better to say that truth is God, than to say God is truth.

His concept of truth involves complete tolerance to those who differ. According to him the aim of human life is to attain truth and non-violence. Truth is of two types, Ultimate and Relative. It is comparatively easy to achieve relative truth. However the endeavor should be to know the ultimate truth, because this results in realization of God.

Non-violence : Gandhi considered non-violence, besides truth synonymous with God. He believed that non-violence has its own relevance in resolving conflict and is also related to reconstruction of society. Non-violent resolution of conflict is in accordance with the dignity of man’s spirit. He can save his spirit by observing non-violence, which is in tune with his spirituality. Another aspect of non-violence is progress. It binds people together, promoting cooperation, harmony and unity and preventing destruction, contributes to development. Practice of absolute non-violence is not possible so long one exists physically. It is not the same as non-killing, nor it is non-resistance borne out of cowardice. It implies absence of hatred or ill will, love for wrong doer, courage in the face of violence, bread labour, truthfulness and freedom from possession.

Freedom : Closely linked with truth and non-violence is freedom; without the freedom of body, mind and soul, the individual can not attain perfection. It is used to indicate freedom to make a choice and to take a decision without which development of individual is not possible. This perfection can be achieved by acquisition of the capacity by all to resist authority, when it is misused. It makes people tolerant to other

Equality : It flows logically from the concept of non-violence, since non-violence and non-exploitation is impossible without equality.


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