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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.

Gandhian Philosophy

Gandhi as Leader of People

12 September 2009


“If I have the belief that I can do it,
I will surely acquire the capacity to do it;
even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
…… Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi had demonstrated that a powerful human following can be assembled…
through the cogent example of a morally superior conduct of life.
…… Albert Einstein.

Gandhi was a leader of his people, unsupported by any authority; a politician whose success rested not upon craft or guile, but simply upon the moral grandeur of his soul; a fighter who pushed back the mightiest empire on the earth without the use of force; a spirit of profound wisdom and captivating humility, armed with only an iron will and inflexible resolve and a frail man who confronted the brutality of military strength with the dignity of a simple human being. Friv 2 

Gandhi held the view that the life of a good citizen was the life of karma - action in the service of the country. “my writhing should be cremated with my body”, he said, “What I have done will endure not what I have said or written.”

Indian systems and ideology may be relevant at one time and irrelevant at others. But teachings of this great and benign lamp of wisdom and humanity are for eternity. He gave us the priceless gift of self-respect and the sense of dignity as a nation.

Mass discipline is an essential condition
for a people who aspire to be a great nation.

Gandhi completely identified himself with the Indian masses. He observed: we must come in living touch with them by working with them and in their midst we must share their sorrows, understand their difficulties and anticipate their wants. With the pariahs we must be pariahs and see how we feel to clean the closet of the upper classes and have the remains of their to be thrown at us. We must see how we like being in the boxes, miscalled houses of the labors of Mumbai. We must identify with the villagers who toil under the hot sun beating on their bent back and see how we would like to drink water from the pool in which villagers bathe, wash their clothes and pots and in which their cattle drink and roll. Then and not till than shall we truly represent the masses and they will, as surely as I am writing this, respond to every call.

Indian masses responded to the mahatma’s call in a spirit of total surrender. He said to them, Real Swaraj will come not by the acquisition of authority by a few but by the acquisition of capacity by all to resist authority when it is abused.

There are three factors responsible which have distorted a rational development of citizenship in India. One is Poverty, crating the need for economic security at any price and its corollary, the widening gap between rich and the poor, the second is the galloping population growth and the third is the conflict between ethnicity and the doctrine of unity. Reconciling the implication of the pressures upon the public psyche, a self-centered society has emerged. This society seems unable to look further than narrow self-interest, self-promotion and self-ambition”. This is the rule rather than the exception which leaves a particularly heavy burden on all disinterested citizens who are acutely aware that we shall have no nation worth the name in the near future unless we can do something to restore the confidence of the people in a life-style that shows concerns for others.

A moral person or citizen is one who is concerned with the welfare and happiness of his or her fellow beings. He subordinates his individual goals in the larger interest of the society. He is expected to move from the ego-centric self to a decentering activities, leading to the formation of a harmonious and reciprocal relationship. These ideals and values are inculcated and transmitted into an individual by the society in which he lives.

“Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which
he works for the welfare of his fellowmen”

There is a story of a drowning boy or a philosopher or a leader. When the philosopher was lecturing him the boy cried, “take me out of the water first”. Similarly lectures enough, meetings enough, papers and books enough; where is the man who will lend us a hand to drag us out ? where is the man who really loves us? Where is the man who has sympathy for us ? Ah ! that man is wanted. That is Gandhi, who was voted as the greatest human being of 20th century. His message was, “my life is my message.”

If conflict arises from divergence and opposition, accommodation and cooperation arises from complementarity, balance of power and consensus. Complementarity means the possibility of mutual advantage and cooperative interdependence is likely to be highly advantageous. The more integrated into the society are parties to conflict; the less likely will be chances of conflict being violent. This is the Gandhian way to create a peaceful society.

Power can be economic or political in its nature; it may emerge from the sword or the pen, or from the common voice of collective people. Power can also come out of faith, one’s conviction that one’s way is the right or righteous way. It is this belief in oneself that we see at work in the mission of Mahatma Gandhi, in his practice of Satyagraha- Satyagrahi; insistence on truth.

You must be the Change…
You want to see in the world.

Ethical values, however sound they are, must have a backing of Samarthya (power). Otherwise they are like a bow an arrow without a anchor to use them. The weapon has neither strength, nor accuracy, nor purpose by itself. A leader of the nation has the responsibility of uniting the people. He must constantly remind himself of responsibilities as a ruler. He should not be engrossed in his own life, in the pursuit of self-gratification. He must not become an uncaring and callous leader towards citizens. He must turn power from a gratification into responsibility. This is expected from all leaders from top to bottom, or bottom to top to serve people and build.

At a Washington meeting some years ago, Peter Drucker, the management Guru was asked who would make an ideal chief. Why not an accountant, said one, what about the marketing expert, asked another. What corporations need is an efficient manager, said the third. Druker disagreed with them all. His vote went for a Doctor of Divinity, A man such as that argued Druker, would stand for Values.

Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong.

We need a man of values at the head of a Government. We need a philosopher king, whose head is clear and whose heart is in the right place.

Gandhi believed that there is divinity in all life, and thus fundamental unity in diversity. The Gandhian model envisaged that development and government should be bottom-up and not be top down; goal should be self-defined and not stranger defined, production should be aimed at basic goods to fulfill basic needs with useful value and not at non-basic and greed-oriented luxury goods; the process of production should be by the masses, and not through mass production and the whole approach should be holistic and not sectoral. The model of industrial development is relevant primarily to the industrial economic sector. This model needs refinement and has to be made sustainable. The Gandhian model in the words of J.C. Kumarappa, leads to decentralized economic planning and actually “Economics of Performance”, while in the model of industrial economics there is a danger that the rich becomes richer.

India’s success will be measured not by homogenizing a heterogeneous situation but by the success with which the diverse groups can be homonized and co-exist and become mutually reinforcing and supportive; where traditions and modernity are appropriately blended, and where man-made capital does not become destructive of the natural capital. Both models have their specific constituencies in India. Thus following a democratic path, there is a need for creative synthesis of Gandhian and western models.

We must go back to the spirit and ideals of those halcyon days when we practiced the philosophy of Nation first and foremost; when we spoke the language of the heart; when we breathed the air of idealism; when we walked hand-in-hand on the path of selfless service and sacrifice; when all sons and daughters of the motherland prided themselves in being, “Indians first, Indian last and Indian always”. The need of the hour is that leaders and people of the country be inspired by the ideas and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi…..

“A small body of determined spirit,
fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission….
can alter the course of history.”


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