2nd October ,2007… a very important day in the life of an average working person in a metropolis since it is a national holiday, that too in the middle of a week. We all know how important these precious holidays can be, bringing to us the much desired and required break. For most of us, the day would mean to sit back and relax and spend time with our loved ones (read as television, laptop, ipod or mobile phones.) After all, even if we are catching up with our friends, it is through the phone or computer, or even if we are watching movies, it is through the television.
So how does this act as a day of commemorating Gandhiji? The average, justified response would be “what does Gandhi have to do with a day spent in pure bliss?”
The answer is- a lot perhaps. If thousands of youngsters celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday by cutting cakes and remembering all his famous comments, maybe Gandhiji deserves the same love and respect on his birth day. To begin with, we may not spend the entire day with various gadgets, since Gandhiji hated the idea of people becoming dependant on machinery. Instead, Gandhiji was of the opinion that we should let the technology and machinery be state run so that they can be used for a national good, instead of being a way of life. More importantly, Gandhi was against machinery that robbed people of their livelihood, especially the average Indian, who resides in the villages. In other words, he thought that they are responsible in leaving many poor people without a source of income.
However, he was not against development of technology as such, in fact he hoped for a country that had successful steel mills, electric industries in the cities and handicrafts in villages. This would lead to an upsurge in employment in both areas.
Sixty years post Independence, the poverty line is becoming sharper and more apparent, the distinction between villages and cities with respect to economic conditions has become more prominent, and as has the harmful impact of machines on Man. The government has come up with various policies but most have failed to create a sustained impact. The question arises- can Gandhian principles provide a solution?
Gandhi himself claimed that he belonged to the school which believes in prevention rather than cure. He had suggested a different structure of living where people did not migrate to the big cities and rather settled in rural areas, much before the independence. Today, we have not followed his suggestion; the big cities have been flooded by people, and everyone is drowning in the problems of unemployment, poverty and overpopulation, amongst many other hindrances. We have allowed Khadi and various other cottage industries to get drained out. Gandhi’s voice was that of an “orient civilisationist”, which raised an opposition to the western Industrialisation. In the present situation, following this ideology and fighting against mechanization seems a gargantuan task, with all countries opening their arms towards it. Even the government perhaps realize that India is not completely self sufficient and therefore, we can not think of digressing from the western ideologies of globalization and industrialization. Instead, a middle path is being resorted to; with prominence being given to the cottage industries and cooperatives. We can already see the success of cooperatives such as Amul. Khadi is in vogue again, as is tie and dye and other handicrafts. The talent of rural folk is being amplified by various NGO’s and their demand is slowly returning in the cities due to this effort. The production that was nearly wiped out years ago, is being restored.
People, therefore are realizing and reiterating what Gandhi had claimed in as early as 1910. However, it is not enough or correct to blame science and technology for all the destruction that we see around us today. Since technology can be used in the way we want to use it, it becomes important for us to realize that the power lies in our very own hands, and therefore we can stop its misuse at this moment, if we so wish.
The obvious query would be that what each one of us can do to prevent this invasion of machinery in Man’s life. The Gandhian solution lies in simplifying our own lives and being satisfied with what we have. We can endeavour to slow the pace of our fast paced life by not hungering for more power, more success, more wealth. In our daily life, it can translate into giving up on the latest nokia n series phone. It is only if we change our mindset, can we bring in change in the present destructive drive of burgeoning industrialization.
On Gandhi Jayanti, or World peace Day, the ideal celebration can be a little more than watching Lage Raho Munnabhai once again or practicing Gandhigiri on an uncompromising boss. We can begin by bringing in peace in our own life by taking a single baby step towards a simpler life; a life not driven by desire for more, instead by desire for being happy with what we already have.
Thus, 2nd October,2007…..a very important day in the life of an average working person living in a metropolis, since it can be the day when we attempt to alter our life in one “simple” way. Gandhiji had said that if a plain life can be worth leading, then an attempt is worth making. To inspire this path, I leave my comrades with a quote, “What we need is to change the country into a better place to live in, and ourselves into people more worthy of living in it.”