The thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, are becoming more relevant all over the world. People are seeking solutions to their problems in Gandhiji’s thoughts. Entangled in the arms race, the world is turning to Gandhism. People have been forced to understand that wars are not the solution to any problem. Violent revolutions around the world have not led anywhere. Time has revealed that satyagraha and non-violence are the best paths to take. Be it people, institutions or countries, it is now believed that there is a better alternative and a humane way to express dissent, register protest.
Environmental protection is fast becoming a priority for society these days. Intellectuals and activists have taken to the streets in many parts of the world due to the worsening environmental situation. Although the term environment was not in vogue during Bapu’s lifetime, Gandhiji worried about the future. He believed that “there is enough on earth for everybody’s need but not enough for everybody’s greed”. In his article, “Swasthya ki Kunji”, he expressed his views on clean air. He said that three natural resources are needed — air, water and food — but clean air is the most important of them. Gandhiji inspired Indians to spin yarn with charkha and wear hand-woven clothes. The objective behind this was not only to arouse the swadeshi sentiment, but also to reduce general waste, especially the waste from textile mills.
Gandhiji was a great advocate of rural development. Advocating the uplift of villages, he wrote in Harijan Sevak in 1946, “There should be development of such art and workmanship in the countryside, that their products are valued outside of villages too.” On the one hand, Gandhiji was leading a non-violent struggle for freedom, on the other, he was trying to save the fragmented fabric of Indian society through his creative programmes.
Gandhiji considered education to be the major contributor for building a better society. He established the first basic school at Barharwa Lakhansen during the Champaran Satyagraha in 1917. On May 8, 1937, he wrote in Harijan that “Man is neither entirely intellect, nor a gross body, neither only a heart or a soul. A proper and consistent combination of all these is needed to create a complete human being. This is the true purpose of education.”
Only through Swadeshi will India become a self-sufficient and strong country. Today, there is an increasing move towards Swadeshi. This gives an opportunity for small industries to flourish. Rural people from far-flung areas get a chance to become financially self-reliant through such endeavours. Gandhiji wanted the country to become self-sufficient through Swadeshi. We have moved in that direction after a long time. This has started yielding positive results. Today, there is an awakening among the people for Swadeshi, which is a heartening trend.
With the intent to make villages healthy and clean, the government has started a mass movement. Villages and cities are getting transformed with the government’s cleanliness programmes. Gandhiji gave great emphasis to cleanliness of villages.
Village cleanliness is necessary but difficult to achieve. It requires behavioural changes. We need hard work and perseverance to get over lifelong habits. Gandhiji was equally concerned about dirt in cities. He said that the one thing we can learn from the West and we must learn, is the sacredness attached to cleanliness in cities. We are yet to imbibe this thought of Gandhiji.
Gandhiji’s thoughts are eternal. The biggest reason for this is that he tested his ideas on the ground. Today, the world sees Gandhi’s path as the most enduring.
The author is Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, Government of India
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines