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Durable Link to this BlogWednesday, June 09, 2004

Relevance of Gandhi's Hind Swaraj

Gandhiji's thoughts on impact of civilization and colonialism on mankind.

See Earlier Entry: Gandhi's Hind Swaraj

Gandhi feels that civilization is interpreted as bodily happiness. While studying ancient civilizations we lay stress on comforts discovered, like Roman baths, cosmetics, varieties of wine, perfumes etc. In modern context, it is posh living. i.e., better housing, clothing, weaponry, shoes etc, as in the past. Manual labor in agriculture is replaced by machines and tractors. "People travelled in carts and wagons earlier, now they fly. This is considered height of civilization. Formerly men were made slaves under physical compulsion. Now they are enslaved by temptation of money and luxuries. There are now diseases of which people never dreamt before. This is test of civilization ..... Civilization seeks to increase bodily comforts. In future men may not need hand and feet. They will press a button for their daily chores...... This civilization is self-destroying!" declares Gandhi.

Gandhi seems almost prophetic. Increase in throat-cancer deaths in recent years due to excessive smoking, liver cirrhosis due to drinking and cases of AIDS, world over, are nothing but diseases connected with 'bodily-comforts' a bane of civilization, as Gandhi interpreted it.

Gandhi on Colonialism

Colonialism, the evil force of last century, occupied Gandhi's mind for years and how he fought it without shedding blood is a classic example. For him colonialism was based on breaking up a community's (or a nation's) life; day -today life.... "the English (in India and African countries) perpetuated the rule, through law courts. For Gandhi, legal profession and medical profession in India modelled on western lines made people shell out money for unnecessary gains, for political gains "To study European medicine is to deepen our slavery" was his argument.

He further argued that both legal and medical professions led to concentration of riches in the hands of few. Education through English medium led to mental slavery.

We see truth and harsh truth in Gandhiji's musings. As years rolled by, English medium became more and more popular after India became free. Now we take pride in sending our youngsters abroad for better prospects, to perpetuate Gandhi's apprehensions! (of mental slaverly). In the 21st century, legal profession has become the most sought for, either in corporate undertakings, business houses or government ventures, proving thereby the sound logic behind Gandhi's remarks.

Pharmaceutical multi-national companies, are making hey-day. In India, this led to destruction of native systems of medicines like ayurveda and yunani. Increase in the number of broken families, world over, has seen legal profession flourishing in developed or developing countries, proving, greed of man is at the basis of 'civilization' as interpreted by Gandhi.

See Also:
• Mahatma Gandhi Album

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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