& Work For Village Development
Village Development &
Economy of Country
The Present State in
Little do town-dwellers know how the
semi-starved masses of India are slowly sinking to lifelessness. Little
do they know that their miserable comfort represents the brokerage, they
get for the work they do for the foreign exploiter, that the profits and
the brokerage are sucked from the masses. Little do they realize that
the Government established by law in British India is carried on for
this exploitation of the masses. No sophistry, on jugglery in figures
can explain away the evidence that the skeletons in many villages
present to the naked eye. I have no doubt whatsoever that both England
and the town-dwellers of India will have to answer, if there is a God
above, for this crime against humanity which is perhaps unequalled in
– Young India, 23-3-1922
The Root Cause
The present distress is
undoubtedly insufferable. Pauperism must go But industrialism is no
remedy. The evil does not lie in the use of bullock-carts. It lies in
our selfishness and want of consideration for our neighbours. If we have
no love for our neighbours, no change, however revolutionary, can do us
– Young India, 7-10-1926
I would destroy that system
today, if had the power. I would use the most deadly weapons, if I believed that
they would destroy it. I refrain only because the use of such weapons would only
perpetuate the system though it may destroy its present administrators. Those
who seek to destroy men rather than manners, adopt the latter and become worse
then those whom they destroy under the mistaken belief that the manners will die
with the men. They do not know the root of the evil.
- Young India, 17-3-1927
The question about railways and
telegraphs is really too insignificant in relation to the great doctrine I have
just discussed. I am not myself banishing the personal use of these conveniences
myself. I certainly do not expect the nation to discard their use nor do I
expect their disuse under Swaraj. But I do expect the nation under Swaraj not to
believe, that these agencies necessarily advance our moral growth or are
indispensable for our material progress.
- Young India, 17-11-1921
Machinery in the Ideal
‘Ideally would you not rule out all machinery?’ Ideally, however, I
would rule out all machinery, even as I would reject this very body,
which is not helpful to salvation, and seek the absolute liberation of
the soul. From that point of view, I would reject all machinery, but
machines will remain, because like the body, they are inevitable. The
body itself, itself, as I told you, is the purest piece of mechanism;
but if it is a hindrance to the highest flights of the soul, it has to
- Young India, 13-11-1924 & 20-11-1924
its place; it has come to stay. But it must not be allowed to displace
necessary human labour. An improved plough is a good thing. But if by
some chances, one man could plough up by some mechanical invention of
his the whole of the land of India, and control all the agricultural
produce and if the millions had no other occupation, they would starve,
and being idle, they would become dunces, as many have already becomes.
There is hourly danger of many more being reduced to that unenviable
welcome every improvement in the cottage machine, but I know that it is
criminal to displace hand-labour by the introduction of power-driven
spindles unless one is at the same time ready to give millions of
farmers some other occupation in their homes.
- Young India,
That use of machinery is lawful which subserves the interest of all.
- Young India, 15-4-1926
I would favour the use of the most elaborate machinery if thereby
India’s pauperism and resulting idleness be avoided. I have suggested
hand-spinning as the only ready means of driving away penury and making
famine of work and wealth impossible. The spinning wheel itself is a
piece of valuable machinery, and in my own humble way I have tried to
secure improvements in it in keeping with the special conditions of
- Young India, 3-11-1921
‘Are you against all machinery?’
My answer is emphatically, ‘No’. But, I am against its indiscriminate
multiplication. I refuse to be dazzled by the seeming triumph of
machinery. I am uncompromisingly against all destructive machinery. But
simple tools and instruments and such machinery as saves individual
labour and lightens the burden of machinery as saves individual labour
and lightens the burden of the millions of cottages, I should welcome.
- Young India, 17-6-1926
What I object
to, is the craze for machinery as such. The craze is for what they call
labour-saving machinery. Men go on ‘saving labour’, till thousands are
without work and thrown on the open streets to die of starvation. I want
to save time and labour, not for a fraction of mankind, but for all; I
want the concentration of wealth, not in the hands of few, but in the
hands of all. Today machinery merely helps a few to ride on the back of
millions. The impetus behind it ail is not the philanthropy to save
labour, but greed. It is against this constitution of things that I am
fighting with all my might.
‘Then you are
fighting not against machinery as such, but against its abuses which are
so much in evidence today.’
unhesitatingly say ‘yes’; but I would add that scientific truths and
discoveries should first of all cease to be mere instruments of greed.
Then labourers will not be over-worked and machinery, instead of
becoming a hindrance, will be a help. I am aiming, not at eradication of
all machinery, but limitation.
logically argued out, that would seem to imply the all complicated
power-driven machinery should go.’
It might have
to go but I must make one thing clear. The supreme consideration is man.
The machine should not tend to make atrophied the limbs of man. For
instance, I would make intelligent exceptions. Take the case of the
Singer Sewing Machine. It is one of the few useful things ever invented,
and there is a romance about the device itself. Wife labouring over the
tedious process of sewing and seaming with her own hands, and simply out
of his love for her he devised the Sewing hands, and simply out of his
love for her he devised the Sewing Machine in order to save her from
unnecessary labour. He, however, saved not only her labour but also the
labour of everyone who could purchase a sewing machine.
‘But in that
case there would have to be a factory for making these Singer Sewing
Machines, and it would have to contain power-driven machinery of
Yes, but I am
socialist enough to say that such factories should be nationalized, or
State-controlled. They ought only to be working under the most
attractive and ideal conditions, not for profit, but for the benefit of
humanity, love taking the place of greed as the motive. It is an
alteration in the condition of labour that I want. This mad rush for
wealth must cease and the labourer must be assured, not only of a living
wage, but a daily task that is not a mere drudgery. The machine will,
under these conditions, be as much a help to the man working it as to
the State or the man who owns it. The present mad rush will cease, and
the labourer will work (as I have said) under attractive and ideal
conditions. This is but one of the exceptions I have in mind. The Sewing
Machine had love at its back. The individual is the one supreme
consideration. The saving of labour of the individual should be the
object, and honest humanitarian consideration, and not greed, the
motive. Replace greed by love and everything will come right.
- Young India
against this machine age, I see.’
To say that is
to caricature my views. I am not against machinery as such, but I am
totally opposed to it when it masters us.
‘You would not
indeed, in my sense of the term. The village communities should be
revived. Indian villages produced and supplied to the Indian town and
cities all their wants. India became impoverished when our cities become
foreign markets and began to drain the villages dry by dumping cheap and
shoddy goods from foreign lands.
then go back to the natural economy?’
I should go back to the city. I am quite capable of running a big
enterprise, but I deliberately sacrificed the ambition, not as a
sacrifice, but because my heart rebelled against it. For I should have
no share in the spoliation of the nation which is going on from day to
day. But I am industrializing the village in a different way.
and Our Economic Problem
Our mill cannot today spin enough for our wants, and if they did, they
will not keep down prices unless they were compelled. They are frankly
money-makers and will not therefore regulate prices according to the
needs of the nation. Hand-spinning is therefore designed to the put
millions of rupees in the hands of poor villagers. Every agricultural
country requires a supplementary industry to enable the peasants to
utilize the spare hours. Such industry for India has always been
spinning. Is it such a visionary ideal- an attempt to revive an ancient
occupation whose destruction has brought on slavery, pauperism and
disappearance of the inimitable artistic talents which was once all
expressed in the wonderful fabric of India and which was the envy of the
– Young India, 16-2-1921
We want to organize our national power not by adopting the best methods
of production only, but by the best method of both the production and
– Young India, 28-7-1920
What India needs is not the concentration of capital in a few hands, but
its distribution so as to be within easy reach of the 71/2 lakhs of
villages that make this continent 1900 miles long and 1500 miles broad.
- Young India, 23-3-1921
Multiplication of mills cannot solve the problem. They can only cause
concentration of money and labour and thus make confusion worse
- Young India 10-12-1919
India should wear no machine-made clothing whether it comes out of
European mills or Indian mills (written in 1909).
Do I seek to destroy the mill industry, I have often been asked. If I
did, I should not have pressed for the abolition of the excise duty. I
want the mill industry to prosper-only I do not want it to prosper at
the expense of the country. On the contrary, if the interests of the
country demand that the industry should go, I should let it go without
the slightest compunction.
- Young India, 24-2-1927
The great mill industry may be claimed to be Indian industry. But, in
spite of its ability to compete with Japan and Lancashire, it is an
industry that exploits the masses and deepens their poverty in exact
proportion to its success over Khadi. In the modern craze for wholesale
industrialization, my presentation has been questioned, if not brushed
aside. It has been contended that the growing poverty of the masses, due
to the progress of industrialization, is inevitable, and should
therefore be suffered. I do not consider the evil to be inevitable, let
alone to be suffered. The A.I.S.A. has successfully demonstrated the
possibility of the villages manufacturing the whole of the cloth
requirement of India, simply by employing the leisure hours of the
nation in spinning and the anterior processes. The difficulty lies in
weaning the nation from the use of mill cloth. This is not the place to
discuss how it can be done. My purpose in this note was to give my
definition of Indian industry in terms of the millions of villagers, and
my reason for that definition.
The Economics of Khadi
The science of Khadi requires decentralization of production and
consumption, Consumption should take place as nearly as possible where
Khadi is produced.
The central fact of Khaddar is to make every village self-supporting for
its food and clothing.
- Young India, 17-7-1924
Self-sufficient Khadi will never succeed without cotton being grown by
spinners themselves or practically i9n every village. It means
decentralization of cotton cultivation so far at least as
self-sufficient Khadi is concerned.
- Harijan, 27-7-1935
Khaddar does not seek to destroy all machinery but it dies regulate its
use and check its weedy growth. It uses machinery for the service of the
poorest in their own cottages. The wheel is itself an ezqu8isite piece
- Young India, 17-3-1927
I am personally opposed to great trusts and concentration of industries
by means of elaborate machinery. If India takes to Khaddar and all it
means, I do not lose the hope of India taking only as much of the modern
machinery as may be considered necessary for the amenities of life and
for labour-saving purposes.
- Young India, 24-7-1924
Mass Production vs.
Production by the Masses
categorically state my conviction that the mania for mass-production
is responsible for the world-crisis. Granting for the moment that
machinery may supply all the needs of humanity, still, it would
concentrate production in particular
areas, so that you would have to go about in a round about way to
regulate distribution, whereas, if there is production and
distribution both in the respective areas where things are required,
it is automatically regulated, and there is less chance for fraud,
none for speculation.
You see that
these nations (Europe and America) are able to exploit the so-called
weaker or unorganised races of the world. Once these races gain an
elementary knowledge and decide that they are no more going to be
exploited. They will simply be satisfied with that they can provide
themselves. Mass-production, then,, at least where the vital
necessities are concerned, will disappear.
production and consumption both become localized, the temptation to
speed up production, indefinitely and at any price, disappears. All
the endless difficulties and problems that jour present-day economic
system presents, too, world then come to an end.
There could be
no unnatural accumulation of hoards in the pockets of the few, and
want in the midst of plenty in regard to the rest.
‘Then, you do
not envisage mass-production as an ideal future of India?
mass-production, certainly, but not based on force. After all, t6he
message of the spinning wheel is that. It is mass-production, but
mass-production in people’s own homes. If you multiply individual
production to millions of times, would it not give you
mass-production on a tremendous scale? But I quite understand that
your "mass-production" is a technical term for production by the
fewest possible number through the aid of highly complicated
machinery. I have said to myself that that is wrong. My machinery
must be of the most elementary type which I can put in the homes of
‘So, you are
opposed to machinery, only because and when it concentrates
production and distribution in the hands of the few?’
You are right,
I hate privilege and monopoly. Whatever cannot be shared with the
masses is taboo to me. That is all.
I suggest that, if India is to evolve along non-violent lines, it
will have to decentralize many things. Centralization cannot be
sustained and defended without adequate force. Simple homes from
which there is nothing to take away require no policing; the palaces
of the rich must have strong guards to protect them against dacoity.
So must huge factories. Rurally organized India will run less risk
of foreign invasion than urbanized India, will equipped with
military, naval and air forces.
- Harijan, 30-12-1939
Remember also that your non-violence cannot operate effectively
unless you have faith in the spinning wheel. I would ask you to read
Hind Swaraj with my eyes and see therein the chapter on how to make
India non-violent. You cannot build non-violence on a factory
civilization, but it can be built on self-contained villages. Even
if Hitler was so minded, he could not devastate even hundred
thousand non-violent villages. He would himself become non-violent
in the process. Rural economy as I have conceived it, eschews
exploitation altogether, and exploitation is the essence of
violence. You have, therefore, to be rural-minded before you can be
non-violent, and to be rural-minded you have to have faith in the
- Harijan, 4-11-1939
The end to be sought is human happiness combined with full mental
and moral growth. I use the adjective moral as synonymous with
spiritual. This end can be achieved under decentralization.
Centralization as a system is inconsistent with non-violent
structure of society.
- Harijan, 18-1-1942
The Principle of
Planning for India
Government has been introducing schemes of industrializing the
country for the maximum utilization of her raw materials, not of her
abundant and unused man-power which is left to (take care of itself
as best as it can). Can such schemes be considered Swadeshi
remarked that the question had been well put. He did not exactly
know what the Government plan was. But he heartily endorsed toe
proposition that any plan which exploited the raw materials of a
country and neglected the potentially more powerful man-power was
lop-sided and could never tend to establish human equality.
the most industrialized country in the world and yet it had not
banished poverty and degradation. That was because it neglected the
universal man-power and concentrated power in the hands of the few
who amassed fortunes at the expense of the many. The result was that
its industrialization had become a menace to its own poor and to the
rest of the world.
If India was
to escape such disaster, it had to imitate what was best in America
and the other Western countries and leave aside its attractive
looking but destructive economic policies. There-fore, real planning
consisted in the best utilization of the whole man-power of India
and the distribution of the raw products of India in her numerous
villages instead of sending them outside and rebuying finished
articles at fabulous prices.
Q. Some women workers who earn part of their living by weaving mats
were advised by you the other day to work on co-operative
principles. Bengal’s agriculture has been reduced to an uneconomic
proposition through extreme fragmentation of holdings. Would you
advise farmers also to adopt co-operative methods?
If so, how are they to effect this under the present system of
land-ownership? Should the State make the necessary changes in the
law? If the State is not ready, but the people so desire, in the
law? If the State is not ready, but the people so desire, how are
they to work through their own organizations to this end?
A . Replying to the first part of the question, Gandhiji said that
he had no doubt that the system of co-operation was far more
necessary for the agriculturists than for the mat-weavers. The land,
as he maintained, belonged to the State; therefore, it yielded the
largest return when it was worked co-operatively.
Let it be remembered that co-operation should be based on strict
non-violence. There was no such thing as success of violent
co-operation. Hitler was a forcible example of the latter. He also
talked vainly of co-operation which was forced upon the people and
everyone knew where Germany had been led as a result.
Gandhiji concluded by saying that it would be a sad thing if India
also tried to build up the new society based upon co-operation by
means of violence. Good brought about through force destroyed
individuality. Only when the change was effected through the
persuasive power of non-violent non-co-operation, i.e. love, could
the foundation of individuality be preserved and real, abiding
progress be assured for the world.
Q. At East Keroa (in Noakhali) you advised peasants to work
co-operatively in their fields. Should thy pool together their land
and divide the crop in proportion to the area of the fields they
held? Would you give us an outline of the idea of how exactly they
are to work in a cooperative manner?
A. Gandhiji said that the question was good and admitted of a simple
answer. His notion of co-operation was that the land would be held
in co-operation by the owners and tilled and cultivated also in
co-operation. This would cause a saving of labour, capital, tools
etc. The owners would work in co-operation and own capital, tools,
animals, seeds etc. in co-operation. Co-operative farming of his
conception would change the face of the land and banish poverty and
idleness from their midst. All this was only possible if people
became friends of one another and as one family. When that happy
event took place there would be no ugly sore in the form of a
- Harijan, 9-3-1947