Farmers’ Unrest: Gandhian Economics is the answer

Farmers’ Unrest: Gandhian Economics is the answer

The ongoing farmers’ agitation is fast spilling all over the country after passage of three controversial Farm Bills during the prevailing pandemic situation. The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in New Delhi would do well to read carefully the message of Mahatma Gandhi – the father of nation fondly called Bapu – about the development course need to be taken in rural India instead of playing political gimmicks.

After returning from South Africa, Bapu travelled across almost all over India over foot to consolidate the voice against the British rule through peaceful transition of power avoiding bloodshed. He wanted to strengthen the villages of India. He felt the pulse of India’s rural economy, understood the social structure and advocated not to implement economic development models which are in conflict with laws of nature.

He wrote in Young India in 1929,”We are inheritors of a rural civilization. The vastness of our country, the vastness of the population,  the  situation  and  the  climate  of  the  country  have,  in  my  opinion, destined  it  for  a  rural  civilization… uproot it and substitute for it an urban civilization seems to me an impossibility.” Gandhi ji firmly believed, “only one law or economic principle cannot be thrust upon geological and climate different regions of the country…. if the villages perish, India will perish too. It will be no more India……” (Harijan-Aug 1936).

Thus, the economic self-reliance, social equality and decentralized political system, were Gandhi’s core concepts for emancipation from India poverty. Gandhi always believed in self sufficiency of villages. Propagation of Khadi by his exemplary daily spinning at Charkha was in tune with the villagers necessity and culture. He believed that Khadi has the greatest organizing power. He further believed in dependence of urban India on villages itself. He strongly felt that for this villagers have to stand on their own feet.

“Today our villages have become a mere appendage to the cities. They exist, as it were; to be exploited by the latter and depend on the latter’s sufferance. This is unnatural. It is only when the cities realize the duty of making an adequate return  to  the  villages  for  the  strength  and  sustenance  which  they  derive  from them, instead of selfishly exploiting them, that a healthy and moral relationship between the two will spring up….”(In Harijan Oct,1937)

“Independence must begin at the bottom.  Thus, every village will be a republic or Panchayt having full powers. It follows, therefore, that every village has to be self-sustained and capable of managing its affairs…………”. Gandhi wrote in July 1946 in ‘Harijan’.

He further writes, “….. I have conceived round the village as the centre a series of ever-widening circles, not one on top of the other, but all on the same plane, so that there is none higher or lower than the other. …….the towns were then subservient to the villages.  They were emporia for the surplus village products and beautiful manufactures. That is the skeleton of my picture to serve as a pattern for Independent India”.   He said, “The cities are not only draining the villages of their wealth but talent also”

“In the scheme of reconstruction for Free India, its villages should no longer depend, as they are now doing, on its cities, but cities should exist only for and in the interest of the villages……..” .These were his views  made in August ,1947 after declaration of Indian Independence. Earlier ,in a talk with some socialists in May 1947,he said ,”You  will  have  economic  equality  in  the  country  only  along  the  road ,I  have pointed out. Perhaps you will not understand this today; but note my words and remember them when I am dead ….”.

In one of his Prarthana Pravachan  in December, 1947 he echoed, ” But  for  the  last  150  years  the  trend  has  been  for  cities  to  exist  only  to squeeze  wealth  out  of  the  villages.  They took raw material from the  villages, carried on trade with foreign countries and made crores of rupees. This money did not go to the villagers, or only a very small fraction of it did. The bulk of it went to millionaires and the mill-owners. Towns exist to exploit the villages. The city culture  does  not  therefore  fit  into  the  framework  of  villages……..”

Therefore, the present political dispensation must read the writing on the wall scripted by the ongoing farmers agitation which is not going to fizzle out at all. The sooner these Farm Bills, which have since become laws are repealed or amended in a way that address the farmers’ interests, would be better.

Brij Bhushan Goyal

The author is a Ludhiana-based social activist.

Disclaimer: Opinion/facts in this article are author's own and does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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  1. A very insightful write-up. The government must listen to the voices of our farming community, our ‘Annadataas’ in the truest sense. Unilateral decision-making by the government is extremely unfair to our farmers who toil hard without really asking for anything but the fair price of their crop produce. Denying them their right to question, protest and seek answers/accountability from the administration on farm bills is wrong. Efforts must be made to lend them a patient ear and make them feel valued and understood. Perhaps if not much, this could be the best way forward to honour the Jai Kisan adage and prevent it from becoming yet another hollow slogan. We must respect & address our farmers’ concerns at the earliest.

  2. Dialogue with farmers to redress their grievances, by making amendment in the Farm laws, as opined by the writer is only the solution.


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