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… ..to 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.
The author is a Ludhiana-based social activist.Disclaimer: Opinion/facts in this article are author's own and famepunjabi.in does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.