Today’s Book: Village Swaraj by Mahatma Gandhi
This book is a collection of Mahatma Gandhi’s writings on “Village Swaraj” containing his views on reinventing villages as self-sufficient republics.
Some of his ideas are relevant to all forms of organizations:
“No movement or organization having vitality dies from external attack. It dies of internal decay. What is necessary is character above suspicion, ceaseless effort accompanied by ever increasing knowledge of the technique of the work and a life of rigorous simplicity.”
He imagined an India that would serve the entire world:
“An India awakened and free has a message of peace and good-will to a groaning world.”
“I feel in the innermost recesses of my heart… that the world is sick unto death of blood-spilling. The world is seeking a way out, and I flatter myself with the belief that perhaps it will be the privilege of the ancient land of India to show the way out to the hungering world.”
“India’s special contribution will have been her large-heartedness and broadmindedness…and this, I believe, is going to be recognized by future generations, in retrospect as having been India’s characteristic gift to a united human race.”
One of his radical ideas was to make schools self-sufficient by making all education centred around teaching of handicraft development:
“I have therefore made bold, even at the risk of losing all reputation for constructive ability, to suggest Village Swaraj that education should be self-supporting. By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in child and man—body, mind and spirit. Literacy is not the end of education nor even the beginning. It is only one of the means whereby man and woman can be educated. Literacy in itself is no education. I would therefore begin the child’s education by teaching it a useful handicraft and enabling it to produce from the moment it begins its training. Thus every school can be made self-supporting, the condition being that the State takes over the manufactures of these schools.”
He had already identified the British education as a farce:
“Primary education is a farce designed without regard to the wants of the India of the villages and for that matter even of the cities.”
He wanted independent thinking educationists:
“What we need is educationists with originality, fired with true zeal, who will think out from day to day what they are going to teach their pupils. The teacher cannot get this knowledge through musty volumes. He has to use his own faculties of observation and thinking and impart his knowledge to the children through his lips, with the help of a craft. This means a revolution in the method of teaching, a revolution in the teacher’s outlook.”
An interesting excerpt on India’s past:
Distinguished travellers from the world came to India in the days of yore from China and other countries. They came in quest of knowledge and put up with great hardships in travelling. They had reported that in India there was no theft, people were honest and industrious. They needed no locks for their doors. In those days there was no multiplicity of castes as at present. It is the function of Panchayats to revive honesty and industry.
Through Swaraj we would serve the whole world.
Read the book online here.