Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Personal Thought: Gandhiji's aim was to help the poor

Central Chronicle

By KG Shrivastav

Once Mahatma Gandhiji was on a tour of a village. There he saw a woman wearing a dirty saree. Bapu enquired from her: Why your saree is so dirty; why don't you wash it? Her reply: I cannot wash it because I have only one saree to wear.

Hearing this reply, tears came in the eyes of Gandhiji. Immediately the thought came to him that there may be many people who do not have sufficient clothes to wear. He decided to use one `dhoti'.

Here it will be worthwhile to mention that thinking of Gandhiji about simple living was not inspired only from his high philosophy of life but also after seeing extreme poverty in the country.

Though after Independence, poverty in the country has reduced, even then millions of people continue to live below the poverty line in the country.

Several of our leaders generally talk of being distressed due to the pitiable condition of millions of people in the country and appeal to the masses to follow the principles of Mahatma Gandhi but they themselves have amassed huge property and live luxurious lives.

Leaders of people should not lead a luxurious life, said Gandhiji. In an article he wrote: We should refuse to have what the millions cannot. This ability to refuse will not descend upon ourselves all of a sudden. The first thing is to cultivate the mental attitude that will not have possessions or facilities denied to millions and the next immediate thing is to rearrange our lives as fast as possible in accordance with that mentality.

The above thinking of Gandhiji about living was too high which is not possible for all to follow. But, it does not mean that millions of people who are struggling for their basic needs may be overlooked. However, this is happening. Every year crores of rupees are incurred on decoration of bungalows of President, Prime Minister, Governors, Chief Ministers, Ministers and IAS officers, and providing a host of facilities to them. We, while doing this forget that even today there are millions of people who do not have good houses to live.

Similarly, increasing expenditure on salaries, allowances and various facilities to the members of parliament and legislative assemblies is not justified. The MPs and MLAs should realize that the people who voted them to power are themselves bereft of many facilities.

Here it may not be out of place to mention that many facilities which Gandhiji desired could have been provided to him but he refrained from them. His great thought was: `We should not rest or be content with meals so long as there is even an able-bodied man or woman without work or food.'

True homage to the Mahatma on his anniversaries would be to follow the principles laid down by him and not simply restricting to flowers and a `Namaste'.

Views: 1157

Replies to This Discussion

It is very difficult to decide to what level it might be ethical to live.
There will always be someone poorer in some country, even if not in our area.
To lower one's standard of living too far below one's neighbours might draw attention to our 'poverty' or 'scruffiness', and not really achieve anything.
With many people earning $1 a day or less in parts of the world and others earning $thousands each day, surely there needs to be some levelling. The wealthy part of the world continues to build homes worth £millions, while others have no shelter at all.
Taxes on the wealthy need to be levied, firstly, so that everyone in the world has basics like clean water and basic education on hygeine and health.
Gandhi used to go to the extremes to set the example. It is not possible to emulate him and it is not even necessary. Basic thing is transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor. This task is becoming difficult by each passing day. Governments have worked for the rich, and at international level nations are divided into two clear groups. There is no transfer of wealth.
Hear! Hear! Let us put the principles into practice! As Dr. King stated, Gandhi is inescapable. He has given a clean and clear blueprint that can be adapted anywhere. It just takes awakening of the human heart: localization, Trusteeship and refined democracy or swaraj. All over the world, people are waking up to their power to manage their own affairs, collectively.
Look at Kalinga, Orissa - those villages needed no government support or help, everyone was employed, even the elderly were able to make a contributable income to their familes. And it is being destroyed by POSCO Steel plant with collusions by the Indian Govt.
Its unbelievable, that a sustainable, ecologically viable, arable area of human civilization is being destroyed like this. Why do 20,000 people have to lose everything so a steel plant can flourish?
We clearly need to reject the entire millions are now doing, and start to work with and within a saner one.
Aunty Kamala
This article gives me alot of comfort. I have always been struggling with the fact that I have more than I need when it is said, "no man shall possess what someone else needs".

I look around and find my brothers and sisters desensitised to the urban poor. They have become so, due to the stresses and challenges of their own lives and their battle for survival. I have been feeling like a fish out of water when I express sympathy for the pavement dwellers and unorganised labour. Now, I know that Gandhi felt the same. I will try to remember everyday his great thought : `We should not rest or be content with meals so long as there is even an able-bodied man or woman without work or food.'
Dear KG Shrivastav,
What do you think of my proposal which follows, to provide a "preferential option for the poor" in the Catholic School System here in the USA.

A "preferential option for the poor" should be maintained in our Catholic
Schools. If we find that we cannot afford to keep our schools open to the
poor, the schools should be closed and the resources used for something else
which can be kept open to the poor. We cannot allow our Church to become a
church primarily for the middle-class and rich while throwing a bone to the
poor. The priority should be given to the poor even if we have to let the
middle-class and rich fend for themselves.
Practically speaking, the Catholic Schools must close and the resources
used for "Confraternity of Christian Doctrine" and other programs which can
be kept open to the poor. Remember, the Church managed without Catholic
Schools for centuries. We can get along without them today. The essential
factor is to cultivate enough Faith to act in the Gospel Tradition, namely,
THE POOR GET PRIORITY. The rich and middle-class are welcome too. But the
poor come first.


© 2018   Created by GandhiServe Foundation.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service