Is Gandhi out-of date? - A study
It must be clearly comprehensible that the relevance of Gandhi could only be answered by understanding what problems are troubling the world these days. The following are the global issues that intermittently or continually concerning the countries in various magnitudes:
2. The danger of environmental disaster,
3. The danger of nuclear obliteration and
4. Terrorism, both Islamic and Maoist or Naxalite
Are Gandhi’s principles providing the answer to contain above threats and bring peace? Will Gandhian approach be listened and serve as a means to see a harmonious end for the troubled societies and communities who are being victimized communally or politically violent and arrogant powers.
Poverty has been a challenging problem for many countries, both the developed and developing countries. The developed world has chosen a path of modern, machine-dependent, highly technologized schemes of development leaving behind small communities who could not catch-up with the trend that is earning income. Such smaller groups of people could not stand-up to the richness developed as under modern scheme of things due to their participation in conventional and traditional practices. Illiteracy, exploitation, superstition, caste conflicts add more damage to such poorer communities which demand a governmental intervention. Governments too, draft their policies based on such demands, resolving the issues temporarily without giving due consideration for balancing the modernized and traditional practices with an emphasis on sustainable values and living style suitable for the rich and the poor as a whole. Gandhian dictum suggests such a value-based economy as a balanced diet for the suffering economy that fluctuates very often due to various external causes.
The third world countries are caught up with demand-supply chain of economic structures and the ruling governments, for the cause of reforming, imitate the western or developed world. Unfortunately, this leads to inheritance of the problems of the developed countries besides being enduring their inherent poverty. Also, there exists a tendency of resorting into tyranny and corruption by the power elite in such poor countries to find themselves with a posh life style which pushes the last man to the very end where he gets nothing. Gandhian model of economy clearly identifies such scenario and defies all models of change and revolution. The last man comes first with the moral right to demand for restructuring economy and revising the world order.
Environmental disasters and growing pollution around living places have become a center of discussion for many decades and it demands larger attention from both the private, public and government sectors nowadays. To heal the environment, we must heal our minds so that undue desires, greed and urge for multiplying our wants. Human beings are the supreme beings living on the earth. Mother Nature lives at the will of people not by the perfect ecosystem that we read in social science books. We must try to hold on to this truth that our environment is in our hands but not in the hands of some almighty powers.
Calamities like Earth quakes, Tsunami and Katrina must be seen as a vengeance of the Mother Nature as we continue to exploit natural resources along with the problems of ever-increasing population, misuse of agricultural lands and excess use of technologies without meeting environmental requirements. When Bihar was devastated by a massive earthquake in 1934, Gandhi wrote that it was a punishment by Mother Earth for the sins people committed. Despite being criticized for this comment for his leniency towards Hindu beliefs, many agreed with the fact about the need for protection of nature.He also took a special note on the people’s greed towards excessive utilization of natural resources when he said “There is enough on this earth for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed!” Gandhian style of simple, sustainable life is the only answer for protecting our environment.
Nuclear obliteration is not a day-to-day issue in the world, but its influence is well experienced by some countries like Japan and well imagined by others. The race for becoming a super power and preeminence of egotism has made countries to proliferate their nuclear arms. It is the strategic and egoist approach by countries for staying in power that remains as the main cause for proliferation of nuclear arms and obliteration. With the Global peace forums and organizations continue to work for upholding peace and harmony; countries learn to keep restrain over the use of nuclear warheads and began to work for settlement of disputes by peaceful means.
Mahatma Gandhi said a few days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima: "I hold that those who invented the atomic bomb have committed the gravest sin. The atomic bomb brought an empty victory to the Allied arms, but it resulted for the time being in destroying Japan. What has happened to the soul of the destroying nation is yet too early to see... Unless the world adopts nonviolence, this will spell certain suicide for humanity."
…That atomic energy though harnessed by American scientists and army men for destructive purposes may be utilized by other scientists for humanitarian purposes is undoubtedly within the realm of possibility…” And, what we witness today is more and more countries use atomic power for their energy needs. However, environmentalists and peace lovers are hesitant to use them extensively as even a smaller seepage of nuclear material could cause hazardous damage to the entire region. The world must go for alternative forms of energy and reduce its nuclear use.
Terrorism in any form is a threat to the nation’s growth and development. In the recent years, the world has witnessed many terror attacks which showcased the brutal nature of states in conflict. Nations plant terror in other countries in order to settle disputes and, sometimes with the aim of having a dialogue with other nations to gain influence in their politic. At times, power and authority in wrong hands facilitate ease of access to weapons and arms to those who took violent paths to resolve conflicts. Corruption, indifference and dishonesty prevailing at higher levels of defense, espionage and military units too give chance for vicious forces to implant terror in sensitive regions.
Gandhi’s path of nonviolent methods as a means to end all sorts of evils and injustice is a proven lesson for such fierce powers and they must learn from the success of nonviolent approach. Justice cannot be done through violence and terror is not the answer for political conflicts. Even the developed countries and powerful nations become victim of terror acts when they fail to stand up to the nonviolent entreaties they have agreed upon.
Islamic fundamentalists around the world have taken part in most of the terror acts due to a widened gap between them and the rest of the racial groups. Islamic world is yet to realize the difference between Islamic state and Islamic religion. Gandhi, his life and principles must be read by them in order to realize how he draw clear lines between his Hindu image, advocate of interests of the Muslim minorities, and Christian predominance in the British government. Terror in and by the Islamic state is out of sheer ignorance of such a distinction between running a religious state in a globalized world and being religious.
Naxalite or Maoist terror within the state takes casualties of innocent people troubling the law and order situations. It is a consensual opinion that such terror acts occur due to lack of disciplined leadership and proper guidance, but not as judged by many that are being characterized by illiteracy and poverty.
To be conclusive, solutions for today’s problems need a paradigm shift in terms of values and idealistic perspective rather than a mere display of short-term revolution that gives temporary results. Revolution must happen in terms of values and social structures which must reflect the philosophy of values and morals rather than politicizing and advertising them. More and more people must learn to live with sustainable values without falling prey to pseudo-challenges triggered by interim developments happening at socio-political spectrum.
Gandhi stands relevant today as an answer to these problems that would drive any nation out of order. His principles stand as a key to resolve concerns related to these problems that incur inherently for any nation. Problems arising out of immoral and greedy business, unprincipled politics, and inhuman technological dominance have no solutions from Gandhi. Such “invited problems” must be resolved through a fresh outlook on Gandhi. A firm conviction and change must be seen within oneself to come out of such artificially created problems. With the Gandhian means, that would result into a moralized and spiritualized economy, politics, innovation and technology.
P.S: This study is based on the article written by Dr. Viswanath Tandon with the same title but modified to complement the views of the author.
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