GANDHIJI’S GUIDELINES FOR CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS
Most people in the civil society sector do not appear to have carefully read the two books written by Mahatma Gandhi–AUTOBIOGRAPHY and HISTORY OF SATYAGRAHA IN SOUTH AFRICA.
This is a serious deficiency among citizens groups, who are trying to bring about change or trying to challenge injustice.
Mahatma Gandhi’s experiments with life can provide several lessons to civil society organisations.
This article has been written with inputs from Mr.D.K.Oza IAS (Retd.).
Need for meticulous care
Gandhiji argued his case with meticulous care because he would study the subject which he was dealing with great care.
Several examples include the salt satyagraha; the opposition to foreign cloth; the khadi; challenging the discrimination against harijans.
Gandhiji carefully studied the serious problems faced by leprosy patients, by child widows etc. He discussed the issue of the harijans with Sri. Narayana Guru of Kerala, learnt from Dr Mandakini about the commercial sex workers of Andhra Pradesh and devadasi system and gave his own creative insights.
Gandhiji never had a “Gung-ho” approach to any problem. Above all, he was a journalist all his life. Gandhiji was a great communicator.
It is often seen that the present day civil society organizations and activists do not invite the “other side “ for complete and honest discussions.
Behind every protest, there must be a vision
Mahatma Gandhi suggested that behind every protest, there must be a vision.
This point has not been understood by many. Careful study of arguments for and against the Posco Project which will dehabilitate thousands of people, will highlight the fact that most of the activists have not fully dealt with this issue, in an objective manner.
Even the articles and public discussions on Food Security Law, seem to be prejudiced with pre conceived notions, without objective analysis..
There is no serious readily acceptable study on the deeply entrenched corruption or the nature of mass poverty or the serious flaws in our system of justice, etc. (One example on the positive side is the Association for Democratic Reforms, which is a small band of committed intellectuals who are telling us in simple language how thoroughly corrupt our politicians are).
Civil society organisations have to efficiently communicate to others that a deeply corrupt system shows failure of governance and such a system cannot ensure development or growth or justice.
Gandhiji was a great ORGANIZER.
Activism must mean the ability to organize large number of people, who understand the issue and thereafter, offer non violent Gandhian Resistance.
Someone has described Mahatma Gandhi as a “saboteur”, not a fighter. This may not be wrong. The salt satyagraha, the Vaikom agitation, the Madurai temple entry, khadi, women picketing liquor shops – all these are not bugles of war, but the silent sabotage of an unjust system.
Importance of civil society organisations
The problems of India and in fact the entire world are so complicated that no government will be capable of handling them in one stroke. In reaching this conclusion, one may refer the book titled “The March of Folly”. This book states that governments do not have strong intellectual resources or insights or ability to pursue a good policy in a sustained way. Governments are more concerned with expediency and quick response to every threat or challenge.
Civil society organizations can highlight the new emerging challenges on issues like energy and water shortages, population increase, wide spread corruption and the degradation which poverty imposes upon the entire population, etc.
One can conclude that the whole of mankind faces a common peril and must therefore, civil service organisations must play more active and positive role in an objective way without prejudice, just as Gandhiji did in his life time for a common purpose.
Nandini Voice For The Deprived
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