From early times,
human beings have tended to conduct their numerous activities at varying
levels of aggregation, such as at individual, family, community,
country, or cross-country levels. ‘Globalization’ may be defined as the
process of integration of communities/ nations/ countries through
cross-country flows covering various economic, social, cultural and
political aspects. Thus, ‘globalization’ has been an ongoing process
from the very beginning of human civilization, its progress moving in
tandem with the progress in technological means of communication and
mobility, with the corresponding progress in travel, trade, social
structures, and politico-economic processes, structures and controls.
Imperialism, colonialism and the widening scale of wars were among the
manifestations of growing ‘globalization’ during 17th to 20th
‘Globalization’ is not a value-neutral phenomenon. The post-World War II era of growing
‘globalization’, which has tended to reduce the earth to a ‘global
village’, too has its distinct gainers and losers, its own peculiar
characteristics of inequitable progress and exploitation, and it has
significant social and ecological costs.
As a reaction such adverse impacts of the on-going globalization process, a
counter-emphasis has been developing for ‘localization’ in diverse forms
in different parts of the world. Here, ‘localization’, essentially means
an economy of neighbourhood and self-reliance, particularly in respect
of more basic needs, as a means to ensure freedom and to protect the
rights and interests of local/ weaker sections and communities against
exploitation by the globalizing forces, particularly the ‘free market’
economy. In the Indian context, the whole idea of ‘localization’ has
been embodied in the comprehensive and well-known Gandhian concept of ‘Swadeshi’,
which had been developing in India as a reaction to ‘global’
exploitation since the colonial rule itself. It denotes the ideology of
whatever ‘localization’ would mean in its positive aspects, such as
decentralization of economic controls and decisions, appropriate levels
of self-reliance, concern for fulfilling basic needs of all, and
protection of natural resources.
The concept of ‘swadeshi’ is not only an agenda for cooperation, sharing and concern
within each community but also engenders development that grows outwards
from each ‘local’ unit into a system of widening ‘concentric circles’,
each circle giving strength to its inner circles and growing in harmony
with its outer circles. Hence, the right course of ‘globalization’ can
only proceed on the foundation of the Gandhian concept of ‘swadeshi’ as
applied to the situations evolving in today’s world. This is the thesis of this Paper.
This Paper has three main parts. The first part gives salient features of the Gandhian
concept of ‘Swadeshi’ relevant to the present process of
‘Globalization’. The second part discusses the Contemporary Approach of
‘Globalization’ and its essential deficits and shortcomings, and the
third part gives why ‘Globalization with Swadeshi’ for a
sustainable social-economic order, is the only right form for ‘Globalizaion’.
The Paper ends with a brief ‘Conclusion’.
Gandhian concept of Swadeshi
The idea of ‘swadeshi’ had entered the Indian freedom struggle well before Gandhiji
in mid-19th century itself, as a reaction to the ruination of
the artisan-based Indian industry and local economy, and the resultant
widespread poverty and famines under the colonial rule. Swadeshi as a
mass movement arose first during protest against the Bengal Partition
(1905-11). Its scope included, apart from the political agenda, setting
up of Indian industries and enterprises and revival of national
education, arts, science and literature. Sister Nivedita’s message:
“Believe in your organic relatedness. Imagine a life in which all have
common interests, common needs and mutual and complimentary
duties”---summed up the message.
After 1915, under Gandhiji the concept of swadeshi acquired newer dimensions: under it one
owes the first care to one’s neighbours, the area of concern growing
gradually in “ever-widening, never-ascending circles” till it covers the
world. He defined swadeshi in the broadest terms as an ideology:
“Swadeshi is that spirit in us which restricts us to the use and service
of our immediate surroundings to the exclusion of the more remote. Thus,
as for religion - - - I must restrict myself to my ancestral religion.
That is the use of my immediate religious surroundings. If I find it
defective, I should serve it by purging it of its defects. In the domain
of politics, I should make use of the indigenous institutions and serve
them by curing them of their proved defects. In that of economics, I
should use only things that are produced by my immediate neighbours and
serve those industries by making them efficient and complete where they
might be found wanting.”1
Swadeshi engenders brotherhood and co-operation. It means economics of neighbourhood,
self-reliance, and mass employment. It is a gospel of decentralized
economy, of economic revival of villages and communities. As Gandhiji
said, Swadeshi is “the only doctrine consistent with the law of humility
and love. It is arrogance to think of launching out to serve the whole
of India when I am hardly able to serve even my own family.”2
His concept of swadeshi is based on a holistic view of human society and
is integral to his philosophy of swaraj and sarvodaya.
Gandhiji lived his life with the Gita as his universal guide. The Gita says
[in verse III.35], “One’s own dharma though imperfect is better than the
dharma of another well-performed.” He takes it as a message for swadeshi:
“Interpreted in terms of one’s physical environment this gives us the
law of swadeshi. What the Gita says with regard to swadharma
equally applies to swadeshi also, for swadeshi is swadharma
applied to one’s immediate environment.”2a
Swadeshi helps in improving the range and quality of local production and in reducing
costs due to the use of indigenous skills, resources, manpower and
technology, and the lesser need for transport, packaging, storage and
marketing. Thus, he had selected ‘khadi’ on sound economic
considerations as no other alternative could have provided productive
work to the idle masses.
His thinking of how swadeshi becomes the basis of a global co-operative social order, is
expressed thus: “Our first duty is that we should not be a burden on
society, i.e., we should be self-sufficient. That means self-sufficiency
by itself is a kind of service. After becoming self-sufficient we shall
use our spare time for the service of others. - - - Even if we succeed
in realizing complete self-sufficiency, man being a social animal we
shall have to accept service in some form or other. That is, man is as
much dependent on others as he is dependent on himself. When dependence
becomes necessary in order to keep society in good order it is no longer
dependence but becomes co-operation.”3
In this context, the Gandhian
approach to technology/ industrialism is also relevant. He supported
‘machinery’ when it saved “time and labour not for a fraction of mankind
but for all” as he wanted “the concentration of wealth not in the hands
of a few, but in the hands of all.”4 Machinery became “an
evil when there are more hands than required for the machine”5,
or when people tend to lose “one’s individuality and become a mere cog
in the machine”6, as these are attributes of an exploitative
order. He accepted use of heavy
machinery for works of public utility or works not possible by human
labour, but rejected “all destructive machinery”7. Similarly,
he opposed ‘industrialism’ that led to exploitation of ‘colonies’ for
raw materials and as ‘markets’, unemployment and even wars (such as the
present wars for control over oil and gas resources). He said that the
“mania for mass production was responsible for the world crisis”. He
wanted “the machinery reduced to the terms of the masses.”8
He also insisted, “An industry to
be Indian must be demonstrably in the interest of the masses.”8a
He advocated use of
local produce, skills and resources to the extent reasonably possible:
“I have never considered the exclusion of everything foreign under every
conceivable circumstance as part of swadeshi. The broad definition of
swadeshi is the use of all home-made things to the exclusion of foreign
things in so far as such use is necessary for the protection of
home-industry more especially those industries without which India will
become pauperized.”7 Hence, too: “To reject foreign
manufactures merely because they are foreign and to go on wasting
notional time and money to promote manufactures in one’s country for
which it is not suited would be criminal folly and a negation of the
swadeshi spirit. A true votary of swadeshi - will not be moved by
antagonism towards anybody on earth. Swadeshism is not a cult of hatred.
It is a doctrine of selfless service that has its roots in the purest
ahimsa, i.e., love.”9
Thus, swadeshi is not a chauvinistic or exclusive concept of self-centred economics but one of
decentralized, employment-oriented, need-based economics. Gandhiji
asserted: “An individual’s service to his country and humanity consisted
in serving his neighbours - - -. He could not starve his neighbour and
claim to serve his distant cousin in the North Pole. That was the basic
principle of all religions and - of true and humane economics.”10
His patriotism too was not exclusive but worked for the optimum good of all. He said: “My
patriotism is not an exclusive thing. It is all-embracing and I should
reject that patriotism which sought to mount upon the distress or the
exploitation of other nationalities. The conception of my patriotism is
nothing if it is not always in every case, without exception, consistent
with the broadest good of humanity at large.”10a
His concept of swadeshi easily evolves into a concept of positive inter-dependence and
universalism. It harmonizes local and global concerns as long as it does
not mean an external control over a society’s judgments and decisions.
While defining ‘True Swadeshi’, he clarified: “Any article is swadeshi
if it subserves the interest of the millions, even though the capital
and talent are foreign but under effective Indian control.”12
Gurudev Tagore had expressed serious reservations when Gandhiji had started his movement
for Khadi as the core of his swadeshi programme. In response Gandhiji
had written in 1921 what remains valid today also: “Economics that hurt
the moral well-being of an individual or a nation are immoral and
therefore sinful. Thus the economics that permit one country to prey
upon another are immoral. It is sinful to buy and use articles made by
sweated labour. It is sinful to eat American wheat and let my neighbour
the grain-dealer starve for want of custom. Similarly it is sinful for
me to wear the latest finery of Regent Street, when I know that if I had
but worn the things woven by the neighbouring spinners and weavers, that
would have clothed me, and fed and clothed them. - - - Nor is the scheme
of non-co-operation or swadeshi an exclusive doctrine. - - - Before,
therefore, I can think of sharing with the worlds I must possess. - - -
India must learn to live before she can aspire to die for humanity.”12a
By and by Tagore was deeply inspired by the Gandhian vision of
swadeshi, and had written: “We have for over a century been dragged by
the prosperous West behind its chariot, choked by dust, deafened by the
noise, humbled by our own helplessness and overwhelmed by the speed.
We agreed to acknowledge that this
- - was progress and progress was civilization. - - - Of late, a voice [Gandhji’s]
has come to us to take count not only of the scientific perfection of
the chariot but of the depth of the ditches lying in its path.”12b
GLOBALIZATION: The Contemporary Approach
Globalization, like ‘technology’, can take varied forms, which may either serve or harm
human constituents. Its negative aspects usually result from letting the
market forces subjugate the good of humanity and/or of the earth. It is
then that it must be challenged with an alternative constructive vision,
such as the swadeshi/ localization approach to it.
In modern age, the first round of globalization took the form of ‘colonization’, started in
the 18th century and based on the philosophy of mercantilism.
After World War II, came the Bretton Woods organizations, viz. IBRD
(World Bank) and IMF, followed by the birth of GATT in 1947. Then
followed rounds of Multilevel Trade Negotiations, leading to the Dunkel
Treaty (1993) requiring reduction of tariffs, physical trade controls
and domestic and export subsidies, market access to foreign agriculture
products, TRIPS, free movement of capital and of services across
national borders, finally leading to the setting up of the World Trade
Organization (1995). It was in this context that the present era of
globalization may be said to have started in 1980s, spurred by the end
of Cold War, fall of the Berlin Wall, and the ‘Washington’ Consensus’ of
Bretton Woods institutions affirming the primacy of the ‘market’ in
1990s. The earlier forms, driven by forces of greed and racism, led to
pillage, slavery, oppression, and imperialism. The present wave of
globalization is a product primarily of increase in international trade
in goods and services and global investments by trans-national companies
(TNCs), and explosion in financial and exchange transactions, all these
leading to global markets for booming profits and consumerism.
Now, capital, goods, information, culture, and pollution increasingly flow across national
boundaries without developing countries like India being able to bring
their national authority, judgments and values to bear on the incident
market forces. While energy security, food security, and water security
are becoming basic needs, national governments have been losing
effective control over global economic processes and in such matters.
Greed and consumerism are overtaking basic needs, and
self-aggrandizement is taking over national control over the economy.
Existing international institutions are not competent to manage an
integrated global economy, much less safeguard the interests of the poor
and the weak. Countries like India are caught in a dialectic of supra-
and sub- nationalism, that of the WTO versus the 73rd
and 74th Amendments.
Non-traditional threats, such as terrorism, drugs-trafficking, organized crime including
human trafficking, have grown alongside those of alienation and widening
disparities, financial-economic crises and ecological disasters. A
well-governed state must have both peace and prosperity. Sustainable
prosperity means inter and intra-generational equity and justice.
Modern economics treats a human being primarily as ‘economic man’/ homo economicus
and not as homo ethicus. The struggle for survival gets converted
into a race among selfish beings driven by greed/ profit motive in the
neoliberal capitalist market economy. It leads to exploitation of both
‘man’ and ‘nature’, and to violence as it accepts economic Darwinism.
Objectives of efficiency and productivity are not taken along with those
of equity. Today, hegemonies, replacing the earlier imperialistic
exploitation, tend to control globalization. Production and consumption
goals do not include that of distribution. Modern globalization tends to
rest on the ideologies of hedonism and egoistic individualism as
justification for limitless acquisition and consumption, with the state
itself becoming an instrument in the service of homo economicus.
The conventional economic theory of international trade is based on 'comparative
advantage'. It is preoccupied with profit maximization rather than
mutual need, cooperation, employment and equitable distribution of
gains. It means free trade among unequals and in the interest of those
having purchasing power for unending wants and luxuries. Such
international free trade would mean exploitation of weaker economies by
the stronger and of the rural poor by the urban elite.
Some of its immediate adverse consequences are local/ weaker societies losing
control over production and resources, and TNCs achieving
competitiveness by lower real wages, and reduced job security, and
locating hazardous industries so as to minimize compensation for
accidents and deaths. Developed countries had 30% of world population
and 66% of its income in 1945, and by 1992 they had 15% of population
and 79% of income! In 2007-08 came the anti-climax, the ‘great
recession’. It was fed by sub-prime lending, bank failures, credit
collapse, market uncertainties, and stock market crash.
An underlying pattern of violence against individuals, communities, nations and nature
is inherent in the present form of globalization. Economic institutions
deliver economic and political power to the ruling elites, dividing the
society into ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, and engender a variety of
conflicts that keep all insecure and unsatisfied.
Power and resources are not shared equitably so that the growth in GDP does not ensure
parallel growth in human development and environmental quality. It
bestows more benefits to the rich and powerful, such as in access to
education, health, opportunities, travel, etc. GDP indicators are best
served when individual greed is pursued in the ‘market’ unfettered by
governmental regulation for social good. Hence, poverty, social
conflict, oppression, slums, and exploitation co-exist with prosperity.
In 1994 itself, top five MNCs had a total corporate sale of $871.4
billion while South Asia with a quarter of world's population had a GDP
of only $451.3 billion. The situation has moved further inexorably in
the same direction since then. Globalization is shifting patterns of
consumption in countries like India and thus heightening disparities and
deprivation by undermining the production of ‘basic’ goods on which the poor rely.
Globalization without well-defined goals of human development and equity can only mean
an attack on the poor, the weak and the environment, while the elite
come together and prosper. Economics devoid of its social basis (such as
co-operation, brotherhood, sharing) is not humane, as inequality,
unequal ‘competition’, exploitation, alienation, corruption, crony
capitalism, and non-transparency tend to predominate. Under prevalent
globalization, terms such as competition and ‘free market’ tend more to
denote corporate totalitarianism, and monopolistic controls.
Liberalization of trade, capital and investment is not coincident with
the liberalization of people.
Globalization also ignores the problems inherent in determination of ‘property rights’. In
India, most of the tribal areas still have ‘unregistered’ common rights
over water, forest, and land resources [Jal, Jungle, aur Jamin].
The root cause of the whole ‘Naxalite Problem’ in nearly a fifth of our
land area is primarily due to the forces of ‘globalization’ operating
without the ‘swadeshi’ concerns. Millions of people from forest and
rural areas of India have been uprooted and made homeless or thrown into
city slums or other marginalized neighbourhoods because of the State
functioning more as an agent of such globalizing interests.
Under the current wave of globalization, the role of trade unions too has diminished. In
India today, about 93% of the workforce is in the ‘unorganized’ sector,
with little provision for security of jobs, work conditions, or wages.
Thousands of farmers commit suicides every year as they are unable to
perform in the free market system. On the other hand, transactions worth
trillions of dollars are done daily in the world stock markets, mostly speculative.
The primary issue has become: ‘Globalization’ of what? And, for whom?
‘GLOBALIZATION with SWADESHI’ for a
Sustainable Economic-Social Order
With growing globalization whereby economic controls become ever more remote and less
accountable and profit motive [as greed] seeks to colonize the whole
earth, the concept of swadeshi becomes ever more relevant. Ethics,
social good of all, peace, prosperity, ecological concerns, co-operation
and brotherhood cannot be globalized without the concomitant of swadeshi.
For example, it was highlighted in the Human Development Report (1997)
that globalization is “proceeding largely for the benefit of the dynamic
and powerful countries.” It also advised states like India to manage
trade and capital flows more carefully, invest in poor people, foster
small enterprises, manage new technology and provide safety nets. All
these steps mean standing firmly up to globalizing forces under the concept of Swadeshi.
Gandhian concept of swadeshi and self-contained independence is not a case for shrinking
into some form of negative localism, but it easily grows and merges into
the concept of positive interdependence, universalism and globalism. He
opposed centralized forms of production-cum-distribution as centralisms
in production and power reinforce each other and the economic
privileges. As he said: “Centralization as a system is inconsistent with
the non-violent structure of society.”21
He saw “no
incompatibility in the idea of decentralizing to the greatest extent
possible all industries and crafts, economically profitable to the
villages of India and centralization or nationalizing the key and vital
industries required for India as a whole.”22
Only a swadeshi
approach can lead to a decentralized and equitable economic order.
The Gandhian approach would be that of Sarvodaya
, the good of all, through Unto This
, the good of the ‘last’ person. This is best expressed in his
to the new rulers on India’s independence (August 1947):
“Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you,
apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest
man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself if the step you contemplate
is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it
restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words,
will it lead to swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and yourself melting away.”16
Apart from Gandhiji’s above talisman
, we also need to be guided in
‘globalization’ by his definition of ‘True Economics’ and of the right
economic ‘motive’, as under, as otherwise economics tends to become a ‘dismal science’:
- “True economics never militates against the highest ethical standard just as all true ethics to be
worth its name must at the same time be also good economics. An
economics that inculcates mammon worship and enables the strong to
amass wealth at the expense of the weak, is a false and dismal
science. It spells death. True economics, on the other hand, stands
for social justice, it promotes the good of all equally, including
the weakest, and is indispensable for decent life.”17
- “You know how Adam Smith in his
Wealth of Nations, after laying down certain principles
according to which economic phenomena are governed, went on to
describe certain other things which constituted the ‘disturbing
factor’ and prevented economic laws from having free play. Chief
among these was the ‘human element’. Now, it is this ‘human element’
on which the entire economics of khadi [i.e. swadeshi] rests; and
human selfishness, Adam Smith’s ‘pure economic motive’, constitutes
the ‘disturbing factor’ that has got to be overcome.”18
Globalization with swadeshi would engender co-operation and not dependency. As Gandhiji said:
“There is a feeling of helplessness in
dependency. Members of a family are as much self-dependent as
inter-dependent, but there is no feeling of mine or thine. That is why
they are called co-operators. Similarly when we take a society, a nation
or the entire mankind as a family all men become co-operators.”19
Spread of foreign culture over indigenous
cultures too is a major issue under present globalization. Here too, the
Gandhian approach is the way out: “I do not want my house to be walled
in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all
the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse
to be blown off my feet by any. I refuse to live in other people’s
houses as an interloper, a beggar or a slave.”20
Globalization must not proceed on the basis of greed and exploitation. That can only lead
to conflicts and not a peaceful social order. Gandhiji’s dictums that,
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not every man’s
greed”, and, “Excessive greed for anything is the root of all evil”,
provide the key. Globalization must mean concern for a decent life for
all. It must echo the thesis presented in JC Kumarappa’s book, ‘Economy
of Permanence: A Quest for a Social Order Based on Non-violence’
(1945), which Gandhiji in his Foreword to it described thus: “This is
Plain Living and High Thinking”. It classifies five types of
economy in nature as well as in human society: in increasing order of
social good, peace, and permanence, these are ‘Parasitic’, ‘Predatory’,
‘Enterprising’, ‘Gregation’, and ‘Service’. Globalization, in order to
be sustainable, must not allow any economic activity which can be termed
‘parasitic’ or ‘predatory’.
Following in Kumarappa’s and his successor, Devendra Kumar’s, footsteps, T.
Karunakaran had written in a recent publication from Wardha that
‘survival’ needs should be satisfied in the closest neighbourhood
subject to the constraints of nature. Further, the ‘entropy’ minimizing
objective will dictate that items involving energy intensive
transportation should be produced in the nearest feasible areas. Between
the chauvinistic philosophy of total self-sufficiency and unbridled
globalization, the concept of ‘global swadeshi’ provides the golden
middle. It means regional self-reliance and ‘goods-sharing’ so that the
principles of both good neighbourhood and minimum entropy are respected.20a
Economics of peace go together with that of a sharing global community. The Gandhian
concept of ‘Trusteeship’ must underlie ‘globalization’, with much
greater role for Corporate Social Responsibility, Welfare State, and
taxation and pricing policies ensuring socio-economic democracy along
with political democracy.
Under the present ‘globalization’ process, power, wealth, and amenities tend to
concentrate in metropolitan societies and areas in a pyramidal form.
This is seen clearly in the Indian context where rural and tribal areas
having 2/3rd of the population, function practically as
‘colonies’ for the benefit of urban elites. Rural industrialization and
development need a ‘swadeshi’ approach to globalization, a
bottom-upwards instead of trickle-down approach.
The issues of ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ are very much a product of the
present globalization approach. As stated earlier, globalization needs
to co-opt the concept of entropy as a measure of disorder by
putting necessary costs on emissions of carbon dioxide and wastes, on
avoidable transportation and packaging, on centralized production
leading to large-scale migration of workers, and other avoidable
wastages. This will mean a much more decentralized production leading to
a much wider satisfaction of needs.
Production levels judged primarily by GDP indices are immune to social good, exclude the
output of the non-monetized economy (especially production by women at
homes, the vast ‘barter’ and ‘constructive work’ voluntary sectors),
and also the growing scale of negative external and long-term social and
environmental costs. Hence, methods of evaluation of GDP must be changed
to include the ‘product’ based on networking, sharing, caring,
self-provisioning, nurturing and other such non-monetized activities,
and to subtract the costs of ‘negative’ externalities and other
anti-social ‘product’ such as accidents and war effort.
Under present globalization, production of ‘non-basic’ goods tends to rise faster as
their income elasticity of demand is higher than that of ‘basic’ goods,
and it is subsidized indirectly through infrastructure, tax shelters and
other fiscal measures. Under swadeshi based globalization the character
of production “will be determined by social necessity and not by
personal whim or greed.” Marketed ‘exchange value’ covers not only the
‘needs’ but also superfluities, harmful goods and services, and terror
and hazardous production. Under swadeshi, exchange value and use value
tend to converge, as the aim then is to supply socially determined
‘basic’ goods and services in preference to the insatiable wants of an
acquisitive consumerist society. The latter make the poor more insecure
but also the rich insecure in their race for luxuries.
There are enough guidelines available even in the usually ignored strands in academic
economics, which can indicate the right approach to globalization. For
example, writings of Adam Smith (taking his ‘Wealth of Nations’
along with his earlier work ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments’),
Karl Marx, E.F. Schumacher, Amartya Sen, and John Rawls can us show the
right approach. These broadly endorse the swadeshi view that economics
must operate as if the people mattered, primarily for social good of
all, and particularly ‘the last’ person.
Wendel Wilkie (1892-1944), the Republican
Presidential candidate (1940), had written a book, ‘One World’
(1943), which too would indicate the direction for an ‘inclusive’
globalization process. He noted that World War II came because of the
failure to ensure that peace followed World War I. And, “if peace,
economic prosperity and liberty itself were to continue in this world,
the nations of the world must find a method of economic stabilization
and co-operative effort.” He insisted that, “Economic freedom is as
important as political freedom.”
That the issue of ‘localization’ as the
right basis for ‘globalization’ is exercising the thinking minds in the
West also, may be seen from the essay, ‘The Idea of a Local Economy’
written by Wendel Berry (2001)20b
in the US. Some extracts from the essay are given below:
“We have an "environmental crisis" because we have consented to an economy
in which by eating, drinking, working, resting, traveling, and enjoying
ourselves we are destroying the natural, the God-given world. - - - -
Communism and ‘free market’ capitalism
both are modern versions of oligarchy. In their propaganda, both
justify violent means by good ends, which, always are put beyond reach
by the violence of the means.
- - - - by false accounting. It
substitutes for the real economy - - - a symbolic economy of money - -
-. And so we have - - unprecedented ‘prosperity’ and ‘economic growth’
in a land of degraded farms, forests, ecosystems, and watersheds,
polluted air, failing families, and perishing communities. - - - -
The idea of the global ‘free market’ is
merely capitalism's so-far-successful attempt to enlarge the geographic
scope of its greed - - - with a new colonialism without restraints or boundaries. - - - -
The ‘law of competition’ - - - is a
simple paradox: Competition destroys competition. - - - is the law of war. - - - -We
live, increasingly, in a condition of total economy - - in which
everything—‘life-forms,’ for instance, or the ‘right to pollute’—is
‘private property’ - - is for sale. - - - critical choices that once
belonged to individuals or communities become the property of
corporations. - - - A total economy is an unrestrained taking of profits
from the disintegration of nations, communities, households, landscapes,
and ecosystems. It licenses symbolic or artificial wealth to "grow" by
means of the destruction of the real wealth of all the world. - - -
- - - only one way, and that is to develop - - the idea of local economy - - - beginning with the
idea of a local food economy. - - to shorten the distance between
producers and consumers, - - - to make this local economic activity a
benefit to the local community. - - - to give everybody in the local
community a direct, long-term interest in the prosperity, health, and
beauty of their homeland. - - - the inherent instability of a production
economy based on exports and a consumer economy based on imports. - - -
And cheap long-distance transport is possible only if granted cheap
fuel, international peace - - and the solvency of the international economy. - - - -
- - the idea of a local economy rests upon only two principles: neighborhood and subsistence. - - - -
This kind of protection is not ‘isolationism.’ - - - The ‘free trade,’ which from the standpoint of the
corporate economy brings ‘unprecedented economic growth’, from the
standpoint of the land and its local populations, and ultimately from
the standpoint of the cities, is destruction and slavery. Without
prosperous local economies, the people have no power, and the land no voice.”
As in all other
aspects of human society, ‘globalization’ too should be normative and
holistic, a means to the building up of a non-violent, egalitarian,
collaborative and sustainable social order. Gandhiji as well as other
advocates of swadeshi/ ‘localization’ reject the currently accepted
basis of ‘globalization’, i.e. the concept of ‘economic man’, as it
separates economics from ethics or social good. The swadeshi approach
provides an ethical direction to the economic choices and makes
conservation, sharing, and self-provisioning as the basis of a humane
social order. The Gandhian dictum that “The good of the individual is
contained in the good of all”23, and not in selfish
accumulation of wealth and luxuries, must underlie the globalization
process. The concept of globalization with swadeshi is best expressed
in Gandhiji’s description of what constitutes ‘Independence’:
“Independence must begin at the bottom. -
- - This does not exclude dependence on and willing help from neighbours
or from the world. It will be free and voluntary play of mutual forces. - - - -
In this structure composed of innumerable
villages, there will be ever-widening, never-ascending circles. Life
will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom. But it will
be an oceanic circle whose centre will be the individual always ready to
perish for the village, the latter ready to perish for the circle of
villages, till at last the whole becomes one life composed of
individuals, never aggressive in their arrogance but ever humble,
sharing the majesty of the oceanic circle of which they are integral
units. Therefore the outermost circumference will not wield power to
crush the inner circle but will give strength to all within and derive
its own strength from it.”24
We must have more of ‘globalization’ but
it should be based on the concept of ‘swadeshi’, which embodies best the
concept of ‘localization’. In this, as in other such areas, as Gandhiji
would say: “Let it be the privilege of India to turn a new leaf and set
a lesson to the world.”25
1. Sp. on Swadeshi at Missionary
Conference, Madras, 14.2.1916, CWMG 13:219. [Collected Works of
, Volume 1 to 100, New Delhi: Publications Division,
Govt. of India, 1954-1994; quotes from these referred here and hereafter
as: CWMG vol. no.:page no.(s)]
2. ibid, CWMG 13:224.
2a. The Law of Swadeshi, Young India
(18.6.1931), CWMG 46:256-57.
3. Answers to Questions, 29.11.1945, CWMG 82:133.
4. Discussion with G. Ramachandran, 21/22.10.1924, Young India
(13/20.11.1924), CWMG 25:251.
5. Village Industries, Harijan
(16.11.1934), CWMG 59:356.
6. Discussion with Maurice Frydman, on or before 1.1.1939, CWMG 68:266.
7. Some Knotty Points, Young India
(17.6.1926), CWMG 31:12-13.
8. Interview to Callender, 16.10.1931, Harijan
(2.11.1934), CWMG 48:163, 167.
8a. Indian Industry, Young India
9. The Law of Swadeshi, Young India (18.6.1931), CWMG 46:256-57.
10. Speech at Public Meeting, Godhra, 14.8.1919, CWMG 16:29-31.
10a. Speech at Public Meeting, Rangoon, 9.3.1929, Young India (4.4.1929), CWMG 40:109.
12. NOTES, 20.2.1939, 20.2.1939, Harijan
(25.2.1939), CWMG 68:431.
12a. The Great Sentinel, Young India
(13.10.1921), CWMG 21:290-91.
12b. Rabindranath Tagore, Crisis of Civilization, Collected Works
(1961), Vol.18, Shantiniketan.
16. A NOTE, August 1947, CWMG 89:125.
17. Primary Education in Bombay, Harijan
(9.10.1937), CWMG 66:168.
18. Interview to Khadi Workers, on or before 24.8.1934, Harijan
(21.9.1934), CWMG 58:353.
19. Answers to Questions, 29.11.1945, CWMG 82:133.
20. NOTES: English Learning, Young India (1.6.1921), CWMG 20:159.
20a. Dr.T.Karunakaran, Rural Economic Zone: Economy as if People and Planet mattered, Wardha: MGIRI, 2010.
20b. From ‘In the Presence of Fear: Three Essays for a Changed World, by Wendell Berry,
published by The Orion society. The essay originally appeared in the
issue of Orion Magazine (www.oriononline.org
21. Hand-spun as a Measure of Value, 13.1.1942, CWMG 75:215-16.
22. Interview to P. Ramachandra Rao, <19.6.1945, CWMG 80:352.
23. An Autobiography, Part IV, Ch. XVIII, CWMG 39:239.
24. Independence, 21.7.1946, Harijan
(28.7.1946), CWMG 85:32-33.
25. Speech at Meccano Club, Calcutta, 28.8.1925, CWMG 28:127.
Paper read by Dr. Y. P Anand on 19 August under
the 'GANDHIRAMA 2012' Programme (17 to 22 August, 2012), organized by Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR) at JNU, New Delhi)