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ARTICLES > RELEVANCE OF GANDHI > Localization and Globalization
Localization and Globalization
By Dr. Y. P. Anand
(Paper read by Dr. Y. P Anand on 19 August under
the ‘GANDHIRAMA 2012’ Programme (17 to 22 August, 2012)
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 centuries.
‘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 Last, the good of the ‘last’ person. This is best expressed in his talisman 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’:
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 Mahatma Gandhi, 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 (23.10.1937), CWMG646:270.
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 Winter 2001 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.