ARTICLES > RELEVANCE OF GANDHI > Relevance of Mahatma Gandhiji's Ideology in the Context of Indian Democracy
Relevance of Mahatma Gandhiji's Ideology in the Context of Indian Democracy
By Dr. Shubhangi Rathi*
Abstract
India follows the democratic type of Government. India is a big country and hence needs to be governed in a proper and an effective way. Mahatma Gandhi’s imagination of the democracy -fully encircled with non-violence -exists in no nation of the world as up to now. His ideal is a stateless democracy, in which there is a federation of satyagrahi village communities, functioning on the basis of voluntary cooperation and dignified and peaceful co-existence are relevance in the context of Indian democracy. In the present day democracy, there is a great deal of centralization and inequality. Gandhian concept of Self Rule means Swaraj is real democracy, where people’s power rests in the individuals and each one realizes that he or she is the real master of one’s self. These issues are still relevant to what free India is and represent. The main cause of worry today is intolerance and hatred leading to violence and it is here the values of Gandhi need to be adhered to with more passion discussed in this paper. He is relevant not yesterday or today but forever.

Meaning of Democracy:
Democracy is a form of Government which is very popular and also considered as one the most effective forms. In this form of Government, the majority of decisions are taken by the representatives that are chosen by the people. India follows the democratic type of Government. India is a big country and hence needs to be governed in a proper and an effective way. The representatives chosen by the people are the ones who take major decisions pertaining to the development of the country. Democracy is the best kind of government because one has lot of benefits. India is truly democratic since one enjoys freedom of speech and expression here. Here people can voice their opinions openly and straight. In a way democracy makes sure that equality is maintained. In India all the citizens are treated equally and have the same set of rights as the others. By true definition democracy does not differentiate on the basis of religion, colour, caste and creed. However, there have been instances when the term democracy has been misused. The main reason for this being ignorance. The government which runs the country is chosen by the people, for the people.

Mahatma Gandhi's Thoughts on Democracy:
  • Non-violence:Mahatma Gandhi’s imagination of the democracy -fully encircled with non-violence -exists in no nation of the world as up to now. Democracy of his imagination happens to be one, which does not have any provision of punishment and even an organization like ‘State’ happens to be obsolete in it. This is because Mahatma Gandhi holds, “…State is symbolical of centralized and organized violence.” As non-violence is connected with human soul, man can be non-violent whereas in opposition to it, “… State is a soul-less machine. On this accord, it is impossible to get rid of violence. Its very existence depends upon violence.” Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, non-violence should be admitted as invariable part of our life and it is on the basis of this dictum that modem polities must operate.
  • Stateless democracy:Gandhi’s ideal is a stateless democracy, in which there is a federation of satyagrahi village communities, functioning on the basis of voluntary cooperation and dignified and peaceful co-existence. Non-existence of state as cherished by Mahatma Gandhi is impossible instantly or in near future. Even then, it is incumbent on the people, who are living in state organizations, to develop non-violence that is permanently present in their nature and to enhance it gradually up to adequate level. Along with that, democratic system should work in direction of development of non-violence at individual, community, social and national levels. The atmosphere of fear which we see, the diminution of values in life and the problems having cropped up vividly cannot be eradicated without developing it.
  • Decentralization and equality:While in the present day democracy, there is a great deal of centralization and inequality. In a stateless democracy there is decentralization and equality. Non profession and bread labour should be the ideal of the society. In a stateless democracy every individual gets the maximum freedom to devote himself to the service of the society according to his caliber or capacity.
  • Village economy:Gandhiji was again highly centralized production and advocate decentralized production. The idea was not to do away entirely with machinery as such, but to prevent the concentration of power in the hand of few rich. He aimed at the eradication of poverty by a revival of village economy. Emphasis was laid on intensive, small scale, individual and diversified farming and a cattle based economy.(Pyarelal, Toward New Horizons-1959, page201.)
  • Voter’s qualification:In the Gandhian democracy will play an important role. Their members are being directly elected. Voters are to have the qualification of manual work. Whose importance was always emphasized by Gandhiji. Village democracy would be decentralized political order.
  • Swaraj:Gandhian concept of Self Rule means Swaraj is real democracy, where people’s power rests in the individuals and each one realizes that he or she is the real master of one’s self. Thus people are sovereign in a democracy but in a parliamentary democracy, party system has a vital role to play. However, Gandhi was highly critical of the parliamentary democracy and in his monumental book “Hind Swaraj” (Self Rule or Home Rule, he has called the British Parliament as a “sterile women and a prostitute” (Hind Swaraj-Ch-V, p.12), though for him “good government is no substitute for self-government.” (Tendulkar, DG, Mahatma, Vol.II, p.24)
  • Form of Democracy:There is contradiction in the statement of Gandhi about parliamentary democracy but while diving deep into the democratic ideals, he has said, “Democracy, disciplined and enlightened is the finest things in the world.” (Prabhu, R.K., and Rao, UR,-The Mind of Mahatma, Oxford University Press, P-130) At the same time, he also cautions people against a whole-sale copying of the Western Model of democracy, where there are only nominal democracies. However, he has highest regards for Democracy and he calls it as “a great institution” and again conscious people and says, “It is liable to be greatly abused.”(The Mind of Mahatma-p.345.) Even today, all over the world, democracy is widely accepted principle of the system of governance and there is no alternative to democracy.
  • Future of Democracy:Thus it is abundantly clear that for future, Gandhian concept of democracy is the only hope, where it must be practiced at the grass–root level, party system to be built up on accepted principles and not on partisan line, defection should be done away with and recall of recalcitrant representatives must be adhered to. Defects and demerits must be removed from the present democratic form of governance. People’s power must be accepted to make democracy safe; otherwise if the democracy is abused or misused, the future of people is doomed.
  • Present Situation of Democracy in India:Democracy Though India is democratic country, today the definition of the same has changed to a certain extent, mainly due to the ignorance and unawareness of the masses. Illiteracy is one reason for this. What we need to thoroughly understand is that democracy lets us use our freedom and we as citizens have to make sure that we use it in a constructive way which will help in the development and progress of the country. India proudly talks of being democratic but citizens should take special care to see that the term democracy is not misunderstood and misinterpreted.
  • Extraordinary character for Gandhian Democracy:Gandhian ideas are difficult to be put into practice, unless people are of extraordinary character, high moral capacity and integrity. Gandhian philosophy really speaking did not strike deep roots even in India. Most of Gandhi’s followers paid only lip sympathy to it. But they are not owing to Gandhiji’s failure or weaknesses of his thought, but owing to the drawbacks and weakness in ordinary human being.
  • Observation:It shows that democracy is regarded as a best form of government. At the same time, it is the most difficult form & certain countries democracy has been a great success, while in others it is a total failure or walk likes a cripple.
I have stated that polities cannot all of a sudden operate as per expectation of the Great Mahatma Gandhi. Non-violence cannot be a part of conduct instantly. But Mahatma Gandhi’s suggestion is very important in this regard. However, the polities must forward certainly in this direction. Needless to say that non-violence is true, natural, and enemy of fearfulness, stands at top amongst eternal values including the equality and has been gradually progressive. It’s nice and vital example is before us in the form of its development unto today, since the inception of human race-that is since initial human-state. We clearly see that in spite of differences to whatsoever extent, ultimately there is an innovative desire for peace. This is because non-violence happens to be in human nature. Presently a big portion of the world happens to be under Democratic system of Government. Theoretically, this system stands out to be the best up to now. This is a truth. Because people are connected with it directly or indirectly at every level. This provides us maximum opportunities of progress and development. If we peruse it, we first of all find that there is non-equal development of the citizens. We subsequently find that these nations are more or less victimized by regionalism. They have problem relating to language. They are under clutches of terrorism and communalism. There is also the problem of negation of human rights in these nations. There are various other problems akin to mention above and peace is far away so long as these problems exist. These nations should get themselves rid of these problems, all citizens of them must have equal development and they should have communal harmony towards making all citizens collective and unified partners in progress.
  • Democratic system of government should be free from above-mentioned problems.
  • It must be capable of ensuring equal development of their all citizens.
  • The citizens concerned must march forward on path of progress in unified way along with rendering contribution to world peace.
  • His ideology of nonviolence may not succeed, but it opens a world of possibilities and encourages us to think outside the box.
  • Truth and Non-violence is not meant for individuals alone but can be applied in global affairs too.
Conclusion:Lastly we can conclude that Gandhi’s vision for the country and his dreams for the community as a whole still hold good for India. He got the community to assimilate and reflect true values of humanity and to participate in tasks that would promote the greater good. These issues are still relevant to what free India is and represents. The main cause of worry today is intolerance and hatred leading to violence and it is here the values of Gandhi need to be adhered to with more passion. He is relevant not yesterday or today but forever!!
References:
  1. Ideologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a former vice chancellor of CCS University, Meerut [India]; he is the editor of Global Peace International Journal.
  2. Jai Narain Sharma, “Indian society of Gandhian studies”, Journal of Gandhian studies, Vol. 5, 2007.
  3. Kapur, Devesh (2010): “The Middle Class in India: A Social Formation or Political Actor” in Julian Go
  4. Sridharan, E (2008): “The Political Economy of the Middle Classes in Liberalizing India”, ISAS Working Paper.
  5. Chand Hukam, History of modern India, Anmol Publication Pvt. Ltd (2005)

* Dr. Shubhangi Rathi is a Associate Professor & H.O.D. Poliical Science, Smt. P.K. Kotecha Mahila Mahavidhalaya, Bhusawal, Maharashtra, India.