Back | Next

ARTICLES > RELEVANCE OF GANDHI > The Techno-Gandhian Philosophy

 

The Techno-Gandhian Philosophy

Balamurali Balaji*

Introduction:

How do we overcome the difficulties in assuming socio-political responsibilities in our life, yet working for the personal and professional objectives?  How to fulfil the commitments made to play a role in socio-political environment yet preserving the rights in meeting the individual needs? How to develop and maintain the moral values while performing the professional duties to lead a self-contained, balanced life?  How to cope up with the modern day’s technology-dependent life, yet not giving up the professional and moral aspirations?  The Techno-Gandhian Philosophy (TGP) comes as an answer to all such questions an ordinary man faces in his life. It is a universal phenomenon that a man has to answer to the call from the socio-political surroundings in which he lives despite being snatched away by the fast paced life of his or her profession. Not every one of us is willing to assume or even think of the democratic and social duties we ought to perform in the world. The choice between the personal/professional ambitions and assumption of a role in socio-political circles is often a cause for all the stress and pressure for many of us. Contrarily, there are people who have a strong desire to take a socio-political stance but their professional and personal backgrounds do not leave them a space for that. Some of us are also striving to serve for a socio-political cause to  our abilities yet not finding ways to follow to put them into action. The TGP is defined and designed for addressing these issues and this article explains the various dimensions and the guidelines to follow it.


An overview:

The Techno-Gandhian Philosophy (TGP) was first perceived in 1994 when I was working with Mumbai corporate bodies and since then it has been observed by many personals from various fields of work who wants to apply it in their lives.  It was then designed with a view of understanding the challenging phase of life that involves socio-political responsibilities and impositions that occur particularly in the lives of engineers, physicians, scientists, officers, technicians and other skilled personnel. While the emergence of new and variety of communal and social issues and responsibilities lie upon the individuals, the need for a code in dealing with them begins to increase. During the last two decades, the effort and efficacy of the formulation of a theory in simple yet in a composite form has been envisioned and worked out. The TGP was formulated with a rule of resolving the intricate conditions that provides a way for defining a career and personal identity of one’s life. And today, it has become a science of life and developed into a moral code of living in a fast paced life known as Techno-Gandhian Philosophy.

Man is born with intellectual capacity and is known for living as a community working for his livelihood keeping his relations intact. The organized way of living as a community or a state demands the selection and election of the controller of the community or a state. The importance of better human relations and acceptance of social or political role is obligatory for any person to create peace and harmony in his (her) community and it is inevitable. Sharing of responsibilities and taking of charge is a routine activity and each one of us has to undergo this delicate phase in our life.  Each one of us has to spare time to contribute and assume the task we pertain to do for the community or the people we belong to. And, it is not so easy. Many of us try to evade the duties called upon us and simply go with a self-interested attitude to heed ourselves. As a result, we have to meddle with the forces outside us and constantly fight with them unknowingly what and how to find a resolution.

And, it adds fear and pressure putting us in to a poised and vexed state of mind. The kind of trauma generated by such scenarios influences the people not only during the career of the young personnel, but it continues to haunt the everyday life even for the grown, adult professionals. The choice between the professional career and a socio-political participation is always risky in nature and any selection made between the two is looked as a perilous decision. Nonetheless, the tense and panic caused due to such factors are boundless and destined to happen. The distress caused as a result compels us to opt for functioning as an individual or as a group thus providing a space for us to display their exclusive leadership skill or as a team player. It is also observed that the man’s communal status and economic conditions rule during such circumstances. So, the technological people finally end up with undefined ways of resolving the matter, more often with a prejudiced and rationale approach. They tend to adopt the conventional, stereo-typed ways of handling the situations and never seem to work out a concrete modality to assume or decline the responsibility.

The theory of TGP is a precise, carved-out philosophy of existing theories and practices in the area of corporate relationships that exist for more than a century and has been a long lasting effort in bringing the professional ethics and corporate leadership into a rationalized, otherwise called as humanistic philosophy. As many have successfully been implemented this theory, many others have seen it as a never-ending practice that undergoes debate between the leadership management and professional individuals. Not many have realized the full potential of non-violent and truthful struggle behind this philosophy which would overcome the worries and troubles.  I was striving to employ this when I was part of the software industry to become a complete, versatile Techno-Gandhian. And, the proportion of success in implementing it in full is still in desolation despite being seen as a beneficial solution.


Why Gandhi, but not others?

While attempting to devise the modalities for work-centric, technology-oriented social and political responsibilities and roles, it was out of experience I mulled over the theories and teachings of many philosophers and put many leaders and visionaries under contemplation. The teachings and principles of Buddha, Jesus according to me is too religious and in no way countable for one to assume the socio-political responsibility. It requires a complete overhaul of both the mind and body which alienates us from the society rather than playing a role of service within the society. The principles of great philosophers like Aristotle, Aurobindo and Ramakrishna too are theoretical and theological in nature and found to be the ways of retracting from socio-political duties. Most of their ideologies are taught for perfection of our inner soul and mind which has been considered as a longing desire of peace and harmony for the human kind. The Techno-Gandhian Philosophy requires an ideology that serves not as a fitting reply to the socio-political calls but to get along and assimilate the work style with them to lead a balanced life.  I believe that Gandhi and his ideology remain as a proven way of managing the day-to-day crisis and conflicts and suggest reasonable methods to practice even by an ordinary man. The concept of truth and non-violence, even though it is difficult for one to achieve in its fullest form, shall be an ideal practice for technologists and workmen to strive upon through out the life thus not leaving both the socio-political responsibility and the technology. As the central theme of the Techno-Gandhian Philosophy revolves around the predicament and management of using the technology alongside the moral values, the qualities and attributes as preached by Gandhi is found to be in perfect suits. Those who knew the life of Gandhi will ever recall the incident when he was thrown out of a first class compartment of a train which transformed him into a civil rights leader in South Africa. Such childhood experiences and incidents happen to every one of us and the disturbances they cause in our minds are immeasurable. It is these circumstances that pulls us into a deep level of thinking and eventually take us in assuming a socio-political role.  Today’s ordinary man, mainly the literate technologists have the similar kind of disagreement with the society or polity and are fighting it out every day.


The Life and the Philosophy:

As the technology evolves and spread very rapidly into the roots of our lives in this century, the world is becoming a din of electronic gadgets and the society is aptly dependent on technological innovations. Not to escape from the dominance of so called e-revolution, people live and work at the speed of devices they look at every day. People tend to turn to such technological ushers even for their physical, psychological and humanistic needs. The stress and strain adds to this effect, completely injuring the basic, bodily nature of the lives. This trend seems to never cease and continue to evolve and revolve around the lives of human beings. And, we foresee an endangered, e-controlled society in very near future. In very few years, the human kind will have to survive under the grip of possible technological storm that would sweep away our livelihood by mechanised, programmed and automated actions.

Some people believe that spirituality is the answer to get out of this disastrous situation. Spirituality is a way to relax and relieve from the pains of the fast paced modern life. The spiritual practice could help us forgetting the stress caused by the day long work temporarily. Same is the effect when we do or attend a religious ceremony and the real solution does not actually lie in these religious or spiritual spheres. The spiritual practice, according to me, does not exclude the role of technology and modern day scientific invasion from us. It tries to teach us how to live with that and cope up with the pressure created by them.   It compels us to provide time to practice it. What the Techno-Gandhi Philosophy (TGP) suggests is a permanent solution and a time-tested way of life that has the mantra “Do not shy away from technologies. Do live with traditional values.” History has never abandoned the changing times and the shifting paradigms the world is going through. The TGP suggests us to go with the technology for necessity and for the needy. It suggests us to carry values along with us through out the day, but not for an hour or so in the evenings and week ends.  A thin line connecting technology and values and living with that sounds rather political to many. But, we must understand the society and social surroundings in which we have to live with. We must try to learn the difference between the two ends and put us comfortably in a society. The Gandhian principles of swadeshi, swaraj, sarvodaya, satya, simplicity, serenity are the perfect ideals one has to adopt in their life. The Gandhian ideology gives us a way of life that we can practise with in the technological world to attain complete freedom and life of our choice. As we put the values imbibed in our life, the clout of technology that occupies us will hide away and provides us a space to work on ourselves with morals that adds simplicity to out life. The TGP compels us not to provide time, but a space for practising it. TGP can be practised by anyone of any age and gender as it offers a moral support amid a much complex, technically infected society.


The 5 core rules of Techno-Gandhian Philosophy (TGP)

  1. “Do not shy away from technologies. Do live with traditional values.”

  2. “Spirituality is for those who want to exit away from the clumsy life. TGP is to lead a simple, yet, balanced life with in the complex structure of life.”

  3. “TGP is about pursuing a give-and-take policy of trade between the technology and moral values in one’s life”

  4. “TGP is not for implementation at a particular stage in life, but for practice through out the life.”

  5. “TGP is neither religious nor political in theory and practice.”


How to practise TGP in our life?

Identifying the technological needs and understanding the Gandhian ideology are the basic requirements for us to practice TCP in life.  Technological innovations and tools are becoming part of our lives and have penetrated into the day-to-day activities of each one of us. Right from the early morning exercise to the night’s day out, we are getting accustomed to the invasion of western pattern of life style and extensive use of technology. Talking over the mobile while walking, listening to media player while moving, carrying hand-held devices for communicating and sharing data, using computers at office and home, electronic vending machines and gaming systems, watching television and browsing the internet are some of the technology oriented activities we are into. Furthermore, we have to accustom ourselves to the use of technology at public places like airports, bus and railway stations, community centres, malls, shopping complexes and government offices and departments. While the living style is gradually inclining to the western culture, the living conditions are driven by technology. The technology changes everyday at a rapid speed and continue to influence us with its versatile performance and workmanship. We, literate or illiterate, are forced to learn to live with the changing conditions and the process of learning keeps going for ever. Sooner, the act of learning becomes the passion, and then it becomes an act of chasing the technology. Ultimately, one ends up with the loss of values that he has been speaking for and he has been known for. The mechanics and automation of such a transformation has to be understood clearly and we must draw a line of control and call for the basic and purposeful technological use.  Identifying the needs for the technology and its restricted access and use alone will help us come out of this booming threat.


The 5 ways to identify the right technology:

Choose the technology or tool that will not

1.      give you pleasure, but meet only your needs

2.      cut down your physical activity

3.      affect your psychological attitude

4.      empower or guide you even in darkness

5.      transform your image and identity in society 

Technology around us is tremendous but following the above five ways in choosing the right ones is always tricky. One may own a mobile for communication purposes but it is exorbitant to watch television or a movie on it. One may go on a little walk for relaxation but it is unreasonable to use a pace maker machine for this exercise. One may rather engage in a regular workout but not to look insane after coming out of a play station fighting the demons and sprites in a game. One may verify with his friend rather not depending on his digital route map panel to show him a way to a new place. One may well be fit in “Be Yourself” tag but not to seen odd among the strangers. So, we shall not allow the technology or the profession superseding the socio-political role we are supposed to play. 


Practising Gandhian ideology

Out of all philosophies or ideologies, I believe that the Gandhism or Gandhian principle is the most appropriate for a common man to ponder upon and follow as religiously as a creed or any other religion. The ingredients of Gandhian ideology are authentic and simple to apply in our life. It is an open protocol that could go hand-on-hand with other philosophies and can be applied on all walks of life. A Gandhian artist does a livelihood through his art works yet maintaining the values he learnt from Gandhian ideals. A Gandhian teacher takes a work in school or college yet he continues to live with Gandhian principles in practice. A Gandhian doctor could show his empathy and love towards the people coming to him yet keeping his scientific part of his profession grow with no interventions. This kind of culmination of Gandhian ethics and other professions is a phenomenon by itself and it is really hailed as a central theme of Techno-Gandhian Philosophy. 

Today’s youth is targeted by violent forces for seeking petty benefits and fighting against social injustices. Lack of adequate ideological approach in solving the issues is becoming scarce amongst us and they are susceptible to unwarranted actions that give them alternating justice. Engaging youngsters, however violent and unruly they are, in to work would surely bring them in to a more vivid, non-violent strategic path towards the future. It would give them hope and confidence that ties them into their lives not to get agitated or indulge in others’ lives. Many scientists have even proved that people focusing on work show non-violent tendency towards the society in which they live, even though their work involves harsh and hard kind of physical labour. 

The 7 vows one need to pledge and practise Gandhian ideology:

  1. Be truthful in thought, speech and action.

  2. Take only vegetarian food. Have a balanced diet.

  3. Work for a cause besides performing a bread labour that earns us a living.

  4. Show reverence to all human beings regardless of their caste and creed, race and religion.

  5. Refrain from the use of drugs, alcoholic beverages and sedatives.

  1. Treat all religions as equals.

  2. Use Ahimsa as a key instrument in all our endeavours.

The above mentioned vows are the basic and the core principles we ought to keep in our mind and action while practising TGP. The secret of following these vows successfully is to take one vow at a time and make a resolution to practise it for a period of time (e.g. 45 days) and then move on to the next one. Thus, all the seven vows can be practised within a year and repeating the same technique for two or three years will become habitual afterwards.


Drawbacks of TGP:

Life is of complex structure in terms of relations and existence. We have to live with the contradictions and the challenges. And, the TGP is not an exception. The conception of technology indisputably contradicts with the Gandhian ideology. But, this disagreement is the meeting point for the better understanding of life in present day circumstances. The TGP requires a basic knowledge and skill to survive in the world besides being humane and civilized in the society. It is not for those who are unprepared to work and show sign of disrespect to the age old ethics. The oppressed and subjugated people could benefit from those who have honestly practised TGP, but not to use TGP themselves to see gainful effects. Furthermore, TGP is a long-lasting and a permanent course of action and one cannot expect immediate results.


Positive outcomes of TGP:

Practising this philosophy may be a challenging task for an ordinary man on first look but, upon discovering the differentiation of the technological limits and Gandhian morals, it ceases to exist as a challenge. People, whether rich or poor, once they get introduced to the TGP, the simplicity of life shall be the outcome with the economic and technological hitches removed and barred from a routine life. A true Techno-Gandhian shall be honoured with lots of praise both from the field of work and from the socio-political spheres. It rightly fills up the gap that forms between the conventional Gandhian way of life and modern days’ expectations of what a Gandhian can offer to the world. It is ideally suitable for both the rich and the poor.

The rich people may follow TGP by entering into Swadeshi[1] and Sarvodaya[2] based industries, see marginal profits and lead a peaceful life. The poor people while venturing into modern and technology-based industries and earning considerable profits, shall maintain their morality and human values through imbibing TGP factors into the life.  Both the technology and ideology takes their stakes equally in one’s life. As a result, we can build a society that has both the rich and the poor live happier with dignity. This would reduce the gap between the poor and rich economically and morally.


Summary:  

The Techno-Gandhian Philosophy, at the first glance, is seen as a programme of normal routine and everyone’s schedule by many observers. Particularly from an individual’s perspective, it serves as just a great tool to enhance the morals and ethics one has to protect throughout his life. But, as we put a deeper understanding and exploration on the socio-political grounds, the TGP could be seen as a basic solution for many of the issues haunting in the society and politics. A true Techno-Gandhian could travel an extra mile with the sheer audacity and truthfulness in his mind to face today’s evils of injustice, poverty, illiteracy and scarcity of morals in the society. With his vision and gained support of the peers, the society and the world could benefit a lot in general along the path of wisdom, truth, non-violence and peace. Conclusively putting it altogether, the policy and phenomenon of TGP has an immense message of socio-political responsibilities to be adopted to contribute to the world of the needy and the deprived.


[1] A term used by Gandhiji to refer local production of goods to develop village based industries

[2] “Universal uplift or progress of all” used by Gandhiji to promote equality in society

* Founder and Primary Consultant, BB Systems (CIT-GPNP), The Center for Information Technology and Gandhian Philosophy of Non-violence and Peace