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VILLAGE ECONOMY > PANCHAYAT RAJPublisher's Note

 

Publisher's Note

This is a timely publication, for compiling which we heartily thank Shri R. K. Prabhu. The readers of Gandliiji's writings will have known him well enough through his earlier compilations like India of My Dreams, Mohan-Mala, Truth is God, Evil Wrought by the English Medium, etc. We propose to issue in the near future a further set of books compiled by him, containing, in brief, the essential teachings of Garidhiji on subjects of vital national concern, such as Birth-Control: The Right Way and The Wrong Way, Non-violent Way to World Peace, The Message of the Gita, The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism, and so on. We hope that students of Gandhian literature will welcome these publications.

Ever since Gandhiji returned to India in 1915 he had been laying the greatest emphasis on the need to revitalize the village Panchayats and establish Village Swaraj in this country, for he firmly believed that the real India lives in its seven hundred thousand and odd villages and that India has no future worth the name unless these villages play their proper part in the life of the country. His scheme of such a village Swaraj comprehended very department of rural activity which went to make each village self-governing and self-contained as regards the essential needs of its inhabitants, so that on the solid foundation of a vast network of such little "republics" peacefully co-operating with one another for mutual benefit, the life of the nation as a whole could be broad-based, enabling it to progress smoothly towards its destined goal. Village sanitation and hygiene, village diet and health, medical relief, non-violent rural economy based on Khadi and other village industries, arts and crafts, co-operative cattle-farming and other co-operatives, basic education, and Shanti Sena, are some of the primary means by which, in Gandhiji's opinion, the goal of all-round village development can be attained. A village worker trained and disciplined for initiating and helping forward such a broad-based movement would be its pivot.

It is a matter for satisfaction that in several parts of the country rural reconstruction and development is progressing along the lines chalked out by Gandhiji, but more strenuous and sustained efforts are necessary on the part of both individual Sarvodaya workers and official and semi-official agencies, if the pace is to be accelerated. Under alien rule, such a movement ob­viously could not make any appreciable progress or gather any momentum. Things have basically changed now and our Planners are coming to realize more and more that if our national economy is to be stabilized, the primary pre-requisite is the rehabilitation of our rural economy on the non-violent lines which had obtained, as pointed out by Gandhiji, till the advent of British rule, and which lies at present in a shattered and desperate condition. The Prime Minister has rightly told us that three things are our basic requirements today, viz., 1. a village school imparting basic education; 2. a village Panchayat; and 3. a village co-operative. One may well add a fourth one, namely a village Parishramalaya or industrial home, where any villager should be able to find work for adequate wages and to get training in rural industries or crafts. These four may well constitute the new four-fold programme for reali­zing true Swaraj.

The present publication will, we hope, help the reader to know and profit by what Gandhiji had to say about this aspect of the vital problem of national re­construction. Above all, let us note what he has stated in the first chapter of this work (pp. 4-5) :

"I have not pictured a poverty-stricken India containing ignorant millions. I have pictured to myself an India continually progressing along the lines best suited to her genius. I do not, however, picture it as a third class or even a first class copy of the dying civilization of the West." The book has been priced as cheap as possibly we can, and we propose to issue it in Hindi, Gujarati, etc., also.

31-1-1959