There are two schools of thought current in the world. One wants to divide
the world into cities and the other into villages. The village civilization
and the city civilization are totally different things. One depends on
machinery and industrialization, and the other on handicrafts. We have given
preference to the latter.
After all, this industrialization and large-scale production are only of
comparatively recent growth. We don't know how far it has contributed to the
development of our happiness, but we know this much that it has brought in
its wake the recent world wars. This second world war is not still over, and
even if it comes to an end, we are hearing of a third world war. Our country
was never so unhappy and miserable as it is at present. City people may be
getting big profits and good wages, but all that has become possible by
sucking the blood of villages. We don't want to collect lakhs and crores. We
don't always want to depend on money for our work. If we are prepared to
sacrifice our lives for the cause, money is nothing. We must have faith and
we must be true to ourselves. If we have these, we shall be able by
decentralizing our capital of Rs. 30 lakhs in villages to create national
wealth amounting to Rs. 300 crores. To do that main thing, what is necessary
is to make the villages self- sufficient and self-reliant. But mind you, my
idea of self-sufficiency is not a narrow one. There is no scope for
selfishness and arrogance in my self-sufficiency.
Hindustan Standard, 6-12-’44
We may not be deceived by the wealth to be seen in the cities of India. It
does not come from England or America. It comes from the blood of the
poorest. There are said to be seven lakhs of villages in India. Some of them
have simply been wiped out. No one has any record of those thousands who
have died of starvation and disease in Bengal, Karnataka and elsewhere. The
Government registers can give no idea of what the village folk are going
through. But being a villager myself, I know the condition in the villages.
I know village economics. I tell you that the pressure from the top crushes
those at the bottom.
All that is necessary is to get off their backs.
Amrita Bazar Patrika, 30-6-’44
The workers in the mills of Bombay have become slaves. The condition of the
women working in the mills is shocking. When there were no mills, these
women were not starving. If the machinery craze grows in our country, it
will become an unhappy land. It may be considered a heresy, but I am bound
to say that it were better for us to send money to Manchester and to use
flimsy Manchester cloth than to multiply mills in India. By using Manchester
cloth we only waste our money; but by reproducing Manchester in India, we
shall keep our money at the price of our blood, because our very moral being
will be sapped, and I call in support of my statement the very mill- hands
as witnesses. And those who have amassed wealth out of factories are not
likely to be better than other rich men. It would be folly to assume that an
Indian Rockfeller would be better than the American Rockfeller. Impoverished
India can become free, but it will be hard for any India made rich through
immorality to regain its freedom. I fear we shall have to admit that moneyed
men support British rule; their interest is bound up with its stability.
Money renders a man helpless. The other thing which is equally harmful is
sexual vice. Both are poison. A snake-bite is a lesser poison than these
two, because the former merely destroys the body but the latter destroy
body, mind and soul. We need not, therefore, be pleased with the prospect of
the growth of the mill-industry.
Hind Swaraj, 1962, p. 94
The poor villagers are exploited by the foreign government and also by their
own countrymen— the city-dwellers. They produce the food and go hungry. They
produce milk and their children have to go without it. It is disgraceful.
Everyone must have a balanced diet, a decent house to live in, facilities
for the education of one's children and adequate medical relief.
H., 31-3-’46, p. 63
The half a dozen modern cities are an excrescence and serve at the present
moment the evil purpose of draining the life-blood of the villages. . . .
The cities with their insolent torts are a constant menace to the life and
liberty of the villagers.
Y.I., 17-3-’27, p. 86
It is the city man who is responsible for war all over the world, never the villager.
Gleanings, 1949, p. 17
I regard the growth of cities as an evil thing, unfortunate for mankind and
the world, unfortunate for England and certainly unfortunate for India. The
British have exploited India through its cities. The latter have exploited
the villages. The blood of the villages is the cement with which the edifice
of the cities is built. I want the blood that is today inflating the
arteries of the cities to run once again in the blood vessels of the
H., 23-6-’46, p. 198
'You have called cities boils or abscesses on the body politic. What should
be done with these boils?'
If you ask a doctor he will tell you what to do with a boil. It has to be
cured either by lancing or by the application of plasters and poultices.
Edward Carpenter called civilization a malady which needed a cure. The
growth of big cities is only a symptom of that malady. Being a nature
curist, I am naturally in favour of nature's way of cure by a general
purification of the system. If the hearts of the city- dwellers remain
rooted in the villages, if they become truly village-minded, all other
things will automatically follow and the boil will quickly heal.
H., 25-8-’46, p. 282
I have believed and repeated times without number that India is to be found
not in its few cities but in its 7,00,000 villages. But we town-dwellers
have believed that India is to be found in its towns and the villages were
created to minister to our needs. We have hardly ever paused to inquire if
those poor folk get sufficient to eat and clothe themselves with and whether
they have a roof to shelter themselves from sun and rain.
H., 4-4-’36, p. 63
I have found that the town-dweller has generally exploited the villager, in
fact he has lived on the poor villager's subsistence. Many a British
official has written about the conditions of the people of India. No one
has, to my knowledge, said that the Indian villager has enough to keep body
and soul together. On the contrary they have admitted that the bulk of the
population lives on the verge of starvation and ten per cent are
semi-starved, and that millions have to rest content with a pinch of dirty
salt and chilies and polished rice or parched grain.
You may be sure that if any of us were to be asked to live on that diet, we
should not expect to survive it longer than a month or should be afraid of
losing our mental faculties. And yet our villagers go through that state
from day to day.
H., 4-4-’36, p. 63-64
Over 75 per cent of the population is agriculturists. But there cannot be
much spirit of self-government about us if we take away or allow others to
take away from them almost the whole of the result of their labour.
Natesan, p. 323
The cities are capable of taking care of themselves. It is the village we
have to turn to. We have to disabuse them of their prejudice, their
superstitions, their narrow outlook and we can do so in no other manner
than that of staying amongst them and sharing their joys and sorrows and
spreading education and intelligent information among them.
Y.I., 30-4-’31, p. 94
We have got to be ideal villagers, not the villagers with their queer ideas
about sanitation and giving no thought to how they eat and what they eat.
Let us not, like most of them, cook anyhow, eat anyhow, live anyhow. Let us
show them the ideal diet. Let us not go by mere likes and dislikes, but get
at the root of those likes and dislikes.
H., 1-3-’35, p. 21
We must identify ourselves with the villagers who toil under the hot sun
beating on their bent backs and see how we would like to drink water from
the pool in which the villagers bathe, wash their clothes and pots, in which
their cattle drink and roll. Then and not till then shall we truly represent
the masses and they will, as surely as I am writing this, respond to every
Y.I., 11-9-’24, p. 300
We have got to show them that they can grow their vegetables, their greens,
without much expense, and keep good health. We have also to show that most
of the vitamins are lost when they cook the leaves.
H., 1-3-’35, p. 21
We have to teach them how to economize time, health and money. Lionel Curtis
described our villages as dung-heaps. We have to turn them into model
villages. Our village-folk do not get fresh air though they are surrounded
by fresh air; they don't get fresh food though they are surrounded by the
freshest foods. I am talking like a missionary in this matter of food,
because my mission is to make villages a thing of beauty.
H., 1-3-’35, p. 21
It is profitless to find out whether the villages of India were always what
they are today. If they were never better it is a reflection upon the
ancient culture in which we take so much pride. But if they were never
better, how is it that they have survived centuries of decay which we see
going on around us. . . . The task before every lover of the country is how
to prevent this decay or, which is the same thing, how to reconstruct the
villages of India so that it may be as easy for anyone to live in them as it
is supposed to be in the cities. Indeed, it is the task before every
patriot. It may be that the villagers are beyond redemption, that rural
civilization has had its day and that the seven hundred thousand villages
have to give place to seven hundred well- ordered cities supporting a
population not of three hundred millions but thirty. If such is to be
India's fate, even that won't come in a day. It must take time to wipe out a
number of villages and villagers and transform the remainder into cities and
H., 1-3-’36, p. 30
The village movement is as much an education of the city people as of the
villagers. Workers drawn from cities have to develop village mentality and
learn the art of living after the manner of villagers. This does not mean
that they have to starve like the villagers. But it does mean that there
must be a radical change in the old style of life.
H., 18-4-’36, p. 68
The only way is to sit down in their midst and work away in steadfast faith,
as their scavengers, their nurses, their servants, not as their patrons, and
to forget all our prejudices and prepossessions. Let us for a moment forget
even Swaraj, and certainly forget the 'haves' whose presence oppresses us at
every step. They are there. There are many who are dealing with these big
problems. Let us tackle the humbler work of the village which is necessary
now and would be even after we have reached our goal. Indeed, the village
work when it becomes successful will itself bring us nearer the goal.
H., 16-5-’36, p. 112
The village communities should be revived. Indian villages produced and
supplied to the Indian towns and cities all their wants. India became
impoverished when our cities became foreign markets and began to drain the
villages dry by dumping cheap and shoddy goods from foreign lands.
H., 27-2-’37, p. 18
It is only when the cities realize the duty of making an adequate return to
the villages for the strength and sustenance which they derive from them,
instead of selfishly exploiting them, that a healthy and moral relationship
between the two will spring up. And if the city children are to play their
part in this great and noble work of social reconstruction, the vocations
through which they are to receive their education ought to be directly
related to the requirements of the villages.
H., 9-10-’37, p. 293
We are inheritors of a rural civilization. The vastness of our country, the
vastness of the population, the situation and the climate of the country
have in my opinion, destined it for a rural civilization. Its defects are
well known, but not one of them is irremediable. To uproot it and substitute
for it an urban civilization seems to me an impossibility, unless we are
prepared by some drastic means to reduce the population from three hundred
million to three or say even thirty. I can therefore suggest remedies on
the assumption that we must perpetuate the present rural civilization and endeavour to rid it of its acknowledged defects.
Y. I., 9-11-’29, p. 364