True democracy cannot be worked by
twenty men sitting at the centre. It has to be worked from below by
the people of every village…
In my opinion there is no law which
can stop a Panchayat from functioning wherever the people want it.
Every group (of villages) or its member can have the Panchayat
system whether the rest of India has it or not. True rights come as
a result of duty done. No one can snatch away such rights. The
Panchayat is there is to serve the people. In the true democracy of
India, the unit is the village. Even if one village wants Panchayat
Raj, which is called republic in English, no one can stop it.
Harijan, 18-1-48, p. 519
Panchayat has an ancient flavour; it
is a good word. It literally means an assembly of five elected by
villagers. It represents the system, by which the innumerable
village republics of India were governed. But the British
Government, by its ruthlessly though method of revenue collection,
almost destroyed these ancient republics.
Young India, 28-5-31, p. 123
Independence must begin at the bottom.
Thus, every village will be a republic or Panchayat having full
powers. It follows, therefore, that every village has to be
self-sustained and capable of managing its affairs even to the
extent of defending itself against the whole world. It will be
trained and prepared to perish in the attempt to defend itself
against any onslaught from without. Thus, ultimately, it is the
individual who is the unit. 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. Such a society is necessarily
highly cultured in which every man and woman knows what he or she
wants and, what is more, knows that no one should want anything that
others cannot have with equal labour.
Harijan, 28-7-46, p. 236
Distinguished travelers from the world
came to India in the days of yore from China and other countries.
They came in quest of knowledge and put up with great hardships in
travelling. They had reported that in India there was no theft,
people were honest and industries. They needed no locks for their
doors. In those days, there was no multiplicity of castes as at
present. It is the function of the Panchayats to revive honesty and
industry. It is the function of the Panchayats to teach the
villagers to avoid disputes, if they have to settle them. That would
ensure speedy justice without any expenditure...
Then, the Panchayats should see to cattle improvement. They should show steady increase in the milk yield.
The Panchayats should also see to an
increase in the quantity of foodstuffs grown in their village. That
is to be accomplished by properly manuring the soil… Then, they must
see to the cleanliness of their village and its inhabitants. They
must be clean and healthy in body and mind. I hope that they would
have no cinema house. People say that the cinema can be a potent
means of education. That might come true some day, but at the moment
I see how much harm the cinema is doing. They have their indigenous
games. They should banish intoxicating drinks and drugs from their
midst. I hope they will eradicate untouchability if there is any
trace of it still left in their village. The Hindus, the Muslims,
the Sikhs, the Parsis and the Christians should all live as brothers
Harijan, 4-1-48, pp. 499-500
The greater the power of the
Panchayats, the better for the people. Moreover, for Panchayats to
be effective and efficient, the level of people’s education has to
be considerably raised. I do not conceive the increase in the power
of the people in military, but in moral terms.
Harijan, 21-12-47, p. 473